Cadence of Conflict: Asia, June 24, 2019

We are not headed to a Second Cold War. We are not at risk of heading to a Second Cold War. We are traveling at trans-warp speed toward the First Flash War. It will start and end quickly, laying the groundwork for WWIII and FWII to follow.

These pieces of our times are important to distinguish. Different analysts with different levels of understanding of history are trying their best to explain our times. To a novice—either to history or to the West or to the East—who just begins to understand, it may seem like we are headed toward Cold War II.

China and the US are in a growing conflict on the surface, but Russia is whispering in China’s ear. Russia wants the same old thing. The US is generally unaware of Russia’s intent or dismisses it.

China thinks that the US wants to retain power. China wants to rise, so Beijing feels the need to “beat back” the US.

The US knows China wants to rise and doesn’t mind. The US wants to step back, but knows China is an undisciplined bully—lawless and doesn’t respect human rights. So, the US feels the need to “beat down” China to make Beijing behave.

The US takes the approach of protectionism and innovation—tariffs and moving manufacturing back home. China takes the approach of its domineering culture and copying others—both doomed to fail.

One of the Chinese’s biggest complaints used to justify their military aggression in the South Sea is American presence. The claim is that the US has 180 military bases throughout East Asia, rephrased “near China”. Because of this, China calls America the “aggressor” and, like the burglar who thinks society stole from him first, says its military response is justified.

The US has been in many of those places since the end of WWII and after the Korean War. The Chinese didn’t know about this US presence because their surveillance tech wasn’t good enough. Once China reverse-engineered and stole designs for enough Western tech—because they still don’t know how to invent it on their own—they started to see that Americans had been their the whole time.

The “Second Coming Cold War” argument is flawed because we’ve already been in such a “cold” standoff for seven decades. That’s how Beijing interprets it anyway, and now the Chinese want to heat things up.

Consider the contradiction. For over 70 years, Americans have been quietly watching the seas. They didn’t harass fishermen. They didn’t aim missiles and launch threats. They didn’t attempt to ram into other boats. They never tried to deny passage through international waters. China has done all these things, but not the US—in 70 years! So, because of that, the US is the aggressor? That’s Beijing-style thinking anyway. And, that way of thinking is what Washington feels the need to defeat before it gets any bigger.

This week documented a Chinese general committing two “no-nos”. Firstly, he commented on the social structure of Hong Kong—military leaders are supposed to remain outside of politics. Secondly, the thus  proven military government of China thus also proved disdain for the law it must abide by. Motive is one vital burden of proof in a conviction. Not only had Beijing meddled where it wasn’t allowed, but we now have an established motive.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, May 27, 2019

President Trump’s response to Kim Jong-Un’s recent missile party neither shows lack of a plan nor lack of respect for Japan; it show patience and insight. Gaining and maintaining trust and respect in difficult situations requires sureness in action and slowness in harsh words. Talk is cheap. These are politics, after all.

Trump has taken no action nor signed any orders giving Kim more permission. Many pundits and opinion commentators have speculated that Trump will have difficulty with Abe because of his patient words for Kim, but all of this speculation is speculation only. They are presenting a model to analyze Trump’s decisions, but that model is devoid of a grid of using “kind words” in the face of betrayal. Kim’s strategy has not deviated: provoke a US response. Trump’s words “defuse” that strategy, so to speak. Trump is no pretentious fool, more of a patient father.

The situation in China, however is heating up, obviously for the same reasons. Trump and Xi exchange similar words as Trump gives in response to Kim’s actions. They promise to prepare for talks while rallying their own citizens against each other. Rumors of peace are the surest sign that there is none just as provocation indicates a peace not easily broken.

Taiwan is gearing up for war, its war machine in full motion. Taiwan is beginning mass production of strategic strike responses. Taiwan is renaming one of its offices to include both “US” and “Taiwan” in the name, which is a first. These are not actions that have any intention of appeasing Beijing.

Then, there’s Hong Kong. Responses from the American government would view the SAR as no longer capable of diplomatic ties if the extradition law on the table is passed. This extradition law would likely isolate Hong Kong from North America and Europe. We know war is close, but “how close” will be known by whether Beijing allows “Asia’s World City” to internationally isolate itself.

Those promised and prepared talks between Beijing and Washington will only serve as size-ups, if they even happen.

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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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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, February 25, 2019

Nations and peoples of the free world are reaching toward each other. The EU reached out to Taiwan and Taiwan was grateful. Taiwan reached out to CNN and CNN did an interview. Kim Jong Un is likely on a train headed through China to Vietnam to meet President Trump. President Trump met with the Vice Premier of China in the Oval Office to discuss trade. And, China “rightly” oppresses an estimated two million Muslims in internment camps, who inhabit the hope-to-breakaway province of Xinjiang, through which China’s “Silk Road” passes to reach other nations with trillions of dollars in trade.

Taiwan’s position in the world only stepped up. In tech, it’s the multinational victim of China. The EU’s unanimous statement of support for Taiwan and condemnation of China’s military activity in the Taiwan Strait is anything but positive PR for China. Taiwan has the support of Europe; that doesn’t count for nothing.

China’s latest shenanigans include Hong Kong taking a serious look at redefining extradition laws so that Taiwanese in Hong Kong would be “extradited” to China. This does far more damage for Hong Kong’s popularity with its electorate at home than it does for Taiwan, raising international sympathy for both. Remember, meddling in Hong Kong’s government is a “must not” as the condition of Hong Kong not remaining under Britain. Nothing would indicate Chinese meddling in Hong Kong’s government more than such a sure-to-backfire anti-PR move like Hong Kong is making by even entertaining such a revision.

The fingerprints of Beijing damaging Hong Kong where British interests remain, all in order to damage Taiwan, goes against the wisdom of courting favor with the masses across Europe. Then, there’s Huawei.

As if international scandals implicating China weren’t enough, Huawei’s founder made the narcissistic comment that “the world can’t live without Huawei”. In Chinese culture, that might make enough people feel compelled to comply. But, the God-fearing West will take the self-absorbed claim as a challenge, much how God took the challenge when “experts” said He couldn’t sink the Titanic. Huawei just might take its place in the hall of sunken fame. No, the West does not. Not too many years from now, when a finance guru claims that a company is “too big to fail”, the public will respond, “Remember Huawei.”

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, November 12, 2018

Xi Jinping announced yet another new policy for China: Blaming other countries is wrong, each country must deal with its own economic and environmental issues without the problem being someone else’s fault. While this 180° new direction should be welcoming to foreign companies whose intellectual property was taken by China, along with the neighboring lands that China has no presence in, yet threatened to invade, such as Taiwan, Xi gave no particular details as to how he planned to adjust China’s current action plan. In fact, Xi’s announcement came as if it was not any change at all, but a continuation of the current policy, that taking unoccupied territory and accumulating foreign technology without payment was necessary for China’s economic and environmental well being within its borders. Perhaps his intention was to further confuse the West about China’s international policy or perhaps he has made himself even more understandable than he ever has before. We’ll have to wait and see what actions follow to interpret Xi’s meaning.

China is growing its ties with Israel, for the time being. An infrastructure deal is said to be the kind that will irritate US President Trump. China, however, should be more concerned. Israel has some of the best counter-intel gathering in the world. If China does use the building contracts as an opportunity to spy, after Israel has a chance to respond, it might be the Chinese who break contract. Israel is one nation that China won’t be able to bully. As stubborn as ancient Asian worldviews can still be today, Israeli culture can be more stubborn. It’s not about race, it’s about two cultures about to collide. ‘Tis folly to double-cross a nation whose name means “wrestles with God”; and the name is not a reference to wrestling with China.

This week, Taiwan and Hong Kong did what they do best more than they have done before. When a Financial Times writer is banned from Hong Kong because he intends to interview an author—and that author’s speaking engagements are shut down after Chinese requests—the wisdom of Roger Branigin returns to the western readership: “I never argue with a man who buys ink by the barrel.” China wasn’t satisfied to argue with an author who is more famous for it, but now wants to argue with more in the ink business. But, that wasn’t the most significant development of the week. Taiwan is labeled as the “island of hope” for Asia at an international forum for Human Rights hosted in Taipei.

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