Diplomacy done right for Taiwan and India

Image from: https://www.imrmedia.in/india-rattles-china-appoints-new-envoy-to-taiwan/

Perhaps the only country not having a horrible 2020 might be Taiwan. Taiwan was one of the few countries to fight the spread of COVID-19 well, despite its proximity to Communist China. Later in the year, multiple US Navy vessels transited the Taiwan Straits, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reiterated that the US is “a good partner for security” for Taiwan.

Now, on the day that is celebrated as Taiwan’s Independence Day (10 October, or “Double 10” day), #TaiwanNationalDay is trending throughout India. Communist China tried to snuff it out in advance with a strongly worded “reminder” that there is only one China. Not long ago China and India were fighting each other along their mountainous border, so its no surprise that this “reminder” found its way to the press. The reaction by Indians is telling. Even better, the timing is great, with Secretary Pompeo meeting with top Indian officials at the end of the month to discuss how to deepen ties between India and the United States.

After taking Hong Kong, China showed the world it will weather any storm of protests to achieve its own goals. Anything short of hard military and economic power doesn’t work. People continue to protest the horrible maltreatment of Uighurs and development of South China Sea artificial islands, and yet nothing has changed. The only reason China hasn’t grabbed Taiwan is the risk it faces of US military action. To get over this, China has built a navy now larger than the US (at least in terms of number of ships) and modernized its ground and rocket forces.

Traditional thinking would condemn the US to build an even bigger military, and recently Defense Secretary Esper called for just that: a 500 ship Navy. That’s currently a pipe dream, because we can’t even man the Navy we have now. The Navy currently has roughly 350,000 Sailors; an increase to 500 ships would require gaining at least 200,000 more, not to mention ships and Sailors take time to build and train.

But India? India is already worried about China. India is already in conflict. If Taiwan brings India into any future conflict with Communist China, its a winning move. China doesn’t want to fight on two fronts. It might be able to hold off the US long enough to cement gains in Taiwan, but its not going to do well if India pushes into its western territories. Worse still, if a place like Tibet or Xinjiang decides to not rejoin China, that could drag any conflict out for years, dragging down the economy and the Chinese middle class in the process. That’s a double whammy, because Communist China has to provide a good economy in exchange for not being a democracy. If the economy goes south for too long, it risks revolt.

Deepening ties with India is a smart move for Taiwan and the US. Let’s hope we get more of this diplomacy to stave off future conflicts.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

India standing up to China

Lost in the media’s fake news was a very disturbing report of a clash between India and China, the world’s two most populated nuclear-enabled countries, in the Galwan Valley. If you don’t know where that is, its a north-eastern section that divides China from India. India and China fought a war in 1962 over this and other regions, which China won. Ever since then, the Chinese have been encroaching on the area, and small flare ups have happened now and then, including this latest fight.

What’s different is that India probably learned lessons from last time and was better prepared. Previously China tended to have the upper hand in conflict, but based on the downplay from both sides on the most recent conflict, I’m guessing it was much more of a draw. India’s military has upgraded much, including training, so it was more of an equal fight, especially because that area makes it more difficult for more advanced weapons to be brought to play.

The big lesson to learn here is that China is only going to respect power when it comes to border disputes. If you don’t punch back twice as hard, expect China to simply continue to take. It’s become more apparent that China is like Hitler’s Germany, never quite satisfied with whatever land was given up to satiate Hitler’s desires. China will find excuses to lay claim to the Galwan Valley, Tawang, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Siberia, Hawaii, and whatever else it can get away with.

This also opens up huge opportunities for US-India relations. India has traditionally used Russian weapons and equipment, but as China rolls out more upgraded gear, better equipment and training is needed to stand up to them. Given the U.S. experience in Afghanistan, especially for special warfare personnel, the border disputes give an opportunity for enhanced US-India military training. Even better, from a strategic standpoint, having an open conflict on China’s western border would be a way to temper Chinese ambitions in other areas. China can take on Japan, Taiwan or South China Sea claimants one by one, but if they combine and also face a land war on their western border, its a bit much to handle.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

Review, Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak

By John Ruberry

“While we can’t predict where the next influenza pandemic is going to come from,” Dennis Carroll, the director of the emerging threats unit of US Agency for International Development, says in the third episode of the new six episode Netflix documentary series Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak, “there are certain places that you want to pay particular attention to–and China is one of those, that’s the place where we’ve seen the emergence of virtually all of the deadly influenza viruses over the last half-century.”

Carroll says this while images of a Vietnamese wet market, where live chickens are sold and slaughtered, are shown.

“We know that viruses move from wildlife into livestock into people,” he says early in that same episode.

I’m writing this from home in Illinois, where I am living under Governor JB Pritzker’s shelter-in-place order because of the COVID-19 coronoavirus outbreak. While the origin of this disease is still being debated it is likely, according to experts, that it did first infect humans at a wet market.

I saw Pandemic last week on my Netflix welcome screen and at first I looked away and said to myself, “If I want to know about pandemics I can switch on the local news–or cable news.” And I was concerned that this was, to use the legendary chant from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, a “bring out your dead” series. And it starts that way, with Carroll, at a mass grave in western Pennsylvania, one that is marked by a single crucifix. The site contains the remains of victims of the 1918 influenza pandemic. Yes, not only can it happen here–but it has happened here.

And the “not-if-but-when” pandemic has arrived, only it’s coronavirus instead of influenza.

The focus of Pandemic is on the scientists, the aid workers, and the doctors on the front lines of disease prevention and cures. People like Jake Glanville and Sarah Ives, the scientists who are working with pigs in Guatemala to develop an all-strains flu virus, as well as Dr. Dinesh Vijay, who treats flu patients at a crowded hospital in Jaipur, India. But disease isn’t just an urban phenomenon. In Pandemic, we meet Holly Goracke, the sole doctor at tiny Jefferson County Hospital in rural Oklahoma, who works 72-hour shifts. And we also become acquainted with Dr.Syra Madad, the director of the special pathogens program of New York City Health and Hospitals.

Along the way we are introduced to anti-vaccination activists in Oregon, health care workers at an Arizona border detention center, and World Health Organization disease fighters in the Democratic Republic of Congo, who not only face the risk of contracting the extremely deadly Ebola virus, but also getting murdered by gangs.

Surprisingly, religion is viewed favorably in this scientific docuseries. Madad, Goracke, and Vijay all rely on faith to strengthen them as they battle disease.

Not surprisingly there are a few knocks in Pandemic over lack of funding from the Trump administration. Including from Madad. But she’s not infallible. In January, in a CNBC interview shortly after the debut of Pandemic, Madad praised China’s efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19, although she did parse her statement with, “It’s too early to tell.” I wager she’d like to take that praise back.

If you are suffering from anxiety over coronavirus, you may want to stay away from Pandemic. The same goes if you are an anti-vaxxer–you’ll just get POd. Also, I suggest if you decide to view Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak then take it in just one episode at a time. At times the series is emotionally exhausting.

Pandemic is rated TV-14, Netflix says, because of foul language and smoking. And there are some disturbing scenes.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Reminder that Climate Change Activists are Full of It

by baldilocks

School children went on strike in the name of climate change last week. I don’t even feel like checking to see which day it was because I know that the activists who put these kids up to skipping class don’t really care about the climate. If they did, the United States would be far down on the list for castigation.

But the activists are all over Americans and Europeans about climate change and pollution for simple reasons: they know that the West is capable of being shamed about it and that Westerners have money. Activists pretty much ignore the real problem nations, places like India

Twenty-two of the world’s 30 worst cities for air pollution are in India, according to a new report, with Delhi again ranked the world’s most polluted capital.

The Greenpeace and AirVisual analysis of air pollution readings from 3,000 cities around the world found that 64% exceed the World Health Organization’s annual exposure guideline for PM2.5 fine particulate matter – tiny airborne particles, about a 40th of the width of a human hair, that are linked to a wide range of health problems.

Every single measured city in the Middle East and Africa exceeds the WHO guidelines, as well as 99% of cities in south Asia and 89% in east Asia.

… and China.

According to search results, China and Pakistan compete for the most polluted countries in the world. Most of the other top polluters are in South Asia and Africa, as mentioned in the Guardian link.

Some of these lists of Top Ten Most Sh*tholiest Countries slide the United States and other First World countries into the mix, but I wonder, in spite of what we’ve seen lately in Baltimore and in Los Angeles.

Look at this video. It’s said to be from the Dominican Republic.

Look. I understand why none of the activists want to go bother the children of Middle Eastern Muslims, Africans, or the Chinese. I mean who wants to die or get arrested in, say, Nigeria?

But let’s stop pretending that America is the Devil in the religion of climate change.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng has been blogging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here.  She published her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012.

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