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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, June 12, 2017

Most of the news this week was rehashed hype. North Korea is making progress with missiles. This is nothing new. The US presence in South Korea is controversial among South Koreans. This is nothing new. But, the reminders keep coming in and politics never misses opportunity.

South Korea’s new president, Moon, is undergoing his own freshmen shake-ups. His military people didn’t tell him the whole story. US anti-missile systems, namely THADD, put out a lot of juice, having incredibly strong radars that no ham radio operator would be allowed to own. People don’t like living near them.

Two are already in place and are going to stay there. More, reportedly four, are at a US military base in South Korea, can be deployed at any time, and they are going to stay there. Security is not diminishing in South Korea, it is just not progressing as quickly as was scheduled.

The new Korean president is listening to his voters. He wants any additional missile defense systems in places that won’t slow-cook his own people. The delay seems to agree with China’s objection to the far-reaching THADD radars snooping on its own turf. Washington would have us think that South Korea is selling-out to the Chinese. And, China surely will get a big head over this, thinking that their economic threats against South Korea for defending itself against a loose-nuke cannon—that China funds—is finally having sway.

The real story is that time is running out in the “logistics” calculation. The US Navy is waiting. South Korea is irritated and can’t and won’t deploy endless missile defense systems. A China-backed dictator needs to be taken out. China knows it. Trump knows it. And, the Trump-Xi “bromancers” wish they could get North Korea dealt with quickly so they can take off the gloves over the South Sea.

There, in the South Sea, no lie Trump may have told about former director Comey could be as big as the lie Xi told about China’s man-made islands: They won’t be militarized. If the same islands aren’t being militarized then the anti-missile defense systems in South Korea are actually gumball machines and the US Navy is only in South Korean waters to throw a pizza party, which means that China has nothing to fear.

But, the truth is different from how slow-moving takeovers get glossed-over.

The press is moving against China and South Korea more and more, especially with “life inside” and other pro-democracy stories. China’s view is also about logistics. They lack food. China doesn’t have enough land to grow food for its own people. News stories from other countries put China in a worse light than is appropriate.

China’s solution is to expand. But, the Chinese don’t seem to understand the Western concept of expansion: Master what you have first; if you can’t manage your house as it stands, making it bigger will only grow the problem.

Now, China’s silk road is up against ISIS, making a third battle-front for the Chinese. And, after all that bravado against the US, the Philippines are welcoming US troops to help deal with their own ISIS problems. Don’t think that US- South Korean relations are down in the least.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, May 15, 2017

Make no mistake; when the Chinese advocate “globalism”, they don’t envision a world with multiple governments nor do they envision a world government run by the West. They don’t talk about their end game, nor does anyone else. When China talks regional alliances, they envision choreographed unison along the path. Regional alliances would be a great end game and it is unlikely that any nation would be able to push past regional alliances any more than any nation could live without them.

Whether a nation’s goal is protectionism or a one-world government, regional alliances between individual sovereign nations are the only future that awaits us—at least before Christ descends from a wormhole in the clouds.

China has roads and bridges to build. Russia has a nation to rebuild. Militaries have hackers to train and break in. Anonymous hackers have kudos to earn, coup to count, and chests to thump. And, nations have computers to defend, even island nations across China’s east coast. Alliances are certainly in season—and for good reason.

But, right now all those plans halt at an impasse over a bridge with a brittle keystone. The Kim Dynasty can see it’s own defeat on the horizon; we all can. Japan will rise to action. The US will rally the world. China will endorse. Russia will sit quietly. Then, China will seize its opportunity for the shift in the balance as Russia finds its excuse for “retaliation”. Once Korea snaps, the first shot gets fired and no battle plan will survive.

And then, we’ll see.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, May 8, 2017

The US media is pulling out a trump card that has been hiding in the deck since 2016. Otto, a traveling student, was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor by the Kim dynasty for touching a government propaganda poster. Now, his parents are near tears on national television as released film of the large assembly sitting in approval of his sentencing replay in homes across America and the world.

Otto is only one person. His parents know this. Americans know this. But, Otto is one person whom Americans can identify with to understand all the others. Americans can understand why China is preparing for Korean refugees.

The story is beyond bad press. Skinny people seen collecting grass in parks, skinny soldiers working on farms to get enough food to eat, people pushing their own buses when they run out of gasoline, and no reports of what is happening in Korean hard labor camps—and now pretty-handsome college boy is put in a labor camp for touching a poster? What’s next, hating pink ponies, baby kittens, and Santa Clause?

There’s no defense for keeping North Korea. Not even Russia can object if the US peppers Pyongyang with BLU-82 “Daisy Cutters”.

On Friday China’s Finance Minister Xiao Jie left an annual conference in Japan for an “emergency domestic meeting” in China. No one knows why, not even Forbes or their friends in Hong Kong.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, May 1, 2017

The news would have us think that China’s reverse-engineered copy of a Soviet-made diesel aircraft carrier is nuclear-powered and in full commission. It’s not. It’s simply being towed from one construction site to another. But, it is another milestone step in progress and the West needs to pay close attention. With all the excitement over Korean nukes, China obtaining its own aircraft carriers is a bigger step and a bigger threat to China’s neighbors. Heads are turning in Japan and India.

Trump’s “bromance” with China’s President Xi isn’t without precedent. The two are smart. Trump is less-controlled by the big political class. No matter how much Xi may want to resolve peace, any deal he makes with Trump must be pleasing to the Communist Party of China. Perhaps some success with Trump on the Kim dynasty in Korea will help Xi persuade the old boys club in China. But, that would be a first. Old school Chinese don’t like to learn new tricks.

Eventually, Korea will make major steps toward becoming one nation. Then, the US and China will change colors in the South Sea. Both sides will have gotten what they wanted: a stable Korean Peninsula. But, when the conflict in the West Pacific erupts, all bets will be off. It won’t be America who betrays first, the Chinese will make their move after they have their excuse. The ongoing US relationship with Taiwan may be that excuse. And, in the minds of the Chinese, the US will have been wrong.

Xi and Trump will become like old generals who know each other from battle field just as well as from the tea time table. No matter how much conflict they have, they will always be grateful for their cooperation in Korea. That’s what mature generals do. And, that is the current leadership at both ends of the Pacific.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, April 24, 2017

All eyes on Korea means all eyes on China, which means all eyes on Trump. What’s at stake?—not nuclear war, not regional war, not freedom for northern Koreans, but a trade deal with China. At least, that’s the story if you ask the money channels.

China is a “gold mine for innovation”, the hope for breakthrough in the car crisis—in case you didn’t know there was a car crisis. Australia is partnering with—of all countries—China to address cyber theft. China is such a booming, excellent, most-happening place that Chinese investors have actually decided it’s a good idea to finally start reinvesting in their own country.

But, most importantly, Trump needs to be very, very careful in dealing with northern Korea. China even said so. They even made a phone call to say it.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, April 17, 2017

It’s over. North Korea has been defrocked form among Communist nations. Russia and China aren’t trying to send any kind of message to the US by sending intel-gathering vessels to monitor the Vinson. Spectating usually indicates some kind of support. The “Ruskies” and “Chi-Coms”, as some affectionately call them, kicking back with coke and popcorn in hand isn’t exactly opposition. They are trying to send a message to Communists worldwide, including their own people: Act unruly and you’ll end up like North Korea.

The US can’t do an operation in their back yards without the neighbors keeping a close watch—and Northern Korea is in both Russian and Chinese back yards. If the Chinese and Russians wanted to send a message to Washington, they’d send attack vessels like Putin sent late to Syria—at least, he pretended to send a message.

Countries must appear strong. There is a lot of chest puffing and thumping, even with the soon-to-be-deposed occupation of Northern Korea. The Russians and Chinese will be glad to have the dictator child off of their table of concerns. And, in the process, they want their own people to know whose still boss.

So, it’s over. Soon, we’ll find out just how many Northern Koreans cried for the death of their late “Dear Leader” because they missed him or because they feared what the child dictator would do them if they didn’t. Korea is about to become one country, finally. Kim Jong-Un decided that over the weekend when he threw the temper tantrum that broke every camel’s back in the caravan. Now, the caravan is coming for him.

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Drafting Peace in the Pacific: Asia, April 13, 2017

We no longer live in a world without alliances. Yes, individual nations retain sovereignty within their borders. However, the days are over when a single nation will boss and police an entire region alone. One nation can no longer take out an “enemy” in another nation as the “lone ranger”. Any nation that tries will face scorn from others. If a government goes rogue, a plurality of other nations must intervene. This is international political gravity today.

We live in a world of growing alliances between sovereign nations.

China has been seeking respect and peace in its part of the world. The US has been seeking to cut off enemies before they have an opportunity to grow. In the Far East, the US’ solution has been to patrol freely in Asian waters. China’s solution has been to fly its national flag on more soil. Neither process will continue to work. And, if both processes continue, they will lead to unimaginable fallout, what some might think as WWIII, though still not that grand.  · · · →

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, August 29, 2016

The battlefronts are solidifying. China has expanded into cooperation with Russia, aircraft engine manufacturing, and diplomatic arenas.

G20 is a hoped-for tool that could make China an international giant. China wants in on Syria, just as the US and Russia may be reaching something to label as an “agreement”. While China has managed to insult and be insulted by many of the G20 countries, Beijing still believes that the important G20 diplomatic moves wait on the road ahead instead of in the past.

The timing of launching its own aircraft manufacturer should raise eyebrows. Taiwan, a US customer of the market-dominant F-16, which the US has not delivered on in the last several years, held secret talks with China, which the US wasn’t even invited to. This happened under the KMT-Nationalist administration, which just saw a crippling defeat, except for recent, small election on Taiwan’s east coast. The opponent, DPP, took control of both Taiwan’s presidency and legislature over the last six months. Now, with China’s secret-talk door closed to a US F-16 customer, China starts manufacturing its own engine parts. Why now? Did China get all the technology plans they were ever going to, one way or another? Is it just coincidence? Why is China also snubbing Russia?

The greater suspicion is the vaguely-defined cooperation between Russia and China. If the two countries are such great friends, why is China not buying more aircraft from Russia? Why go into competition with the US’s aircraft competition?

All of these questions point to a demonstrable worldview inside Beijing. The what and why and means can be largely debated and rarely proven. But, all paths lead to a path-based worldview. China sees cooperation with Russia just as it sees cooperation with nearly everyone else: Just another stepping stone. And, the stepping-stone builders are literally building rocks to walk on in the sea.

China’s motive is known only to the Chinese puppet masters and God Himself. But, no one should think for a moment that China plans—for good or ill—to stop with control of their nine-dash line in the South Sea.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, August 22, 2016

There really isn’t much news this week in the Pacific. China and Russia practice war games in the disputed South Sea while the US and South Korea practice their war games near the Korean Peninsula. Taiwan’s government continues what is expected of the new regime: Status quo, strength, and corruption crackdowns—two of which don’t exactly please China.

Status quo is exactly what China will not accept. Taiwan and the US object to the objection to status quo. No big chances are coming from the countries China opposes. China is determined to break the mood. Beijing sees the West as “already having” upset status quo and want to revert to history—well, a specific part of history anyway. So, “status quo” has become a relative term, as has “perp”. We’ll have to leave conclusions in the hands of the people.

That conclusion may be soon as much as it may be well-informed. The world slowly becomes more and more aware of what is happening in the South Sea. When someone busts a move to make headlines, there won’t be any surprises.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, June 13, 2016

Taiwan has a new Sheriff. Former President Ma, whose regime pursued secret talks with China, wanted to visit Hong Kong just after leaving office. Remember, on the books, Taiwan is still at war with China. Since 2003, former Taiwan presidents must file 20 days before international travel as a matter of national security. Ma filed 14 days before and cited a 2000 visit as an example of why the policy should not apply to him. The new president’s office, held by the other political party, denied Ma’s tardy request, citing lack of cross-straight and interpol cooperation—cooperation China has promised to diminish in recent weeks, since Taiwan’s new president took office. Accusations of democracy and grandeur flew in all directions.

The highly-coveted “blue crab” lives in some controversial waters. South Korean fishermen towed Chinese fishing boats from the South Korean waters to the South Korean authorities. A few days later, the South Korean military drove more Chinese fishing boats out of the same waters. North Korea claims the waters and referred to the incident as an “invasion”. The United Nations recognizes the South Korean map. Seoul asked Beijing to watch its own fishermen more carefully.

Germany also asked Beijing to ensure rule of law, this time over NGOs not being involved in politics. Human rights and abuse of new police authority over NGOs were mentioned. Historically, NGOs are a tool of human rights advocates, which China has been known to view as a political.

Few policies in Europe create fewer problems than they invent, NGO governance in China being one example, European immigration being another. There seem to be many satellites orbiting the headline reasons for Britain’s immanent “brexit” from the EU. The “brexit” would have financial repercussions—sooner and smaller as opposed to later and larger, so the narrative goes.

Britain and Europe would not normally be mentioned in an editorial on Pacific-Asia, except for Britain’s continued agreement with China concerning Hong Kong—a territory that could lose its financial status in Asia and, interestingly also, a destination recently denied to a former and distrusted president of a US ally in the Pacific. Neither HSBC’s headquarters nor the former Taiwan president will be going to Hong Kong anytime in the foreseeable future.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, May 2, 2016

Last week’s unreported US military exercises in Taiwan’s southern city of Kaohsiung, along with the neighboring indictment of the minority party’s legislative control through vote-buying, no doubt sends an unreported message to Beijing. What we see in the headlines more or less tells the same story. The Asian establishment feels threatened.

Every man’s defense is another man’s offense. If “we” own it, it’s a “missile defense” system. If “they” own it, it’s a “missile attack” system. If you ask the Chinese and Russians, the American people don’t like their government. If you ask the Americans, the Chinese and Russian people don’t like their governments. In “Boilerplateville” everyone is right.

China and Russia don’t want an early-stop anti-missile system close to the loose nuclear cannons in northern Korea. The United States sails anywhere and everywhere that anyone anywhere says is able to be sailed—violating nonunanimous claims of both foe and friend. No disputes are exempted. When it comes to allies in Asia Pacifica, Japan debates a lame duck in Taiwan over a fishing boat.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, April 18, 2016

Historically, Socialism has been great until the State runs out of other people’s money. In the case of China, it will continue to be great until China’s banks run out of their own loans. China’s debt-driven “miracle” is a bubble expected to pop somewhere just over the horizon.

China doesn’t mean to burst Trump’s bubble, but when bubbles are bursting, the more the merrier. While the international spokesmen (AKA pundits and news writers) tell readers what they want the readers to know they should believe, China understands two things: 1. Trump’s ideas are unconventional, 2. US election rhetoric is usually “trumped” up. Economics will likely shift across the Pacific due to a plurality of causes. China says everything will remain more or less the same. So, everything remains more or less the same.

North Korea gears up for a fifth nuke test. The South sees it as more of a power move in lieu of Northern isolation. Russia and the US clashed sheathed sabres; China piped-in as was opportune. The Japanese had some of their own problems, though none them nuclear, which is more than can be said for Korea. Japan’s earthquake was the largest since 2011 and seemed to coincide with Ecuador’s broken record of 1900. This was definitely a week of shake-ups.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, April 11, 2016

China was a major player in the Panama Papers scandal, including Hong Kong offices. British Prime Minister Cameron was involved. The British foreign secretary warned of threats to Hong Kong freedoms. Hong Kong’s CEO, Leung, hit back at calls for independence in the face of Hong Kong’s brand-new “National” party. China continues to crack down on corruption.

Japan send a sub and two destroyers to dock in Manila in the wake of the new Japan-Philipines defense pact. The US and Taiwan are drafting stronger ties affecting visitors. As Taiwan’s rising DPP political party gains popularity, the lame duck KMT-Nationalist party plays power against the DPP to the bitter end. North Korea tested a long-range nuclear missile engine to “guarantee” a strike on the continental US.

Friends and enemies are everywhere and everyone has a motive for everything.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, March 21, 2016

Global headlines are dominated with much ado about Trumping. Everyone has something to say, Japan being slowest to judge, judging nonetheless. In a declining world of failed political correctness, controversial reactions to Trump almost indicate who might have been doing something wrong and who just might be doing something right.

It is more and more difficult to categorize headlines into countries. The Pacific Conflict has become so intertwined that the publishing world will soon shift to taxonomies using a plurality of tags rather than mutually-exclusive categories. Any more, every news article seems to involve more than one country and it’s going to confuse the librarians.

Japan takes a hardline against China, but doesn’t want Trump’s help, taking a hardline against Trump for taking a hardline against Japan and China. China wants Japan and Trump to keep quiet as it militarizes islands that, technically, don’t exist, at least in the minds of everyone except China. China seems to have map-reporting conflicts with nearly everyone, Trump and Japan notwithstanding. Beijing’s explanation for nearly everything is that other countries don’t want diplomacy with China. Though, by claiming disputed lands and demonstrating authority over what Japan can and can’t talk about, it seems that China isn’t interested in diplomacy either, at least as much as it is in domination.

Nothern Korea jailed a college student for wanting to take Kim propaganda to the US—missing the point that usually one wants one’s propaganda spread around, that is, if one believes that one’s own propaganda is true. Maybe the North’s failing economy has caused a shortage in propaganda, which seems more and more necessary to convince the Northerners that their economy isn’t failing.

Japan just banned 22 North Koreans from re-entering Japan, one of them a graduate of the University of Tokyo. Why Japan let a North Korean study Japanese rocket science in the first place remains unknown. Perhaps Japan prefers North Korea’s diplomatic methods over Donald Trump’s. There appears to be no word from Japan about whether they agree with Trump’s on North Korea.

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