Yearender: Predictions for 2016 through 20 questions
Updated: 2015-12-31 07:53
19. Will there be a serious conflict on the Korean peninsula?
Zheng Jiyong, an associate professor on Korean Peninsula studies at Fudan University
No. It is in the interests of neither side to break the status quo on the Korean peninsula.
For the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, even though its leader Kim Yong-un said the country would defend its sovereignty with atomic and hydrogen bombs, the possibility of the state owning a hydrogen bomb is extremely low, and it has no intention of seeking more military strength. The DPRK benefits most from the status quo on the Korean peninsula because the US and the Republic of Korea won't challenge it under the shadow of its possible nuclear capability; if it insists on nuclear tests, it will only get less from them.
Besides, China and the DPRK are enlarging their bilateral trade. If the DPRK does more nuclear tests, China will reduce, even cut, the aid it extends to its neighbor, which would be a huge loss. The DPRK itself is trying to improve its economy and raise the livelihoods of its residents, a process that would be curbed if a war broke out.
For the ROK, the situation is similar because a military conflict would not bring any benefits. The ROK faces National Assembly elections next year and a presidential election in 2017, and the candidates can be expected to utter some bold words in the election campaigns; but all they want are votes and no rational ROK politician really wants a war with the DPRK. To sum up, a major military conflict on the Korean peninsula is unlikely because it is in the interests of no one.
20. Will terrorist attacks be on the rise?
Gong Honglie, an associate professor at School of International Studies, Nanjing University
No. The scenario in 2015 can be called the worst case. It was the rise of the Islamic State group and its advocated extremism that made so many attacks possible.
However, there is no reason to be optimistic about the global efforts against terrorism because the Middle East is still in political chaos. Besides, global powers, such as the US, Russia and their European counterparts, are still arguing with each other over Middle East affairs.
For China, the situation is hardly encouraging, either, because Central Asia on its Western border is far from being secure and stable. That might threaten its Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, even the Belt and Road Initiative, of which Central Asia is a key part.
Yet there is no need to exaggerate the threat of terrorism, because increasingly more nations are taking stricter security measures against the IS extremists. In China, separatists are no longer able to attack big cities as they did in 2014 and they have turned to remote, border regions instead. Therefore we can expect fewer terrorist attacks but it will be a long time before we totally root this evil out.
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