It’s official. China has broken the treaty that allows Hong Kong to be Chinese. The last time Britain accused China of breaking treaty, the Royal Navy opened fire on the Taiwan city of Tainan in 1858. The time before that was just a few decades earlier, when Britain obtained Hong Kong Island in a surrender from the Chinese after the Opium Wars.
Those wars began because China believed it was fair for silver to flow out of Britain, but only tea leaves to flow out of China. China would not accept British inventions and technology in trade, only silver for leaves. Opium was another leaf, one some in China were willing to return silver to Britain in exchange for.
For China, friendship has always been a one-way street. The Opium Wars did not begin with British military intervention. They started with an unbalanced sense of justice from China and subversion in response from Britain. While the British military did not start the wars, it ended them.
Now, China has passed a law in Beijing that affects the streets of Hong Kong. That violates the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, the basis for Hong Kong’s return to China. It seems 150 years have not changed anyone’s disposition. China wants laws written in one city, then obeyed in another. China wants to make promises, then ignore them. Britain will not respond with military, but with subversion. In the end, America’s military may play a role, but Hong Kong will likely return to the British for one, single reason. History repeats for those who refuse to learn from it.
At what point is it okay to bully the bad guy? At what point does bullying the bad guy make the bully the bigger bad guy? This is a line China is fast approaching and the US is fast leaving.
The thinking goes, “If you just did the good things I demand, then the great harm I did you in response wouldn’t have happened.” Of this, both China and America are guilty. That’s why they are headed toward a conflict.
China pushes more and more toward this in the Far East while America brings home troops from previous venture wars in the Middle East. China is stepping-up bully responses while America backs off from them. But, both harbor that same “I’m allowed to do anything because I’m right” attitude. Both China and America need to repent. Perhaps God allowing this war will get some people there, or perhaps not. That choice is up to the individual.
Regardless of choice and attitude, we know things are only escalating. China passes a law grossly violating the 1984 treaty with Great Britain. That, technically, un-returns Hong Kong to China, though the wise, shrewd Crown hasn’t said so yet. America has recognized this first, giving third-party credibility. If China’s plan were to endear the world and win hearts with a show of its kindness, it’s failed. It’s hard to show a kindness one does have because it’s hard to have kindness one resents in favor of winning at any cost.
China seems desperate for war. America has typically been the infamous provocateur. That’s how China paints things. That’s how Japan and Germany saw things. But, China has taken up a new role.
Buzzing jets into Taiwanese airspace is just one concern. China also sends fishing boats to ram Taiwan’s Coast Guard and sand ships just to annoy. These won’t convince the Taiwanese that China’s rule would be preferable to status quo. Taiwanese respond by demanding more money for military and more weapons purchases from America.
Hong Kong looks grim as Beijing closes its stranglehold. There’s no question anymore whether China held up its end of the bargain on its treaty that allowed Hong Kong to return. The question is whether anyone in the West cares. Hong Kongers have done all they can.
Meanwhile, Trump hasn’t forgotten. In America’s election, China “trumps” many topics, as it were—including the economy, the virus, Biden’s past, and even war. The only reason China hasn’t stepped up its aggression is unawareness: China doesn’t know how American elections work because China doesn’t understand the concept of democracy, as Hong Kong’s deterioration shows. To those who know, Trump faces a statistically likely victory. Holding out for November might prove too late.
If The Chinese think poll numbers looking low or that the unrest in America means the Xi doctrine has a widening path on the road ahead, they should think again. But, being Confucian Communist, that’s hard.
Trump actually may be ahead of where he was when he ran against Hillary. And, if the one president who could stand up to China were really on the outs, the last thing America’s government would want is for the news media to report on it. It’s a rouse. America and Trump are far better positioned to take on China than anti-society new media would have us think.
Mayor Han of Kaohsiung in Taiwan just faced a recall election and he got spanked. In a vote of 939k to 25k, the China hopeful from the grand old KMT-Nationalist Party faced a humiliation that the rest of the party might never overcome. The Kaohsiung city council speaker reportedly jumped to his death. Mayor Han had challenged Taiwan’s president in the general election and lost, now his own constituency dumped him. It wasn’t just a reprisal on him or his party; it was a reprisal against China. He ran on a platform of reuniting with China. These days, China is unpopular because of decisions within China’s power to change.
Hong Kong is another hot spot for bad press. While Hong Kong could never stop China alone, Hong Kongers have been a platform on which China showed the world how China does things. And, the world isn’t having it.
We’re past the point of common sense and diplomatic shuffles. Nothing China even could do ever would change anyone’s opinion. The world already has its mind made up.
China says every effort will be made for peaceful reunification with Taiwan as long as there remains hope; force is the last resort. But, Taiwan wants peaceful freedom from tyranny; force is the last resort. There is no hope for China to find any reunification with Taiwan of any kind. China has removed any desire for peaceful reunification with it’s pressured propaganda campaigns around the world and in Taiwan, not to mention terrible handling of Hong Kong. Taiwan has prevented any hope of forceful reunification by arming to the teeth in response to China’s backfired PR campaigns.
Taking Taiwan would hurt and cost both lives and resources. And, Russia knows this. With steep cliffs on the east coast, complex deltas plains on the west coast, and a capital city inside a mountain bowl at the north, any beach landing would make Normandy Beach look like a walk in the park. With mountains peaking even higher than Fuji, China faces a jungle battle like halted America in Vietnam, except this battle would only be uphill.
If China prioritized such a venture, using either or both of its two copied aircraft carriers with its copied fighter jets and its copied missiles and copied drones, China’s neighbors would see an opportunity even if the US didn’t respond with any of its forty-four home-made carriers.
India, with one billion people, is no forced-friend of China, especially in recent months. A Taiwan distraction would be the perfect chance to free Tibet. Two thousand years of anti-friendship relations between Vietnam and China would require enormous numbers of soldiers to keep the Vietnamese from taking Nanjing as a pathway to the island of Hainan. Vietnam has a motive anyway, keep China at a safer distance for its history of aggression. With China occupied at the west and east while squandering enormous forces at Taiwan, Japan—a larger economy than India—has its own grudge and would love the chance for target practice near Beijing. None of the other countries small enough to be bought off and bullied would bring much help nor will to China’s aid.
Then, there’s the US after China would be in enough trouble. Russia doesn’t want more trouble, for all Moscow’s effort to seduce Europe by appearing pacifist. If China ever did manage to reach a Pyrrhic victory over Taiwan, China would have no defenses left, Tibet might be gone, then Japan and Vietnam would have taken their own bits out of the map. China would be clean pickings between the US and China’s frenemy Russia.
Russia is no friend of China. Who do you think gave China the idea of this wasted pursuit? All of that assumes things go well with the one billion Chinese who hate their government more than ever before in history.
So, why did Taiwan request a lower-grade missile—because it comes with a vehicle Taiwan already has? It’s not because Taiwan actually needs it. No. Talking about arming again to the teeth already armed to puts a kind of social pressure on Beijing, a sense of urgency. Taiwan sees what China is up against. Taiwan knows that Confucian culture can’t pass up the opportunity to self-destruct in order to save face. Taiwan’s policy is clear: Bring it.
Taiwan has a new Vice President: Former Premier William Lai, known for his pro-independence posture. China won’t be happy, but China is rarely happy these days.
The Chinese made two loud omissions in their rhetoric this week. When talking about reunification with Taiwan, they left out the word “peaceful”. The press noticed. A Taiwan official said it meant the same thing. But, everyone knew better because China also left out regard for Hong Kong’s Basic Law, something else that always got mentioned in the past.
Apparently, Beijing thinks peace and honoring treaties are too petty to be bothered with.
But, certain terms are in need of clarity. Xi Jinping isn’t merely trying to “reunify with Taiwan”; his actions are closest to that of a corporate hostile takeover—not just of Taiwan, but the entire world.
In Australia, Drew Pavlou faces expulsion from Queensland University for organizing student protests in support of Hong Kong opposition to recent law proposals, especially extradition to China and the recent “security” proposal. Follow the money. Australia’s government is looking into China’s influence. Many other governments are too.
According to the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, US Congress is required to review whether Hong Kong is autonomous enough to have its visas treated separately from the rest of China. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is already late in his report. He waited until China held its own congress meetings. What happened at those meetings didn’t help the case for Hong Kong’s autonomy.
The pneumoniavirus is having a detrimental effect on China. While Xi Jinping kicks China’s economy into full swing, the rest of the world is on full alert. Manufacturing moves home—whether to or from China. Countries seek alternate supply sourcing. Taiwan shines like a star of brilliance, set up as if to shame China by design. China’s big mistake was going along with feeling shamed, as if by design. China could have played its hand with Taiwan the way the UK did with the American Revolution—claiming it lost a few colonies, but that it didn’t matter. By pretending not to care, the world might not care and China would be unstoppable. Instead, China is taking every step possible to create new enemies and make old enemies worry.
In that wake, Taiwan grows in military and respect, even donating medical masks to other countries. The WHO now faces shame and doubt because of an evermore apparent bias toward China. Australia cooperates with the US in efforts to confront China. Critical voices in China are silenced or otherwise go missing. An employee of Hong Kong CEO Carrie Lam resigned, then killed himself. Kim Jong-Un makes more threats. East Asia is more volatile than ever. Times like these are what some call an “opportunity”.
The 2019-nCoV Wuhan virus isn't doing any good for Xi Jinping's public trust. Dissidents inside China are silenced and their social media accounts scrubbed. Joshua Wong issues a call to arms from Hong Kong. Taiwan closes its border and plans to evacuate its citizens from the quarantined cruise ship, Diamond Princess. Yet, the Philippines blocks entry to Taiwanese airline passengers while in-flight because World Health Organization information reports Taiwan as part of China. And, Xi tells Trump that everything will be okay after April's hot weather kills the virus.
It looks like the world wants a fight. Why did evacuation plans for this cruise ship take so long? Why doesn't China close its border to Hong Kong as an act of good faith to at least pretend to want to earn public trust? China locked down Wuhan and Huanggang, why not Shenzhen?
The WHO praised China's efforts, claiming they bought the world time. That doesn't stack—information control started the problem, China's clampdown on information only grows, the Philippines close their border to a country run by a completely different administration on account of the WHO reporting in denial. Is the WHO controlled by China, does the WHO just want to start a war, or could it be that the WHO wants to start a war because it doesn't like being controlled by China?
Fear of the virus may be overrated. Initial figures suggested that the seasonal flu may be more deadly. But, panic is panic. And, with Chinese cities going on lockdown, countries closing borders, and hundreds of people getting sick on a cruise ship after it was quarantined, nerves are on edge. Chinese State control of information has been exposed for the hoax it is; no Chinese people will trust China's government again. Even those who support the Communist Party can't expect the public to believe them anymore, no matter what they say. In the middle of the breakdown of Chinese trust and control, Xi's solution is to fly bombers around Taiwan.
Nothing re-elects a president like a war someone else started and nothing fires a president like an outbreak or a failed economy. If Xi invades Taiwan, Trump's re-election will be even more certain and Xi's own party could be doomed along with him. Nothing would weaken China's People's Liberation Army at home like the decision to boost its political image by invading one of the best responding WHO-non-members in the world, Taiwan. Xi is so addicted to failing, self-destructive decisions, invading Taiwan might be the ultimate fatal flaw of failure that he just can't refuse. While this viral outbreak isn't quite enough to push Xi to the point of desperation for distraction, it's another bail of hay on the camel's back.
The words of US President Trump set an unsettling policy for Communist China: "We're also getting our allies, finally, to help pay their fair share." This is far-reaching.
By having multiple nations with multiple militaries operating with appropriate budgets, China faces an enclave of opponents, not just one. There is no single head to decapitate. If you're in Beijing, sitting in a room filled with Mandarin speakers who agree that they are entitled to make the world their servant, Trump's words scare you.
While Beijing fights the virus it tried to cover up, Taiwan had recorded 10 deaths from that virus. Yet, China reported 13 in Taiwan, then told the United Nations that China speaks accurately for Taiwan, still arguing that Taiwan should not enter the WHO—even taking offense, still, at any suggestion of entry. Taiwanese Foreign Minister Wu pointed out that the WHO has referred to Taiwan by at least three different names in reporting on China's Wuhan outbreak. This week, even the US spoke up for Taiwan's request to join the WHO; China was all the more offended.
The outbreak isn't fairing well for China's credibility in governing Hong Kong either. Supermarkets are full of empty shelves.
While China's central government will continue the playbook strategy of blaming the very local governments it dominates, the central government's solution to the failure of a centralized government will be to centralize more government. In Confucian Communism, control is the solution to every problem, especially the problems that control causes. So they themselves believe even more than they purport, the reason that China has so many challenges within its vast stretches of land is that it doesn't have even more land. The Chinese Communists believe that their number one problem is that they don't control the world.
The world is fed up with China's Communist Party, including people in China. The Wuhan virus is a blame-blaming scandal of a magnitude greater than Chairman Mao. It could crack the foundation of Xi Jinping's rule and party confidence along with it.
Top down leadership ties the hands of first responders. So does propaganda-driven speech censorship. Of course an outbreak will breakout where people aren't allowed to respond or warn without permission from the central bureaucracy. For China, it was only a matter of time.
And, the world is fed up. Now Hong Kong, severely underprepared for an outbreak, faces a strike of 6k medical workers and growing—if CEO Carrie Lam doesn't completely close the Hong Kong border to China. Simply not having the resources to handle an outbreak should be enough for Hong Kong to to close its border. Not doing what simply should be done begs more questions of whether Beijing's top down leadership is preventing Hong Kong from responding to the Wuhan outbreak, which would be yet another violation of the Basic Law and a breach of China's treaty with Britain that allowed Hong Kong to return.
Shameless in the face of its mismanagement in Wuhan then Hong Kong, China then asked the EU for emergency medical supplies. The EU would be wise to respond that giving medical supplies would require proper oversight, including an end to the bureaucratic methods of centralized control that delayed containment in Wuhan and keeps Hong Kong in danger. Also, the EU should require China to stop politicizing Taiwan's need to join the World Health Organization.
Argument could be made that Taiwan and the West are capitalizing on the Wuhan crisis to get more international recognition for Taiwan. But, then it could also be argued that China created that need to capitalize on a crisis to do something that should have been done long ago. In light of the Wuhan outbreak, Canada, Japan, and the EU now sponsor Taiwan's request to join the World Health Organization as an active participant, not a mere observer. A viral White House petition snowballed past the threshold over the weekend, effectively making the same request of President Trump. Now that Trump has a massive petition to respond to, China won't be able to claim "interference" when he responds. But, China may try to anyway because, in Confucian Communist thinking, petitions of the people should be ignored.
Trying to be polite or indirect while not taking no for an answer does not give anyone a right to make trouble. When someone gives a decisive, "No," decent people accept that answer, then move on somehow. But, China doesn't seem able to do that. In Beijing's thought, relentlessly pushing forward, no matter how many more thousands hate them by the day, China is being polite to Hong Kong. They are being indirect. By not giving up, the Chinese Communists believe they have very politely told Hong Kongers how things will be, thereby justifying whatever manslaughter China chooses to invoke.
It's not as if China has a lot of time to worry about telling other people what to do. Hong Kong was designed in its Basic Law to be largely autonomous. That means that Hong Kong can take care of itself, should China need to put energies into other matters—such as stopping the African swing flu or the Wuhan coronavirus.
China's choices led to a landslide re-election for the de facto independence president of Taiwan. She says there is no independence to declare because Taiwan can't possibly be any more independent than it already is. Some in Beijing might think that means Taiwan has reached its limit; but anyone in the West knows that means Taiwan already has the fullest measure of independence as defined. Yes, many in Beijing might not know that.
Vietnam reached a similar vague point in gearing up for military strength in ASEAN. Buying boats from India is also on Vietnam's agenda—yes, India is another country China has managed to aggravate.
Why do things unfold this way in China's back yard? It's not that China is so much evil as it is immature. But, we tend to stay immature when we age, if we won't open up to the outside world. Rather than helping China learn, the West just dumped money and emboldened a brat, all so we could save a few pennies on our stuff. Who is really being the most unfair to who? Friends know when to accept a no because friends know when to say, "No."
We are headed toward a massive inquisition of police. It could be known as the "Hong Kong Trials", where each police officer who served since June is combed over and evaluated for every step taken at every single protest, then tried under international law. It's not immediately around the corner, but the current powers governing Hong Kong are doing everything they can to make that day inevitable.
Over the holidays, neither protestors nor police took a break, except for a brief moment on Christmas at midnight, when protestors were the adults in the room to pause for a moment in honor of something greater. Many had Christmas dinner away from their families, largely due to East Asian culture's dogma toward older family members. Authoritarianism generally drives away people who are self-motivated and take initiative, family being a least exception. Older generations in Hong Kong don't understand that. Neither does Beijing. This Christmas, many middle aged and elderly parents faced the question posed by empty seats at many a dinner table: Do you love your children more than your desire for compliance? To some extent, families will be reconciled in due course; parents who refuse will lose even more.
Taiwan had its own drama over the holidays. An accused Chinese mole, formerly in Taiwan's military, is being hung out to dry for purportedly recruiting more moles. Former president Ma is accusing the Control Yuan of interfering by questioning the judge who let him off scot-free. That stands to reason since the Control Yuan was effectively shut down during his tenure, which, unbeknownst to most, gave even greater rise the Sunflower Movement of 2014. As if Taiwan hadn't its fill of holiday joy, US Congress is now working on a bill that will formalize the US envoy to Taiwan as a full ambassador—requiring presidential appointment and Senate approval. That is about as close to recognizing Taiwan as a country without recognizing Taiwan as a country as a country can get. China won't be happy, but the Taiwanese sure thought it was a very Merry Christmas!
China's in over its head. They got somewhat of a trade deal, though they never had much to bargain with because their economy is much more dependent on imports than the US economy. So, their trade deal can't have gone as well as they would have liked, so they were always going to be unhappy, no matter what they got. They won't be happy, even though they plan a signing photo op come January.
Beijing-rooted leaders in Hong Kong are genuinely confused about the public outcry. In all likelihood, the Chinese truly don't know how much they afflict and oppress their own people. Because they are out of touch with normal life—because they rely on inhumane means to silence any opposition—they probably believe dissidents are genuine misfits. Beijing remains oblivious to how cruel and rightly despised its rule is. Had Beijing even tried to know what real, ordinary people really, truly think, they might not have been surprised by Hong Kong's harsh rejection. But, Beijing never cared enough to try to ask in the first place. So, Beijing despises Hong Kong, all the while doing so under the delusion that its spite is well-deserved.
The British have politely demanded that Beijing honor the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration and hold talks with Hong Kong protestors. From Beijing's perspective, this is as unimaginable as a Chinese demigod being willing to hold a dialog with a cockroach. Make no mistake, Beijing does not feel that Britain is making any kind of request; it is purely interpreted as an insult, like demanding one to kiss one's own rear end. However incapable Beijing is of understanding the polite demand, let alone obeying it, the demand remains legally binding. Britain is building a case for nullification and Beijing believes that every way out is an illusion meant to insult.
Then, there's Huawei. The trade agreement China holds no cards to oppose with won't matter. Huawei needs customers and Europe is skittish, to say the least. Huawei needs money because the Chinese government needs money. Central planning squandered loans on enormous, countless, empty buildings. The concept of "scalability" is foreign to the government that always gets what it wants, until it can't afford to anymore. Even then, the Chinese won't know why they can't afford to anymore because they can't understand "scalability". Huawei's losses will weaken China's position further when it comes time for round 2 of the US-China trade negotiations.
Money doesn't lie; it's in the airline figures. Cathay is reducing its capacity, largely from loss of demand for flights in and out of China. Hong Kong Airlines is dropping long hauls to and from Australia, the US, and Canada. Clearly, both Chinese nationals and Pacific English speakers have lost confidence in Hong Kong. Hong Kong was special—for tourism, culture, lifestyle, trade, finance, and a slough of other things—all because both Chinese and the English-speaking West had easy and overlapping access. They could meet, they could do business, they could speak their own language, and they could enjoy Chinese culture without the oppression of a Confucian-Communist government. But, neither wants to play ball anymore.
In response to the US ending exports of riot-control weapons and defining autonomy as "being autonomous", China banned the US Navy from making port stops in Hong Kong. The port stops had been an encouragement to international business, reassuring investors that everything was alright between the US and China. But, apparently China doesn't want that illusion of reassurance to continue. And, more importantly, China obviously is less fearful of the US Navy making its R&R port calls in Taiwan instead.
Watch for many things to shift to Taiwan. While the first finance leaders in Hong Kong are exiting to Singapore, watch for a swath to relocate in Taipei once Singapore's galore wears off and finance centers discover the difference in real estate prices and cost of living.
China will still be angry enough to blow a few gaskets when the US Navy does make more port calls in Taiwan, it's just that they are less fearful of it for the time being. China's leaders have been had, largely due to their thirst for respect, which blinds their judgement. But, they are incapable of learning, so they are only going to be had more and more.