Cadence of Conflict: Asia, December 9, 2019

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.

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Encore of Revival: America, December 2, 2019

“Order in the ranks” of military discipline includes that the president is the commander in chief who always gets his way—in the military. Generals and secretaries in the US Armed Forces have zero preference in any disagreement of decision with the president. As commander in chief, the president can overturn any court-martial conviction and fire or dismiss anyone for any reason. This is intended by the Constitution so that the Armed Forces serve the will of the people. The military does not give orders to the democratically elected president. Anyone in the Armed Forces attempting to circumvent a decision of the president should be discharged and possibly prosecuted for mutiny—based on Article 94 (§ 894)(a)(1) of the 2004 Uniform Code of Military Justice definition of Mutiny or Sedition. It is inappropriate for anyone to claim fowl play in the the Navy secretary’s firing.

Kevin Clinesmith from the FBI has been dubbed the title “frontline lawyer”. He reportedly doctored evidence in the FISA spy application as part of the Russianewsgategate scandal. If he was not acting under the explicit direction of his “behind the frontlines” superiors, then the Obama administration’s FBI, including James Comey, had even bigger problems. “Frontline lawyers” at the FBI are supposed to follow instructions of the director, otherwise the director is AWOL.

As impeachment moves forward, Democrats seal their fate. They’ve already gone too far. Whether the House votes to impeach, Democrats lose popularity. Either they let down their base or they anger everyone Right of staunch Democratic voters with unnecessary drama. Two unanswered questions remain: Will they choose to lose votes by impeaching or lose votes by not impeaching? And, more mysteriously, are they secretly trying to help President Trump or are have they been operating on kook-directed autopilot so long that they are no longer capable of knowing where they are headed?

The biggest danger Donald Trump always posed was that he would do too well and thus give Republicans a supermajority they couldn’t have earned on their own. No one seems to be helping that effort as much as House Democrats. Fortunately for the country, the ever-less-so silent majority doesn’t make political decisions on autopilot. And, that majority is growing larger.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, January 28, 2019

The West ramped up rhetoric against China this past week. Even George “Socialist” Soros trashed the Chinese government, yet tried to court favor with the Chinese people. Such an attempt aims to divide government and people. Opinion pieces from renowned news outlets openly accuse China of aggression. We did not see such a harsh tone from the mainstream press in the West even one year ago. Today, it’s becoming commonplace to bash China.

The US sent two Naval vessels through the Taiwan Strait this week. Now, the US is preparing extradition of the Huawei executive currently in Canadian custody. With threats of turning the tariffs back on, it should be more apparent that the US never planned to grant China any of its ambitions in the first place. Not only has the US been playing China like a flute, the Chinese haven’t known—or have they?

Everyone seems to be biding time, both the US and China. China’s main focus has been readying government and military. The US focus seems to have been public sentiment against China. Perhaps both sides have been playing each other, but the US has been making a play of its own—that we can see.

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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, December 17, 2018

While China would attempt to send the US out of its backyard by shocking the US with an invasion of Taiwan, that motive in itself would not be enough to push China to war. Beijing believes that controlling more territory is the solution to current problems with its own territory. In urban terms, it would be like believing the reason you have problems in your home is because you don’t own the home nextdoor—you deserve to own it, after all; so take it, “by force if necessary.” That part of Chinese culture—needing to occupy more surroundings in order to solve problems at home, rather than after solving problems at home—is the part of the Beijing mindset that will actually push China to invade. The time of the invasion will come when Beijing believes that solving its problems at home—specifically with Western press and free speech—can wait no longer. Then, China will invade Taiwan while genuinely believing that all of China’s problems within its current borders will thus vanish over night.

But, the US doesn’t think the way Beijing thinks the US thinks. While many Americans will be surprised by China’s invasion of Taiwan, Beijing will be surprised even more by the American electorate’s response to support recompense against China.

In Chinese media, a Chinese Air Force colonel’s recommendation that PLA Navy ships ram US Navy ships is not an actual recommendation for strategy as much as it is an attempt at repulsive rhetoric. Chinese culture presumes that a public suggestion is an indirect warning with no intention of follow-through, and because it has no intention of follow-through, it is therefore a “powerful-polite” way of attempting to tell the US to leave. That is how cultural, indirect communication with the Chinese works. Though it is possible that the Chinese might become enraged enough to follow this action by ramming US ships at sea, it would take less rage for China to decide to invade Taiwan. From Beijing’s view, unlike retaking the well-deserved Taiwan, ramming a US ship would be an actual assault. If the Chinese-American war begins with a rammed ship, that would indicate a very angry China.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, October 29, 2018

The Pacific Ocean has become a chess board of moving pawns, castling kings, bluffs, and propaganda. China offers the moon to small countries, the US warns that no “free” gift comes without strings attached. When Trump pulled out of the INF treaty for supposed Russian violations, Russia went on high alert at home and called it “preparing for war”. Russia being ready for war means China feeling more confident about busting a move.

Given regional instability, Japan and India are talking big. They want cooperative military exercises. They will also need passage through that section of the ocean—the South Sea—that China drew a nine-dash line around. America won’t be the only challenger to China’s new notion of “ocean ownership”. As China gets more and more assertive, even the British are on edge. Nothing happens in the Western Pacific unnoticed.

Is China strong enough to win a military conflict? A Chinese rocket failed at launch. In the news, it’s reported as a “private company”, but there is no such thing in China, by Western understanding of a “private company” anyhow. The reason it failed is probably rooted in the sister controversy to trade: reverse engineering and technology copying. China couldn’t launch the rocket, in all likelihood, because too much of the technology used by China wasn’t invented by China, but invented by someone else, made in China, and copied by China—but not understood by China. Such is the tech of this “private company” and the tech that made China so big as it is today and the tech it would use in battle. Russia would be wise to not depend on that tech. And, small countries would be wise to remember that the “great China” was made great by a tilted-trade, copied-tech cash cow that is no longer making milk.

China’s National Tourism Administration suspended group tours to one of China’s many coveted destinations in Taiwan. The delay is scheduled to last from early November into April. November is an election month for both the US and Taiwan. It’s a big month for expos in Taiwan, especially a flora expo in the city where tours were suspended, Taichung. November is also when a large group from the US Navy will make a show of force near China’s man-made islands.

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