Archive for July, 2010

Friday, July 30, 2010

Fourth Modernization, One Step Up

The days of National Higher Education Entrance Examination or gaokao (高考) count as days of judgment in the lives of those Chinese students who manage to take part in them. Preparing for and taking the exams is said to be extremely stressful – and it is costly, with entire families acting as investors in a hopeful young career.

Xinhua, in an article republished by Enorth, points out the apparent novelties in Beijing’s latest Outline of China’s National Plan for Medium and Long-Term Education Reform and Development for the 2010-2020 period (国家中长期教育改革和发展规划纲要 or shorter, 教育规划纲要), published on Thursday. The Outline wants to overcome the principle of one test defining a lifetime, and “to promote the implementation of quality education and the innovation of talent cultivation”. According to Zhang Li (张力), director of the ministry of education’s National Research Center for Educational Development, the Outline defines enrollment along the criteria of the choice of the best (择优), self-determination (自主), recommendation (推荐), orientation or direction (定向), and liberties to make exceptions (破格). With a more pluralistic set of methods in the enrollment system, the educational system will make good efforts so as not to leave out potentials and talented learners, Zhang believes.

The outline  also aims for more clarity and transparency in enrollment procedures, writes Xinhua, after incidents of fraud (舞弊事件) and confusion concerning extra points (加分) awarded in past exams.

A more pluralistic approach to enrollment notwithstanding, the Outline, for the sake of transparency, also tries to provide for standardization in enrollment.

Starting with elementary schools, teaching qualities are planned to be secured by establishing certification and registration systems, plus regular assessments of teachers’ performances. Payment for teachers, at the same time, should be brought into line with the incomes of other civil servants, the Outline reportedly stipulates. Also to the end of adequate remuneration (and probably because status continues to matter, too), standardized job titles are to be set forth.

People’s Daily Online (in English) lists a number of other (and frequently familiar-sounding) pledges from the Outline, and states that

The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the State Council have issued a notice requiring local Party committees and governments to carefully implement the national education outline.  The outline vows to spare no efforts to “run every school well and bring quality education to every student. No child shall be allowed to drop out due to family financial difficulties.”

For sure, every step, however small, that can be made to meet the Outline’s lofty promises will be in the country’s public interest. China runs dry of crude labour, the Economist writes in its latest edition*).The number of 15- to 29-year-olds will sharply from next year, wages are rising, and to make similar gains in productivity as China did in the decade following 1995 (labor costs tripled, but productivity per worker quintupled, according to the paper), the country would have to increase its supply of skilled workers. And as labor is no longer abundant, China’s “floating population” – the migrant workers – needed to be provided with opportunities to “drop anchor” in the country’s urban areas.

According to this logic, “dropping anchor” would therefore be a macro-economic must, as much as a goal in social struggles. Guangdong Province has taken steps into this direction, with a provincial Service Management Regulation on Migrant Population (广东省流动人口服务管理条例), which came into effect all over the province on January 1 this year, after it had been tested in Shenzhen previously.

But there are setbacks, too. In April, precisely in Shenzhen, vice mayor Li Ming, apparently also in his capacity as the head of the police bureau, said that if Shenzhen could get the legal basis, it would restrict migrant workers who have been unemployed for longer than three months from renting houses.

No matter what the CCP’s central committee will tell local officials, neither a possible ease on household registration nor guaranteed school attendence of all children regardless of their families’ financial situations, will be achieved without a lot of fighting. Locally, that is.

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Note
*) The Economist, July 31st 2010, p. 7

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Related
Education in the PRC, Wikipedia (of today)
Little Desire for Head Teacher Positions, June 15, 2009
Crossroads: China’s Development, Febr 20, 2009

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Good Ganbu: Be no Chess Piece

Good Ganbu: We aren't asking for much

Good Ganbu: We aren't asking for much

Hao Ganbu
Deserving Ganbu Home for Aged Comrades
Beidaihe, Qinhuangdao Municipality
Hebei Province, People’s Republic of China
(Sender)

Đảng Cộng sản Việt Nam
(Communist Party of Vietnam)
To whom it may concern
Ba Đình District
He Nei
Socialist Republic of Vietnam
(recipient)

Dear Comrades,

My spouse, my comrades and I are learning with deep concern that you risk becoming a chess piece in the imperialist games of western hegemonists, especially the American hegemonists.  Embracing a former adversary for broader strategic gains is diplomacy the US is good at.

My spouse, my comrades and I would like to remind you that while there are certainly still disputes over waters and natural resources, from a historical perspective, our two countries have overcome the shadow of past military clashes for mutual benefit. Two weeks ago, we finished a 1,300-kilometer long land boundary demarcation. Six years ago, the two sides inked the treaty over maritime boundary demarcation at Beibei Gulf, setting a reference point for solving issues over disputed waters in the South China Sea.

China has been the largest trading partner of Vietnam for five consecutive years. Learning from us has been good for you. Charting a similar reform road like China, Vietnam is benefiting from economic boom and political stability that is envied by neighboring countries.

For so many centuries, we have been selflessly looking after your well-being. We have always been the better hegemon your good big brother. Don’t be shameless. Don’t forget the centuries of national humiliation you suffered from the hands of the western imperialists. Remember that we all have yellow faces and black eyes, and black hair , too (with the exception of Nguyen Phu Trong, exteemed chairman of your National Assembly.

There is no reason for you to believe that we could be “an elephant” which can easily trample on the interest of Vietnam. China does not include Vietnam into its sphere of influence.

After all, why should we. Just hand the waters east and south of your shores and those resources over to us, and we will build normal nation-to-nation relations with you.

You don’t need yet another lesson, do you?

Be very careful, and together, we will be a happy family in a beautiful garden.

Hao Ganbu

____________

Related
Vietnam: “Under Threat of Invasion?”, April 29, 2009
Some Invasion Threats are easily manageable, Sept 22, 2008

Update/Related
Clinton push took China by surprise, Washington Post, July 31, 2010

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Radio Bremen abandons Medium Wave

Germany’s Commission to Determine the Financial Needs of the Broadcasters (Kommission zur Ermittlung des Finanzbedarfs der Rundfunkanstalten, KEF) regulates the license fees, a major income for Germany’s public broadcasters. It also supervises the broadcasters’ use of these incomes. The KEF has now determined that funds for the radio broadcasters’ digitalization project will be released again, after a previous freeze, reports Heise.

The KEF also told the brodcasters to prepare statements for the next KEF session in September, concerning the abandonment of long-, medium-, and shortwave transmitters.

Medium wave transmitter Oberneuland

Radio Bremen medium wave transmitter, Oberneuland

Particularly in the light of internet radio, the commission wants to evaluate the traditional AM broadcasting’s cost effectiveness.

In a report due for 2013, the KEF will then evaluate the cost-effectiveness of the digitalization project. This showed, according to Heise, that the commission is aware of the danger that the actual number of listeners who will make use of digital radio may be lower than forecast by the Consortium of public-law broadcasting institutions of the Federal Republic of Germany (ARD) and Deutschlandfunk. Therefore, the KEF appears to see opportunities to save money in the field of longwave-, mediumwave- and shortwave broadcasting.

On April 21, Radio Bremen announced in a press release that it would abandon its brodcasts on 936 kHz medium wave for good.

Currently, Radio Bremen spends a substantial five-digit amount on medium-wave broadcasts. There will, in all likelihood, be no medium-wave digitalization that would be safe for the future. Several German states‘ broadcasting centers have stopped their medium-wave broadcasts already.

[…]

Radio Bremen had first switched the transmitter off on a trial basis, as the number of listeners to the medium wave frequency isn’t known. During the four-weeks trial period, just less than 200 listeners came forward and criticized the abandonment of service.

Compared with the number of listeners to Bremen One [the program traditionally transmitted on medium wave], this feedback is so small that at the end of the trial period, Radio Bremen decided not to switch the medium wave transmitter on again and to apply the newly available funds to forward-looking transmission technologies and formats.

The press release assured Radio Bremen listeners that it didn’t intend to put listeners off, and that it was aware that most of the medium-wave listeners were particularly entrenched regular listeners. And it invited every listener who had made objections to the abandonment of medium wave to its studios, plus special advisory services on how to use alternative ways of listening.

But then, JR knows how to use alternative ways of listening anyway. It’s not that he stays away from new technologies. But radio is one thing to him, and the internet is something completely different. The good news is that the internet is an alternative source of information indeed – for things other than radio. And another bit of good news is that the more German or European broadcasters abandon the medium and short wave, the easier it will be to listen to some exotic overseas medium-wave broadcasters at nighttime.

But please, BBC Radio 4: keep your long wave transmitter going.

____________

Related
Mediumwave Transmitter Bremen, Wikipedia »

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Global Times Inquiry to Japanese Embassy

Taiwan’s Liberty Times (自由時報) reported on Tuesday that Japan’s new ambassador to China, Uichiro Niwa, told a press conference in Tokyo that Japan’s and China’s joint communiqué of 1972 contained no direct recognition by Japan of Chinese sovereignty claims on Taiwan – details here ».

Under the headline “Japanese embassy’s response to new Japanese ambassador’s ‘Japan never recognized Taiwan to be Chinese territory’ comments”, a People’s Net (人民網) article, all written in traditional Chinese characters, today gives a short but apparently accurate account of the Liberty Times’ report, and then quotes from the findings of a Global Times online (環球網) reporter. (According to People’s Net, Niwa’s press conference in Tokyo was held on Monday.)

On Tuesday at noon (local time), the Global Times reporter contacted the Japanese embassy in Beijing and learned from a second-rank secretary (二等秘書) of the embassy’s cultural center that at the time, he hadn’t been able to confirm the specific content of what had been said at the press conference. On Tuesday evening, the same secretary told the Global Times reporter that Niwa did say that the Japanese government’s position had been based on the joint communiqué ever since 1972, and that this position had never changed.

People’s Net adds that the joint communiqé included the paragraph that China viewed Taiwan as an inalienable part of the People’s Republic of China, and that Niwa was reportedly the first non-bureaucrat to be appointed ambassador to China by the Japanese government after World War 2.

The reference to Niwa’s non-bureaucratic background may be simply part of factual coverage, but an access-restricted thread at peopleforum.cn seems to question the new ambassador’s qualifications: New Japan’s envoy to China, is he qualified?

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Related
Japan’s New China Envoy Means Business, WSJ, June 8, 2010

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Hanover, Scotland: Shadows of the Past

Tai De, a usually well-informed blogger from neighboring Lower Saxony, reports that his land’s government is planning a big formal apology to Scotland for reasons of history and cultural sensitivity. That and more insights  into European diplomacy of the regions there ».

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Sino-Japanese Communiqué: Fully Understood

A-Gu‘s Taiwan Politics Blog links to a report today which quotes Japan’s new ambassador to China, Uichiro Niwa (丹羽宇一郎), as saying that Japan had never recognized Taiwan as part of China. The Liberty Times writes that the ambassador, who hasn’t yet arrived at his new post in Beijing, told a press conference in Tokyo today that Japan’s and China’s joint communiqué of 1972 contained no direct recognition by Japan of Chinese sovereignty claims on Taiwan, and that Japan’s position was rather that it only “understood and respected” that assertion, and that Japan maintained its position on the issue (一九七二年日中共同聲明有關中國對台灣領有權的主張,日本的立場只是「理解並予尊重」,並未直接承認,今後日本對此問題仍然堅持同樣的態度).

Bilateral documents signed by both countries after the joint statement (which was issued on the occasion of establishing diplomatic relations between Tokyo and Beijing) were also based on Tokyo’s non-recognition of China’s assertion that Taiwan were “an inseparable part of [China’s] territory”.

Japanese vice foreign minister Masatake Kazukimi (武正公一) had reportedly made a similar statement in a hearing of one of Japan’s parliamentary committees on May 19 this year, saying that based on the joint statement of 1972, Japan had renounced all its rights to Taiwan in the San Francisco Treaty, but with no recognition of other positions concerning Taiwan’s legal status.

The 1972 communiqué contains Beijing’s “three principles for the restoration of relations”, which include the recognition of the Government of the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal Government of China, and that the Japanese side reaffirms its position that it intends to realize the normalization of relations between the two countries from the stand of fully understanding the “three principles”.

An Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies paper explains that

three principles as presented by China contained elements which the Japanese Government could not accept. […] With regard to Taiwan, the two sides agreed to state their positions in paragraph 3 of the Joint Communique of September 1972, which says “The Government of the People’s Republic of China reiterates that Taiwan is an inalienable part of the territory of the People’s Republic of China. The Government of Japan fully understands and respects this stand of the Government of the People’s Republic of China, and it firmly maintains its stand under Article 8 of the Potsdam Proclamation.”*) When China raises questions about Japan’s attitudes toward Taiwan, China refers to this Joint Communique. On our part, Japan has always reiterated its commitment to fully comply with the Joint Communique. Japan has also expressed its earnest hope for the peaceful solution of the problems concerning Taiwan by the talks between the parties on both sides of Taiwan Strait.

As A-Gu writes, Uichiro Niwa reiterated a “rarely-spoken fact”. But it is one that other countries which also have diplomatic relations with China should study and take into consideration for their own positions – even when bearing in mind that the KMT, the party currently governing Taiwan, is at odds with Japan’s position. In 1993, Phyllis Hwang, co-wrote an article for the International Herald Tribune, saying that

“After World War II, the Japanese empire was dismantled but Taiwan was never legally reincorporated as part of China. The 1951 San Francisco treaty, in which Japan relinquished its sovereignty over Taiwan, did not specify to whom title to the island would be transferred.”

Yun Feng-Pai, then Information Division Taipei Economic & Cultural Office in New York (and therefore representing a KMT government in 1993), objected to this position in the same paper.

____________

Note
*) Excerpt from the Potsdam Declaration:
(8) The terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out and Japanese sovereignty shall be limited to the islands of Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku and such minor islands as we determine.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

VoA, Zhai Dequan: Future Drills “in Both Seas”

A relocation of the Invincible Spirit naval exercise from the Yellow Sea to the Sea of Japan would hardly happen as a mere reaction to Beijing’s objections, Peter Lee of the Asia Times wrote on July 16. Rather, there was evidence that the South Korean military had botched the Cheonan investigation, and therefore undermined Seoul’s case at the United Nations. He refers to the objections of two academics in Japan, published in detail by Japan Focus. The article also provides the Joint Investigation Group members list. The Joint Investigation Group (JIG) had come the conclusions presented by Seoul – among them investigators from South Korea, the US, Australia, Sweden, and Great Britain.

US military officials denied that they had bowed to pressure from Beijing and moved the maneuvers from the Yellow Sea, saying the Sea of Japan actually was the most appropriate venue for the current drill, writes the Voice of America (VoA). The report doesn’t give the military officials’ names, but adds their statement that future exercises would be held off Korea’s west coast, i. e. in the Yellow Sea.

Zhai Dequan (翟德泉), deputy secretary general of the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association (中国军控与裁军协会), is quoted by China Daily with a similar forecast. Zhai reportedly said that future drills would be held in both seas and China should do more to prevent exercises in the sensitive Yellow Sea.

Nanjing Military Region artillery troops are currently conducting the biggest live ammunition exercises to date near the Yellow Sea, Enorth quotes CCTV (China Central Television), using artillery location radar (炮位侦校雷达), unmanned aerial vehicles, and other equipment for battlefield intelligence and reconnaissance which are effective to improve battlefield transparency (战场透明度) and information exchange to make long-range strikes more accurate.

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Related
“Sharp rebuke to China”, New York Times, July 23, 2010
“US to pay for provoking China”, China Global Times, July 6, 2010
“Arousing Public Mistrust”, May 30, 2010

Sunday, July 25, 2010

China Blog’s not Dead

who's muzzling your voice?

who's muzzling your voice?

A Popup Chinese author writes that

The China blog is officially dead, moribund, cadaverous, extinct, buried, bereft of life, defunct and totally-and-utterly-inert.

Which makes no sense to me. There are many China blogs. And many of them are still posting.

Blogs like the MyLaowai webstore which still engender love and fascination within China, and interest in China without.

There even seem to be fairly new ones.

Blogs like The Otherside, who (or that’s how I understand it) started blogging in February this year, and, um, OK, will stop posting on July 31. But that would be because the blogger will then leave China and return to his native land. [Update, July 27: Chris Biddle will keep us posted beyond July 31.]

Or One to the Third, who apparently started posting on May 19 this year.

Or The New Dominion, who ended their hiatus in March this year.

Or Adam Cathcart‘s blog, not much older than a year, I suppose, and with posts you can’t squeeze into Twitter. You can only twitter links to his posts (and you should, if you know people who are interested in China and its neighborhood).

Or Woeser’s Invisible Tibet (看不见的西藏) – an extremely prolific one, and a real source of information about the sides of Tibet its governors and party secretaries would prefer to ignore, or to annihilate altogether – plus High Peaks, Pure Earth, with a lot of English translations of Woeser’s posts.

And yes, I do remember EastSouthWestNorth. I actually read the posts regularly.

I’m not sure why there are bloggers who seem to take a decline in their traffic (if there is a decline, or if there has ever been traffic) so serious. It’s almost as if all they have a mean CEO standing behind them, watching their statistics, and telling them that the numbers will be up by next week, or else…

Or as if they used to earn tons of Adsense (or whatever kind of money) with their blogs in the golden past. I haven’t heard of a blogger yet who ever lived of his or her blog.

Blogging is a good way to write for yourself if you enjoy it, and for others who might care to read – if what you have to say takes more than 140 characters.

I suppose that’s what a blog, including a China blog, is about. And as a rule of thumb, blogs – in a free environment, anyway – are likely to last while they don’t bore the bloggers themselves.

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