Night Watch

North Korea: North Koreans voted for the 687 deputies that will constitute the 13th Supreme People's Assembly (SPA). The term of the SPA is five years.

Comment: The constitution describes the SPA as the organ of supreme sovereignty; it exercises legislative power. Article 2 of the constitution describes the people as sovereign. Article 3 stipulates that the people exercise their sovereignty through the SPA and through their local assembles.

In fact it is a rubber stamp for decisions made by the leaders of the Korean Workers' Party. Ballots for each constituency carry a single name. The voters chose yes or no.

The number of deputies in the SPA is derived from the size of the population. Each deputy represents a constituency of about 30,000 people. In earlier times, the number of deputies increased as the population grew. However, every SPA since April 1990 has contained 687 deputies.

The CIA World Factbook's latest estimate of the population of North Korea is 24,720,407 (sic!). Based on that figure the number of deputies should be 824. Alternatively, the population of the constituencies has increased to about 36,000. The number of deputies in the SPA supports a variety of indications that population growth is low in the North.

China: Concerning sovereignty. During a press conference at the session of the National People's Congress in Beijing on Saturday, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China would vigorously defend its sovereignty.

"We will never bully smaller countries, yet we will never accept unreasonable demands from smaller countries," Wang Yi told reporters. "On issues of territory and sovereignty, China's position is firm and clear: We will not take anything that isn't ours, but we will defend every inch of territory that belongs to us."

Referring to the Senkaku Island dispute with Japan, Wang said "there is no room for compromise in territorial and historical issues."

Comment: This is a restatement of longstanding legal and policy positions. The Chinese claims to islands and sea areas are based on ownership. That makes them entirely different from Russian justifications for action in Ukraine. Wang provided no judgment about Russian policy toward Ukraine, but also did not distance China from Russia. Then he spoke about Korea, where different rules apply.

Night Watch

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