The DailyBrief

Monday September 11, 2017

Korean Peninsula crisis: As Washington presses for a vote to impose more sanctions on North Korea, Pyongyang warned on Monday that the US would pay a “due price” for spearheading a UN Security Council resolution against its latest nuclear test, Asia Times and agencies report. The call for additional sanctions came after the North’s sixth nuclear test on September 3, which Pyongyang said was an advanced hydrogen bomb. The US wants the Security Council to impose an oil embargo on the North, block its export of textiles and freeze the financial assets of leader Kim Jong-un. “In case the US eventually does rig up the illegal and unlawful ‘resolution’ on harsher sanctions, {North Korea} shall make absolutely sure that the US pays due price,” Pyongyang said.

Gulf communication breakdown: A phone call on Friday between Qatar’s Emir Tamim Bin Hamad and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman did not go well, making it clear that the Gulf crisis is far from over, Sami Moubayed writes. Initial reports said that Tamim offered to sit down and discuss his country’s ongoing dispute with members of the Quartet – a Gulf alliance headed by Saudi Arabia that includes Egypt, Bahrain, and the UAE. But whatever was discussed over the phone, the outcome was not good. Hours later, Saudi Arabia suspended any further talks with Qatar and a chief adviser to the royal court in Riyadh accused Tamim and his father, Hamad Bin Khalifa, of spreading unrest and terror in the neighborhood, branding the latter “Gaddafi of the Gulf.”

Taiwanese activist “confesses”: The Chinese authorities have released footage of video confessions from a visitor on trial for attempting to subvert the Beijing government, Christian Shepherd writes. Lee Ming-che, a community college teacher known for his pro-democracy and rights activism, went missing on a trip to the mainland in March before being charged with subversion. In video clips released on social media by the Yueyang City Intermediate People’s Court, in Hunan province, Lee, referring to comments he had posted in an instant messaging group, said: “I spread some attacks, theories that maliciously attacked and defamed China’s government, the Chinese Communist Party and China’s current political system, and I incited the subversion of state power.”

Japanese air security: Russian and Chinese military aircraft are probing Japanese air defenses at a rate not seen in over a decade, causing repeated scrambling of Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force jets, Peter J Brown writes. The activity may put pressure on Tokyo to boost military spending amid talk of Beijing and Moscow playing a role to defuse the confrontation with North Korea. Japan recorded more than 850 such events in the year ended March 2017 that required the scrambling of its F-15J fighter aircraft. If China and Russia continue to flex military muscle in the skies above Japan, Tokyo may be pushed down a path to further militarization.

Hong Kong property: Tycoon Pan Sutong just bought a house at 75 Deep Water Bay Road for HK$2.5 billion (US$320 million), or about HK$156,000 per square foot, Ben Kwok writes. The sale makes it Hong Kong’s second most expensive house in terms of cost per square foot. The 54-year-old chairman of Goldin Financial Holdings bought the property from Continental Holdings chairman Charles Chan, who paid HK$65 million for it 25 years ago.

Asia Times app: Asia Times has launched an app for both iOS- and Android-based devices that delivers the publication’s regular daily news, commentary, blogs and live coverage while also bringing readers added functionality. As we report here, the app, launched on July 25, includes content notification, share and save functions and is free to download from both the Apple Store and Google Play.