Nice Things

President Xi Jinping and his cronies in the People’s Republic of China government look like they’re settling in for a long trade war with us. The claim, too, is that deteriorating relations with us, and allowing them to deteriorate further, are a sign of Xi’s strength as a leader of the government and of the Communist Party of China.

This misunderstands, though: those deteriorating relations are a good illustration of Xi’s weakness as a leader, not his strength. It takes strength, mind you, to be willing to change course when the chosen one proves…inopportune.

Germany…Dithers

…on the matter of helping protect freedom of shipping through the Strait of Hormuz and, presumably, up into the Arabian Gulf.

Great Britain, in an effort that parallels the US’ efforts, is proposing a European naval mission to the region to protect European oil tankers.  Germany isn’t sure.  On the one hand, Norbert Röttgen, Bundestag Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairman, says

Our prosperity lives on free shipping.  And we have to make clear that we stand alongside our British friends, partners and allies who are affected. There must be joint European action.

But the US might be involved, so he dithers:

Trade Talks

The People’s Republic of China wants to slow-walk these negotiations in the expectation that their delay will get them better terms.

Beijing, while wanting to appear willing to negotiate, thinks it can extract better terms by not hurrying into concessions, according to Chinese experts and others briefed on the talks.

The PRC’s attitude, though, seems counterproductive.

Since negotiations faltered in May, Chinese officials have said that for any eventual trade deal, the US must be reasonable about the amount of goods China can purchase and must remove all the tariffs placed on Chinese exports in the dispute.

Responsibilities

Iran, as I write this (Monday), has rejected efforts to defuse the situation in the Arabian Gulf, a situation it has created with its piracy of and extended threats toward oil shipping in the Gulf and transiting the Strait of Hormuz.  Indeed, in response to a planned British redeployment of a couple of small combat ships to the Gulf to add to the protection of British tankers, Iran had this:

But Mr [Ali, Iranian government spokesman] Rabie warned Sunday that a European military deployment in the Gulf would be viewed as an escalation of the crisis. “Such moves under the current conditions are provocative,” he said, according to IRNA.

A Foolish Question

In a piece about British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s new Brexit architect Dominic Cummings, a question was raised that’s central to the next three months of Great Britain’s future and perhaps to its future’s subsequent years.

The question now is whether he [Cummings] will steer the Johnson government toward swallowing a compromise divorce deal with the EU or prepare it to quit with no deal at all.

This is a foolish question. Not only are they not mutually exclusive, they must be done in parallel—or rather the better question must be done in parallel with the no-deal: steering the matter toward a better compromise from the EU.

Finally

Great Britain, early in this latest stage, might finally have a Prime Minister who’s serious about Brexit because he’s committed to it in his soul, unlike the Remainer Theresa May (whom I think made a good faith effort, but because her heart wasn’t in it, she couldn’t perform).

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson laid out a hard-line negotiating stance with the European Union, setting the stage for fraught Brexit talks before the UK’s scheduled departure from the bloc on Oct 31.

Among other things,

One More Reason

…to be clear and overt in our support for the Republic of China.

We sailed a guided missile cruiser through the international waters of the Taiwan Strait last Wednesday, and the People’s Republic of China objected.  Then it threatened.

China said it would take all necessary military measures to defeat “separatists” in Taiwan.

This comes, also, after the PRC threatened military action against the people of Hong Kong because they’ve been uppity enough to insist that the PRC honor its commitment to Hong Kong’s (semi-)autonomy IAW its handover agreement with Great Britain.

Asylum Seekers

The Trump administration has moved to make it harder for folks arriving on our border to claim to be seeking asylum, and the American Civil Liberties Union and American Immigration Council don’t like it.  Here’s AIC’s Managing Director Royce Murray:

…the Trump administration is “throwing everything they have at asylum seekers in an effort to turn everyone humanly possible away….”

Which, of course, misrepresents the facts.  The vast majority of folks arriving at our border claiming to be asylum seekers are nothing of the sort. Their presence on our border or illegally crossing it demonstrates that they’ve already rejected asylum offers, even job possibilities—offers and possibilities Mexico has offered them.

Clearing the Decks

Boris Johnson has been elected—by a 2:1 margin—the new Conservative leader, and after a ritual with the Queen Wednesday, will become (I’m writing Tuesday) the new British Prime Minister.  He’s already losing a number of cabinet ministers, and some are painting that as a negative beginning.

Several ministers—including Justice Secretary David Gauke—resigned, indicating they would oppose any effort by Mr. Johnson to leave the EU without a deal to soften the predicted economic shock.

I disagree that this is a negative.  On the contrary, their departure is no great loss beyond the cumbersomeness of replacing them. This just clears out some of the obstructionists and makes it easier for Johnson to put in place his own Brexit team.

PRC, “Armored Weapons,” and Hong Kong

Recall the People’s Republic of China’s use of tanks to suppress the Tiananmen Square protests that resulted in some 2,000 civilian deaths.

Here’s the PRC’s new anti-protest armor: truncheons.  With the official police standing around, watching:

Media in Hong Kong have released footage of masked men in white shirts beating black-clad protesters with steel pipes and wooden poles in a subway station and on public transit. The protesters attempted to defend themselves with umbrellas.
Passengers said police did not intervene in Sunday’s attacks by the men, which left 45 people injured.