Cadence of Conflict: Asia, August 5, 2019

If one were to guess what was going on between Trump and Kim, internal politics of North Korea would explain it all. Korea is no exception to East Asia’s history of ongoing domination quarreling. Kim is not universally loved within his own government. The military is constantly at his back door and he must squash mutinies constantly. Pomp and acting like he’s the “military man” makes it hard for his enemies within to rally ill will against him.

Also, Trump has commented that many things are going on with North Korea behind the scenes—things which remain beyond the paparazzi watch of the Western presses. When Trump indicates no objection to the non-nuclear missile launches in North Korea, it almost seems as if Trump knows Kim is doing something the rest of the West doesn’t know about. For all we know, the number and frequency of non-nuclear missile tests could be a kind of Morse code only known to Trump and Kim. Given what has been publicly told, that would not be impossible. This only leads us to conclude that we can’t conclude anything about what’s happening in North Korea so far; there have just been too many jokers added to the deck.

Then, there’s China, China, and also China.

When it comes to raising public support for Western action against China, China is its own worst PR enemy.

China keeps doing the same thing. Beijing’s solution to rejection is to incite more rejection. Beijing’s solution to resistance is to give excuse for more resistance. It’s in a self-destructing insanity tailspin—paranoid of invisible enemies, justifying interfering in Hong Kong under the auspices that Hong Kong was already interfered in by the West.

That’s what this is all about, by the way. The whole reason Beijing accuses Taiwan and the US of causing the Hong Kong riots is to build the case that “Hong Kong was already interfered with”, and therefore sending in China’s military to stop the protests would not violate the Basic Law. The problem is that the Basic Law does not grant China permission to use military force against unarmed Hong Kong citizens on the basis of “Western interference”. But, the Chinese don’t understand the concept of “lawfulness” anyway. They just come up with whatever excuse sounds sophisticated enough to seem smarter than everyone else and thereby hypnotize the public into compliance.

China wants to blame the US and Trump won’t give China one single excuse to be twisted into so-called proof. Trump treads cautiously, but he is neither callous nor oblivious. His silence should be a warning to China that he is no fool. Sadly, China will take his silence to mean that he has caved into Beijing’s aggression and the Chinese military will only grow more overconfident than it already is. But, choices of the past four decades suggest that may have been the plan all along.

The tipping point is upon us. If China’s warship crashed into a Taiwan freighter on accident, then there would be no reason to fear or respect China’s Navy because their crew can’t steer. The alternative is to interpret it as an act of war. China doesn’t consider either because an angry bully in blamer-mode doesn’t consider others, not even how others can or will respond.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, February 19, 2018

Conveniently, Axios breaks a story from Trump’s November visit to China. There was a scuffle and a tackle over the “nuclear football”—AKA the nuke code bag. At first, it seems like relations are breaking down between the US and China. At second glance, the timing of the report is outright suspicious. Stepping back and giving it a third thought, the scuffle almost seems prophetic and poetic about the American-Chinese situation. The Chinese didn’t touch the “nuclear football”, though there was an ignored or unreceived memo. The US entourage kept moving. The Chinese official in charge kindly apologized. And, it was all over in an instant and without incident. That seems to have a figurative application on a literary level.

China is expanding in science and other areas. Underwater drones capable of making military maps were told to be for science only. Mischief Reef’s new missile-defense equipped naval-air bases were only for a fishermen’s shelter. And, the first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, was purchased from Russia to be nothing more than a floating museum. Those kinds of stories get drummed up by the West as reasons not to trust China.

The Philippines have effectively made peace with China on some level. China is capable of preserving peace if it wants to. But, the Western press often points to grandiose statements that rub Westerners the wrong way. President Xi referred to the belt road project as the “project of the century” and that it will “add splendor to human civilization”. The West cares about taxpayer efficiency, freedom to have children, and welcome open dissent against their own government. Westerners value humility from leadership. The Chinese grandiose remarks from Xi Jinping command respect in China, but are off-putting to Westerners. Rather than seeking to reconcile the differences in rhetorical preference, press reports exploit the shock value and sell-out peaceful understanding for caustic sensationalism. The divide grows. Whether China should tone down its language is a Chinese-internal decision. So is the opinion and response by the West also a purely internal decision.

So, at the same time Axios reports a non-incident story of a conflict that didn’t happen over a “football” last November. It is framed as a sign of shaky US-China relations. Others are reporting on the US, Japan, Australia, and India collaborating competition against China’s infrastructure. There is also news of Trump buckling down on trade with China. Then, Quartz publishes a review of China’s great threat as a rising military power, a collection of old news.

Truth or lie, propagandized or unbiased, the timing is a tell-all. The Western press is preparing the public for war.

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