Cadence of Conflict: Asia, October 30, 2017

In the daily governance of Hong Kong, China has proven itself as a competent overseer. Hong Kong’s “Basic Law”, a kind of mini-constitution imposed not by referendum, keeps the SAR autonomous. Hong Kongers have only two reasons for complaint, having not chosen the Basic Law for themselves and the gentrification of Chinese money re-defining native Hong Kongers as a new lower class living among some of the most expensive real estate in the world.

Crud hit the fan, however, when Beijing decided to “vet” Hong Kong politicians in advance. The Basic Law makes no direct provision for advanced-vetting, a statutory or policy decision heavily subject to interpretation. Youth are often quick to complain. In the minds of Hong Kong youth, Beijing’s advanced-vetting policy is a violation of the Basic Law. Accordingly, Hong Kong youth have no interest in learning about the Basic Law from Beijing.

Now, Beijing has planned a Hong Kong -wide broadcast from a Mainlander—a Chinese speaking from Beijing’s view—to educate Hong Kong students about the Basic Law. Schools are under no obligation to participate in Beijing’s offer, so the public is led to understand. But, when your higher authority vets your politicians without a word-for-word clause to justify it, then invites your school to optionally learn how to follow the law, it is difficult not to feel some kind of pressure to “volunteer”.

The best thing for China to earn good will is to rescind the advanced-vetting policy in favor of Hong Kong’s local interpretation of the Basic Law and to allow only three schools to listen to the Basic Law address, applying with good reason. That’s “basic law” of supply-and-demand economics. But, those ideas may be difficult for the Communist regime to quickly grasp.

So, it looks like China’s path ahead will see plenty of conflict and strife. The student objections to the Basic Law seminar will by no means be the last, nor will it be Beijing’s last attempt to educate Hong Kong’s population.

The US has its own approach to PR. Notice how Korea made fewer Western headlines this week, though the situation is far from finished. Trump’s planned visit, purportedly to include the Korean DMZ, is certainly a bold move to demonstrate courage from a leader and to eclipse North soldiers’ respect for Kim Jong Un who wouldn’t dare to get close. Don’t be surprised if Trump walks right up to the border and speaks through a megaphone and says, “Where is Kim Jong Un? He can talk to me. Your leader is a coward. Don’t trust him.” Don’t be surprised. Such a move befits Trump and would begin a cascade of implosion from within the Kim Dynastic ranks.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, October 16, 2017

It’s not quite there yet. Korea’s conflict escalates, but there’s still more mount to climb. Trump is increasing weapons sales to South Korea and Japan, based on a September 5 Tweet; North Korea called him a “strangler of peace” and a “war merchant”. Mattis told the Army to “Stand ready”. Hawaii is rehearsing for attacks.

Most of the talk is to get everyone psyched-up plenty of time in advance—soldiers, nations, and peoples. The timing, however, will come at a convergence of defenses being in place and opportunity being open. Then, the US will either strike with “just cause” or “strik-taliate” as it did with Pearl Harbor and the Lusitania.

In the meanwhile, expect the escalation to continue. Expect more Navy strike groups to be directed. Expect the USS Ford to replace the decommissioned USS Enterprise and the USS Reagan to replace the USS Vinson, somewhere in East Asia. Three aircraft carriers, two on their way in and one their way out is certainly a military peak. But, also keep an eye out for a shift in types of Korea-related headlines followed by a quiet from central command. Once the press release statements resemble a ship casting off, that’s what you call a clue. And, we haven’t been clued in quite yet.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, August 14, 2017

A campaign is slowly mounting its ground swell against Philippine President Duterte concerning his past corruption. The Philippines is littered with classic “mafia-machine” style corruption, making it generally easy to find scandals on politicians. This has been building against the new Filipino president since about the same time the Philippines has needed aid from the US against ISIS, all while the Filipino president campaigns on a continued platform of moving away from the US so as not to be “dependent” on anyone, a normal sentiment in Filipino populism.

A similar media war is mounting against both China and North Korea. This week, they came together in a story about “Made in China” -labeled goods actually being made in North Korea. Also, an old story was rehashed about the Chinese using “scientific underwater drones” in the South Sea, which could be used for military purposes, if nothing more than to make underwater maps for the Chinese and to spot American submarines.

It’s not far-fetched or newsworthy to claim that the Chinese could use academic or scientific tools for the military. China wouldn’t be the first to perform military operations in the name of “science”. China’s diesel-powered aircraft carrier, the Soviet-made Liaoning, was purchased from Russia to be little more than a “floating museum”. Now, it has been reverse-engineered to model at least four more aircraft carriers from China. China’s underwater drones first made headlines not long after the Chinese captured a similar drone from the US.

There seems to be a trend that China’s tech is reverse-engineered, not invented. More interestingly is the role the US has played. Better said, how the US has played China. It wasn’t fair, but it was avoidable.

China wouldn’t have most of its tech or its money for these military aggressions if American tech companies weren’t outsourcing jobs to China. Companies only did that because Americans were obsessed with saving a few pennies on their goods. The country learned to copy those goods and took American money doing it, then got a big wallet, then got a big head. If the US had confronted “Shame” culture in its cultural exchanges—government, business, and otherwise—and educated whatever Chinese people they met in daily dealings and insisted on using the Biblical view of “repentance unto hope”, China’s government wouldn’t be trying to “save face” quite so much and might even be cleaning things up at home a bit more.

Then, we have foiled military operations, this week, a crash in Australia. A truly-gone-awry military operation won’t be so easily plastered across headlines. The West is trying to look weak in the eyes of the Chinese while mounting a press war against China and North Korea to stir popular support for action. That action is, indeed, becoming necessary, but only after unnecessary trade money and methods made it so.

The swelling conflict in the Pacific could have all been avoided if Americans had simply insisted on paying a few more pennies to buy American. But, it’s too late to turn back. Now, American taxpayers will have to pay for an expensive, otherwise unnecessary war against their manufacturer.

Everyone is accountable for their own choices, but the US knew better. Americans know the Bible’s teaching “to get one’s own life in order first” and to confront “Shame” by teaching the good news of “forgiveness”. But, the US didn’t do that with China, not in business and not even the Christians in dealing with Chinese churches in America. While it is all sad, the bigger victim is China.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, July 31, 2017

Xi Jingping told his military the same thing China has been telling its people for decades: The world needs us, our military, our might, and our expansion, otherwise there can be no peace. This proves a static ethic. From this perspective, China wants the US to remain calm and not take action in North Korea.

Meanwhile, South Korea’s president wants the US to wait while he negotiates with the North for safety in the US. South Korean people want much the same thing Filipinos want: non-dependence. South Korea’s president, South Korea’s people, and China all want the US to “get out”. Interestingly, they share this sentiment with North Korea.

The world is full of political ideologies that claim half of one thing and do half of another. The best chance at victory is to simply stay home and do good work there. In that, the South Korean people stand the greatest chance of victory. Yet, the United States stands the greatest chance of taking action for two reasons: the US is being threatened more than any other and the US is willing to take action more than any other. If the US takes out the North, they can leave and the South Koreans will get what they want. But, things rarely happen as they should.

Only two things are foreseeable: conflict and Korean unification. All the rest is conjecture.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, July 3, 2017

China views Hong Kong as a doorstep between the world and largely otherwise closed China. This week, investment highways opened, allowing easier offshore investments in China’s bond market. At the same time, the world gets a glimpse into Chinese dealing through Hong Kong. Like the proverbial cat chasing the laser pointer dot—who never figures out what’s going on—Western culture’s action and interpretation will always confound the Chinese.

As the West believes, if you want to change the world map, you must ask the world’s permission first. It’s even the law China is bound to as a member of the UN. But, in Chinese culture, whoever makes an assertive move first will automatically scare everyone else in the room to ignore any other decorum, rules, or even laws, and accept the assertive party as the emperor of the room for the time being. Building artificial islands, installing military airport equipment, and telling everyone else to “GTFO” means the US should either be scared, or at least quickly attack. But, the calm, casual response of the US Navy, such as to have the lone destroyer USS Stethem conduct a “man overboard drill”, confuses and confounds the expected “cultural tidal gravity” of the Chinese.

The move wasn’t just provocative, as Beijing claims; it was an outright declaration of everything inches short of war.

Taiwan had its own waters incident. While the Chinese refurbished aircraft carrier—the Soviet era diesel-powered Ukraine-made carrier purchased by the Chinese to be no more than a “floating museum”—sailed through the Taiwan Strait, Taiwan-owned F-16s scrambled to shadow the voyage. But, parading a diesel aircraft carrier is not any show of strength in the mind of the US, but a show of unaware weakness yet also a show of progress and a “coming of age” psychology not to be ignored.

At least, that’s the perception.

South Korea’s new and moderate president met with Trump. What they met to talk about doesn’t matter as much as the fact that they met to talk. Moon thinks negotiation with Pyongyang is the answer. Reportedly, 77% of his people agree with him. He won’t back down on military, but he won’t expand it either. No one will accept status quo anymore.

So, money opened up this week in Asia and waking waters met more objection. The only reunification on the horizon is on a large peninsula just left of Japan.

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