Sebastien Smith

Sebastien Smith studied International Relations at the London School of Economics and took a stab at learning Mandarin at Shanghai's Fudan University. He considers himself an impartial observer of East Asian politics, and is specifically fascinated by the tripartite relationship of the Koreas and China. He is currently based in the UK.

Are Trump's Threats to North Korea Working?

Jan 09, 2018

There is no evidence that the reopening of talks between North and South Korea was a direct result of American coercion toward Pyongyang. Despite his jabbing of metropolitan elitists, US President Donald Trump has cultivated praise from some over his handling of North Korea. Ban Ki-moon, the former UN secretary-general, applauded the president’s strong words, deeming … Continue reading "Are Trump’s Threats to North Korea Working?"

The Fall of North Korea

Mar 17, 2017

If Secretary Tillerson isn’t bluffing, the Kim dynasty’s days may be numbered. Breaking with what had been a quiet start to his job, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned on March 17 that the Trump administration might be forced to take preemptive action “if elevate the threat of their weapons program” to an unacceptable level. … Continue reading "Are Trump’s Threats to North Korea Working?"

Can the Pivot to Asia Survive a Trump Presidency?

Jan 20, 2017

Obama leaves a mixed legacy in the Asia Pacific. A Trump administration may reverse much of it. Presidential transitions are seldom flawless affairs. Yet, by all accounts, Donald J. Trump’s has been a mess. Trump has not taken to the role of president-elect well, either acting as if the campaign trail is not yet over, taking … Continue reading "Are Trump’s Threats to North Korea Working?"

Diplomacy With China is Not That Easy

Dec 21, 2016

President Trump’s China policy cannot be based on deal making alone. Despite all the anti-Chinese remarks he made, Donald Trump was a surprising hero among Chinese nationalists during the presidential campaign. The former reality TV star drew his support from Chinese netizens either privately sharing his loathing for self-serving elitists (China has plenty of them) or … Continue reading "Are Trump’s Threats to North Korea Working?"

Obama Snub: Why Diplomatic Gaffes Matter

Sep 06, 2016

Whether intentional or not, the Obama airport episode will make the US look diminished to Chinese audiences. It was pretty humorless as diplomatic gaffes go. After touching down in China for the G20 Summit, US President Barack Obama was not provided a staircase—or the accompanying red carpet—that other world leaders were welcomed with upon arrival. … Continue reading "Are Trump’s Threats to North Korea Working?"

China is the Pot Calling the Kettle Black

Jul 18, 2016

Beijing calls out nationalism elsewhere but exploits and encourages its own. Often feeling insecure from Western-induced barbs, the Chinese Community Party (CCP) is taking its turn for viewing the other side from a pedestal. The rise of Donald Trump and Brexit have allowed the CCP a renewed sense of confidence, given that these two phenomena … Continue reading "Are Trump’s Threats to North Korea Working?"

North Korea is Bringing its Enemies Closer Together

Jan 12, 2016

With its fourth test of weapons of mass destruction, is North Korea running out of friends? The news cycle around North Korea’s actions has become all too predictable. Its rocket launches and bomb tests tend to lead to a round of condemnation but little action from the usual voices. As of last week, the cycle … Continue reading "Are Trump’s Threats to North Korea Working?"

History is Being Rewritten in East Asia

Dec 23, 2015

China, South Korea and Japan need to be more honest about their own history if they want peace and stability. The Nanjing Massacre. “Comfort women.” Did the Chinese communist forces beat imperial Japan or the nationalists? And who really owns the islands known in Japan as Senkaku and in China as Diaoyu? Yet if there … Continue reading "Are Trump’s Threats to North Korea Working?"

Singapore’s Demographic Time Bomb is Ticking

Nov 12, 2015

Singapore is aging fast and it will need to rethink its attitude toward the welfare state. Celebrating its 50th year of independence last August, Singapore is Southeast Asia’s second youngest nation. It is ironic, then, that its people are the oldest in the region. According to a recent report, the average age of the population has … Continue reading "Are Trump’s Threats to North Korea Working?"

China Must Pull the Plug on North Korea

Oct 13, 2015

Is China’s perception of stability on the Korean Peninsula changing? On September 3, China’s Victory Day celebrations unveiled a turning point in northeast Asian relations: South Korean President Park Geun-hye was present, while her North Korean counterpart Kim Jong-un was not. Kim’s absence signaled a dramatic shift in the triangular relationship between China and both Koreas, … Continue reading "Are Trump’s Threats to North Korea Working?"

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