Cadence of Conflict: Asia, July 30, 2018

The “China miracle” was nothing more than smoke and mirrors as big companies of the West took advantage of Chinese people seeking a living and Western consumers seeking lower prices. Everyone lost. There was no “miracle”.

The fad for cutting costs and quick investment returns nickeled and dimed away quality, eventually pushing bean counters to fall in love with China’s underpaid labor force. When China opened for business in 1978, the shipments rolled in. Wealth wasn’t made, it was only rearranged. A large shipping freighter made a large wake, some sunbathers had to move their towels on the beach when the wave wrecked the sand castles, and the global economist footsie-frat claimed that the sea levels had permanently risen.

Perhaps the label was wishful thinking, perhaps it was a malicious deception, but it wasn’t Chinese propaganda; it was globalist propaganda. China’s “growing economy” was fueled by an exchange between a planned economy and the free markets of the world. Whatever wave came, it would lower, eventually balance out, and could never have endured any more than spilled crude oil mixes with wildlife on the beach.

The mainstream Western press kept reporting on the “Chinese miracle”, encouraging Beijing that China’s new economy was here to stay. Western globalist economists should have known better, maybe they did, maybe they didn’t, but China is paying the price of the inevitable. Eventually, either the Western economies would collapse—then the one-way flow of cash into China would stop as it did after the opium wars—or a Donald Trump would come along and stop the flow before it got that far. But, it wasn’t going to last. The biggest victim of the bean-counter coupon-clipper culture of the West is China. And, making victims reaps nothing more than ill will.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, July 23, 2018

Central planning has only so much room for slight of hand tricks to keep up its sleeve. When the going gets tough, everyone goes home. For China, that means devaluing its currency, a complaint Trump has long lobbed against the trade giant.

Maintaining good relations with Apple and almost achieving the manufacturing capability long held by Samsung is quite the accomplishment for the Chinese. Good job. Everyone owes them a hand. China’s BOE company hopes to be able to start manufacturing the flexible, “organic” LED displays by 2020.

Devaluing currency as a response to trade tariffs from the US, however, is likely to make those tariffs higher, considering that devaluation of its own currency was one reason Trump argued for tariffs before his election. This, and turning to Africa, means that the international bite is felt. Silicon Valley also has its eyes on Africa, meaning that Apple and China may meet again in Africa, as well as Google. But, doing more of the same things that initiated tariffs is likely to cause more tariffs than tariff problems it alleviates.

China has a hard set of choices ahead and as those choices narrow, the tiger will feel more and more like its been backed against a corner. This path doesn’t endure entirely peacefully.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, June 18, 2018

Trump has stopped military exercises near North Korea, but he has not initiated any plans to withdraw troops. His reason for stopping the exercises is that they are provocative and expensive. He has a point: If the heads of state are talking then we are less in need of fighting practice in a scenario where heads of state are not talking.

The military exercises with South Korea are expensive and provocative, as Trump explains. Frankly, they should stop. With healthy conversations and progress toward peace already behind us, there won’t be a need for those drills any longer. Rehearsal for conflict that might never exist can often provoke the very conflicts we otherwise would not need to prepare for. As for the “expense” defense, few accountants will argue in favor of nickeling and diming away money as fiscally responsible and no one believes that taxpayers’ pockets are infinitely deep except pundits with portfolios in public funding.

The Western news is that Trump is wrong, specifically with regard to China that China wins. According to this week’s Western news narrative, China wins because of troop withdrawals that haven’t happened, because a friend of China will de-nuke, and because over 30k US troops will be free to go home—or go to Taiwan, Mischief Reef, Vietnam, the Philippines, Japan, or any number of other Pacific island-nations China doesn’t get along with.

Economically, China “wins” because manufacturing is leaving China—which must therefore mean that China’s innovation and science is the new source of manufacturing elsewhere. Perhaps that includes innovation and science like the Chinese government now trying to track every car with a chip as of 2019. The “Mad Scientist” theorem of the experimental police state research moving from North Korea to China continues to play out.

Just remember with everything: There’s more going on than anyone can see. Deals between governments are never fully explained to the public. They shouldn’t be. But, as peace develops in one part of the western Pacific, hostilities move around and every pundit seizes opportunity to say, “I was right.” No conflict is without news profiteering.

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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, January 15, 2018

Jeffery Lewis at the Daily Beast has finally found a solution to the problem with North Korea: Kim Jong Un’s port-a-potty. By bombing the dynastic successor’s port-a-potty, the US would demonstrate both precision and presence. This would be the proverbial “arrow” from Robin Hood, conveniently shooting its way into the Sheriff’s chamber.

Though the “papers” have not been “supplied” to top “brass” at press time, the premise has merit: showing that the US means business by “denying entry” for Kim to do his. While the “move” would surely cause an “emergency”, their could be new security concerns about “individual privacy”. The strategic proposal does not clarify whether or not to strike the “facility” while it is “occupied” by Kim “forces”.

As for other port-a-potties in the region, China and Taiwan are deep in their own “potty” match. China is unilaterally opening new flight routs, reportedly in violation of agreements under the International Civil Aviation Organization. New flight routs are “required” to be coordinated first, but these were not. China simply “activated” them. The routs are very close to Taiwan airspace and Taiwan has made quite the buzz about it.

The US further complicated matters with a unanimously-passed bill from the House: the Taiwan Travel Act, which allows for high-level diplomatic visits between the US and Taiwan “under respectful conditions”. The bill serves to support a shared “commitment to democracy”. The House also passed HR 3320, which directs the Secretary of State to strategize for Taiwan to regain “observer status” at the World Health Assembly, which Taiwan failed to obtain in years past.

China made its own moves, particularly with doubts on the continued purchase of US Treasury bonds. That sent tremors through the markets in multiple directions.

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