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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, March 19, 2018

Unlike much of the Western press, Pacific Daily Times does not side with governments, political parties, or socio-economic ideologies. The Times only sides with history, that by learning from history much of the future is foreseeable. Foreseeability, based on history, is the only bias at Pacific Daily Times.

Foreseeability is not preference, hopes, or will—good or ill—toward what will happen, only that the future can, to the extent history repeats, be reasonably anticipated. Too many news outlets seem incapable of understanding that predicting outcomes, within reason, is entirely different from hoping for outcomes. Predicting and hoping are nothing alike. Pacific Daily Times is apathetic and indifferent—uncaring and cold-hearted—for how the future unfolds, except that current events only surprise neglectful history students.

Right now, foreseeability in Asia—not what is hoped-for in Asia—points to the waring parties of China. The KMT-Nationalist party and the Chinese Communist Party seem to have a symbiotic relationship. Their fates seem tied like the villain and hero of some comic series, if the hero kills the villain then both die and vice versa. The KMT-Nationalist party imploded on its home field in Taiwan. It was so distracted with "reunification" with China that it neglected the priorities that kept its power. As a result, Taiwan is run by the de facto pro-independence Democratic People's Party. The KMT failed to help its CCP friends across the Taiwan Strait because it was overly obsessed with that friendship.

Now, it seems that the CCP is headed in the same direction. Without fear or favor, only calculating predictability based on the past, it seems we could be looking at the beginning of the end of the CCP. Every party that rises too high tumbles, history has executed this with zero exception and will never accept rivals. History demands that history always be the only victor by making all others history.

Since the founding of the current Chinese government in 1912, which the "Chinese year" commemorates, China has confronted its own shame, which it still confronts to this day. The founder, Sun Yat-sen, was a Christian whose Christianity compelled him to the three pillars of Chinese society: nationalism, democracy, and justice for the people. Though the largest nation, China has never been the most powerful nation. Centuries of "leader power distance" touted oppression as "peace-making" virtue. Some say it worked for China, others say it failed for China. Actually, it was the only thing that happened in China, so there is no basis of contrast to prove definably whether that Chinese power distance ethic succeeded or failed except that it brought China to 1911 where Sun defeated it. While the power distance left in the form of a government "empire", it has neither left the ideology nor the mode of operation in Chinese culture, as repeating history proves once again this month.

Xi Jinping's thinking remains uncertain. What motivates him? We really don't know beyond the evidence that his thinking reflects Mao and traditional pre- Sun Yat-sen power distance. He doesn't want shame for his country and he believes that reclaiming all land from every "old turf war" dispute will make the world think China as worthy of being respected. The rest of the world will decide its own opinion, but Chinese history has its own opinion about Xi.

Xi, as many in China, have loudly declared that they neither import nor export their politics. But, Communism is itself form Europe. Chinese people study English and gladly import Western technology and money while exporting goods to the West. But, most importantly of all, Sun Tzu's Art of War Ch. 8, ss. 12's "five dangerous faults" include: 3. a hasty temper provoked by insult and 4. a delicacy of honor sensitive to shame. Whenever Taiwan hints at "independence" or the US sails through UN-international waters which member China disputes, an explosion of rage and demands plume from Chinese press offices. Then we have the insatiable need for respect, the motive behind China's desire for reunification with many lands, only one of those being Taiwan. Sun Tzu warned against these ideologies nearly a thousand years ago.

China has often misunderstood Christianity. Just as with Confucianism, there is the essential belief and then the government exploitation of it. Most "missionaries" are advancing a government-corporate hybrid, usually known as a "denomination" with an administrative and monetary structure. Jesus did not teach this. Chinese often view Christianity as a religion between God and Man while Confucianism teaches relationship between one Man and another. But, Jesus taught that God and Man is the archetypal relationship guiding the equally important practical application of the relationship between one Man and another. The emphasis on the relationship between God and Man to the exclusion of peer relationships came from European imperial governments misinterpreting the Bible and exploiting people's ignorance of Jesus' true teaching.

The great mystery of how the West gained such power and success without the Confucian-preferred version of an "ordered society" remains in the real Jesus. The founders of America, the Pilgrims, studied the Bible to love God as individuals—free from European government misinterpretation and control of the Bible—so they would love each other. All of this Bible study was done as individuals who loved God and had zero government control.

The mess in the West today, interfering with China along with the rest of the world, is an attempt from old oligarchs trying to reassert their power over a free, Bible-reading people. Xi Jinping is fighting against that same old oligarchy as the American people are. Corptocratic chronyism of the West is a problem everywhere. Xi Jinping is trying his best, with good will, to overcome it. But, he owes more to Sun Tzu's Chinese wisdom and he is trying to overcome ancient evils of the West without first seeking to understand what virtues of the real Bible made the West so strong in the first place. As for whether and how it works out, history will have the last word as it always does.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, March 12, 2018

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

As talks between Kim and Trump march forward, China is resigned to the new situation at its eastern border and is focusing on other areas, specifically trade. In truth, China's main trade opponent is not the US, but Vietnam.

Vietnam's main edge in trade will be that it is less expensive. Vietnam is, in many ways, less developed, yet more free to be expressive. Hanoi doesn't sanction the same censorship as Beijing does. Many hard-working Vietnamese are hungry, even desperate for income. A hard-working, uncensored, hungry, less-expensive people will be difficult for China to compete with on many fronts. This is entirely beside any point about political tension between China and Vietnam.

The meeting between Kim and Trump is less-than-satisfactorily explained. Suddenly they want to talk? Some "teamwork" consultant trying to sell a book will likely attribute it all to diplomacy, along with the preemptive speculation that Kim would give up the nukes because he got them. More is going on behind the scenes and if the true story is ever told it may not be told for ten or twenty years.

As for the Western spin about China's constitutional changes, it is all about the party, not about Xi. The humble pig farm worker, Xi Jinping, did not rise to power by publicly trying to serve himself. He has followed Robert Greene's 48 Laws of Power to a tee and will continue to do so—that means putting the party first in his public agenda.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, February 26, 2018

It's hitting the fan. China is homing-up and the US is "posseing" up. CFIUS is expanding its scope and China just required Apple to send its iCloud encryption keys to servers on the mainland. Both moves are more about caution than provocation. The US is stepping up patrols to enforce the trade block on North Korea. China just started the process of amending its Constitution to remove terms limits on its President.

The change to China's Constitution is often mis-portrayed. It affects both the President and Vice President. It does not install a President for life, but simply allows it. More importantly, the Constitution is being updated to include the "Xi Thought", mainly that all ethic groups of China are equal and that helping the entire world is part of China's responsibility.

Many in the West will jump to presume Xi is making a grab for power. While it does increase his power, the more accurate interpretation is that Xi's plans go for the long term, specifically after Trump's term. Without this change, Xi would leave office by 2023. China is thinking in terms of long-term, global strategy. That's hardly a "grab", but more of a "waltz".

This is a significant change. Both the US and China clearly mean business. With a shift toward the long-term, and with China publishing its view that the whole world is part of its responsibility, we are in a different political atmosphere than in years past.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, October 23, 2017

Now, North Korea may have biological weapons. Every week, the news is worse and worse. Eventually, a conflict with North Korea will feel more like a relief to the public than an outrage, just from fatigue of bad news overdose. That level of fatigue is—or at least should be—part of military logistics calculation. However, that doesn't indicate whether the US plans a strike, only that increasing public support for action is yet another metaphoric "cannon" aimed at the Korean Peninsula. While the Kim Dynasty may not wise up to the mounting forces at its doorstep, Russia and China know that public support from the US shouldn't be ignored.

China, however is strengthening its long-term ambitions. The incumbent president, Xi Jinping, has been named and received honorary titles that place him above past presidents. There is talk of him becoming a "Chairman", thus equating him to Mao. Don't underestimate the power of a "mere title" in Chinese culture. Even with no written authority behind a title, Chinese culture is and always will be stronger than any law it writes to keep the "legalists" satisfied. Such a long-time leader retaining power compares him to the seemingly lifetime leader in Russia, Putin.

North Korea is a strategic linchpin for the China-Russia powers. Militarily, they cannot allow a united Korea. But, logistically, they may not be able to stop it either. Just as war games often do, propping up a Communist Dynasty may have backfired. That's a lesson to everyone, the US included. The US might not heed warnings when the balance temporarily tips in its favor. Meddling is always a bad idea, whether you win or lose, this time.

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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 10, 2017

Xi Jinping’s poker face waned. He’s not happy, though the reasons elude most Western readers. Though not democratic, Xi is a politician. He must balance wisdom with pleasing the veiled powers that overshadow the goings on of China. Those powers won’t hesitate to give the ax to any leader who fails to deliver on their expansionist ambitions. Xi has fought corruption and sought infrastructure. Xi was gaining momentum. Now, the US and Russia are rumbling in both of China’s back yards weeks after Xi announced that, where military tech is concerned, China needs to play “catch-up” or become “ketchup”. This can’t be good for Xi’s inside politics with Chinese elections approaching.

Trump certainly isn’t pulling any punches. Striking Syria while dining with China’s Chairman wasn’t unintentional. Remember, Trump has dealt with the Chinese on many occasion. Xi is difficult to read, except to say his rehearsed Asian smile is waning. A micron might as well be a mile in an Asian smile. In the weeks ahead, remember that Xi is half himself and half the hidden hand that controls all that goes on in China. That’s true of every Chinese president. In all this, Xi met with Trump and all went well. No matter when or how Xi’s career closes, no matter what his true ambitions were, China will go on and history will remember Chinese President Xi as the builder of bridges, inroads, aircraft carriers, and islands.

Xi wanted to remind the US of its Capitalist values: Don’t blame others for your problems. Yet, China clearly doesn’t share those values. Neither does North Korea, the stray dog that has adopted the doorstep at China’s northern back yard.

From China’s vantage point, North Korea is a nuisance and an excuse for an unwelcome US presence. Kim Dynasty narcissism has over-played and pushed the envelope with Beijing. Watch for Chinese heads of State to bark, then look the other way, much how the US does when Israel responds to Palestine.

So, why is the media announcing and discussing the possibilities of dealing with North Korea? True military tactics never make it on television—unless the reporter finds himself accused of a frivolous-like sexual crime and holes-up in an Ecuadoran Embassy to avoid extradition for espionage. It’s discussion on US military options like we saw over North Korea this week that makes it difficult for a US prosecution of WikiLeaks founder Julian “Espionage” Assange to seem believable from any angle. “Assassination, nuke-up, or surgical strike” are only media talking points to make the greater point: Knock it off or else.

Assassinations are illegal for the US according to the US’ own law, viz Executive Order 12333. It is doubtful, even in Trump’s stock-up on signing pens, that he plans to wipe out that order for North Korea alone—if he does, Assad is his next target and Kim was just an excuse. The US hopes to finish this situation in Korea before a nuclear buildup has time to grow moss. So does China. A “nuke-up” wouldn’t be grand strategy. An internal strike inside North Korea would illicit an avalanche. Anti-Iraq II Donald J. Trump won’t want to create another “vacuum”. A surgical strike would be an assist for something else. What’s really going on? Don’t think for one second that the media does know or that CIA doesn’t.

There’s joker in the North Korean deck and it is stacked to favor the West. We’ll just have to keep watching.

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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, February 22, 2016

China is deploying weapons. The US is responding with pressure—mostly economic, some political, always involving alliances. Money and trade are atop the list.

China’s unusual manipulation of its money is documented and under more scrutiny than ever.

According to Chinese State-run media, China has weapons on disputed islands by right. According to the government, US concern over militarizing those islands is “hype”. Still, Asean is watching the Pacific and so is Bloomberg.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, January 19, 2016

Victory! Taiwan finally defeated the old enemy of the East that the Chinese Communists could not. The KMT-Nationalist party has rarely faced such a stunning defeat. The enemy of the revolution, murderer of Taiwanese and thieves of Asia’s greatest assets, the witch of the East met her end at the hands, not of soldiers and explosives, but of democracy.

Beijing would have worldwide respect in declaring victory and normalizing relations. But the land of Sun Tzu seems to have forgotten the basics of war: If one government controls an entire region, then an enemy only need take-out the central government for the entire land to fall. If Taiwan were a Chinese province, China would be less safe. As an ally that China itself could not take—an attack against China would be unwise for any adversary. But, again, Beijing seems more bent on delusions of pride than real safety. The best kept secret about respect is not that it must be earned and not bestowed, but that those who state their respect rarely mean it. Having respect of others and having others show respect are entirely different things. This is a lesson the KMT-Nationalists still haven’t seemed to learn.

China had it’s own streak this week. More than one teary-eyed apology cross the air-waves. The world continues to see China for what it is while Beijing counts more ill will an indication of progress. Perhaps Beijing is right.

Taiwan’s confidence in voting overwhelmingly for a political party that will not cow-tow to China’s hostile takeover agenda sends a message to China. While the messengers in Beijing may not deliver, the people of China read it loud and clear, perhaps for the first time: A single government can have a new political party and the people do not need to bend to the dictates of the old establishment.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, January 11, 2016

China’s economic shaking may have had more of a placebo than newspapers let on. Devalued Chinese yuan does not contribute to lower oil prices as much as the decisions of the Arabs. Even if it has a factor, lower oil prices are healthier for economies as it keeps costs lower. Perhaps China’s slowdown is good for everyone except China, and of course, Africa.

The disappearance of Hong Kong bookseller, Lee Bo, has Hong Kongers in a tizzy, still not as severe as the Umbrella Movement that ended just over a year ago. Much like the Umbrella Movement, while protests will result in little change concerning Beijing’s Hong Kong SAR policy, the world is evermore aware that there is not change.

Taiwan is set for a historic election. The opposition DPP is likely to win the presidency and likely the legislature, which would be a first. Wanting to be “friends” with Beijing has so far been the goal of the DPP and the Taiwanese, but would be seen as an insult of Beijing which wants “reunification” instead. The consequences could echo Taiwan’s first presidential election in 1996 when China shot a missile across the island.

With the tensions in the area, particularly the flyovers and bomb testing in the Koreas and protests in Hong Kong, the foreseeable diplomatic response of the White House would be in spite of an American public that is evermore aware of China’s methods and nonetheless more determined to answer.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, December 14, 2015

As elections push forward in Taiwan and Malaysia, China faces it’s own political issue: Military reform.

The report from Reuters demonstrates two things. Firstly, we see that China’s military does, in fact, need reform. This is evidenced by the 300k military jobs cut since September. With an obviously larger shakeup coming, it is clear that the change is necessary, given China’s implied military status quo.

Secondly, we learn that China needs to sell the need for reform to its own military, thereby implying that, while the reform is necessary, many remain yet to be convinced that it is.

Generally speaking, growing assertiveness while implementing reform where there is no current invasion underway is typically an attempt to spread oneself too thin. This not only relates to the failing political establishment in Taiwan and Malaysia, but generic maritime strategy in the Pacific.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, November 9, 2015

The two presidents of the two governments of China met in Singapore. The exiled government was protested on the island where it remains in exile. It was a wild week. Taiwan’s president, Ma, defended the importance of dialog while nearly every branch of his government clashed with protests.

The meeting comes at the brink of significant change. Taiwan is about to undergo a historic turnover of political powers. This may be the last chance the fading KMT-Nationalist establishment has for high-profile dialog with their Communist arch enemy in Beijing.

While China appears as strong as it is controversial, the US whispers about undisclosed technologies that the Communists will not want to encounter in the Pacific. Everyone has his story.

China

A Day After Summit, China Again Warns Taiwan Against Independence

US defense chief warns of conflict in S. China Sea

…”‘Surprising’ new technologies”

Goldman’s BRIC Era Ends as Fund Folds After Years of Losses

…”The excitement came from the rapid growth from China…”

Taiwan

Ma defends significance of meeting with Xi

Protesters, police injured in overnight demonstrations

…Sunflower students return, stormed military base, college official arrested, police clash at legislature and presidential palace

Meeting limits Taiwan’s cross-strait options: Tsai

Further reading…

Protesters rally to condemn meeting

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, October 12, 2015

China didn’t make any friends this week. Beijing spies on every street corner with a service literally named “Skynet”.

The Pentagon wants a strong Taiwan. The US Navy plans to challenge China’s man-made military airport-seaport islands. Most people don’t know exactly where the islands are since they aren’t listed on many maps. But if you happen to have a recent Chinese passport, the islands would fall within the nine-dash line, along with Taiwan, parts of the Philippines, and a number of other territories we thought belonged to other countries.

Local Pacific politics are another big question mark this week. Malaysia’s PM is having “royal” trouble, literally. Taiwan’s failing KMT-Nationalist party seems to be cannibalizing their own Presidential front-runner. Who knows what will happen or even if it will matter.

Old guard and Establishment parties are facing the masses en masse. It’s not just happening in the Pacific, but also in the Americas and Europe.  · · · →

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, September 28, 2015

The unstated reason Chinese Pres. Xi snubbed Zuckerberg is probably for his age. Chinese think a man can’t do business until he’s at least in his 40’s and “is old enough to grow a mustache”. Whatever the reason, China having a Facebook page that Chinese can’t see, arriving in America with CEO’s fawning over him, it’s clear that China’s culture hasn’t changed and Xi is deeply entrenched in it. That should scare Americans because Chinese friendships can easily be used as fronts to get what they want, with unapologetic and total deception.

Zuckerberg’s Mandarin has terrible pronunciation. The crowd that applauds him is not giving a warm affirmation of quality and appreciation as an American audience would, but are “being polite”, giving the response they “should” when someone displays even the smallest attempt at their mother language. The more “happy” the crowd seems, actually, the worse his performance. If Zuck’s Mandarin was really good, the crowd would have been silent and wide-eyed.  · · · →

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