Cadence of Conflict: Asia, September 4, 2017

Korea’s situation is amplifying. We know this. North Korea is making more threats than ever with it’s “boy king” on the iron clad throne. We know that military options are 1. relevant and 2. undesirable. The Pentagon consistently barks about “military options”, while “economic options” stay on the table—don’t overlook how talk of military bolsters economic action. Rather than reviewing the obvious, consider North Korea through the eyes of the White House—viewing both economics and security—and from the rest of the world.

As the Pentagon, economists, and surrounding nations sees things, not China, but specifically the Communist Party seated in Beijing, is viewed as the “menace of Asia”, venturing into increased trouble with Vietnam, India, the Philippines, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Myanmar, Malaysia, Mongolia, Africa, Europe, and others. North Korea has six months of oil remaining, and China does 90% of North Korea’s trade. No Beijing Communist Party feeding the Kim Dynasty equals no Kim Dynasty nukes. That’s how the Pentagon, the US Treasury, and many surrounding nations view China and North Korea.

It will never be said, just as much as it will always be considered: North Korea is a stepping stone to facing the Beijing Communist Party. For the Pentagon, it’s practice and demonstration. For economics, North Korea is an excuse to cut off trade with China who manufactures technology, but does not develop their own, and uses copied technology with trade money to make it more difficult for their neighbors to sleep at night. Right or wrong, justified or not, that’s how others view China these days.

Now, Xi Jinping addresses an assembly over the BRICS bank group, while still not having dealt with the menace in its own back yard. Without a word being mentioned, Brazil, Russia, India, and South Africa—and the nations who trade with them—will view China as being the “maker of promises that won’t be kept”.

China had so much going for it, as did the Communist Party in Beijing. They had trade, they had marked-off territory that no one encroached. But, it wasn’t “what they deserved by rite”, thereby provoking them into too much venture and not enough housecleaning. Make no mistake, North Korea is only the tip of the iceberg marking regional vendettas that loom beneath the surface, both militarily and economically. The US is not as friendly as it seems, “considering either” economics “or” military; it has already been implementing both as part of a greater regional ambition.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, February 27, 2017

Americans love flags. The over-sized flag, the “Star Spangled Banner”, was a strategic tool of Fort McHenry at the Battle of Baltimore and the US national anthem itself is named after the flag. If the United States ever truly intended to communicate that it believes Beijing seats the rightful government over the island of Taiwan, then Washington DC would have demanded that Taiwan fly the Chinese Communist flag over its own flag, like Hong Kong does. But, it didn’t and they didn’t ask. The test of what Donald Trump thinks about China is not a question of how many times he sees the word “China” on his globe at home, but what flags he accepts flown where.

Is China wise to what’s going on? Perhaps money is making all the difference. China’s PLA Navy is headed for an increased budget. If money was China’s answer, perhaps money tipped-off Beijing in the first place.

According to Obama Treasury rules, China is only 1/3 of a “currency manipulator”, exceeding a $20B trade deficit with the States. The other two rules relate inflation to GDP and official currency purchases to GDP—two things where China plays by a different set of rules than American economics. China “declares” its own currency value, it is not determined by the markets, making what the US refers to as “inflation” irrelevant to China. The second irrelevant Obama rule relates to “official” currency purchases. If only economics were only affected by “official” purchases, many other economic problems would be solved. But, economies are affected by “actual” purchasing, not merely whatever we happen to label as “official” this decade. The Chinese, especially, are experts at looking good “officially” while doing the bulk of their work under the table. Why else would Asians be so focused on cram schools and testing?

Then, there is the task of calculating “GDP” in a heavy back-and-forth trade economy. In 2011, the US slapped tariffs on China-made solar panels, which were made with materials imported from the US, which China also slapped a tariff on. Not only is actual “domestic” product difficult to measure in a “Venn diagram” of overlapping markets, there is also the problem that China’s government behaves like a company itself—benefiting from tariff revenue, thereby triggering another slew of investing and purchasing opportunities. If economics were a pair of glasses, China operates in ultraviolet light that no pair of US lenses can detect.

So, not only were the Obama Treasury “currency manipulator” rules an attempt to measure the light with a wind sensor, Trump gets what Trump wants. If China is destined for the “currency manipulator” list, it will get on that list one way or another, and there is a laundry list of ways that can happen.

But, then, there is North Korea.

While the “experts” lecture the world about how “trade wars” always backfire, China harbors its own trade war with the government in Northern Korea. Kim Jong Un isn’t happy with Beijing and Beijing wants to talk about it with the US.

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Encore of Revival: America, January 16, 2017

President-Elect Trump criticized the intelligence community for having fake reports and allowing those reports to leak. He conducted his own “leak” fishing expedition and plugged the leak—or “caught, fired, and fried” the leak. If he can find his leaks with no power of the pen, why can’t the “intelligence” people find their leaks? That must be Trump’s question, anyway. Of course he Tweeted against the agencies.

Is it wrong for a president-elect to criticize people he can soon fire? There is no way that this president-elect has criticized his soon-to-be subordinates as much as the soon-to-be ex-president will continue to criticize without end. Obama plans to stay in Washington, and it isn’t because he likes gazing at the Eisenhower Building.

When Brennan lectures, “It’s more than about Mr. Trump; it’s about the United States of America,” he’s talking about his future boss. That’s not right or wrong; that’s just not smart. Even Comey was smart enough not to go up against Obama. Maybe Brennan expects to be fired anyway.

A lot of people aren’t thinking about what will happen when the man they continue to criticize becomes president. They weren’t thinking about all the deals they made that weren’t going to last. Whether the trade deals were good or bad, Americans were never going to tolerate China and Mexico taking American jobs forever. Clinton’s and Bush’s and Obama’s trade deals weren’t going to last. But, people didn’t see that either. They didn’t see a lot of stuff that was coming. That’s somewhat of a unifying quality among the anti-Trumpists. It still is, apparently.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, November 21, 2016

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, November 21, 2016

With TPP’s immanent floundering in the Pacific, China attempts to step into America’s shoes. But, those are big shoes to fill. As big of a deal as Asia thinks itself to be, any trade deal needs to include the Americas or it really isn’t worth writing headlines about—or even the agreement papers. China’s current proposal to replace TPP with a pure-Asia trade agreement is called “Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)”—again, with an introspective worldview evident in the name, not identifying which “region” is involved because the region is presumed by those in it. RCEP won’t even make a dent in the ocean.

Instead, Trump still dominates the headlines. Japanese President, Shinzo Abe thinks Trump is “trustworthy”. He met with the president elect at Trump Tower.

Other than Trump and trade, the rest of the news reset itself to stories questioning China’s economy. Metal is up for suspicious reasons. Apple isn’t that great and wasn’t going to be that great anyway. And, China is already spying on us through their cell phones. It almost seems that newspapers agree with Trump about having more mobile phones made in the USA.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, July 25, 2016

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, July 25, 2016

The words “China” and “tariffs” are appearing in headlines together again. Cambodia is seen as a Chinese puppet in ASEAN. And, one dissenting opinion from Forbes claims that tariffs are only about consumers, not about jobs and whole economies. Contrary to China’s unspoken messages, Beijing asks for more economic cooperation, but Europe is stealing the limelight.

If China were truly interested in global economic growth, they should move their shadow away from the economic shipping lanes in the South China sea. But, that idea doesn’t exactly come to mind to the Communist worldview, which presumes that success is bestowed rather than sown and reaped.

Taiwan’s order of 50 some amphibious vehicles from the US has been delayed until 2020, three and a half years. Yet, the US called on Taiwan to create a vehicle for a lunar landing. One would think that Taiwan might build 50 some lunar landing vehicles for Taiwanese use under water, especially since the specs should not be as complex, but that was not reported. Perhaps the US could divert NASA resources to Taiwan’s security to ensure that the lunar vehicle supplier is not crushed by an invasion from China, but that was not reported either.

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