Cadence of Conflict: Asia, September 10, 2018

Right or wrong, the US-China tariff war was always coming. Stupid American companies flew into the campfire of Chinese manufacturing like moths into a flame. China was smart inasmuch as they did not become dependent on the outsourced labor, which was always going to ever-only be temporary. China has wasted no time, building infrastructure, such as the highway between Hong Kong and Macau and the silk road, now gaining income by the well marketed tourist attraction.

But, this tariff war was always coming. The political situation in the Pacific indicates that it’s not about economics so much as it is about military. Pacific island nations grow more and more irritated by China. Little, small nations are speaking out, demanding China apologize for storming out of a PIF (Pacific Islands Forum) meeting when China’s diplomatic representative was told to wait to speak until after heads of state from member nations had their turn. China is not a member, only an attendee. This is not any demonstration of leadership that the region will accept, no matter how much it may have been bestowed by the territorial gods at the universe’s center, which is in China of course.

Then, there’s Taiwan. If last week was a week of firing off blanks and papers across bows, this week, cannonballs started splashing. Taiwan introduced three different bills amending existing law, stiffening restrictions and penalties concerning anything that could even remotely be construed as interference between Taiwan and China. As if that wasn’t enough, Taiwan is increasing its budget for both fighter jets and the navy. And, Taiwan’s military even moved up an annual naval exercise to rehearse an attack from China at an earlier date than usual.

In all of this, the rain continues to fall in Taiwan, now flooding different parts of the island than saw torrents over three solid weeks of cloud cover. Not to worry, though. City governments are closely monitoring just how many millimeters of water can drain away how quickly, revamping any old sewer system that can’t keep up. Taiwan just seems to have its hands full, as well as its rivers.

Then, there is the tsunami of US diplomacy. Trade wars often prelude military wars. While Taiwan’s dwindling allies flip to support China, the US is breaking ties with any country that breaks ties with Taiwan, more or less. Solidarity with Taiwan seems to have bipartisan support in US Congress. With trade alliances shifting, when war breaks out, it will be a financial calculation as a convergence of China’s revenue and US dependence on Chinese-made goods both bottom out.

Exclusive: British Navy warship sails near Beijing-claimed South China Sea islands – sources | Yahoo – Reuters

Xi Jinping to attend Russia summit, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un also invited | Straits Times

US lawmakers introduce TAIPEI Act | Taipei Times

Taiwanese students to file lawsuit against Norway | Taipei Times

Government to increase budget for F-16 upgrades | Taipei Times

Commission to remove Chiang from bills: source | Taipei Times

Ministry in contact with US over allies | Taipei Times

Military plans to invest NT$500bn on ships after ’26 | Taipei Times

Air force, navy exercise along east coast this week | Taipei Times

Cabinet designates three priority bills | Taipei Times

Weather bureau warns of more heavy rainfall | Taipei Times

China’s Trade Surplus With U.S. Hits New Record | WSJ

Trump ready to launch new round of China tariffs | FT

Pacific islands new diplomatic battleground for China and the West | SCMP

Ford tells Trump why it won’t make China-built car in US | CNN

China must apologise for ‘arrogance’ at Pacific summit, says Nauru president | SCMP