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    Persuading Pyongyang: A Non-Confidential Memo for the Trump-Kim Talks

    April 19th, 2018  by  Asia-Pacific Global Research Group - Jasper Kim

    Persuading Pyongyang: A Non-Confidential Memo for the Trump-Kim Talks

    By Jasper Kim

    Jasper Kim, JD/MBA, is the author of Persuasion: The Hidden Forces That Influence Negotiations (Routledge 2018). He is a lawyer, former investment banker, and Director of the Center for Conflict Management at Ewha University in Seoul, Korea. He was a former visiting scholar at Harvard University and Stanford University. Follow him on Twitter: @JasperKim101.
     
    APG note: this blog is a partial version of the full CNN article found here.
     
    The two most dramatic political figures in modern history—US president Donald Trump and the DPRK’s Kim Jong Un—have agreed in principle to meet in face-to-face negotiations. Will the Trump-Kim talks lead to an epic battle with only one man standing to claim victory? Or could the first talks between a sitting US president and North Korea’s leader culminate towards cooperation?
     
    To Trump, who famously quipped that “Everything is negotiable,” he likely sees the talks as transactional within the broader strokes of the “art of the deal.” Trump’s background hails from the world of high stakes real estate deals in New York. A leader knowingly or unknowingly takes such experience and outlook to higher office. This may be why Trump believes he must always exude uber-confidence and strength. The world, as viewed from his purview, exists in a Hobbesian state, a law of the jungle that can fluctuate wildly and precariously. Thus, his modus operandi is: a good offense is the best defense. No middle ground exists. You are either in the fight club or not.
     
    All the while, Kim Jong Un is watching. So what could North Korea’s Supreme Leader be thinking regarding the prospect of negotiating with Trump who previously proclaimed, “I’m really a great negotiator, I know how to negotiate, I like making deals”? It could be that Kim now views Trump with an increasing level of recognition and respect, formed by watching the commander-in-chief in action since taking office. Based on such observations from Kim’s line of sight, when it comes to the use of possible force, Trump seems like he could truly mean what he says. And this could be the ultimate wake-up call for Kim. If a Stalinist-inspired leader understands one thing, it is the use of force.
     
    A fear factor is also at play within such recognition and respect. In fact, the fear factor is arguably what is driving Kim and Trump together towards the same path of direct talks. They both, albeit reluctantly, now fear and respect each other to the point where neither one sees a more viable option than entering into negotiations. In an ironic twist, both also share similar negotiation tactics. Trump and Kim have each made audacious claims towards a course of action, from constructing walls to launching missile tests, that embolden key domestic audiences. They may not like or trust one other, but Trump and Kim can certainly understand each other.
     
    In a high-stakes negotiation game of one-on-one, tit-for-tat, one-upsmanship, both Trump and Kim increased their rhetoric to the seemingly very outer limits. This was their way of stress-testing the other’s mettle. But neither has blinked in this ultimate game of chicken set at the world stage for all to see. However, perhaps intentionally or accidentally, such actions and fear factor have led to an unlikely state of mutual recognition and respect. Both view the other as having the real potential to take action if perceived as being ignored, slighted, or disrespected. At the same time, Kim and Trump realize that a possible next step in escalation across a fuzzy, undefined, and blurry redline would not yield any benefit for either side. Crossing such redline would lead to a more than likely mutually-assured destruction (MAD) outcome. Of course, based on iterated war game simulations, the US would win such a conflict. But the more calibrated question is: “win” at what cost, economically, reputationally, and in terms of how many lives lost?
     
    From Kim Jong Un’s perspective, his world is a Stalinist world largely frozen in time since the 1950-53 Korean War. Like Trump, Kim also sees the world in Hobbesian terms. To protect himself and his homeland, Kim wants nuclear weapons as a protective shield, similar to how a person may want a gun to safeguard his or her home. Kim also wants economic assistance to protect himself and those loyal to him. But the savvy negotiator’s question is not “what” a person wants, but “why” a person wants it. Such framing shift prompts a negotiation paradigm shift from a competitive (distributive, win-lose) mindset to a cooperative (integrative, win-win) mindset.
     
    Given this, the fundamental questions should also shift from positional-based questions—such as the number of nuclear weapons North Korea may want, or the number of US troops remaining in South Korea—to instead ask “why” interest-based questions often hiding and lurking underneath such positions. Why, for instance, would a secluded state want nuclear weapons, akin to why would a person want a weapon for protection at home? If it is fear of aggression, what is the best solution to remedy such fear? These are often the invisible influencers in a negotiation Yet despite Trump and Kim’s seeming positional differences, both share some common interests, from selflessly altruistic to purely self-focused. These range from securing peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region to cementing their respective legacies.
     

     

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    Asia’s Next Crisis will be a Climate Change Crisis: Using Environmental Impact Bonds to Fund Remediation Responses

    July 20th, 2017  by  Asia-Pacific Global Research Group - Jasper Kim

    asiafacts
     
    In a recent article by the Financial Times (FT), a recent Asia Development Bank (ADB) report warned of a coming climate change crisis.
     
    Here are five (5) major takeaways:
     
    – Asia will be particularly affected due to its large population, dependence on certain crops highly impacted by climate change (e.g., rice yields are forecasted to drop precipitously), as well as having a notable population on or near coastal areas.
     
    – Asia also accounts for almost two-thirds of the 20 cities it is estimated will suffer the greatest increase in financial losses to flooding over the next decades.
     
    – Rising mean temperatures risk killing tens of thousands more older people (certain Asian states have rapidly aging populations), while deadly or debilitating mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue fever are likely to flourish.
     
    – Mean summertime temperatures in north-west China, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan are projected to rise as much as 8C by 2100. Rainfall is forecast to climb by half in many land areas of the Asia-Pacific region, creating new flooding risks.
     
    – The ADB says it has screened its investments for climate change implications, asking questions such as whether new cities, bridges and roads will be able to cope with more severe flooding and other threats. It says other action that could help would be to shift agricultural practices away from evaporation-prone surface irrigation to more water-conscious drip irrigation methods.
     
    Apart from IGO and public sector funding, one innovative way of financing such climate change remediation measures could be the use of pay-for-performance (PFP) environmental impact bonds (EIBs, a specialized form of social impact bond, SIB).
     
    The first EIB/SIB used in the US occurred last year involving DC Water, Calvert Foundation and Goldman Sachs Group, among others.
     
    Social Finance defines a SIB as “a public-private partnership which funds effective social services through a performance-based contract. Social Impact Bonds enable federal, state, and local governments to partner with high-performing service providers by using private investment to develop, coordinate, or expand effective programs. If, following measurement and evaluation, the program achieves predetermined outcomes and performance metrics, then the outcomes payor repays the original investment. However, if the program does not achieve its expected results, the payor does not pay for unmet metrics and outcomes.”
     
    The EIB/SIB structure utilizes market mechanisms and incentives with social and economic returns, which could potentially fund Asia’s environmental remediation programs. As part of such EIB/SIB structure, IGOs such as the ADB could provide first-loss guarantees on equity/mezzanine tranches of such EIBs/SIBs as well as help with collateral and/or credit ratings.
     
    Such advancements to the traditional EIB/SIB structure would help mitigate risk and thus incentivize other market players–both private and public–to help in this coming climate change crisis.

     
     
    If interested in how Asia-Pacific Global Research Group’s consultancy and training expertise can help your organization, CONTACT US HERE.
     
     
     

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    “Decoding Kim Jong-un: What North Korea’s Leader Wants” (Forbes op-ed, Jasper Kim)

    February 14th, 2017  by  Asia-Pacific Global Research Group - Jasper Kim

    Below is a truncated version of the original Forbes op-ed piece.
     
    For the full Forbes op-ed, click HERE
     
    This weekend, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un fired not just his country’s first missile test since U.S. President Donald Trump took office this year, he also fired the opening shot in a high-stakes negotiation match between two seemingly unpredictable alpha male world leaders.
     
    So why did North Korea conduct a launch in the very early days of Trump’s presidency?
     
    Kim wants to test his counterpart’s mettle: What will he do? What will he not do? Could Trump ever be trusted? These are the questions in Kim’s head.
     
    So why did North Korea conduct a launch in the very early days of Trump’s presidency?
     
    Kim wants to test his counterpart’s mettle: What will he do? What will he not do? Could Trump ever be trusted? These are the questions in Kim’s head.
     
    Words or action?
     
    Sanctions as sticks are not working as hoped to compel good behavior . Could diplomacy vis-à-vis China work? At the end of the day, it’s unlikely that Beijing would be willing to cooperate with Washington given Trump’s apparent intransigence about China, along with growing evidence that the PRC may be having less sway over the DPRK.
     
    Could then a pre-emptive military strike be a feasible option? In short, given that South Korea’s capital of Seoul has approximately ten million residents sitting in the backyard of the DMZ, which acts as a thin buffer between the two Koreas, the possible military and economic ramifications are too vast to justify a risky military encounter.
     
    This is why Kim finds himself relatively unrestrained from ordering missile test after missile test despite international outcry and sanctions. In fact, such outcries and sanctions are the very justification Kim needs to solidify his power base to his negotiation audience — his inside circle of advisers and elderly military leaders — that the outside world is truly “hostile” to their homeland.
     
    Direct appeal
     
    But perhaps there may be a better alternative to military strikes and more sanctions — why not speak directly to Kim himself to find out what he wants?
     
    A negotiation is defined as “getting what you want.” And most successful negotiations occur when both sides get at least a little of what they want. But too often, even the most experienced parties make sweeping one-size-fits-all assumptions about what the other’s demands are. As studies show, we see things as we are, rather than as they are. In other words, people superimpose their wants, fears, and values onto those with whom they are dealing.
     
    Past and perhaps even current U.S. officials have assumed that Kim is all about ruthless self-preservation. Others claim he wants a peace treaty, strong economy — even reunification. Statements from the North’s state-run KCNA news agency can also be viewed as negotiable first offers packaged in bombastic bluster.
     
    Which of these does North Korea’s leader want? We simply need more information to know. After all, information is power in negotiations.
     
    But rather than making broad-sweeping assumptions, a simpler and more effective approach exists: Just ask.
     
    For the amount of resources, lives, and security risks involved, the amount of direct communication between Kim and the most senior U.S. leaders commensurate to North Korean leader’s level of seniority have been negligent to nil. From the perspective of the Confucian and Stalinist-driven mindset of this young leader, it’s critical that a presidential level leader be present in the room. After all, the messenger is the message.

     
     
    If interested in how Asia-Pacific Global Research Group’s consultancy and training expertise can help your organization, CONTACT US HERE.
     
     
     

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    The End of the “One China” Policy?: Trump Using The “One China” Policy as a Bargaining Chip

    December 5th, 2016  by  Asia-Pacific Global Research Group - Jasper Kim

    trumptaiwanprcflags-copy 
     
    In recent days, US President-elect Trump has received criticism both domestically and internationally over his recent phone call from Taiwan President, Tsai Ing-wen.
     
    Given that the US has recognized a “One China” policy since 1979, what could be the meaning of Trump’s latest actions–defying decades of existing apparent political protocol?
     
    This is a broad question that will be further delineated from an apolitical perspective using a “negotiator’s lens.” As a self-professed negotiator, Trump has taken the view that “everything’s negotiable,” the following reasons could underly the President-elect’s decision to speak directly with Taiwanese President, Tsai Ing-wen.
     
    1. Why would Trump receive a call from Taiwan’s Tsai, given the potential for antagonizing China?
     
    The answer is simple. Trump spoke with Tsai to increase Trump’s bargaining power over China.
     
    From a negotiation perspective, China has generally viewed its nearly four decade “One China” policy with the US as a given. The One China Policy–negotiated by Kissinger and Nixon in the 1970s–is a policy that is viewed with great weight and pride by Beijing. After all, it is arguably because of the US-PRC’s One China policy that allowed China to definitively assert itself from a regional to a global purview as a diplomatic–as well as economic and military–powerhouse.
     
    By following long-held diplomatic protocol, Trump most likely took the view that the US would gain relatively little, if anything at all, as a new negotiator-in-chief. Even with the One China policy in a status quo state under the current Obama administration, tensions between the US and PRC have, if anything, escalated in the form of increased military tensions and posturing both in and outside the Asia-Pacific region.
     
    Why not then—from Trump’s negotiator’s mindset perspective—remind Beijing not to take the One China policy for granted? Why not remind Xi Jingping of the possible, albeit remote, risk of the US increasingly and purposely, as a negotiation strategy, taking greater notice of Taiwan? Even if such overtures from Trump towards Taiwan fall slightly short of an outright reneging on the One China policy, such negotiation tactic can increase the US’s negotiation power vis-a-vis Beijing. This could translate into greater terms and conditions for the US regarding things it wants from China now or in the future.
     
    As a rough analogy, imagine you are a partner for a large firm undergoing a perfunctory yearly performance review. Under normal circumstances, your mind would normally be preoccupied with the possible upsides that you hope to receive from your other partners (negotiation counterparties), such as the amount of your yearly bonus. But instead, imagine that the firm’s partners instead tell you that there’s a chance that you could be fired. Thereafter, after you go through various nightmare scenarios in your head of you looking for a new job, finding ways to support your family, and/or seek ways to live on your current savings, the partners thereafter inform you, “Well, congratulations, after some internal contemplation, you’re not fired after all; you get to keep your job, with all its current rights and obligations.” The outcome is still the same–the status quo. But surely, you will agree that such an unexpected and shocking review process will now serve as a renewed impetus towards dealmaking on behalf of the firm in the future.
     
    2. Why did Trump not follow traditional diplomatic protocol as suggested by certain experts and bureaucrats, including the US State Department?
     
    Tradition and protocol is good until it is not. In other words, the benefits of diplomatic tradition and protocol may, at a certain point, be outweighed by its constraints. This type of thinking is why so many of the best and brightest minds from around the world have constantly sought to seek US shores, rather than other countries, for jobs, education, and citizenship. It is because traditions and protocols that originally acted as fundamental pillars within certain societies suddenly became weighted tipping points and constraints in terms of limitations on individual and economic freedoms. This was certainly the case with the US colonies when it was ruled by the UK monarchy, leading to the Declaration of Independence and the formation of a new republic.
     
    As a political presidential candidate, Trump represented the epitome of an unorthodox political candidate. Trump’s supporters liked him not because he followed protocol in terms of his speeches and rhetoric, but to the contrary, because he challenged the norm, status quo, and political elitism.
     
    It should thus be no surprise then that Trump, now as President-elect, is trying to “think different” by not following the typical dog-and-pony show that certainly can exist in bureaucratic circles in Washington, DC, Beijing, and elsewhere.
     
    Why do such protocols exist in Washington, DC? From a negotiation theory perspective, it is based on a “not-to-lose” negotiation mindset, known as a dispute settlement negotiation (DSN) mindset, as opposed to a “play-to-win” negotiation mindset, known as a deal-making negotiation (DMN) mindset.
     
    A “not-to-lose” DSN mindset is often the mindset of cautious bureaucrats who fear risk rather than seek opportunity. Such a mindset is often based on a working assumption that the status quo (par) is as good as things can generally get. However, such extreme caution can lead to the tangible risk of missed opportunities and gains by taking a “play-to-win” DMN mindset–the type of dealmaking mindset that President-elect Trump proclaims to have, and appears to be taking based from his past business dealmaking experience.
     
    3. Could Trump’s perceived lack of possible diplomatic predictability lead to “lost in translation” communications between the US and its allies and foes?
     
    The short answer is yes. However, the rest of the world will adjust. This may seem somewhat pompous and arrogant, but it is true. The US, in the era of Pax Americana, is the world leader in terms of military, economic, and diplomatic might. For many countries, particularly non-liberal democracies, the election of a potentially new US president every four years is often perceived as a relatively frequent affair compared to the potential life-long tenure of an undemocratically elected dictator, king, or military ruler. And with what is often the case with an incoming US president from a competing political party, such new president will not only be busy trying to undo his predecessor president, but also have a unique personality and style while in the Oval Office, and thus, in communicating with world leaders.
     
    Presidential candidate Trump has already used very direct language during the course of his 2016 campaign, including those directly aimed against Beijing. But Beijing is so far not in apparent panic mode. So far, China’s leaders have more or less taken a “wait and see” patient approach–a wise, strategic move. The world should follow suit.
     
    Maybe President Trump will adjust his language, tenor, and approach once in the White House, maybe not. But one virtue of being the world’s most powerful man in the world’s most powerful nation, is that the world will adjust, if anything because the world has little choice but to adjust to the style of a new US president.

     
     
     
    If interested in how Asia-Pacific Global Research Group’s consultancy and training expertise can help your organization, CONTACT US HERE.
     
     
     

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    How did Trump Win the Presidency?: By Thinking Like a Negotiator (Lessons

    November 18th, 2016  by  Asia-Pacific Global Research Group - Jasper Kim

     trump-asia-powerpnt_2016-11-11_13-15-36
     
    In ancient Greece—the genesis of Western civilization and thinking—the Greek goddess Athena was known to be the securer of “victory.” She also awarded the dealmakers that brought forth victory. In Oresteia, the Greek goddess Athena proclaims, “I admire…the eyes of persuasion.”
     
    Viewed from an apolitical lens, the Greek goddess would have certainly admired the persuasion, tactics and strategy underlying Donald Trump’s US presidential bid that brought forth an unlikely victory.
     
    To Trump’s supporters, comprised of a diverse voting group including both rich and poor, his victory was an affirmation of Trump’s call to arms against political elites and the perception that America could be great again. To Trump’s critics, his victory was a complete and utter shock that seemed to defy all odds.
     
    To some political pundits and so-called political experts—many who belittled, criticized and grossly underestimated Trump at every turn–it became clear that they needed an update. Their expert predictions and assumptions were outdated and antiquated, advising that future elections should be similar to past elections in terms of tone and rhetoric.
     
    But meanwhile, while these so-called experts were sleeping, the world became flat and hyper-connected due to unforeseen technological tectonic shifts. In the advent of today’s “super-social” era–in which communication is dominated by 140 crafted characters through platforms such as Twitter and Facebook—such weathered expert experience ultimately translated into a net liability, rather than an asset.
     
    So how did Trump win the US presidency? By thinking like a negotiator.
     
    This then begs the question: What exactly is a “negotiation”? According to the Harvard Negotiation Project, a negotiation is defined as “Getting what you want.”
     
    Trump is a self-proclaimed negotiator and dealmaker. He has authored books such as The Art of the Deal, while proclaiming in a recent interview that, “Everything’s negotiable.”
     
    As such, during Trump’s campaign, he was in constant negotiations—with the Republican Party, Democratic Party, the media, and the voting public—to get what he wanted. At each level, Trump was waging a “David versus Goliath” negotiation war, from his purview, in which each and all of these “negotiation opponents” were, at one point or another, against him.
     
    Think for a moment what Trump’s victory, a high-stakes negotiation game, entailed. Since 1988, apart from the current president, the political landscape was dominated by just two family names: Clinton and Bush.
     
    Trump—a political newcomer, but not one with negotiation naiveté–slayed both family dragons in the course of a single election cycle.
     
    Should you be worried or concerned that Trump is now President-elect Trump, given his tone and rhetoric on the campaign trail?
     
    Again, some so-called experts will provide a simple binary analysis for simple minds—a flat yes, that he is the precipice to a new era of an isolated America (rather than a continued era of Pax Americana)—or a flat no, that he will be the savior that America needs in a dangerous world.
     
    But a third, more nuanced and honest answer exists. We simply do not yet have enough information to give a credible answer. What type of information should we be waiting for then? Actual “evidence” in the form of tangible policy action once Trump is sworn in as the forty-fifth US president. Maybe Trump will be great, maybe not. But much like a courtroom, you would not want a judgment about you made against you before the evidence has been thoughtfully and impartially adjudicated.
     
    And what about all of Trump’s seemingly fiery campaign statements? As savvy negotiators know, first statements are often mere first offers.
     
    Trump views everything through a negotiation and dealmaking lens. This will have implications in the US and other regions, including in Asia.
     
    How will a President Trump deal with North Korea’s regime? It looks like Trump would not be completely adverse to face-to-face negotiations with Kim Jong-Un. After all, in any negotiation, to get what you want, you have to know what the other side wants.
     
    How will a President Trump deal with Beijing when it comes to trade? Hopefully, a President Trump will understand the basic negotiation lesson in a tit-for-tat (TFT) negotiation, which often leads to a lose-lose scenario involving mutually-assured destruction (MAD). In such a prisoner’s dilemma scenario, it often benefits both sides to cooperate rather than compete.
     
    As former US President John F. Kennedy famously proclaimed, “Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.”

     
     
     
    If interested in how Asia-Pacific Global Research Group’s consultancy and training expertise can help your organization, CONTACT US HERE.
     
     
     

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