Archive for November, 2009

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Good Ganbu’s Friday Nights

Exhilarating Nights in the Opera

Exhilarating Nights in the Opera

Comrades:

I know that you have become somewhat decadent and politically unconscious, and that worries me. Us old Ganbus are old and unflinching revolutionaries who will never forget the bitter past and the crimes of the imperialists, and you should listen to our experience.

On Friday night, my Lao Po and I went to the China Grand Theater (北京中国剧院) and watched an excellent performance by the Korean People’s Army Concert Troupe (朝鲜人民军协奏团) there. We saw and listened to a carefully prepared version of The Image of the Hero (英雄的形象), the anthem of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (中国人民解放军军歌), and other Chinese and Korean songs and dances which aroused our enthusiastic applause. It showed how our two nations, hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder and side by side, wish to build a beautiful future together. Chinese folk song “Reed Flower” (芦花) and the dance “Our Friendship is Everlasting” (我们的友谊万古长青) were also very impressive.

Dancing Me and My Heavy Machine Gun (舞蹈《我的重机枪》)

But of course, the most impressive one was “My Heavy Machine Gun”, full of revolutionary spirit and ecstasy! Magnificent!

So, Comrades, my recommendation is that you should go to these international performances frequently. Also very recommendable of course are the Dance Troupe of the General Political Department of the People’s Liberation Army (人民解放军总政治部歌舞团, the long name of which implies long, enjoyable evenings in the opera) and, if you are really so much into Western stuff, try the Alexander Red-Flag Song and Dance Troupe of the Russian Armed Forces (亚历山大红旗歌舞团). I’m sure they will be back soon, although they already performed here in China this year, on the occasion of the 60th Anniversary of China-Russia Diplomatic Ties. Their history is also very glorious. It’s just that the Russians are not so reliable friends of the Chinese people as the Koreans.

Our friendship with the People of Korea, on the other hand, Is Forever!

Exhilarated Greetings:

Hao Ganbu

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Alleged Spies on Uyghur Community house-searched in Munich

Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office (Bundeskriminalamt, BKA) has searched the flats of four persons in Munich who are believed to work as intelligence agents for the Chinese government. They are suspected of having spied on the German Uyghur community, by order of the Chinese Consulate General in Munich. The World Uyghur Congress was formed in mid-April 2004 in the Bavarian capital. Several hundred Uyghurs live in Munich, and many of them are politically active. The wording of Der Spiegel’s report seems to suggest that all four suspects are Chinese nationals.

According to Der Spiegel (who first reported the story today), the spy activities were closely coordinated with Beijing, and the Chinese government closely monitors the steps of the German authorities, which have taken a much more robust approach since the Federal Attorney had started consolidating all information concerning alleged Chinese spy cases all over the country. Diplomats had left Germany before, after reportedly having been caught in spy activities, but there hadn’t been house searches or arrests in Germany in connection with alleged Chinese spy cases before.

No arrests have been reported.

The suspects apparently enjoy no diplomatic immunity.
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Related:
German-Chinese Diplomacy: No Business as Usual, July 17, 2009

Friday, November 20, 2009

Weekender: Expressing Myself

I started blogging more than a year and a half ago, in April last year. I felt the desire to express my views, without publishing my real name on the internet with every post. I don’t think that I wrote something that I couldn’t have signed with my real name, too, but I value privacy.

So with a blog, I was able to post my views with the necessary ease, and didn’t have to wonder if what I wrote was too childish to befit a grown-up man. I was also at ease with publishing my own little cartoons. It didn’t matter if they would be ridiculous or something to have a good laugh about. By now I know that at least some readers had a good laugh about them.

China will become a stirring issue in the coming years. Its rise, if it continues,  will offend people. It doesn’t surprise me that it offends many Westerners. Sometimes, I believe it does so because there are understandable concerns about the country, sometimes I believe, the offended should look into themselves for the roots of their feelings, or blame our own undone homework, rather than blaming China. But the really eye-catching thing is that China’s growing weight will offend many Chinese people, too – especially the nationalists. The run-up to the Olympic Games gave people overseas a small taste of what is going to come. I believe that no respect a peaceful Chinese rise may earn will satisfy those in China who look at their country’s growing international weight as some kind of compensation for the century-and-a-half of national humiliation and suffering. This patriotic narrative isn’t really historically true: for most Chinese individuals, China’s entire recorded history was a history of humiliation and suffering, and most of this was inflicted on them by big or small Chinese rulers, not by foreigners. Much of China’s nationalism is based on self-deception. But that’s probably the rule with anyones nationalism anywhere.

I’m no psychologist, but when people want the present tense to make up for the past, and for what “others did to us”, no reasonable level of respect will be able to satisfy them. It may be that I’m thinking from particular German experience, but it is a general rule that lasting satisfaction doesn’t come from the admiration of others. It comes from self-respect. Such a lack of self-respect may be one explanation as to why Chinese students thought that they should mob a small supermarket at Bremen Central Station. Monks in a rollercoaster wouldn’t upset mentally balanced people, but they can mobilize people who are already deeply disturbed.

Totalitarianism can draw on such unbalanced mindsets. It surprises me when China’s political system is referred to as (only) authoritarian. It is true that the CCP has withdrawn from many aspects of private life in China. This is sometimes cited as evidence that China is no longer a totalitarian state. But China’s culture is totalitarian. It is quite generally based on the absence of the rule of law – that’s why it seems to be impossible to implement the rule of law, even though top cadres pay lip service to it. Chinese life is still based on dependence, not on freedom. Even many ordinary people are working hard to control other ordinary people.

There is a blog post which seems to combine Western frustration about China’s rise with a Western view of the Chinese practise of dependence and control. To show trust improves the atmosphere. An American citizen didn’t show that degree of trust in people whom he had never met before when they reportedly asked or told him to give his passport into their custody. I think his is a true observation, while as for the title, “stage-managing Barack Obama, I think his interpretations go to far. Obviously, the American president was walking a Chinese stage in Shanghai and Beijing. And obviously, much of what he said was censored before being passed on to the Chinese “public”. But that is nothing new. Americans have only become more sensitive about what the Chinese state is doing, then what they were when Bill Clinton visited eleven years earlier.

I blogged to ponder my own concepts of China. My concepts are by no means impartial. In principle, to be unbiased or accurate is a good thing. But there is nothing wrong, for example, with referring to the National People’s Congress as the CCP’s rubber-stamp parliament – because that’s what it is. And even some Western China experts can use a reminder of this, once in a while. Accuracy is a good thing. But clarity is a good thing, too.

At the same time, I have tried to keep this blog light. There is no use in writing accusing posts about Chinese double-standards. If we took the time and studied all the globe’s nations, one after another, we’d probably find no single one without double-standards. There is also no use in predicting China’s rise. China may rise, or it may crash and disintegrate. Nobody can reliably predict its future. There is no use either in predicting China’s peaceful rise, or its not-so-peaceful rise. There are no records of the future.

I believe that in this respect, China deserves a reasonable amount of trust. It has no history of triggering world wars. And most times when Chinese people committed atrocities, they committed them against each other. Agonizing people of ones own country is no less criminal than doing the same to foreigners – but auto-aggression is no immediate threat to outsiders.

The right approach is to hope and work for the best, and to try to be prepared for the worst. Blind anger or frustration doesn’t help here. To be caught in ones own political correctness doesn’t, either. Sometimes, when Chinese people remind us of our past bad deeds, we should react by cultivating an  insensitivity of our own. Mylaowai.com is the example in the blogosphere for that kind of self-cultivation, and my personal experience is that an adequate amount of this insensitivity can make us much nicer and trustworthier colleagues, interlocutors, or partners for Chinese counterparts, than trying to be “better” people than them. I’ve tried to show my own insensitivity off here, and I hope it’s become a nice, small showcase.

But during my break, I also noticed that over the previous eighteen months of blogging, the fun of expressing myself was becoming a mild obsession. I spent at least six hours a week on this blog, plus some more hours surfing the internet in general. But the real world isn’t in the internet.

Therefore, I’ll slow down. I’ll still post when a Chinese headline catches my attention, or if Hermit or Net Nanny wish to speak their mind. But I won’t try to blog on an almost daily basis again – maybe not even on a weekly basis. Sometimes, it feels good to blog. But even more often, it feels good to do something more real.

Monday, November 9, 2009

JR takes Historic Break from Blogging

And with that, I’m leaving this blog alone for a while, i. e. for ten days. It takes discipline to keep blogging, but it may also take discipline to stay away from it. As a blogger on China-related  topics, I have exposed my lilywhite soul to too much vulgar content, porn, and bad information, such as from China Global Times, Qin Gang‘s memorable quotations, or verifiable empirical research on Tibet. I’ll read printed newspapers again. I’ll read stuff I can sit down with in a rocking chair in the evenings. But I won’t blog or comment. Not even if Barack Obama sells Taiwan to Beijing in Shanghai or Beijing, or if the Great Firewall should fall.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Where Were You on November 9th, 1989?

Radio Berlin International (RBI) QSL, 1980s

Radio Berlin International (RBI) QSL, 1980s

After tons of devoted readers have asked JR this question, he has decided to answer.

JR was asleep. Until a moment ago, he believed that Nov. 9, 1989 was on a Tuesday. But it was in fact on a Thursday. So he probably didn’t watch Dallas that night.

But he had virtuously done all his homework, and was having a good, sound sleep which was very important because it was the last year before entering college, and he needed a good report card to enter college.

If people all over Germany were really as euphoric as the archive material suggests, JR and most of his friends and classmates were probably exceptions. They were very happy, but they weren’t exactly enthused. It was a normal working day. They didn’t really feel that it was a monumental day in history.

They were right in a way, weren’t they? After all, the “Fall of the Wall” had started here. Or here. Or here. If  November 9, 1989 was a monumental day, so were many days during the previous years, and many days that followed.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Jia Qinglin: Great Rejuvenation

Ten non-governmental organizations (民间团体) arranged a symposium on agriculture, fisheries, and water resources cooperation in Ningbo, Zhejiang Province, on Sunday, reports Central Daily News. CDN (中央日报), used to be the KMT’s official newspaper, comparable in its status to what China Daily is to the CCP. CDN as a printed newspapers had been abandoned by the KMT in 2006 after 78 years – the most recent of those were calamitous, businesswise -, and the online publication of CDN was then relaunched to target the Taiwanese business community in mainland China, according to its editor-in-chief in 2006.

CDN broadly quotes Jia Qinglin (贾庆林), Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (中国人民政治协商会议), who lauds the symposium as significant this time in  the context of cross-street relations (此次交流会是今年两岸关系中一次很有意义的交流活动), and as a factor with dynamic and important effect on the further deepening of exchange and cooperation on fields of mutual interest, and the promotion of cross-strait relations and peaceful development (对于进一步深化两岸相关领域的交流合作,对于促进两岸关系和平发展,都将产生积极而重要的影响).

Jia Qinglin emphasized that since May last year, with the efforts of the compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, had achieved a historic turning point and took the path of peaceful development. The two sides had built, on the foundations of opposing Taiwanese independence and upholding the 92 consensus, established optimal interaction.

Chinese coverage

Chinese coverage

Oh well. Why am I translating a Taiwanese newspaper, when I can read pretty much the same stuff on China Radio International in English?

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Related:
Restrictions on Rejuvenation Lotions in Xinjiang, Aug 18, 2009
KMT seeks Buyer for CDN, Taipei Times, June 1, 2006

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Wen in Arabia: Trusted Brothers

Wen Jiabao: Beijing is your Brother

Wen Jiabao: Beijing is your Brother

There is an Arab saying which goes, “Whoever drinks the Nile water is sure to come back again.” Three years ago, right in front of the pyramid by the Nile, I joined people from Egypt and China in celebrating the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between our two countries. Today, returning to this beautiful land imbued with splendid civilization, I feel much at home.
[...]
The Chinese people see the Arab people as good friends, good partners and good brothers. We rejoice at every success you have achieved on the path of development, and we warmly congratulate you on all your accomplishments.

有句阿拉伯谚语:“喝了尼罗河的水,一定会再来”。三年前,我在尼罗河畔的金字塔前,与中埃各界人士共同庆祝两国建交50周年。今天,我再次踏上这片承载着厚重文明的神奇土地,倍感亲切。
[.....]
中国人民视阿拉伯人民为好朋友、好伙伴、好兄弟,为你们在发展道路上所取得的每一个成就感到由衷的高兴,表示热烈的祝贺!

Chinese Chief State Councillor Wen Jiabao (温家宝), speaking at the headquarters of the Arab League in Cairo on Saturday.

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Related:
Namibia, Old Comrades Never Cheat, Aug 27, 2009
Wu Sike corrects some Biased Views, Aug 17, 2009

Saturday, November 7, 2009

No Exquisite Slides for the General Public

The following is a translation of a notice on the Xinmin Website (Shanghai) -

Offense Reporting Center exposes a Batch of Websites with Vulgar Content

Xinmin / China Network (中国网), November 6 — The Reporting Center for Illegal and Bad Information received and checked  offense reports from the general public, concerning websites which didn’t stick to the effective implementation of remediating vulgar internet content, which relaxed supervision, allowed the appearance of large quantities of vulgar content which violates public virtue, and inflicted damage on the physical and mental integrity of minors. The websites are hereby published.

I. The following websites didn’t carry out strict examination and cleaning on pornographic content

1) Yahoo China, location Beijing, category “Yahoo Space”, pornographic content.

2) First Video (第一视频), location Beijing, many vulgar images on category Exquisite Slides (精美幻灯).

3) Qihoo Network, location Beijing, category 360 Pockets, many vulgar images.

4) SouFun (搜房网), location Beijing, category SouFun Album, many vulgar images.

5) Computer Expert (电脑之家), location Shanghai, category Broadband Hill (宽带山) Community’s Entertainment Map, many vulgar images.

6) Bus Blog (博客大巴), location Shanghai, category Blogs, lots of pornographic contents.

II. The following websites didn’t carry out strict examination and cleaning on many vulgar videos

1) Three Cups of Water (三杯水) Video Website, location Liaoning Province, Personal Video Forum, big quantity of vulgar video content.

III. The following websites dissimenated P2P tools without carrying out control of pornographic, vulgar etc. content downloaded with those tools, and provided the media for the dissemination of illegal content

1) Wow Ga (哇嘎), location Shanghai, search function allows to find pornographic contents, and through its Vagaa Wow Ga software, downloads (and uploads) can be carried out.

IV. The following websites, besides providing website navigation, didn’t carry out examination of websites they linked to, linked to pornographic and vulgar content, provided media for the  dissimenation of illegal websites

1) Happy Network – Website Indexed, location Heilongjiang Province, many links to pornographic websites in its website navigation.

2) 678 Website Navigation, location Shandong Province, many links to pornographic websites in its website navigation.

This kind of disregard for laws and regulations, and behaviour which violates  public virtue, provokes the indignation of the public and should be strongly condemned. The Reporting Center for Illegal and Bad Information requires the above-mentioned websites to conscientiously clean and remediate vulgar content, and welcomes the general public’s control supervision of the demanded changes being carried out by the above-mentioned website, and their continuation of reporting illegal and bad information on the internet.

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Related: An Army of Porn Watchers, June 20, 2009

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