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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, December 17, 2018

While China would attempt to send the US out of its backyard by shocking the US with an invasion of Taiwan, that motive in itself would not be enough to push China to war. Beijing believes that controlling more territory is the solution to current problems with its own territory. In urban terms, it would be like believing the reason you have problems in your home is because you don't own the home nextdoor—you deserve to own it, after all; so take it, "by force if necessary." That part of Chinese culture—needing to occupy more surroundings in order to solve problems at home, rather than after solving problems at home—is the part of the Beijing mindset that will actually push China to invade. The time of the invasion will come when Beijing believes that solving its problems at home—specifically with Western press and free speech—can wait no longer. Then, China will invade Taiwan while genuinely believing that all of China's problems within its current borders will thus vanish over night.

But, the US doesn't think the way Beijing thinks the US thinks. While many Americans will be surprised by China's invasion of Taiwan, Beijing will be surprised even more by the American electorate's response to support recompense against China.

In Chinese media, a Chinese Air Force colonel's recommendation that PLA Navy ships ram US Navy ships is not an actual recommendation for strategy as much as it is an attempt at repulsive rhetoric. Chinese culture presumes that a public suggestion is an indirect warning with no intention of follow-through, and because it has no intention of follow-through, it is therefore a "powerful-polite" way of attempting to tell the US to leave. That is how cultural, indirect communication with the Chinese works. Though it is possible that the Chinese might become enraged enough to follow this action by ramming US ships at sea, it would take less rage for China to decide to invade Taiwan. From Beijing's view, unlike retaking the well-deserved Taiwan, ramming a US ship would be an actual assault. If the Chinese-American war begins with a rammed ship, that would indicate a very angry China.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, December 10, 2018

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BBKrheGIxY4

The "Huawei arrest" sends yet another a irritatingly mixed message to China. China believes that a "strong response" concerning Taiwan will convince the US to back away from support for Taiwan. Conveniently for China, the recent provincial elections in Taiwan seem encouraging and Beijing has reached out to Taiwanese cities that just elected pro-Beijing party candidates.

Premier William Lai intends to resign at the "right time". Could that time be what is necessary so he can run for president? Taiwanese politics are quite unpredictable. All we should expect is a series of surprises before, during, and after 2020. Considering where things stand in the world, we must remember that there is no way the UK could be on Taiwan's side, especially since the UK has concerns about Taiwanese fisherman illegally killing dolphins as shark bait. With opportunity seeming to open, and the increased possibility of the loud-spoken, pro-independence William Lai to run for office, Beijing may be feeling put in an ever tightening situation that compels action.

As concerned as the Chinese are about security, they are far more concerned about insult. Without any sympathy from Western news audiences, an extradition of the Huawei executive from Canada to the US could push China over the edge. China believes that its horrific past justifies its conduct today. It is only a matter of time before Beijing decides that a strike against Taiwan, supported by cooperation with Taiwanese city governments, would send the US out of the region. Taiwan may not be seen by Beijing as the irritant of tensions, but the solution to them. The US might have a different opinion.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, December 3, 2018

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AwSy14mS9k0

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-Wen apologizing after a mid-term defeat at the provincial level will not demonstrate strength on her part, but she shows respect and stability in maintaining her appointees and policy toward China. Having not stood her ground on information about proposal that would have set Taiwan's team name at the Olympics in Japan as "Taiwan", instead of "Taipei", she lost important support from the Formosan Association for Public Affairs, a group that seeks to have Taiwan internationally recognized as an independent nation.

Taiwan's premier, William Lai, does stand for Taiwanese independence, held remarkable popularity in his reelection as mayor, and is the shoe-in candidate if he were to run in 2020 instead of Tsai. Tsai's re-election is uncertain. What happens will depend on Taiwanese politics, which are too adolescent to not be surprised by. Main matters at stake include Taiwan developing faster responses to correct disinformation given to the public and a focus on better quality with internal governance and infrastructure. Interestingly, information and governance—not China itself—are at the heart of resistance to China.

If Taiwan declares independence from China, or takes too many steps to join international bodies like the UN, as Beijing has stated, we could be looking at all out war. Some in the political "news-o-sphere" call Taiwan a "flashpoint". China hangs onto hopes of retaking Taiwan like King John's suicidal siege of Rochester Castle. All the US does is provoke.

The latest provocation came late last week when Japan opened the path to retrofitting "helicopter carriers" into fixed-wing aircraft carriers. Japan looks to acquire 142 F35s—42 As and now 100 Bs; the UK eyes 138, about half of them to go to the Royal Navy. There are too many high-tech American aircraft in China's backyard for China's comfort. And, the US did two more sail-bys—one near China's man-made islands, the other through the Taiwan Strait. China lobbed another "demarche" protest with Washington, presuming the action to be "provocative".

Then came the US-China 90 day cease fire between Trump and Xi at the G20 this past weekend. A lot can happen in 90 days, whether politically, economically, or militarily.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, November 26, 2018

Taiwan held something akin to a "mid-term" election this past Saturday. The people revolted against the previous revolt. When electing the DPP two years ago, the people were fed up with the capitulation policies of Ma. Now, they are fed up with bad management of infrastructure, also an "establishment culture" surfacing in what should be the "opposition party", among other grievances. Taiwan's government cautioned China to wait and see how the election affects cross-strait policy before jumping to any conclusions—because they think China can't figure that out.

China's government and the Western press are going head to head. China held the American children of an estranged father and money laundering defendant. The New York Times made sure to plaster the picture of the young adult brother and sister at the top of the story. Exploiting children to sway outcomes just isn't fair.

But, it didn't stop at children. The New York Times also posted about cheap labor building Chinese AI. And, Forbes published an article with a graph that makes it look like China's economy has bottomed out. The battle between China and its great and powerful foe—the Western press—rages on. China is at an unfair disadvantage, but presses forward fearlessly and valiantly.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, November 19, 2018

In Taiwanese politics, a mayor candidate's comments about his own benefits from drinking honey-lemonade sparked retribution from the medical community. After a lump under his eye went away, apparently from a vegetarian and honey-lemonade diet, he actually said so. A professional from a hospital was quick to weigh in. It's understandable. If people learned that honey could cure disease, hospital profits would plunge. More importantly, Taiwanese political debates would become outright boring without the ability to, as the saying goes, make lemonade from political debates.

But, lemonade really is important. Google search results even saw a spike after this essential talk of Taiwanese politics made news.

Meanwhile, at the ASEAN summit in Singapore, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong called for nations to come together at a time when Southeast Asian stability was under threat. In anticipation of APEC after ASEAN, Mike Pence started talking tough, wanting results and genuine action from China concerning an even-flow of trade. He elaborated, that the US has a quarter of a billion dollars in tariffs and isn't afraid to go twice as high as well as take more "diplomatic" action. It was a strong "they know that we know that they know what we think" remark, the kind that precedes otherwise objectionable action to make the action unobjectionable.

Later, at APEC, Pence warned of returning to a "cold war" while making plans for a US-Australian naval base in Papua New Guinea. Rather than dropping its tilted tariffs on goods, China has been openly gearing up for all out war three weeks. APEC ended without a written agreement between member nations for the first time ever because of the disagreements between the US and China.

This past weekend, Taiwan did something that China despises every bit as much as it cannot identify with: Taiwan hosted democratic election campaigns. With all the strong rhetoric concerning Taiwan, independence, and China's loudly and often-spoken determination to invade Taiwan, there shouldn't be any question where China's war-in-preparation will start and why America will easily get involved.

America is already involved in Taiwan to quite an extent. AIT, the unofficial yet de facto US embassy in Taiwan, had an interview scheduled for release with a large TV network in Taiwan. But, after the interview, the TV network, TVBS, scrapped the interview. So, AIT shared the interview in its Facebook page, rather than relying on TVBS.

With the history lessons about Taiwan in almost every Taiwan-related story in the Western press, Americans will take an advancement against Taiwan as an advancement against themselves. China would be perceived as an aggressor and rightly so. Everything the US has done to provoke and irritate China would have only worked if China possessed the old school "Asian Pride" that Sun Tzu warned against, a pride that can't be permitted in a world's superpower because such pride is easily provoked just as much as it is easily shattered. Hardened pride makes for brittle peace. That's something that the entire West won't allow, the US notwithstanding.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, November 12, 2018

Xi Jinping announced yet another new policy for China: Blaming other countries is wrong, each country must deal with its own economic and environmental issues without the problem being someone else's fault. While this 180° new direction should be welcoming to foreign companies whose intellectual property was taken by China, along with the neighboring lands that China has no presence in, yet threatened to invade, such as Taiwan, Xi gave no particular details as to how he planned to adjust China's current action plan. In fact, Xi's announcement came as if it was not any change at all, but a continuation of the current policy, that taking unoccupied territory and accumulating foreign technology without payment was necessary for China's economic and environmental well being within its borders. Perhaps his intention was to further confuse the West about China's international policy or perhaps he has made himself even more understandable than he ever has before. We'll have to wait and see what actions follow to interpret Xi's meaning.

China is growing its ties with Israel, for the time being. An infrastructure deal is said to be the kind that will irritate US President Trump. China, however, should be more concerned. Israel has some of the best counter-intel gathering in the world. If China does use the building contracts as an opportunity to spy, after Israel has a chance to respond, it might be the Chinese who break contract. Israel is one nation that China won't be able to bully. As stubborn as ancient Asian worldviews can still be today, Israeli culture can be more stubborn. It's not about race, it's about two cultures about to collide. 'Tis folly to double-cross a nation whose name means "wrestles with God"; and the name is not a reference to wrestling with China.

This week, Taiwan and Hong Kong did what they do best more than they have done before. When a Financial Times writer is banned from Hong Kong because he intends to interview an author—and that author's speaking engagements are shut down after Chinese requests—the wisdom of Roger Branigin returns to the western readership: "I never argue with a man who buys ink by the barrel." China wasn't satisfied to argue with an author who is more famous for it, but now wants to argue with more in the ink business. But, that wasn't the most significant development of the week. Taiwan is labeled as the "island of hope" for Asia at an international forum for Human Rights hosted in Taipei.

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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 29, 2018

The Pacific Ocean has become a chess board of moving pawns, castling kings, bluffs, and propaganda. China offers the moon to small countries, the US warns that no "free" gift comes without strings attached. When Trump pulled out of the INF treaty for supposed Russian violations, Russia went on high alert at home and called it "preparing for war". Russia being ready for war means China feeling more confident about busting a move.

Given regional instability, Japan and India are talking big. They want cooperative military exercises. They will also need passage through that section of the ocean—the South Sea—that China drew a nine-dash line around. America won't be the only challenger to China's new notion of "ocean ownership". As China gets more and more assertive, even the British are on edge. Nothing happens in the Western Pacific unnoticed.

Is China strong enough to win a military conflict? A Chinese rocket failed at launch. In the news, it's reported as a "private company", but there is no such thing in China, by Western understanding of a "private company" anyhow. The reason it failed is probably rooted in the sister controversy to trade: reverse engineering and technology copying. China couldn't launch the rocket, in all likelihood, because too much of the technology used by China wasn't invented by China, but invented by someone else, made in China, and copied by China—but not understood by China. Such is the tech of this "private company" and the tech that made China so big as it is today and the tech it would use in battle. Russia would be wise to not depend on that tech. And, small countries would be wise to remember that the "great China" was made great by a tilted-trade, copied-tech cash cow that is no longer making milk.

China's National Tourism Administration suspended group tours to one of China's many coveted destinations in Taiwan. The delay is scheduled to last from early November into April. November is an election month for both the US and Taiwan. It's a big month for expos in Taiwan, especially a flora expo in the city where tours were suspended, Taichung. November is also when a large group from the US Navy will make a show of force near China's man-made islands.

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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 8, 2018

China's political, socioeconomic worldview is that of a zero-sum game. It has played it's socioeconomic game that way for decades. Now, it must empty its reserve coffers to keep its zero-sum game strategy from sinking too fast. This means that it can't use those coffers if a military conflict arose. The United States knows this.

Don't be fooled. The US strategy is to provoke China into a conflict sooner than it wants. In the Western view, China has shown how it will behave by having shown how it has behaved more and more. This is enough to warrant preemptive agitation for the Western taxpayer. In China's view, the world has failed to bestow on China what China deserves; because China rightly deserves what it deserves, China can't lose.

Interpol has now gotten whatever international attention against China's favor that Hong Kong malcontents did not. With the disappearance of Interpol's president into China, whoever didn't care about so-called "Chinese aggression" does now. China's government thinks they sent a message to the world. They did, but the message received is probably not the message that was intended.

As the Pacific conflict escalates, the US-Taiwan aggravation strategy moves into more military cooperation. "Unprecedented" was the word of the week. And, everyone knows what it means just as much as everyone knows why.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, October 1, 2018

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQ769JqU3xs

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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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, September 17, 2018

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTzNYYL9Gg8

The US is not sending a contingency of Marines to Taiwan to protect it's envoy. This announcement came after reports that the US had such plans. After discussing the non-existence of the plans for deployment, the State Department also discussed that it does not discuss plans for security or other strategies. Perhaps the real strategy not being discussed is that the strategy is not being discussed.

At any rate, the announcement that an announcement has not been made about the discussion of not discussing security strategy and the non-discussion about Marines who will not be deployed should make heads in Beijing spin as they try to figure out just what the US is not doing about what it's not discussing. Fewer Marines in Taiwan would be more inviting for an invasion, if the discussion were under discussion, which it is not—reportedly.

One of the best kept secrets about the brewing trade war between the US and China is that US jobs departed to China. A trade war would move those jobs back to the US.

Consider a US company that set up shop in China. While the financial know-it-alls loose sleep over anything being less pleasant than an afternoon massage, including a US company in China being attacked hyena style as Chinese culture loves to do, the people in the US wouldn't care about that company. That's the company that forsook the American worker. In the mind of the average US working voter, the company that got in bed with China should stay around for the abusive marriage; so leave them to the hyenas! Any Americans who own shares in those companies would do well to keep that information secret from their working, voting neighbors.

The world doesn't work how so-called "financial experts" think it does. The trade war will not hurt the US economy because economies flourish from jobs, not consumption. Claiming that lower consumption of off-shore goods will harm a market would be to measure a farm's profitability based on how much the farming family eats other farmers' food. The real issue with the trade war is a real war.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, September 10, 2018

Right or wrong, the US-China tariff war was always coming. Stupid American companies flew into the campfire of Chinese manufacturing like moths into a flame. China was smart inasmuch as they did not become dependent on the outsourced labor, which was always going to ever-only be temporary. China has wasted no time, building infrastructure, such as the highway between Hong Kong and Macau and the silk road, now gaining income by the well marketed tourist attraction.

But, this tariff war was always coming. The political situation in the Pacific indicates that it's not about economics so much as it is about military. Pacific island nations grow more and more irritated by China. Little, small nations are speaking out, demanding China apologize for storming out of a PIF (Pacific Islands Forum) meeting when China's diplomatic representative was told to wait to speak until after heads of state from member nations had their turn. China is not a member, only an attendee. This is not any demonstration of leadership that the region will accept, no matter how much it may have been bestowed by the territorial gods at the universe's center, which is in China of course.

Then, there's Taiwan. If last week was a week of firing off blanks and papers across bows, this week, cannonballs started splashing. Taiwan introduced three different bills amending existing law, stiffening restrictions and penalties concerning anything that could even remotely be construed as interference between Taiwan and China. As if that wasn't enough, Taiwan is increasing its budget for both fighter jets and the navy. And, Taiwan's military even moved up an annual naval exercise to rehearse an attack from China at an earlier date than usual.

In all of this, the rain continues to fall in Taiwan, now flooding different parts of the island than saw torrents over three solid weeks of cloud cover. Not to worry, though. City governments are closely monitoring just how many millimeters of water can drain away how quickly, revamping any old sewer system that can't keep up. Taiwan just seems to have its hands full, as well as its rivers.

Then, there is the tsunami of US diplomacy. Trade wars often prelude military wars. While Taiwan's dwindling allies flip to support China, the US is breaking ties with any country that breaks ties with Taiwan, more or less. Solidarity with Taiwan seems to have bipartisan support in US Congress. With trade alliances shifting, when war breaks out, it will be a financial calculation as a convergence of China's revenue and US dependence on Chinese-made goods both bottom out.

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