Encore of Revival: America, October 22, 2018

Saudi leadership is deeply entrenched in an attempt to make the world a better place. Just as Trump has his enemies, so do the Saudis. The Saudi Crowned Prince did not visit Turkey and personally dismember and murder a news reporter, no matter how many anti- fake news activists might have liked him to. There are many alibis in defense of the Saudi royal family, among them that they have many enemies who want violence to continue, who are even willing to engage in violence and blame it on the royal family to stir dissent against the royal family that wants to end violence.

Trump pulled out of the INF treaty, prohibiting medium-range ground-based nukes. Gorbachev doesn’t want Trump to pull out, but he hasn’t seemed so outspoken about Putin violating the treaty. Trump’s defense will be that the treaty has already ended, the US is merely jumping ship from the boat Russia has poked holes in for a long time. Putin’s argument is that missile defense in Europe violates attack missile treaties, though that argument needs further explaining before the American public will agree. By having argued that NATO defense violated treaties restricting attack protocols, Putin is more or less acknowledging that he already has a good excuse to violate the INF treaty, but Trump does not. Either way, Russia has nothing to complain about at this point because both parties seem to think the treaty no longer applies.

When your enemy argues that violating a treaty is fair, it’s stupid not to pull out of that treaty. Signed documents don’t cause missiles to freeze in mid air. Tension between the US rises and lowers based on how much the superpowers want to get along—and signed documents trail after the ebb and flow of the greater tide.

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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, July 2, 2018

NBC reported news of recent months to counter news of recent weeks. It wouldn’t be the first time NBC had a precarious definition of “news”. Intelligence reports about very specific details of possible uranium production were broken as “news” by NBC. Bloomberg and others reported that NBC reported it. Taipei Times reported that Bloomberg reported that NBC reported it. NBC breaking this “older” news made more news than the outdated “news” itself. The whole claim smells smelly. It’s likely a ruse, but we’ll need about two weeks to know with confidence.

Hong Kongers like to protest so often that they are expected to protest annually. This year, protesters claimed a 50k head turnout; Hong Kong police estimated less than 10k, which would be a record low. Surely neither crowd estimate had any bias or motive to distort the numbers.

Remember, Hong Kong students like to protest more than is deserved. China could do better with counter-PR, but not much can be done when dealing with spoiled students. Don’t be roused into hating China by the dwindling spoiled Hong Kongers. Protests are profitable in Hong Kong because they help sell newspapers in a market saturated with so many newspapers that they throw them at pedestrians on the sidewalks. Hong Kong’s biggest problem is complacent Christians.

A more genuine problem of concern is the attention Chinese manufacturers are drawing from Western press coverage of Taiwan court rulings. Taiwan makes about 60% of the world’s computer components. China wants in on the game and people are being prosecuted in Taiwan for stealing company secrets that would go to China. The biggest element of a case is in place: motive.

Most of the so-called “news” about trade wars are the most obvious. Companies are having problems with trade during a trade war. Really? This is considered news these days. Either that, or it is an obvious attempt to skirt the deeper issues behind the China-US trade war for global economy hopefuls hoping to sway public sentiment by reporting what was all foreseeable.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, March 5, 2018

China’s changes include finances as well as politics. As the US unrelentingly inches toward absolute denuclearization of North Korea—one way or another—China delays solidarity at the UN. China has no lack of mixed messages in other areas, such as Taiwan.

Stepping up military drills near Taiwan while becoming more economically friendly to Taiwanese isn’t exactly something that causes democratic voters to fall in love with a nation without elected official term limits. Some Taiwanese will take advantage of the economic favoritism, but those will probably be the kind of companies run by bosses who have a moderately high turnover rate coupled with complaints about overbearing, old school Asian leadership style. When China suddenly changes colors again, they could lose their companies, all depending on what Chinese “national security interest” needs arise with the sun. That will become an unanticipated economic edge to “isolationist” companies that remain in Taiwan and prefer a “flattened-out” administrative structure. Notwithstanding, experts claim it could all backfire.

Then there is Korea and Vietnam. China won’t need to worry about US intervention stealing its customers in North Korea much longer since that customer will soon cease to exist. Calling off a potential meeting between Pyongyang and Washington officials at the Winter Games involved Kim Jong Un’s sister being present. It indicates paranoia; Un is evidently concerned about a coup. He should be. Many of his officials had just jumped decades forward in time travel, also called “crossing the border”, when they saw the life, joy, happiness, technology, and pleasures of the modern world. Top North Korean brass will pine to return and Un’s sister knew they would. Calling off the meeting only alerted the world to Pyongyang feeling threatened.

So much said in a denial. US Congress unanimously passes the “Taiwan Travel Act”, essentially allowing every diplomat even up to Trump and Tsai to meet face-to-face, in public, in celebratory AKA “respectful” conditions. But, the US media—always asking for bipartisanship—doesn’t care to report the passage of the unanimous bill. That means that the bill may actually accomplish something, and that is why China is furious, depending on the occasion of course.

The US sending 5,000 troops to stop in Vietnam for the first time in 40 years should be more disconcerting to China that the passage of any bill or the blockage of any trade ships with North Korea. Of course, China says that they have no interest disturbing the international status quo and they respect other countries, albiet the “Xi Thought” includes, more importantly than removal of term limits, that the entire world is China’s responsibility.

While the West would paint China as a villain, nothing could be farther from the truth. After all, a police officer didn’t even need permission to catch a girl falling from the forth floor. Her grandmother had locked herself outside of her own apartment and the key smith scared the girl into climbing out the window. The police officer caught the girl, both were hospitalized. And, of course, ruling party officials from China made sure to visit and congratulate the officer for such quick thinking.

Then, we have Google and Apple courting more favor with China. Maps and Translate are back, with a China-controlled remix, of course. National security is vital. But, therein lies a cloaked warning. China is already under attack by the West. Soon-to-be non-Communist and united Korea, US-Friendly Vietnam, soldiers waiting to flex their muscles in India, diplomatic visits to Taiwan, not to mention the ever pro-US Japan—China is surrounded.

This is dangerous. All that needs to happen is for China to send out its military like King John’s Crusade, then Apple and Google will have no opposition re-educating China’s population, without soldiers to protect what’s happening at home. It would be best for China to refortify and give Apple and Google the boot, but who is the West to give China any suggestion. The West has money and power, so they clearly don’t understand.

We live in historic times.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, February 19, 2018

Conveniently, Axios breaks a story from Trump’s November visit to China. There was a scuffle and a tackle over the “nuclear football”—AKA the nuke code bag. At first, it seems like relations are breaking down between the US and China. At second glance, the timing of the report is outright suspicious. Stepping back and giving it a third thought, the scuffle almost seems prophetic and poetic about the American-Chinese situation. The Chinese didn’t touch the “nuclear football”, though there was an ignored or unreceived memo. The US entourage kept moving. The Chinese official in charge kindly apologized. And, it was all over in an instant and without incident. That seems to have a figurative application on a literary level.

China is expanding in science and other areas. Underwater drones capable of making military maps were told to be for science only. Mischief Reef’s new missile-defense equipped naval-air bases were only for a fishermen’s shelter. And, the first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, was purchased from Russia to be nothing more than a floating museum. Those kinds of stories get drummed up by the West as reasons not to trust China.

The Philippines have effectively made peace with China on some level. China is capable of preserving peace if it wants to. But, the Western press often points to grandiose statements that rub Westerners the wrong way. President Xi referred to the belt road project as the “project of the century” and that it will “add splendor to human civilization”. The West cares about taxpayer efficiency, freedom to have children, and welcome open dissent against their own government. Westerners value humility from leadership. The Chinese grandiose remarks from Xi Jinping command respect in China, but are off-putting to Westerners. Rather than seeking to reconcile the differences in rhetorical preference, press reports exploit the shock value and sell-out peaceful understanding for caustic sensationalism. The divide grows. Whether China should tone down its language is a Chinese-internal decision. So is the opinion and response by the West also a purely internal decision.

So, at the same time Axios reports a non-incident story of a conflict that didn’t happen over a “football” last November. It is framed as a sign of shaky US-China relations. Others are reporting on the US, Japan, Australia, and India collaborating competition against China’s infrastructure. There is also news of Trump buckling down on trade with China. Then, Quartz publishes a review of China’s great threat as a rising military power, a collection of old news.

Truth or lie, propagandized or unbiased, the timing is a tell-all. The Western press is preparing the public for war.

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