The Hill Talk’s Glance at the Globe

China amasses troops on North Korean border:  In preparation for what it believes may be an armed clash, the People’s Republic of China has reportedly deployed 300,000 troops along its 800-mile frontier with North Korea.

China has also strengthened its missile defenses in the area of the Apnok and Duman rivers, just miles from North Korea inside Chinese territory.  The placement of massive numbers of troops follows the installation of missile batteries and an armored division in late 2017.

It is also been reported Chinese formations on the North Korean border are maintaining surface-to-air missiles as a defensive measure against U.S. and South Korean aircraft.

Massive earthquake jolts Taiwan:  A magnitude 6.4 earthquake shook the eastern Taiwan city of Hualien on Tuesday, killing at least seven and leaving scores injured and unaccounted for.  According to Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau, the quake’s epicenter lie eight miles beneath the surface of the ocean, some 12 miles north of Hualien.

Taipei reportedly declined an offer of assistance from neighboring China.

Rescue crews combing through the rubble of collapsed buildings in Hualien were able to locate 260 survivors, but city mayor, Fu Kun-chi, expressed fear some 60 remained missing.  A jurisdiction of 100,000 residents, 40,000 were left without water and 2,000 were without electric power.

The quake’s aftershocks registered over 5.0 on the Richter scale and tremors registering 3.0 were felt as far away as Taipei.

YouTube concludes no evidence Russia meddled in Brexit vote:  Internet video-sharing platform YouTube has informed Great Britain’s House of Commons it has found no evidence the Russian Federation used its website to interfere with the 2016 Brexit vote.

Addressing a panel of MPs seated on the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee and U.S. senators assembled in Washington, D.C., to be briefed on the alleged use of social media to sway voters, YouTube’s Juniper Downs told the panel no evidence existed Russia posted fake news to disrupt the Brexit referendum.

The joint UK-U.S. committee also heard testimony from executives with Twitter and Facebook, both of which reported fake accounts were uncovered, but their inquiries revealed “low levels” of engagement from users.

Calls for South African president to step down intensify:  Amid widespread calls for South African President Jacob Zuma to resign, the South African parliament has postponed Mr. Zuma’s state of the union annual address.

Zuma is under pressure to step down over allegations of corruption, the most serious of which stems from his association with the Gupta family and its influence over his administration.  The Guptas own Oakbay Investments, which critics of Zuma say hold a powerful sway over Zuma’s state decisions.

Mr. Zuma has scarcely survived a series of no-confidence votes in parliament and from his ANC party, most recently in August 2017.

North Korea’s Kim invites South Korean president to visit capital:  In a gesture which may signal a break in a seemingly intractable impasse between North and South Korea, Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un has extended an invitation to President Moon Jae-in to travel to Pyongyang, North Korea.

The invitation was hand delivered to Moon by Kim Yo-jong, the sister of Kim.  The two met at the official residence of the South Korean president, Seoul’s Blue House (Cheong Wa Dae), after the opening of the Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

According to a Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson, the letter asked Moon to work with Kim to establish conditions under which the two heads of state could meet

While the visit marked the first time a member of the Kim family has visited the office of a South Korean president, hundreds have protested the presence of North Korea since Thursday.

“Kim Jong-un of North Korea is utilizing this Olympics politically to advertise as if the South and North Korea are in peace,” said one South Korean protester in Gangneung.

 

[The Express] [Focus Taiwan] [Sky News] [BBC] [Korean Herald] [Reuters via Global News] [Straits Times/YouTube]