Cadence of Conflict: Asia, May 6, 2019

Fibers are starting to snap and the solutions brought by governments always include adding more tension to the frayed rope.

China heads more toward Maoism. A nation headed at warp speed into its past already has its future known.

Taiwan wrestles with itself, seeking endorsement and recognition from other nations while chaotic governance at home makes its next election uncertain. But, two things grow stronger every day in Taiwan: military and resolve. That’s a problem for some countries, one in particular.

If Taiwan isn’t the last straw, Korea could be. North Korea launched a missile for the first time in a long time. That wouldn’t have happened without backing.

The de facto consensus among the US, China, and everyone caught in between is simple: Make the rope snap ASAP by piling on as much load as possible. Even the strategy to improve Lockheed Martin’s F-35 program comes in the form of complaint. The F-35s are ready to go. A dance floor will magically appear in the Pacific once Washington finishes playing with the bubble wrap.

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Encore of Revival: America, May 6, 2019

While war brews in the Far East, the West debates social media. Populism is taking over from all sides. Even Conservatives aren’t being so conservative in their rhetoric, though they still express their ideals at the election polls more than anywhere else. Liberals express their ideals everywhere they can.

Nancy Pelosi already has her strategy lined up no matter the outcome of the 2016 election. “Social justice warriors” are taking over the Left to such a point that Democrats as we know them may not be a viable party much longer. The institution will survive a bit longer, but it will change. Rosie O’Donnell and Megyn Kelly learned that the hard way; Joe Biden is about to.

Most debates are no longer two-sided. More and more issues themselves belong to either the Right or the Left. Conservatives don’t want to hear about the Mueller investigation at all. Liberals don’t want to hear reports on the economy. The only thing Congress and the country seem to be united on is China and support for Taiwan. For now, Americans aren’t finding many other reasons for unity at home—for now.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, April 22, 2019

China faces more scrutiny from its own propaganda while Taiwan searches its own soul. Taiwanese elections are fast approaching. Demagoguery is in full swing. Even the founder of Foxconn says a Chinese god told him to run for president.

We could say that billionaires are the presidential trend, but Terry Gou’s (郭台銘) money is largely in China, which is planning to attack Taiwan. Trump’s investments were mainly in American companies with satellite projects globally. Gou can’t rightly be compared to Trump. While there were proven-to-be-unsubstantiated suspicions of a connection to Russia with Trump, Gou’s connection to China is both widely known and undisputed, Foxconn having 12 factories in China. Gou opposes the US selling weapons to Taiwan. I wonder why.

If business tycoon Gou were to take the de facto pro-unification KMT-Nationalist party nomination, he would need to overcome Mayor Han of Kaohsiung, a populist with little political experience who’s primary vehicle of campaigning is complaint and demagoguery. Han recently accused Taiwan’s military of being “eunuchs” in uniform, which stirred up the voters who don’t like compulsory military service, but he failed to provide a solid path to making any improvements.

The controlling party’s incumbent president will need to face a primary challenger, former Premier and Mayor William Lai, who has his own past list of non-accomplishments.

While Taiwan fights with itself, China’s new best-friend-forever is Venesuala. The press highlighted China’s high-pressure work culture this week with a story about Alibaba founder Jack Ma’s defense of 12-hour, 6-day work weeks. Did Ma think that would make the American public more or less likely to support US military action against China? Some in China are starting to see Trump as China’s savior.

So, with a seemingly unstable Taiwan and a China with something to prove, we are approaching flashpoint, where “liberators” will get the justification they need to come out of the woodwork and split up China like fire ants on a dead tiger.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, April 8, 2019

America’s government has finally cracked the code on China. They know how to get under China’s skin. They had an idea before, but the algorithm—the precise frequency of activation—needed fine-tuning. And, of course, China made it all too easy to know that the code had been cracked. The sale of 60 F-16V’s to Taiwan—inferior in both number and, supposedly, technology—wasn’t even made official. Still, China couldn’t wait to announce to the world exactly the kind of insignificance that it found irritating above all previous attempts.

With this new and tested knowledge, we can expect the US to do more, and to do so more subtly. America will stand calmly, smiling. China will fume more every day, seemingly for no reason. At last, the Chinese will be so overwhelmed with rage that they will strike before military wisdom advises.

The sad, but poetic, part is that no warnings, not even reading this article, not even a spy exposing some kind of “provocation plot” or whatnot would be able to deter China from this fate. For, China loves respect above all else. Those who hunger for respect are easy to provoke and anyone provoked is under complete control of the provocateur. And, Chinese culture doesn’t know how to change or even listen.

But, there is another factor that blinded China to the American tactics. A nation with a one-child policy won’t have as much experience in sibling rivalry. America doesn’t have such a policy. Americans learn from childhood how to get under some else’s skin—especially when that someone else is the known playground bully who needs to be provoked to a brawl and sent to the principle’s office before getting any older, and bigger.

The die has been cast. The fate of the American-Chinese war has already been determined: China strikes; China loses; China loses more. Now, it’s just a matter of watching how the specifics play out on our road to the foreseen.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, April 1, 2019

China is being overwhelmed—Huawei to the west, British probes to the south, Kim to the north, but the prospect of trade to the east. The weakness is in the Chinese-cultural paradigm of negotiation. Chinese culture wants to sign a contract first, then negotiate the terms after. That’s a polite way of explaining “psychopathic negotiation”.

China labels Hong Kong as an “internal”, national security matter. It’s not; it’s a “joint” matter. According to the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, China can’t govern Hong Kong as its own until 2047—a mandate for Hong Kong being under Beijing’s leadership. By telling Britain to “face reality”, London will see the reality as Beijing reneging on the deal. It’s not that China wants to be malicious, but that China doesn’t understand what a promise really entails.

That could be why the Chinese offer such sweeping concessions to get better trade with America. They might not understand that promises about those concessions will actually have to be kept. But, there’s more that sails over Beijing’s brightest heads.

America shows no indication of backing down on Taiwan. By cozying up on trade, Beijing probably hopes America will receive an indirect message about Taiwan. But, if Taiwan isn’t discussed, then it’s not part of the trade agreement—or any agreement with the US. Beijing, probably laden with more wishful thinking than savvy, won’t understand. They just won’t understand.

That’s the Korean problem to the north. Trump knew exactly what he was doing by telling Kim exactly what “de-nuking” looked like. They had talked before. Kim had taken a three day journey to talk again. Now Kim knows reality: a free economy prospers, North with nukes has neither in the end. That won’t go over well with a culture more prideful than the Chinese. Trump knows this.

Now, Kim is a loose canon to China’s north and the only thing Trump did was unleash the obvious. We’ll see how long it takes for China to understand, if ever.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, March 25, 2019

Now, China has become the dark example of why not to be a Democrat in America. This is a new low. As much as being compared to China makes Democrats appear bad, it makes China appear all the worse because it paints China as the archetype of “how not to be”. American sentiment against China grows evermore glum.

No country is above democratic politics. Though Communist, China is still controlled by democracy. If the American public doesn’t like China, they will overthrow China in their own way. But, that’s a concept Beijing is incapable of adapting to because they have no such accountability to their own people at home.

China thinks its “rise to power” is about China being able to make decisions on its own. America thinks that anyone’s rise to power is about growing up and acting like an adult. As long as China keeps saying things like, “China can do what we want, America can’t tell us what to do,” it keeps getting evermore clear whether China is an adult yet.

Taiwan isn’t backing down. The government there continues to press for WHO participation. A Taiwanese airline now has flights to the island of Palau—which is important because it is a good thing that didn’t happen under Beijing control. A Taiwanese Mayor of Kaohsiung, Han, of the pro-unification-leaning political KMT-Nationalist party visited the Beijing office in Hong Kong—raising questions about honesty and motive in Taiwan’s central government.

His party keeps threatening to make laws to help Taiwan be re-unified under Beijing. That party recently won a mid-term at local governments. Perhaps they want to loose the next national election just as quickly.

Now, the US is in serious talks about establishing a strong military presence on Taiwan’s Taiping Island, somewhere between Taiwan’s huge, main island and China’s man-made islets at Mischief Reef. That would lead to a provocation that no trade agreement could withstand.

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