China received two-and-a-half slaps in the face this week: financial sanctions against a few Chinese and Hong Kong leaders, who don’t have money in the US anyway, and the first formal diplomatic visit from America to Taiwan in over 40 years. To add “insultlett” to insults, the purported reason for the US visit was to discuss health and disease cooperation in the face of the Wuhan-famed pneumoniavirus, with Taiwan being the safest place in the world from the disease.
All of these actions from the US are perfectly understandable.
Countries should visit each other. The US is wrong for not having visited Taiwan over the last two score, just as North and South Korea are wrong for their tensions. The world needs people to talk to each other, whether in government, religion, or otherwise. At least Taiwan and the US seem to be getting along much better than Democrat and Republican voters in America.
Sanctions over Hong Kong’s turn of events are also understandable. Beijing doesn’t have jurisprudence over the world, but certain people in Beijing seem to think so and aren’t afraid to put their opinions in ink and law. No, Americans shouldn’t do business with such folk; no one should, no matter what country they’re from.
As understandable as US actions are, they are nonetheless provocative. We can’t expect Beijing to be happy. America found the perfect storm, and bet the bank that people in the Pentagon know what’s going on. But, something seems different in this week’s volley of cross-Pacific insults: Beijing didn’t pop a hernia like it usually does.
Could the Chinese Communists be learning to not feed taunts from the US? Or, more likely, has Beijing read the clear message of actions and decided to quietly plan retaliatory “messages” of action in ways other than rhetoric? The next few months will tell us.
Taiwan has a new Vice President: Former Premier William Lai, known for his pro-independence posture. China won’t be happy, but China is rarely happy these days.
The Chinese made two loud omissions in their rhetoric this week. When talking about reunification with Taiwan, they left out the word “peaceful”. The press noticed. A Taiwan official said it meant the same thing. But, everyone knew better because China also left out regard for Hong Kong’s Basic Law, something else that always got mentioned in the past.
Apparently, Beijing thinks peace and honoring treaties are too petty to be bothered with.
But, certain terms are in need of clarity. Xi Jinping isn’t merely trying to “reunify with Taiwan”; his actions are closest to that of a corporate hostile takeover—not just of Taiwan, but the entire world.
In Australia, Drew Pavlou faces expulsion from Queensland University for organizing student protests in support of Hong Kong opposition to recent law proposals, especially extradition to China and the recent “security” proposal. Follow the money. Australia’s government is looking into China’s influence. Many other governments are too.
According to the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, US Congress is required to review whether Hong Kong is autonomous enough to have its visas treated separately from the rest of China. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is already late in his report. He waited until China held its own congress meetings. What happened at those meetings didn’t help the case for Hong Kong’s autonomy.
The words of US President Trump set an unsettling policy for Communist China: “We’re also getting our allies, finally, to help pay their fair share.” This is far-reaching.
By having multiple nations with multiple militaries operating with appropriate budgets, China faces an enclave of opponents, not just one. There is no single head to decapitate. If you’re in Beijing, sitting in a room filled with Mandarin speakers who agree that they are entitled to make the world their servant, Trump’s words scare you.
While Beijing fights the virus it tried to cover up, Taiwan had recorded 10 deaths from that virus. Yet, China reported 13 in Taiwan, then told the United Nations that China speaks accurately for Taiwan, still arguing that Taiwan should not enter the WHO—even taking offense, still, at any suggestion of entry. Taiwanese Foreign Minister Wu pointed out that the WHO has referred to Taiwan by at least three different names in reporting on China’s Wuhan outbreak. This week, even the US spoke up for Taiwan’s request to join the WHO; China was all the more offended.
The outbreak isn’t fairing well for China’s credibility in governing Hong Kong either. Supermarkets are full of empty shelves.
While China’s central government will continue the playbook strategy of blaming the very local governments it dominates, the central government’s solution to the failure of a centralized government will be to centralize more government. In Confucian Communism, control is the solution to every problem, especially the problems that control causes. So they themselves believe even more than they purport, the reason that China has so many challenges within its vast stretches of land is that it doesn’t have even more land. The Chinese Communists believe that their number one problem is that they don’t control the world.
Trying to be polite or indirect while not taking no for an answer does not give anyone a right to make trouble. When someone gives a decisive, “No,” decent people accept that answer, then move on somehow. But, China doesn’t seem able to do that. In Beijing’s thought, relentlessly pushing forward, no matter how many more thousands hate them by the day, China is being polite to Hong Kong. They are being indirect. By not giving up, the Chinese Communists believe they have very politely told Hong Kongers how things will be, thereby justifying whatever manslaughter China chooses to invoke.
It’s not as if China has a lot of time to worry about telling other people what to do. Hong Kong was designed in its Basic Law to be largely autonomous. That means that Hong Kong can take care of itself, should China need to put energies into other matters—such as stopping the African swing flu or the Wuhan coronavirus.
China’s choices led to a landslide re-election for the de facto independence president of Taiwan. She says there is no independence to declare because Taiwan can’t possibly be any more independent than it already is. Some in Beijing might think that means Taiwan has reached its limit; but anyone in the West knows that means Taiwan already has the fullest measure of independence as defined. Yes, many in Beijing might not know that.
Vietnam reached a similar vague point in gearing up for military strength in ASEAN. Buying boats from India is also on Vietnam’s agenda—yes, India is another country China has managed to aggravate.
Why do things unfold this way in China’s back yard? It’s not that China is so much evil as it is immature. But, we tend to stay immature when we age, if we won’t open up to the outside world. Rather than helping China learn, the West just dumped money and emboldened a brat, all so we could save a few pennies on our stuff. Who is really being the most unfair to who? Friends know when to accept a no because friends know when to say, “No.”
The overwhelming, earth-shattering, landslide re-election victory of Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-Wen sends a shocking message to Beijing: If you plan to take Taiwan, prepare for greater opposition than you got from Hong Kong. But, like the house cat who doesn’t know it’s not God, let alone that it’s not any tiger, they won’t ever decrypt the message. Beijing will be emotionally hurt, insulted, and will thus froth with rage.
Choosing former Premier William Lai as her Vice running mate was wise. Not only is he loved for—perhaps only for—his intractable stance against corruption, he also views Taiwan as having an already de facto independent status. While President Tsai prefers status quo—a peacefully unresolved dispute with China—Vice President Elect Lai views any Taiwanese declaration of independence from China as no more than a formality for how things already are anyway.
This choice of William Lai strengthens her position. If she were to step down, a president would take her place with an even stronger stance against Chinese expansionism. So, even her political opponents would want her to remain in office.
Taiwan’s position is stronger, not only in US relations, but also within Taiwan. Expect actions from China that result in Taiwan responding with moves toward even greater independence than status quo already boasts.
We are headed toward a massive inquisition of police. It could be known as the “Hong Kong Trials”, where each police officer who served since June is combed over and evaluated for every step taken at every single protest, then tried under international law. It’s not immediately around the corner, but the current powers governing Hong Kong are doing everything they can to make that day inevitable.
Over the holidays, neither protestors nor police took a break, except for a brief moment on Christmas at midnight, when protestors were the adults in the room to pause for a moment in honor of something greater. Many had Christmas dinner away from their families, largely due to East Asian culture’s dogma toward older family members. Authoritarianism generally drives away people who are self-motivated and take initiative, family being a least exception. Older generations in Hong Kong don’t understand that. Neither does Beijing. This Christmas, many middle aged and elderly parents faced the question posed by empty seats at many a dinner table: Do you love your children more than your desire for compliance? To some extent, families will be reconciled in due course; parents who refuse will lose even more.
Taiwan had its own drama over the holidays. An accused Chinese mole, formerly in Taiwan’s military, is being hung out to dry for purportedly recruiting more moles. Former president Ma is accusing the Control Yuan of interfering by questioning the judge who let him off scot-free. That stands to reason since the Control Yuan was effectively shut down during his tenure, which, unbeknownst to most, gave even greater rise the Sunflower Movement of 2014. As if Taiwan hadn’t its fill of holiday joy, US Congress is now working on a bill that will formalize the US envoy to Taiwan as a full ambassador—requiring presidential appointment and Senate approval. That is about as close to recognizing Taiwan as a country without recognizing Taiwan as a country as a country can get. China won’t be happy, but the Taiwanese sure thought it was a very Merry Christmas!