The Chinese make one huge gamble based on two doubtful conclusions. They think Biden will be inaugurated in January. They think they have deterred the US military in the Pacific. Both notions have been carefully feigned and crafted by the US. The pieces are in place and China moves its queen to attack the baiting pawn. The US wants China to initiate its own military embarrassment.
Over the years, America has stirred unneeded trouble throughout the world. America will pay the consequences for that, but not according to any itinerary set by China. Something similar could be said for Taiwan concerning its own internal systems of justice, both for the Taiwanese and for resident foreigners. Taiwan will pay the consequences, but not according to any itinerary set by China. We all answer to God, and God the Judge will not share space on His bench. If China—or anyone else—wants to take God’s bench, God may send in His bailiff.
China wants the results of innovation—which come from free thinking—which comes from free speech. But, free speech and rights respected are the two things China will not accept. So, China indirectly rejects the good results which only follow good choices. Trying to live without the very shame the continue to create—trying to defeat the countries with military technology they could only steal from those countries—trying to absorb economies with innovation that only thrived without their tyranny—China only knows how to miscalculate. The embarrassment China is about to bring upon itself is nothing any good person would wish for. That the Chinese wish for it says more on this matter than anything else.
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.
Things are fairing worse and worse for China, but better and better for Taiwan.
The KMT-Nationalist party is abandoning its long-standing agreement to cooperate with the Chinese Communists, much how the American Democratic party is abandoning socialism within its ranks. Taiwan's handling of the 2019-nCoV Wuhan virus is top notch, possibly the best in the world. The irony is that Taiwan is not a member of the WHO, for mere reasons of political pressure from China. The world will interpret Taiwan's absence from the WHO through the poor response to the virus from WHO members. And the world will, accordingly, blame China not only for the virus, but for the lack of Taiwan's valued input in the WHO.
This week, when things seemed as though they couldn't get worse in China, a hotel collapsed, which housed many people being observed for the virus. Not all had been diagnosed, but at least 10 are dead from the collapse.
Interestingly, this does not fair well for Taiwan. The more respect Taiwan earns from the international community, and the more spite China earns from the international community, the more envy will boil and bubble as China froths with rage against Taiwan. China's government is not functioning with any trace of sobriety. Recent events are pushing the Chinese government over the edge in their ancient desire to invade Taiwan. While that would leave them vulnerable at home and hated even more throughout the world, such things never stopped them before and certainly aren't stopping them now. continue reading
Now, China has become the dark example of why not to be a Democrat in America. This is a new low. As much as being compared to China makes Democrats appear bad, it makes China appear all the worse because it paints China as the archetype of "how not to be". American sentiment against China grows evermore glum.
No country is above democratic politics. Though Communist, China is still controlled by democracy. If the American public doesn't like China, they will overthrow China in their own way. But, that's a concept Beijing is incapable of adapting to because they have no such accountability to their own people at home.
China thinks its "rise to power" is about China being able to make decisions on its own. America thinks that anyone's rise to power is about growing up and acting like an adult. As long as China keeps saying things like, "China can do what we want, America can't tell us what to do," it keeps getting evermore clear whether China is an adult yet.
Taiwan isn't backing down. The government there continues to press for WHO participation. A Taiwanese airline now has flights to the island of Palau—which is important because it is a good thing that didn't happen under Beijing control. A Taiwanese Mayor of Kaohsiung, Han, of the pro-unification-leaning political KMT-Nationalist party visited the Beijing office in Hong Kong—raising questions about honesty and motive in Taiwan's central government.
His party keeps threatening to make laws to help Taiwan be re-unified under Beijing. That party recently won a mid-term at local governments. Perhaps they want to loose the next national election just as quickly.
Now, the US is in serious talks about establishing a strong military presence on Taiwan's Taiping Island, somewhere between Taiwan's huge, main island and China's man-made islets at Mischief Reef. That would lead to a provocation that no trade agreement could withstand.
The US is working diligently to put Taiwan in the spotlight. It seems that Taiwan is being set up in the American public eye as the next Lusitania or Pearl Harbor—the punch that awakens the sleeping nation. It will be difficult, though, for an attack on foreign soil to provoke the public. That's where China seems to be playing on cue.
By wanting to sink a US Navy vessel, China would make the final push. Beijing doesn't understand American "exceptionalism"; it never has. Beijing doesn't know what freedom does to people, how much it energizes a threatened people. Americans won't respond as Chinese employees do to a boss who clears his throat; they will respond like William Wallace, just as they always do. But, when a nation isolates itself from Western free speech, that is difficult to know. We should expect China to not think that way.
Imagine China's perspective: Large US Navy carriers trouncing around the backyard, intimidating to the point that provoked China to the point we see now. To them, sinking a US Navy ship would seem like a big "shock" action because those carriers are the biggest American structure China can see. But, to American voters and soldiers, those carriers are across an ocean and are nothing compared to the size of achievements and monuments Americans see every day. So, China thinks a provocation would be an intimidation.
While it may take a US battleship to take a hit—God forbid—Taiwan will certainly be involved because that's the way the pieces are being set around the chessboard.
As for Xi Jinping and the Chinese, their resolve is absolute. Even pigs seem to be part of the attack on Taiwan.
A terminal disease specific to pigs seems to have swept Chinese pig farms. Taiwan has been going to great lengths to prevent Chinese pork from entering Taiwan for this very reason. This week, a dead pig with the disease floated ashore a Taiwanese island that sits just off China's coast. Panic is starting to set in throughout Taiwan—that a pork crisis could crash Taiwan's economy, cause the pro-US president to resign, making the perfect opportunity for China to invade. That's how the theories go, anyway.
The concern among Taiwanese is exactly the kind of response China anticipates from a "shock and awe" action against America. But, Americans are different than that, having both the "Wallace Complex" and a Congress-backed law that would compel a retaliation. Taiwanese have tasted some level of freedom, making the Taiwanese response as unpredictable as Taiwanese politics.
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.
The talks between South and North Korea are not at all what they are cracked up to be. While the world would love to believe that this is some grand exercise in "can't we all just get along" diplomacy that always-only ever failed under Obama in any and every hemisphere, North-South talks are not what they seem. They are a distraction, a false pretense, an ostensible cover story, a smoke screen for something much, much deeper.
In all likelihood, the talks will include a very subtle Asian-style, excessively subtle (since it's among Koreans) offer. Even bachelor's degree students of business management study the science of talking to an employee in such a way that he doesn't figure out he's being fired until he gets home and takes his first bide of dinner. Leonardo explained the idea well in his movie Inception.
The meeting, capitalizing on participation in the Olympic games so strategically timed and placed, is more akin to the close of the series The Sopranos. A lieutenant of a rival family meets with the head of another family to plot the "offing" of his own boss in order to stop an ugly war that no one wanted, which started when that new boss came to power. The rival family "does in" their own boss at the gas station, the main character makes his hospitality rounds, and the story ends.
That's what this seems like. The Trump administration is allowing it, taking partial credit in a preemptive expectation of due accolades, also reminding the Asian world that communication is a good thing. Symphony said the same two days before Trump sent his January 4 Tweet to the same effect: without pressure from the US there would be no talks.
If Kim Jong Un eventually disappears in the months ahead, remember that it all came from this meeting, purportedly about the Olympics. There wouldn't be any moves in northern Korea without already having "certain assurances".
But, don't let that distract you. Taiwan is definitely playing its role in provocative and irksome "spitting matches" with China. As with the min-boss in The Godfather Part III, Taiwan wouldn't do that without "backing".
This week was incredibly calm in Asia. China has some non-defined goals of grandeur, though some voices in the Western press cast their usual doubts. China's big obstacle with becoming a tech leader is two-fold: 1. lack of measurable methods and 2. social media.
Westerners use Facebook and Google to communicate with friends, family, and associates. By blocking Facebook, China is blocking Westerners as well as leading technology. By definition, "global" methods can't merely involve competitor social media unique to China. Whether China has good reason to block the social media giants is a separate question altogether. If China wants to become a leader, it must have a measurable, defined way forward in its tech and trade ambitions, which must include how to involve people and markets that it has blocked by proxy.
Korea was also unusually quiet. The saber rattling took a hiatus over the holiday pre-week. On Christmas, North Korea was sure to puff its chest out, but that's about all. It is entirely possible that the problems in Korea will magically and abruptly vanish, Korea will be united, and both the Communists and the Westerners will just go home. But, that would never have happened without the mounting pressure from both sides.
Whatever reconciliation comes at the end of this Korean "situation", we will have both North Korea and the US military presence to thank for it. Should whatever new Korea emerges snub the US for providing the pressure to resolve a conflict no one else could, Korea's best days would thus be in the past. Keeping friendship during times of peace is vital to keeping that peace. Lasting peace in Korea means lasting peace among Koreans as well as its friends and neighbors. Should there be a bloodless peace in Korea and America troops just up and leave, the US will probably beef-up its presence with Taiwan. That would be the other shift.
More smoke got blown this week. South Korea's president is stepping-up efforts to talk to China about North Korea. Asian culture dictates that a country as big as China doesn't give a rat's synthetic tail about what a small country like South Korea thinks. All South Korea can expect is to be in China's debt merely for listening since the diplomacy won't affect outcomes whatsoever. China probably knows this. Whatever "deal" does or does not follow Moon's efforts with the Chinese will be an indication of China's greater intentions for the future. Don't expect too many fireworks; it's mostly politicians blowing smoke.
Things in Korea are stepping up, however. More sanctions are coming down. Secretary of State Tillerson commented about possible naval blockades, which sent a threat of "declared war" bouncing back from the North Koreans—more blown smoke from all sides. As for South Korea and Japan cooperating with the US—they will be "watching" missiles from North Korea. Usually, missiles have little to watch other than a trail of—well, a trail of smoke.
The big note to take about Moon is that his obsession with "talking" and "reconciliation" could prove very valuable after other players (the US, the UN, possibly China and others) do their parts to initiate reunification on the Korean Peninsula. When Korea becomes one country again, it might benefit from a leader like Moon who hungers for an opportunity to get opposite sides talking. But, we'll see.
China's state-run tabloid commented that a visit from the US Navy to a Taiwanese Naval port would activate a kind of "Anti-Secession" law in China and China's PLA would invade Taiwan and immediately reclaim the territory. The statement came months after US Congress approved and planned such port visits between Taiwan and the US for 2018. Taiwan is responding by constricting and banning select visits from Chinese diplomats, usually surrounding topics of "Human Rights" and warlike rhetoric. Again, all sides blowing more smoke without a shot fired, yet.
Usually, boiler cars bellow more smoke, blow their whistles, and let off steam as buildup to a conflict mounts—or just before a train wreck. The smoke is not without meaning, but as of this week, smoke blown remains little more than blown smoke and neither the topics nor the players have changed.
In fact, every small development reported by news outlets seems to follow the format of new facts in the first few paragraphs followed by the same, long background story, whether the background is about a conflict between North and South Korea or between Taiwan and China. That's what you call a clue: The press seems to feel that the public will need that background for the avalanche of news to come.
It’s over. North Korea has been defrocked form among Communist nations. Russia and China aren’t trying to send any kind of message to the US by sending intel-gathering vessels to monitor the Vinson. Spectating usually indicates some kind of support. The “Ruskies” and “Chi-Coms”, as some affectionately call them, kicking back with coke and popcorn in hand isn’t exactly opposition. They are trying to send a message to Communists worldwide, including their own people: Act unruly and you’ll end up like North Korea.
The US can’t do an operation in their back yards without the neighbors keeping a close watch—and Northern Korea is in both Russian and Chinese back yards. If the Chinese and Russians wanted to send a message to Washington, they’d send attack vessels like Putin sent late to Syria—at least, he pretended to send a message.
Countries must appear strong. There is a lot of chest puffing and thumping, even with the soon-to-be-deposed occupation of Northern Korea. The Russians and Chinese will be glad to have the dictator child off of their table of concerns. And, in the process, they want their own people to know whose still boss.
So, it’s over. Soon, we’ll find out just how many Northern Koreans cried for the death of their late “Dear Leader” because they missed him or because they feared what the child dictator would do them if they didn’t. Korea is about to become one country, finally. Kim Jong-Un decided that over the weekend when he threw the temper tantrum that broke every camel’s back in the caravan. Now, the caravan is coming for him.