Cadence of Conflict: Asia, August 15, 2016

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, August 15, 2016

While Taiwan accepts yet another slow-delivery weapons deal, one of the slowest to date, China continues to build on the ocean to face off against the United States. It’s pure war strategy, East to West.

The argument goes that China carefully times its strategic “stepping on toes”. The next purported toe will be the site of the next man-made islet, deep within Philippine water and economic defense zone. China, according to reports of anonymous sources, plans that these toe steps occur after G20 and before the US election. This is where Beijing’s miscalculation shows.

Supposedly, during the US election season, Americans will be distracted with Trump v Clinton headlines and won’t have the time to worry about what China does in the Philippine’s back yard pool. However, this overlooks the topics surrounding Trump and Clinton, specifically the long history that both have with China and that opinion about either candidate is largely shaped by China’s actions.

If and when China steps in it in the Philippines, that “when” would serve China’s shrewdness better if postponed until after the election, lest China give American’s the excuse they need to elect the candidate most outspoken against China. Beijing’s timing would be more respected from one adversary to another if the Philippine islet reclaiming began after the US election and before the inauguration—after it’s too late for the American people to change their minds. But, once again, Beijing is likely to demonstrate that, while it has the courage to stand up to the US, it doesn’t have the listening ability to know the very enemies it chooses.

Beijing wants a deal with the Philippines. They know how to make a deal when they want to. What transpires over the coming months will be as foreseeable as it is by choice for all involved.

In times when China wants to dominate the water, Michael Phelps proved otherwise, for the third time in a row.

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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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