Cadence of Conflict: Asia, September 10, 2018

Right or wrong, the US-China tariff war was always coming. Stupid American companies flew into the campfire of Chinese manufacturing like moths into a flame. China was smart inasmuch as they did not become dependent on the outsourced labor, which was always going to ever-only be temporary. China has wasted no time, building infrastructure, such as the highway between Hong Kong and Macau and the silk road, now gaining income by the well marketed tourist attraction.

But, this tariff war was always coming. The political situation in the Pacific indicates that it’s not about economics so much as it is about military. Pacific island nations grow more and more irritated by China. Little, small nations are speaking out, demanding China apologize for storming out of a PIF (Pacific Islands Forum) meeting when China’s diplomatic representative was told to wait to speak until after heads of state from member nations had their turn. China is not a member, only an attendee. This is not any demonstration of leadership that the region will accept, no matter how much it may have been bestowed by the territorial gods at the universe’s center, which is in China of course.

Then, there’s Taiwan. If last week was a week of firing off blanks and papers across bows, this week, cannonballs started splashing. Taiwan introduced three different bills amending existing law, stiffening restrictions and penalties concerning anything that could even remotely be construed as interference between Taiwan and China. As if that wasn’t enough, Taiwan is increasing its budget for both fighter jets and the navy. And, Taiwan’s military even moved up an annual naval exercise to rehearse an attack from China at an earlier date than usual.

In all of this, the rain continues to fall in Taiwan, now flooding different parts of the island than saw torrents over three solid weeks of cloud cover. Not to worry, though. City governments are closely monitoring just how many millimeters of water can drain away how quickly, revamping any old sewer system that can’t keep up. Taiwan just seems to have its hands full, as well as its rivers.

Then, there is the tsunami of US diplomacy. Trade wars often prelude military wars. While Taiwan’s dwindling allies flip to support China, the US is breaking ties with any country that breaks ties with Taiwan, more or less. Solidarity with Taiwan seems to have bipartisan support in US Congress. With trade alliances shifting, when war breaks out, it will be a financial calculation as a convergence of China’s revenue and US dependence on Chinese-made goods both bottom out.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, August 6, 2018

Apple sales are up in China, which creates a problem on two fronts. First, the doomsayers were wrong about tariffs crashing economies. If the tariffs aren’t making a difference according to the globalist economists, then why did they object? They’re the “experts”, after all. Shouldn’t they have foreseen that tariffs wouldn’t matter? The second problematic front is that an American company’s success seems to be a problem for the Chinese.

Apple doesn’t filter and censor content from personal users, but Chinese state-media outlets seem to think it should. Even though Apple proved that China is good for business, someone had to find fault. Good news just won’t do these days.

So, now it’s Apple vs China rather than Apple in China. It seems Apple was also duped by the globalist economists into vesting one fifth of its sales in a relationship that wasn’t going to last. Watch. This looks like a preemptive step to take action against Apple, who would do well to start pulling out of China before its assets get appropriated for the benefit of the Chinese people.

The swelling trade war between the US and China isn’t going away. Dating back to the Opium Wars, the West will push and push as long as most of the money flows downhill into China. While China compares tariffs, Trump balances cash flow.

More importantly, China could be entering another “danger zone” of its own. Painting Trump as an enemy in China’s own newspapers could inspire dissidents within China that they have support from the US. The best response for China’s own stability would be to report that Trump’s tariffs were intended to help China’s economy more than the US. That would be more likely to promote unity among the Chinese people. But, the state didn’t think of that before press time and the newspapers can’t be recalled, even when owned by the state.

China is, indeed calm, just as it claims. There should be no question that China believes the flow of money into China is fair. Chinese don’t want to be unfair, after all. China should only have favorable trade because China deserves it. Beigjing isn’t out to hurt anyone, unless they are denied the extra favor that the world owes to China. So, don’t let the Western press convince you that China is more of a monster than it actually is. We can all be monsters at times.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, July 23, 2018

Central planning has only so much room for slight of hand tricks to keep up its sleeve. When the going gets tough, everyone goes home. For China, that means devaluing its currency, a complaint Trump has long lobbed against the trade giant.

Maintaining good relations with Apple and almost achieving the manufacturing capability long held by Samsung is quite the accomplishment for the Chinese. Good job. Everyone owes them a hand. China’s BOE company hopes to be able to start manufacturing the flexible, “organic” LED displays by 2020.

Devaluing currency as a response to trade tariffs from the US, however, is likely to make those tariffs higher, considering that devaluation of its own currency was one reason Trump argued for tariffs before his election. This, and turning to Africa, means that the international bite is felt. Silicon Valley also has its eyes on Africa, meaning that Apple and China may meet again in Africa, as well as Google. But, doing more of the same things that initiated tariffs is likely to cause more tariffs than tariff problems it alleviates.

China has a hard set of choices ahead and as those choices narrow, the tiger will feel more and more like its been backed against a corner. This path doesn’t endure entirely peacefully.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, July 9, 2018

China is reaching out to the world. It doesn’t want tariffs imposed by the US. President Xi Jinping likely feels betrayed by the man who was so kind to him previously, President of the United States Donald Trump. The Western press will of course paint China and Trump as the villains—each in their different sectors—while painting the consumer as the victim.

China’s role is actually one of confusion. $500B one way and $100B another is fair if China is on the favorable end, of course. Why would someone be so cruel, using that as an excuse?

So, China is making its appeal to international bodies, such as the WTO. But, therein will befall another misunderstanding. The International community agrees on twelve nautical miles of ocean ownership, no more, and building islands doesn’t count. China disagrees. So, appealing to International law won’t work in China’s favor, which will also seem unfair to the Chinese.

The Western press will make China out to be the bad guy, the aggressor. At the same time, the Western press will make Trump another bad guy for imposing tariffs. Of course China doesn’t want tariffs, that much is understandable. But, coming to “China’s” defense (actually their own) are the globalist businesses who believe that nationality, borders, and citizenship are a farce—that companies are the actual “nations” of the world. They are at war against both the US and China for not merging into one corporation. This is actually a battle for nationhood itself; from that perspective, both the US and China’s responses make perfect sense.

As for China being the “bully” as portrayed by the Western press, China really doesn’t see itself that way. The Chinese have no clue why the West would do such a thing, they really don’t understand.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, June 18, 2018

Trump has stopped military exercises near North Korea, but he has not initiated any plans to withdraw troops. His reason for stopping the exercises is that they are provocative and expensive. He has a point: If the heads of state are talking then we are less in need of fighting practice in a scenario where heads of state are not talking.

The military exercises with South Korea are expensive and provocative, as Trump explains. Frankly, they should stop. With healthy conversations and progress toward peace already behind us, there won’t be a need for those drills any longer. Rehearsal for conflict that might never exist can often provoke the very conflicts we otherwise would not need to prepare for. As for the “expense” defense, few accountants will argue in favor of nickeling and diming away money as fiscally responsible and no one believes that taxpayers’ pockets are infinitely deep except pundits with portfolios in public funding.

The Western news is that Trump is wrong, specifically with regard to China that China wins. According to this week’s Western news narrative, China wins because of troop withdrawals that haven’t happened, because a friend of China will de-nuke, and because over 30k US troops will be free to go home—or go to Taiwan, Mischief Reef, Vietnam, the Philippines, Japan, or any number of other Pacific island-nations China doesn’t get along with.

Economically, China “wins” because manufacturing is leaving China—which must therefore mean that China’s innovation and science is the new source of manufacturing elsewhere. Perhaps that includes innovation and science like the Chinese government now trying to track every car with a chip as of 2019. The “Mad Scientist” theorem of the experimental police state research moving from North Korea to China continues to play out.

Just remember with everything: There’s more going on than anyone can see. Deals between governments are never fully explained to the public. They shouldn’t be. But, as peace develops in one part of the western Pacific, hostilities move around and every pundit seizes opportunity to say, “I was right.” No conflict is without news profiteering.

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