Trump has announced in the past few hours with a public letter that he is cancelling the planned meeting with North Korea, apparently in response to comments from the North Korean foreign ministry threatening the United States. This came hours after the apparent public dismantlement of North Korea’s only known missile test site. North Korea has made statements in the last week that have suggested they might pull out of the talks themselves, leading to suggestions that Trump preemptively pulled out to avoid the humiliation of this taking place, and increase pressure on the regime. With no real long term strategy, except relying on Chinese compliance with regards to respecting the sanctions regime, which may be less effective given the tit-for-tat trade war that has flared up between the US and China, there seems to be little room for a positive resolution, absent some diplomatic shift.

Yesterday, an American diplomat posted in Guangzhou this week complained of strange symptoms after becoming aware of strange sonic sensations, and what sent back to the US for evaluation. He was diagnosed with a minor traumatic brain injury, and some, including Mike Pompeo, have publicly linked the incident to those which took place in Cuba last year in which over a dozen Americans and several Canadian diplomatic officers were allegedly targeted with sonic devices which left them with injuries ranging from headaches to cognitive deficits and sensory impairment. The Cuban government denied involvement, calling the allegations “science fiction,” and the US responded by expelling 15 Cuban diplomats for failing to protect American embassy staff. China has said that after a preliminary investigation, they have found no clues, but the American embassy has still issued a warning for Americans living in China.

Only in the last few hours has Taiwan also announced that one of their few remaining allies, Burkino Faso, cut diplomatic relations with the island country. Taiwan had also recently lost diplomatic relations with the Dominican Republic, leaving less than 20 countries who still officially maintain diplomatic relations with them at the expense of relations with the the People’s Republic of China, who claim that Taiwan and its people are belong to China, after the Communists failed to conquer the island in the 1950s.

China has become increasing vocal as of late voicing its opposition to the notion of an independent Taiwan. In the last few weeks, several companies have had to apologize and the Chinese government is increasingly using hostile tactics to force companies to accept Chinese nomenclature for Taiwan.

The beginning of the month saw Chinese Civil Aviation Administration demanding that 36 foreign air carriers change their corporate wording to stop referring to an independent Taiwan.

The White House responded by stated:

The US “will stand up for Americans resisting efforts by the Chinese Communist Party to impose Chinese political correctness on American companies and citizens. This is Orwellian nonsense and part of a growing trend by the Chinese Communist Party to impose its political views on American citizens and private companies… We call on China to stop threatening and coercing American carriers and citizens.”

American and Australian Airlines, including Delta, American, United, and Qantas are some of the few who at this point have still failed to comply with the Chinese demands.

Earlier this year, both Marriott and Delta bowed to government pressure and apologized after their websites apparently reflected that Taiwan was an independent country, with Delta also listing Tibet as independent. The Chinese Communist Party is beginning to use economic pressure to punish and remove companies who don’t comply with the government’s official stated ideology regarding Taiwan, to the extent that they even shut down Marriott’s website for a short time.

Muji was fined 200,000 RMB this week as well for selling products in China labelled, “Made in Taiwan,” without referring to Taiwan as a province in China.

Costco is also under Chinese pressure this week after a letter that was sent in which Costco Senior Vice President Patrick Callans said in a letter to a Taiwanese NGO regarding the companies stance, “we have retail locations in Taiwan and very much consider it a country.” An online campaign has mounted against the company, as they try to open their first retail location in China in April of 2019.

The deep turmoil this month may lead to broader consequences for the world, as cross strait relations and a resolution of the tense situation on the Korean peninsula represent some of the largest unresolved geopolitical conflicts of this era.

Staff writer: Ari B