Lithuania has become the “Taiwan of Europe”. Since WWII, Americans never again struggled with the concept that a problem abroad is a problem at home. This is how we Americans can vote to interfere around the world that we know so little about. We think every squeal from another continent indicates a personal assault on our freedom to watch Netflix.
Europe wasn’t quite there, but not anymore. While Europe watches Lithuania sustain hostile diplomacy from China, Europe is getting the same idea as America. France—oh, the French!—just came to Lithuania’s defense. It’s hard to disagree when the French take sides. They say they aren’t sure why China is angry at Lithuania—okay. But, they make a very good point. China should not have a special group of 17 states it communicates with concerning Europe; it should have all 27. Lithuania was a great opportunity for France to say so. Bravo for French math!
So, now Lithuania is to the EU what Taiwan is to the US; to China, both are bad press.
A recent election in Taiwan’s central city of Taichung gave one more legislative seat to the progressive DPP party—this is the party that doesn’t bow to China’s passive aggression, nor to China’s aggressive aggression.
Yes, that party just got stronger. China won’t be happy. But, what’s new. Just look at Lithuania and do the math.
China tripped the alarm. Revelations of a US aircraft carrier -shaped target in China’s Taklamakan Desert doesn’t exactly resemble a friendly trick-or-treat visit. Congress is upset, calling this the closest we’ve ever been. Washington tries to use calm rhetoric, saying they don’t foresee problems until 2024—it used to be 2025. But these days, they leave more and more room to avoid being wrong should a scuffle go ballistic in the Pacific.
The tech industry certainly is paying attention. Intel is building at five sites, three in the US, one in Ireland, and one in Israel. At the same time, the US government is questioning chip makers about their supply chains. One of those is TSMC, in Taiwan. Now, Congress wants to spend $52B on subsidies for chip makers inside the US. The message is clear: America is getting ready for a China-initiated disruption in the chip supply chain, the largest part in the world of which goes through Taiwan.
By the look of it, 2025 is the year when China will both be militarily dangerous and, for the chip industry, will no longer matter. While some news outlets cast China’s economy in a positive light, others show deep reasoning to sound the economic alarms. It looks like China is getting into a tighter and tighter pinch, and China’s economic response is the same as its response to political disfavor: marketing.
This week, the EU says it has unanimous support to strengthen relations with Taiwan—specifically because of China’s aggression.
China has been told, then told again. This week, China was told again again again. The EU gave a blistering rebuke to China’s unsolicited three cents about what other governments call their offices. Specifically, Taiwan is labeling it’s representative office in Lithuania as “Taiwan”. China recalled and expelled diplomats with Lithuania in wake of the matter.
Moves like this show the disturbing psychology guiding the Chinese. Reducing communication does not improve China’s position; it diminishes China’s position. So, why would China do that for anything other than histrionic reasons? The recall of its office in Lithuania resembles Napoleon storming out of his own cabinet meeting just before he fell from power. Moreover, analysis such as this does not cause the Chinese mind to reconsider; the Chinese see the warnings as conjured propaganda without substance.
As if the EU’s response over Lithuania wasn’t enough, US Secretary of State Blinken told Chinese Foreign Minister Wang where the bear crapped in the buckwheat. China’s been aggressive; that’s bad. Single-sided—AKA “unilateral”—action to alter the status quo with Taiwan—AKA “invasion”—is unacceptable. The US will intervene. This may be news to the ears of those in China’s echo chamber where selective listening is the norm. Yes, China may be unaware that the US plans to respond if China invaded Taiwan, even after all that has happened. China’s frame of mind could come partly from three decades of countries letting China push them around. But all of a sudden, a fresh wind blew through the G-20.
Taiwan! Taiwan! Taiwan! Europe can say it enough. In fact, Europe talks about Taiwan almost as much as China does. Taiwan doesn’t need formal diplomatic relations to live rent free in the minds of global leaders around the globe—especially living rent free in the minds of Beijing leaders—especially in the mind of Xi Jinping. Don’t forget Japan.
Europe doesn’t want to be bullied by China. Every response from China is interpreted by the EU as a reason to disagree with almost anything China says. China is so hated, we are almost to the point where China could use reverse psychology to get what it wants. If China disagreed with everything it wants, the world might agree with everything China wants, just to spite China’s rhetoric. But, we are only 98% of the way there. The world doesn’t hate China quite that much. There’s still room for more.
But, look closely at what is happening in Europe. Lithuania deepens ties with Taiwan while the EU pounds the table. It is almost as if Europe is testing China by watching what happens with Lithuania. If that were so, none of the European rhetoric about Lithuania or China is real, yet. They’re just saying things to gauge China’s reaction. In other words, Europe is experimenting with China as the lab rat. That’s got to make shame-phobic leaders in Beijing feel great about themselves.
The snowball of worldwide hate toward China is past the growth knee. It was slow going, but now it’s gaining unstoppable momentum. China’s self-importance has reached embarrassing levels. G7 wants stability, introducing an alternative plan to China’s tightening Belt Road. The EU wants stability in the South Sea—rules agreed to and honored by all countries. Japan wants to back Taiwan by name in the written G7 agreement.
But, then China responds by saying that “small groups do not rule the world” and issued a statement: “We always believe that countries, big or small, strong or weak, poor or rich, are equals, and that world affairs should be handled through consultation by all countries.” That statement comes from China. Does that mean that China has reversed its position? Will China now agree with the EU for bilateral rules in the South Sea?
Essentially, China’s own propaganda is getting to a point of grotesque and overt self-indictment. More importantly, China doesn’t see the contradiction of its own statements. This is comparable to John Kerry’s famous remark“I voted for [it] before I voted against it.” You see, that actually made sense to Kerry. That’s the crazy world Washington politicians live in. And, apparently, China’s CCP lives in an even crazier world. And, the rest of the world isn’t just waking up to China’s craziness; the rest of the world is wide awake and on the march. It’s been growing slowly, but that global anger is moving faster and faster and is about to enter an all-out blitz.
Hungarians in Budapest are irate over construction plans for the Chinese Fudan University from Shanghai. The city of Budapest even renamed streets to “Dalai Lama Road” and “Free Hong Kong Road”. The Chinese embassy responded with its own propaganda again, but there is no sign that China’s anonymous words had more sway on Hungarians than China’s consistent actions. In fact, they didn’t have any sway at all. If anything, China only made Hungarians more angry.
China is entirely unaware of anything in the rest of the world. It’s histrionic. The CCP believes they only need censor information within their own borders, say what they want others to parrot, and then both public opinion and the past will automatically change throughout the rest of the world. They are in for a humiliating shock.
The world is starting to realize that China is just going to ignore everybody. Talking won’t work. Action won’t work unless China loses, then China still won’t listen.
This isn’t new. China has never listened. The only reason China respected international laws in decades past—including its own treaties—was because China was forced to. But, China never wanted to. And, China never will.
The EU is in blaming mode. The Philippines are on high alert. Australia is on high alert and warns Taiwan. Taiwan has always been on high alert because Taiwan may be the only country that never misunderstood China—neither its psychology nor its intentions.
But, it looks like this scuffle isn’t building up in Myanmar or Japan or even Taiwan. The flashpoint is staged at the Philippines. Anything else could serve as the fuse. But this time around, the Philippines hold the payload. Here we go.