Cadence of Conflict: Asia, January 9, 2017

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen (蔡英文) is in Houston, TX. Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) and a few lawmakers from Hong Kong are in Taiwan. A new wave of smog is in Beijing. And, more threats from Beijing to Trump are in the headlines.

Wong was a Hong Kong Umbrella Movement leader and is now secretary-general of the Hong Kong center-left pro-democracy party, Demosisto. The lawmakers accompanying Wong in Taiwan are Edward Yiu (姚松炎), Nathan Law (羅冠聰), and Eddie Chu (朱凱迪).

Senator Cruz gave a few educational remarks on democracy to Beijing over the Communists’ requests that US lawmakers not meet with Tsai. Tsai is on her way to Central America, but her connection in Texas brought lots of opportunity to discuss the strong and strengthening relationship between Taiwan and the US.

Back in Hong Kong, Wong and Law, elected but disqualified by the courts as a legislator, are facing charges for connection with protests that stormed a political office in Hong Kong in 2014. So continues the generational disputes. Establishments do what they will and the people, especially younger generations more willing to take action, never seem to find a way to lodge their objections in a way that is both effective and agreed to by the establishment. Perhaps, the objection to the protest was not its manner or location, but its political objective: Hong Kong Independence.

Asian news in early 2017 is back to the usual: Which territories ought to comply with China’s policies regardless of their will; and the smoke in Beijing, both environmental and political. And, of course, America is managing to remain in Asian headlines and Chinese talking points, as well as China’s backyard ocean.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, December 26, 2016

Beijing continues rattling prototype sabers over Trump’s talk and his walk. The Trump cabinet will be packed with savvy Secretaries who are wise to bad deals. People who want good deals will be supportive. People who want bad deals will object. Everyone has made his own position clear. Now, it’s time to see whose ideas will work and whose will produce change, not mere talk of change.

At the close of WWII, General Eisenhower ordered that as many pictures be taken of the Jewish Holocaust as possible because, so he explained, “some bastard will say this never happened.” Soon, Trump’s opponents, both in America and around the world, will try to claim that they “always supported” him. But, they are already on record.

The WWII Jewish Holocaust came up in Taiwan, however. Probably innocence fueled by ignorance and driven by anti-Simetic propaganda led teachers to approve a Nazi-style parade in a Taiwanese school courtyard at an assembly. The students didn’t know how bad it was. The teachers at the private school probably didn’t know either—even though it was their job as teachers to know history. It is worth mention that private schools in Taiwan usually are a “lower quality” than private schools in the West, which are considered for the “elite”. Taiwan is very misunderstood, but now Taiwan has misunderstood Israel. Outrage sparked across the nation.

Taiwan’s president is taking heavy action, demanding apologies to Israel and cutting whatever funding the private school received. But, therein lies the new dilemma. Since Beijing objects to Taiwan’s president giving a common courtesy call to America’s new president, will Beijing object to Taiwan apologizing directly to Israel for selectively portraying events in WWII? That would paint Beijing as anti-Simetic. If Beijing does not object, then their own objection to the Tsai-Trump phone call would be self-invalidated by mere precedent. If Beijing says nothing, it will surely face more opposition from anti-Semitic groups.

But, then we have Israel’s position. Israel does not recognize Taiwan as a state. Israel has its own dissident states that refuse to recognize Israel. So, the golden rule, “love your neighbor as yourself” raises interesting questions about whether Israel has a double standard. Taiwan has suffered its own holocaust—though on a much smaller scale—from the Chinese Nationalists who seized Taiwan assets and slaughtered Taiwanese. Remember, “Nazi” means “National-Socialist” and German National-Socialist seizure of Jewish property paid for 30% of Germany’s action in WWII, according to studies. There are many other striking similarities between Taiwan and Israel, though the two are nowhere new identical.

Now, with Taiwan’s honest-innocent mistake facing fierce self-correction, Taiwanese support for Israel is seen loudly throughout the globe. We are now at a point where Beijing’s policy toward Taiwan is a catch-22 and it is now in Israel’s self-interest to formally recognize the island that bears such relevant likeness to itself. No matter what the decision is, the people will know, and public support will swing more toward both Israel and Taiwan.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, December 5, 2016

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, December 5, 2016

A negative response in the wake of President-Elect Trump’s phone call with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen (蔡英文) could backfire. Such an educational, peaceful, and friendly phone call—clearing up an enormous misconception and even security concerns—deserves nothing less than praise. One harmless, little phone call encouraged millions of people in Asia to relax. Only an aggressor would object.

China did not directly or clearly protest. They did cordially make a “solemn representation” to remind the US of US-China relations and fired a handful of missiles—which they shoot off from time to time anyway. From China’s viewpoint, Beijing’s response was shrewd and defensible. Beijing is not rolling like any loose cannon so far.

The question that comes up, however, is about “Taiwanese Independence”. The Western press already paints Taiwan as “viewing itself as independent”, though Taiwan is nowhere close to inking any such opinion. On the books, Taiwan thinks it’s capital is deep in the heart of China and that Mongolia is a break-away province. Given the alternative, it would be magnanimous of China to welcome Taiwan discarding the current KMT-Nationalist definition of “one China” in exchange for anything, even “Taiwan Independence”; Mongolia might not take kindly to Beijing endorsing Taiwan’s out-dated view of the Mongols. Beijing is in a tight spot, and understandably so.

As much research documents, the Taiwanese people overwhelmingly already think of themselves as a nation-state and want the best of friendly relations with Beijing. Both the popular opinion and the offer for friendship are dangerous to reject.

The question of Taiwan Independence also has bearing on Hong Kong. While Beijing has done a much better job than Britain did—not to mention all the new Christians in Hong Kong since Britain left—the noise from Umbrella Movement paints Beijing as a regional killjoy. If Beijing wants the question of “Taiwanese Independence” to remain out-of-the-question, it has a tall order of PR work to do in the territory it already controls: Hong Kong.

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Encore of Revival: America, December 5, 2016

Encore of Revival: America, December 5, 2016

While Trump made headlines in Taiwan, Taiwan made headlines in the US. Despite attempts to educate the public about Taiwan over the last decade, the Western press still misunderstands Taiwan. But, it’s always endearing watching two strangers get acquainted.

Taiwan’s president, Tsai, also in her first year, was heavily concerned about Trump at first. In the end, it seemed she read too much about him in the Western newspapers—but all the gossip columns didn’t cause any damage that a simple phone call couldn’t clear up.

Taiwan is so innocent, almost childlike. In front of the world, loudly and often, top Taiwanese leadership gleefully admits that their conventional fears about Trump—common with the American Left—were all wrong. Talking to the actual man showed the truth. Taiwan’s “come to Jesus moment” over Trump is a message to all Americans—Christians, Atheists, Liberals, and Conservatives: Talk to each other.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, May 30, 2016

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, May 30, 2016

China has reportedly announced that it has been outdone by US technology. This implication came from the statement that it can only respond to the US “freedom of navigation” exercises by sending nuclear subs to the South China Sea. While some claim that the reports from Beijing are “exaggerated”, either scenario shows Beijing revealing its position of weakness and needing to resort to drastic measures. The report seems to have come as a response to reports of the US Navy’s use of the new electromagnetic-powered hypersonic railgun.

An international tribunal on China’s claims, activities, and islands in the South China Sea is expected in the coming weeks. China has already announced to declare the ruling illegal and will not comply. There seems to be no word on whether “contempt of court” charges against China will be included in the tribunal, in lieu of the recent comments. Elementary power brokers strive to understand the concept that, in our day, law comes from the resolve of the masses and to change the law, one must first court the masses. We’ll see.

Then, there’s money. Concern is growing over an ENRON-style ingrowth and implosion in China’s economy. While wealth management portfolios formerly focused on deriving profits from bonds (AKA real, individual people), the swelling trend is to invest in other banking investments. This is an exceptionally large problem since many banking investments now get their money from wealth management. So, Chinese banks are making more of their money by getting money from each other, and less from actual people.

Then, there’s currency. China has set the value of its currency at a five-year low. This in the shadow of recent comments from the US Fed chair. The high seas are not the only battle front irritating the international community. And, currency value isn’t either, for that matter.

There’s also trade. Not only Taiwan, but now Europe is getting cold feet in trading with China. Taiwan won’t resume cross-straight talks until it gets some laws passed to make the playing ground even. And, some in China’s circles echo similar statements from front-running US presidential candidate, Trump.

Speaking of Taiwan, the newly elected president, Tsai, visited a Taiwanese Air Force base for the first time in her new presidency. She seems less shy of talking about her own the military than Obama is of his. While China may not notice the responses of the international community, China will notice Tsai. Perhaps that is why the nuke subs are on the way.

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