Archive for December, 2010

Friday, December 31, 2010

That’s all, Folks!

Happy New Year, and if you are looking for the Rabbit, it’s there.

Friday, December 31, 2010

2011: The Leaders’ Footprints, so together with the People

China National Radio (CNR) republished a photostory by Xinhua Politics (新华时政) on Friday, under the headline Together with the People – This Year’s Footprints of China’s Leaders (与人民在一起——中国领导人的一年足迹). China’s senior leaders went to all parts of the country in person (中国高层领导人身体力行), for inspections and research on the ground.

The Qianlong Emperor’s Southern Inspection Tour, Scroll Twelve (detail): Return to the Palace

The Qianlong Emperor’s Southern Inspection Tour, Scroll Twelve (detail): Return to the Palace (Wikimedia / Palace Museum, Beijing - click on the picture for source)

Photos within Article
Hu Jintao (胡锦涛) 8
Wu Bangguo (吴邦国) 2
Wen Jiabao (温家宝) 3
Jia Qinglin (贾庆林) 2
Li Changchun 李长春 2
Xi Jinping (习近平) 4
Li Keqiang (李克强) 3

-

Picture 1: Hu Jintao visits an affordable-housing project (保障性住房常营项目) in Chaoyang District, Beijing. On Wednesday, Hu, accompanied by members of the politbureau, Beijing’s party secretary Liu Qi and others, visited some basic-level working units  and makes thorough inquiries about the situation of poor families and the people’s livelihood.

Picture 2: Hu on an inspection tour in Hebei province, in a rural village belonging to Sanhe City.

Picture 3: Hu visits the Shanghai World Expo construction site. This is where Hu Jintao encourages the construction workers to work tirelessly, and to strive for high-standards and quality.

Picture 4: Hu visits Fujian province, talks with people on duty on that February 14 (Spring Festival), and on February 15, still in Fujian, he celebrates with numerous cadres, the masses, and with compatriots from Taiwan.

Picture 5: Hu visits the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. On the picture, he encourages an agriculture-related company to achieve greater results in the rural population’s income, as it develops modern agriculture.

Picture 6: Hu guides the earthquake relief work in Yushu, Qinghai province.

Picture 8: as night falls, Wu Bangguo meets workers at Zhenhua Heavy Industry Company’s base in Nantong, Jiangsu province, accompanied by Shanghai party secretary Yu Zhengsheng.

Picture 10:  Wen Jiabao near Dragon King Temple in Hankou, Wuhan province, on July 23, wading through the river water to inspect the situation.

Picture 12: Wen Jiabao joins a Taijiquan exercise in Macau, November 14.

Picture 13: Jia Qinglin on an inspection tour in Shanghai, on January 22, visiting a shipyard.

Picture 14: Jia Qinglin visits the Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture, meets delegates of all the masses’ nationalities, and has cordial discussions with them on China western development.

Picture 15: Politbureau standing committee member Li Changchun visits the Central Opera House, cordially talking with the Opera’s former conductor Zheng Xiaoying.

Picture 17: Xi Jinping visits Hubei province, and cordially talks with people registering their newborn baby with the local authorities on January 21.

Picture 21: Li Keqiang visits China Shipbuilding Industry Group, stresses the need to adapt to global economic and technological changes, and effectively safeguard energy supplies.

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Related
Eastday: Behind the Bund, December 15, 2010
Tossing the Mountain around, November 8, 2010
Schools in Qinghai, April 16, 2010
Hu Haifeng, in his Academic Capacity, March 11, 2010
Red Flag Review Car, Wo Buy Ni, October 24, 2009
Jia Qinglin: Serf Emancipation Day, March 28, 2009

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Obituary: Roberto Alfonso Farrell, 1949 – 2010

This video demonstrates what Boney M‘s short operas usually looked and sounded like.

Our sports teacher was their biggest fan. We were obliged to do Aerobic dances to the Daddy-Cool song in elementary school. We coped.

One of the band’s four singers (and frontman) was Roberto Alfonso Farrell, better known as Bobby Farrell. He probably wasn’t really a singer. The band’s producer Frank Farian is said to have lent him his voice. In the 1970s, that spelled innovation. In later decades, it was considered shanzhai.

Farrell performed in St. Petersburg on Wednesday night, despite feeling unwell. During the past year, an ambulance had frequently been called after his shows, as he had cardiac problems, VoR quotes RIA Novosti.  He was found dead on Thursday morning.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Clean Government with Chinese Characteristics

China News (中新网), via Enorth (Tianjin), Dec 29, 2010 -

China’s government published its first white paper “On Combatting Corruption and on Clean Government” today, detailing the Communist Party’s and the government’s resolute position on tirelessly combatting corruption, and their prersistent remedy of the situation by punishment (惩治), effective measures to prevent corruption, and to win the trust of the public by actual results.

The paper is divided into the eight chapters of “Unswervingly promoting the establishment of anti-corruption and clean government”, “Leading institutions and working mechanisms in establishing anti-corruption and clean government”, “Laws, regulations and institutions in establishing anti-corruption and clean government”, “Power control and supervision systems”, “Innovating anti-corruption by institutional reform”,  “Investigating corruption cases and based on the law and on discipline”, “Establishment of clean-government education and culture”, and “International exchange and cooperation in combatting corruption”, with about 16,000 characters combined.

The white paper states that corruption is a historical social phenomenon, a world-wide chronical disease, and a problem to which the public pays very high attention to. Combatting corruption and strengthening clean government are the Communist Party’s and the government’s firm positions. China upholds clean government at surface and root (标本兼治), a combination of both punishment and prevention, a focus on preventive measures, the establishment of a punitive and preventive system, a stronger emphasis on permanent remedy, on prevention, the building of institutions, a broadening of the fields of combatting corruption from its beginnings, shaping  highly efficient anti-corruption education and systematic advocation, and powerfully carrying out supervision and control, from a position which suits Chinese conditions, setting out on a road of combatting corruption and clean government with Chinese characteristics (走出了一条适合中国国情、具有中国特色的反腐倡廉道路).

“Systematic anti-corruption” has become a concept repeatedly referred to in recent years. The white paper points out that especially when the policies of reform and opening entered the 21rst century, China’s train of thoughts and its practise of reform had been the prevention and controlling corruption. In areas which easily bred corruption, and key links between them, systematic reform and innovation had established  organizations and mechanisms which were suitable for the requirements of the era, to fight against corruption from its beginnings.

The white paper elaborates on China’s system and mechanism of fighting corruption and of clean government. It also points out that China maintains the general plan of governing in accordance with the law,  pays attention to factors that standardize and guarantee laws and regulations, and promotes the legal shaping and standardization of anti-corruption and clean government. Based on China’s constitution, a set of laws and regulations concerning anti-corruption and clean government are defined, and based on the Communist Party’s rules, internal party rules are established, gradually shaping a system of effective laws and regulations with scientific content and rigorous procedures, a perfected and completed, effective on-the-job anti-corruption and clean-government system.

[...]

At present, supervision within the Communist Party, supervision of the People’s National Congress, internal government supervision, democratic supervision of [or by] the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, judicial supervision, supervision by the people and public opinion are forming a supervision with Chinese characteristics. Each supervisional body are independent of each other, cooperate with each other, and have become a united force.

The white paper especially points out that with the internet’s rapid development and wide-spread availability, supervision by the internet had increasingly become a method with rapid reaction, great influence, participatory method for public opinion. China pays much attention to the internet’s positive effect on strengthening supervision, its practical gathering of information regarding anti-corruption and public sentiment. [China] analyzes and deals with its work, improves the regulatory systems for reporting [corruption]. [...] It also strengthens the management, guidance and standards of public supervision, protects the regular order of public supervision, to make it perform in legal ways.

To deal with corruption cases based on law and discipline is the most efficient tool to punish corruption. As China tackled corruption at different points in time with different features, it established the focuses of handling them. The white paper provides some numbers concerning punishment for corruption: from 2003 to 2009, People’s Procuratorates of all levels (各级人民检察院) investigated more than 240,000 cases of corruption,  bribery, and derelictions of duty; in 2009, 3,194 persons were investigated for their criminal responsiblity in bribery, from 2005 until 2009, the focus was on combatting bribery in business circles with more than 69,200 cases investigated, involving 16.59 billion Yuan RMB, and 7,036 leading cadres were investigated.

Concerning international cooperation in combatting corruption, the white paper points out that China attaches great importance to international exchange and cooperation, advocating an emphasis on cooperation on sovereignty, equality, mutual benefit, and respect for differences under effective principles, strengthening cooperation with every country and territory and international organization in charge, learning from each others’ experience, and together striking against corrupt conduct.

The white paper quotes a National Bureau of Statistics Bureau survey saying that from 2003 to 2010, public satisfaction with the fight against corruption and the establishment of clean government has steadily risen, from 51.9 per cent to 70.6 per cent, and that the share of the public that believes that passive corruption*) received varying attention rose from 68.1 to 83.8 per cent.

The article’s last three paragraphs acknowledge that the tasks in fighting against corruption remained onerous, that party and government understood the long-term and difficult nature of it, that public confidence would be gained by achieving the goal of clean government, but that China was fully capable of reducing corruption to the lowest extent.

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Note
*) the definition of passive corruption (消极腐败) isn’t necessarily about taking, rather than giving bribes. It frequently refers to authorities and departments which put their own interest before that of the public by excessive buildings, overstaffing (which in turn increases the risk of active corruption), bureaucracy (官僚主义), by wasting public means and resources (铺张浪费), and cronyism in recruitment or factionalism (宗派主义). Many of these definitions have been used since the Mao era.

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Related
White paper, full text (in English), Xinhua, Dec 29, 2010
Land Disputes worst Problem, AFP, December 16, 2010
Reform without Zijiren, October 5, 2009

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Two halves of a Story: The Prize and the Public

How significant is the article The Iraq War and the American Elections in judging the appropriateness of the Nobel Peace Prize award to Liu Xiaobo?

It depends on the authorship – if it was indeed written by Liu Xiaobo -, it would then still depend on what the article actually says, it would depend on the assessment of Liu Xiaobo’s work as a whole, and on the criteria on which the Nobel Committee, earlier this year, based its decision.

Barry Sautman and Yan Hairong offered an opinion for the Nobel Peace Prize debate this year, and the Guardian published it on December 15. That was five days after the Oslo ceremony, but the number of comments following it shows that it is still widely seen as a topic worth discussing.

This is what Sautman/Yan quoted from the Iraq War and the American Elections article:

[T]he outstanding achievement made by Bush in anti-terrorism absolutely cannot be erased by Kerry’s slandering … However much risk must be endured in striking down Saddam Hussein, know that no action would lead to a greater risk. This has been proven by the second world war and September 11! No matter what, the war against Saddam Hussein is just! The decision by President Bush is right!

No verifiable source here, either, and it is of course the job of Liu’s critics to provide a reliable source when quoting stuff that – or so JR believes – would have the potential to reverse a significant share of mainstream opinion.

But this issue aside, take the time to read the first 50 comments, and the way preconceived opinion, if not bare ideology, prevails there will be striking. There is one comment that is worth reflecting upon, by a certain HerrEMott:

If the Chinese government hadn’t locked him up incommunicado and allowed him to explain his point of view we’d be able to make up our own minds on the matter.

The Chinese and the global public, that is.

But most of the commenting thread that follows the Sautman-Yan article is anger, fear, and loathing, both from advocates of the award, and from its opponents.
Remarkably, none of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize advocates questioned the authenticity of the article Sautman and Yan quoted from. The logical implication of that would have been to address the contents in question. That didn’t happen either. There was no genuine debate.

One can blame that, to an extent, on the way the Chinese authorities and many Chinese individuals reacted to the prize. One can blame it on Beijing’s human rights violations, too – HerrEMott has a point there.

But that’s only half the story. The other half lies with those who are free to discuss and explore these issues, and to oppose, or support the 2010 award based on their own views, and information of their own. That half lies with us – in North America, Europe, and many other places outside China.

JR believes that there will be one impetus first of all that wants to suppress any questions about the appropriateness of the award to Liu. He can feel that impetus himself. After all, Liu Xiaobo is a man who is in prison for reasons Beijing and their party-controlled judiciary haven’t been able to explain.

But those of us who appreciate the prize for Liu Xiaobo (and sure, this blogger is one of them) shouldn’t leave the need for their own homework out of the account.

There is no use in restricting ourselves in a public debate that involves China – neither to please its leaders, nor to avoid “playing into their hands”. The former reason is probably neither a great concern for this blog, nor for most of its readers anyway. The latter one, the worry that something said might help totalitarianism or hurt its victims, may be a concern. But whenever that concern is allowed to determine a debate, it is likely to result into some kind of McCarthyism.

An open society needs its secrets, when it comes to security, or research and development, etc. What matters is that they are processed under the law. But debates as the one about Liu Xiaobo require no secrecy. If the desire not to address certain issues and keeping them down is really the motivation – this is JR’s guess, unless he’s told otherwise -, and if you think this concept out, this approach would be pretty CCP.

Even if your main concern is how to “beat China”, rather than about a performing public in your own country, undue secrecy can’t be the weapon of choice, even if our deliberations were merely practical or cynical. Secrecy and a refusal to address actual issues is a discipline in which China will outperform most other societies and countries.

A public that deals with its real issues (not least issues of its own), needs news readers who are demanding, in terms of information. Hans Leyendecker, a journalist with the Süddeutsche Zeitung, addressed the way our public is  underperforming.

Describing the coverage after 9-11, in a speech to Netzwerk Recherche (inquest network, roughly translated) in Hamburg in April 2002, he pointed out that most information that the media got about the terror network came from intelligence services, where disinformation was part of the business.

The way he described the public debate seems to suggest that many intellectuals and soap boxes happily worked with whatever they got from the media – both advocates and opponents of the Iraq.

But Leyendecker saved most of his criticism for his own trade. Even though much of the information the media got came from intelligence services, where disinformation was part of the business, readers and spectators were bombarded

with alleged revelations. There was a race for the placement of exclusive inanities with the aid of news agencies. Horror scenarios were to generate attention: fear of fear sells.
(….) Increasingly, media refer to other media which don’t know anything either. Something that could at the most be speculation is presented as fact. For a long time, there has been that mainstream named self-reference by communication scientists. Media refer to media, and that becomes news once again.

But how prepared is the public to pay for investigative journalism, online or offline? And how prepared are we to handle information of that kind? Free Internet content and blogs can’t replace the classical press. And the mass media as they are today aren’t up to the job, either.

The European public hasn’t looked good in the Nobel Peace Prize debate. That China looks worse is no excuse.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Article seeks Author

This article, if correctly attributed to Liu Xiaobo, could be relevant in discussions about this year’s Nobel Peace Prize award.

According to China Elections, it first appeared on a New Century website (新世纪网) on November 2, 2004, and discusses the role the Iraq war played during the presidential election campaigns and debates in 2004. It basically sets out from the post-cold war period and its promises of democracy and freedom, and rates the 9-11 attacks as a threat to these promises.

Excerpts1) :

[...]

Bush, as all responsible Western leaders, saw the promotion of “freedom and democracy” as an important part of the “national interest”, and the removal of Saddam Hussein’s vicious government as a major measure for spreading freedom and democracy, and to safeguard world peace. Because “feedom and democracy” are universal values, all people worldwide, regardless of race, culture, nationality, religion and other differences, are entitled to a free life and and to democratic institutions.  Therefore, as he is seeking reelection, Bush insists that overthrowing Saddam Hussein was the right choice. Even if no weapons of mass destruction had been found, eradicating Saddam Hussein’s tyranny and establishing a free Iraq, thus promoting freedom and democracy in the whole Middle East, constituted sufficient reasons to overthrow Saddam Hussein.
布什象所有负责任的西方大国领袖一样,把向世界推广“自由民主”视为“国家利益”的重要组成部分,把铲除邪恶政权视为推广自由民主和维护世界和平的主要手段。因为,“自由民主”具有普世价值,世界上所有的人——不分种族、文化、国别、宗教等的差异——皆有资格享受自由生活和民主制度。所以,谋求连任的布什坚持倒萨之战乃正确的选择,即便没有找到大规模武器,铲除萨达姆暴政和建立自由伊拉克,进而在整个中东地区推动自由民主,便足以作为倒萨之战的理由。

Kerry accused Bush of being arrogant and reckless for referring to “an axis of evil”, but indeed, as Reagan had referred to the USSR as an “evil empire”, Bush’s referral to Iraq, North Korea, and Iran are simply true. Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong-il are undoubtedly the world’s most evil despots. [...]
克里指责布什对“邪恶轴心”的指控是傲慢和卤莽,而在实际上,象当年的里根总统指控前苏联为“邪恶帝国”一样,布什对伊拉克、北韩和伊朗的指控,仅仅是事实陈述而已。特别是萨达姆和金正日,无疑是当今世界最为邪恶的两大暴君。

[...]

[...] Therefore, considering the atrocities terrorism committed, is commiting, and is preparing to commit, considering the difficulties in preventing terrorist attacks, considering Saddam’s bellicosity and his support for terrorism, ever seeking to acquire weapons of mass destruction, repeatedly violating the United Nations’ resolutions on weapon inspections, this intensity of wickedness isn’t smaller than bin-Laden’s. Saddam repeatedly went to war and had dictatorial powers in his country. His ability to create terrorist disaster surely exceeded bin-Laden’s and the Taliban’s by far.
所以,鉴于恐怖主义已经实施、正在实施和准备实施的反人类反文明反自由的暴行,鉴于恐怖袭击的难以防范,鉴于萨达姆的一贯好战和支持恐怖主义,一直在谋求大规模毁灭性武器,屡次违反联合国有关武器核查的决议,其邪恶程度决不次于本•拉登。萨达姆屡经战争且拥有统治一个国家的独裁权力,在制造恐怖灾难的能力上,肯定要远远超过本•拉登及塔利班。

[...]

Neither in the war on terror, nor in handling international relations, is Bush a perfect president, but after all, he has, one by one, won the war in Afghanistan by striking only after the enemy had struck (后发制人), and the Iraq war pre-emptively (先发制人). Western leftists can turn temporary setbacks into a big fuss, but as people spoke about Churchill after world war 2, and about Reagan after the cold war,will they rate Bush as “a great, intelligent strategist”.
无论是反恐之战还是处理国际关系,布什都不是一位完美的总统,但他毕竟先后赢得了后发制人的阿富汗之战和先发制人的倒萨之战。西方的左派们可以抓住暂时的挫折来大做文章,  但在历史过去多年之后,人们才会象事后谈论二战初期的邱吉尔和冷战时期的里根一样,以“具有大智慧的大战略家”来评价布什总统。

No matter how much risk it meant to overthrow Saddam, the risk of inaction would have been even greater. World war 2 and 9-11 are  proving it! Either way, it was justified to overthrow Saddam Hussein. President Bush’s decision was correct!
无论倒萨的行动要冒的多大风险,不行动的风险将更为巨大,二战和9•11就是明证!
所以,无论如何,倒萨之战是正义的!布什总统的决定是正确的!

That much translation for now. Comments both on the article itself and its authenticity are welcome. Mind the commenting rules.

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Note
1) I’m thinking about translating all of it, but only if I can get the source verified.

Related
Liu Xiaobo and the Confraternization of Nations – Comments
The Nobel War Prize, LRB Blog, December 11, 2010

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Liu Xiaobo and the Confraternization of Nations

My new book is the elephant in the room that official Norway – politicians, most media, academics – are adamant not to see,

Frederik S. Heffermehl wrote in a guest commentary for News in English, a Norwegian website, on December 10. The purpose of the prize, i. e. Nobel’s will, had been global disarmament based on international law and institutions. Heffermehl warned that the continuing silence maintained by Thorbjørn Jagland and Geir Lundestad, the chair and secretary of the committee, and the absence of a public debate, was undermining democracy. Without a certain respect for facts, truth and honest debate, democracy cannot function, he wrote.

On his website, Heffermehl points out that a will may need to be reinterpreted according to changed realities, but adds that the realities Nobel was facing when establishing the Peace Nobel Prize hadn’t changed at all.

[T]he goal of the interpretation of a will is to find out what the testator intended, the purpose he or she had in mind. To describe the recipients he had in mind Nobel created a Swedish word, fredsförfäktare (‘‘champions of peace’’). Under the law it is both improper and illegal for the Nobel Committee to ignore the specific expression that Nobel actually used, champions of peace, and instead give its own content to the much less specific term ‘‘peace prize.’’ The committee is guilty of an unauthorized change of its mandate.

Criteria for choosing a winner are neatly listed there, and not easy to be found elsewhere.

It should be pointed out that Heffermehl does not criticize Liu Xiaobo, this year’s winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. He criticizes – and has long criticized – what he considers a deviation in our times, from Nobel’s original will.

The criteria listed by Heffermehl had, he writes, been left to help the Nobel Committee understand what Nobel had in mind. Going by the criteria, I think the award to Liu Xiaobo is actually justified.

1. The greatest benefit on Mankind

It is justified to think of Liu as a man who during the expired year has conferred the greatest benefit on mankind. In a country where nationalism is rampant, and every move or utterance against it considered treason, by the authorities and many “ordinary people”, Liu wasn’t shy to speak his mind. With the charter 08, in the drafting of which he played a leading role, he spelled out what it takes to help people find peace with themselves, and those who govern. Censorship, propaganda, and victimization by countless relative powerless people by relatively more powerful ones has led to a climate in China which is continuously searching for scapegoats. Conveniently, and thanks to propaganda and censorship, much of the anger is now projected on people and powers abroad. Liu has now served the first out of eleven years for speaking truth for power.

Many people elsewhere are no less brave in their search for peace than Liu Xiaobo, and suffer no less than he does. Many people elsewhere actually pay with their lives. But if Heffermehl’s challenge to the Nobel Committee is the elephant in the official Norway’s room, Liu’s contribution is big, too, because his country is the new elephant in the room of the global economy and global politics,  and because many of Liu’s compatriots are or were unaware of the efforts he and other human-rights activists made. Many of his compatriots condemn his efforts, out of fear of “foreign conspiracies” against China.

2. Champions of Peace

There is no civil society in China that would address the requirements for peace. The Chinese Communist Party decides what contributes to peace within and without. Non-governmental involvement is only a theory. The steps a man or a woman can take in China had been taken by people like Liu. He had helped to draft the Charter. He had spoken “truth to power” – and he spoke his sometimes juicy, but frequently thought-provoking (if you are willing to think) opinion to the very small Chinese “public” that was technically in a position to take note of his opinion.

The verdict brought by Beijing First Intermediate People’s Court in December last year wasn’t specific. It is possible that it only took the drafting of the Charter 08 into consideration. It is also possible that it took everything from 1989 (or even d1988) to 2008 into consideration. Liu’s eleven-year prison sentence comes across as a culminative reaction to his work – and the Nobel Peace Prize may count as a culminative appraisal of it.

3. Confraternization of Nations

Given the secrecy of the Chinese state, the state surveillance of its media – mass media and individula media such as cellphones alike -, news and information is often hard to verify. But Liu Xiaobo did make contributions to the confraternization of nations even within China. Liu linked Han-Chinese human rights and Tibetan rights, according to Woeser:

I still remember that night when he asked me in his stammering voice on Skype to please sign my name under “Charter 08” as a sign of respect and trust towards him and in memory of his long support of and consideration for the Tibetan issue. I signed my name without any hesitation. Shortly afterwards, he was arrested in his home and one year later, concealed by the haze of Christmas celebrations, he was sentenced to 11 years imprisonment.

Liu Xiaobo, once again, isn’t the only human-rights activists who considers every Chinese citizen’s human rights, regardless of nationality. In several cases, Han-Chinese lawyers volunteered to defend Tibetan culprits in “politically sensitive” cases. When reading what Dolkar Tso, wife of an imprisoned Tibetan businessman, reportedly wrote early this year, it gives you an idea as of how feelings can contribute to peace among people with different civilizational backgrounds, or how feelings can stirr hatred between them.

But while Liu Xiaobo isn’t the only Han-Chinese stakeholder who cares, he is, again, an outstanding citizen of an important country. He doesn’t fear his own country. He doesn’t fear the outside world. He says that he has no enemies, and no hatred. To be able to handle ones own fears is a prerequisite for confaternization.

4. Abolition of Standing Armies

Here, interpretation comes into play, indeed. No big and no small country worldwide is in the mood to advocate the abolition of standing armies – not even Costa Rica, which has no standing army of its own. That Liu isn’t calling for disbanding standing armies doesn’t disqualify him.

5. The Holding and Promotion of Peace Congresses

Every statesman, no matter his record otherwise, can probably be praised for his or her support of one or another peace congress. Liu is, for obvious reasons, in no position to hold or promote peace congresses.

All that said, Heffermehl’s objections to the Nobel Committee’s work do seem to require public debate in Norway. I believe that the right man got the prize in 2010, but for the reasons I’ve given here myself. The problem for the committee in actually “justifying” its choices, I believe, is to state its reasons, but without “offending” powers that be. This is particularly true the case with  China which raises hell in such situations. But when looking at the list of winners since 1960, you can frequently appreciate the temptation for a jury to keep its explanations pussy-footed.

China reportedly suspended trade talks with Norway indefinitely in November. No matter if “cultural relativism”, business interests, or anything else are reasons for the Committee’s  ways of communication – they need to be discussed in a democracy, if democracy is to function.

Liu Xiaobo is the first Han-Chinese winner of a Nobel. When thinking about the Nobel Peace Prize, can you think of other Chinese citizens who deserve the prize, too, or instead?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Taipei: Say it through Opinion Polls

76.5 per cent of Taiwanese respondents to a poll said that they would voluntarily fight for their country if it came under attack, Taiwan’s deputy defense minister, Chao Shih-chang (趙世璋) confirmed in parliament (立法院) on Monday morning. According to Focus Taiwan,

In light of the fact that the military is preparing to switch to a fully volunteer recruitment system, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) said, the poll was conducted to determine the level of volunteerism that could be expected in the event of a war, the paper reported.
The results were not publicized because they were meant to be used only as reference by the military’s personnel recruitment units, the MND said.

The stated preparedness for defending Taiwan was at 74.5 per cent in a similar survey in 2009, the deputy defense minister said, attributing the higher percentage this year to what he called successful national defense education.

According to the BBC‘s Lin Nansen (林楠森), the China Times (中国时报) quoted an unnamed official with the defense ministry as the source who referred to the poll as reference material for the fully-voluntary recruiting system. The poll had been conducted among Taiwanese citizens who weren’t currently serving, according to the source.

Now News adds some analysis by amused netizens who have their doubts – after all, who would, in a poll, flatly reply that he doesn’t want t0 defend his country? If the poll results would translate into real preparedness to fight when needed would be a different story:

To talk is one thing – to fight without your knees shaking and without surrendering is another (講是這樣講,真打起來還不是雙膝一軟就投降了).

For whatever reason, by way of a ministerial confirmation, these statistics were publicized after all, even if only in a summary way. It’s certainly nicer to transmit this kind of information through leaked polls, than in direct talks with negotiation partners from China.

The public appearance of some of the poll may also target the domestic electorate. By attributing the apparent increase in the public’s preparedness to defend Taiwan to successful national defense education, the KMT may want to point out that preparedness to defend ones country didn’t need to be connected with advocating internationally recognized independence.

The exact wordings of the 2010 and 2009 polls are apparently not publicly avaliable.

____________

Related
Compulsory Miltary Service, GIO, April 23, 2010
Sovereignty is no mere Legal Issue, November 7, 2009

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