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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, August 13, 2018

China's situation isn't getting easier. Taiwan now has tested a new missile, boasting ability to fire within China's mainland, being capable of destroying military targets on both land and sea. This is no laughing matter. On the economic front, Beijing has a hard-headed counterpart in the White House, Donald Trump. He shows no indication of backing down on any front, including Beijing. Now, China is going after Muslims.

While it can be politically incorrect for the West to pursue terrorists if they are Muslim, China doesn't have that problem. Military states rarely do, which is one advantage China has over the West. Terror cells may be in hot water since China is on high alert in all directions. If Taiwan were to create trouble on its eastern coast, Beijing would not want more trouble from its western borders. So, any earlier preemptive action from Beijing is likely to be westward, toward Muslim nations. Those Muslim areas could be in greater danger than Taiwan.

Taiwanese have been busy, though. When anyone uses the "Taiwan, China" format, Taiwanese go berserk. That's raising a lot of attention about a little island in the Pacific which now has missiles capable of attacking China. These are interesting times.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, Jun 25, 2018

China is facing money problems, as the Western press continues to document in detail. China's economy is largely based on real estate. China's unusual form of communism includes laws that govern economics—especially with real estate, of course—and these laws are unusual in much of the rest of the world. As a result, people in China need to borrow money for things they normally wouldn't borrow money for. The repayment schedules are also strange.

The only way that a real estate business can stay afloat is if the prices of real estate keep rising. The more it rises, the more it needs to rise. Money doesn't fall from trees, but in China it needs to keep falling from somewhere in order to keep this vicious cycle spinning faster and faster. Eventually, the speed of the spinning wheel will exceed the strength of the wheel and it will all fly apart.

Then, we have China's strategy in the South Sea—also involving real estate. The man-made islands are complete. It all happened while the West watched closely and did nothing to stop it. They are heavily fortified and militarized.

Trump reminds the world that we aren't out of the woods yet with North Korea, Democrats misinterpret that as a contradiction—as if one step of progress means it's all over. Japan is ending its drills. The Korean problem is simmering down and Taiwan is escalating.

Now, we have the US strengthening its ties with Taiwan, the linchpin of the Pacific. Diplomats are visiting. Congressmen are calling for Taiwan's membership in sovereign-state-only organizations such as the UN. And, the Taiwan "Independence Party" welcomes US military cooperation.

Why would the US make such a bold move to side with Taiwan? Consider the US president's financial background: real estate. Trump understand's the economic crisis brewing in China. No one has said so, but the pieces line up. The US is positioning Taiwan as the main frontal push against China while the "attack from behind", as it were, is economics.

China is beefing up cyber attacks on Taiwan. US aircraft flying near the man-made islands are being hit by blinding flashes of light from the ground and from "fishing" boats, disrupting aviation. Using lasers such ways is illegal in war as both the US and China have signed agreements to.

China is also using drones that look like flying birds, but China wasn't the first. This technology has been used before. Interestingly, China has maintained a policy that tech manufactured in China must be shared with China's government. It would be even more interesting to see if any research surfaces on how many patent royalties China might owe for tech used to surveil its own people—surveillance only enabled by tech giants who caved into China's demands. But, due to the Tump administration, all that's coming to a grinding halt. If China wants better tech to spy on its own people, it's going to need to develop that tech on its own.

Those man-made islands in the South Sea were allowed to be built for a reason. Could they have been intended all along to become "booty" that will be "owned" by the West as Hong Kong was after the Opium Wars? Hong Kong just might be included if China is forced into concessions, especially with all the "ra-ra" fuss among spoiled Hong Kong students. The US strategy indicates many lofty "hopefuls" in the queue, should the status quo shift—in what direction no one knows. It seems that the Trump administration has aims much higher than merely settling disputes in Korea.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, May 28, 2018

The US "disinvited" two countries this week, not only North Korea, but also China from the biannual naval exercises in Hawaii. Both "disinvitations" were a rescinding of a previous invitation after less than friendly saber rattling from the former invitee. Kim Jong Un's loud mouth is widely known, so the North Korean "disinvitation" came as no surprise.

China, specifically, has been pressuring African countries to "dis-recognize" Taiwan in favor of Beijing policy. Additionally, China has been pressuring US companies to follow otherwise unrecognized Chinese maps placing Taiwan under China's political sovereignty, as well as companies from other countries—which Taiwan is not currently under the control of. China sees the request as part of a grand goal of "reunification" and a nostalgic return to the rhapsodic geographical past as the keystone of a socioeconomic strengthening strategy.

The problem from the Western corporate perspective is with the dictionary, not with ideology. China's government does not decide the laws on Taiwan's island currently, not in any way. So, listing Taiwan "under" China would create confusion for Western tourists. But, China is run by Communists who believe that logistics are to be dictated, not recognized. In the land of Communist-Chinese, if tourists would be confused, the solution is to simply make a new law this afternoon outlawing tourists who are confused. So, Beijing doesn't believe the West has any legitimate problem with the policy, but that Western companies are only trying to spite Beijing.

Washington, however, does view the problem as ideological. It would be wrong for Washington to dictate the organizational nomenclature of the Bank of China or Sky News or Spotify. So would be any reciprocal resemblance. Under Trump, Washington is enforcing that ideology globally.

Then, there was yet another snafu among China's man-made islands. The US can't stop making news in Taiwan. A Senator makes an "unexpected" visit. US weapons developers are planning to set up shop in Taiwan. The US and Taiwan have decided that they can't build Taiwanese submarines fast enough. And, the US has decided that Taiwan needs the absolutely best defense to respond to Chinese "saber rattling", not only asymmetric defense. All of this is remarkably irritating and "disrespectful" to China.

China hates few things more than being disrespected.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, May 21, 2018

Talk only went so far this week. I looks as if North Korea might not be dismantling its nukes, but hiding them, then threatening to close talks when exposed for this, then threatening to cancel the summit for some other list of excuses.

The big question on Kim Jong-Un backing out on the talks relates to his recent visits to China. Not that China has made any wild promises, but he feels somewhat confident in getting lippy with the US.

The big lesson was about Moon's emphasis on diplomacy vs Trump's emphasis on teeth. Diplomacy made progress in terms of leading to more diplomacy. But, actual action is a measurement of its own. So far, Trump's action has led to China losing interest in any kind of trade war and Moon's favored diplomacy seems to be leading to an undiplomatic end to diplomacy.

Things aren't over nor have we seen the last surprise. The big news of the week is that China's on the bench. Moon and Trump will meet to discuss Kim having a discussion with them in Singapore. Where's China?—announcing its surrender on trade, reflecting on past meetings with Kim, another player that doesn't really matter.

If Kim doesn't show up, Moon's populist diplomacy will prove to have failed and Trump will have the "political currency" for action against North Korea. Maybe that's what China hopes for in allowing Kim to gain false hopes in something or other—to rationalize a little retaliatory action of its own. But, if military action was China's first preference, Beijing would have already taken it.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, July 31, 2017

Xi Jingping told his military the same thing China has been telling its people for decades: The world needs us, our military, our might, and our expansion, otherwise there can be no peace. This proves a static ethic. From this perspective, China wants the US to remain calm and not take action in North Korea.

Meanwhile, South Korea’s president wants the US to wait while he negotiates with the North for safety in the US. South Korean people want much the same thing Filipinos want: non-dependence. South Korea’s president, South Korea’s people, and China all want the US to “get out”. Interestingly, they share this sentiment with North Korea.

The world is full of political ideologies that claim half of one thing and do half of another. The best chance at victory is to simply stay home and do good work there. In that, the South Korean people stand the greatest chance of victory. Yet, the United States stands the greatest chance of taking action for two reasons: the US is being threatened more than any other and the US is willing to take action more than any other. If the US takes out the North, they can leave and the South Koreans will get what they want. But, things rarely happen as they should.

Only two things are foreseeable: conflict and Korean unification. All the rest is conjecture.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, May 22, 2017

The big question surrounding the time of North Korea’s end will be logistics. It won’t be about tactics or the “most diplomatic-surgical way” to end the volatile regime. While the scene is that of the super villain who has strapped himself into a chair, booby-trapped with trip wires and armed with explosives, even more important things are going on. Large-scale powers don’t think about micro-tactics, they think about logistics. And, logistics are shaping-up.

Social energy is one important logistic. The people of nations involved must see a viable path to support certain action. Navies in the region are burning up tax dollars, something that can’t continue forever. Taiwan is itching for recognition in the world and the world itches for Taiwan to be recognized—and Taiwan is making much more progress than in years past. Then, there is trust.

From a PR perspective, China is failing. But, from a spying perspective, China has turf to defend. China’s isolationist policies may seem anti-free speech to the West, but China sees spies to catch and leaks to plug. Trump doesn’t like leaks either. Spies are dangerous. China is willing to kill them while Americans publicly oppose executions while secretly wishing the deaths of their daily enemies. China’s execution and imprisonment of CIA spies caught during the Obama years is very understandable. But, the American public won’t see it that way.

This week, a huge ramp went up to alert the public to “news” that is anything but. China caught and executed CIA spies long ago. It didn’t matter until now, when social support is an important calculation with logistics of war. That explains the Pentagon statements and the newspaper trends in America as well as Europe and Australia. The Western public is being rallied against China. That is significant.

Then, there is China’s image with the Koreas. China won’t be too hard on North Korea. China is banning South Korean travel because it doesn’t like the US presence in South Korea. That’s understandable, but not to the pop star fans in South Korea or the United States. When South Korean pop stars tour the US, more young people in the US will become aware of the issues. China could have stopped it, but Beijing still struggles to understand the Western mind. The Korean pop star fans in China might start struggling to understand Beijing’s mind, at least more than in the past. When you turn people away, they don’t just go home, the go elsewhere. That’s not easy to comprehend when you’ve always gotten what you want and always been told what to want to hear. Whatever China’s problems are or are not, the travel bans make China look worse than it deserves.

The real crime was the Shakespearian “fatal flaw”: China didn’t understand the West well enough. In a world of growing alliances between sovereign nations, that is an unforgivable sin as far as gravity is concerned. And, with gravity, mercy is too lacking and pain always greater than it should be.

But, all is fair in love and in war.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, May 22, 2017

The big question surrounding the time of North Korea’s end will be logistics. It won’t be about tactics or the “most diplomatic-surgical way” to end the volatile regime. While the scene is that of the super villain who has strapped himself into a chair, booby-trapped with trip wires and armed with explosives, even more important things are going on. Large-scale powers don’t think about micro-tactics, they think about logistics. And, logistics are shaping-up.

Social energy is one important logistic. The people of nations involved must see a viable path to support certain action. Navies in the region are burning up tax dollars, something that can’t continue forever. Taiwan is itching for recognition in the world and the world itches for Taiwan to be recognized—and Taiwan is making much more progress than in years past. Then, there is trust.

From a PR perspective, China is failing. But, from a spying perspective, China has turf to defend. China’s isolationist policies may seem anti-free speech to the West, but China sees spies to catch and leaks to plug. Trump doesn’t like leaks either. Spies are dangerous. China is willing to kill them while Americans publicly oppose executions while secretly wishing the deaths of their daily enemies. China’s execution and imprisonment of CIA spies caught during the Obama years is very understandable. But, the American public won’t see it that way.

This week, a huge ramp went up to alert the public to “news” that is anything but. China caught and executed CIA spies long ago. It didn’t matter until now, when social support is an important calculation with logistics of war. That explains the Pentagon statements and the newspaper trends in America as well as Europe and Australia. The Western public is being rallied against China. That is significant.

Then, there is China’s image with the Koreas. China won’t be too hard on North Korea. China is banning South Korean travel because it doesn’t like the US presence in South Korea. That’s understandable, but not to the pop star fans in South Korea or the United States. When South Korean pop stars tour the US, more young people in the US will become aware of the issues. China could have stopped it, but Beijing still struggles to understand the Western mind. The Korean pop star fans in China might start struggling to understand Beijing’s mind, at least more than in the past. When you turn people away, they don’t just go home, the go elsewhere. That’s not easy to comprehend when you’ve always gotten what you want and always been told what to want to hear. Whatever China’s problems are or are not, the travel bans make China look worse than it deserves.

The real crime was the Shakespearian “fatal flaw”: China didn’t understand the West well enough. In a world of growing alliances between sovereign nations, that is an unforgivable sin as far as gravity is concerned. And, with gravity, mercy is too lacking and pain always greater than it should be.

But, all is fair in love and in war.

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Encore of Revival: America, April 10, 2017

Senate Democrats are now making noises about 60-vote cloture being removed for legislation. The cloture rule was removed 55-45 for Supreme Court nominees. Why Democrats have brought up the discussion for removing the cloture rule altogether remains a mystery, unless they expect to use fear as a preventative tactic in 2018. However, once an idea is introduced, even if by fear, the idea is up for valid discussion. Had Democrats hoped to retain cloture for legislation, they should have allowed Republicans to bring it up first. Now, elimination of the cloture rule altogether is inevitable.

The White House is in somewhat of a shakeup. Chief “Strategerist” Steve Bannon is getting shuffled, but no reasons seem to be valid. We may not find out the real reasons for at least two years, once the presses cool off, the stakes aren’t as high, and people aren’t so tight-lipped about inside baseball.

Trump ordered a 59-Tomahawk cruise missile strike on Syria after 80 were killed with nerve gas. The missiles targeted what was thought to be the base for the gas attack. Russia is also on the scene. The nerve gas was banned under the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Putin responded with his usual worldview of nationalist, socialist victimhood. Whatever he and his crew resort to is necessary because of what the West took from them in the zero sum game. Putin is a true Hitler—gentle and endearing as a teddy bear who never raises his voice before his audience, compassionate, polite, never rude, never tough to critique directly, only strong to march behind, and everything he does is excused by what “they did to us”.

Syria’s use of banned chemical weapons could have been a ploy all along, by the Russians and their allies, to draw Trump’s action to justify escalation. Though it may have been bait from the Russian’s view, it might have been brilliant for Trump to tell the world that the US isn’t pantie-whipped anymore and to draw Russia’s attention to the Middle East while the USS Carl Vinson carrier group goes to North Korea.

Nearly 100k jobs were created in March alone, over 200k in February. An accurate presidential poll—Investor’s Business Daily—ranked Trump at 34% approval. Since Trump took office, Americans have only seen two results: a boom in jobs and an onslaught from the news industry. The people haven’t heard much from Trump directly because he is too busy keeping promises, no matter how politically controversial those promises are.

With good and bad news, people’s political opinions haven’t changed; they have only strengthened. And, that strengthening is just now getting started.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, March 13, 2017

  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L1WzbdlmQMM

Forget Japanese waters, headlines worry about North Korea and Hawaii. South Korea has their own two cents to add over the assassination of Kim Jong-un’s half brother at Kuala Lumpur International. China says that North Korea and the US are like two trains headed on a collision course. China has a kind of “plan” to bring the US and North Korea together, but the US won’t make concessions for obeying a UN resolution and there is no mention of China cutting off its supply. It seems China wants to be the “great reconciler”, but the rift is too far between East and West. Japan’s answer is to strike first.

Taiwan may be able to make its own response. This week, the US handed off two Perry-class frigates to Taiwan. Taiwanese naval officers will learn how to operate the frigates from the US Navy and the ships should set sail in May. This is a very interesting development since President-elect Trump received a phone call from President Tsai, and since the US still has yet to deliver on several military sales, especially F-16s, that closed during the terms of former Presidents Obama and Ma.

China’s response to events this week is two-fold. An editorial with a persuasive tone appeared in China’s state-run Global Times, arguing that India would help itself more if it cooperated with Chinese strategies rather than Japanese and US strategies. Xi Jinping also underlined and emphasized China’s great need to catch up on technology. This comes in the wake of the coming American Lockheed Martin F-35 “Lightning II” fighter jet and the US Navy’s new electromagnetically trajected railgun. China’s response is both telling and predicting.

While China has made advances, both in approaching Tomahawk cruise missile technology and in nearing the completion of its first home made aircraft carrier (reverse engineered from a Soviet era carrier), China still feels claustrophobic. Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, and India, not to mention the distant-yet-present US are all naval forces too close to China’s back yard. Xi feels the “squeeze”. China is in a tight spot.

President Xi also revisited his long-standing mission of countering squander and corruption within the Communist Party. By underlining the points he did, he seems to be vying for equity and credit. Doesn’t China’s leader have enough credibility or does Xi know something the West doesn’t? Regardlessly, the greater wild card is India. China believes that India is on the fence and is open to persuasion—and China is correct. Soon, India will feel its own squeeze. The question, then, will be whether India feels inclined to side with China rather than forces farther to its east or if India will decide to reverse engineer Western technology write persuasive editorials of its own.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, July 25, 2016

The words “China” and “tariffs” are appearing in headlines together again. Cambodia is seen as a Chinese puppet in ASEAN. And, one dissenting opinion from Forbes claims that tariffs are only about consumers, not about jobs and whole economies. Contrary to China’s unspoken messages, Beijing asks for more economic cooperation, but Europe is stealing the limelight.

If China were truly interested in global economic growth, they should move their shadow away from the economic shipping lanes in the South China sea. But, that idea doesn’t exactly come to mind to the Communist worldview, which presumes that success is bestowed rather than sown and reaped.

Taiwan’s order of 50 some amphibious vehicles from the US has been delayed until 2020, three and a half years. Yet, the US called on Taiwan to create a vehicle for a lunar landing. One would think that Taiwan might build 50 some lunar landing vehicles for Taiwanese use under water, especially since the specs should not be as complex, but that was not reported. Perhaps the US could divert NASA resources to Taiwan’s security to ensure that the lunar vehicle supplier is not crushed by an invasion from China, but that was not reported either.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, May 30, 2016

China has reportedly announced that it has been outdone by US technology. This implication came from the statement that it can only respond to the US “freedom of navigation” exercises by sending nuclear subs to the South China Sea. While some claim that the reports from Beijing are “exaggerated”, either scenario shows Beijing revealing its position of weakness and needing to resort to drastic measures. The report seems to have come as a response to reports of the US Navy’s use of the new electromagnetic-powered hypersonic railgun.

An international tribunal on China’s claims, activities, and islands in the South China Sea is expected in the coming weeks. China has already announced to declare the ruling illegal and will not comply. There seems to be no word on whether “contempt of court” charges against China will be included in the tribunal, in lieu of the recent comments. Elementary power brokers strive to understand the concept that, in our day, law comes from the resolve of the masses and to change the law, one must first court the masses. We’ll see.

Then, there’s money. Concern is growing over an ENRON-style ingrowth and implosion in China’s economy. While wealth management portfolios formerly focused on deriving profits from bonds (AKA real, individual people), the swelling trend is to invest in other banking investments. This is an exceptionally large problem since many banking investments now get their money from wealth management. So, Chinese banks are making more of their money by getting money from each other, and less from actual people.

Then, there’s currency. China has set the value of its currency at a five-year low. This in the shadow of recent comments from the US Fed chair. The high seas are not the only battle front irritating the international community. And, currency value isn’t either, for that matter.

There’s also trade. Not only Taiwan, but now Europe is getting cold feet in trading with China. Taiwan won’t resume cross-straight talks until it gets some laws passed to make the playing ground even. And, some in China’s circles echo similar statements from front-running US presidential candidate, Trump.

Speaking of Taiwan, the newly elected president, Tsai, visited a Taiwanese Air Force base for the first time in her new presidency. She seems less shy of talking about her own the military than Obama is of his. While China may not notice the responses of the international community, China will notice Tsai. Perhaps that is why the nuke subs are on the way.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, May 16, 2016

China and the US rattled sabers over Taiwan. Arguably, they smacked sheathed sabers. A US Navy ship, USS William P. Lawrence, sailed past one of China’s military-stocked man-made islands with two Chinese jet escorts chasing it away. Chinese and Washington generals want to increase freedom of navigation and communication. Washington wants Taiwan to spend more on asymmetric military defense against China.

The US is concerned about China’s missiles preventing it from intervening should China invade Taiwan. Guam and Okinawa are supposedly at risk and could be denied access to Taiwan’s defense. This concern has activated a strong response from the US and Taiwan to prepare responses. The new US electromagnetic railgun is approaching its days or early deployment and already has active prototypes. It can travel 7 times the speed of sound, uses no explosive propellants, costs less money, allows transporters to carry more ammunition, can penetrate steel “like a hot knife through butter”, receives satellite and other guidance, and can be used as both an assault and anti-missile defense system.

So it would seem, just as China claims freedom of navigation in the South China Sea has given Beijing reason to erect islands, China has given the US the excuse it needs to deploy technology that blurs the lines between science and science fiction.

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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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