President Trump’s response to Kim Jong-Un’s recent missile party neither shows lack of a plan nor lack of respect for Japan; it show patience and insight. Gaining and maintaining trust and respect in difficult situations requires sureness in action and slowness in harsh words. Talk is cheap. These are politics, after all.
Trump has taken no action nor signed any orders giving Kim more permission. Many pundits and opinion commentators have speculated that Trump will have difficulty with Abe because of his patient words for Kim, but all of this speculation is speculation only. They are presenting a model to analyze Trump’s decisions, but that model is devoid of a grid of using “kind words” in the face of betrayal. Kim’s strategy has not deviated: provoke a US response. Trump’s words “defuse” that strategy, so to speak. Trump is no pretentious fool, more of a patient father.
The situation in China, however is heating up, obviously for the same reasons. Trump and Xi exchange similar words as Trump gives in response to Kim’s actions. They promise to prepare for talks while rallying their own citizens against each other. Rumors of peace are the surest sign that there is none just as provocation indicates a peace not easily broken.
Taiwan is gearing up for war, its war machine in full motion. Taiwan is beginning mass production of strategic strike responses. Taiwan is renaming one of its offices to include both “US” and “Taiwan” in the name, which is a first. These are not actions that have any intention of appeasing Beijing.
Then, there’s Hong Kong. Responses from the American government would view the SAR as no longer capable of diplomatic ties if the extradition law on the table is passed. This extradition law would likely isolate Hong Kong from North America and Europe. We know war is close, but “how close” will be known by whether Beijing allows “Asia’s World City” to internationally isolate itself.
Those promised and prepared talks between Beijing and Washington will only serve as size-ups, if they even happen.
Events in China are playing out according to the “Pacific Daily Times Symphony Asian Mad Scientist Theorem“. The experimental phase in North Korea is finished and methods are being applied throughout China on a much grander scale. This week, we see reports of expensive ghost cities, comparable to Pyongyang. The debt to build those ghost cities could be enough to break China’s economy into the deprived status of northern Korea. Now, swelling human rights concern could court the West to support China’s unfriendly neighbors to intervene in China as the “grand liberators”.
If things continue on track with the theorem, China would end up in an armistice against its own provinces—a standoff between Beijing and fragments of the soon-to-be-formerly united China.
Trump continues to prove that he knows what he’s doing with Kim Jong-Un. The DPRK’s Great Successor will likely wise up, still venting steam once in a while. He seems to be one of the smartest heads of state in his region—seeking more cooperation with economic policies that work, not less. But even if not, Korea will not be a border for China to ignore. Beijing and its surrounding provinces would be the likely hold-out against a liberated Northwest, Tibet, Southern Canton, and it will need to keep a 24/7 guard in the Northeast. Break-aways could form their own federation, or not. Either way, as history repeats, we look to be headed for a Cold War -style standoff between fractured Chinese regions.
The US Marines are test driving “lightning carriers”—small aircraft carriers with a potently packed punch of F-35s. Their range radius is smaller, but so is their targetable shadow. In a Pacific conflict, a smattering of lightning carriers might prove more formidable than a single, central Nimitz class group. Federated, autonomous, small attack groups tend to be wise in warfare, as the French Revolution proved on land. We’ll see at sea.
These smaller carriers are said to focus on smaller tasks, putting Nimitz class carriers—now being called “super carriers”—in the spotlight against China and Russia. And, we know that the Chinese think the spotlight is an indication of “importance”. While Russia knows better, the Chinese probably don’t. Just because headlines read that a Nimitz class focuses on China doesn’t mean US strategy would fail if China’s new “anti-carrier” missiles sunk a Nimitz. Sinking a Nimitz class carrier would only enrage the American public into a war that they couldn’t lose. That’s how history has always played out, anyway. But, the mistakes from history don’t seem to have much impact on Chinese President Xi, who is determined to revive Maoism at any cost. If Maoism is revived, it’s results will follow. That won’t end the standoff with Taiwan; it will add more uncontrolled lands to the standoff it was never strong enough to resolve.
China is being overwhelmed—Huawei to the west, British probes to the south, Kim to the north, but the prospect of trade to the east. The weakness is in the Chinese-cultural paradigm of negotiation. Chinese culture wants to sign a contract first, then negotiate the terms after. That’s a polite way of explaining “psychopathic negotiation”.
China labels Hong Kong as an “internal”, national security matter. It’s not; it’s a “joint” matter. According to the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, China can’t govern Hong Kong as its own until 2047—a mandate for Hong Kong being under Beijing’s leadership. By telling Britain to “face reality”, London will see the reality as Beijing reneging on the deal. It’s not that China wants to be malicious, but that China doesn’t understand what a promise really entails.
That could be why the Chinese offer such sweeping concessions to get better trade with America. They might not understand that promises about those concessions will actually have to be kept. But, there’s more that sails over Beijing’s brightest heads.
America shows no indication of backing down on Taiwan. By cozying up on trade, Beijing probably hopes America will receive an indirect message about Taiwan. But, if Taiwan isn’t discussed, then it’s not part of the trade agreement—or any agreement with the US. Beijing, probably laden with more wishful thinking than savvy, won’t understand. They just won’t understand.
That’s the Korean problem to the north. Trump knew exactly what he was doing by telling Kim exactly what “de-nuking” looked like. They had talked before. Kim had taken a three day journey to talk again. Now Kim knows reality: a free economy prospers, North with nukes has neither in the end. That won’t go over well with a culture more prideful than the Chinese. Trump knows this.
Now, Kim is a loose canon to China’s north and the only thing Trump did was unleash the obvious. We’ll see how long it takes for China to understand, if ever.
Drama and theatrics! The US might be in a position to enforce the Magnitsky Act against China. Now, like Taiwan before, the US is taking the pot shots. It compares to Tony Stark’s Iron Man tossing rocks at a tank to provoke the tank before obliterating the tank.
Talk of talks about trade with China while focusing on more military money for what Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan calls “China, China, China”—that’s not an effort to make peace with a country that wants it, but an effort to irritate a not-so-closet adversary into justifying a retaliatory victory. China will see the US as two-faced, never figuring out that the US is intentionally getting under Beijing’s skin because the Chinese don’t know how easily irritable their view of themselves makes them.
Then, there’s Korea. In a retelling from The Godfather III, we might say that Kim wouldn’t do this without backing. By rumbling about nuking up again, Kim is flexing muscles that shouldn’t be flexed—but only would be flexed if someone, say like Xi Jinping, were whispering support in his ear. More is going on than even Trump may be revealing, even if Kim’s rumblings are all for show. If tensions rise between the US and Northern Korea, China would be the likely backstage culprit. That would mean that tension in the Koreas would justify US action against China—yet another tank rock to toss.
Then, we have “melo-theatrics” worse than “damn lies”: statistics.
If Trump’s poll numbers were to suddenly plummet, nothing would bring them back like a victory against evermore unpopular China—now at 41% in America. That makes Trump, 47% as of Tuesday, more popular than China. If House Democrats were to take action against Trump, that might encourage China that he would not be able to sustain action against China—when actually a victorious action against China would bring up his popularity to make him politically immune to House Democrats. The freedom and opinion -driven dynamics of American politics eludes Chinese strategists, another front on which Beijing is likely to miscalculate.
If Trump’s popularity were to slip just before a conflict with China, it could have been intentional—as a means to provoke China into thinking that China is stronger against the US than it is. But, China will never figure it out, like the cat chasing the laser pen’s dot—they never figure it out.
Nations and peoples of the free world are reaching toward each other. The EU reached out to Taiwan and Taiwan was grateful. Taiwan reached out to CNN and CNN did an interview. Kim Jong Un is likely on a train headed through China to Vietnam to meet President Trump. President Trump met with the Vice Premier of China in the Oval Office to discuss trade. And, China “rightly” oppresses an estimated two million Muslims in internment camps, who inhabit the hope-to-breakaway province of Xinjiang, through which China’s “Silk Road” passes to reach other nations with trillions of dollars in trade.
Taiwan’s position in the world only stepped up. In tech, it’s the multinational victim of China. The EU’s unanimous statement of support for Taiwan and condemnation of China’s military activity in the Taiwan Strait is anything but positive PR for China. Taiwan has the support of Europe; that doesn’t count for nothing.
China’s latest shenanigans include Hong Kong taking a serious look at redefining extradition laws so that Taiwanese in Hong Kong would be “extradited” to China. This does far more damage for Hong Kong’s popularity with its electorate at home than it does for Taiwan, raising international sympathy for both. Remember, meddling in Hong Kong’s government is a “must not” as the condition of Hong Kong not remaining under Britain. Nothing would indicate Chinese meddling in Hong Kong’s government more than such a sure-to-backfire anti-PR move like Hong Kong is making by even entertaining such a revision.
The fingerprints of Beijing damaging Hong Kong where British interests remain, all in order to damage Taiwan, goes against the wisdom of courting favor with the masses across Europe. Then, there’s Huawei.
As if international scandals implicating China weren’t enough, Huawei’s founder made the narcissistic comment that “the world can’t live without Huawei”. In Chinese culture, that might make enough people feel compelled to comply. But, the God-fearing West will take the self-absorbed claim as a challenge, much how God took the challenge when “experts” said He couldn’t sink the Titanic. Huawei just might take its place in the hall of sunken fame. No, the West does not. Not too many years from now, when a finance guru claims that a company is “too big to fail”, the public will respond, “Remember Huawei.”
Buffoons became naysayers this week, arguing that tit-for-tat military drill concessions would be the path to peace and that progress without finality in Hanoi surmounted to failure.
Trump knows exactly what he is doing. Progress without “too much too fast”, passing up the invitation to stop in China while visiting Kim Jong-Un in Vietnam, replacing large military drills with detailed tactical exercises in South Korea, standing with the Philippines against “an armed attack” from China in the South Sea, delaying a tariff hike with China while inviting Xi to Mar-a-Lago, scrutinizing Chinese-funded “learning centers” in America—it all plays right into a larger overall strategy of strength and resolve in Asia.
As the US and China inch toward a trade agreement, Taiwan makes larger and larger strides asserting its independent activity. Backed by a recent US court ruling, Taiwan’s presence will only irritate China. Trade talk is part of the precarious path ahead. No trade agreement is enough to mitigate other disagreements between the US and China. The only way would require the US to surrender, and that’s not about to happen.