Cadence of Conflict: Asia, February 13, 2017

After three weeks, President Trump finally had his phone call with Chinese President Xi. The report is that Trump will uphold the United States’ long-standing “One China” policy, in which China proper and the island of Taiwan are one country and that country’s government seat is in Beijing. The effect is that the United States does not have an “embassy” with Taiwan, but the US has an “institute” and Taiwan an “economic and cultural” office; both are still considered envoys and consulates, offering passport and visa services. While self-important voices in news and politics view the phone call as a phone call, much more is happening beneath the surface, and Beijing may only be partially aware of what all is going on.

Being a Socialist State, China’s government is itself in business, both cooperative and competitive. China’s Communist Party can directly compete with social companies like Facebook, news networks like CNN, web service companies like Google, almost any manufacturer, and, of course not in the least, construction. China’s former business associate and new “boss”, as it were, of America calls all the “important” countries in the world, except China. The delay itself is a message to China like a father telling the disobedient son to wait his turn while everyone else at the dinner table has first choice. To China’s “indirect-implication” culture, it was no less than a smack in the face, no matter how friendly and reportedly positive the phone call was. No doubt China feels this somewhat, though President Xi probably doesn’t take the snub as seriously as he should.

Even allowing State-controlled newspapers, such as Xinhua news, to let three weeks of silence be known merely by reporting the phone call shows that Trump knows how to cut through promulgated gate keeping. Knowing how his old trading partner thinks, Trump knew that Beijing would jump to report the phone call to give President Xi notoriety, forgetting the deeper implication that the phone call didn’t happen for three weeks into Trump’s term. Now, the Chinese people know that Trump didn’t talk to their president until three weeks after taking office, yet he received a phone call from Taipei only days after he was elected—Beijing made sure the people knew that. When trying to control information in one’s own country, that was an oversight. If Beijing were wise to the three-week snub, no newspaper in China would be allowed to report the phone call until two months later, with the comment, “Oh, they are presidents. They talk when it suits them.”

In social battles of implication and indirection, the Chinese have endurance and mastery, but the West has a less frequent and even more subtle way of implication that often eludes the East. It is difficult to recognize deep implication when implication is used on a daily basis for routine communication. Americans trust Trump with China more, now, knowing that he can snub them for three weeks and State-run Xinhua news will consider it a “good first step”.

There are other problems—not being able to quit while so far ahead and declare victory after 70 years of war on the books, the US selling weapons to Taiwan—but the three week snub “trumps” them all. American people have often asked themselves who China thinks they are fooling. After this three-week snub thoroughly reported under the title of a “phone call”, the American people, Democrats and Republicans alike, certainly know who is successfully fooling China.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, November 28, 2016

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, November 28, 2016

A government defining marriage only claims to be about marriage between humans, but it is actually about marriage between Church and State. By asking government to define human marriage, Americans have already returned to the Church of the Holy Government, which the pilgrims left in the early 1600’s.

Originally, both questions of marriage began in the West. Same-sex marriage is about to become legal in Taiwan. And, the Pope is about to strike a deal with Communist China.

A Bishop in Hong Kong, among others, objects to an agreement between the Chinese government and the Vatican because it would allow Beijing to vet Bishops how Beijing vets Hong Kong politicians. The results among Catholics might mirror the results among Hong Kongers. Interestingly, that bishop in Hong Kong already falls within the jurisdiction of both Beijing and the Vatican, just as much as he objects to both finding a union. Either he is incredibly insightful of both or incredibly foolish to make enemies with his unified superiors.

Bloomberg is focused on China’s military-based space expeditions. The thinkers think that China should teach Trump how to make America export again. Today, 10,000 people congregated outside Taiwan’s legislature in support of a law to recognize same-sex marriage, and the West barely noticed.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, November 14, 2016

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, November 14, 2016

The news in Asia is Trump. Having put their chips with Clinton, some governments in Asia are scrambling to guess what Trump’s next move will be. Japan didn’t interfere. So, things are “business as usual” in Tokyo. While Asian politicians scramble to clean up their attempt to chose America’s next president, they still might not learn from Japan’s example: It is generally best if one country does not interfere with the elections of another country.

That election-country boundary is somewhat askew where Beijing and Hong Kong are concerned. Beijing is not supposed to interfere at all, as per the condition of the H-Kexit from Britain in 1997. Beijing did, however slightly and defensibly and yet predictably objectionable, and now Beijing must intervene.

Pro-Independence lawmakers inserted a byword for China in their oaths, which legally alters the oath. In doing so, they relegated their oaths’ legitimacy to the determination of higher courts in Beijing. If they couldn’t figure out how not to invite intervention, how could they keep domestic peace as lawmakers? If they didn’t know the legal meaning of words, how could they craft laws with proper wording in Hong Kong? Though unanswered at this time, these are questions their actions begged, making their argument for the second H-Kexit less credible, but, nonetheless more infamous and more famous, depending on who is asked. Infamy and fame gain equal press. “Press” is the battle HK Independence advocates win every time, which is why some in Hong Kong argue that “press” is all they want. But, there is always more going on.

In answering the metaphoric question of whether to be the dead lion or the victorious fox, the Hong Kong Umbrella students chose to be dead foxes. Some call them “martyrs”. Others call them “dinner”. The weakness and failings of disrespect aren’t limited to Hong Kong. The rest of the world is demonstrating the same toward Donald J. Trump, who did get elected after all. Now, Asia must figure out how to deal with the decision in the US while Trump figures out how to deal with the indecision of Asia. Unlike fame and infamy, decision and indecision fair differently.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, October 31, 2016

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, October 31, 2016

Chinese President Xi has been hailed with a personality cult akin to support for Chairman Mao, at least in some circles. As if the Xi personality cult wasn’t enough, China also saw a bloodless victory in the Philippines. In an effort to seek their own so-called “independence”, Philippinos’ new choice of a president has thrown-off many ties with the US in exchange for more dependency on China. China still patrols disputed Philippine islands, but fishing boats don’t get harassed any more. It probably makes sense in the Philippines every bit as much as it made sense to France and Italy 80 years ago.

The Pacific resembles pre-WWII Europe with more and more likenesses every week. NPR reported that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will stop swearing as much. That headline probably made sense to NPR, given the situation. As for swearing and the Pacific, Hong Kong, with no military, is putting up the greatest fight against China. Lawmakers “swore” during their swearing-in, contrary to some stipulations that no Hong Kong lawmaker can object to Chinese rule.

The Philippino “switch” was always going to happen. Their desire for “independence from other countries” will eventually drive them to fly China’s flag above their own, just how China’s desire for respect provoked Beijing to provoke the West, just how “America and her interests” drove the US to fly its flag at military posts in countries across the globe thereby frustrating Beijing and Milan.

With Taiwanese public continuing strong objection to Chinese patrol expansionism (75:18%), with Hong Kong (under China) wanting out from China, with the Philippines shifting sides, and with Cambodia cozying up to Beijing, we could see more jersey swapping in the coming months. Japan and South Korea are standing against North Korea on nukes—by cooperating with the US. That coalition could very easily extend to Taiwan, as far as N Korea nukes are concerned. The islanders of Taiwan oppose nuclear “anything”, just like post-Fukushima Japan.

Taiwan also has a close cooperation with the US military, the kind of cooperation the Philippines just renounced. The Pentagon has yet to give an elaborate position on the Philippines’ wave-making. In war, if the Philippines violates any alliance agreements, the Pentagon could declare the Philippines as “rogue” and get the excuse they need to use force. Who knows what would happen then.

China’s “no-objection” policy for HK lawmakers has given Great Britain whatever excuse the Crown needs to anchor the Royal Navy in Hong Kong, much like Queen Victoria did against China via Taiwan. When Southeast Asian Islands start spitting at each other, Hong Kong could could get snatched-up in a Pacific-West coalition. Having no military could be the only reason Hong Kong can court sympathy from the West. Guarded by mountains between the New Territories and Shenzen, Hong Kong would be strategic. The West would then see Hong Kong as the “trump card” while China would come back with the Philippines as the “wild joker”.

The Philippines and Hong Kong don’t seem to have figured out that every island is just another pawn. The Pacific Daily Times Symphony Editorials take no sides, except the side of foresight: It was all predictable.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, September 19, 2016

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, September 19, 2016

The investment company of Taiwan’s former-controlling political party—because, yes, a political party owning investments is not yet illegal in Taiwan—is attempting to sell assets in Japan. This comes as the same party sent a delegation to China made up of business and local government officials from their shrinking minority of cities they still control. The main topic was said to be “tourism”. Apparently, since China slammed the door on talks after the “other party” won a landslide, Beijing and the old, failing guard in Taiwan miss each other, especially the “tourists”, thousands of which were reported missing in Taiwan in years past.

One would think that China would not want to slam the door on it’s best and most convenient way to insert spies into a country it is officially at war with. And, one would think that the unpopular Beijing friends in that country would have the decency to label their talks with some other, less suspicious topic. But, pride—especially the Asian varieties—tend to blind the very common sense necessary for whatever victory one seeks. In Chinese thought—which the failing party in Taiwan comes from—pride is a victory unto itself.

Few things illustrate the “dragon” in the East better than this. Beijing slammed the door on Taiwan. But, it welcomes nostalgic local governments who agree with it’s made-up tales of history, including the admitted-to-be made-up “1992 consensus”, which has a very interesting interpretation of “consensus”, extending to include ideas that run against popular opinion.

But, the enemy in this is not China. China’s choice to close the door was wise for both China and Taiwan. Fewer opportunities for spy exchanges is good. The enemy is the failed political party that is attempting to play both sides, like a double-agent spy hiding in plain sight.

This is an indication. Talks are coming to a close. Action will develop. With a new American president on the way—where both leading candidates have more experience with China than any candidate before—Beijing will no longer have panting dogs begging for food in the presidents’ offices of its adversaries. Get ready. November will not be as important as January.

In other news, China’s banking situation could be either good or bad, which made headlines once again. China did take the effort to criticize tourism in Taiwan, specifically the Dalai Lama’s. And,  Japan wants in on the party on China’s South Sea. Make sure you read Boolmberg’s well-republished article about Japan’s announcement, along with the article linked mid-way through that educates the Western public about what China has been doing, just in case anyone lives under a rock.

It’s funny, for the last several years, the Western Press has been obsessed with educating Western readers about the various complexities that exist within China’s “nine-dash-line”. Perhaps newswriters see something coming and hope that their readers will have to do less “catch-up” when the “EXTRA” editions appear in the streets once again.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, August 15, 2016

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, August 15, 2016

While Taiwan accepts yet another slow-delivery weapons deal, one of the slowest to date, China continues to build on the ocean to face off against the United States. It’s pure war strategy, East to West.

The argument goes that China carefully times its strategic “stepping on toes”. The next purported toe will be the site of the next man-made islet, deep within Philippine water and economic defense zone. China, according to reports of anonymous sources, plans that these toe steps occur after G20 and before the US election. This is where Beijing’s miscalculation shows.

Supposedly, during the US election season, Americans will be distracted with Trump v Clinton headlines and won’t have the time to worry about what China does in the Philippine’s back yard pool. However, this overlooks the topics surrounding Trump and Clinton, specifically the long history that both have with China and that opinion about either candidate is largely shaped by China’s actions.

If and when China steps in it in the Philippines, that “when” would serve China’s shrewdness better if postponed until after the election, lest China give American’s the excuse they need to elect the candidate most outspoken against China. Beijing’s timing would be more respected from one adversary to another if the Philippine islet reclaiming began after the US election and before the inauguration—after it’s too late for the American people to change their minds. But, once again, Beijing is likely to demonstrate that, while it has the courage to stand up to the US, it doesn’t have the listening ability to know the very enemies it chooses.

Beijing wants a deal with the Philippines. They know how to make a deal when they want to. What transpires over the coming months will be as foreseeable as it is by choice for all involved.

In times when China wants to dominate the water, Michael Phelps proved otherwise, for the third time in a row.

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