Cadence of Conflict: Asia, December 9, 2019

Money doesn’t lie; it’s in the airline figures. Cathay is reducing its capacity, largely from loss of demand for flights in and out of China. Hong Kong Airlines is dropping long hauls to and from Australia, the US, and Canada. Clearly, both Chinese nationals and Pacific English speakers have lost confidence in Hong Kong. Hong Kong was special—for tourism, culture, lifestyle, trade, finance, and a slough of other things—all because both Chinese and the English-speaking West had easy and overlapping access. They could meet, they could do business, they could speak their own language, and they could enjoy Chinese culture without the oppression of a Confucian-Communist government. But, neither wants to play ball anymore.

In response to the US ending exports of riot-control weapons and defining autonomy as “being autonomous”, China banned the US Navy from making port stops in Hong Kong. The port stops had been an encouragement to international business, reassuring investors that everything was alright between the US and China. But, apparently China doesn’t want that illusion of reassurance to continue. And, more importantly, China obviously is less fearful of the US Navy making its R&R port calls in Taiwan instead.

Watch for many things to shift to Taiwan. While the first finance leaders in Hong Kong are exiting to Singapore, watch for a swath to relocate in Taipei once Singapore’s galore wears off and finance centers discover the difference in real estate prices and cost of living.

China will still be angry enough to blow a few gaskets when the US Navy does make more port calls in Taiwan, it’s just that they are less fearful of it for the time being. China’s leaders have been had, largely due to their thirst for respect, which blinds their judgement. But, they are incapable of learning, so they are only going to be had more and more.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, December 2, 2019

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.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, November 25, 2019

Hong Kong’s election results from yesterday have confirmed the general public’s view: Hong Kongers reject China’s actions. Not that it will make a difference—elected officials don’t hold a majority in Hong Kong’s legislative process. But, pro-Beijing officials were voted-out, replaced with pro-democracy candidates who campaigned on “5-demands”. There had been speculation as to how much Hong Kongers supported the “5-demand” protests; this morning there is no doubt. Taiwan, the US, and the UK generally oppose the manner of Chinese expansion; this morning we know Hong Kong does too.

It was always easy to see why.

When the US Senate unanimously passed its own version of a bill that would annually evaluate whether Hong Kong was autonomous enough for it to be treated autonomously, China went berserk and accused the US of interfering. When Hong Kong’s High Court overturned Hong Kong’s recent ban on masks, Beijing rebuked the court, thereby proving that Beijing believes Hong Kong is not a separate jurisdiction from the rest of China. Apparently, Beijing thinks Hong Kong should have its government utterly determined by Beijing, but should be treated as if the opposite were true. In America we call this “wanting to have your cake and eat it too”; in China it’s called “Communism”.

US Congress has sweeping bipartisan agreement to determine what the US does in its foreign relations. The US decides whether to sell riot gear to another country. China calls this “interference”; in America that’s called “blame-shifting”. Albeit, China has been illegally interfering in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and even working to undermine Australia’s government, according to a Chinese Communist spy who recently defected Down Under. $200M USD to thwart Taiwan’s election—and China thinks the US is meddling by not selling rubber bullets to Hong Kong police. It’s no wonder yesterday’s election turned out as it did.

Several students holed up in Polytechnic University in Hung Hom tried to walk out, but police chased them back in with tear gas—purportedly because they wanted the students to leave. That was a few days before the US Senate passed its bill about Hong Kong’s autonomy being defined by autonomy. While the intentions of the police seem to be contradictory, there is a greater danger Hong Kong’s government is blind to.

While under siege and later trying to escape, the students and countless new protestors who joined the cause because of the police response, have learned new skills. They are gaining practice at launching Molotov cocktails, shooting police officers with old fashion archery, rappelling in free air, organizing supply and movement lines, along with other aspects of urban guerilla resistance that neither Hong Kong’s police nor China’s PLA are trained for. Carrie Lam has turned these now three plus million protestors into one of the most formidable military forces in Asia, if not the most per capita.

A civilian military is necessary for any nation’s independence. Before these protests, Hong Kong never met that unwritten-yet-real requirement. Since Carrie Lam made the decisions that she did, now Hong Kong has a different truth. As relevant and telling as yesterday’s election was, the more important election is coming in March, when Hong Kong’s October 4 Declaration of Independence scheduled its provisional election. With a now-experienced civilian militia, Hong Kong has all the pieces it needs for a successful revolution. That should not be ignored, but it is.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, November 18, 2019

America and China are getting fed up with China and America being fed up with each other. Americans tried patience and negotiations; that didn’t work. China hid its agenda for global domination, denouncing so-called “interference” except when China did the interfering. Now, China’s true colors are showing and it looks like a lot of debt. Municipalities and local governments are buried in debt, which is eating at China’s central economy like Asian ants on a morning worm.

Amid riots and threats, encroachments by police on university campuses and by China upon Hong Kong rule, the primary issue in Hong Kong is the upcoming revolution election in March. On October 4, Hong Kongers declared the current government already nullified and that interim government elections would take place in March. That election is not the primary concern for most reports coming out of Hong Kong, if it gets mentioned at all. But, that election should be the primary concern of China, the United States, and the current—and denounced—Hong Kong government. Perhaps those upcoming elections have not been taken seriously, and, if so, that would be perhaps the most serious miscalculation.

But, rather than carefully calculating the right way forward, China is more concerned with optics—not with causing good optics, but with countering bad optics with more mere optics.

The same Plague from the Black Death has re-emerged in China’s Inner Mongolia province. Historically, whether in 541, 1347, or 1894, the Plague always had its origins in the Far East. Rather than promptly confronting the source, the Chinese are basically doing what the San Francisco government did in the early 1900s: covering it up.

Even Chinese soldiers play the optics game. Chinese Communist PLA soldiers are not allowed to leave their garrisons in Hong Kong without a formal request from Hong Kong’s government. But, they did anyway—to clear streets blocked by protestors. They didn’t clash with protestors, they simply picked up stuff in the street, mostly bricks. They weren’t armed nor did they wear fatigues; they wore running shorts and OD-green T-shirts, the same that they exercise in on a daily basis. But, they weren’t invited by the Hong Kong government. As a result, their presence was technically illegal, though seemingly helpful in the minds of some residents who want to drive down the street.

Interestingly, the unarmed, seemingly-harmless soldiers were accompanied by cameras; it was a publicity stunt. Voices in the British Commonwealth are especially concerned because this beautiful, warm, kindhearted photo-op sets a precedent of PLA soldiers breaching Hong Kong illegally. Chinese thinking puts logic before law, which feels like justice at first, but then operates with no standard of conduct, deciding right and wrong from one moment to the next. In other words, Beijing thinks that China’s soldiers must not enter Hong Kong uninvited—unless they want to.

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Encore of Revival: America, November 18, 2019

The trade war with China has hurt American farmers—just as a year of bad weather also hurt American farmers. Notwithstanding questions of why Americans chose to become dependent on Communists as their customer, the larger culprit should be large corporations competing against small farmers, seeking a de facto monopoly. Bigness is set against the small guy in America. Trump’s trade war sees the biggest competitor of any American business as the Chinese Communist government itself—since the Chinese government financially supports companies competing against non-government companies in America.

This is a recipe for war. Rather than hating Trump, farmers will blame the Chinese and support the coming war that the fake trade war was meant to lead up to all along. Secretary of State Pompeo certainly is ready.

Few things re-elect presidents like a widely-supported war. Washington Democrats are not playing to win the next election; they are playing for employment. They know that they can’t win the presidency or the Senate in 2020 and will most likely lose the House. Everything they have done in 2019, and are continuing to do through this next election, is designed to keep their voters preoccupied and distracted from the approaching failure.

If the Democratic electorate stays singularly focused on victories that will never happen, then enough of them will go to the polls to keep the majority of current Democrats in Washington employed, but Democrats will no longer be the majority in Washington. The entire assault against Trump is a shear distraction, designed by Democratic politicians to dupe their own base into marching toward utter failure so they can keep some of their seats on Capitol Hill.

The most recent episode of Russianewsgategate is a glaring example. Marie Yovanovitch, an Obama-appointed ambassador, was working as if still for Obama even though Trump was president. The Ukraine president didn’t like it. She was rightfully fired. Disgruntled, now it’s her moment of payback—as a witness in matters she had nothing to do with. The House hearings on Trump are a mere show trial. Don’t expect the electorate to respond any differently—those who enjoy the show will keep their plans to vote against Trump and those who don’t like the show will vote for him.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, October 28, 2019

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.

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