Cadence of Conflict: Asia, August 7, 2017

If North Korea heeds China's urges to back down on its nuclear program, it would be a welcome first. China requested the US back down its military activity in South Korea. Russia does not want North Korea's economy to become worse. Much has been claimed about the purported, will-be effectiveness of new UN sanctions against North Korea, but history provides little to no basis that North Korea heeds any warnings or follows any step toward deescalation.

Though historically bleak, this effort from the international community is the best well-mounted push for peace ever seen for the Korean situation. Even Taiwan is urging North Korea to back off. While this may set the stage for some kind of "breakthrough" in negotiations, the bigger and less-acknowledged stage being set is war. With the best-made good-will effort having been made to stop North Korea's nuke program, one missile launch would prove all the yea-sayers wrong. That threat could wake up North Korea to climb down out of the tree—the hidden threat of war that every peaceful stance veils.

Any peace offering indeed doubles as a hidden war threat by definition. But, fools don't believe in what they can't see. So, we'll see.

Remember, though, how fools surrender: in childlike tears.

If North Korea fires even one more missile, buckle up and grab the popcorn for an immanent Trump "it didn't work, so now we will" speech. If that happens, not only will North Korea's position be untenable, but so will it be for everyone who claimed that negotiations would stop the missile launches.

In these tense times, China is making no new friends. Old border disputes with India are rehashing and ramping up. The VPN crackdown makes sense since no government should be circumvented, the most-ignored question is whether there should be a need in the first place. There are numerous reports of Chinese students being denied travel documents to study at universities in Taiwan. Of particular interest is National Cheng Kung University in Tainan. Tainan's Mayor, William Lai is the most popular of any and in the same semi-pro-independence party, DPP, as Taiwan's president. And, Tainan's small airport was used by the US in the Vietnam war. Other than that, there's little to explain why the third-top school seems to be a top target for denied travel from China.

With stronger rhetoric about military and not letting any China-claimed land go, with action concerning Taiwan, and militarized border crossings with India, it is clear that China intends to take a lead role in conflict on multiple fronts. All depending on how things develop in the Korea situation, China could face a clear third front.

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Faux Report

New Chinese Government VPN Allows Users to Access Censored Internet Anywhere

BEIJING — This morning, the Chinese government released for personal use ChinaVPN, its in-house Virtual Private Network service which, according to promotional material, “offers Chinese nationals a familiar, comfortable, authentically Chinese Internet experience—anywhere in the world.”

Minister of Culture Luo Shugang told assembled reporters that the new, free-to-download VPN would help prevent Chinese nationals living and working overseas from being inconvenienced when attempting to use uncensored Internet resources.

“The global Web is a tangle of sloppily managed and poorly edited resources still tolerated by foreign governments.”

“While China’s domestic Internet is expertly tailored to the specific needs of Chinese netizens, the global Web is a tangle of sloppily managed and poorly edited resources still tolerated by foreign governments. Thus, when our nationals go abroad they are often confused and overwhelmed,” said Luo.

“ChinaVPN will change this, allowing our citizens to continue to use the same sanitized, Party-approved, featherweight facsimile of the World Wide Web they have come to know and love.”

Programmers told reporters that when downloaded to any operating system, ChinaVPN would effectively allow users to surf the Internet as if they were on the Chinese mainland.

“Not only will this software replicate the same Internet management protocols on the Chinese mainland, it will also sporadically drop the user’s Internet connection, inexplicably fail to locate popular Chinese websites and relay real-time updates of all user activity directly to the Public Security Bureau,” said Luo. “It will also blanket users with pop-up ads for The Voice of China, just for good measure.”

Many overseas Chinese netizens have welcomed the move.

“This morning, I attempted to log on to an international academic archive to find peer-reviewed articles relating to my thesis, only to see an error message informing me that the server could not be contacted,” said Oxford University PhD candidate Wei Tingting. “It was just like being at home.”

“It will also blanket users with pop-up ads for The Voice of China, just for good measure.”

New York-based heart surgeon Liu Wangjun said the VPN had blocked access to his Gmail account so he forced all his colleagues to download WeChat.

“Yesterday, three patients almost died because my assistant got locked out of her account,” said Liu. “You only used to get that kind of service in Beijing. Amazing!”

Programmers also told reporters that the software comes with an opt-in service called KeepChinaPure, which allows users to block any website not under the direct control of the Chinese government, giving netizens a “glimpse into the Party’s future vision for China’s Internet.”

When activated, users attempting to log on to foreign-owned or non-approved websites are greeted by a GIF of President Xi Jinping advising them: “Next time, think carefully before you type.”

At press time, a Ministry of Culture press release stated that as of next year, all PCs, laptops and mobile devices sold in China would come bundled with a permanently-activated version of ChinaVPN.