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North Korea-South-east Asia ties face headwinds

Friday, March 10, 2017

Significance

Last week, Pyongyang and Kuala Lumpur imposed travel bans against each other’s citizens following the February 13 murder in Malaysia of Kim Jong-nam, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s half-brother. South-east Asia has worked to integrate North Korea into the Asia-Pacific region through the ASEAN dialogue process. However, Pyongyang’s missile launch into the Sea of Japan on March 6 is likely to have greater impact on South-east Asian views of North Korea than Malaysia's diplomatic spat over Kim Jong-nam.

Impacts

  • Likely North Korean efforts to expand trade with South-east Asia will see limited success.
  • The Kim Jong-nam murder and China’s position may add further strain to the Philippines-US relationship.
  • South-east Asian states are unlikely to support China’s wish to punish South Korea economically for deploying the THAAD system.

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