Symphony

Cadence of Conflict: Asia May 29, 2017

The situation in the Western Pacific grows more precarious. Muslims have taken over some territory in the Philippines. Martial law has been declared in those areas. The Philippines’ president, Duterte, has offered to resign if he can’t keep the peace.

For a long time, the Filipino people have wanted respect as a sovereign nation, hungering for that respect as much as China if not more. This has led the Philippines to diminish ties with other nations, including the US, and warm up to China. Sun Tzu might advise that any form of hunger can be exploited as a weakness, including hunger for respect. Now, an extreme sect of Muslims have interrupted the sovereign work of the Filipino government. If any forces lack respect in the Pacific and undermine rule of law, the US is not the foremost among them. The current security arrangement in the Philippines has failed to keep law and order. Duterte’s policies are being put to the test. If he can’t regain control, then both China and the US will step-up their presences.

Northern Korea is already stepping up its game, now with rumors of anti-aircraft missiles. The US has sent yet another strike force to Korean waters. China knows the US is the best hope to end the mess on the peninsula, whether in terms of finances, diplomatic affinities, or strength of arms. Importantly, the Western press is mounting a well-published case against the Kim regime comparable to the case the W. Bush administration mounted against Saddam Hussein.

In the South Sea, Trump sent his first “sail-by” through China’s man-made islands. US threats to blockade the artificial island militarized bases are not empty threats, not in the least. Nor is China’s threat to declare war if the US follows-through.

Trump is going to need to act on North Korea while still on friendly terms with China. Both China and the US know this. With these islands, China and the US can’t play “let’s be friends” forever. The problem of the artificial islets in the South Sea will compel quicker US action on the Korean Peninsula.

The majority argument, however, will go to the international view. If China’s military presence in the South Sea is benign, why didn’t China demonstrate respect and stop Muslims from disrupting the China-friendly Filipino government? That’s the question the Western taxpayers will ask, anyhow. The West will have gone to much trouble and will pin China as the perpetrator.

But, there is another part of Western Pacific strategy to consider. When the Korean peninsula is united, all those US troops in Southern Korea will be able to point their guns elsewhere. With the US being “the liberator”, the soon-to-be united Korea will not want to side with the People’s Liberation Army of China. China isn’t foolish; they’ve thought about that.

Moving on the Koreas will make moving on the South Sea more feasible, from the US military’s perspective. China knows that someone must move on the Koreas and that “someone” can only be the US. After that, islets in the South Sea can quickly be taken and turned against China. With Muslims disturbing the Philippines, Duterte—or whoever is president at the time—may suddenly turn away the Chinese for not helping enough and welcome cooperation with the US. But, if not, the Philippines would collapse if they abandon the mess at home to help China keep the South Sea.

Then, the spearhead aims at Taiwan like Saruman marching against the Shire. Two times this weekend, in both north and south of Taiwan, a train hit a person on the tracks. It’s a string of freak accidents that almost seems poetic, but with no explainable meaning as of yet.

Moreover, an outspoken DPP associate, Lee Ming-che, is still being detained in China with no statement on which law in particular he violated.

China’s situation is difficult and complex, even though the West will tend to take the easy road and villainize China. Beijing needs to retain domestic control. This is all the more evidenced by the situation in the Philippines. Lee is a disturbance, even if his cause is good. China doesn’t see the world in terms of values and ideologies, but in terms of maintaining power in order to maintain peace. Muslims are at China’s doorstep, not only in the Philippines, but also in Malaysia. This is no time for Lee to be stirring up trouble.

But, in the eyes of the evermore compassion-driven West, by detaining Lee after speaking out on matters of Human Rights, China is only trying to silence a whistle-blower for blowing the whistle on them. As with the anti-China press war that began in Hong Kong, the Taiwan question comes into play, affecting public image as much as military strategy.

Both China and Taiwan have some hypocrisy in the Lee situation. China claims Taiwan as its own territory—though claiming Northern Korea might be more tenable, more affordable, more militarily advantageous, and result in more peace. China certainly has paid the bills in Northern Korea. Taiwan is an island already surrounded by Western allies and is about to be surrounded by even more. Militarily, China’s claim to Taiwan is not strategic, it is about something else.

By China claiming Taiwan, Taiwanese have a vested interest in Human Rights issues in China. On the other hand, the DPP, the political party of Taiwan’s freshman president, a political party which Lee is affiliated with, claims that Taiwan is independent. This should mean that the DPP thinks that Taiwan “doesn’t have a dog in that fight” where Human Rights are concerned in China. They want to be independent, yet they also worry about the goings on in China as if they are family. The DPP makes it seem as if they want to have their cake and eat it too.

So, everyone is right, and wrong—it depends on who you ask. Eventually, push will come to shove and all the houses of cards in the Western Pacific will crash. If Russia intervenes then they might as well surrender Syria to the States. So, the “Ruskies” aren’t likely to tip any balances. Besides, they would rather bide their time, let China do their bidding, and let the US grow weary. Based on both push and advantage for action in Korea just before action in the South Sea, China could find itself in a checkmate in three moves. Then, we’ll see if that “bromance” between Trump and Xi was all it was chalked up to.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, April 3, 2017

China continues an uphill battle with the Western media. Sunflower students were cleared of all charges in their occupation of their nation’s legislature three years ago, almost to the day. Joined by leaders Lin and Chen, Joshua Wong from Hong Kong’s Umbrella movement urged the release of a Taiwanese college instructor, Lee Ming-che, from China’s custody. Lee is an advocate for human rights and is being held for matters of “national security”.

The best way to understand the Hong Kong Umbrella movement’s end game is regime change in China. Hong Kong has no military and pro-independence Hong Kongers don’t seem to be advocating mandatory military draft enrollment for all Hong Kong males. Taiwanese males not only have mandatory draft enrollment, but have a minimum compulsory service time after finishing school. Taiwan’s student movement interrupted secret government talks between the US adversary China and the US ally Taiwan. Taiwan purchases military equipment from the US, including Apache gunships and F-16 fighters, though trade was the primary concern of the Taiwanese protest. Both military and trade are China-related talking points from President Trump, especially this week. No such talking points related to the Hong Kong protests.

The Taiwanese movement was led by young men who would serve in their nation’s military, disrupted the government’s legislature for three weeks, and resulted in change. The Hong Kong protests were led by young men forbidden by their government from serving in their military, occupied public streets for three months, and only led to international attention. The only way to gauge the Hong Kong protests as a success is if the goal was to stir international attention in the media to raise sentiment against China—enough sentiment that China’s government changes enough to grant Hong Kong independence. That is quite a significant change, enough for China to consider the matter one of national security.

So, then, viewing activism as a matter of “national security” in China makes sense. Hong Kong’s status with China and human rights are topics Western media readers are interested in. By detaining people who live outside of China inside of China, activists such as Joshua Wong are receiving all the ammunition they need, courtesy of China.

China truly is in a war against the Western newspapers. That is probably why economics are Beijing’s primary tool against North Korea, while Donald Trump seems to have a different strategy in mind.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, January 2, 2017

The recent UN Security Council vote against Israel won’t help China’s claim to Taiwan. Taiwan and Israel are poised to gain closer ties in light of last week’s “unintentional Antisemitism” that was heavily condemned and harshly responded to by Taiwan’s president. Now, with China having voted against Israel, and Israel breaking ties with Security Council members who voted, China’s “one country, two systems” policy won’t be as important in Jerusalem.

China spit into the wind once again with stepped-up rhetoric over dissidents in the Mainland and in Hong Kong. When Hong Kong left Britain, it’s economy flourished—something similar to how things went in the United States after the colonies left Britain. But, rather than piggy-backing history, Beijing seems determined to repeat it, namely angering the people with unilateral restrictions in policies that mildly resemble the Stamp and Tea Acts.

Beijing had inherited paradise. All the Communists had to do was keep their promise to leave it alone. Instead, they vetted Hong Kong legislators before elections rather than reviewing Hong Kong laws after they are passed. And, Beijing still doesn’t understand. Soon, the former British colony will echo the old, “No taxation without representation,” and insist that money never leave Hong Kong for Beijing.

It is sad. It has been sad. It will be sad. And, it is all without need.

Now, China has opponents on five fronts: Mongolia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Islam, and, as of this week, Israel.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, December 5, 2016

A negative response in the wake of President-Elect Trump’s phone call with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen (蔡英文) could backfire. Such an educational, peaceful, and friendly phone call—clearing up an enormous misconception and even security concerns—deserves nothing less than praise. One harmless, little phone call encouraged millions of people in Asia to relax. Only an aggressor would object.

China did not directly or clearly protest. They did cordially make a “solemn representation” to remind the US of US-China relations and fired a handful of missiles—which they shoot off from time to time anyway. From China’s viewpoint, Beijing’s response was shrewd and defensible. Beijing is not rolling like any loose cannon so far.

The question that comes up, however, is about “Taiwanese Independence”. The Western press already paints Taiwan as “viewing itself as independent”, though Taiwan is nowhere close to inking any such opinion. On the books, Taiwan thinks it’s capital is deep in the heart of China and that Mongolia is a break-away province. Given the alternative, it would be magnanimous of China to welcome Taiwan discarding the current KMT-Nationalist definition of “one China” in exchange for anything, even “Taiwan Independence”; Mongolia might not take kindly to Beijing endorsing Taiwan’s out-dated view of the Mongols. Beijing is in a tight spot, and understandably so.

As much research documents, the Taiwanese people overwhelmingly already think of themselves as a nation-state and want the best of friendly relations with Beijing. Both the popular opinion and the offer for friendship are dangerous to reject.

The question of Taiwan Independence also has bearing on Hong Kong. While Beijing has done a much better job than Britain did—not to mention all the new Christians in Hong Kong since Britain left—the noise from Umbrella Movement paints Beijing as a regional killjoy. If Beijing wants the question of “Taiwanese Independence” to remain out-of-the-question, it has a tall order of PR work to do in the territory it already controls: Hong Kong.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, November 14, 2016

The news in Asia is Trump. Having put their chips with Clinton, some governments in Asia are scrambling to guess what Trump’s next move will be. Japan didn’t interfere. So, things are “business as usual” in Tokyo. While Asian politicians scramble to clean up their attempt to chose America’s next president, they still might not learn from Japan’s example: It is generally best if one country does not interfere with the elections of another country.

That election-country boundary is somewhat askew where Beijing and Hong Kong are concerned. Beijing is not supposed to interfere at all, as per the condition of the H-Kexit from Britain in 1997. Beijing did, however slightly and defensibly and yet predictably objectionable, and now Beijing must intervene.

Pro-Independence lawmakers inserted a byword for China in their oaths, which legally alters the oath. In doing so, they relegated their oaths’ legitimacy to the determination of higher courts in Beijing. If they couldn’t figure out how not to invite intervention, how could they keep domestic peace as lawmakers? If they didn’t know the legal meaning of words, how could they craft laws with proper wording in Hong Kong? Though unanswered at this time, these are questions their actions begged, making their argument for the second H-Kexit less credible, but, nonetheless more infamous and more famous, depending on who is asked. Infamy and fame gain equal press. “Press” is the battle HK Independence advocates win every time, which is why some in Hong Kong argue that “press” is all they want. But, there is always more going on.

In answering the metaphoric question of whether to be the dead lion or the victorious fox, the Hong Kong Umbrella students chose to be dead foxes. Some call them “martyrs”. Others call them “dinner”. The weakness and failings of disrespect aren’t limited to Hong Kong. The rest of the world is demonstrating the same toward Donald J. Trump, who did get elected after all. Now, Asia must figure out how to deal with the decision in the US while Trump figures out how to deal with the indecision of Asia. Unlike fame and infamy, decision and indecision fair differently.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, October 31, 2016

Chinese President Xi has been hailed with a personality cult akin to support for Chairman Mao, at least in some circles. As if the Xi personality cult wasn’t enough, China also saw a bloodless victory in the Philippines. In an effort to seek their own so-called “independence”, Philippinos’ new choice of a president has thrown-off many ties with the US in exchange for more dependency on China. China still patrols disputed Philippine islands, but fishing boats don’t get harassed any more. It probably makes sense in the Philippines every bit as much as it made sense to France and Italy 80 years ago.

The Pacific resembles pre-WWII Europe with more and more likenesses every week. NPR reported that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will stop swearing as much. That headline probably made sense to NPR, given the situation. As for swearing and the Pacific, Hong Kong, with no military, is putting up the greatest fight against China. Lawmakers “swore” during their swearing-in, contrary to some stipulations that no Hong Kong lawmaker can object to Chinese rule.

The Philippino “switch” was always going to happen. Their desire for “independence from other countries” will eventually drive them to fly China’s flag above their own, just how China’s desire for respect provoked Beijing to provoke the West, just how “America and her interests” drove the US to fly its flag at military posts in countries across the globe thereby frustrating Beijing and Milan.

With Taiwanese public continuing strong objection to Chinese patrol expansionism (75:18%), with Hong Kong (under China) wanting out from China, with the Philippines shifting sides, and with Cambodia cozying up to Beijing, we could see more jersey swapping in the coming months. Japan and South Korea are standing against North Korea on nukes—by cooperating with the US. That coalition could very easily extend to Taiwan, as far as N Korea nukes are concerned. The islanders of Taiwan oppose nuclear “anything”, just like post-Fukushima Japan.

Taiwan also has a close cooperation with the US military, the kind of cooperation the Philippines just renounced. The Pentagon has yet to give an elaborate position on the Philippines’ wave-making. In war, if the Philippines violates any alliance agreements, the Pentagon could declare the Philippines as “rogue” and get the excuse they need to use force. Who knows what would happen then.

China’s “no-objection” policy for HK lawmakers has given Great Britain whatever excuse the Crown needs to anchor the Royal Navy in Hong Kong, much like Queen Victoria did against China via Taiwan. When Southeast Asian Islands start spitting at each other, Hong Kong could could get snatched-up in a Pacific-West coalition. Having no military could be the only reason Hong Kong can court sympathy from the West. Guarded by mountains between the New Territories and Shenzen, Hong Kong would be strategic. The West would then see Hong Kong as the “trump card” while China would come back with the Philippines as the “wild joker”.

The Philippines and Hong Kong don’t seem to have figured out that every island is just another pawn. The Pacific Daily Times Symphony Editorials take no sides, except the side of foresight: It was all predictable.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, October 24, 2016

Pro-China legislators blocked the swearing-in of pro-Independence lawmakers in Hong Kong. Pro-Independence activists from Hong Kong told Taiwanese not to give up on independence. China said that independence for either China or Hong Kong is a “futile” plot. Then, Hong Kong told Taiwan not to meddle in other countries’ affairs.

Taiwan’s former president from the former-controlling party faces charges of leaking secrets of the State. That former-controlling party is working on formulating its opinion of Taiwan and China, while the newly-controlling party’s administration investigates the former president. The trend seems to be announcing opinions about other countries’ opinions about their opinions. So much opining about opining almost resembles pre-WWII Europe.

The Philippines won’t be cooperating with the US Navy anytime soon. Old traditions are over. Philippine military leadership wants China to make the first move in the South Sea, but China already has, especially with the man-made islands.

China also made the first move in Hong Kong’s independence movement. Without the change to vet politicians in advance, rather than vet HK laws after the fact, HK’s independence movement might not have had enough wind to be what it is. Likewise, the Western press continues to publish stories casting doubt on China’s economy based on debt. China’s press responds by casting doubt on the Western stories that cast doubt. The best-kept secret seems to be that everyone’s money is based on debt in this brave, new world, including the Philippines.

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Encore of Revival: America, July 4, 2016

There is a threshold of tolerance that every human has for the number of rules that can be understood and obeyed. There is also a threshold of chaos that a human can tolerate. Rules exist to keep the chaos from crossing that threshold. But, once the number of rules crosses that threshold, the rules and the chaos are no longer distinguishable. It’s all just oppression. Humans can only take so much.

America’s Declaration of Independence was not only over having too many rules, it was also based on an excess of unchecked chaos. England had imposed too many rules than could be obeyed, but those rules did not prevent chaos; they arguably created more. Rules are not always bad or good. They must created neither liberally or conservatively. Rules must be minimally used for maximum prevention of chaos.

Once the people realize that number of rules and chaos have crossed the threshold of tolerance, the rule makers and rule enforcers are instantly seen in a different light. This programming is hardwired into the human psyche. It requires no organization and no marketing. It is every bit as innate as sleeping when tired. Humans arrive at the point of exhaustion without propaganda.

Ending tyranny and raising leaders is pure human instinct. People will do these on autopilot. They only need to think of “how” once nature has begun its course.

Beginning with the W administration, the number of tolerable rules in America skyrocketed. With Obama, that number increase and chaos simultaneously skyrocketed. Today, we are just crossing the threshold. So, only about half of the people have any concern, the other half label the first half as “alarmists” and blame propaganda.

Right now, the infatuation with Trump and Sanders stem from the “how” question that the people in the United States are asking after leader-tyrant instincts automatically kicked-in. People view Trump and Sanders as the most healthy, peaceful way people see to exercise that instinct. But, the calm-obsessed elites, trying to control people rather than understand them, believe that the Trump phenomenon is a result of propaganda. They may have miscalculated.

Look at Brexit: People can only take so much. Leaders who push the threshold are always surprised when they cross it.

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Faux Report

PLA Navy Withdraws from North Sea After Scotland’s “No” Vote

LONDON — Britain’s Royal Navy reported Monday that frigates belonging to the People’s Liberation Army Navy anchored near British waters had turned back for their home port in Qingdao after the Scottish referendum on independence returned a decisive “no” vote.

A few weeks ago, when the Scottish National Party-backed “Yes Scotland” campaign drew ahead in certain polls, China’s Central Military Commission ordered a “precautionary” occupation of international waters in the North Sea in case “this inalienable territory of a sovereign state should fall toward independence.”

“The PLA Navy stands ready to bombard Lothian, Aberdeenshire and the Orkney Islands should separatist forces prevail.”

Beijing had previously warned that Scottish independence would “set a dangerous precedent,” and pledged military support to the “rightful rulers of the Scots, i.e. the UK government” in the event of an “illegal schism in violation of the territorial integrity of what is unquestionably one nation, one people, one culture.”

“While we respect the right of the Royal Armed Forces to exercise jurisdiction in their sovereign territory, China cannot tolerate the unilateral declaration of independence by any would-be nation,” ran a press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs last Wednesday.

“As such, the PLA Navy stands ready to bombard Lothian, Aberdeenshire and the Orkney Islands should separatist forces prevail on Thursday.”

After the votes were tallied Friday morning, with 55 percent of the country’s voters choosing to remain part of the UK, China’s fleet was recalled, with Xi Jinping making separate telephone calls to Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister David Cameron congratulating them on the “continued health of the One Britain Policy.”

The Chinese president reportedly then made a call to Scottish First Minister and independence advocate Alex Salmond, inviting him to Beijing for “tea” at the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.

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