Cadence of Conflict: Asia, December 10, 2018

The “Huawei arrest” sends yet another a irritatingly mixed message to China. China believes that a “strong response” concerning Taiwan will convince the US to back away from support for Taiwan. Conveniently for China, the recent provincial elections in Taiwan seem encouraging and Beijing has reached out to Taiwanese cities that just elected pro-Beijing party candidates.

Premier William Lai intends to resign at the “right time”. Could that time be what is necessary so he can run for president? Taiwanese politics are quite unpredictable. All we should expect is a series of surprises before, during, and after 2020. Considering where things stand in the world, we must remember that there is no way the UK could be on Taiwan’s side, especially since the UK has concerns about Taiwanese fisherman illegally killing dolphins as shark bait. With opportunity seeming to open, and the increased possibility of the loud-spoken, pro-independence William Lai to run for office, Beijing may be feeling put in an ever tightening situation that compels action.

As concerned as the Chinese are about security, they are far more concerned about insult. Without any sympathy from Western news audiences, an extradition of the Huawei executive from Canada to the US could push China over the edge. China believes that its horrific past justifies its conduct today. It is only a matter of time before Beijing decides that a strike against Taiwan, supported by cooperation with Taiwanese city governments, would send the US out of the region. Taiwan may not be seen by Beijing as the irritant of tensions, but the solution to them. The US might have a different opinion.

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Encore of Revival: America, December 10, 2018

The theory presented on September 10 and November 19 proved useful enough to predict White House Chief of Staff John Kelly’s departure. No one announces in advance that someone is leaving—before the departure, without also announcing a replacement. Nobody cares about a boss whose boss already announced would be leaving. That’s how to cripple any malevolent powers of an administrator that can’t be quickly unplugged, but needs to go—and do so without raising suspicion that the administrator did anything wrong. Even in his dismissal—not a “retirement”—Kelly fits the bill as the author of the “New York Times essay”, right down to getting tossed out in a way that no one would suspect a darned thing.

France is in trouble. The president who snubbed Trump has fallen into disfavor with his own people. This largely comes down to grandiose promises made by socialist agendas that everyone should have known could not deliver because of foresight rooted in hindsight. Socialism never delivers anything but what we see in France now. As for ado about Brexit, there’s no point in worrying so much since the queen can decide anyway, if she wants to. That’s what the British always tell Americans is so wonderful about the UK’s constitutional monarchy. But, acting like this is a problem helps keep the British press afloat.

A Trump campaign payment is now being compared to a situation with 2004 Democratic candidate John Edwards. But, that has three major holes in its boat: 1. The accusation encircles alleged campaign finance violations surrounding the Trump organization’s lawyer, Cohen, whose job it was to give legal advice; Trump is not a lawyer, Edwards was. Can a lawyer be witness against the client he advised, or secretly recorded? 2. The Mueller investigation sought to understand whether there was wrongful involvement with Russia and Trump. The Fourth Amendment limits the scope of search and seizure to a probable cause and any seized items must be specified by the warrant in advance. By starting with an investigation between Trump and Russia, but ending with a campaign finance accusation against a candidate accused by the lawyer who advised him, this has gone well beyond the scope that the Fourth Amendment was intended to limit. If courts allow this, it shows how much our legal justice system has wandered from the Constitution. 3. The electorate will want a good explanation for why Hillary wasn’t treated this way. The best reason so far would be that the courts have been usurped as a cudgel for political rivals. It’s not Trump who needs to be worried about an indictment; it’s the legal justice system itself that is about to go on trial.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, December 3, 2018

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-Wen apologizing after a mid-term defeat at the provincial level will not demonstrate strength on her part, but she shows respect and stability in maintaining her appointees and policy toward China. Having not stood her ground on information about proposal that would have set Taiwan’s team name at the Olympics in Japan as “Taiwan”, instead of “Taipei”, she lost important support from the Formosan Association for Public Affairs, a group that seeks to have Taiwan internationally recognized as an independent nation.

Taiwan’s premier, William Lai, does stand for Taiwanese independence, held remarkable popularity in his reelection as mayor, and is the shoe-in candidate if he were to run in 2020 instead of Tsai. Tsai’s re-election is uncertain. What happens will depend on Taiwanese politics, which are too adolescent to not be surprised by. Main matters at stake include Taiwan developing faster responses to correct disinformation given to the public and a focus on better quality with internal governance and infrastructure. Interestingly, information and governance—not China itself—are at the heart of resistance to China.

If Taiwan declares independence from China, or takes too many steps to join international bodies like the UN, as Beijing has stated, we could be looking at all out war. Some in the political “news-o-sphere” call Taiwan a “flashpoint”. China hangs onto hopes of retaking Taiwan like King John’s suicidal siege of Rochester Castle. All the US does is provoke.

The latest provocation came late last week when Japan opened the path to retrofitting “helicopter carriers” into fixed-wing aircraft carriers. Japan looks to acquire 142 F35s—42 As and now 100 Bs; the UK eyes 138, about half of them to go to the Royal Navy. There are too many high-tech American aircraft in China’s backyard for China’s comfort. And, the US did two more sail-bys—one near China’s man-made islands, the other through the Taiwan Strait. China lobbed another “demarche” protest with Washington, presuming the action to be “provocative”.

Then came the US-China 90 day cease fire between Trump and Xi at the G20 this past weekend. A lot can happen in 90 days, whether politically, economically, or militarily.

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Encore of Revival: America, December 3, 2018

Former President George Herbert Walker Bush, the 41st president, is dead at 94.

While the Bush family and the nation mourn, politics continue as usual.

The “Mark Meadows Plan” for Congressional Republicans foreshadows political posturing of the next two years: Democrats will be a powerless foil supporting the re-election of Trump. Just how Democrats harassed the Regan administration with the Olly North investigations, harassed Supreme Justices Kavanaugh and Thomas with sexual harassment allegations—just how the House Republicans harassed Clinton with the Kenneth Star -led investigation—so will this Democratic House irritate the electorate over the next two years. Even if the House impeaches the president as it did Clinton, there isn’t foreseeable traction in the 52-seat strong Republican Senate.

The latest “shock and faux” campaign from the press attempts to scare readers with the notion that Russia did not exercise leverage over Trump—but they could have—because Trump decided not to build a project in Russia that everyone knew about him not building when he would have been allowed to build it anyway. The reason, as this latest “wow” campaign goes, is because Trump is now reported to be the center of the Mueller investigation. Really? That’s news?

The next two years will be as entertaining as watching a cat who thinks it’s a god, but just can’t figure out why it can’t get anyone to obey.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, November 26, 2018

Taiwan held something akin to a “mid-term” election this past Saturday. The people revolted against the previous revolt. When electing the DPP two years ago, the people were fed up with the capitulation policies of Ma. Now, they are fed up with bad management of infrastructure, also an “establishment culture” surfacing in what should be the “opposition party”, among other grievances. Taiwan’s government cautioned China to wait and see how the election affects cross-strait policy before jumping to any conclusions—because they think China can’t figure that out.

China’s government and the Western press are going head to head. China held the American children of an estranged father and money laundering defendant. The New York Times made sure to plaster the picture of the young adult brother and sister at the top of the story. Exploiting children to sway outcomes just isn’t fair.

But, it didn’t stop at children. The New York Times also posted about cheap labor building Chinese AI. And, Forbes published an article with a graph that makes it look like China’s economy has bottomed out. The battle between China and its great and powerful foe—the Western press—rages on. China is at an unfair disadvantage, but presses forward fearlessly and valiantly.

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