Cadence of Conflict: Asia, August 5, 2019

If one were to guess what was going on between Trump and Kim, internal politics of North Korea would explain it all. Korea is no exception to East Asia’s history of ongoing domination quarreling. Kim is not universally loved within his own government. The military is constantly at his back door and he must squash mutinies constantly. Pomp and acting like he’s the “military man” makes it hard for his enemies within to rally ill will against him.

Also, Trump has commented that many things are going on with North Korea behind the scenes—things which remain beyond the paparazzi watch of the Western presses. When Trump indicates no objection to the non-nuclear missile launches in North Korea, it almost seems as if Trump knows Kim is doing something the rest of the West doesn’t know about. For all we know, the number and frequency of non-nuclear missile tests could be a kind of Morse code only known to Trump and Kim. Given what has been publicly told, that would not be impossible. This only leads us to conclude that we can’t conclude anything about what’s happening in North Korea so far; there have just been too many jokers added to the deck.

Then, there’s China, China, and also China.

When it comes to raising public support for Western action against China, China is its own worst PR enemy.

China keeps doing the same thing. Beijing’s solution to rejection is to incite more rejection. Beijing’s solution to resistance is to give excuse for more resistance. It’s in a self-destructing insanity tailspin—paranoid of invisible enemies, justifying interfering in Hong Kong under the auspices that Hong Kong was already interfered in by the West.

That’s what this is all about, by the way. The whole reason Beijing accuses Taiwan and the US of causing the Hong Kong riots is to build the case that “Hong Kong was already interfered with”, and therefore sending in China’s military to stop the protests would not violate the Basic Law. The problem is that the Basic Law does not grant China permission to use military force against unarmed Hong Kong citizens on the basis of “Western interference”. But, the Chinese don’t understand the concept of “lawfulness” anyway. They just come up with whatever excuse sounds sophisticated enough to seem smarter than everyone else and thereby hypnotize the public into compliance.

China wants to blame the US and Trump won’t give China one single excuse to be twisted into so-called proof. Trump treads cautiously, but he is neither callous nor oblivious. His silence should be a warning to China that he is no fool. Sadly, China will take his silence to mean that he has caved into Beijing’s aggression and the Chinese military will only grow more overconfident than it already is. But, choices of the past four decades suggest that may have been the plan all along.

The tipping point is upon us. If China’s warship crashed into a Taiwan freighter on accident, then there would be no reason to fear or respect China’s Navy because their crew can’t steer. The alternative is to interpret it as an act of war. China doesn’t consider either because an angry bully in blamer-mode doesn’t consider others, not even how others can or will respond.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, June 24, 2019

We are not headed to a Second Cold War. We are not at risk of heading to a Second Cold War. We are traveling at trans-warp speed toward the First Flash War. It will start and end quickly, laying the groundwork for WWIII and FWII to follow.

These pieces of our times are important to distinguish. Different analysts with different levels of understanding of history are trying their best to explain our times. To a novice—either to history or to the West or to the East—who just begins to understand, it may seem like we are headed toward Cold War II.

China and the US are in a growing conflict on the surface, but Russia is whispering in China’s ear. Russia wants the same old thing. The US is generally unaware of Russia’s intent or dismisses it.

China thinks that the US wants to retain power. China wants to rise, so Beijing feels the need to “beat back” the US.

The US knows China wants to rise and doesn’t mind. The US wants to step back, but knows China is an undisciplined bully—lawless and doesn’t respect human rights. So, the US feels the need to “beat down” China to make Beijing behave.

The US takes the approach of protectionism and innovation—tariffs and moving manufacturing back home. China takes the approach of its domineering culture and copying others—both doomed to fail.

One of the Chinese’s biggest complaints used to justify their military aggression in the South Sea is American presence. The claim is that the US has 180 military bases throughout East Asia, rephrased “near China”. Because of this, China calls America the “aggressor” and, like the burglar who thinks society stole from him first, says its military response is justified.

The US has been in many of those places since the end of WWII and after the Korean War. The Chinese didn’t know about this US presence because their surveillance tech wasn’t good enough. Once China reverse-engineered and stole designs for enough Western tech—because they still don’t know how to invent it on their own—they started to see that Americans had been their the whole time.

The “Second Coming Cold War” argument is flawed because we’ve already been in such a “cold” standoff for seven decades. That’s how Beijing interprets it anyway, and now the Chinese want to heat things up.

Consider the contradiction. For over 70 years, Americans have been quietly watching the seas. They didn’t harass fishermen. They didn’t aim missiles and launch threats. They didn’t attempt to ram into other boats. They never tried to deny passage through international waters. China has done all these things, but not the US—in 70 years! So, because of that, the US is the aggressor? That’s Beijing-style thinking anyway. And, that way of thinking is what Washington feels the need to defeat before it gets any bigger.

This week documented a Chinese general committing two “no-nos”. Firstly, he commented on the social structure of Hong Kong—military leaders are supposed to remain outside of politics. Secondly, the thus  proven military government of China thus also proved disdain for the law it must abide by. Motive is one vital burden of proof in a conviction. Not only had Beijing meddled where it wasn’t allowed, but we now have an established motive.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, June 17, 2019

Trump’s so-called “trade war” with China was never any failed attempt at relations. It was a way to get American companies out of China before the inevitable crud hit the fan. With Hong Kong’s government ignoring it’s people, we can see Trump’s wisdom with China.

One million people in a population of just over 7 million protested a Beijing-backed extradition law in Hong Kong. Protests continued all week until a second, larger march returned one week later. What in the world is happening in the Far East? To understand Hong Kong, first take a look at Taiwan.

Much like the Asian Mad Scientist Theorem for North Korea, consider the Taiwan Schedule Theorem, as follows: Unknown to the world, China has a military expansion schedule which requires possession of Taiwan. By a certain time, Beijing wants to use Taiwan’s harbors to anchor China’s Navy. Anything that threatens or delays that schedule causes China to take more extreme steps elsewhere, in fact anywhere, anyway. This isn’t truth; it’s a theorem that explains a lot.

For example, the DPP being elected in 2016 meant a slow in China’s schedule for Taiwan—according to this theorem. That led Beijing to lean on Taiwan’s allies, making them break off formal relations with Taipei.

With this theorem in mind, the goal of the US would, then, be to make as many disruptions with China’s “Taiwan schedule” as possible, provoking China to exhaust its “other” ways to respond to schedule delays. Trade would be one way China could respond to schedule delays. But, the US trade war already removed “trade” as way to retaliate.

Another way China expands its power is through unofficial loans. Sri Lanka had to surrender a strategic sea port to China because of debt. Moreover, if countries borrow Chinese money off the books, then government bond values are inaccurate. Under-the-table lending is another rout China can take if the “Taiwan schedule” gets delayed, but that’s been exposed and won’t be so easy in the future.

China’s getting boxed-in and Taiwan absorption seems farther and farther away.

With snowballing US-Taiwan cooperation—including the FBI scene last week, also including the $2 Billion in arms sales—China will see more delays. Protesting the G20 set for June 28, 2019 in Osaka would be another way Beijing could retaliate for delays in absorbing Taiwan. But, Trump already promised tariffs on yet another $300 Billion in goods if Xi Jinping doesn’t show.

Chinese ambassadors to G20 countries are promoting anti-US sentiment. Will those countries be likely to side with China against the US just because a Beijing ambassador told them what to do? Even Hong Kongers don’t like Beijing telling their CEO what to do. Perhaps Beijing doesn’t know that. Perhaps Beijing knows, but doesn’t care. Perhaps everyone “kowtowing” to China’s demands over the last 40 years has led the Chinese to believe they are more influential than they really are. Beijing doesn’t seem to be aware of where it stands with international opinion. But, it might find out soon.

Does any Chinese president show up where he is not welcome? Think about that…

With Trump’s G20 threat in place, if Xi Jinping shows up at G20 where his anti-US diplomacy efforts “un-welcomed” him, then people will think he succumbs to threats and is weak. If he doesn’t show, then Trump will lecture China publicly about “keeping a schedule” while Xi’s country faces tariffs on $300 Billion of goods, and Xi will be seen as weak. More importantly, with new tariffs, China would be even less able to retaliate to delays in the “Taiwan schedule”. Either way, drama over G20 exhausts China and leads to a checkmate.

If Taiwan is considered a playing “card”, then it is a “trump” card, as they say. Taiwan might be a chess piece, but not one that gets sacrificed. Taiwan may be the pawn-turned-queen to hold the king in check at the end game.

Now, consider Hong Kong, where a “to other countries including China” extradition law brought out 1 Million Hong Kongers in protest, twice. CEO Carrie Lam outright ignored the protestorstwice. She’s sad—not about her proposed extradition law, but that the law is opposed. Ignoring 1/7th of the population when they march in the streets is a bad idea in any country, in any universe. But, Carrie doesn’t care, thus reflecting the worldview of any Beijinger.

Taiwan responded by deciding that it would not cooperate with the Hong Kong extradition law, even if passed, until “human rights” were addressed and only if Hong Kong heeded the opinion of its people in choosing whether to pass the law. Without Taiwan’s support, the largest—if not only—reason known to the public for the law has vanished. And, it’s all because of Taiwan.

One important factor in the “Taiwan schedule” is the upcoming election. Things seemed to be leaning toward Mayor Han of Kaohsiung for the KMT-Nationalist party. But, the events in Hong Kong over the past week have weakened Han and almost certainly assured a second term for Taiwan’s incumbent, President Tsai. That means only more delays in the “schedule”

If Beijing can’t get a grip on Taiwan quickly, Beijing will tighten its grip on Hong Kong even more.

But, Hong Kong is small and already attached to the mainland and doesn’t lend itself to much in the way of retaliation. Too many changes in Hong Kong law and countries will break treaty with Hong Kong and the “Asia’s World City” show will be finished. Once Hong Kong is no longer sufficient for Beijing to lash out over delays with Taiwan, the only retaliation left will be to invade Taiwan. That was Washington’s goal all along—a fight for Taiwan that requires Pentagon intervention—and long-term presence after—and China started it.

Beijing might be willing for a pro-unification candidate to win  Taiwan’s election. But, if other things crowd in too quickly—say the US normalizes with Taiwan—the 2020 election wouldn’t help the “Taiwan schedule” either way. Beijing needs to give Washington a reason not to formalize ties with Taipei, and so far they haven’t. G20 will decide a lot; China voting “absent” will decide a lot more a lot more quickly. Based on this Taiwan Schedule Theorem, expect more jeers and insults leading up to G20, from both sides, at the end of this month and expect Beijing to try every way to tighten its grip on Hong Kong.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, June 10, 2019

Chinese rhetoric spiked over recent weeks. They made threats. Trump made threats. They made more threats. Trump and Xi are BFF, just like Xi and Putin, but Xi and Putin are BFF-er. Now, we move toward quiet action. If China stops exporting “rare earth metals” to the US, the US would simply get them from somewhere else. “Rare” means many countries can get them, but few actually do because China does it so much.

The US is selling several tanks and tank-buster rockets to Taiwan. Beijing isn’t happy—about the $2 Billion in weapons sales to Taiwan, but also because of the people who publicly express memory of what happened 30 years ago at Tienanmen Square.

Around the time Taiwan’s primaries finish, the US launches its first Ford-class carrier in October, larger than a Nimitz. It still has a year of training and won’t be commissioned until 2022.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, June 3, 2019

The “Symphony Asian Mad Scientist Theorem” continues to play out. Trump engaged North Korea in talks that led to a calm without North Korea changing its DNA. Trump eventually reminded North Korea what everyone knew would be necessary to reach an agreement and North Korea stomped off.

Now, Trump comes off a marathon of wider-scope talks with China and continues to talk about talk, while the message is sent more clearly to China every day. China already knows what will be necessary to reach an agreement, its ambitions otherwise are classic Imperial-Confucian wishful thinking.

Over the weekend, the US and China exchanged insults at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Singapore. America isn’t gonna’ tip-toe around China anymore! And, China will risk any and every cost and will defeat everyone who stands in the way! They sure told each other! We can’t say China didn’t warn us, just like China warned the world before the victorious Korean armistice and before China’s great and splendid invasion of Vietnam.

Don’t think for a second that Trump doesn’t care about Japan. If he really didn’t care about Japan—if he truly enjoyed the missiles recently launched by “Rocket Man”—he wouldn’t say so on camera. Remember, everything he says is being closely watched by a large and volatile North Korean neighbor which believes that everyone believes everything published in the press.

No matter how much anyone warns China of the dangerous pinball machine game it’s bouncing around inside of, they won’t change because China only ever and always remains true to its Imperial-Confucian values. Those values can and will never include “capitulating to outside demands”. China just won’t change, you see.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, May 27, 2019

President Trump’s response to Kim Jong-Un’s recent missile party neither shows lack of a plan nor lack of respect for Japan; it show patience and insight. Gaining and maintaining trust and respect in difficult situations requires sureness in action and slowness in harsh words. Talk is cheap. These are politics, after all.

Trump has taken no action nor signed any orders giving Kim more permission. Many pundits and opinion commentators have speculated that Trump will have difficulty with Abe because of his patient words for Kim, but all of this speculation is speculation only. They are presenting a model to analyze Trump’s decisions, but that model is devoid of a grid of using “kind words” in the face of betrayal. Kim’s strategy has not deviated: provoke a US response. Trump’s words “defuse” that strategy, so to speak. Trump is no pretentious fool, more of a patient father.

The situation in China, however is heating up, obviously for the same reasons. Trump and Xi exchange similar words as Trump gives in response to Kim’s actions. They promise to prepare for talks while rallying their own citizens against each other. Rumors of peace are the surest sign that there is none just as provocation indicates a peace not easily broken.

Taiwan is gearing up for war, its war machine in full motion. Taiwan is beginning mass production of strategic strike responses. Taiwan is renaming one of its offices to include both “US” and “Taiwan” in the name, which is a first. These are not actions that have any intention of appeasing Beijing.

Then, there’s Hong Kong. Responses from the American government would view the SAR as no longer capable of diplomatic ties if the extradition law on the table is passed. This extradition law would likely isolate Hong Kong from North America and Europe. We know war is close, but “how close” will be known by whether Beijing allows “Asia’s World City” to internationally isolate itself.

Those promised and prepared talks between Beijing and Washington will only serve as size-ups, if they even happen.

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