The Taiwan Election

I think I mentioned in passing last week that Taiwan was coming up on an important election. They had it last Saturday and re-elected President Tsai Ing-wen. A massive landslide actually with 58% of the vote. Bryan Preston at PJ Media has the story.

President Tsai campaigned on taking a hard line against the mainland and in favor of independence. Today she wasted no time in sending another strong signal that Taiwan is not interested in adopting the “one country, two systems” Beijing insists on. Tsai met with the head of the American Institute in Taiwan today.

Fresh from a landslide re-election victory, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen met Sunday with the de facto U.S. ambassador to Taipei.

William Brent Christensen, a U.S. diplomat who is director of the American Institute in Taiwan, congratulated Tsai on her victory in Saturday’s election, and she thanked him for his support.

The meeting came as China warned that countries should stick with recognizing communist-ruled Beijing as the rightful government of “one China,” including Taiwan.

This follows a strong statement of support from the Trump administration.

Meanwhile, observers from Hong Kong were on hand to witness Taiwan’s vote.

At a raucous election rally for Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen, Hong Konger Karen Leung surveyed the huge crowd of excited flag-waving voters as a rap song blasted over the loudspeakers and sighed: “We want to have elections like this.”

Leung is one of scores of Hong Kong election tourists who have travelled to Taiwan this week to witness something denied to them – universal suffrage.

The entire Hong Kong Free Press story linked above is worth reading, [here] to get a sense of how Taiwan and Hong Kong now see each other. Hong Kongers recognize Taiwan’s long fight for independence and now democracy. Taiwan recognizes and is supplying Hong Kong as an ally, with gas masks, de facto asylum, and other support.

When Tsai appeared at a Thursday night rally, the crowd shouted the popular protest chant: “Free Hong Kong, revolution of our times.”

Hong Kong and Taiwan are separated by about 700 miles of water and together add up to about 30 million people. Up against mainland China’s billion, they would seem to have no chance. But Hong Kong’s potential impact on mainland China makes it the most important city on earth at the moment. China has not cracked down hard on the pro-democracy protesters, because it knows how much it stands to lose. At the same time, allowing Hong Kong to go its own way encourages Taiwan, and dissidents and anti-communists within mainland China itself, particularly Hong Kong’s neighboring province, Guangdong. China could lose no matter what it chooses. Hong Kong could break the last large communist empire. They know it, Taiwan knows it, and Beijing knows it.

And again we see the appeal of liberty, to those under the gun, Taiwan has been since 1949, and Hong Kong since 1997. We watched last year as the Hongkongers started with the old Hong Kong Colonial Flag and the Union Flag, and then borrowed the Stars and Stripes. I can’t say about you but I was moved. For all our problems, we remain the last best hope for liberty in this world, as we have been for centuries. And note that President Ing-wen was also quick to thank us for supporting her.

Not since the fall of the wall have so many clamored so loudly for freedom, not the artificial freedom that entities like the EU offer such as freedom from want, but real freedom to think and to say what one believes, you know American style freedom built on God-given rights.

This is what happens when America leads, people are empowered to seek their own freedom. We are seeing it in Europe, we are seeing it in Iran, and we are seeing it in Asia. Some call it the Trump Effect, and in truth, he is a focal point for it, as our president. But truly it is America and our history that produces this effect. The beacon fire in the city on the hill still burns brightly. May we keep it so.

China’s teething Problems

Yesterday we looked at how the Royal Navy is progressing smoothly in its return to big deck carrier aviation. Most of that is down to British know-how and the professionalism of the Royal Navy. But some of it is also due to the United States Navy, who has helped Britain maintain the skills and ethos of air warfare at sea. It’s been a remarkably successful program for both countries.

But another country wants to play in this league, Communist China. And no surprise its program isn’t running so smoothly. Strategy Page explains.

Earlier in 2019 it looked like China was moving forward to expand its carrier force by building four steam powered carriers followed by a larger nuclear powered class similar to the American ones. At the end of 2019 it was announced that plans had changed. There were numerous problems that contributed to the decision and it meant a smaller Chinese fleet with far fewer carriers.

The most immediate problem was the trade war with the United States. Exports to the U.S. are down 23 percent and devaluation of the yuan (the Chinese currency) mean that dollars coming from the U.S. trade is down by nearly 30 percent. […]

The second problem is military technology. China expected difficulties developing and implementing all the many technologies needed to effectively operate carrier task forces. Fixing those problems is taking longer than expected. This is especially true with the carriers and aircraft that can operate from them. Most of China’s modern aircraft are illegal copies of Russian designs and efforts to implement lots of stolen American aircraft tech has not gone as smoothly as hoped. […]

There is another problem with those claims; many Chinese neighbors have increased their defense spending specifically to deal with the Chinese navy. The American naval forces in the western Pacific plus the fleets of South Korea and Japan were already a formidable naval force blocking Chinese use of gunboat diplomacy. But now many smaller nations are allied with the larger anti-Chinese nations and those smaller nations are buying lots of submarines, fighter-bombers with anti-ship missiles as well as shore based anti-ship missiles. The Chinese plan to build more warships and intimidate neighbors into submission backfired. The many threatened neighbors united and joined an arms race China cannot afford.

One could almost feel sorry for them if they weren’t bloodthirsty tyrants. But they are, and so the most likely targets for US (and British, YAY!) carrier planes in the next decade or so is likely to be those carriers of the Chinese Army Navy

Look, there’s not much to add if you read the link. But it’s good they are having problems, and we should do what we can to make them worse. We had a huge head start back in the day, started as a British colony, and adopting many of the RNs attitudes. And still, 250 years on, we speak the same language, and not only English but other little things, like always seeking the weather gage, so to force the engagement, even against odds. That’s why the single-ship actions in our wars against Britain were so thrilling, nobody was will to run.

The Chinese are assiduous students of history, but there remains a chasm between reading what needs to happen and knowing it instinctively, and that’s the difference. Can the Chinese overcome that? sure, eventually, but it will be expensive in both money and blood. The Royal Navy has been around since the launch of HMS Mary Rose in 1510, the US Navy back to 13 October 1775. That’s a lot of knowledge and tradition to overcome. Many have tried, none so far have succeeded. There is a reason why Catherine the Great of Russia once declared that the greatest Russian admiral was John Paul Jones.

Seventy-eight years ago this year the US Pacific fleet sailed into battle against Japan against overwhelming odds and in five minutes won the war against Japan. It’s what we do. And it is what the British taught us as well.

The Monday Roundup

A lot of (what I think is) good thinking showed up over the weekend. So let’s take a look at it. In American Thinker, Shoshana Bryen tells us that Trump’s foreign policy is “more money, less military’“.

One way to understand Trump administration foreign policy is to understand that it is more comfortable with the currency of currency than the currency of American soldiers abroad.  That isn’t always the best approach, since many of America’s adversaries are wedded to military interventions — including grossly illegal ones.  And how the United States reassures its allies that it is not abandoning the playing field to soldiers on the other side is of inestimable importance.

But since money appears central to administration thinking, consider China, the National Basketball Association (NBA), and the Trump administration.

That’s an interesting thought, and while I agree that it is not always the best approach, it’s not a terrible default idea – the soldiers are still about, but money is cheaper (for us, anyway) than blood.

The Trump administration, on the other hand, appears to have a stiffer spine, as befits the government of the United States.  It has gone straight after what China cares about most: energy, espionage, and the surveillance of its people. […]

And Huawei, the Chinese tech company, is looking to be running low on American semiconductors and other parts for its 5G network, raising questions about its ability to maintain global dominance in telecommunications — and industrial and national security spying.  Huawei can substitute its own parts in the network for American parts, but The Washington Post reports that “analysts have said a Huawei operating system would have a tough time competing globally with Google and its popular Gmail and Chrome apps[.] … Huawei chief executive Ren said the U.S. blockade was causing a large drop in Huawei’s smartphone sales outside of China.”

See what I mean, this may or may not have completely desirable results, but it’s a lot better than getting our people in the way of the Chinese Communists. It also leads into our next article, also from American Thinker by Robert Arvay, who asks is Trump leading Xi and Kim into a death trap.

A dictatorship is nothing more than an organized crime mob on steroids.  The head of state must brutally suppress (read: murder) anyone and everyone who poses even a remote threat to his power.  Dictators do not get voted out of office.  They get carried out, feet first.

Kim Jong-un, the dictator of North Korea (the title of chairman is a euphemism), is exceedingly paranoid.  Paranoia in a dictator is not a disorder; it is a necessary survival mechanism.  Kim not only murders anyone and everyone whom he even suspects of disloyalty, but takes nonlethal measures as well.  He even takes his own toilet with him wherever he travels, in order to prevent his DNA from falling into the hands of analysts who might deduce his physical infirmities. […]

The dictator, then, must carefully balance his threats and promises.  His acolytes must fear him.  Indeed, they must be constantly terrorized by the dictator’s ruthless exercise of authority.  However, the dictator must be exceedingly careful in how much terror he can impose.  Terror keeps him alive.  Panic can kill him. […]

Finally, this is what brings us to the ingenious method by which President Trump is deftly maneuvering both Kim and Xi into their potential death traps.  Both men are surrounded by loyalists who are not only terrorized, but also richly rewarded for their continued loyalty.  Once those rewards stop, once the dictator shows weakness, once he is defeated by a stronger enemy, the loyalists might panic.

Now mind, I doubt the President has thought all this out as clearly as the author writes, but Trump has been around the block a few times with some not overly nice guys, corrupt bureaucrats, even more corrupt unions and I imagine he learned some ways to get things done since he got things done.

Finally, yesterday, in 1775, something new was seen on the sea, for it was the birthdate of the American Navy. From that first salute at Stasia, to gunsmoke off Flamborough Head on the east coast of England, to a commendation from Lord Nelson himself, to the famous single-ship actions, to the destruction of two Spanish fleets, to Midway, Leyte Gulf, the successful submarine campaign, to Inchon, to the disaster relief provided by the fleet and the hospital ships, and right down to this week, the Navy has done it all and done America proud.

None of what we talked about today, or will in the future would be possible without the evident power of the United States Navy.

He who controls the sea controls the trade of the world,

He who controls the trade of the world controls the wealth of the world.

Sir Walter Raleigh and Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz.

Happy Birthday, Navy!

About That Greenland Deal

The President has been taking considerable heat from hither and yon about wanting to buy Greenland. It’s actually a pretty good idea on several fronts. Senator Tom Cotton wrote about it last weekend in a NY Times oped, I saw it via John Hinderaker at PowerLine. Both are links worth following, Senator Cotton reasons this way.

The acquisition of Greenland would secure vital strategic interests for the United States, economically benefit both us and Greenlanders, and would be in keeping with American — and Danish — diplomatic traditions.

Strategically positioned in the Arctic Circle, Greenland has long attracted the attention of American policymakers. As far back as 1867, Secretary of State William Seward explored the acquisition of Greenland around the time that he negotiated the purchase of Alaska from the Russians.

You remember Secretary Seward right? He bought Alaska from Russia, and it was called far and wide “Seward’s Folly’. Hasn’t looked much like a folly in the last 150 years or so though. Greenland is not all that different.

In 1946, the Truman administration offered $100 million to Denmark to acquire Greenland, arguing that the island was “indispensable to the safety of the United States” in confronting the growing Soviet threat, just as it had been in World War II when American forces used bases in Greenland to deter Nazi aggression. While the deal didn’t go through, we kept troops on the island throughout the Cold War. Today, the Air Force’s 21st Space Wing is stationed at Thule Air Base in western Greenland to support our ballistic-missile defenses and space missions.

In the last few years, China has also been trying to buy the island.

Beijing understands not only Greenland’s geographic importance but also its economic potential. Greenland is rich in a wide array of mineral deposits, including rare-earth minerals — resources critical to our high-tech and defense industries. China currently dominates the market in these minerals and has threatened to withhold them from us to gain leverage in trade negotiations. Greenland also possesses untold reserves of oil and natural gas.

That too is a good strategic reason, not terrifically important, maybe, as long as Denmark owns it, but… And remember, we are now looking for energy dominance. Oil and gas has something to do with that. But rare earth minerals are critical for such things as lithium-ion batteries, and China has most of that market, even if we don’t go with plug-in hybrids, almost all of our portable electronics, even military ones, use lithium-ion batteries.

This is also important:

An agreement to transfer Greenland’s sovereignty must also serve the interests of our good friends, the Danes, and the 56,000 Greenlanders as well. Their considerations ought to include the fact that despite Greenland’s long-term potential, a lack of infrastructure and financing still hamstring the island’s economy today. Greenland’s economy is less than one-tenth of Vermont’s, America’s smallest state economy. Every year, Denmark transfers $670 million in subsidies to support the island.

The Danes (and possibly the EU) might find they have other uses for that money, and Greenland is pretty close to us physically, easier to support and to help the Greenlanders where we can. Nothing really new about us and the Danes doing this either. You may recall that President Wilson purchased the Danish West Indies – which we know as the US Virgin Islands.

Tom Daly at American Thinker also reminds us that Denmark, through Greenland is a member of the Arctic Council, along with Russia, Sweden, Norway, Canada, Finland, Iceland, and through Alaska, the US. He says:

While for a few years the cooperation was relatively peaceful, relations started deteriorating in the early 2000’s. Russia became focused on investing and expanding rapidly in the Arctic, even planting their own flag on the North Pole. Their military buildup has been quick and efficient and so far, greatly outpacing even the U.S.

The Arctic’s global value is increasing yearly. The Arctic ice cap seasonal melting allows faster ships to opening up new trade routes, which are shorter thanks to the spherical shape of the Earth, in 2016 it was assessed that just the portion of the Arctic that could be measured was hoarding almost 25% of the world’s known oil and natural gas reserves. Consider this: wars have been waged for a lot less.

And the Council’s efforts to forestall some of what Russia is doing in the artic are not going well. I’m not doing the Russia, Russia, Russia thing, but Russia is a great power and it is the artic where we tend to run afoul of each other. Doesn’t make much difference to the Greenlanders at present as Denmark is certainly a western power, and a member of NATO, but it could, and China certainly is not. Personally, I think Trump’s idea is a good one, at nearly any reasonable price.

Besides they’re distant cousins of mine since Denmark got the island when they lost Norway (more or less voluntarily). Be nice to have them back in the family. ??

In truth, part of this looks like the President surprised the Danes by talking about it publically, and they reacted more out of their (normal European) dislike of him as anything else. Their PM has apologized for some of her language. Well, he shouldn’t have done that, but Trump is Trump and he does things his own way. Usually, it works out well, and in time it may here as well. Time always tells. Truman didn’t get it done for a $100 million, but who knows today.

Winning, so far, Anyway

This is interesting and actually some good news, for a change. I don’t know about you, but I could use some.

As all the world knows, the US and China are having, if not a full-scale trade war, some pretty serious trade skirmishes. So how is it going?

Pretty well actually, according to Chriss Street witing for American Thinker. Read it all. a lot of what I say here was derived from it.

Mexico and Canada were America’s top two trade partners in the first six months of 2019 as the escalating China-U.S. Trade War booted China to third place.

With China falling behind Mexico and Canada, President Trumps’ Trade War has succeeded in making North America’s revised trading bloc larger in population and GDP than the 28-nation European Union, according to Geopolitical Futures.

“I am a Tariff Man. When people or countries come in to raid the great wealth of our Nation, I want them to pay for the privilege of doing so. It will always be the best way to max out our economic power. We are right now taking in $billions in Tariffs. MAKE AMERICA RICH AGAIN”

Six months later, U.S. importers paid $6 billion in tariffs in June, a 74 percent spike compared to a year ago, despite a slight decline in import values. About $3.4 billion of those tariffs were imposed by President Trump, according to a study titled ‘Tariffs Hurt the Heartland’ by The Trade Partnership, a globalist Washington D.C. consulting firm.

The report claims Trump’s tariffs are highly inflationary by forcing consumers to pay an extra $4.4 billion for apparel, $2.5 billion for footwear, $3.7 billion for toys and $1.6 billion for household appliances.” But U.S. inflation in the first half of 2019 averaged just 1.7 percent, down from 2.4 percent last year, according to the U.S. Inflation Calculator.

The biggest key to holding back inflation has been the rapid global redeployment of manufacturing supply chains from China to Mexico, Canada, and even the United States. The repositioning speed demonstrates that analysts in the New York City to Washington D.C. corridor that predicted an inflationary spike had no clue regarding multinational businesses always having “disaster recovery” plans for alternative suppliers.

Every business, including the kid that mows your lawn, knows that lesson. Who knows what may happen to the gas station that you buy your mower fuel from. But it’s apparently over the head of The Trade Partnership. Not much of a surprise there, when ideology matters more than reality, stupid things happen.

In any case, one point the author makes is that while we often think of Mexico as a third world country, it actually is not. Depending on how you figure, it is nearly as large as Australia. One of the strengths of the USMCA as a trade bloc is that there is no attempt to align standards such as causes a lot of trouble in the EU.

That includes free trade agreements that steer jobs to low wage areas, and that very thing has cost the UK a lot of good jobs and is in fact, one of the things that are pushing Brexit.

By the way, the USMCA’s GDP (a somewhat flawed measurement, but it will serve) is $22.1 trillion compared with the EU’s $17.3 trillion.

What it seems that the President is offering the UK when it leaves the EU is some sort of association with the USMCA, which would add the UK’s $2.6 trillion (the fifth largest in the world) to the USMCA while removing it from the EU. Using current numbers that would make the USMCA’s GDP $24.7 trillion,

The EU continues its slide into mediocrity and uselessness.

About that trade war – we’re winning.

Video Monday

We haven’t had a video Monday for a while, so let’s get started.

This is rather nice, it is also true.

The ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.

Is the UK Labor party anti-Semitic? Did the sun come up in the east?

This is from the BBC’s Panorama, a full hour distilled down to eight minutes because an hour is too much.

Candace Owens on those children detained

Imagine that!

Moar Anne Widdecombe, because free people can never have too much Anne Widdecombe. Making the BBC look as stupid as it is here.

Bill Whittle on socialism

If you have an hour, this is worth spending it on. Victor Davis Hanson on The Case for Trump.

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