Navies from across the globe are holding a slumber party in the East Pacific, namely the South Sea. British and other Europeans join the US, Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam, and of course China. Everyone says they want things to be calm and normal. But, the elephant in the slumber party living room is Taiwan. China maintains a policy of planning to take control either by hostile takeover or hostile invasion.
North Koreans aren’t happy with Biden. He says he will use the American-despised method called ‘diplomacy’. But, what diplomacy compares to the first president to meet with the Great Successor—twice? Biden and his team of wonderfuls are thrilled to be rid of divisive riff-raff like the first president to achieve diplomacy talks with North Korea head-to-head. Now that things are improving in America, we can get back to hostility as usual with the Korean peninsula.
If the other members of the East Pacific navy slumber party were serious about peace, they would freeze all Chinese assets until China renounced its Taiwan invasion policy and gave half of its navy to Taiwan as evidence. That won’t happen, but it just goes to prove that no one wants peace in the Pacific—they just want a navy slumber party. And, that’s what they’ve got. And, weapons manufacturers are thrilled.
This is a linchpin week. Britain’s new aircraft carrier stands by with courses ready for the South Sea. America has an inauguration scheduled amid more foreseeable chaos, likely greater than Hong Kong. Bad news on China only gets worse—while the Huawei CFO pleas for a life less difficult than her millions of dollars can buy her, she is contrasted to China’s treatment of two arrested Canadians. That doesn’t make China look charitable in the eyes of the five countries that declared the Hong Kong treaty broken late last year.
Diplomats from Taiwan and the US had a diplomat-to-diplomat talk in Switzerland. That’s new. China’s furious. That isn’t new.
A destabilizing United States coupled with swelling Western spite for China make the perfect bait and trap for China to think it should enter a war it couldn’t possibly know it couldn’t possibly win, but should have and would have if someone had only listened.
As Philippa Georgiou said to Leland in the season 2 finale of Start Trek: Discovery, “We were just talking about you. Everybody hates you. Congratulations.” It goes without mention which country that statement is most relevant for, today.
The Czech mayor of Prague rebuked China publicly and officially, using profanities. France and Germany did as much, in their less-these-days European forms of “diplomacy”. Israel gave the green light on travel to Taiwan, not China—making an even stronger distinction difficult for Beijing to erase. Turkey and Pakistan seek closer trade with Taiwan, not China. Real estate in Hong Kong is crumbling in reaction to a certain law that wasn’t made in Hong Kong, but was made in Mainland China.
A Chinese jet reportedly crashed in Guangxi, according to a viral video. Some speculated that the jet was struck by what some think could have been an anti-aircraft defense missile from Taiwan. There was no evidence to this. Taiwan denies this. And, China won’t even confirm that a jet crashed. Why?
Could it have been malfunction? Could it have been a US submarine—or a flying saucer—sending a message to Beijing that Chinese reverse-engineered jets are no match against the jets of the West they reverse-engineered? Either way, China has yet another reason to back off, but don’t expect it.
Taiwan redesigned its passport to make its proper title “Republic of China” look much smaller, minimizing the word “China” while celebrating the word “Taiwan”. This runs contrary to a trend of companies taking strange strides to reflect affiliation with China. Consider LinkedIn changing the display of “Hong Kong” to “Hong Kong SAR”, effective October 12, even though it seems strange English wording on a social media site. With airlines and companies like LinkedIn towing the line for Beijing Mandarin-speakers’ preference of how the English world should talk, Taiwan making the word “China” smaller on new passports could be considered provocative. It could even be a threat to China’s national security—something that proves very easily threatened.
Then, there’s India.
The China-India border is starting to look like a siege; the castle wall being the Himalayas. Tanks on each side are in shooting range of the other. Talks are scheduled. And, India said it hoped diplomacy was the best answer while at the same time banning another Chinese social app.
It seems these days that diplomacy is just another hoop to jump through—as necessary as it is useless—on our way to war with a country whose leaders think alienation is the best way to make friends. Short of a miracle, diplomatic or otherwise, war with China seems inevitable.
The Iranian government’s alibi—or “explanation”, rather—of how it shot down a passenger jet from Ukraine is entirely believable. Barring some grandiose conspiracy, there would be no imaginable motive for any government—friend or foe, even a terrorist sponsor like Iran—to use government assets to kill civilians.
The Iranian military’s story is believable to any Westerner who has spend more than three years in a first-world or second-world country. Sadly, poorer parts of America have similar cultures, poorer White communities as well as minorities. Any autocratic, bossy, domineering culture can easily make severe miscalculations. They do it in Sunday morning congregations all the time.
According to CNN, according to Iran, their government was on high alert, then misidentified a plane from Ukraine as it turned toward a Revolutionary Guard base. In sum, that led to a snap judgment, what Iran calls “human error”. The Iranian government wants to put systems in place to avoid such miscalculations in the future. In the West, we call that “growing up”—learning how to not make rush judgements.
While Iran’s story is believable to any Western expat with experience in a developing country, most Americans don’t know the degree to which immature people run many governments of the world. Part of being a first-world nation means that people in the government need to be mature.
Iran learning from its mistake could be the most significant turning point where Iran’s government learns the “confident humility” needed to govern with maturity. If that happens, Sec. Mike Pompeo’s goal of Iran behaving “like a normal country” will come true. Iran claimed that their military was on high alert in the first place because of tensions surrounding the strike in Iraq. In short, killing Qassem Soleimani helped Iran.
Now, the task is for Americans to understand other people enough to understand why being immature cost the lives of 176 people. Whether at home, the office, or in government, immaturity is the source of much injustice—a lesson which Americans will learn, eventually.
The world has been put on notice. That was the message from the US this week to the UN Security Council. North Korea’s situation is unacceptable to many countries. The Kim Dynasty has named the US as a nuclear missile target, more so than their brethren in the South. South Korea, both the people and their new president, want a “diplomatic solution”. But, it’s easy to say that diplomacy is the solution to someone else’s problem. Unfortunately, unjustly, and unfairly, North Korea’s dispute is not with the South, it’s with the US, but the South gets to bear the brunt.
Claiming “diplomacy” and “rhetoric” as the way out of a dead end is the thinking of the ungifted CEO who inherited someone else’s company. It’s the thinking of a “Great Successor”. He doesn’t know how to blaze trails, to make the “necessary disruptions” that propel a business forward, so he starts to think that “getting along” is the only way. North Korea uses “rhetoric” as the solution because their side is the more difficult, and it’s about to backfire. South Korea, being more comfortable than the North, wants the “diplomatic” solution because, sadly, their own fight doesn’t involve them as much as it involves others. With their “get along” answer to the situation, the South is actually agreeing that it’s not their own conflict, thus inviting intervention from the US.
Pyongyang’s threat is increasing against the US, but South Korea’s president doesn’t want to deploy more THADD defense missiles, making the Northern threat even greater. By wanting less military cooperation, the South is asking the US to act unilaterally. Maybe that’s best, so the US and Pyongyang can finish their conflict and Korea can get back to being Korea.
There’s also a “good cop bad cop” factor; if the US takes action while the South wants “diplomacy”, peace between the Koreas seems both desirable and tenable.
But then, there’s Washington’s view of Korea within the greater region. This is an opportunity for the Pentagon to make North Korea a spectacle in front of China. While the Chinese and North Koreans show off their militaries with parades, the US will show its strength by ending the Korean War in a flash—though they’ll make sure it’s a long and delayed flash, just so Beijing doesn’t blink and miss the message. It’s an opportunity the US wouldn’t miss—to end the Kim Dynasty with such power and efficiency that Beijing either has second doubts about pursuing its map-meddling activities or else to turn off the voices of reason and dive into the waters blind and tied.
Korea is reaching D-Day; it’s a simple logistic calculation. The American people are most likely to support action. The US has less and less time to wait, and South Korea is a cooperative dead-end—and rightly so. The forewarning to the powers of East Asia is clear: stay strong at home, stop expanding, diplomacy won’t solve other people’s old problems. Whatever transpires in Korea over the coming weeks will be a foreshadowing of outcomes from any other confrontations that may ensue should that wisdom be ignored.
After three weeks, President Trump finally had his phone call with Chinese President Xi. The report is that Trump will uphold the United States’ long-standing “One China” policy, in which China proper and the island of Taiwan are one country and that country’s government seat is in Beijing. The effect is that the United States does not have an “embassy” with Taiwan, but the US has an “institute” and Taiwan an “economic and cultural” office; both are still considered envoys and consulates, offering passport and visa services. While self-important voices in news and politics view the phone call as a phone call, much more is happening beneath the surface, and Beijing may only be partially aware of what all is going on.
Being a Socialist State, China’s government is itself in business, both cooperative and competitive. China’s Communist Party can directly compete with social companies like Facebook, news networks like CNN, web service companies like Google, almost any manufacturer, and, of course not in the least, construction. China’s former business associate and new “boss”, as it were, of America calls all the “important” countries in the world, except China. The delay itself is a message to China like a father telling the disobedient son to wait his turn while everyone else at the dinner table has first choice. To China’s “indirect-implication” culture, it was no less than a smack in the face, no matter how friendly and reportedly positive the phone call was. No doubt China feels this somewhat, though President Xi probably doesn’t take the snub as seriously as he should.
Even allowing State-controlled newspapers, such as Xinhua news, to let three weeks of silence be known merely by reporting the phone call shows that Trump knows how to cut through promulgated gate keeping. Knowing how his old trading partner thinks, Trump knew that Beijing would jump to report the phone call to give President Xi notoriety, forgetting the deeper implication that the phone call didn’t happen for three weeks into Trump’s term. Now, the Chinese people know that Trump didn’t talk to their president until three weeks after taking office, yet he received a phone call from Taipei only days after he was elected—Beijing made sure the people knew that. When trying to control information in one’s own country, that was an oversight. If Beijing were wise to the three-week snub, no newspaper in China would be allowed to report the phone call until two months later, with the comment, “Oh, they are presidents. They talk when it suits them.”
In social battles of implication and indirection, the Chinese have endurance and mastery, but the West has a less frequent and even more subtle way of implication that often eludes the East. It is difficult to recognize deep implication when implication is used on a daily basis for routine communication. Americans trust Trump with China more, now, knowing that he can snub them for three weeks and State-run Xinhua news will consider it a “good first step”.
There are other problems—not being able to quit while so far ahead and declare victory after 70 years of war on the books, the US selling weapons to Taiwan—but the three week snub “trumps” them all. American people have often asked themselves who China thinks they are fooling. After this three-week snub thoroughly reported under the title of a “phone call”, the American people, Democrats and Republicans alike, certainly know who is successfully fooling China.