Archive for January 1st, 2013

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Advocating Democracy: 73 Scholars sign Open Letter

Probably the same letter previously reported by the South China Morning Post (SCMP) and German daily Die Welt has now made it into the international news as well. According to Reuters, it was signed by 73 scholars, while according to the SCMP, there had been 72 signatories.

A few days before the initial press reports about the open letter emerged, China Value had published a short history of open letters in China, and a discussion of the imbalances of power  they indicated.

According to the SCMP, the open letter was drafted by Zhang Qianfan (张千帆), a Beijing University law professor. Early in 2011, Zhang opposed a – more or less systematic – motion of “Confucian scholars” who apparently advocated Confucianism as a state doctrine.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Open Channels: Offers from North and South Korea

While South Korea is generally switching to digital television, the South Korean government has reportedly agreed to maintain a system for the broadcasting of analogue TV signals, to enable people in North Korea to watch analogue South Korean television. North Koreans along the west coast of Hwanghae Province and the east coast of Gangwon Province are apparently the most likely (secret) audience of these television programs. The programs are also said to be within reach of an unspecified number of tv watchers in  China’s northeastern provinces of Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Liaoning.

North Korea apparently never jammed these television broadcasts, as they just happened to spread across the border like radio waves do between every country. On the other hand, North Korea aggressively jams the South Korean government’s radio stations specifically targeted at the North, North Korea Tech wrote on Sunday. The South keeping up analog signals for a North Korean television audience while using digital signals for the audience at home might therefore be judged in Pyongyang as propaganda of the same category as the stations it already jams.

Radio Korea QSL, 1980s (now KBS World).

An analog experience: Walking between Hoi-dong village and Ah-do island as the sea takes an annual leave – click picture above for Wikipedia entry.
Radio Korea QSL, 1980s (now KBS World).

In another development, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, in a televised speech on Tuesday, called for an end to the “confrontation” with South Korea. According to Voice of Russia, Kim Jong-un suggested the end to confrontation in a new year address, the first time in the past 19 years that a North Korean leader has offered New-Year wishes to the compatriots.

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Thanks to JK for his info re continuation of analog tv broadcasts.

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Related

» Information Warfare, October 20, 2012
» The Firedrake, March 17, 2012

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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Quality Assurance: How to Cover China?

When David Barboza, a correspondent for the New York Times in China, reported on the Wen Jiabao clan’s wealth, he did what a good reporter needs to do. Beijing seems to think otherwise.  Now, Chris Buckley, one of Barboza’s NYT colleagues, has visa problems.

According to the Guardian, Buckley has reported from China for twelve years. Those who complain that most media send correspondents without great Chinese language skills to China should think again: does it make sense to send correspondents to China who invested heavily into their China-related skills? It may occasionally make sense, but not as a rule. And once a correspondent with a lot of “China background” gets tricked out of the country by “sensitive” authorities, a paper or broadcaster who wants to make sure that their coverage on China isn’t influenced by the CCP should provide such a correspondent with a follow-up stint in Hong Kong, Singapore, or Taiwan. There’s too little coverage from Taiwan anyway.

A correspondent won’t necessarily allow the CCP to intimidate him or her anyway. But it’s not only for the correspondents to make sure about that – it’s a task for their employers (i. e. the media), too.

In short: the media should do their share to make sure that their correspondents can’t be tacitly or openly blackmailed by the Chinese “authorities”.

Those who can’t put their correspondents into a sufficiently independent position shouldn’t have permanent correspondents in China at all – and they should state this publicly, to their readers. Quality assurance and building trust is the issue here.

It may be a double-edged sword for correspondents to speak out about the conditions under which they report from China. But their employers – and their readers –  should encourage them to be transparent about the forms of harrassment they encounter.

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Related

» An Increasing Number, China Law & Policy, July 16, 2012
» Self Censorship, many forms, FEER, April 2007

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