Cadence of Conflict: Asia, November 19, 2018

In Taiwanese politics, a mayor candidate’s comments about his own benefits from drinking honey-lemonade sparked retribution from the medical community. After a lump under his eye went away, apparently from a vegetarian and honey-lemonade diet, he actually said so. A professional from a hospital was quick to weigh in. It’s understandable. If people learned that honey could cure disease, hospital profits would plunge. More importantly, Taiwanese political debates would become outright boring without the ability to, as the saying goes, make lemonade from political debates.

But, lemonade really is important. Google search results even saw a spike after this essential talk of Taiwanese politics made news.

Meanwhile, at the ASEAN summit in Singapore, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong called for nations to come together at a time when Southeast Asian stability was under threat. In anticipation of APEC after ASEAN, Mike Pence started talking tough, wanting results and genuine action from China concerning an even-flow of trade. He elaborated, that the US has a quarter of a billion dollars in tariffs and isn’t afraid to go twice as high as well as take more “diplomatic” action. It was a strong “they know that we know that they know what we think” remark, the kind that precedes otherwise objectionable action to make the action unobjectionable.

Later, at APEC, Pence warned of returning to a “cold war” while making plans for a US-Australian naval base in Papua New Guinea. Rather than dropping its tilted tariffs on goods, China has been openly gearing up for all out war three weeks. APEC ended without a written agreement between member nations for the first time ever because of the disagreements between the US and China.

This past weekend, Taiwan did something that China despises every bit as much as it cannot identify with: Taiwan hosted democratic election campaigns. With all the strong rhetoric concerning Taiwan, independence, and China’s loudly and often-spoken determination to invade Taiwan, there shouldn’t be any question where China’s war-in-preparation will start and why America will easily get involved.

America is already involved in Taiwan to quite an extent. AIT, the unofficial yet de facto US embassy in Taiwan, had an interview scheduled for release with a large TV network in Taiwan. But, after the interview, the TV network, TVBS, scrapped the interview. So, AIT shared the interview in its Facebook page, rather than relying on TVBS.

With the history lessons about Taiwan in almost every Taiwan-related story in the Western press, Americans will take an advancement against Taiwan as an advancement against themselves. China would be perceived as an aggressor and rightly so. Everything the US has done to provoke and irritate China would have only worked if China possessed the old school “Asian Pride” that Sun Tzu warned against, a pride that can’t be permitted in a world’s superpower because such pride is easily provoked just as much as it is easily shattered. Hardened pride makes for brittle peace. That’s something that the entire West won’t allow, the US notwithstanding.

Read More

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, September 3, 2018

China is in trouble. We don’t know why, but we know the indication: Trump will be absent from ASEAN. He was absent from a funeral this week and his support grew. He was absent from a Republican debate, then he won the Republican nomination. By not meeting Xi face to face, Xi won’t be able to read his emotions. No one knows exactly what Trump has planned, only that he’s spending a lot of time on the golf course—a luxury banned by China’s Communist Party—a luxury that just so happens to be Trump’s favorite place to mull things over and get new ideas.

In the rainy season of August, Taiwan enjoyed almost three weeks of cloud cover. Whatever went on in Taiwan, it was difficult to see from above, and China never likes not being able to see from above. There’s nothing like a little conveniently bad weather to irritate the away team. But, that wasn’t the end.

The US is looking at a contingency of Marines to defend its unofficial embassy in Taipei and a former chief suggests simulating attacks on China’s Soviet made, diesel powered aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, if it gets close enough to Taiwan. Such a statement is purely provocative and no chief, former or sitting, would make such provocation without sitting in counsel. This all compares to the Scottish flashing each other before a battle of the kilts. This week, the Taipei Times published numerous insulting and blatantly disrespectful stories from Taiwanese politics, spitting at China. Taiwan wouldn’t do without backing.

Read More

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, July 25, 2016

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, July 25, 2016

The words “China” and “tariffs” are appearing in headlines together again. Cambodia is seen as a Chinese puppet in ASEAN. And, one dissenting opinion from Forbes claims that tariffs are only about consumers, not about jobs and whole economies. Contrary to China’s unspoken messages, Beijing asks for more economic cooperation, but Europe is stealing the limelight.

If China were truly interested in global economic growth, they should move their shadow away from the economic shipping lanes in the South China sea. But, that idea doesn’t exactly come to mind to the Communist worldview, which presumes that success is bestowed rather than sown and reaped.

Taiwan’s order of 50 some amphibious vehicles from the US has been delayed until 2020, three and a half years. Yet, the US called on Taiwan to create a vehicle for a lunar landing. One would think that Taiwan might build 50 some lunar landing vehicles for Taiwanese use under water, especially since the specs should not be as complex, but that was not reported. Perhaps the US could divert NASA resources to Taiwan’s security to ensure that the lunar vehicle supplier is not crushed by an invasion from China, but that was not reported either.

Read More

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, May 9, 2016

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, May 9, 2016

China is angry. It’s always easy to tell when someone makes lightly veiled threats in the forms of “advice” or “caution”. These comments came from a Chinese diplomat, that pressure in the South China Sea could “rebound” like a “coiled spring”, depending on where it is “aimed” by the US.

In his analogy, he didn’t seem to elaborate on how an engineering culture explains US “aiming” (intention) having a direct effect on spring-coil physics. Usually, one aims with a sling, not a spring; and their is no pressure, only tension and sudden impact.

Chinese easily make grand contradictions in their implications when they don’t say most of what they think. This is part of the East-Asian “implication-driven” culture. The problem is that they rarely see the implications of making contradictory implications—the problem being that it is incredibly obvious to Westerners skilled in recognizing things at face-value.

Putting his conflicting analogy on the couch, this likely indicates he feels more frustration than his Asian culture tells him is appropriate to express. According to Reuters:

China has been particularly angered by what it sees as interference by the United States, whose military has carried out “freedom of navigation” patrols through the sea.

It is evermore clear what is happening: The US is patrolling the same waters, with sling in hand as always. Beijing feels “pressure” from the continuance of peaceful patrols. China behaves as if it knows something the US does not.

Between the fighter and the bull, we know who is in control. And we know who is angry and who is indifferent in the arena of Southeast Asia.

Kim Jong-Un just became Chairman of his political party, in addition to being the Great Successor of the DPRK. The party held a rare meeting, the first in 36 years, where he observed, or properly, “chaired”. There appear to be no reports of whether the meeting was a great success.

Taiwan’s soon-to-be-ousted, lame duck Education minister says that the controversial national high school curriculum—opposed for rewriting history as to murder and slaughter under the direction of KMT-Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-Sheck—says that the curriculum has no problems. He considers the curriculum to be part of his legacy. So it is.

Interesting things are happening in London. Events of the Atlantic will echo in the Pacific.

Read More

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, May 2, 2016

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, May 2, 2016

Last week’s unreported US military exercises in Taiwan’s southern city of Kaohsiung, along with the neighboring indictment of the minority party’s legislative control through vote-buying, no doubt sends an unreported message to Beijing. What we see in the headlines more or less tells the same story. The Asian establishment feels threatened.

Every man’s defense is another man’s offense. If “we” own it, it’s a “missile defense” system. If “they” own it, it’s a “missile attack” system. If you ask the Chinese and Russians, the American people don’t like their government. If you ask the Americans, the Chinese and Russian people don’t like their governments. In “Boilerplateville” everyone is right.

China and Russia don’t want an early-stop anti-missile system close to the loose nuclear cannons in northern Korea. The United States sails anywhere and everywhere that anyone anywhere says is able to be sailed—violating nonunanimous claims of both foe and friend. No disputes are exempted. When it comes to allies in Asia Pacifica, Japan debates a lame duck in Taiwan over a fishing boat.

Read More