Money doesn’t lie; it’s in the airline figures. Cathay is reducing its capacity, largely from loss of demand for flights in and out of China. Hong Kong Airlines is dropping long hauls to and from Australia, the US, and Canada. Clearly, both Chinese nationals and Pacific English speakers have lost confidence in Hong Kong. Hong Kong was special—for tourism, culture, lifestyle, trade, finance, and a slough of other things—all because both Chinese and the English-speaking West had easy and overlapping access. They could meet, they could do business, they could speak their own language, and they could enjoy Chinese culture without the oppression of a Confucian-Communist government. But, neither wants to play ball anymore.
In response to the US ending exports of riot-control weapons and defining autonomy as “being autonomous”, China banned the US Navy from making port stops in Hong Kong. The port stops had been an encouragement to international business, reassuring investors that everything was alright between the US and China. But, apparently China doesn’t want that illusion of reassurance to continue. And, more importantly, China obviously is less fearful of the US Navy making its R&R port calls in Taiwan instead.
Watch for many things to shift to Taiwan. While the first finance leaders in Hong Kong are exiting to Singapore, watch for a swath to relocate in Taipei once Singapore’s galore wears off and finance centers discover the difference in real estate prices and cost of living.
China will still be angry enough to blow a few gaskets when the US Navy does make more port calls in Taiwan, it’s just that they are less fearful of it for the time being. China’s leaders have been had, largely due to their thirst for respect, which blinds their judgement. But, they are incapable of learning, so they are only going to be had more and more.
China is playing a dark game with Taiwan over the murder suspect in the case that sparked the spark of the Hong Kong liberation protests. A young man from Hong Kong traveled to Taiwan with his girlfriend where he murdered her, then returned to Hong Kong. Because China plays politics with Taiwan, Beijing refused every channel of cooperation with Taipei to bring the suspect to justice. The only way Beijing would allow the arrested suspect to be transferred to Taiwan for prosecution is with a sweeping extradition bill that would allow any Chinese court to demand the extradition of anyone in Hong Kong to China.
Now, Hong Kong has released the suspect, arguing that a criminal is on the loose in Hong Kong because Taiwan won’t accept Chinese dictated rule.
We are witnessing the faceoff of Chinese Confucianism vs Western Christendom, a conflict which has been brewing for two thousand years. This is happening in our day. Many in the West said that Confucian Shame cannot be overcome, even with the Christian message of forgiveness and reconciliation. Others have said that nothing can ever stop China because big countries always win. All of these claims are about to be tested and proven wrong. Hard times lie ahead, but not all hardship ends badly.
Xi Jinping announced yet another new policy for China: Blaming other countries is wrong, each country must deal with its own economic and environmental issues without the problem being someone else’s fault. While this 180° new direction should be welcoming to foreign companies whose intellectual property was taken by China, along with the neighboring lands that China has no presence in, yet threatened to invade, such as Taiwan, Xi gave no particular details as to how he planned to adjust China’s current action plan. In fact, Xi’s announcement came as if it was not any change at all, but a continuation of the current policy, that taking unoccupied territory and accumulating foreign technology without payment was necessary for China’s economic and environmental well being within its borders. Perhaps his intention was to further confuse the West about China’s international policy or perhaps he has made himself even more understandable than he ever has before. We’ll have to wait and see what actions follow to interpret Xi’s meaning.
China is growing its ties with Israel, for the time being. An infrastructure deal is said to be the kind that will irritate US President Trump. China, however, should be more concerned. Israel has some of the best counter-intel gathering in the world. If China does use the building contracts as an opportunity to spy, after Israel has a chance to respond, it might be the Chinese who break contract. Israel is one nation that China won’t be able to bully. As stubborn as ancient Asian worldviews can still be today, Israeli culture can be more stubborn. It’s not about race, it’s about two cultures about to collide. ‘Tis folly to double-cross a nation whose name means “wrestles with God”; and the name is not a reference to wrestling with China.
This week, Taiwan and Hong Kong did what they do best more than they have done before. When a Financial Times writer is banned from Hong Kong because he intends to interview an author—and that author’s speaking engagements are shut down after Chinese requests—the wisdom of Roger Branigin returns to the western readership: “I never argue with a man who buys ink by the barrel.” China wasn’t satisfied to argue with an author who is more famous for it, but now wants to argue with more in the ink business. But, that wasn’t the most significant development of the week. Taiwan is labeled as the “island of hope” for Asia at an international forum for Human Rights hosted in Taipei.
Strength against China grows. The people of Taiwan don’t hate China; they want friendship with China. This makes them stronger than people who want subordinates and acquisitions. Communist Beijing and pro-China-control Taipei seem out of touch.
Research consistently demonstrates that a sizable majority of Taiwanese identify themselves as quite distinct from China. The KMT-Nationalist establishment views national sentiment as a result of opposition party propaganda rather than the opposition party’s power being an expression of national sentiment. The Nationalists don’t seem to understand that their policies help their opposition more than any campaign strategy could.
China rejected the entry of the young Miss World Canada winner. She wanted to participate in the global contest in Hainan. She spoke out on Human Rights and was turned away at her connection terminal. This put her in the global spotlight. Yet, it is doubtful that Beijing will be able to recognize, let alone accept, the power they gave this young girl. · · · →
China mostly talked this week. And they plan to talk more next week with Obama about Taiwan’s elections. Taiwan now allows 5,000 new Chinese visitors per day and China will give Taiwanese electronic passes in their visits. This raises questions about why China wants so many people in Taiwan while making Taiwanese in China easier to track. US experts think that Taiwan will be more difficult to defend from a Chinese invasion over the coming years.
Japan’s National Diet gave the nod for international military action for the first time in seven decades. China had some words about that too, having more to do with Japan’s military staying at home than with China’s military staying at home.
Propaganda backfired this week. Beijing wants more Internet censorship, almost to create a “Chinanet” akin to another Great Schism not seen since the Orthodox Church split from the West. TPP failed. Students in Taiwan stormed government offices to keep out China-propaganda over “minor” changes to national curriculum. An Australia-India-Japan alliance plumed out of nowhere. Taiwan and Japan are kissing and making up. And some truth came through well-kept gates.
An 18-year-old got back from his year in North Korea. The North Koreans shower together like Americans and Romans. North Korean students are curious about mundane life in America. And, notably, North Koreans seem to agree with a Americans: Government is the problem, not the people.
Joshua Wang, Hong Kong, had an interview with the BBC and explained that the Umbrella Movement never really had a plan and never communicated a plan to the public. But they did succeed in raising public awareness. · · · →