Cadence of Conflict: Asia, April 23, 2018

The US is arming East Asia and disarming North Korea. China is a spectator in the Western game.

Reports and gossip about the latest North Korean promise to disarm ensnared many in the media. The South Korean Kumbaya singing President Moon Jae-in was quick to give his “peace in our time” report that North Korea has promised to disarm, with the connotatively-added meaning of “shortly after his election”. Trump Tweeted that disarming is great, “yuge” news, then the mainstream media ripped on Trump for an unverified report, particularly PBS. (Why does PBS still receive tax dollar money?) Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was more cautions about North Korean false promises, proving himself the most sober in the room.

Japan is looking into a stealthy F-22 F-35 hybrid from Lockheed Martin, in order to deter impedance from “Chinese” and “Russian” jets in its air defense zone. Taiwan is also looking at Patriot missile defense systems. The increased military talk in China’s backyard, particularly about China,  surmounts to the dogs fighting over who gets to eat the pheasant.

China is making so many flybys around Taiwan that scrambling jets over air defense zone approaches is a strain on the Taiwanese military budget. Taiwan might end up sending China a bill, likely by way of military money from the US and US tariffs on not yet mentioned Chinese goods. Also look for new Taiwan-favored trade deficits with the US in amounts similar to the cost of scrambling jets every few days.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, April 16, 2018

The war with China is becoming the war with Russia and China, it’s economic, it’s culminating, and Britain is double-involved.

Since the strike on Syria, Russia is angry and thumping the drums. They promised retaliation before. After, they really promised really retaliation next time. It almost seems that Trump is testing Russian and Chinese leadership—and North Korea and Republican and Democrat—and has called their bluff. That’s coming at the US via Europe. But, Germany is also taking rhetorical shots at China, bringing Europe back into the Pacific conflict.

Britain is in contemplating trade talks with Taiwan. The UK is already involved in the Pacific conflict with Hong Kong’s exit status—that China will have no involvement in Hong Kong matters for fifty years as a condition of Hong Kong not being British. With Britain “friending” up to Taiwan, we see more involvement from the Crown.

But, the main fuel in the Pacific conflict is economics. US sanctions are successfully driving Kim to the table; China is eager to work with Japan before a Kim-Trump talk disarms the North. So, the US sanctions are also driving China and Japan to do at least something.

Then, there’s China’s own economics. Germany is angry about Chinese investments in Europe. More news stories this week talk of Chinese using money as a hostile takeover tool in Sri Lanka and Pakistan. China’s ability to stand against a US trade war goes back to US Treasury bonds and the direct devaluing of China’s own currency. While different “experts” have differing opinions, money is the talk—everywhere.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, April 9, 2018

China has been a source of great change.

Taiwan has received a license from the United States to build its own submarines. Wang, a legislature who sits on the Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee said that friendliness from the US is the highest it has ever been. Japan just commissioned its first marine force since WWII. 1,500 troops are ready, specifically to repel invasion of Japan’s islands. Thanks to China’s inspiration and initiative, many nations in the region are also making their contribution to peace and stability in Pacific Asia.

The US is re-evaluating trade with China. While much is just talk, Trump maintains friendly rhetoric. The shakeup with trade will force countries to reinvent and reevaluate trade policy. While a looming “trade war” remains the talk of many so-called “experts”, the long-term benefit will be the overall rebirth of trade throughout the world. Everyone will need to rethink trade. Any kind of thinking is good, especially in these times.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, April 2, 2018

China and the US have fixed their rudders on a ramming course. The only remaining question will be over whose hull is stronger.

The “yuge” US trade deficit with China is purported to be $375B USD. Bloomberg was sure to point out that the figure is inflated, some way or another. Xinhua news reports that a more accurate figure is a mere $298B USD deficit. Trump sent a “Section 301” notice of unfair trade tactics to China along with $50–60B USD in tariffs, depending on which news source you read. Trump also asked China to reduce the deficit by a whopping $100B USD and China says that the US is being unfair, placing tariffs on US food.

Asian markets are up, but a Caixin market index—something like a DOW Jones average in China—isn’t up as much as hoped. Everyone has an opinion on what all that means.

Companies in America believe that tariffs harm the consumer. Some voices argue that the US has a “service” trade surplus with China, but still a deficit overall. Trump argues that trade deficits harm the worker and the overall economy. Basic macro-economic theory would say that workers would afford higher prices with much higher pay.

Trade deficits initiated the Opium Wars with China when China welcomed a one-way flow of silver from Britain for tea, but would not allow the eager Chinese population to import British goods. The Opium Wars ended with surrender of several lands to Britain, including Hong Kong. China’s current and main land dispute is over Taiwan. The stage is set for history to repeat and so far it has.

Taiwan is certainly chumming up to the US as China attempts to endear the Taiwanese. Most recently, Taiwan is buying more advanced missiles from the US while two Senators advocate selling F-35s to Taiwan—a sale more likely since Taiwan’s current administration is unlikely to set up secret talks with China as the rival party attempted nearly four years ago. China banned Taiwanese movies casting a purportedly pro-independence Taiwanese actor, Lawrence Ko.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, March 26, 2018

China has out-shined. In the game of power, that’s an execution wish. With an aging population, an irritated neighborhood, a loudly whining generation of kids in Hong Kong drawing media attention, and the taste of freedom provided by trade with the outside world, China’s Communist party is trouble where the West is concerned.

China’s ruling party has not courted support from any territory either under its control or that it aspires to control. Some old school idealists in the retiring generation will support old empire methods, but they aren’t the muscle of the future. The gray-head Communists who dye their hair black don’t understand what a mess adult children can make when someone takes away their toys because that never happened in China before. Allowing their people to do business with the West injected those Western ideals and China can’t go back.

Now, with the massive assertions of power in China, those assertions are about to get stronger. Watch for greater power grabs by the Communist Party. But, even with the power grabs of recent weeks, the rest of the world—including Asia and the West—is on high alert. Russia’s only interest in China is to disrupt the rest of the West, not to have a new rival that changes as fast as Beijing does, in its own back yard of all places. These tariffs from the US and Trump signing a pro-military and otherwise Liberal omnibus spending bill from Congress indicate American resolve to halt China in its tracks—at least the Communists.

As for the ongoing “freedom of navigation” sail-bys in the poetically appropriately named Mischief Reef, Britain is also on board, as it were. The US just did another this week with the USS Mustin. China reacted in predictable anger as if on cue.

So, the assault against China’s Communism has begun. The West think they can win by using rage to control the “bull in the China shop”, as the saying goes. All it would take is one, small Western ship being disrupted by the Chinese and the fury of America’s democracy would stand up—with the greatest military budget in history already approved for the next two years.

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