Cadence of Conflict: Asia, July 27, 2020

Bail on Hong Kong, jump to Taiwan. That’s the move from everyone.

Britain doesn’t bail on Hong Kong, but creates a path for Hong Kongers to bail on Hong Kong. Britain isn’t just walking away. By allowing British Overseas Passport holders to easily enter Britain, British Parliament responds as if 3 million British citizens and their families are suddenly in China—basically treating Hong Kong as if it is truly, fully Chinese. Britain ended its extradition with Hong Kong, making it the same as with China. Britain extended an arms embargo to Hong Kong already in place against China.

This is the part that confuses the Chinese. They want the world to recognize that Hong Kong is China, but when countries treat Hong Kong the same way as they treat China, China objects. Consider the mindset that demands: Everyone treat Hong Kong like China, but you interfere if you treat Hong Kong like China. The Chinese don’t understand how the world is responding. They never thought the world would respond this way. They think the world is simply being mean and cruel.

Staying consistent is not a part of the Chinese Communist worldview. Consulates do passport services and diplomatic visits, not much beyond that. That’s why countries allow them. America says China went way beyond that, claiming evidence of the consulate running a spy ring. Truth or lie, the Chinese thought they could do anything inside their consulate as if they were in Beijing, otherwise they wouldn’t need to burn documents before leaving. They don’t see America following consistent rules by demanding the consulate close; they only see America as starting a fight.

Western nations at least pretend to operate with universal standards and kept promises. They are far from perfect, but at least they pretend to and their voters expect them to. China doesn’t even pretend to operate with universal standards and kept promises. Chinese Communists simply do whatever they decide for each, individual situation, then justify it as either “their right to do what they want” or as “an internal matter” or as “what is best”. If China makes a promise, then decides to break it without any notice, then the people they promised object, China calls that objection “interference”. Following precedent or promises has no place in Chinese understanding of lawfulness.

Now, ask yourself about a government that insists that it is fair to change the rules throughout the game and without notice. What will mid-level leaders within that government do themselves and expect from their leaders above them and from their subordinates below them? Will their military be able to function with a culture where it is right to change rules at any time? Will ship captains prefer battles for the glory over winning the war? Will the West think such a military is a formidable threat or that such a military is inconsistent and easily defeated?

Taiwan certainly sees the Chinese military as a threat, but the Taiwanese apparently believe China’s military can be affronted. Taiwan boosts its own military budget while the US only increases ties. Banks are also looking to Taiwan as the Asian alternative to Hong Kong, which banks are losing interest in since it now appears to be truly, fully Chinese. With so many people running to Taiwan—and taking their money with them—Taiwan won’t lack the budget for defense.

So, ask yourself, with the shift moving to Taiwan, what will the rule-changing Chinese do? And, will China’s rule-changing embolden the West to think that China’s military won’t be very organized?

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, July 13, 2020

China and the US have shown their intentions to the world. The new “National Security Law”, passed and interpreted solely by the Chinese Communist Party, applies to the entire world. China made it illegal for Americans to support calls for change in Hong Kong. Germans wearing a Winnie-the-Pooh shirt could be guilty of a Chinese crime against China’s national security. This is no joke.

The US went hard line after China over Uyghurs in Xinjiang this week. 78 members of Congress petitioned President Trump from both parties to declare China’s work with the Uyghurs “genocide”. That is not merely rhetoric nor an attempt to insult, but a step to unlock later military permissions. The US is preparing for invasion, either to land US troops or to support some other military that does, such as India. This is no joke.

China clarified its understanding on two fronts.

Firstly, about Uyghurs in Xinjiang, China responded to America’s visa sanction and frozen asset action against Chinese officials with a tit-for-tat policy. By not responding with military preparation, or at least genocide declaration, China misinterpreted what the US is ultimately preparing.

Secondly, Chinese state media have commented how the new “National Security Law” for Hong Kong would apply if China could assert jurisdiction elsewhere. This means that, just as the US is laying in the groundwork for an invasion of China, China is laying in the groundwork for what would follow an invasion anywhere else. In all likelihood, the US’ response concerning Uyghurs in Xinjiang—paving a way for invasion—showed understanding of China’s plans for invasion, less likely not, but surely the sabers have been unsheathed and are no longer just rattling.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, July 6, 2020

It’s official. China has broken the treaty that allows Hong Kong to be Chinese. The last time Britain accused China of breaking treaty, the Royal Navy opened fire on the Taiwan city of Tainan in 1858. The time before that was just a few decades earlier, when Britain obtained Hong Kong Island in a surrender from the Chinese after the Opium Wars.

Those wars began because China believed it was fair for silver to flow out of Britain, but only tea leaves to flow out of China. China would not accept British inventions and technology in trade, only silver for leaves. Opium was another leaf, one some in China were willing to return silver to Britain in exchange for.

For China, friendship has always been a one-way street. The Opium Wars did not begin with British military intervention. They started with an unbalanced sense of justice from China and subversion in response from Britain. While the British military did not start the wars, it ended them.

Now, China has passed a law in Beijing that affects the streets of Hong Kong. That violates the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, the basis for Hong Kong’s return to China. It seems 150 years have not changed anyone’s disposition. China wants laws written in one city, then obeyed in another. China wants to make promises, then ignore them. Britain will not respond with military, but with subversion. In the end, America’s military may play a role, but Hong Kong will likely return to the British for one, single reason. History repeats for those who refuse to learn from it.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, June 22, 2020

China seems desperate for war. America has typically been the infamous provocateur. That’s how China paints things. That’s how Japan and Germany saw things. But, China has taken up a new role.

Buzzing jets into Taiwanese airspace is just one concern. China also sends fishing boats to ram Taiwan’s Coast Guard and sand ships just to annoy. These won’t convince the Taiwanese that China’s rule would be preferable to status quo. Taiwanese respond by demanding more money for military and more weapons purchases from America.

Hong Kong looks grim as Beijing closes its stranglehold. There’s no question anymore whether China held up its end of the bargain on its treaty that allowed Hong Kong to return. The question is whether anyone in the West cares. Hong Kongers have done all they can.

Meanwhile, Trump hasn’t forgotten. In America’s election, China “trumps” many topics, as it were—including the economy, the virus, Biden’s past, and even war. The only reason China hasn’t stepped up its aggression is unawareness: China doesn’t know how American elections work because China doesn’t understand the concept of democracy, as Hong Kong’s deterioration shows. To those who know, Trump faces a statistically likely victory. Holding out for November might prove too late.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, May 25, 2020

Taiwan has a new Vice President: Former Premier William Lai, known for his pro-independence posture. China won’t be happy, but China is rarely happy these days.

The Chinese made two loud omissions in their rhetoric this week. When talking about reunification with Taiwan, they left out the word “peaceful”. The press noticed. A Taiwan official said it meant the same thing. But, everyone knew better because China also left out regard for Hong Kong’s Basic Law, something else that always got mentioned in the past.

Apparently, Beijing thinks peace and honoring treaties are too petty to be bothered with.

But, certain terms are in need of clarity. Xi Jinping isn’t merely trying to “reunify with Taiwan”; his actions are closest to that of a corporate hostile takeover—not just of Taiwan, but the entire world.

In Australia, Drew Pavlou faces expulsion from Queensland University for organizing student protests in support of Hong Kong opposition to recent law proposals, especially extradition to China and the recent “security” proposal. Follow the money. Australia’s government is looking into China’s influence. Many other governments are too.

According to the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, US Congress is required to review whether Hong Kong is autonomous enough to have its visas treated separately from the rest of China. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is already late in his report. He waited until China held its own congress meetings. What happened at those meetings didn’t help the case for Hong Kong’s autonomy.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, May 18, 2020

It was a week of slap after slap in China’s face. Congress pokes at Human Rights in Xinjiang among other old-news grievances. China “warns” the US—again—about Huawei, apparently unaware that warnings require power or at least clout, of which China retains neither.

As blame circulates against China for a global outbreak, Taiwan courts favor. Airlines have corrected a listing that identifies Taiwan as somehow part of China or something-or-other. You know you’ve lost when airline companies aren’t even afraid of you.

The dirtiest and best-kept secret is about war. China can’t even threaten military action against America because of the elections in America. While American polling likely lies as usual, war is good for any sitting president’s numbers. Threat of war would be good news for America’s incumbent, whomever that incumbent may be.

So, China is left with a choice: Wait until the West is even stronger in China’s back yard and face shame for not acting or else respond to Western provocation to start a war too early and face shame for losing. All China has to go on is persistent delusions of ancient grandeur. We’ll see how that works out.

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