Good morning. Here’s your Early Warning for Tuesday, 17 October.

 

Yesterday, the U.S. military practiced evacuating U.S. civilians in Seoul, South Korea. According to a statement, the exercise is aimed at preparing America “service members and their families to respond to a wide range of crisis management events such as noncombatant evacuation and natural or man-made disasters.” The head of the U.S. Army in Korea said the drill was not “directly related” to the situation with North Korea, and a military spokesman characterized the drill as routine. It’s important to note that the U.S. military has practiced evacuating U.S. non-combatants there for decades. In an apparently “unrelated” event, the U.S. and South Korea started an annual naval exercise in the region on Monday. This exercise includes warplanes, an aircraft carrier, and a nuclear submarine, and will last a week.

On Wednesday, the 19th National Congress begins in Beijing as Chinese leaders chart out the national agenda, potentially to the year 2050. A far cry from Washington’s 48-hour planning cycle, the National Congress is held every five years and marks a path forward for the next five. During the 19th, China is expected to chart a course for 30 years, aiming to “mature into a fully modernized socialist country. By then [2049]… its industry, its science, technology, culture would all be at world-class standard, and that’s really a massive undertaking.” Chinese President Xi Jingping is expected to push his “Four Comprehensives” plan, which he calls “the Chinese Dream”. Those comprehensives include a “moderately prosperous society,” deepening reform, enforcing the rule of law, and “strict governance” of the Chinese Communist Party. The event is expected to last one week.

Being that these two events will occur simultaneously, North Korea’s Kim Jong-un has a unique window of opportunity to disrupt both events by test launching an ICBM. If recent history is an indicator, then the Kim regime may attempt to show both the U.S. and China that it cannot be controlled, whether by proxy or threats of force.

 

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