Cadence of Conflict: Asia, March 9, 2020

Things are fairing worse and worse for China, but better and better for Taiwan.

The KMT-Nationalist party is abandoning its long-standing agreement to cooperate with the Chinese Communists, much how the American Democratic party is abandoning socialism within its ranks. Taiwan’s handling of the 2019-nCoV Wuhan virus is top notch, possibly the best in the world. The irony is that Taiwan is not a member of the WHO, for mere reasons of political pressure from China. The world will interpret Taiwan’s absence from the WHO through the poor response to the virus from WHO members. And the world will, accordingly, blame China not only for the virus, but for the lack of Taiwan’s valued input in the WHO.

This week, when things seemed as though they couldn’t get worse in China, a hotel collapsed, which housed many people being observed for the virus. Not all had been diagnosed, but at least 10 are dead from the collapse.

Interestingly, this does not fair well for Taiwan. The more respect Taiwan earns from the international community, and the more spite China earns from the international community, the more envy will boil and bubble as China froths with rage against Taiwan. China’s government is not functioning with any trace of sobriety. Recent events are pushing the Chinese government over the edge in their ancient desire to invade Taiwan. While that would leave them vulnerable at home and hated even more throughout the world, such things never stopped them before and certainly aren’t stopping them now. Read More

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, March 25, 2019

Now, China has become the dark example of why not to be a Democrat in America. This is a new low. As much as being compared to China makes Democrats appear bad, it makes China appear all the worse because it paints China as the archetype of “how not to be”. American sentiment against China grows evermore glum.

No country is above democratic politics. Though Communist, China is still controlled by democracy. If the American public doesn’t like China, they will overthrow China in their own way. But, that’s a concept Beijing is incapable of adapting to because they have no such accountability to their own people at home.

China thinks its “rise to power” is about China being able to make decisions on its own. America thinks that anyone’s rise to power is about growing up and acting like an adult. As long as China keeps saying things like, “China can do what we want, America can’t tell us what to do,” it keeps getting evermore clear whether China is an adult yet.

Taiwan isn’t backing down. The government there continues to press for WHO participation. A Taiwanese airline now has flights to the island of Palau—which is important because it is a good thing that didn’t happen under Beijing control. A Taiwanese Mayor of Kaohsiung, Han, of the pro-unification-leaning political KMT-Nationalist party visited the Beijing office in Hong Kong—raising questions about honesty and motive in Taiwan’s central government.

His party keeps threatening to make laws to help Taiwan be re-unified under Beijing. That party recently won a mid-term at local governments. Perhaps they want to loose the next national election just as quickly.

Now, the US is in serious talks about establishing a strong military presence on Taiwan’s Taiping Island, somewhere between Taiwan’s huge, main island and China’s man-made islets at Mischief Reef. That would lead to a provocation that no trade agreement could withstand.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, January 7, 2019

The US is working diligently to put Taiwan in the spotlight. It seems that Taiwan is being set up in the American public eye as the next Lusitania or Pearl Harbor—the punch that awakens the sleeping nation. It will be difficult, though, for an attack on foreign soil to provoke the public. That’s where China seems to be playing on cue.

By wanting to sink a US Navy vessel, China would make the final push. Beijing doesn’t understand American “exceptionalism”; it never has. Beijing doesn’t know what freedom does to people, how much it energizes a threatened people. Americans won’t respond as Chinese employees do to a boss who clears his throat; they will respond like William Wallace, just as they always do. But, when a nation isolates itself from Western free speech, that is difficult to know. We should expect China to not think that way.

Imagine China’s perspective: Large US Navy carriers trouncing around the backyard, intimidating to the point that provoked China to the point we see now. To them, sinking a US Navy ship would seem like a big “shock” action because those carriers are the biggest American structure China can see. But, to American voters and soldiers, those carriers are across an ocean and are nothing compared to the size of achievements and monuments Americans see every day. So, China thinks a provocation would be an intimidation.

While it may take a US battleship to take a hit—God forbid—Taiwan will certainly be involved because that’s the way the pieces are being set around the chessboard.

As for Xi Jinping and the Chinese, their resolve is absolute. Even pigs seem to be part of the attack on Taiwan.

A terminal disease specific to pigs seems to have swept Chinese pig farms. Taiwan has been going to great lengths to prevent Chinese pork from entering Taiwan for this very reason. This week, a dead pig with the disease floated ashore a Taiwanese island that sits just off China’s coast. Panic is starting to set in throughout Taiwan—that a pork crisis could crash Taiwan’s economy, cause the pro-US president to resign, making the perfect opportunity for China to invade. That’s how the theories go, anyway.

The concern among Taiwanese is exactly the kind of response China anticipates from a “shock and awe” action against America. But, Americans are different than that, having both the “Wallace Complex” and a Congress-backed law that would compel a retaliation. Taiwanese have tasted some level of freedom, making the Taiwanese response as unpredictable as Taiwanese politics.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, May 14, 2018

Disassembling nuke sites prior to meeting Trump may seem like a “save of face” for Kim Jong-Un, but it’s actually a statement of Trump’s influence. If Trump wasn’t an influence, then Kim wouldn’t be doing what Trump has been demanding for a long time. No doubt, North Korea and its pro-Communist supporters in the Liberal media will twist this into “Trump not making a difference” from Trump getting what he wanted even before a meeting.

The comparison from history would be a feudal lord quickly accomplishing everything his king asked before his next royal visit. To say the king didn’t make a difference would be just plain ignorant. We should expect as much.

But, Trump wants it that way. The more Trump has his name on the Korean reunification, the more China’s desperate thirst for “respect” will sting. China wants everything to look like everything everywhere was China’s idea, or else throw a temper tantrum. Trump’s low-key silence will deny the “fight fix” and the semi-centennial tantrum will have to wait a little longer.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, January 8, 2018

The talks between South and North Korea are not at all what they are cracked up to be. While the world would love to believe that this is some grand exercise in “can’t we all just get along” diplomacy that always-only ever failed under Obama in any and every hemisphere, North-South talks are not what they seem. They are a distraction, a false pretense, an ostensible cover story, a smoke screen for something much, much deeper.

In all likelihood, the talks will include a very subtle Asian-style, excessively subtle (since it’s among Koreans) offer. Even bachelor’s degree students of business management study the science of talking to an employee in such a way that he doesn’t figure out he’s being fired until he gets home and takes his first bide of dinner. Leonardo explained the idea well in his movie Inception.

The meeting, capitalizing on participation in the Olympic games so strategically timed and placed, is more akin to the close of the series The Sopranos. A lieutenant of a rival family meets with the head of another family to plot the “offing” of his own boss in order to stop an ugly war that no one wanted, which started when that new boss came to power. The rival family “does in” their own boss at the gas station, the main character makes his hospitality rounds, and the story ends.

That’s what this seems like. The Trump administration is allowing it, taking partial credit in a preemptive expectation of due accolades, also reminding the Asian world that communication is a good thing. Symphony said the same two days before Trump sent his January 4 Tweet to the same effect: without pressure from the US there would be no talks.

If Kim Jong Un eventually disappears in the months ahead, remember that it all came from this meeting, purportedly about the Olympics. There wouldn’t be any moves in northern Korea without already having “certain assurances”.

But, don’t let that distract you. Taiwan is definitely playing its role in provocative and irksome “spitting matches” with China. As with the min-boss in The Godfather Part III, Taiwan wouldn’t do that without “backing”.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, December 26, 2017

This week was incredibly calm in Asia. China has some non-defined goals of grandeur, though some voices in the Western press cast their usual doubts. China’s big obstacle with becoming a tech leader is two-fold: 1. lack of measurable methods and 2. social media.

Westerners use Facebook and Google to communicate with friends, family, and associates. By blocking Facebook, China is blocking Westerners as well as leading technology. By definition, “global” methods can’t merely involve competitor social media unique to China. Whether China has good reason to block the social media giants is a separate question altogether. If China wants to become a leader, it must have a measurable, defined way forward in its tech and trade ambitions, which must include how to involve people and markets that it has blocked by proxy.

Korea was also unusually quiet. The saber rattling took a hiatus over the holiday pre-week. On Christmas, North Korea was sure to puff its chest out, but that’s about all. It is entirely possible that the problems in Korea will magically and abruptly vanish, Korea will be united, and both the Communists and the Westerners will just go home. But, that would never have happened without the mounting pressure from both sides.

Whatever reconciliation comes at the end of this Korean “situation”, we will have both North Korea and the US military presence to thank for it. Should whatever new Korea emerges snub the US for providing the pressure to resolve a conflict no one else could, Korea’s best days would thus be in the past. Keeping friendship during times of peace is vital to keeping that peace. Lasting peace in Korea means lasting peace among Koreans as well as its friends and neighbors. Should there be a bloodless peace in Korea and America troops just up and leave, the US will probably beef-up its presence with Taiwan. That would be the other shift.

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