Anybody notice what's going on in Taiwan?
Call it the under-reported story of the year.
But if you're in Taiwan, you'd be mighty nervous, given that the Chinese navy is surrounding your entire island -- just as a military exercise, of course.
According to the Washington Post:
TAIPEI, Taiwan — China’s newest aircraft carrier has for the first time practiced attacking Taiwan from the island’s east coast, demonstrating Beijing’s growing determination to project power beyond the Taiwan Strait and far into the Pacific Ocean, an area traditionally dominated by the United States and its regional allies.
Chinese saber-rattling in the Taiwan Strait, which is just 80 miles wide at its narrowest point, has become commonplace as the Communist Party under Xi Jinping becomes increasingly vehement about its intent to take control of the self-governed democracy.
But the three days of military exercises around Taiwan that concluded on Monday marked a change: They focused on dominating the air and sea in the western Pacific by simulating a carrier-based strike from the far side of the island, rather than the usual approach from the Taiwan Strait that separates the island from China.
Which is disturbing, not only because it shows China's capabilities from the far side of the island but because unlike other military exercises, which theoretically at least, are defensive, this one can only be a dress rehearsal to an offensive attack on the island. Already, there's been plenty of rhetoric about that possibility coming from China.
It also comes as China has been racking up diplomatic victories, one of the most recent of which directly undercut of Taiwan, severing of relations to the island by the far-left government of Honduras, which had been one of the island-state's largest allies, in favor of China. The swiftly arranged tour of Taiwan's president to neighboring Guatemala, to shore up relations there, attests to the seriousness of which the Taiwanese considered the maneuver. China has been buying itself allies at a rapid pace through its One Belt, One Road initiative and its promises of big investments -- not just in Central America, but in strategically important Pacific island states such as Kiribati and the Solomon Islands. Most recently, France's president, Emmanuel Macron, has visited China -- to express his pride in France's decoupling from the U.S., and its obvious indifference to a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. One wonders if that will in retrospect be seen as an April Glaspie moment.
Now they're circling the island. Anybody concerned? Historian and geographer Robert D. Kaplan has noted that the biggest and most critical source of the U.S.'s famed global power is in its Great White Fleet, which ensures order and free trade of goods up and down the Pacific coast. If China takes Taiwan, U.S. "hegemony" will be broken. China knows this. And China can now see weak Joe Biden at the helm in the U.S. with all his allies deserting him and his military in disarray and it's drawing its own conclusions about what to do next.
It reminds me of how Russia amassed troops at the Ukraine border prior to its invasion last year -- as the Ukrainian government then dismissed the threat because they simply weren't ready, and couldn't comprehend it.
Mark Levin has some thoughts on that problem of mental readiness for a war in China here:
ARE YOU LISTENING America? I agree with Mark Levin: “We need to prepare for war against China. I don’t mean go to war. I don’t mean initiate a war. But they are preparing for war. We are completely unprepared as a nation, psychologically.” https://t.co/bW1PsBCL5b— Fernando Amandi Sr.🌐 (@FernandoAmandi) April 11, 2023
And here's what the Chinese think:
1/2 Chinese assessment of the Taiwan Strait: The US has neither a clear objective nor the means to achieve one, if it had one. Maybe that's why markets didn't flutter when the PLA did a practice blockade of Taiwan this week. https://t.co/cKfuBvhefN— David P. Goldman (@davidpgoldman) April 11, 2023
They've already seen how impressive the U.S. military under wokester Joe and Gen. Mark Milley is with the U.S. pullout in Afghanistan, and the fact that the U.S. is bogged down in supporting Ukraine. They also know that the U.S. is technologically behind:
This: https://t.co/qZgDyarc76— David P. Goldman (@davidpgoldman) April 11, 2023
The White House, of course, is now asleep at the switch. No statements, and no interest. Joe Biden is preoccupied with demonizing Republicans to win re-election.
What the CIA has to say about Taiwan is unknown, but it had accurately warned about the imminent invasion of Ukraine. It hasn't said much about this.
But even the markets are complacent. Writer David Goldman, who's also an investment banker, put out this tweet here, showing the hedging behavior in the markets:
The dog that didn't bark is market risk. Not a flutter in the implied volatility (hedging cost) of Chinese or Taiwan ETF's. Evidently no-one thinks there will be a war despite China's encirclement of the island. Below is implied and realized vol of MCHI. pic.twitter.com/6inJlNwXdU— David P. Goldman (@davidpgoldman) April 11, 2023
...and in Taiwan:
And here's the Taiwan ETF, EWT: pic.twitter.com/fIySCMnHTP— David P. Goldman (@davidpgoldman) April 11, 2023
No one's pricing in an invasion in the western markets -- with this kind of activity going on and China's obvious military superiority an emerging issue as Gen. Mark Milley worries about pronouns and his own white supremacy privilege in the U.S. military.
Now the outer bands of a big hurricane are beginning to hit the shore. How long and how far this goes is unknown, perhaps the Chinese are waiting for the auspicious Year of the Dragon next year to make their final lunge and break U.S. power forever, but it could be anything. In light of what's going on now, it's not good.
Image: Screen shot from shareable Washington Post video, via Microsoft Start