Cadence of Conflict: Asia, August 1, 2016

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, August 1, 2016

A pro-China policy has made a Hong Kong politician famous. The fuel was supplied to the press, then the press sold newspapers. National Party and pro-independence candidate Chan Ho-tin has received more international press in one day than almost any other politician in Hong Kong can hope for in an entire career. An individual in the Hong Kong government determined that Chan was not “sincere” enough in his pledge to uphold Hong Kong’s “Basic Law”, which defines Hong Kong as a part of China.

While Chan had help becoming famous, Yeung Ke-cheong got himself disqualified from the same election all by himself, simply by not making the necessary pledge. Chan plans to appeal the decision. A politician from an opposing party put Chan in the same category as a terrorist, yet has not provided explanation for how terrorists usually have no problem with “sincerity” one way or another. After considering this, there appears to be no unified coordination coming from Hong Kong against pro-independence politicians. Moreover, there seems to be no concern from Beijing over how one individual’s decision in Hong Kong resulted in the international fame of their political opponent. Beijing might have been more pleased had Chan’s pledge been accepted, he been allowed to run, then been indited for perjury once there was sufficient evidence that his pledge had not been genuine, but now we won’t know.

Were it not for this incident, many Westerners might not even know that Hong Kong even has a pro-independence movement. Now, the West does. Usually, one wants one’s enemies to receive as little press as possible. This all makes the opposition to the opposition look a little less organized, making the initial opposition seem less serious for opposing such a disorganized opposition to their opposition. And, that makes the whole thing seem somewhat absurd. In it all, the West was roused against Beijing once again by the international attention on Hong Kong, “Asia’s World City”.

Meanwhile, in the South Sea, Beijing has cited the 1986 incident, when the US refused Hague’s ruling to pay reparations to Nicaragua. However, there seemed to be no comment from Beijing on how many other countries Beijing is ignoring in its policy in the South Sea. Unfortunately, both the US and Beijing speak mainly of Hague where Hague rulings are concerned, rather than keeping the focus on international community. It seems that Hague is the big distraction for both the US and China. With Russia teaming up with China for a semi-routine naval exercise in the South Sea this coming September, the international community’s opinion is relevant, even though it does not see much limelight.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, July 18, 2016

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, July 18, 2016

The Hague ruling has stirred the waters and the ripples are bouncing. According to the tribunal, China has no basis for its claims concerning the nine-dash line. However, this also affects sovereign waters Taiwan has enjoyed, and it has implications for an islet Japan uses as a basis for a wide reaching aquatic claim.

Taiwan, still at war with China on the books, also rejected Hague’s decision through a legislative vote, based on over-lapping claims with China. Japan’s situation was not brought before the court.

The Chinese people would likely view Taiwan’s independence much the same as Americans might view a Texan succession from the Union. There is a complex mix of feelings and motives. Love knows when to let go; Asians rarely let go in family, let alone business and government.

China pointed out that there were no Asians ruling at the tribunal. Those involved couldn’t possibly understand—or could they? Asians have failed to resolve their disputes while Western nations, as evidenced in the last couple weeks, know how to part ways peacefully.

Some speculate that China and its neighbors will figure out a solution between themselves. However, if that were possible, it would have already happened and there would have been no excuse for the Hague tribunal in the first place. Unfortunately, Asia will likely play out the family feuds to see how many demands which party is too bloody to make, giving America the excuse it needs to continue to interfere. It’s hard to defend any party in the conflict.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, July 11, 2016

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, July 11, 2016

Abe’s landslide re-election in Japan, a US shield deployment in South Korea, and $2B USD pumping into Taiwan’s navy won’t exactly be sweet music to countries on the other side of the line. China isn’t in a position to make demands. Though, Beijing has denounced Hague’s coming trial often and loudly.

Beijing doesn’t know what and who they are dealing with. What is Washington’s motive for allowing China to continue to build islands? Why doesn’t Washington intervene if Washington objects? Bejing doesn’t seem to have considered the trend: America is outsourcing once again. These islands, “Made in China”, are the perfect place for the US to expand its naval presence.

Consider the scenario: Keep monitoring the construction under the guise of “intel gathering”. Once the islands are useful to the US, make the perfect “mistake” to provoke the bull. The bullfighter wins slowly, one cut at a time, three years later, all China’s man-made islands belong to the US at the “Chinese surrender”.

It’s not necessarily going to happen, but it could. And, for all arguments and responses coming from China, Beijing doesn’t seem to have considered that particular psychology of Washington, clearly available in the headlines of history.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, June 6, 2016

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, June 6, 2016

This week we see a new classroom game called “China Says”. China wants everyone to say that the South Sea is theirs. Manila wants Japan to say that Pacific nations should say otherwise. China says that no one else should say otherwise. The US says that China should be careful about what it says and does.

Taiwanese say that Tienanmen was a “massacre”, saying that Taiwan’s president is “disappointing” for saying Tienanmen was an “incident”.

John Kerry says that China should listen to what Hague says. China says that what Hague says doesn’t matter. Taiwan also says that what China says about the South Sea “Air Defense Zone” doesn’t matter. China says that there is no fear of trouble.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, May 30, 2016

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, May 30, 2016

China has reportedly announced that it has been outdone by US technology. This implication came from the statement that it can only respond to the US “freedom of navigation” exercises by sending nuclear subs to the South China Sea. While some claim that the reports from Beijing are “exaggerated”, either scenario shows Beijing revealing its position of weakness and needing to resort to drastic measures. The report seems to have come as a response to reports of the US Navy’s use of the new electromagnetic-powered hypersonic railgun.

An international tribunal on China’s claims, activities, and islands in the South China Sea is expected in the coming weeks. China has already announced to declare the ruling illegal and will not comply. There seems to be no word on whether “contempt of court” charges against China will be included in the tribunal, in lieu of the recent comments. Elementary power brokers strive to understand the concept that, in our day, law comes from the resolve of the masses and to change the law, one must first court the masses. We’ll see.

Then, there’s money. Concern is growing over an ENRON-style ingrowth and implosion in China’s economy. While wealth management portfolios formerly focused on deriving profits from bonds (AKA real, individual people), the swelling trend is to invest in other banking investments. This is an exceptionally large problem since many banking investments now get their money from wealth management. So, Chinese banks are making more of their money by getting money from each other, and less from actual people.

Then, there’s currency. China has set the value of its currency at a five-year low. This in the shadow of recent comments from the US Fed chair. The high seas are not the only battle front irritating the international community. And, currency value isn’t either, for that matter.

There’s also trade. Not only Taiwan, but now Europe is getting cold feet in trading with China. Taiwan won’t resume cross-straight talks until it gets some laws passed to make the playing ground even. And, some in China’s circles echo similar statements from front-running US presidential candidate, Trump.

Speaking of Taiwan, the newly elected president, Tsai, visited a Taiwanese Air Force base for the first time in her new presidency. She seems less shy of talking about her own the military than Obama is of his. While China may not notice the responses of the international community, China will notice Tsai. Perhaps that is why the nuke subs are on the way.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, May 23, 2016

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, May 23, 2016

Taiwan has a new president. Security is a hot topic. New leaders bring change. Change can be unstable.

As a general rule, web and program developers don’t like software “updates” because they can cause other dependent software to crash. In general, admirals and generals don’t like map updates either, and for good reason. Constantly changing political maps, territorial claims, and which flags rightly fly over which pieces of dirt and puddles of water can cause planes and boats to crash. Frequent updates are not good for “stability”, even “security” updates—whether software or political.

Beijing concerns itself with the “1992 consensus”, yet China’s attempt to update the world’s maps—without prior consensus—prioritizes its own “security” over its own “stability”. In this, the world clearly sees that neither “consensus” nor “stability” are Beijing’s ongoing concerns, only sometimes.

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