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.

Read More

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.

Read More

Encore of Revival: America, October 21, 2019

Trump is set to redefine historical trends. Every thumbscrew play from the political playbook has been tried on him and every single one has failed except the impeachment in progress, which hasn’t failed or succeeded yet. The very impeachment process will only boost his support as already seen in Texas. It’s all based on results.

Trump supporters and Conservatives—not necessarily one in the same—respond to and respond with results.

Divisions are solidifying along every line—religion, politics, social justice wars. Two people with opposing views can’t reason with each other. Those on the Conservative side tend to be quiet and work and vote. Those on the Liberal side are loud and make anyone who dissents regret it.

The more these divisions and assaults build, the more we see rhetoric face off against results. Loud Liberals in America think they identify with the protesters in Hong Kong. But, it’s not being outspoken that makes a protest work, it’s the resolve to be left alone.

Many Conservatives would be glad to lift laws that make life difficult for the LGBTQ community. But, the social justice war now seeks to punish people for pronouns. That social justice war will likely lead to a backlash from the Conservatives who could eventually place more restrictions on the LGBTQ community than ever before. Overplaying is a danger for everyone. But, no one can be reasoned with these days.

With Senator Romney pushing against the president in his own party, a president popular among Conservatives and many Democrats, he could be paving the way for a third party two presidents after Trump.

Read More

Encore of Revival: America, August 19, 2019

The nation is polarizing even more. The anti-Israel sentiment from some members of Congress is only one part. The Russianewsgategate scandal surfaces more evidence every day, but no one changes heart or mind on the matter. Portland protests have the same non-effect on persuading people to change sides, only mobilizing everyone.

Chris Cuomo is grossly annoyed by Limbaugh’s nickname for him. Perhaps he thinks he’s the only one allowed to get offended. Senator Lindsey “Gramnesty” wore his like a badge of honor and Andrea “Tarantula” Tantaros welcomed Rush as a guest on her show to explain the good humor of it all. At this point, it’s unlikely Rush will be able to grace the ratings of Chris, who seems to be the only one with a nickname the rest of us aren’t allowed to use.

While protests and extreme voices raise their volume, the only thing provoking people to switch sides are Liberals in the spotlight. It’s not all—neither those in the spotlight or those switching sides. But, some of the dumber and loudest among the Left have made themselves such an embarrassment that many social-minded voters are starting to think that they will get more social justice from the Right.

The election has always been and remains in Trump’s favor. China will lose the trade war, as well as the other war it was always going to instigate. Gun laws and abortion laws will strengthen in both directions. While the Right seems to have the advantage for now, neither Right nor Left has any clear path towards domination, only further polarity. There’s no stopping it. Buckle up, grab your popcorn, and stay safe.

Read More

Encore of Revival: America, August 5, 2019

Tariffs and trade headlines aren’t about trade or tariffs; they are about Trump. The trade war with China isn’t about China having taken US jobs since before the 1980s, it’s “Trump’s trade war”. The poor American farmers who planted crops to suit the Chinese are all beside themselves. A bad environment—whether in weather or economics—is the new normal and farmers are being told the same thing as American companies that depend on China: get used to it and look elsewhere.

America’s economy can’t be dependent on China because China is not dependable. Look at the self-contradiction of someone who says otherwise. Trump’s former economic adviser, Gary Cohn, says in one sentence that China was going to take down its own economy anyway, then in another sentence says that US trade policy is backfiring. Which is it? Was China going to do all this anyway or did the US initiate something that backfired? Both can’t be true at the same time.

Either the US affected China’s economic policy or it didn’t—for better or worse. Claiming that we didn’t make a difference while also claiming that we made a difference that backfired doesn’t indicate a well-considered economic framework; it indicates someone shooting in the dark, trying to find any argument that will convince people to dislike Trump. After all, America’s economy was wonderful while it made China rich, but once the US economy stopped serving China, it wasn’t a “US trade war”, it was “Trump’s trade war”.

Many Trump critics believe Trump supporters are stupid, but they still try to use reason to persuade Trump supporters. This is another self-contradiction, adding to the self-contradicting reasoning. Even if self-contradiction could persuade Trump supporters to abandon him, there would be no place to turn. Democratic infighting is at an all-time high.  It’s almost as if the Democrats want to lose the 2020 election, pretending to fight valiantly while they do. But, that wouldn’t be anything new. They have been doing that with human rights and civil rights for decades.

Read More

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.

Read More