Zhang Danhong (张丹红) remains in the news in China, though in a new, lower-profile context. On March 4th, China Radio International (CRI) published an online article on the latest book by German author Günter Grass – Unterwegs von Deutschland nach Deutschland: This globally respected Nobel prize laureate who kept asking himself and his country hard questions, once again reflects deeply on Germanys unification process and its political and social implications.
The CRI article also refers to the authors Danzig Trilogy (Tin Drum, Cat and Mouse, Dog Years): with the trilogy, Grass researched the underlying roots of Nazism and Fascism brought about by German nationalism.
After a reference to the views of Günter Grass on the potential of a reformed enlightenment movement and the role enlightenment should play in countering the current dominance of neo-liberalism, the CRI article comes to the point which really seems to matter: Grass’ views on China. And, just by the way, on the Voice of Germany and the Zhang Danhong case.
Last year, when Zhang Danhong, in charge of the Voice of Germany’s Chinese service, took a neutral stance concerning the case of Tibet and was blamed by many people and was then dismissed by the Voice of Germany, the VoG’s Chinese service also came under review. Some well-known Germans who felt with Zhang Danhong then wrote an open letter to parliament in support of her. Grass was one of them. It is said that he looked into the case very carefully and only signed the open letter after careful consideration.
The CRI article contains inaccuracies, beginning with the description of Zhang Danhongs position as in charge of the Chinese service (she was in fact deputy manager), to her “dismissal” (she was suspended for days or weeks, and lost her position as deputy manager, but she wasnt fired). But what strikes me as most weird is how CRI is making a connection between poetry, enlightenment, Günter Grass and Zhang Danhong. Mr Grass may have some personal flaws of his own, and he wasn’t always accurate in the account of his own past, but if he wanted to publish an interview with himself, he would probably inform us readers in advance.
After all, he is a professional.