Cadence of Conflict: Asia, February 10, 2020

The words of US President Trump set an unsettling policy for Communist China: “We’re also getting our allies, finally, to help pay their fair share.” This is far-reaching.

By having multiple nations with multiple militaries operating with appropriate budgets, China faces an enclave of opponents, not just one. There is no single head to decapitate. If you’re in Beijing, sitting in a room filled with Mandarin speakers who agree that they are entitled to make the world their servant, Trump’s words scare you.

While Beijing fights the virus it tried to cover up, Taiwan had recorded 10 deaths from that virus. Yet, China reported 13 in Taiwan, then told the United Nations that China speaks accurately for Taiwan, still arguing that Taiwan should not enter the WHO—even taking offense, still, at any suggestion of entry. Taiwanese Foreign Minister Wu pointed out that the WHO has referred to Taiwan by at least three different names in reporting on China’s Wuhan outbreak. This week, even the US spoke up for Taiwan’s request to join the WHO; China was all the more offended.

The outbreak isn’t fairing well for China’s credibility in governing Hong Kong either. Supermarkets are full of empty shelves.

While China’s central government will continue the playbook strategy of blaming the very local governments it dominates, the central government’s solution to the failure of a centralized government will be to centralize more government. In Confucian Communism, control is the solution to every problem, especially the problems that control causes. So they themselves believe even more than they purport, the reason that China has so many challenges within its vast stretches of land is that it doesn’t have even more land. The Chinese Communists believe that their number one problem is that they don’t control the world.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, June 3, 2019

The “Symphony Asian Mad Scientist Theorem” continues to play out. Trump engaged North Korea in talks that led to a calm without North Korea changing its DNA. Trump eventually reminded North Korea what everyone knew would be necessary to reach an agreement and North Korea stomped off.

Now, Trump comes off a marathon of wider-scope talks with China and continues to talk about talk, while the message is sent more clearly to China every day. China already knows what will be necessary to reach an agreement, its ambitions otherwise are classic Imperial-Confucian wishful thinking.

Over the weekend, the US and China exchanged insults at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Singapore. America isn’t gonna’ tip-toe around China anymore! And, China will risk any and every cost and will defeat everyone who stands in the way! They sure told each other! We can’t say China didn’t warn us, just like China warned the world before the victorious Korean armistice and before China’s great and splendid invasion of Vietnam.

Don’t think for a second that Trump doesn’t care about Japan. If he really didn’t care about Japan—if he truly enjoyed the missiles recently launched by “Rocket Man”—he wouldn’t say so on camera. Remember, everything he says is being closely watched by a large and volatile North Korean neighbor which believes that everyone believes everything published in the press.

No matter how much anyone warns China of the dangerous pinball machine game it’s bouncing around inside of, they won’t change because China only ever and always remains true to its Imperial-Confucian values. Those values can and will never include “capitulating to outside demands”. China just won’t change, you see.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, November 5, 2018

China is less and less popular in the news. It’s almost conspiracy-like—how much negative news comes out against China in the Western press at once.

The Trump administration backs Micron with legal action against Fujian Jinhua, an American company vs a Chinese company, over tech theft. At the same time, Jeff Sessions suddenly decides to appear in front of cameras and decry China for cyberspying on the US—a completely unrelated matter except that it is bad press for China. Then, the Taipei Times runs a front page story on illegal Chinese crabs being imported, but not passing a health inspection, with involved companies given a hefty fine, while pushing a North Korean nuke “restart” story to page five! The Taipei Times ran another front page story of China creating fake social media accounts to meddle in Taiwan’s upcoming midterm election.

The truthfulness of this flood of anti-China news is not as important as its timing and priority among headlines. Popular sentiment is more powerful than missiles in a conflict between nations. On that front, the West has already won. Don’t think for a moment that missiles won’t follow to secure what the war of words already won by a deck stacked in the news.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, October 15, 2018

It happened this week. The US finally said outright exactly what Cadence has been saying for years, the strategy in play. According to a Reuters article via Yahoo News, US security adviser John Bolton said, “If they’re put back in the proper place they would be if they weren’t allowed to steal our technology, their military capabilities would be substantially reduced. And a lot of the tensions we see caused by China would be reduced.”

The US wants to put China “back in the proper place”. If it weren’t for one-sided trade deals over the last to decades and an accumulation of technology that China neither researched, conceptualized, nor paid for, Bolton thinks China would be as friendly as a cute, little house cat, not the bossy tiger it has grown into.

Specifically, the US would need to humble the diesel-powered aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, from which China’s other aircraft carriers in the making were reverse-engineered. Taiwan held rehearsals against the Liaoning this week. In other areas, Taiwan isn’t backing down, but announced 30 new international flight destinations this week.

Looking at things in this broader context, the escalating military conflict will not result from a trade war gone awry. Rather, the trade war was but a small part of a much larger scheme to provoke China into a military conflict sooner than it wanted. Tech and money has already been cut off. New weapons have been developed and prepared. Now, the US hopes to put China “back in the proper place”. In Beijing culture, that means an attempt from the US to shame China on the seas.

We should be preparing for an insulted, post-defeat China and long-term strategists should being their review of the psychological atmosphere in pre-WWII Germany.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, October 1, 2018

When China cancelled a meeting in Washington, the Chinese thought they were sending a message; Washington thought they wouldn’t be sending any more messages at all. The Chinese government wants mutual respect, trade that results in equal numbers, and that countries not be bullied into taking sides in a China-US disagreement. Though China lobbed this new policy in a complaint against the US, there have yet to be steps or specific commitments on how China will hold up its side of this new policy. It will be difficult to get clarification without communication.

US tariffs are unfair. It’s so obvious that it doesn’t need to be proven. China has a right, after all—and everyone should agree—to develop itself as a nation. China’s right to have any and all resources given to it from everywhere in the world, to whatever extent is needed for development, is an entitlement China has by birth and is already universally accepted around the world. Those in the US who oppose this obvious consensus are a rogue fringe not deserving of academic mention.

But, Taiwan is being a big bully—a meanie-face. By not rebuking the US for considering a third of a billion dollar arms sale to Taiwan, the Taiwanese are spitting in Beijing’s face once again. As if that bullying wasn’t enough, Taiwan is also planning a new place to park its helicopters. Of all the audacity!

Hong Kong, however, stands no chance against the great and mighty China. By banning a pro-independence party, the Hong Kong government sure showed them! There’s no possible hope for any kind of backlash or rise in sympathy, once the rightful leaders have made their all-powerful will known in the fully self-governed special administrative region of Hong Kong.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, September 24, 2018

Google has gone off the deep end. The level of insanity matches The Bridge over the River Kwai. Actually helping China spy—Are Google execs loopy? From a Chinese company inside China that would make sense. But, Google is American. As if helping a non-ally spy isn’t enough, social media giants are already in trouble over censorship in the US. Google could be in bigger trouble with the White House than Wall Street is.

Taiwan hasn’t wasted any time irritating China. Now, a temple that was bought seven years ago by a Taiwanese business man, which was then converted into a “shrine to Chinese communism”, is having the lights and water turned off as the local government prepares to demolish the whole place. That won’t wash over well for anyone hoping to court friendship with China.

China seems to be taking the hint and finally getting offended. Beijing cancelled a trip to talk trade with Washington after figuring out that tariffs were set by imbalance and retaliation rather than rhetoric. As for the two steering factors—imbalance and retaliation—China shows no indication of making concessions. But, it’s not the tariffs or trade talks that deserve the headlines as much as the insults mounting against China.

The US is going after Russia for selling weapons to China. That’s even more irritation. And, China is even more angry. If we were to analyze the events of the past few months, even years more subtly, it could seem that angering China was an accident. But, the recent past makes more sense, just as events are more easily anticipated, if we consider that the US is irritating China on purpose. Expect more insults from the US, along with Taiwan.

And, Korea. Yes, the two nations are getting along. That won’t work well for any nation or pundit hoping to argue that Trump doesn’t know how to make a difference in the region.

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