Prelude to Conflict: Asia, July 7


This week’s international smack-talk of China took a more academic tone. China’s evidential first enemy: the global super-giant (little old Taiwan), still not thwarted by the near-2,000 missiles aimed at the island, is appearing in more and more news articles and sections. One news site discusses Taiwan’s economy and demographics.

Documented rising sea levels (3 feet over the next 90 years in SE Asia) is now another academic consideration in regional conflict. Japan may bail on TPP over their ally’s catfish (meaning that Big Hollywood will be less able to sneak in their hostile takeover of the world through their copyright-aholic fetish embedded into TPP).

Taiwan’s Ma met Kerry in Panama—it was cordial at best, though reported as mere chit-chat. Ma watching the World Cup actually made news, which means that there was nothing better to report about Kerry meeting one of the most significant US allies in the Pacific, which means that there are deeper hostilities between Taiwan’s Kuomintang Ma administration and the US—probably because Ma wants both US military jets AND wants to keep holding secret meetings with Beijing… Though no one reports on that conflict of interest in the news. Ma was in Panama with Kerry for the inauguration of a new Panamanian President on a 7-day diplomatic trip, reaching out to Taiwan’s friends in the Caribbean. What the news also doesn’t point out is the problem with why Taiwan needs to reach out to small Caribbean countries in the first place. He actually thanked John Kerry for allowing him to stop his jet in Hawaii and California… Why wouldn’t Ma be allowed to? He’s a friend of the US, right? Or is he? China is a regional bully, the US won’t deliver on the F-16 purchase from 2011, and Ma’s current priority is diplomacy in Latin America?

Ma’s friendly chit-chat with Latin America almost resembles Steve Jobs scrambling to call his business friends when he knew Apple would dismiss him from the board, back in the day. The US media and US government have done well not to comment or throw gasoline on the fire, but basic knowledge of what gives someone a “security risk” in the eyes of Homeland Security should be a red alert—that Ma wears an invisible “dunce” cap in the eyes of the Pentagon… and he knows it. He wears a “dunce” cap in the eyes of his own country. And now, it seems, he wants to wear the invisible “dunce” cap in the eyes of Tokyo.

The only sizable government that offers demonstrable support for Ma is Communist China, seen in China’s Taiwan Affairs Office Minister Zhang Zhijun (張志軍) visit to Taiwan. China’s TAO unofficially exists to oversee the annexation of Taiwan into Communist China, one way or another. As one Taiwan blogger points out, calling the TAO anything but what it really is surmounts to “lipstick on a pig”. Perhaps China’s TAO will sarcastically be referred to as the “Taiwan Annexation Office” in the future (you read it here first).

The foreseeable opposition from the Taiwanese threw white paint on the TAO Minister Zhang’s security detail (‘white’ paint to protest the secret ‘black box’ meetings between Taipei and Beijing.) Ma quickly blamed the regional Taiwanese mayor for complicating China’s visit when Ma’s political party actually organized the event and was later forced to take responsibility. That political party, the Kuomintang (KMT) is now in “clean up and PR” mode, trying to gain back public trust through philanthropy since their love affair with Beijing seems to have sabotaged their hopes to maintain control. As that blogger also points out, the Kuomintang Nationalists currently occupying Taiwan in their flight from Beijing since the 1940’s Chinese Civil War, are the richest political party in the world.

By his actions this week, Ma shows where his affections fall: Beijing. He talked more business with China’s TAO than with John Kerry, defended Beijing more than his own country’s democracy, and spent more time criticizing Japan for their new “defensive” measures than he spent warning China for aiming 1,800 missiles at the country he was elected and swore an oath to protect.

Speaking of Japan, and to the detriment of Ma’s de facto agenda, the old Empire declared that it can now “defend itself” [preemptively]… Passive-aggressive language for, “If China attacks Taiwan, Japan can strike back at anyone they want, however much they want, in the name of ‘self-defense’.” Tokyo’s new law acknowledges their other limits of post WWII military restrictions, basically excusing themselves, as they claim that they can respond with reasonable force, without defining what “reasonable” is. This kind of rhetoric is not an indication that Japan is rogue, but is a frequent diplomatic “clearing of the throat” when a nation is regarded as an aggressor and the international community wants to issue a polite warning. By Japan declaring “self-defense” if a “nearby” country (Taiwan/Vietnam/Philippines) is attacked, Tokyo is effectively putting Beijing on firm notice, indirectly, but not with much subtlety. The subtle part of Japan’s message is the cryptic message from Washington to Taiwan. Because the US has not opposed Japan’s increased militarization, Washington is subtly telling Taiwan’s Ma that he has been put on notice even more so than Beijing.

And that’s the thing with Asian indirect-implication messages. Asians tend to recognize their own indirect messages to each other, but when Westerners decide to be subtle about their concern of Asian power games, the Asians usually don’t get the message. While Asian aggressors puff out their chests and talk in loud voices, Americans sit silently, take notes, smile, and secretly reach for the hidden “smite” button. It’s not that the West doesn’t know subtlety, we just save our best skills for when we need it most. Everyone in corporate America knows that job security is lowest when the boss suddenly goes silent. If Beijing was smart, it would know that America is most dangerous when she smiles across the Pacific. If America were not dangerous, she wouldn’t be looking across the Pacific in the first place. Unfortunately, Beijing may not have gotten the message.

As for Beijing, strings seem to be pulling at the puppets in Hong Kong, apparent retribution for the pro-democracy activity of the last few weeks. This is another indication that Beijing has no intention of learning anytime soon. This week, we see that conflict may not only be foreseeable, it may be foreseeably unavoidable, by choice of course.

More Drama in Hong Kong

Hong Kong Marches for Democracy (Breitbart News)

Hong Kong marches for democracy (Reuters article at Taipei Times)

Eslite under fire in HK censorship row

…A Taiwan-Hong Kong bookstore censors books about Tibet and gets some apple carts upset in the public arena.

Hundreds arrested at sit-in following huge pro-democracy rally in Hong Kong

Hong Kong police charge pro-democracy march organizers

Region v China (articles with a ‘warning’ tone)

Japan and Collective Self-Defense: Symbolism and Reality

Chair Tsai Ing-wen: Our Role in Maintaining Regional Stability

China’s Dangerous Taiwan Gambit

TAO visit shows fragility of democracy: symposium

MAC admits it picked controversial venue

Tropes and Tragedies in the Media (Taiwan blogger)

HK poll organizers urge territory to respect its results

Support slump prompts KMT action

President Ma cautious on Japan’s self-defense shift

China, S Korea push North over nukes

Axes of Struggle in the Asia Pacific

…Sweeping and wide-scope overview of the many mounting problems in East Asia, including an error: referring to Taiwan as “Thailand” when mentioning the Kuomintang (a Taiwanese political party), evidence that the problem of confusing Thailand with the island of Taiwan is a deep problem that many in the world need to address.

Taiwan Stays in the News

Taiwan Pres. Ma meets Kerry in Panama

Public concerned about dependence on China: survey

Where is Taiwan’s Chief HR Officer?

Taiwan: Too Much Democracy Or Too Little Democratic Representation?

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