Cadence of Conflict: Asia, August 19, 2019

Conflicts with China are helping Taiwan. The trade war is driving manufacturing away from China toward Taiwan, Vietnam, and Burma, among others. China’s travel ban on Taiwan for openly supporting the Hong Kong protests is pushing the Taiwanese to implement better visa privileges with other Asian nationals visiting Taiwan. Not only did last week’s occupation of the Hong Kong International Airport break Western confidence in the Chinese “Special Administrative Region”, the Hong Kong protests are even affecting business in Macau.

Why the protests? Where did it all start? Follow the money. Of the many factors, one of the best kept secrets around the world is the housing cost for local Hong Kongers. It’s called “gentrification”. Ordinary Hong Kong citizens can’t afford even the least expensive homes without government subsidy in addition to living with family. A Hong Kong jail cell is larger that many homes.

That happened because Hong Kong’s government, clearly under the thumb of Beijing, allows Mainland Chinese citizens to move into Hong Kong at such a high rate that new housing can’t be built fast enough to keep residential costs affordable. Wealthy Chinese need a place to live, some place where they can enjoy life. They won’t find anything nice enough within China proper, so they have to go somewhere with an economy created by the West—somewhere like Hong Kong. That way they can enjoy all the money of China without the lousy lifestyle. In their view, it would be cruel for Hong Kong not to let as many Chinese Mainlanders displace native Hong Kongers as fast as possible.

Protests are entering their eleventh week. One more week will begin a new record of 79 days from the Umbrella Movement in 2014.

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Encore of Revival: America, August 5, 2019

Tariffs and trade headlines aren’t about trade or tariffs; they are about Trump. The trade war with China isn’t about China having taken US jobs since before the 1980s, it’s “Trump’s trade war”. The poor American farmers who planted crops to suit the Chinese are all beside themselves. A bad environment—whether in weather or economics—is the new normal and farmers are being told the same thing as American companies that depend on China: get used to it and look elsewhere.

America’s economy can’t be dependent on China because China is not dependable. Look at the self-contradiction of someone who says otherwise. Trump’s former economic adviser, Gary Cohn, says in one sentence that China was going to take down its own economy anyway, then in another sentence says that US trade policy is backfiring. Which is it? Was China going to do all this anyway or did the US initiate something that backfired? Both can’t be true at the same time.

Either the US affected China’s economic policy or it didn’t—for better or worse. Claiming that we didn’t make a difference while also claiming that we made a difference that backfired doesn’t indicate a well-considered economic framework; it indicates someone shooting in the dark, trying to find any argument that will convince people to dislike Trump. After all, America’s economy was wonderful while it made China rich, but once the US economy stopped serving China, it wasn’t a “US trade war”, it was “Trump’s trade war”.

Many Trump critics believe Trump supporters are stupid, but they still try to use reason to persuade Trump supporters. This is another self-contradiction, adding to the self-contradicting reasoning. Even if self-contradiction could persuade Trump supporters to abandon him, there would be no place to turn. Democratic infighting is at an all-time high.  It’s almost as if the Democrats want to lose the 2020 election, pretending to fight valiantly while they do. But, that wouldn’t be anything new. They have been doing that with human rights and civil rights for decades.

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