sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Random Thoughts

LSP eating a 16 oz aged NY steak

Tonight LSP and I got together for a nice Christmas Dinner at Flemings Steakhouse in Plano, Texas because I was in town earning a crust of bread, and he was available. The discussion was far ranging from President Trump's historic victory in the election last month to the price of tea in China.

I had anticipated a nice Kwanzaa present from my friend, LSP. Instead of going in that direction, he presented me a bit of Kipling, which is about as far from Kwanzaa as one can get. He has a book headed to the compound that is no more progressive than Kipling. Such is the nature of the season.


On December 12th, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) published an official denunciation of the UN Security Council session on human rights atrocities in North Korea. These are the concluding two paragraphs from the long-winded denunciation:
“At the UNSC, a lackey of Obama -- who will soon leave the post of power after drinking a bitter cup as a failure -- committed the reckless act of daring to pick on our supreme dignity and schemed to tarnish the international image of our Republic and to whip up an atmosphere of applying pressure over the Republic. However, if [the United States] believed that this would work on us and other countries, no miscalculation would have been more serious than this.” 
“We will never tolerate the hostile forces' anti-Republic "human rights" commotion, not even slightly, but will thoroughly smash it with a firm ultra-hard-line response.”
Just about everyone expects the Norks to respond by an attack of some sort (short of war) on the Republic of Korea (South Korea). They fire artillery shells, maybe fire a torpedo at a ROK naval vessel, seize ships from the fishing fleet and imprison the crews for the purpose of re-education.

(also known as Carlos Danger)

There once was a Congressman named Weiner,
Who had a perverted demeanor,
He was forced from the Hill,
For acting like Bill,
Now Congress is one Weiner leaner.

The moral of the story is:
You Tweet your meat, you lose your seat!

But in all seriousness, we all owe a lot to Weiner and his wife, Huma Weiner's relationship with Hillary (The Bitch of Benghazi) Clinton. There are people who say unkind words about Weiner, but history may show that he helped (inadvertently) save the republic. My sense is that his political career with the Democrat Party may have come to a flaccid conclusion without a happy ending.

As leading Democrat Party elites cast about for answers as to what derailed Hillary's certain coronation, one name will surface both now and in the history books and that will be WEINER. Despite Hillary's preference for female company, she was (at least in part) done in by a weiner.


Emotional China

I'm having dinner with our fellow blogger LSP in Dallas tonight, in the hopes that our discussions can bring some closure and sanity to the present "crisis in China". These sorts of summit meetings are often ignored by the scions of the airwaves and it's not unlike two jets landing in Phoenix... But will China listen to this high level advice?
Maybe not. That sort of inscrutable wisdom doesn't come cheap and the Chinese are notoriously tight fisted. (Shameless plug for "Consulting Services") 
Irrespective of Chinese attention, steaks will be consumed with a possible doggy bag for Blue Avenger, LSP's faithful hound.
The People's Republic of China is asserting that Taiwan and its people are 'theirs' even though the Nationalist Chinese think otherwise. The PRC is also asserting that the US$500 billion annual trade deficit with the US of A is theirs by right as well. More on that later in this blog posting.

The Chinese Ministry of National Defense said in a statement that on 10 December a dozen Chinese military aircraft flew around Taiwan. The Ministry said that only four aircraft completed the entire circuit. The aircraft remained in international airspace and did not enter Taiwan’s air defense identification zone, according to the Taiwan ministry of defense.

The patrols are a reminder that China has emerged as the regional hegemon. Regarding the status of Taiwan, the military aircraft convey the message that China will fight to prevent Taiwan from declaring independence. They also are a reminder that China can attack Taiwan before the US can come to its assistance.


Because we are dealing with Chinese, there is always a subrosa type of message that accompanies these things that explains to everyone too stupid to get the message what the message really is.

On December 12, the Party-owned daily, Global Times, published a strongly worded attack against President-elect Trump and presumed to tutor him on diplomacy. It concluded by patronizing and disparaging the President-elect. A few excerpts follow. 
“The One China policy is not for selling. Trump thinks that everything can be valued and, as long as his leverage is strong enough, he can sell or buy. If a price can be put on the US Constitution, will the American people sell their country's constitution and implement the political systems of Saudi Arabia or Singapore?”

“Trump needs to learn to handle foreign affairs modestly, especially the China-US relationship. More importantly, a hard struggle against Trump is needed to let him know that China and other world powers cannot be easily taken advantage of.”

“If Trump gave up the One China policy, publicly supported Taiwan independence and wantonly sold weapons to Taiwan, China would have no grounds to partner with Washington on international affairs and contain forces hostile to the US. In response to Trump's provocations, Beijing could offer support, even military assistance to US foes.”

“The One China policy has maintained peace and prosperity in Taiwan, and, if abandoned, cross-Straits ties would see a real storm. China would introduce a series of new Taiwan polices, and may not prioritize peaceful reunification over a military takeover if Trump insisted on his provocations. The US has no control over the Straits, and Trump is naïve to think he can use the One China policy as a bargaining chip to win economic benefits from China.”

“…Nothing is impossible if the Trump administration goes too far.”

“In the meantime, it's very likely that Trump may not have put too much thought into it. He is no geopolitical maniac, but just has little experience in diplomacy. He doesn't understand how dangerous it can be when he involves the US in such an explosive game. After all, this requires some personal experience.”

“Given his inexperience, Trump is easily subject to the hawkish advisers around him. He assumes whatever he says doesn't matter before he takes office. We will learn more about how he interprets the One China policy after he is sworn in. Meanwhile, China needs to be fully armed and prepared to take a Sino-US rollercoaster relationship together with Trump. And many others in the world will probably also need to fasten their seatbelts.”
Global Times disclosed in this “op ed” the thinking of a faction, possibly the majority, of the Chinese leadership to include President Xi. The piece reveals that China already has developed contingency responses to the incoming US administration. Early planning is characteristic of Chinese crisis management style. China is preparing for what could evolve into a crisis in US relations.

Chinese contingency plans include a military takeover of Taiwan. China has made it clear since before the Taiwan Strait crisis of 1996 that it will use force against Taiwan. It is now making clear that it has multiple capabilities to do so.

The mention of military assistance for US foes is a reference to North Korea and Iran, at least. Its context is the long abandoned Chinese policy of supporting wars of liberation in Africa and of providing direct military support in the Korean and Vietnam Wars and the Indo-Pakistan war of 1971. China also could openly support Pakistan in its endless confrontation with India over Kashmir and use force to disputed seize Indian territories in the Himalayas.

The Issue

For China it's not so much the Taiwan issue as it is the prospect of a tougher US trade policy that has them on edge. The screwing of America has been a source of big money for the Chinese and US dependence on Chinese-made goods that enter the US without a meaningful tariff. In part, it is the engine that propels Chinese national growth. For President Xi to remain in office, China must experience growth at a scale unprecedented by American domestic standards.

It's not just the frightening prospect of US tariffs that concerns the Chinese. What about Europe (becoming increasingly nationalistic) and their cheap Chinese imports and knock-offs? What if the West gets serious about stopping Chinese industrial espionage? These issues are met with anger and emotion from China, which sees all of these things as its 'right to take'. None of us should be surprised if the emotion from China increases and if they react --- but their reaction has to be tempered. If they take their toys (literally) and go home, they will wither on the vine.

Gov. Branstad and President Xi
The US owes China a couple trillion dollars. If you owe somebody $300, you're a debtor. If you owe them $3,000,000,000,000, you're a partner. President Trump understands this. President Obama, who the Chinese felt was "unclean", did not, and they didn't respect him in the slightest.

The Chinese emotion extends to respect of a strong opponent and leader. President Trump is not going to be a push over, but he understands that the US and China need to cooperate. That's why he is appointing Gov. Terry Branstad as US Ambassador to China. The signals from Trump are not mixed. He's not their huckleberry but he is willing to talk. Future trade deals will benefit the USA more completely.