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Chinese Checkers Around the World

April 22, 2021

Might as well start the day with a bit of trivia that you could drop on someone at a boring cocktail party if we ever have those events again in a pandemic world. The bit of trivia is the origin of Chinese checkers which actually came from Germany as “Stern-Halma” with the German word “stern” representing the star shape of the playing board. The name Chinese checkers was a marketing ploy by the U.S. Pressman brothers in 1928 to sell the board game.  In the modern world, good intentions often cause unintended consequences and the Chinese are usually quick to jump on any opportunities created. 

Recently, Brahma Chellaney published an article in Nikkei Asia entitled U.S. Sanctions Often Advance China’s Interests. One example was the rapidity on China’s part to snuggle up to the ruling junta in Myanmar when the U.S. applied sanctions following the military’s genocidal extermination of the Rohingya people. The ham-fisted U.S. approach continued with the condemnation of Aung San Suu Kyi who recognized the strength of the military and tread carefully as she had to live in the Myanmar house with her military enemies. General Min Aung Hlaing is shown below in a 2015 image glaring at Aung San Suu Kyi who had been his nemesis for many years given her continued pressure for a true democratic state.


On the other hand, another coup leader, General Prayut Chan-o-cha and current Prime Minister of Thailand, motors on fighting protestors to his regime without any reaction from the U.S. Therefore, some measure of consistency or ground rules for imposition of sanctions would seem to be required before individual administrations apply them without a sound logic. We need to remember the perversion of continuing to recognize military coup governments in Thailand was long-accepted by the U.S. to fight the feared Chinese “Domino-Theory.” Moreover, the failure to understand the people in other lands is a common failure by both political parties in the U.S. as there are no clean hands to be found. 

The other example of “sanctioning” other governments into the warm bosom of “Emperor Xi” of China is Iran.  Continued U.S. embargos on Iran have generated a major trade agreement between Iran and China.   Brahma Chellaney makes another strong point that sanctions may have been a defensible policy and an effective deterrent when America was the home of the free, the brave and the wealthy.  However, we must recognize that era is passing and there is always the China house as a safe harbor. Moreover, we must acknowledge that their commercial treatment, like their handling of the Uyghur minorities in Xinjiang province, is never delicate.  I say that with some experience of commercial relationships with them as well as the Russians. In the final analysis, disputes are settled with discussions involving bullets rather than cups of tea.  

China has utilized their “Belt and Road Campaign” to conquer impoverished but strategicly located countries. China takes over the countries by granting massive and unpayable loans followed by assuming financial control through foreclosure on their indebtedness to them—somewhat more ruthless treatment than the World Bank. One might be concerned that a pandemic that began in China has destroyed many of these weak economies so that China can foreclose on their resources and strategic locations around the world.
The clearest and most recent example of “China’s conquer the world policy” is their latest 25-year trade agreement with Iran. In so doing, China will increase its investment in key Iranian sectors, fortify the Iranian defense capability and establish a joint bank that will enable the Iranians to trade in Chinese yuan which is a key Chinese strategic objective. When one has an eye on world domination using yuan as the currency denomination is critical.  Everything with Iran has gotten hung up in nuclear weapons control.  As it has not worked so well for the U.S. in North Korea, perhaps we should pass that torch to the Israelis as they just turned the lights out in the Iranian nuclear facility and could probably do the same in North Korea.

The Chinese have gained a commercial advantage relative to our long-term friends in India and Japan as they are paying a premium to purchase crude oil as Iranian crude is only going to China at a discount given the U.S. embargo.  Sometimes your friends have to pick up the tab when you have consumed too much of your own hubris and do not recognize the impact of your own actions to strengthen the position of your enemies. Few remember the human waves of Chinese forces being thrust in North Korea years ago to drive the U.S. forces south to a position of potential total retreat. Perhaps China has become a bit hip as well.  Just note below the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Ying on the left performing a slick elbow bump with Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Javid Zanif.  The Iranian has more sense than most not to shake hands with a mainland Chinese guy as they gave birth to Covid-19. In this case, it is more than counting your fingers afterward.


It appears that the Chinese are only interested in equal economic opportunity and can differentiate as to religious players when it concerns people of Islamic faith.  Economics and control were the driver with the Iranians and likely with the Rohingya in Myanmar and the Uyghurs in their own country. Perhaps they are not concerned about religion or humanity as long as it does not stand in their way to dominate the world, an objective which their ancestors failed to achieve.  A final thought is that the Chinese Domino Theory is alive and well though being implemented without military force but economic persuasion. However, the final chapter with China might be the former and not the latter in a trip back to the past as in North Korea.  Get ready as the Chinese are coming!


We had these pieces custom made in Thailand of sterling silver. The clean lines and simple design of our logo make a perfect piece of jewelry; whether it be French hook earrings, a pendant necklace or our smaller stud earrings.

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