Cadence of Conflict: Asia, September 17, 2018

The US is not sending a contingency of Marines to Taiwan to protect it’s envoy. This announcement came after reports that the US had such plans. After discussing the non-existence of the plans for deployment, the State Department also discussed that it does not discuss plans for security or other strategies. Perhaps the real strategy not being discussed is that the strategy is not being discussed.

At any rate, the announcement that an announcement has not been made about the discussion of not discussing security strategy and the non-discussion about Marines who will not be deployed should make heads in Beijing spin as they try to figure out just what the US is not doing about what it’s not discussing. Fewer Marines in Taiwan would be more inviting for an invasion, if the discussion were under discussion, which it is not—reportedly.

One of the best kept secrets about the brewing trade war between the US and China is that US jobs departed to China. A trade war would move those jobs back to the US.

Consider a US company that set up shop in China. While the financial know-it-alls loose sleep over anything being less pleasant than an afternoon massage, including a US company in China being attacked hyena style as Chinese culture loves to do, the people in the US wouldn’t care about that company. That’s the company that forsook the American worker. In the mind of the average US working voter, the company that got in bed with China should stay around for the abusive marriage; so leave them to the hyenas! Any Americans who own shares in those companies would do well to keep that information secret from their working, voting neighbors.

The world doesn’t work how so-called “financial experts” think it does. The trade war will not hurt the US economy because economies flourish from jobs, not consumption. Claiming that lower consumption of off-shore goods will harm a market would be to measure a farm’s profitability based on how much the farming family eats other farmers’ food. The real issue with the trade war is a real war.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, September 10, 2018

Right or wrong, the US-China tariff war was always coming. Stupid American companies flew into the campfire of Chinese manufacturing like moths into a flame. China was smart inasmuch as they did not become dependent on the outsourced labor, which was always going to ever-only be temporary. China has wasted no time, building infrastructure, such as the highway between Hong Kong and Macau and the silk road, now gaining income by the well marketed tourist attraction.

But, this tariff war was always coming. The political situation in the Pacific indicates that it’s not about economics so much as it is about military. Pacific island nations grow more and more irritated by China. Little, small nations are speaking out, demanding China apologize for storming out of a PIF (Pacific Islands Forum) meeting when China’s diplomatic representative was told to wait to speak until after heads of state from member nations had their turn. China is not a member, only an attendee. This is not any demonstration of leadership that the region will accept, no matter how much it may have been bestowed by the territorial gods at the universe’s center, which is in China of course.

Then, there’s Taiwan. If last week was a week of firing off blanks and papers across bows, this week, cannonballs started splashing. Taiwan introduced three different bills amending existing law, stiffening restrictions and penalties concerning anything that could even remotely be construed as interference between Taiwan and China. As if that wasn’t enough, Taiwan is increasing its budget for both fighter jets and the navy. And, Taiwan’s military even moved up an annual naval exercise to rehearse an attack from China at an earlier date than usual.

In all of this, the rain continues to fall in Taiwan, now flooding different parts of the island than saw torrents over three solid weeks of cloud cover. Not to worry, though. City governments are closely monitoring just how many millimeters of water can drain away how quickly, revamping any old sewer system that can’t keep up. Taiwan just seems to have its hands full, as well as its rivers.

Then, there is the tsunami of US diplomacy. Trade wars often prelude military wars. While Taiwan’s dwindling allies flip to support China, the US is breaking ties with any country that breaks ties with Taiwan, more or less. Solidarity with Taiwan seems to have bipartisan support in US Congress. With trade alliances shifting, when war breaks out, it will be a financial calculation as a convergence of China’s revenue and US dependence on Chinese-made goods both bottom out.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, August 27, 2018

The Pacific is heating up bigtime. Just after Kim Jong Un meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Trump calls off a cabinet member’s visit to Pyongyang the day after the new North Korean envoy was announced. What was that all about? Consider China.

China has been moving in on Taiwan aggressively, both through marketing and through international relations. The TOEFL test given in Taiwan lists Taiwan as a province of China, using the controversial, “Taiwan, China” nomenclature. Taiwanese were furious because the US government requires tests such as the TOEFL, which is administered by ETS, a nonprofit organization based in New Jersey. How does a US government recognized US-based English testing organization come to list a testing market contrary to how the US State Department does? The answer is: pressure from China.

Companies around the world have been strong-armed by China into listing Taiwan as a province of China. In the past weeks and months, airlines were required to comply in order to continue flying to China, many waiting until the last possible moment. This week, a PhD candidate at the University of Salamanca in Spain Tweeted a letter from China last October essentially demanding that the university shut down “Taiwan Cultural Days”.

Now, Taiwan ended ties with El Salvador for recognizing China instead of Taiwan. This came after Taiwan declined for a year to make a sizable investment in the Port of La Union. Taiwan was concerned about debt for both countries. Senator Marco Rubio wasn’t happy and a bill has already been amended to cut US funding to El Salvador.

While North Korea doesn’t seem to be making as big of strides as expected in denuclearization, China is cozying up to North Korea while soon-to-be-former US allies cozy up to China and while China and Taiwan exchange lobbing spit wads. The overall situation doesn’t look good for the pro-US side. But, there’s always more than meets the eye.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, August 20, 2018

The silent war between the Koreas is shifting to family reunions. Families split by the war are having a get-together today in the North. Trump has a deal with Kim Jong Un. Peace is moving forward, and Korean reunification along with it. Reunification is one of China’s values and things look great as they are. So, why does Xi Jinping need to go to North Korea? Does he also have family there? Perhaps he’s trying to market himself.

China has been busy marketing itself around the world as of late, as has Taiwan. So goes the other silent war—the silent war between China and Taiwan, though it’s becoming not quite so silent. Taiwan’s President Tsai Ingwen traveled this week. While in California, she did one of the most controversial and disrespectful things a president could do: She visited a coffee shop. Oh, China is so angry! How dare she do that!

The Taiwanese coffee chain, 85°C, has a few locations in California and Tsai Ingwen went to one of them. They even gave her a bag. She did that just to spite China! That’s all she ever thinks about. It’s not that great of a coffee shop anyway. Don’t visit there and try any of their lattes or cappuccinos or any of their many desserts. There are better things to do than just trying to spite China.

China protested, of course, as they rightly should for such a disrespectful thing Tsai Ingwen has done. Taiwan’s Premier, William Lai, lashed back, as did Tsai Ingwen. They think China’s not marketing itself rightly by objecting to evil things like visiting coffee shops. They want China to have a good image, but right now they think China’s doing it the wrong way. What the heck do they know anyway?

Taiwan has its own marketing problems. Former AIT director, the envoy from America to Taiwan, William Stanton says that Taiwan needs to market itself better. While things cool off in the Koreas, the marketing battle between the China’s is just warming up.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, August 13, 2018

China’s situation isn’t getting easier. Taiwan now has tested a new missile, boasting ability to fire within China’s mainland, being capable of destroying military targets on both land and sea. This is no laughing matter. On the economic front, Beijing has a hard-headed counterpart in the White House, Donald Trump. He shows no indication of backing down on any front, including Beijing. Now, China is going after Muslims.

While it can be politically incorrect for the West to pursue terrorists if they are Muslim, China doesn’t have that problem. Military states rarely do, which is one advantage China has over the West. Terror cells may be in hot water since China is on high alert in all directions. If Taiwan were to create trouble on its eastern coast, Beijing would not want more trouble from its western borders. So, any earlier preemptive action from Beijing is likely to be westward, toward Muslim nations. Those Muslim areas could be in greater danger than Taiwan.

Taiwanese have been busy, though. When anyone uses the “Taiwan, China” format, Taiwanese go berserk. That’s raising a lot of attention about a little island in the Pacific which now has missiles capable of attacking China. These are interesting times.

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