Cadence of Conflict: Asia, December 3, 2018

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-Wen apologizing after a mid-term defeat at the provincial level will not demonstrate strength on her part, but she shows respect and stability in maintaining her appointees and policy toward China. Having not stood her ground on information about proposal that would have set Taiwan’s team name at the Olympics in Japan as “Taiwan”, instead of “Taipei”, she lost important support from the Formosan Association for Public Affairs, a group that seeks to have Taiwan internationally recognized as an independent nation.

Taiwan’s premier, William Lai, does stand for Taiwanese independence, held remarkable popularity in his reelection as mayor, and is the shoe-in candidate if he were to run in 2020 instead of Tsai. Tsai’s re-election is uncertain. What happens will depend on Taiwanese politics, which are too adolescent to not be surprised by. Main matters at stake include Taiwan developing faster responses to correct disinformation given to the public and a focus on better quality with internal governance and infrastructure. Interestingly, information and governance—not China itself—are at the heart of resistance to China.

If Taiwan declares independence from China, or takes too many steps to join international bodies like the UN, as Beijing has stated, we could be looking at all out war. Some in the political “news-o-sphere” call Taiwan a “flashpoint”. China hangs onto hopes of retaking Taiwan like King John’s suicidal siege of Rochester Castle. All the US does is provoke.

The latest provocation came late last week when Japan opened the path to retrofitting “helicopter carriers” into fixed-wing aircraft carriers. Japan looks to acquire 142 F35s—42 As and now 100 Bs; the UK eyes 138, about half of them to go to the Royal Navy. There are too many high-tech American aircraft in China’s backyard for China’s comfort. And, the US did two more sail-bys—one near China’s man-made islands, the other through the Taiwan Strait. China lobbed another “demarche” protest with Washington, presuming the action to be “provocative”.

Then came the US-China 90 day cease fire between Trump and Xi at the G20 this past weekend. A lot can happen in 90 days, whether politically, economically, or militarily.

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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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