Cadence of Conflict: Asia, May 22, 2017

The big question surrounding the time of North Korea’s end will be logistics. It won’t be about tactics or the “most diplomatic-surgical way” to end the volatile regime. While the scene is that of the super villain who has strapped himself into a chair, booby-trapped with trip wires and armed with explosives, even more important things are going on. Large-scale powers don’t think about micro-tactics, they think about logistics. And, logistics are shaping-up.

Social energy is one important logistic. The people of nations involved must see a viable path to support certain action. Navies in the region are burning up tax dollars, something that can’t continue forever. Taiwan is itching for recognition in the world and the world itches for Taiwan to be recognized—and Taiwan is making much more progress than in years past. Then, there is trust.

From a PR perspective, China is failing. But, from a spying perspective, China has turf to defend. China’s isolationist policies may seem anti-free speech to the West, but China sees spies to catch and leaks to plug. Trump doesn’t like leaks either. Spies are dangerous. China is willing to kill them while Americans publicly oppose executions while secretly wishing the deaths of their daily enemies. China’s execution and imprisonment of CIA spies caught during the Obama years is very understandable. But, the American public won’t see it that way.

This week, a huge ramp went up to alert the public to “news” that is anything but. China caught and executed CIA spies long ago. It didn’t matter until now, when social support is an important calculation with logistics of war. That explains the Pentagon statements and the newspaper trends in America as well as Europe and Australia. The Western public is being rallied against China. That is significant.

Then, there is China’s image with the Koreas. China won’t be too hard on North Korea. China is banning South Korean travel because it doesn’t like the US presence in South Korea. That’s understandable, but not to the pop star fans in South Korea or the United States. When South Korean pop stars tour the US, more young people in the US will become aware of the issues. China could have stopped it, but Beijing still struggles to understand the Western mind. The Korean pop star fans in China might start struggling to understand Beijing’s mind, at least more than in the past. When you turn people away, they don’t just go home, the go elsewhere. That’s not easy to comprehend when you’ve always gotten what you want and always been told what to want to hear. Whatever China’s problems are or are not, the travel bans make China look worse than it deserves.

The real crime was the Shakespearian “fatal flaw”: China didn’t understand the West well enough. In a world of growing alliances between sovereign nations, that is an unforgivable sin as far as gravity is concerned. And, with gravity, mercy is too lacking and pain always greater than it should be.

But, all is fair in love and in war.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, March 13, 2017

Forget Japanese waters, headlines worry about North Korea and Hawaii. South Korea has their own two cents to add over the assassination of Kim Jong-un’s half brother at Kuala Lumpur International. China says that North Korea and the US are like two trains headed on a collision course. China has a kind of “plan” to bring the US and North Korea together, but the US won’t make concessions for obeying a UN resolution and there is no mention of China cutting off its supply. It seems China wants to be the “great reconciler”, but the rift is too far between East and West. Japan’s answer is to strike first.

Taiwan may be able to make its own response. This week, the US handed off two Perry-class frigates to Taiwan. Taiwanese naval officers will learn how to operate the frigates from the US Navy and the ships should set sail in May. This is a very interesting development since President-elect Trump received a phone call from President Tsai, and since the US still has yet to deliver on several military sales, especially F-16s, that closed during the terms of former Presidents Obama and Ma.

China’s response to events this week is two-fold. An editorial with a persuasive tone appeared in China’s state-run Global Times, arguing that India would help itself more if it cooperated with Chinese strategies rather than Japanese and US strategies. Xi Jinping also underlined and emphasized China’s great need to catch up on technology. This comes in the wake of the coming American Lockheed Martin F-35 “Lightning II” fighter jet and the US Navy’s new electromagnetically trajected railgun. China’s response is both telling and predicting.

While China has made advances, both in approaching Tomahawk cruise missile technology and in nearing the completion of its first home made aircraft carrier (reverse engineered from a Soviet era carrier), China still feels claustrophobic. Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, and India, not to mention the distant-yet-present US are all naval forces too close to China’s back yard. Xi feels the “squeeze”. China is in a tight spot.

President Xi also revisited his long-standing mission of countering squander and corruption within the Communist Party. By underlining the points he did, he seems to be vying for equity and credit. Doesn’t China’s leader have enough credibility or does Xi know something the West doesn’t? Regardlessly, the greater wild card is India. China believes that India is on the fence and is open to persuasion—and China is correct. Soon, India will feel its own squeeze. The question, then, will be whether India feels inclined to side with China rather than forces farther to its east or if India will decide to reverse engineer Western technology write persuasive editorials of its own.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, September 26, 2016

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, September 26, 2016

The iPhone 7 is why Taiwan’s market jumped last week. The US presidential debate is why the Asian market dipped Monday. At least, that’s what the “experts” say.

The US and Philippine militaries will practice, especially since the Philippine president thinks he needs more US troops in his back yard pool. China flew no small number of jets past Japan in their own rehearsals—for something. China is also investigating North Korea’s banking connection to their nukes. South Korea won’t help with relief from the devastating Tumen river flood in North Korea for concern that Kim would take the credit and bolster his power. And, the headline news from Taiwan is typhoon Magi, the approaching storm.

Two things are for sure: There is more than one storm brewing in the Eastern Pacific and money is involved in all of them.

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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, October 26, 2015

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, October 26, 2015

Fireworks and seizure.

On Saturday, a North Korean patrol boat crossed into South Korea’s side of the “NLL” (Northern Limit Line), which North Korea rejects. The South fired warning shots and the “Nork” ship went home. The DPRK will not have the same cakewalk as Hitler had in France… at least not on the water.

Protesters from China didn’t exactly welcome Xi Jinping to the UK. A Tienanmen Square survivor’s UK home was searched and two computers seized by UK police. They even took his iPad and a USB stick!

Apple took 256 Chinese apps from their App Store for “secretly gathering personal info”. China’s Communist Party has taken away permission to join a golf club. China still wants to take Taiwan—it’s really important.

Speaking of Taiwan, the floundering KMT-Nationalist party found yet another different way to lose the upcoming election. If the party had realistic hopes of winning, they would take the hint from Southern voters, who support young Tainan Mayor Lai, whose greatest, and arguably only, achievement is to refuse bribe money.  · · · →