Tag Archives: Taiwan

October 18, 2017


Author Gary Moreau, aka Avam Hale in fiction

Wednesday, October 18, 2017, will be an important day for the world. Its ultimate significance is likely to be even greater than the 2016 US presidential election.

On this day, the 19th Communist Party of China National Congress will convene in Beijing to review the Party’s work over the past five years, discuss and set the future direction for the country, and to elect a new central leadership.

During this Congress, it is widely expected that Chairman Xi Jinping will both secure his legacy and tighten his grip on power. It appears an almost foregone conclusion that he will come away from the Congress with a grip on power not seen since the reign of Mao Zedong himself, although no leader will ever quite achieve the historical status that Chairman Mao has.


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Assuming that comes to pass, the world can expect Chairman Xi to double down on the major initiatives of the past five years for the next five, at least. All will be aligned with achieving the Chinese Dream at the heart of Xi’s political, social, and economic agendas. It is a redemptive legacy designed, first and foremost, to assign the Chinese Century of Humiliation (roughly 1850-1950) to the historical dustbin. This task will both influence and define everything else.

That said, here are my predictions for the next five years and beyond.

1. Energy – According to China Daily, more than 2.5 million people currently work in China’s solar power sector. That’s roughly ten times the number employed by the solar industry in the US. And in January of this year China vowed to invest 365 billion USD in renewable power generation by 2020.

Starting in 2019, China’s automotive companies will be required to begin the phase out of cars powered with internal-combustion engines. Some have predicted that by 2030 they will be outlawed completely.

China will continue to take the global lead in renewable energy and climate change. It has to and it wants to. China’s environmental degradation is not sustainable and it believes that the world will ultimately face the same challenges it does as population levels continue to rise. That spells economic opportunity for those companies at the forefront of renewable and alternative energy technology.

2. SOE Reform – Following China’s “opening up”, a process that began in 1989 and ushered in an era of unparalleled economic growth, many state-owned enterprises were privatized. Much of China’s economic growth, and a significant share of its burgeoning personal wealth, flowed from this transformation.

Some of China’s most powerful and influential industries, however, such as banking and financial services, remain under government ownership. By the end of this year, however, the Party has committed to turning all SOE’s into limited liability or joint-stock companies. This may well unleash an even more powerful surge in economic growth at a time when the Western economies continue to struggle for wage and inflation growth. China’s economy, as a result, now the second largest in the world, should equal the US in the next one or two decades.

3. South China Sea – There will be no backing down by China. China will risk World War III to protect its sovereignty. In its mind, it has no option. The West will ultimately be forced to accept this reality, with or without armed conflict.

4. North Korea – In one form or another, the rogue province will ultimately become a sovereign territory of China. China cannot and will not allow South Korea and its American ally to occupy the 880-mile (1,420 km) border it shares with North Korea.

For both environmental and competitive reasons, moreover, China needs to decompress the geographic concentration of its heavy industry (e.g. steel) and find new sources of low cost labor. North Korea will provide a convenient and geographically well-positioned opportunity to address both needs while providing a security buffer to China’s all-important southern region.

5. Regulation – Despite the ownership reforms cited above, government regulation will both federalize and increase in the future. The environment will be regulated with an iron fist. The Chinese Internet will be rigorously defended as both a Chinese asset and a tool for social and economic progress, not a medium for personal political expression. American technology companies will find limited opportunity there.

6. Hong Kong and Taiwan –  Neither will be granted the kind of political independence that Western political activists would like to see. This won’t even be considered. (On the contrary, North Korea will ultimately join them.) And any resulting social unrest, which should be quite limited, will be swiftly quelled.

7. Belt & Road –  Otherwise known as China’s Silk Road Initiative, China will continue to view this as a top foreign policy initiative. China views this as its best chance to economically develop its western provinces and release some of the cultural and political pressure it currently faces there. This will have a significant impact on all of Central and South Asia, including India, Pakistan, and many of the former members of the Soviet axis.

8. Politics –  China will exhibit no desire to export its political model except in matters of national security. Nor, however, will it move to adopt any form of the US political model. To most Chinese, the American model is not an attraction. If they are to borrow any foreign political ideals they will look to the socialism of Scandinavia, with “Chinese characteristics”, of course.

Is this good or bad news for the US and the West? In the end, it doesn’t matter. It will happen. The West, for a myriad of reasons, has lost the ability to shape world events. Phase III of Western imperialism (i.e. I. colonization, II. de-colonization, III. colonial dominance—the global dominance of the former colonies) will inevitably unfold.

As a pragmatist, I accept this reality. It is what it is. And if forced to choose, I believe, on balance, that this can be a period of positive replenishment for the US and its citizens. We will achieve far more by focusing our resources and our energy on renewing the American spirit, revitalizing American infrastructure, and revitalizing opportunity for all American citizens and immigrants, than we will on continuing to pursue inevitably ineffective attempts to reshape the world in our image.

It’s not a digital choice, however. We aren’t limited to putting America or the rest of the world first. Isolation isn’t a realistic option, as China itself has learned. By being a collaborative partner and embracing the diversity of the world, and accepting the inevitable ills of unfettered free markets and their corporate champions (e.g., polarized wealth distribution), we can help to usher in an era of unparalleled global prosperity, peace, and enlightenment.

And it could all start on October 18.

You may contact the author at gary@gmoreau.com
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The Larger Context

Author Gary Moreau

This is the time of year for self-reflection. The pensiveness just oozes out of columns, blogs, and news reports across the media spectrum. I prefer to think of it, however, as a time for putting things in a larger context. That, in my experience, is the first step toward understanding and, ultimately, hope.

With the election of Donald Trump and his proven ability to stir up angst in Beijing, one would think this blog would literally write itself. And he has created an abundance of topics to write about concerning US-China relations.

I find myself, however, having the opposite problem – writer’s block. What to say? Where to begin? What will he do?

That has brought me back to a saying I employed many times when living and working in the Middle Kingdom. In China things are never as good or as bad as they first appear. It’s all just part of the circular logic of inductive reasoning.

That said, I will offer a few predictions.

First of all, Trump will get nowhere on Taiwan. That’s just not in the cards on many levels, any more than California is in play with Mexico. If anything, his attempt to push the issue will only cause China to accelerate its plans for assimilation.

Ditto for the South China Sea. China will not back down. The man-made islands are there to stay and there will be military installations on them.

And trade negotiations alone won’t move the needle on US factory employment. Some jobs may move here, but it is the Chinese that will bring them. America offers many advantages to companies in certain industries. There is easy and inexpensive access to the US market, access to the best university system in the world, and one key benefit that is seldom mentioned – very cheap energy.

There will be limits to transferal, however. There are many very large companies in China, many of them state-owned. For every one of the behemoths, however, there are literally thousands of tiny companies that are critical to their operations. Unlike the US, which employs more of an integrated supply chain, China relies on a supply chain ecosystem that would be prohibitive and impractical to move. It may happen; but it will be a slow process. A phone call from the president isn’t going to do it.

Understanding China is available at Amazon in paper and electronic formats.

The real lesson of 2016, however, is a lesson I learned from the Chinese themselves.

The one question that plagued me throughout 2016 was: How did the world get so messed up? How could the shining city on the hill have such a debasing and acrimonious – and embarrassing – election after 240 years of maturation? How could racism still be the ball and chain about the ankle of what might well be the most educated society in history? How could Aleppo happen in what is arguably the most religious region of the world? How could? How could?

After pondering the larger context, however, I think I have an answer.

As always, it’s personal. Our worldview defines how we interpret reality. And the way in which we interpret reality defines both our expectations and our interpretation of actual results versus those expectations. It is at the heart of both glee and sadness.

I have concluded that there are essentially two worldviews. One is defined by its reliance on inductive logic, where the result is all that matters and everything else is wasted conjecture. The other is based on deductive logic, where effect is always preceded by cause and understanding that relationship is the key to our sense of personal well being.

In the extreme, inductive logic gives us religious and political fanaticism. We don’t need to ponder our beliefs; they are what they are. We only need to project them into action.

Deductive logic, on the other hand, gives us political correctness. What is political correctness, after all, but an extreme focus on cause? The focus is on language, bigotry, racism, and homophobia, etc. And since cause is the key, the results become a taboo topic for open discussion. Such discussions almost always revert back to cause – “You are a racist, a homophobic, or a misogynist.”

Tit for tat is based on an inductive worldview. You did this; I am justified in doing that. Cause is irrelevant. You did; I do back.

Progressive ideology, on the other hand, is deductive in nature. It’s built on the never-ending quest to understand why. It is the perpetual quest for deciphering cause and effect.

Most of the world, it would seem, has adopted an inductive worldview. That’s not surprising. It is much simpler to wrap your head around. It’s clean, if you will. There is more clarity.

Many in the West, however, cling to a deductive worldview. For most of my life, I have been one of them. That’s why I don’t sleep at night. I’m always pondering why.

I’ve moved a long way toward an inductive worldview, however, as a result of living and working in China for so long. I still don’t sleep but the world makes a lot more sense to me. There is less anxiety.

And it is that migration in worldview that gives me hope for the future. I am an old dog but the Chinese taught me a new trick. As a result I am more tolerant; I listen better; I am less judgmental; and I have a far better understanding of world events, as depressing as they are on the surface.

Donald Trump is an inductivist with some extremely deductive personality traits. He is not a student of cause but believes in the power of cause. He believes that the desired result can be achieved through the raw force of personality and tough negotiation. And Twitter, of course.

My simple hope for 2017 is that the Trump team comes to recognize this contradiction. It’s a contradiction that has made Trump a success in the rough-and-tumble world of American commercial real estate. It is not, however, a worldview shared by most world leaders, who tend to fall more on either side of the inductive/deductive spectrum.

In the end, all of the tough negotiations in the world will not make China, or much of the world for that matter, become more like us. The Chinese are perhaps the toughest negotiators on the planet. When we do, they will do back. Win-win is not in their lexicon. That’s a deductive negotiating strategy. For them, there is only winning.

There is hope, nonetheless, for a peaceful and mutually beneficial relationship between the US and China. We just need to focus a little more on the way things are rather than endlessly debating our strategic interests in an effort to ‘cause’ the world to do what we want it to.

Contact: You may reach the author at understandingchina@yahoo.com. Mr. Moreau is also available for public speaking and the provision of third-party written content for your website or other communications material.

Taiwan Redux

Author Gary Moreau

One of the hallmarks of this blog since it launched in 2013 is that I never write on the same topic twice in a row. It’s part of my identity. I aspire to help the reader understand China and since no country or culture is one-dimensional, I believe variety is essential and symbolically appropriate.

This post is an exception. But the 2016 US presidential election was also an exception on many levels and it set the stage for breaking with tradition. Based on the behavior of President-elect Trump during his transition to office, moreover, I doubt very much it will be the last.

Breaking with four decades of precedent, the president-elect took a congratulatory phone call from the leader of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, on December 2, 2016. And as I noted in my last post, the Chinese leadership in Beijing took strong exception to the unprecedented move but otherwise appeared to signal that all would be forgiven as long as it didn’t happen again. (China considers Taiwan to be a renegade province.)

In the days that followed the phone exchange, however, the president-elect demonstrated in no uncertain terms just how unconventional he would be as the leader of the Western world. He has gone on record noting that he feels no obligation to accept the “one China” policy that has guided US diplomatic behavior since the US transferred official diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979.

With a population of 25 million people it would seem unlikely that Trump would ultimately jeopardize the US relationship with the world’s second largest economy and the US’s third largest export market. And what would be the justification? Principle? To date the president-elect has not outlined any over-riding personal principles that would seem to support such extreme action.

Except, that is, his fundamental belief in the art of the deal.

As several observers have noted, the president-elect is more than likely using Taiwan as a bargaining chip to extract trade and other concessions from Beijing. And that would be a very, very dangerous strategy indeed.

Understanding China is available at Amazon in paper and electronic formats.

In my book, Understanding China, I advised Westerners to avoid negotiating directly with the Chinese unless they have significant experience in Chinese culture and negotiation. Westerners negotiate to a win-win. The Chinese, on the other hand, negotiate to a win-lose. It’s an issue of worldview and culture.

The Chinese, I am confident, will call Trump’s bluff. They will not negotiate over Taiwan. The only question is whether or not they will take pre-emptive action to clearly demonstrate their resolve.

We must remember that Chinese political strategy today is built on the foundational memory of the Century of Humiliation. That is the period from 1840 (the First Opium War launched by Britain) to 1949 (Mao Zedong’s victory over the Nationalists), when China suffered mightily during invasions by imperialist Japan and the West.

It was a particularly humiliating period for China because Chinese culture turns on obligation, and obligation gives rise to the notion of “face.” Embarrassment is the ultimate suffering.

The Century of Humiliation is often alluded to by Chinese President Xi Jinping and remains a vivid and bitter memory for even the youngest of Chinese, as witnessed this past week by moving memorials to the 1937 Massacre of Nanjing (also known as the Rape of Nanjing due to the number of rapes that occurred), during which 200,000 to 300,000 Chinese, including many entire families, were massacred by invading Japanese forces. (Nanjing was called Nanking at the time and was the capital of China.)

To put Taiwan on the table as part of a larger economic negotiation, in other words, is both insulting to the average Chinese citizen and ignores the basic realities of Chinese history and culture. The desire to rebuild face has propelled Chinese nationalism among all age groups to a level that most in the West would find unfathomable.

The Global Times, a state-run newspaper ultimately controlled by the Communist Party, editorialized earlier this week, that “The Chinese mainland should display its resolution to recover Taiwan by force… If the Chinese mainland won’t pile on more pressure over realising reunification by using force, the chance of peaceful unification will only slip away.”

Just words? Perhaps. But the best compass of truth when assessing potential threats is rationality. And this approach does make sense. Who can honestly say what President-elect Trump will do in the future? There is no body of past political behavior to gauge the risk by. And, in fact, the case can be easily made that the risk of confronting the US on such a scale will arguably be less when the president-elect’s term of office is in its infancy and Americans are overwhelmingly focused on the economy.

I am not a military expert or a career diplomat. My gut instinct, however, based on nearly a decade of living and working in China, is that China has long had the military power to vanquish Taiwan in a matter of days, if not hours. And the Taiwanese know this, raising the distinct possibility that not a single shot will be necessary once intent is clearly established.

The reality is, moreover, that China does not need to take military action to make Taiwan suffer for its transgression. It has many diplomatic and economic tools (e.g. Prohibiting travel between the Mainland and Taiwan.) in its arsenal to effectively crush Taiwan economically and emotionally. And there is relatively little the US could do about it. Taiwan could not even appeal to the United Nations as it is not a member and Beijing sits on the veto-empowered Security Council (as does Russia).

Let us hope that all of this is simply part of the president-elect’s learning process and that the tensions will soon be dialed back. If this is simply a test of Chinese resolve, so be it. In business, however, the failure of a negotiating gambit merely results in the loss of a deal. In diplomacy, the stakes are much higher.

Contact: You may reach the author at understandingchina@yahoo.com. Mr. Moreau is also available for public speaking and the provision of third-party written content for your website or other communications material.

Taiwan: Issues of Economics, Not Politics

Author Gary Moreau

On December 2 Tsai Ing-wen, the political leader of Taiwan, spoke by phone to President-elect Trump, igniting a firestorm of conjecture and no small amount of indignation. China lodged a formal complaint, as would be expected, but the incident seems to have gained far more media attention than it deserves. Nothing, in the end, is likely to come of it.

Taiwan, historically known as Formosa, is an island that lies approximately 140 miles to the east of the Chinese province of Fujian, with which it shares a common native dialect. It is home to 25 million people, roughly the population of Shanghai or Guangzhou, two of China’s larger urban centers.

The original inhabitants of Taiwan are thought to have journeyed from southern China and after a brief stint as a Dutch colony, the island fell under the rule of the Qing Dynasty until 1895, at which time the island was forcibly ceded to Japan as a result of the First Sino-Japanese War.

At the conclusion of World War II, most of China was still under the control of Chiang Kai-shek and the Kuomintang (KMT) government, to which the Allies gave control of the island. Mao Zedong and the Communists, however, ousted the KMT and created the People’s Republic of China in 1949.

At the time, Chiang Kai-shek and his followers fled to Taiwan and created the Republic of China (ROC). It is estimated that roughly 15% of Taiwan’s current population has ancestral ties to that one mass migration.

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To further muddy the waters of history, the KMT, after fleeing to Taiwan, initially claimed sovereignty over all of China, which it claimed it would ultimately re-occupy. The KMT was, in fact, given China’s seat on the United Nations Security Council and was recognized by many Western governments as the only legitimate government in China.

Mao Zedong, however, and virtually all subsequent Chinese leaders, never saw Taiwan as anything more than a renegade province that would eventually be reunited with the mainland, by force if necessary. And that remains China’s official policy.

In 1971 the UN finally concurred and China’s seat on the Security Council was granted to Beijing. In 1979, moreover, the US and then-President Jimmy Carter formally severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan, leaving the ROC in the political no-man’s-land in which it currently finds itself. No US president since has communicated directly with the leader of Taiwan.

And hence the flap. As far as China is concerned the move was akin to having the governor-elect of Missouri communicating directly with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on matters of state.

But here’s where context becomes so important. Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau are all governed on the principle of “One China.” They are officially part of China but have been given great latitude to operate independently, within limits, as long as that principle is not violated. Mainland Chinese can travel easily to both places but require some special documentation.

The problem in the West is that many people, including a good swath of the media, wants to see the One China policy done away with. To these folks, the overriding issues are political and individual freedoms. Many, as a result, are cheering Tsai Ing-wen on, just as they cheered on the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong in 2014.

What’s happening in Taiwan and Hong Kong, however, is not that different than what happened in the US during the 2016 presidential election, or during the Brexit vote, or even during the Italian vote this past weekend that led to the resignation of Italy’s PM. These are all economic movements driven by populist sentiment reacting to increasing income disparity, slow economic growth, and the growing sense by many that the country is leaving them behind. They are losing hope.

Contrary to a lot of the Western media innuendo, in fact, Tsai Ing-wen was not elected in May, 2016 on a platform of political independence from Beijing. She was elected on a platform of greater economic independence. Many young Taiwanese feel, as many feel elsewhere, that China’s burgeoning economy and financial strength might well squeeze them out of the career opportunities their parents enjoyed.

The simple reality is that no poll has demonstrated that anything beyond a small minority of Taiwanese want anything to do with political independence from China. They want an economic future, plain and simple.

I have done business in both Hong Kong and Taiwan and can tell you from firsthand experience that the idea of separating either territory from China is akin to wishing for the cessation of Texas. It’s not going to happen. And no one really wants it to. (There are always outliers, of course.)

Both Taiwan and Hong Kong are among the biggest investors in Mainland China. The financial districts of Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou are awash with Taiwanese and Hong Kong businessmen who have never had it so good. (Your Apple device was probably assembled in Mainland China by a Taiwanese company.)

The real lesson here, as well as in the US, is that people need to have hope. When they lose that, all is lost and they will ultimately do what they feel they must do to get it back.

No one – perhaps even the man himself – knows what Trump will actually do as President. And he unnecessarily added fuel to the Taiwan fire by tweeting about currency manipulation and the South China Sea. To date, however, I don’t believe he has done anything to sour the relationship between the US and China longer term. There is just too much at stake for both sides.

As in all of life, however, there are limits to everything.

Contact: You may reach the author at understandingchina@yahoo.com

 

Island Building in the South China Sea

In anticipation of the annual U.S. – China Strategic and Economic Dialogue held in Washington this past week the Chinese government announced that it had pretty much wrapped up work on its island creation in the South China Sea, an important international shipping lane, 80% of which China claims ownership to. (Several times more oil passes through the South China Sea than the Suez Canal.) The other countries bordering the South China Sea – Vietnam, Japan, the Philippines, and Malaysia, of course, lay their own claims to much of the area in which the island-building has occurred.

The Western media interpreted this as an attempt by the Chinese to put the U.S. at ease prior to the Dialogue that it had no further territorial ambitions in the area, an interpretation that implies, of course, some level of Chinese deference.

I have a different interpretation. I believe the Chinese were clearly stating, as a matter of fact, that the new islands are there – live with it. They don’t want to waste any time at the Dialogue negotiating over what they consider to be non-negotiable.

The Western article I read on the topic quoted several ‘experts’ on the topic, all attempting to decipher the Chinese smoke signals and pontificating about what the Chinese may or may not do in the future. While much of the conjecture has to do with whether or not China will use the newly created islands for military installations, the gravest conjecture of all appeared to be whether or not China would eventually declare the entire area an air defense identification zone, essentially preventing the military aircraft of other nations – including spy planes – from using the air space.

But of course they will. There is absolutely no sense in debating that. I can only hope that the U.S. government doesn’t waste a lot of taxpayer money hiring professors, think tanks, and consultants in an attempt to decipher China’s intent. They need only put the comments in the context of the Chinese receiver-oriented, indirect communication style and even a glassmaker can figure it out in mere minutes. From the Chinese perspective, there is nothing to talk about.

The debate over who owns what land has always struck me as a bit disingenuous. History is not a post card. It’s a motion picture. Who owns what is a matter of where you pause the movie.

The Americans clearly don’t ‘own’ the United States. Sure, the claim would easily hold up in a court of law but fairness and truth are not the stock in trade of the legal system in the U.S. Pragmatism is.

And did the Dutch really buy Manhattan for trinkets worth $24? Maybe. But even if they did any contemporary judge in the U.S. would invalidate the sale for some technical reason I’m sure.

And what about Europe? Who really owns Europe? Again, it depends where you pause the movie of history. The Greeks, rather than begging for handouts from the EU might be smarter to simply lay legal claims to its former empire. That would surely solve their cash flow issues and who is to argue at which point the movie should be paused. Indigenous people all over the world are clearly and effectively making that point.

Like it or not, pragmatism, when it comes to matters of territorial claims, is a matter of will – or lack of will when it comes to those in a position to change the reality. Does Russia have a right to annex Crimea? Who knows? Who cares? They did and nobody, including NATO, is going to drive them out. Fait accompli.

Will the U.S. return San Diego to Mexico? San Antonio? Of course not.

Our children’s children will think of the Spratley Islands and the South China Sea in much the same way. Of course they are part of China. Who is going to rewrite that history?

I honestly don’t understand the political aversion to pragmatism. Well, actually, I do. At the end of the day politicians have no incentive to change. On the contrary, their importance is firmly cemented in the status quo. It is only the threat of being voted out of office – or revolution – that will cause a politician to consider foundational change. That is not a derogatory accusation. It is merely a mirror on the incentives that shape their thoughts and actions.

All of which creates a bit of a conundrum for the U.S. It made a lot of commitments at a time when the balance of power was decidedly different in the world. China was a mere shadow of its current presence and might. Russia was strong, but Europe was stronger. Both realities have changed.

Would the U.S. really commit to all out war if China invaded Japan? Could it? With its resources already tied up in the swamps of Iraq and Afghanistan how much of a fight is it really prepared to wage? Don’t get me wrong. The American military is the mightiest in the world without a doubt. But even it has limits as to how many fronts it can engage on – short of blowing up the planet, of course.

Which brings me to Taiwan. Here is the stickiest wicket of all for the Americans. I don’t have to predict whether or not Taiwan will eventually be part of China. It already is. Eventually it will be formally incorporated on a similar foundation that Hong Kong was. In the meantime independence is merely a matter of semantics – and the Taiwanese, in the end, both accept and welcome that reality. It’s a nation of 25 million people, roughly the size of Shanghai. What possible reason could there be for them to lunge at that windmill? And they don’t want to anyway.

Imagine how much taxes could be reduced if we elected our political representatives on the basis of pragmatism instead of ideology. Don’t get me wrong; ideology is great, as far as it goes. But that’s not very far. Geo-politics is governed by the laws of nature. And nature doesn’t stray far from pragmatism. Nature lives by the laws of the food chain.

So does geo-politics. Only the politicians don’t get it. Or maybe they do. Perhaps they are merely living in their own pragmatism. There’s money, after all, to be made in pontification. Plenty of money.

As one who helps foot the bill, I’m not bitter about that. Such is the way things work. I just hope that ultimately we keep it all in perspective.

As I said before, the islands are there. And there will be military installations there – visible or not. Let’s move on.

Will the U.S. give San Diego back to Mexico? Will the Mexicans ask? Both are doubtful. Instead of focusing on ideology I’ve often felt we should elect our political leaders on the basis of their pragmatism. That is, after all, how the world really works.

View the author’s literary work written under the pen name of Avam Hale. Both books are available at Amazon and most major online retailers in both electronic and print formats.

Copyright © 2015 Glassmaker in China  Notice:  The views expressed in this post are strictly those of the writer acting in a personal capacity.  They are not in any way endorsed or sanctioned by his employer or any other individual with which he may be personally or professionally affiliated.