Symphony

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, September 9, 2019

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dpivwNEV6VA

The missile issues in North Korea have too much unknown about them to formulate a clear opinion. From reports, Kim has indeed kept his promise, though he has violated seemingly less significant UN sanctions. Japan is on alert. Trump doesn't seem to care. If we made a stack of American clothes made in China, then stacked what we don't know about the North Korean missile crisis, the stack of what we don't know about North Korean missiles would be higher. It's unsettling, but sometimes we just don't know.

Carrie Lam's response to the "five demands" from protestors will not bode well in Hong Kong. She withdrew the controversial bill. The best illustration from Hong Kongers is a bandaid on a scratch after it turned gangrene. "Too little, too late" is what most are saying. Expect riots and burning buildings in the weeks to come.

Some Hong Kongers will indeed be satisfied with her speech, dare we say thrilled, but others will be enraged that she waited until after three months and a leaked recording. That recording included Lam's claim that she couldn't resign and that she had two masters, one of them Beijing. This is contrary to the autonomy required by the contract allowing China to claim Hong Kong as its own. If true, that recording could return Hong Kong to Britain merely in court. The stakes are high. Beijing cannot allow the public to believe that the recording demonstrated any truth. And, apparently Lam can't either.

If that recording was inaccurate as she said, then she wouldn't be so angry. Not only did she admit that the recording was real, it made her angry. Her objection to it is the recording's greatest notoriety. But, Confucian Beijing-minded Chinese don't understand that evidence speaks louder than spin. They only bake the cake they'll have to lay in.

Withdrawing the bill will be seen by many as an attempt to counter evidence that Beijing interferes regularly, violating the Basic Law and the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984. But, the evidence remains, and there are greater grievances.

Lam's speech fails to address the protests' demand for her resignation, which is the very subject of the leaked recording, which came just before her sudden withdrawal of the bill. The protestors insist on her resignation and will continue to. When she said that she never considered resigning, she further incriminated herself by proving that Hong Kong does not have its required universal suffrage and that she is part of the reason why.

Some will stop protesting, but those who continue will do so with more veracity. Apart from withdrawing the bill, everything in Lam's video ignores and insults the protest demands, essentially telling the people what they ought to want.

Telling people what they should want is widely accepted in Confucian society. But, it mixes with the West like water with oil. Lam wants to investigate to find out why Hong Kong rejected what are essentially Confucian values. But, there is no disturbance or interference or social trend to investigate. The conflict arose because the Confucian minds controlling Hong Kong, namely Lam and Beijing, are incapable of recognizing that Hong Kong already was Westernized. The question now is whether William Wallace can defeat Mao Tse-Tung.

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Symphony

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, June 3, 2019

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4P54QzLZ9Mo

The "Symphony Asian Mad Scientist Theorem" continues to play out. Trump engaged North Korea in talks that led to a calm without North Korea changing its DNA. Trump eventually reminded North Korea what everyone knew would be necessary to reach an agreement and North Korea stomped off.

Now, Trump comes off a marathon of wider-scope talks with China and continues to talk about talk, while the message is sent more clearly to China every day. China already knows what will be necessary to reach an agreement, its ambitions otherwise are classic Imperial-Confucian wishful thinking.

Over the weekend, the US and China exchanged insults at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Singapore. America isn't gonna' tip-toe around China anymore! And, China will risk any and every cost and will defeat everyone who stands in the way! They sure told each other! We can't say China didn't warn us, just like China warned the world before the victorious Korean armistice and before China's great and splendid invasion of Vietnam.

Don't think for a second that Trump doesn't care about Japan. If he really didn't care about Japan—if he truly enjoyed the missiles recently launched by "Rocket Man"—he wouldn't say so on camera. Remember, everything he says is being closely watched by a large and volatile North Korean neighbor which believes that everyone believes everything published in the press.

No matter how much anyone warns China of the dangerous pinball machine game it's bouncing around inside of, they won't change because China only ever and always remains true to its Imperial-Confucian values. Those values can and will never include "capitulating to outside demands". China just won't change, you see.

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Symphony

Encore of Revival: America, May 13, 2019

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omi8iWgpddU

War! That's next. With 2019 oaths of office sworn, with the 2020 presidential on the horizon, and with the Democrats clinging to demagoguery long after their fake investigation proved fake, the Left has left no alternative. War is one of the best ways to seal up a second term. Because it involves democracy, that is a calculation our Communist enemies can't understand. If the Communist world wanted to defeat the US—and if the communists in the Democratic Party wanted to defeat the Republicans—they'd play "peace possum" for two years. But, Communists have the learning curve of a cat.

The US is not moving resources to the Fifth Fleet in the Middle East because of some recent Iranian rhetoric. Iran makes and poses threats more often than North Korea. If Iran's most recent threats are special, it's from the smell of blood on the horizon as the sun comes up over the South Sea. Whether for caution or concern, the Pentagon is beefing-up the Fifth Fleet because the Seventh Fleet is about to get busy with China.

We don't want anyone taking advantage of the situation.

With Trump having pulled out of Syria and Afghanistan, Russia has every reason to be nice, for now. Extra missiles might make sure Iran does too—or if Iran can't get smart, at least change Iran along with the change about to happen to China. Moscow may tell Tehran to behave. New Delhi may feel emboldened give the same advice to Beijing, but you know cats.

War is coming and victory with it, both for the US and for the Republicans.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, May 6, 2019

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4xds6oUWOKA

Fibers are starting to snap and the solutions brought by governments always include adding more tension to the frayed rope.

China heads more toward Maoism. A nation headed at warp speed into its past already has its future known.

Taiwan wrestles with itself, seeking endorsement and recognition from other nations while chaotic governance at home makes its next election uncertain. But, two things grow stronger every day in Taiwan: military and resolve. That's a problem for some countries, one in particular.

If Taiwan isn't the last straw, Korea could be. North Korea launched a missile for the first time in a long time. That wouldn't have happened without backing.

The de facto consensus among the US, China, and everyone caught in between is simple: Make the rope snap ASAP by piling on as much load as possible. Even the strategy to improve Lockheed Martin's F-35 program comes in the form of complaint. The F-35s are ready to go. A dance floor will magically appear in the Pacific once Washington finishes playing with the bubble wrap.

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Symphony

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, April 1, 2019

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ov5HRJ9vTOo

China is being overwhelmed—Huawei to the west, British probes to the south, Kim to the north, but the prospect of trade to the east. The weakness is in the Chinese-cultural paradigm of negotiation. Chinese culture wants to sign a contract first, then negotiate the terms after. That's a polite way of explaining "psychopathic negotiation".

China labels Hong Kong as an "internal", national security matter. It's not; it's a "joint" matter. According to the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, China can't govern Hong Kong as its own until 2047—a mandate for Hong Kong being under Beijing's leadership. By telling Britain to "face reality", London will see the reality as Beijing reneging on the deal. It's not that China wants to be malicious, but that China doesn't understand what a promise really entails.

That could be why the Chinese offer such sweeping concessions to get better trade with America. They might not understand that promises about those concessions will actually have to be kept. But, there's more that sails over Beijing's brightest heads.

America shows no indication of backing down on Taiwan. By cozying up on trade, Beijing probably hopes America will receive an indirect message about Taiwan. But, if Taiwan isn't discussed, then it's not part of the trade agreement—or any agreement with the US. Beijing, probably laden with more wishful thinking than savvy, won't understand. They just won't understand.

That's the Korean problem to the north. Trump knew exactly what he was doing by telling Kim exactly what "de-nuking" looked like. They had talked before. Kim had taken a three day journey to talk again. Now Kim knows reality: a free economy prospers, North with nukes has neither in the end. That won't go over well with a culture more prideful than the Chinese. Trump knows this.

Now, Kim is a loose canon to China's north and the only thing Trump did was unleash the obvious. We'll see how long it takes for China to understand, if ever.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, March 18, 2019

Drama and theatrics! The US might be in a position to enforce the Magnitsky Act against China. Now, like Taiwan before, the US is taking the pot shots. It compares to Tony Stark's Iron Man tossing rocks at a tank to provoke the tank before obliterating the tank.

Talk of talks about trade with China while focusing on more military money for what Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan calls "China, China, China"—that's not an effort to make peace with a country that wants it, but an effort to irritate a not-so-closet adversary into justifying a retaliatory victory. China will see the US as two-faced, never figuring out that the US is intentionally getting under Beijing's skin because the Chinese don't know how easily irritable their view of themselves makes them.

Then, there's Korea. In a retelling from The Godfather III, we might say that Kim wouldn't do this without backing. By rumbling about nuking up again, Kim is flexing muscles that shouldn't be flexed—but only would be flexed if someone, say like Xi Jinping, were whispering support in his ear. More is going on than even Trump may be revealing, even if Kim's rumblings are all for show. If tensions rise between the US and Northern Korea, China would be the likely backstage culprit. That would mean that tension in the Koreas would justify US action against China—yet another tank rock to toss.

Then, we have "melo-theatrics" worse than "damn lies": statistics.

If Trump's poll numbers were to suddenly plummet, nothing would bring them back like a victory against evermore unpopular China—now at 41% in America. That makes Trump, 47% as of Tuesday, more popular than China. If House Democrats were to take action against Trump, that might encourage China that he would not be able to sustain action against China—when actually a victorious action against China would bring up his popularity to make him politically immune to House Democrats. The freedom and opinion -driven dynamics of American politics eludes Chinese strategists, another front on which Beijing is likely to miscalculate.

If Trump's popularity were to slip just before a conflict with China, it could have been intentional—as a means to provoke China into thinking that China is stronger against the US than it is. But, China will never figure it out, like the cat chasing the laser pen's dot—they never figure it out.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, March 11, 2019

China doesn't get the message, likely because China is too self-absorbed in its own culture. Detaining Canadians will provoke Canadians to support action against China to have the detained Canadians released—even supporting military action. When the US and China finally officiate their conflict, Canada may join the fray, all thanks to Beijing belligerence.

The Western press inches up its hardline against China every day. Even Europe reports on social media censorship in China. This comes on the 60th anniversary of the Tibetan Uprising. China closed visits to Tibet for this reason. But, that doesn't matter since Taiwan could see a visit from the US Secretary of Health and Human Services as well as the Dalai Lama.

Speaking of Taiwan, the self-ruled island is arming to the teeth. They just put in a request with the US, asking whatever military equipment they should buy so their military will be stronger than China's.

Northern Korea has all the indications of someone whispering in their ears, encouraging and emboldening against peace with the US. After Trump met with Kim, after he returned home to the States to find a message that Kim would be less cooperative, Kim had spent significant time in China. Now, we have more indications that North Korea is continuing missile tests. The bigger problem in Korean North is that the people know the Hanoi Summit did not get economic sanctions lifted—Northern Koreans are learning the truth, despite controls on speech and information.

Now, Pakistan has put China in a precarious spot. The recent "explosive" squabble between Pakistan and India attracted Western eyes. It's great that Pakistan wants to go after terror cells within its borders, but it's terrible that Pakistan doesn't go after terror cells that launch attacks against India. Pakistan buys weapons from both the US and China. The US won't sell fighter jets to Pakistan for use against India; China would—or would it? If China did, then China would be backing the backing of terrorism.  So, little, tiny Pakistan has tipped the balance against China by being friendly with China as a weapons buyer.

So, all Chinese eyes are on Pakistan—and India and North Korea and Taiwan.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, August 27, 2018

The Pacific is heating up bigtime. Just after Kim Jong Un meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Trump calls off a cabinet member's visit to Pyongyang the day after the new North Korean envoy was announced. What was that all about? Consider China.

China has been moving in on Taiwan aggressively, both through marketing and through international relations. The TOEFL test given in Taiwan lists Taiwan as a province of China, using the controversial, "Taiwan, China" nomenclature. Taiwanese were furious because the US government requires tests such as the TOEFL, which is administered by ETS, a nonprofit organization based in New Jersey. How does a US government recognized US-based English testing organization come to list a testing market contrary to how the US State Department does? The answer is: pressure from China.

Companies around the world have been strong-armed by China into listing Taiwan as a province of China. In the past weeks and months, airlines were required to comply in order to continue flying to China, many waiting until the last possible moment. This week, a PhD candidate at the University of Salamanca in Spain Tweeted a letter from China last October essentially demanding that the university shut down "Taiwan Cultural Days".

Now, Taiwan ended ties with El Salvador for recognizing China instead of Taiwan. This came after Taiwan declined for a year to make a sizable investment in the Port of La Union. Taiwan was concerned about debt for both countries. Senator Marco Rubio wasn't happy and a bill has already been amended to cut US funding to El Salvador.

While North Korea doesn't seem to be making as big of strides as expected in denuclearization, China is cozying up to North Korea while soon-to-be-former US allies cozy up to China and while China and Taiwan exchange lobbing spit wads. The overall situation doesn't look good for the pro-US side. But, there's always more than meets the eye.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, June 18, 2018

Trump has stopped military exercises near North Korea, but he has not initiated any plans to withdraw troops. His reason for stopping the exercises is that they are provocative and expensive. He has a point: If the heads of state are talking then we are less in need of fighting practice in a scenario where heads of state are not talking.

The military exercises with South Korea are expensive and provocative, as Trump explains. Frankly, they should stop. With healthy conversations and progress toward peace already behind us, there won't be a need for those drills any longer. Rehearsal for conflict that might never exist can often provoke the very conflicts we otherwise would not need to prepare for. As for the "expense" defense, few accountants will argue in favor of nickeling and diming away money as fiscally responsible and no one believes that taxpayers' pockets are infinitely deep except pundits with portfolios in public funding.

The Western news is that Trump is wrong, specifically with regard to China that China wins. According to this week's Western news narrative, China wins because of troop withdrawals that haven't happened, because a friend of China will de-nuke, and because over 30k US troops will be free to go home—or go to Taiwan, Mischief Reef, Vietnam, the Philippines, Japan, or any number of other Pacific island-nations China doesn't get along with.

Economically, China "wins" because manufacturing is leaving China—which must therefore mean that China's innovation and science is the new source of manufacturing elsewhere. Perhaps that includes innovation and science like the Chinese government now trying to track every car with a chip as of 2019. The "Mad Scientist" theorem of the experimental police state research moving from North Korea to China continues to play out.

Just remember with everything: There's more going on than anyone can see. Deals between governments are never fully explained to the public. They shouldn't be. But, as peace develops in one part of the western Pacific, hostilities move around and every pundit seizes opportunity to say, "I was right." No conflict is without news profiteering.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, June 18, 2018

Trump has stopped military exercises near North Korea, but he has not initiated any plans to withdraw troops. His reason for stopping the exercises is that they are provocative and expensive. He has a point: If the heads of state are talking then we are less in need of fighting practice in a scenario where heads of state are not talking.

The military exercises with South Korea are expensive and provocative, as Trump explains. Frankly, they should stop. With healthy conversations and progress toward peace already behind us, there won't be a need for those drills any longer. Rehearsal for conflict that might never exist can often provoke the very conflicts we otherwise would not need to prepare for. As for the "expense" defense, few accountants will argue in favor of nickeling and diming away money as fiscally responsible and no one believes that taxpayers' pockets are infinitely deep except pundits with portfolios in public funding.

The Western news is that Trump is wrong, specifically with regard to China that China wins. According to this week's Western news narrative, China wins because of troop withdrawals that haven't happened, because a friend of China will de-nuke, and because over 30k US troops will be free to go home—or go to Taiwan, Mischief Reef, Vietnam, the Philippines, Japan, or any number of other Pacific island-nations China doesn't get along with.

Economically, China "wins" because manufacturing is leaving China—which must therefore mean that China's innovation and science is the new source of manufacturing elsewhere. Perhaps that includes innovation and science like the Chinese government now trying to track every car with a chip as of 2019. The "Mad Scientist" theorem of the experimental police state research moving from North Korea to China continues to play out.

Just remember with everything: There's more going on than anyone can see. Deals between governments are never fully explained to the public. They shouldn't be. But, as peace develops in one part of the western Pacific, hostilities move around and every pundit seizes opportunity to say, "I was right." No conflict is without news profiteering.

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Symphony

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, June 4, 2018

North Korea inches further and further toward talks with the US. China fears this. If Kim Jong-Un get in the same room as the man who wrote The Art of the Deal, North Korea could become a stronger ally to the US than even South Korea overnight. That would likely lead to a quick reunification of the Korean Peninsula, as well as other shifts in power, even before any alliance might be formalized. But, Trump's deal-making reputation should bring no shocks to what is about to transpire in the Singapore Summit.

Then, there's China, about to be left behind. The hardline crackdown on free speech throughout China won't be without consequence. Symphony has been saying so for years; Albert Ho effectively said the same, quoted in a Bloomberg article dated June 4. Party power is getting brittle. But, the consequences of brutal brittality are rarely explored. So, here goes.

Hong Kong won't shut up anytime soon. The whining, whimpering bratty students of Hong Kong may be wrong to demand rights when freedom was largely handed to them by the British. But, those bratty students sure are drawing a press load of attention to China. That alone should be a heavy factor in logistics calculation. Hong Kong is a megaphone for any anti-China sentiment because the world reads about Hong Kong every day. After all, Hong Kong is "Asia's World City".

But, then there's the problem of cracking down within "China proper", the Mainland governed directly by Beijing, not a SAR like Hong Kong or Macau. If China considers friendly sarcasm to be a threat within China—that means tech companies and hardware manufacturers won't have candid conversations about quality control and competitive design. Once free speech becomes a minefield, people will divert mental resources away from fee and open brainstorming toward making sure that they don't say anything offensive. The key to good brainstorm sessions and innovation is that nothing is off the table and no one is allowed to take offense at anything whatsoever. That's can't happen in China anymore. Bye-bye Western manufacturing paradise. It's only a matter of time before Western outsourcing brands figure it out. One little story, like an innovator being locked up for a tech suggestion because it was interpreted as "opposing to the Party", might plunge Chinese factory stocks into the void below.

"Single-Party Rule" is the key topic now, at least according to Western papers. That's the protest mantra in Hong Kong. It's the talking point of headlines and marches. It is the so-called "problem" as is being presented to the world. The Western press is on a path for reporting a narrative that stirs sentiment for two-party rule in China. Whether it's a typhoon, an earthquake, a solar flare, or some other "act of God", if China suddenly adopts a two-party system, Western newspaper readers will have already been prepped to think it is a good thing.

Then, there's Vietnam, exploring foreign investment "zones". Deserved or unfair, distrust is stirring against China as a place of investment. This will have a double-edged effect in Vietnam. Firstly, Western manufacturing will flock to Vietnam as a way of fleeing the newspaper villain, China. But, with a Communist Party having total rule in Vietnam, Western investors will demand certain assurances before dumping too much money into yet another single-party market. Sooner or later, we could be looking at Vietnam adopting a friendly two-party system as a stronger strategy of competing with China. That will only add to the momentum of change in East Asia.

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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, May 14, 2018

Disassembling nuke sites prior to meeting Trump may seem like a "save of face" for Kim Jong-Un, but it's actually a statement of Trump's influence. If Trump wasn't an influence, then Kim wouldn't be doing what Trump has been demanding for a long time. No doubt, North Korea and its pro-Communist supporters in the Liberal media will twist this into "Trump not making a difference" from Trump getting what he wanted even before a meeting.

The comparison from history would be a feudal lord quickly accomplishing everything his king asked before his next royal visit. To say the king didn't make a difference would be just plain ignorant. We should expect as much.

But, Trump wants it that way. The more Trump has his name on the Korean reunification, the more China's desperate thirst for "respect" will sting. China wants everything to look like everything everywhere was China's idea, or else throw a temper tantrum. Trump's low-key silence will deny the "fight fix" and the semi-centennial tantrum will have to wait a little longer.

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