Monday, April 6, 2009

Another “Serious Warning” for North Korea

During the early 1960s the People’s Republic of China (mainland China in those days) would issue an incessant number of sternly worded diplomatic complaints, called “Serious Warnings.” They were delivered on their domestic radio broadcasts. They were generally issued for some perceived territorial incursion, usually a US Navy ship entering Hong Kong or a flyby of the disputed Paracel or Spratly islands in the South China Sea. They numbered in the hundreds. They usually read like this: At 0800 on 29 June a US Navy ship intruded into the territorial waters of the People’s Republic of China south of (you name it). This is a clear violation of international law. For this the People’s Republic of China issues Serious Warning number 283. Often there would be two or three a day. No one in the US Government took the Serious Warnings seriously. They were toothless complaints issued for domestic consumption. The recent flap over North Korea’s missile launch shows the same impotence by us as the Chinese exhibited in the 1960s. Calling an emergency UN Security Council meeting with the knowledge that any substantive action will be vetoed by Russia or China accomplishes nothing. Best to keep silent.

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