Cadence of Conflict: Asia, December 19, 2016

All eyes went to Taiwan this week. The Taipei Times shows an uptick in article views. China held no less than three military activities that made headlines in Taiwan’s backyard, and is reported to have broken its promise not to militarize it’s freshly-made islands. In one incident, the Japanese even responded.

The topic of Taiwan’s Independence is not going away anytime soon. The topic was formally debated in Taipei with careful scrutiny over the implications of Nixon’s (1972) and Carter’s (1979) policies involving Taiwan and China. The Taiwanese, reading the tealeaves as it were, suspect that they won’t be able to trust the current political party that just took power, and the new “Power” party is already on the rise with “Independence” as a “crucial” talking point.

China has gone full-swing into testing it’s one-and-only operational aircraft carrier, the diesel-powered, Soviet-made Liaoning. The other carriers are still being assembled in the docks and aren’t scheduled for commission for a few years. But, China already has its own “unsinkable aircraft carriers”, man-made airport islets in the Spratly Islands.

With the Western and Eastern press in full-swing, with military events moving as they are, neither the West nor the East will be lacking, neither in force nor in press nor in public support for what’s been brewing in the South Sea.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, October 24, 2016

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, October 24, 2016

Pro-China legislators blocked the swearing-in of pro-Independence lawmakers in Hong Kong. Pro-Independence activists from Hong Kong told Taiwanese not to give up on independence. China said that independence for either Taiwan or Hong Kong is a “futile” plot. Then, Hong Kong told Taiwan not to meddle in other countries’ affairs.

Taiwan’s former president from the former-controlling party faces charges of leaking secrets of the State. That former-controlling party is working on formulating its opinion of Taiwan and China, while the newly-controlling party’s administration investigates the former president.

The Philippines won’t be cooperating with the US Navy anytime soon. Old traditions are over. Philippine military leadership wants China to make the first move in the South Sea, but China already has, especially with the man-made islands.

China also made the first move in Hong Kong’s independence movement. Without the change to vet politicians in advance, rather than vet HK laws after the fact, HK’s Independence movement might not have had enough wind to be what it is. Likewise, the Western press continues to publish stories casting doubt on China’s economy, based on debt. China’s press responds by casting doubt on the Western stories that cast doubt.

The trend seems to be announcing opinions about other countries’ opinions about their opinions. So much opining about opining almost resembles pre-WWII Europe.

The best-kept secret seems to be that everyone’s money is based on debt in this brave, new world, including pre-WWII Germany.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, October 10, 2016

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, October 10, 2016

The tied rises and falls, but tensions only rise in the Pacific, week after week. This week, China and its old buddy, Russia, were seen in public together. And, it seems China has a new friend in the Philippines’ defense office. The tension is at such a point where the public has not only learned about it, but is getting “used to” it. The excessive education writers insert into their news articles, informing readers and re-informing readers about the history of China’s “nine-dash line” and the South Sea certainly helps move this from “news” to “mundane”.

But, who is the villain? Arguably, the US is the villain, but not for the conventional reasons. Had Trump had his way, the US never would have borrowed money from China to get involved in the Mid East in the first place. The US Navy could have then operated out of the red and more in the Pacific blue. Then, China’s “island-building” might never have happened and Beijing wouldn’t have been strong enough to vie for a fight that it seems to want so badly—at least by proxy of the changes in the maps Beijing insists on seeing printed globally. But, that’s all speculation.

As you watch headlines, note the trickle of economic articles on China. China didn’t get it’s money through innovation, policy invention, or good will; it got its money because the Western lower-middle class pinched pennies so much they would spend $1.50 in gasoline to drive across town where an item cost $0.75 less. That drove jobs to China—which capitalized on US penny-pinching and pinched their own dollars into pennies, another thing Trump has criticized the Chinese for. China won the lottery, a story which ends well for few.

So, like a 16 year old with the keys to the Porsche he bought with his rich uncle’s money, China tried to build islands in hopes of rewinding the pages of history to their nostalgic splendor. While the US abandoned the mess it made in the Mid East—creating an otherwise would-have-failed enemy in the process of going and leaving—China could capitalize on the vacuum left by the AWOL US. Had China known how to earn the money it ended up with, Beijing would have had the smarts to be where ISIS now stands. Had they the smarts to learn from loss, they would have beaten Putin to the punch and build their islands closer to the vacuum. But, like a jealous company set on “wants” instead of “needs”, China is building islands that the US can take over in 15 minutes.

In the end, China will have to sign some kind of truce, though probably not a full “surrender”; the man-made islands will go to the US or some puppet thereof; and the US presence will have done exactly what China didn’t want, thanks to China: expand. A stronger China in the Mid East with “status quo” in the South Sea might have been more profitable, for China most of all.

The irony of it all begs the question: Was the penny-pinching culture of the American lower-middle class some CIA plot from the beginning to boost China’s confidence beyond feasibility? Probably not. But, is might make a great thriller “espionage intel.” novel.

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