North Korea: The 1st session of the 13th Supreme People's Assembly of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea convened in Pyongyang on 9 April. The deputies elected Kim Jong Un as the first chairman of the National Defense Commission and approved his selection of the members of the Commission, which is the highest security policy body in the North.
Deputies also elected the leaders of the Assembly and approved the cabinet members which were proposed by premier Pak Pong Ju. Deputies also appointed the director of the Supreme Public Prosecutors Office and elected the president of the Supreme Court.
Finally, they approved last year's budget report and the budget for the current year.
Comment: The Assembly approved whatever the Korean Workers' Party Central Committee decided on Tuesday. North Korea adheres to the form of a separation of the Party from the government, but most deputies also are central committee members. Today's spectacle installed the government.
Preoccupation with preparations for the Assembly session probably has contributed to the North's more erratic behavior of late. The North has a difficult time staging more than one large event at a time because of limited expertise and the extreme centralization of decision-making in a climate of fear.
China: Chang Wanquan, China's state councilor and defense minister, and visiting US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, jointly met with reporters on 8 April in the August First Building following their talks, according to a Chinese news summary, excerpted below.
"Chang Wanquan replied to reporters' questions and expounded on the Chinese side's position on maintaining territorial sovereignty, on peripheral security situation, on Sino-Japanese relations, on Sino-US cyber security cooperation, and on other hot-button issues."
"Safeguarding Territorial Sovereignty: No Compromise, No Concession, and No Deal-Making"
"Chang Wanquan stressed that on territorial sovereignty issue China would not comprise, make concessions, and make deals, let alone allow violation of China's territorial sovereignty in the slightest."
"He said China's position on the East China Sea issue and on the South China Sea issue has been consistent and clear. China has indisputable sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands (aka Senkaku Islands), the Nansha islands (aka Spratly Islands) and nearby waters. Regarding sovereignty disputes over islands and reefs and issues relating to the delimitation of waters, China hopes for proper resolution with relevant concerned countries through talks and consultations."
In Other News: Can We Ask Al Qaeda for a Refund on the Bowe Bergdahl Prisoner Swap? | Michael Schaus