Opinions on Asia aren’t just flying, but swarming the Pacific. Hong Kongers vote against China in an unmistakable slap to Beijing’s face, then Beijing blames the US—because Beijing still thinks that voters only vote how the government tells them to. And, everything is all America’s fault anyway, right?
It took a day of silence for Beijing’s media machine to figure out how to spin the election. Beijing accused Hong Kong’s dissent on violence. But, that doesn’t hold since last week’s election went uninterrupted. Yet, Beijing sticks to the same script.
A commentator predicts that Hong Kongers don’t want independence—even though they already declared independence on October 4. Perhaps Doris Lam’s article on Channel News Asia was an attempt to tell Hong Kongers what they should want. Or, it could have been an attempt to tell Beijing to think that Hong Kongers don’t want what they want. Either way, it is a delusional olive branch in the form of a typical long-worded think piece. There is a growing trend of commentators who make their articles longer when they know that few readers will accept their opinions.
After Trump signs two laws about Hong Kong—one to define an autonomous region as autonomous, the other to stop exporting police tools for riot-control—Beijing calls it “interference”. Then, Trump drops tariffs on China because good ole Benjamin is hard to argue with. Yet, Beijing wants more. Now, as in Chinese business negotiation, China wants to change the deal after everything has been agreed to. They want even lower tariffs in Phase One.
Great Britain wants UN access to Xinjiang. China wants the world to believe Xinjiang is happy, an Islamic utopia; new documents prove otherwise. China also faces a food shortage, but a good marketing effort is underway for investment in Chinese farming. Stopping any possible abuse of Uyghurs in Xinjiang is interference in Beijing’s opinion, but accepting foreign money to build better farms isn’t. Perhaps Beijing will call it interference if the rest of the world does not invest in Chinese farms.
Taiwan’s election is fast approaching. Though Tsai Ing-Wen, the pro-democracy incumbent president, leads in the polls, many Taiwanese are scared that there are too many voters in the old, beaten-down generation for her to win a second time. Older Taiwanese, like many Chinese, have been so dominated by East Asia’s shame culture that they truly believe that “bigness” always wins and therefore they must vote for politicians who will surrender to China. Younger Taiwanese have seen this older generation get its way so many times, even polls can’t keep them from being scared. But, as John Maynard Keynes said, “Men will not always die quietly.” Few things drive voters to the polls like fear of dying at the hands of politicians who want to surrender. Tsai Ing-Wen is set to win by an even greater margin than she did in her first term—and everyone has something to say about it.
China is playing a dark game with Taiwan over the murder suspect in the case that sparked the spark of the Hong Kong liberation protests. A young man from Hong Kong traveled to Taiwan with his girlfriend where he murdered her, then returned to Hong Kong. Because China plays politics with Taiwan, Beijing refused every channel of cooperation with Taipei to bring the suspect to justice. The only way Beijing would allow the arrested suspect to be transferred to Taiwan for prosecution is with a sweeping extradition bill that would allow any Chinese court to demand the extradition of anyone in Hong Kong to China.
Now, Hong Kong has released the suspect, arguing that a criminal is on the loose in Hong Kong because Taiwan won’t accept Chinese dictated rule.
We are witnessing the faceoff of Chinese Confucianism vs Western Christendom, a conflict which has been brewing for two thousand years. This is happening in our day. Many in the West said that Confucian Shame cannot be overcome, even with the Christian message of forgiveness and reconciliation. Others have said that nothing can ever stop China because big countries always win. All of these claims are about to be tested and proven wrong. Hard times lie ahead, but not all hardship ends badly.
Reuters broke the story. According to unnamed sources, Beijing refused to let Hong Kong’s government grant free elections, withdraw the extradition bill, and crackdown on police brutality. If this report can be proven in court, a case could be made that Hong Kong is no longer under China’s governance, already. Of course, China would never recognize such a ruling and a military conflict between China and the West would quickly ensue.
The West has slowly been inching forward in support of Western freedoms everywhere the West resides, including Hong Kong, and China has been ill prepared. Had Beijing anticipated the status quo, preventative measures would have been taken long ago. But, China doesn’t understand the West, just as Beijing can’t understand Westernized Hong Kong. So, “suspicion” is the emotional response to expect.
Well past the 79-day record of continued protests from the Umbrella Movement in 2014, the extradition protests are in their 13th week.
Turn of events included protestors setting large fires on police-related barricades and the police using blue die in water cannons, presumably to mark protestors for later action. This is a serious escalation on both sides. Far more importantly, but less likely to be noticed, protestors marched outside the Chinese military garrison, near Central on Hong Kong Island. This is a direct affront to Chinese control and, for that reason alone, the situation has never been more explosive, so to speak.
Hong Kong’s miracle was that it was Western, but it was located in the Far East. This made it an overlap and a gem in the world. It was the convergence of extremes that made Hong Kong special. But, Confucian-Communist Chinese can’t imagine that being Western would make a thing desirable. So, Beijing chalks-up Hong Kong’s “greatness” to the idea that “it is Chinese”.
In attempt to explain the protests, and without evidence, China has repeatedly accused the West of interfering in Hong Kong, which got its very value from already being Western. The greatest Western influence in Hong Kong came from Hong Kong itself. Reports of supposed Western financial backing for Hong Kong protests seem laughable to the West since they have been presented without a shred of anything remotely resembling a “paper trail”; it’s mere surmise.
Far more importantly, since when did Beijing object to Western influence? Communism is Western. But, seeing that requires objective thought, something Confucian culture can’t do.
Beijing supposes their must be someone behind the protests. In Confucian Chinese thinking, no one would oppose their great benevolence unless someone else told them to, and “objective thinking” is a mere myth. But, the West can’t imagine anyone supporting the government of the Tienanmen Square massacre without brainwashing.
As Westerners, Hong Koners don’t want to be brainwashed to support such a murderous government, neither does the rest of the West. So, with this past week, we can’t expect the West not to interpret action against Hong Kong’s protestors as a preemptive attack on the rest of Western civilization. World War veterans remember what happens when the West feels threatened. Still, no matter how much Hong Kong wants to, Beijing refuses to allow the only way to stop making Western culture feel like someone wants it to stop being Western.
China instructs Hong Kong not to confuse restraint for weakness, notwithstanding that China is making that very mistake with the West in not sponsoring the demands of Hong Kongers that Hong Kong’s government keep the Sino-British promise of 1984. China claims that the West has meddled in Hong Kong. The biggest problem with this argument isn’t lack of evidence, though evidence is lacking. The bigger problem is need—the West wouldn’t need to meddle in order to create the chaos we see in Hong Kong because China has already done more than enough. Balancing Hong Kong’s unrest with China’s interference, the math adds up.
As China poetically said of Hong Kong, a “blow from the sword of law is waiting for them in the future.” China should heed its own words. But, we already knew China was incapable heeding any wisdom, including its own, which is probably why the West doesn’t bother commenting anymore. After all that has happened, China recently had the lack of self-awareness to call its growing power a “peaceful rise” in defense of growing Australian concerns.
Taiwan is gearing up and arming up. Their new “Cloud Peak” missile can reach Beijing. It’s mobile and in mass-production. It still pales in comparison to Beijing’s aggression toward everyone, everywhere. But, Taiwan figures, at least an attack from Beijing would hurt in Beijing. But, Beijing’s probably not capable of understanding that. So, the Taiwanese can’t count on their Cloud Peak missiles as any kind of deterrent, only a disruptor to cripple and confuse and weaken sequential attacks from an attacker who struck first.
China says that Hong Kong CEO Carrie Lam may not resign because she must remain in power to clean up the mess China started and blames on her. Albeit, staying in power to clean up her scape-goat mess is impossible because cleaning up that mess requires her to resign as the people demanded. The “mess” includes her being there in the first place—because her election was not from self-governance as Hong Kongers were promised in 1984. The mess also includes China saying who may and may not resign—because China doesn’t get a say about one grain of sand in Hong Kong until 2047.
The whole problem goes back to China’s inability to not meddle. A Beijing-managed group based in Shenzhen has been carefully researching and observing the developments in Hong Kong so that Beijing can know how to properly respond—whatever that’s supposed to mean. Make no mistake, they aren’t trying to understand how to govern a free people or understand the reasonable requests of a free and self-motivated economy. They aren’t trying to learn whatever wisdom might have made the West so rich and powerful in the first place. No, Beijing is on a mission to Sinicize Hong Kong out of being Hong Kong.
The current task is to figure out how to “disappear” 2 million Hong Kongers without the world noticing. Hong Kong’s police under-reported the 2 million turnout; they’ll probably under-report the number of “disappeared” people as well, and they need research to make it sound convincing. If the protests had happened in Xinjiang, Beijing wouldn’t need to do such research because the world wouldn’t be watching because making 2 million people disappear in Xinjiang was never a problem in the past. And, that’s what Hong Kongers rightly fear.
Beijing’s research narrative presumes that Hong Kongers only fear being “Xinjianged” because some phantom, invisible Western influence influenced them. They have no proof of this, but that’s Beijing’s presumption. If there’s a problem, it must be America’s fault. So, Beijing’s approach is to sneak around and spy from the shadows until this phantom “influence monster” from the evil West shows its face. That’s Beijing’s plan to solve the Hong Kong problem.
Now, there’s constitutional discussion about where and how Hong Kong’s “Basic Law” allows military intervention from China, namely if Hong Kong’s government asks. But, the whole discussion misses the whole point—that Hong Kong’s Basic Law is based on the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984 of non-interference from Beijing. Beijing already interfered by not allowing self-governance in Hong Kong as promised. Not letting Carry Lam resign is yet another violation of that promise and premise. So, technically, the law beneath the Basic Law has already been dissolved. And, Beijing only incriminates itself further by claiming that promises made in the past don’t need to be kept because they are in the past.
Pay attention because, while Taiwan is a linchpin that will bring America into war with China, Hong Kong is the linchpin that will bring the UK and Europe along with it.
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.