Cadence of Conflict: Asia, November 13, 2017

At the APEC summit in Vietnam, Putin told Trump that Russia had not interfered in the 2016 election. Putin was sincere. At the same time, Taiwan is beefing-up cybersecurity, ostensibly to counter “daily” and “Russian style” attacks originating in China. If everyone’s rhetoric holds true, that means that there aren’t any threats at all.

Trump offered to help settle disputes in the South Sea. The Philippines’ finance minister complemented Trump on knowing “the art of the deal”. The Filipino president does not want any problems in the South Sea. China would rather settle disputes one-to-one. Will everyone get what they want? We’ll have to see. This is a chance for China also to earn compliments about negotiation skill from Filipino leadership.

Trump was very friendly in China. He underscored the importance of cooperation between the US and China. It was one of the kindest things he ever said. He publicly conducted himself in some of the kindest ways he ever has since running for office. China received him with respect and his public appearances went smoothly. If there ever was a good chance for peace, now is the best chance there has been for a long while and is probably the best chance there will yet be for a long while.

Will things go peacefully? We’ll see.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, August 21, 2017

After President Trump warned that North Korea must never make any more threats, North Korea is making more threats than ever. Trump mentioned Hawaii and Guam in his warning, North Korea mentioned Hawaii and Guam in this week’s threats. Again, another US ship in the 7th Fleet crashed into a merchant ship, the USS John S. McCain, right in China’s back yard near Singapore. And, the Navy was sure to announce it to the world through Twitter—another blatant attempt to look incompetent if there ever was one. North Korea and possibly China may even believe it.

China is running into PR problems with the West. Of course, the Communist Party has their reasons, but the press wall between China and non-China makes it difficult to get the story straight.

Hong Kong Umbrella movement leader Joshua Wong was imprisoned this week, along with other leaders. China is not hiding the changes they are making in Hong Kong, even though the agreement between Britain and China was that no such changes would be made for 50 years as a condition of the handover. China has its reasons, but Britain would have no trouble convincing the public that the agreement that Hong Kong belongs to China has been invalidated.

India paid China money to collect annual rainfall data to prepare for seasonal floods. China has not fulfilled it’s contract to deliver the data India already paid for. The data relates to water flowing from China into India. Central territory of interest is Tibet. India provides such downstream data to two of its neighbors at no cost. This week, Chinese troops reportedly walked into India for a few hours, resulting in a few stones being thrown. China has its reasons, but India would have no trouble convincing the public that the agreement of data exchange between China and India to avoid dangerous flash-food incidents has been invalidated.

China has its reasons, but the West also has its reasons and China faces enemies on many sides. Vietnam is getting cozy with the US. India is getting irritated. And, North Korea’s status quo is past being defensible. If China were to find itself in a war, it would already be surrounded. But, rather than bolstering the home front, China is engaging in “venture wars”, seeking to have its flag flown over more territory. Such was the choice of King Richard in his Crusades, which arguably cost him France. Of course, it was his by rite, just as it is China’s by rite.

As things look, the Pacific conflict will likely draw China in on many sides. If China doesn’t win, those many sides will be fighting over many pieces; India may claim Tibet, Britain may reclaim Hong Kong, and Taiwan may sue for normalization with China.

It would be great if it didn’t come to that. But, then so would be a lot of things.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, June 29, 2015

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, June 29, 2015

China’s economy is tanking if you look at sales reports, or, no, wait, it’s going up if you ask the Chinese. China is also losing in the battle for Vietnam’s alliance: Moscow is now buddy-buddy with Hanoi.

Taiwan’s internal politics are all over the map with a presidential election schedule running near-parallel to the US 2016 election. Both countries look like they will elect a leader that wants to “deal smart” with China—against Beijing’s de facto policy of demanding that the world allow itself to be annexed by Beijing. Beijing has already rejected what looms in 2016 like a slave owner rejecting a slave’s desire to “normalize relations”.

Speaking of slavery, China is now an expert on human rights, lecturing the US. It is almost comedic, not because of the gross difference in numbers, but because China has so consistently told the US that countries should mind their own business. It seems Beijing has reversed that precedent with a new one.  · · · →

Prelude to Conflict: Asia, March 23, 2015

Prelude to Conflict: Asia, March 23, 2015

The conflict is already here. As it seems, China always planned to invade Taiwan and upset the teetering Pacific balance. Myanmar and India won’t have any more. Declassified notes (last week) suggest China was lying about their intentions with Hong Kong since 1958 and Thatcher knew this in her confidential talks with Beijing in the 1980’s. The “economic” rout to taking over Taiwan seems only a way to bide time so that Beijing’s military could grow stronger and, thus, their invasion would be more likely to succeed. Economics were never a “first option”, but only a ploy.

Analysts who buy into to the “by fore if necessary” rhetoric could say that China’s “economic option” (AKA a ‘hostile takeover’) with Taiwan was “wishful thinking” or an “either way” approach. Through economic ties, so it could be said, Beijing could cripple Taiwan before the invasion. Thus, Taiwan could always cave, “but if not”, Beijing would be in a better position.  · · · →