Archive for ‘Beijing Olympics’

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Martial Arts, Asian Games 2010

The first East Asian Games medal, not unexpectedly, went to Yuan Xiaochao (袁晓超), from Shanxi Province, at the mens’ Changquan finals on Saturday. Changquan (长拳) emphasizes fully extended kicks and striking techniques, and by appearance would be considered a long-range fighting system. Daisuke Ichikizaki (Japan) and Peyghambari Ehsan (Iran) won the silver and bronze medals.

Xiao had won a gold medal previously at the Asian Games in Doha, in 2006, and another in a Wushu tournament conducted during the Olympic Games 2008. China Radio International (CRI) also cites him as a gold medal winner at the Beijing tournament 2008, but points out that the 2008 tournament was no Olympic event. According to the International Wushu Federation, the Wushu Tournament Beijing 2008 was staged in Beijing from August 21 to 24, 2008, and the IWUF was the organizer in charge.

This video is part of the 2008 tournament coverage – it may take a while to load.

The elementary routine can be found here.

Related
“Most of the local attention was on Wushu”, Associated Press (AP), November 13

Sunday, August 29, 2010

2009 Report: The Lottery Players’ Pride

Point of Acceptance (Archive)

Point of Acceptance

The following are excerpts from an article by Qianjiang Evening News (钱江晚报), a paper in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, published by the Zhejiang Daily Group (浙江日报报业集团). The group’s main paper is the Zhejiang Daily, an official newspaper of the provincial branch of the Communist Party. Qianjiang (钱江) apparently serves as another name for the Yangtze River.

Recently, the Ministry of Finance published its report on the allocation of the 2009 lottery revenues to public welfare, to give the public a quick and full understanding of the lottery’s benefit to the public (让老百姓对于彩票的公益性一目了然) – to buy a lottery ticket is not only fun, but also a loving heart’s tribute (奉献爱心).

3.3 Billion go into Wenchuan Reconstruction

The report states that during the past year, lottery tickets at 132.4 billion were sold nationwide, raising 41.1 billion Yuan for the welfare funds. 56.8 billion Yuan from tickets sold came from sports lottery sales, raising 16.5 billion Yuan for the for the welfare funds. The Super Lotto fund *) drew 35 per cent of these amounts, which makes it the playing method with the highest draws on the publicly beneficial lottery market, and the one that most easily brings lucky draws for the participants.

As the presentation of the beneficial share of the lottery revenues has long been neglected, lottery players may wonder: “why doesn’t my number come in? Where does the money I’m spending for lottery tickets go? How much of it is used for the benefit of the public? The report shows that in 2009, twenty billion Yuan were taken by the central government which allocated 10.5 bn to the national social security fund; 5.2 bn to the special lottery fund; to be approved for use by organizations by the State Council after application by such organizations to the Ministry of Finance and approval by the State Council; 800 million went to the General Administration of Sport of China (国家体育总局) to be used simultaneously for the implementation of the National Fitness Program, the Olympic Glory Plan, and other sports causes.

[...]

From the funds, 4.452 billion Yuan were specifically used for earthquake relief, one billion for medical aid in rural areas, 600 million for medical aid in urban areas, 600 millions in support for students’ education, 18.87 billion for students’ activities outside school, 2.74 million for disabled people, 1.89 billion for the Red Cross, 300 million for culture, 170 million in support of the poor, 46.75 million for the 2008 Olympic Games, mainly for the National Stadium, the National Swimming Center, the National Convention Center and other temporary facility costs, and expenses for the opening and closing ceremonies. 50 million were dedicated to legal aid.

It is worth mentioning that each of the above-mentioned expenditures make important contributions to the public benefit, and that the benefits from the sports lottery can be seen in all kinds of places. This isn’t only the task of the lottery, but also the pride of the lottery players (这不仅是体彩的义务,也是广大彩民的骄傲).

[...]

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Footnotes

*) Super Lotto (超级大乐透) -

Super Lotto is issued by China Sports Lottery Management Center. Tickets cost ¥2.00 per play. You either pick seven numbers from two separate pools of numbers: five different numbers from 1 to 35, and two number from 1 to 12, or let the computer pick your numbers. You win the jackpot by matching all six winning numbers. The jackpot continues to grow until a ticket matches all seven numbers drawn.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tibetan Flag, “under the Foot”

Dalai Lama: Study English and go out

Dalai Lama: Study English and go out

In a Q & A session at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan on Saturday, the Dalai Lama advised young Japanese people to improve their lives by going into the “outside world” where they could make “many contributions”.  “Whether you like it or not, English is the universal language. Study English and go out.”

Tibet’s spiritual leader had arrived in Japan on Thursday to speak at sold-out crowds, but got a cold shoulder from the government, which was trying to improve relations with China, writes AFP. The Japanese authorities, different from previous visits by the Dalai Lama, offered no security. AFP quotes Yukiyasu Osada, a 42-year old writer who has written travel books on Tibet for nearly two decades as saying that “Japanese have little interest in the Tibetan issue. The Dalai Lama, yes. People are attracted to his spirituality. They look for an answer at a time”.

Meantime, New Zealand’s government is also working hard to improve relations with Beijing. Prime Minister John Key apologized to a Chinese delegation lead by vice state chairman Xi Jinping (习近平) after the country’s Green Party’s co-leader Russel Norman had waved a Tibetan flag on the arrival of Xi and his delegation outside Parliament building on Friday. Chinese delegation members reportedly used umbrellas to screen their leader from the troublesome view (or to screen Norman from the delegation). Prime minister Key defended his apology and told the New Zealand Press Association (NZPA) that the issue had nothing to do with freedom of speech. “The apology was in relation to our failure to provide proper security for the vice-president when he entered and exited Parliament”, he said. “I think it’s unacceptable that a dignatory of that level can’t enter the building without their integrity being compromised”.

Norman wrote on his blog on Sunday that Chinese government staff grabbed the Tibetan flag from his hands.

I looked for it on the ground and found it under the foot of one of the Chinese Govt personnel. I lent down to pull the flag out from under the foot of the Chinese Govt security person. As I did so they stood on my hand but I managed to get it out from under their foot and hold it back up again. [...]

I understand that the security operation in front of parliament was a NZ Police operation. But they certainly weren’t in control of it, the Chinese Government guards were.

The issue of Chinese security staff overstepping their jurisdiction was also raised during the Olympic Torch ralleye in Europe, in spring 2008. The Daily Mail wrote in April 2008 that then prime minister

Gordon Brown and his Cabinet colleague Tessa Jowell agreed to receive the torch in Downing Street while being shepherded by a phalanx of Chinese attendants wearing blue and white tracksuits.

It later emerged that these goons came from the paramilitary wing of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army – the same force that has played such a brutal role in the suppression of recent protests in Tibet.

The Daily Mail also pointed out that Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd had insisted that Australian rather than Chinese security would take care of the flame when the relay reached Sydney.

The Dalai Lama’s last visit to New Zealand was in December 2009. In March or April 2009, the New Zealand Chinese Association had told the government to “follow the lead of South Africa” which had refused the Dalai Lama a visa in February. Prime minister Key replied that New Zealand was a free and independent nation that can invite whomever it likes, but chose not to meet the visitor himself, Labour Party leader Phil Goff reportedly held talks with the Dalai Lama during the visit in December.

____________

Related
Tibet: “America’s Consistent Policy”, March 26, 2010
British PM writes to Chinese PM, February 10, 2009

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

China: Noise doesn’t spell Strength

“For the past 60 years, China has always had a weak voice in the world. Even as a member of the UN Security Council, China does not have a strong voice. Why? China’s political system is one of the reasons. Because they don’t agree with China’s political system, the Western countries not only don’t listen to China’s voice, but also criticize China in many ways. Today China is the third biggest economy in the world, right behind the US and Japan. In the future, China will be the only country that could challenge the hegemony of the US.”

Gong Shengli, chief researcher of Guoqing Neican (国情内参, state of the nation), in an interview with the China Global Times, August 17, 2009

“How can China speak to the world,” China Global Times asked several experts, in August last year. That was formally a question, but actually an assertion. The question presupposed that the Chinese media (people and organizations) can speak for China in the first place. But they can only speak for China’s leaders.

Willis Conover, VoA Jazz Hour

Power & Glory, naturally grown: "Time for Jazz". (Source: Voice of America - click above picture for a Willis Conover gallery.)

When a Chinese commenter wrote on this blog that the PRC hadn’t completely shaken off the typical rhetorical and laughable communist-style propaganda, a quote from Carl Rowan, a former head of the now defunct USIA (United States Information Agency) came to my mind. Rowan had once warned that radio broadcasts couldn’t make up for wrong political decisions, and was quoted in the 1980s, when Ronald Reagan‘s administration invested heavily in broadcasters like the Voice of America (VoA), and broadened its control over the station’s programs. And Roy Medvedev, a  USSR dissident and now a Putin supporter, told American correspondents in Moscow that the VoA’s had used to be more restrained – and more efficient – in the pre-Reagan years.

But that was an inevitable consequence of the pigheaded “Reagan Revolution”. Reportedly, the Voice’s operating agency, the USIA, even maintained a list of undesirables who were to be excluded from the agency’s talks, such as John Kenneth Galbraith, Coretta King, Stansfield Turner, or Gary Hart. The Reagan administration boosted the VoA in terms of tech, but hampered its editorial work.

Things will be rather worse than better when PR is here for the mere sake of justifying the CCP’s monopoly to power. The propaganda does seem to work to a great extent within China. And it works on many foreigners, too. In the 1980s, China Radio International‘s (CRI, then Radio Beijing) foreign programs weren’t too different from their domestic ones. There seemed to be no great discrepancy between their ambition, and their substance. They mainly seemed to carry a dowdy Confucianist attitude (without frequently mentioning the sage, as they do now).

I was brought up during the Cold War, and ever since I had stayed in China for a longer period, it surprised me how most people I knew who were involved in trading with the country consistently ignored its political system. If China’s voice was really “weak” in the 1990s and before 2008, it was still highly efficient anyway, in that core issues – the authoritarian or totalitarian nature of CCP rule for example – were consistently overlooked by non-Chinese, or played down with arguments like “China will become more democratic / improve its human rights record [insert whatever may matter to you] as it becomes richer”. Many Chinese non-officials spread the same gossip. But they probably won’t decide the matter. The CCP will.

What brought the hypocrisy of many of the belittlements right home to me was Falun Gong. Years ago, when it was visa time in China’s Hamburg consulate, a young lady with a bag full of Falun Gong propaganda material was trying to talk with people who were on their way into the consulate. As far as I can tell, nobody but me got involved in a discussion with her. While watching the scene, I saw several business people who actually quickened their pace or downrightly ran away from her. I felt pretty sure that they’d tell anyone, anytime, that China was becoming less totalitarian, and more liberal by the day. But in front of the closed-circuit television cameras behind the consulate’s fencing, they wouldn’t take any chances to prove their own point.

This happened long before the “lies and distortions of the Western media” began. Indeed, a German television camera team should have been there in Hamburg, in my place, to record the eerie scene. It wouldn’t even have taken a reporter, and the pictures alone could have told the German public a lot about the state of our country, and about our real China perception. The Falun Gong demonstrations there went on for days, if not for weeks – there would have been plenty of time to shoot.

I’m not sure if China’s voice was really weak in the 1980s – at any rate, it was highly efficient. The “voice” apparently started losing (by points, obviously, not by a knockout) when the CCP and disoriented Chinese nationals began to raise “China’s voice”.

The reaction of many Chinese comes across as mortified. It probably seems unfair to them that America and Australia got away with extinguishing complete human tribes, while China gets criticized for “re-defining” what it means to be Tibetan or Uighur.

It’s funny that so many PR specialists – Chinese and foreign – who tender their advice to the CCP can’t see the obvious: information travelled slowly in the past. Even the San Francisco earthquake – up to 1906 “the most photographed disaster known to mankind” – still allowed for a lot of massage on unfavorable statistics, according to Wikipedia. Manipulating information isn’t that easy today, as it can spread within seconds. And when people get caught manipulating, they’ll usually lose face.

Clearly, the propaganda department is a learning organization. To a certain degree, foreign-language media like China Radio International keep chatting about vanities (Among all the courses you’ve taken in school, which one was your favorite? Why? Which was your least favorite?), and introduce their issues between the lines. “The mission is to embed propaganda messages in supposedly objective reports”, the Economist suggested in March this year. Indeed, CRI’s broadcasts emulate a Westernized Chinese way of life, with some harmonious, mostly non-controversial, characteristics. When listening to CRI’s Mandarin service, too, you can hardly believe that the English programs stem from the same radio station.

It’s not that the propaganda department wouldn’t work hard on doing a more efficient job. “Good journalism”, a “dialog with your imagined enemy”, or to “remember US values when lobbying there” are good points. But if an agenda is fundamentally at odds with such values, no toolkit, however costly, and no staff, will accomplish the mission. A convincing message doesn’t need to be vocal. The Voice of America was founded long after the country had “risen”.

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Related
Don’t Hide, Don’t Challenge (Yet), March 19, 2010
Public Relations: Comparing China and the Dalai Lama, Chinadivide, March 14, 2010
Rao Jin: “They want to Balcanize Xinjiang”, July 26, 2009
China-funded: Three Eight Hundreds, April 19, 2009

Sunday, January 10, 2010

How Can Chinese Academics Build a more Civilized Public Order, Beginning with Themselves?

This year’s entry exams for master graduations (or National Entrance Test of English for MA/MS Candidates / NETEM, 硕士研究生入学考试) have started on Saturday, reports Beijing Youthnet (北京青年网), with politics as the subject in the morning, and foreign languages in the afternoon. Politics as a subject had undergone substantial revisions, writes Youthnet, as A Modern Outline of Chinese Modern History (中国近现代史纲要) and Ideological and Moral Cultivation and the Basics of Law and Legal Basics (思想道德修养与法律基础), with a maximum score of 14 and 18 points respectively. Careless whistling (胡乱鸣笛) and reckless driving, especially recklessly switching lanes and squeezing ones car into a neighboring lane’s traffic flow (开车加塞, kai che jia se, also known as 违法变道 or weifa biandao,) and uncivilized car driving manners in general and their causes are reportedly hot topics among the moral exam issues:

1. Why is civilized driving “both an ethical call, and a legal requirement”?
(为什么文明出行“既是道德呼唤,也是法律要求”)

2. How shall we build a civilized public order, beginning with ourselves?
(我们应如何从自身做起,构建文明的公共生活秩序?)

These exams demand more spontaneous reactions from participants than in the past, according to the article.

Ideological and Moral Cultivation and the Basics of Law and Legal Basics is

a compulsory course of political and ideological education. Under the guidance of Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory, and the Important Thought of “Three Represents”, integrated with knowledge in different fields, and based on the law of young people’s growth, the ultimate objective and task of this course is to educate and guide the students to adjust themselves to college life, strengthen self-cultivation, adhere to a correct political direction, build up a healthy and optimistic view of life, foster moral and ethical qualities, and become an eligible college graduate so as to lay a theoretical and psychological foundation for their future development. [...] The textbook used is Ideological and Moral Cultivation (revised edition) published by Higher Education Press in 2007,

writes the Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine’s Humanities and Social Science’s College (广州中医药大学-人文社科学院).

____________

Related:
Propaganda will set you Free, August 9, 2009

Sunday, July 12, 2009

JR’s Weekender: Anger Management and Anger Manipulation

Thousands of Turks and Uighur expatriates took to the streets across Turkey after Friday prayers, protesting the violence in Xinjiang and burning Chinese flags, according to AFP. The times have changed – it is hard to imagine that any news could have sparked that much anger that quickly only fifteen years ago. But no matter if it is the West, the Middle East, China, or elsewhere, rightful indignation has become a way of life – it is latently simmering in the background, and erupts whenever a Pope says something “wrong”, when a Paralympics athlete is attacked in her wheelchair, when Danish authors depict prophet Mohamed, or when a former German chancellor defies a smoking ban.

No trivialization of Beijing’s policies meant. If protests lead to the right results, such as to a visa for Rebiya Kadeer, this should be welcomed. But it shouldn’t take statements like prime minister Erdoğan‘s to channel or manage Turkish public anger. Such statements hold just more seeds for more of the same anger, because what the prime minister said went beyond the cruel reality. What kind of vocabulary does he intend to use in case of a real genocide?

Chinese indignation, on the other hand, has been given a beautiful mouthpiece just recently. The “Global Times” has probably qualified for the silliest article of the month last week (granted, we are still counting the days). The article demonstrates another kind of anger management. Until three years ago, the Bush administration had managed very successfully to brand any American national who opposed police-state measures as a “traitor” – they left the defamation routine to their proxies, but it was part of the White House’s own work. No wonder that China is trying to ride the pig chased through the global village by George W. Bush. And no wonder that the Chinese government was much happier with the 43rd American president than many other global villagers.

Anyone who supported or still condones the Bush administration’s approach to the war on terrorism should at least sympathize with one of the Global Times‘ points:

Five years ago, when terrorist bombings hit Turkey in November 2003, China took its firm stand on the side of Turkish people and condemned the violent act. However, when the riots happened, inflicting casualities and property damage in Urumqi on July 5, Turkey stands by the side of the thugs, reavealing its shame to the whole world and repaying China with evilness.

But it takes Bush or Cheney logic to see eye to eye with such ideas. The war on terrorism served the agenda of those Mssrs and their cronies’ agenda. The Iraq war wasn’t about going after terrorists. And Beijing’s “war on terrorism in Xinjiang” is just a scam to deflect global attention from the failure its national minorities policy is. Let’s face it: there will more of the same disaster somewhat further south, once the Dalai Lama is no longer around. Unless Beijing stops blaming its own failure on Turkey and other “hostile forces abroad”, and starts looking at the roots of the problems at home, that is.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Amnesty International Blog: Signatures for Martin Jahnke?

A number of activists wrote an open letter to the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs (Subcommittee on Human Rights), according to an Amnesty International blog post of February 27. The letter criticizes the prosecution’s allegations against Martin Jahnke, who threw a shoe at China’s prime minister Wen Jiabao at Cambridge University on February 2. Its comparison of the case against Jahnke with that of a man who slapped former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder in the face and got away with four months probation is interesting.

But most interesting to me are the apparent suspicion of the undersigned that  England’s Cambridge Magistrates’ Court might bring a disproportionate verdict, before the trial has even started. This kind of activism is untimely. What the prosecution asks for isn’t necessarily what it will get from the court.

Where does this lack of trust stem from?

One of the signatories is Mrs Wang Rongfen (王蓉芬). An NY Times article of three years ago tells her story.

Such stories should be listened to. But during the past year with the Olympic-Games activism, it dawned on me that the European establishment and many European institutions haven’t had a real policy on interaction with China for decades. That’s why an open letter was able to catch the Voice of Germany flat-footed. For too long, the focus had been on the power that be – the CCP -, and not on dissenting voices from China.

The signatories of the open letter to the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs Committee are right: China’s political system is totalitarian. The CCP has only eased its grip on the country, because modernization helped the stability of its rule. For sure, the CCP also tries to compromise political systems abroad. [1] [2]

But not every statement by the CCP is wrong, and not every statement by the dissidents is correct. To judge where we should heed either side’s advice, and where we should not, we need information, and a position of our own. Without that, we are easy targets for campaigns from all sides.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Nepal’s (potential) Tibet Dividend

Last year, Germany news magazine Der Spiegel was accused of anti-Chinese bias for putting pictures of Indian and Nepalese police wrestling Tibetan protesters, with captions about China’s crackdown in Tibet. Doing that wouldn’t be factual this year either, but it would come closer to the facts than a year ago. Nepal’s authorities have recently put a ban on all demonstrations and gatherings within 200 meters around Beijing’s embassy, and its consular outlet in Hattisar. The measure came at Chinese requests, according to nepalnews.com.

nepal_friendship_treaties2March 10 will see the 50th anniversary of the Tibetan uprising, or, in Beijing’s words, a revolt of a “few reactionaries manipulated by foreign powers” 1). To keep those few reactionaries down in Nepal, too, Beijing is willing to spend a lot of money. When Nepal’s prime minister Dahal asked the Chinese government to support the construction of 400 MW Narsinghgad hydro-power project in Jajarkot and urged Beijing to help Nepal in infrastructure building and development of Special Economic Zones in February, China’s assistant foreign minister Liu Jieyi (刘结一) said that Beijing would be happy to support Nepal in its development projects.

Tibet may not be the only reason for Beijing to offer Kathmandu economic favors, but it is an important one. During January and February of this year alone, at least three Chinese delegations .. visited Nepal, seeking assurance that protests similar to those last year wouldn’t reoccur, writes sindhtoday.com.

Barring Tibetan protesters from “sensitive”, albeit very public areas like the ones surrounding China’s diplomatic missions probably looks like a modest price to pay in return for Beijing’s support. Nepal is in dire straits economically and socially. After ten years of civil war, the once-guerilla Maoists are now leading the country’s government. But the army chief is blocking integration of the Maoists’ armed cadres into the national military. And after years of civil war, and with the background of the global economic crisis, help from Beijing could help the Maoists to gain legitimacy as a ruling party.

India, Nepal’s southern neighbor, shows no public anger about the rapprochement between Nepal and Beijing, and reportedly, India’s foreign minister Shivshankar Menon stated at a press conference in Kathmandu that agreements between Nepal’s and China’s governments were “an internal affair of Nepal”. But general elections will be held in India by May this year. India in general, and the Hindu nationalist BJP in particular, seem to view increased Nepal China relations as security threats to India. While Nepal’s security forces are suffering from rivalry between the national army and the Maoists’ troops, challenges are rising from the Southern Terai plains, home to numerous ethnic-separatist groups with murky links to smugglers, bandits and Hindu fundamentalists in India. 2) At the same time, Maoists are active in several Indian states.

The United Nations have made military integration in Nepal a priority. But this is exactly the field where secretary Ban Ki-moon saw very little – if any – progress in January. And neither China nor India will be of much help – while the Maoists are Beijing’s proxies, one can be sure that India would prefer to see the Nepali Congress Party, now Nepal’s biggest opposition party, in government, and that it is quietly backing the army in its intransigence 3), concerning the intergration of Maoist troopers.

Looking at Nepal’s general situation, India has reason to be confident – and comparatively relaxed – about Kathmandu’s current hobnob with Beijing. In ethnic terms, Nepal is much more connected with India than with China. Economically, too. In a commentary on March 3, All India Radio (AIR) pointed out India’s advantages.

Indian firms are the biggest investors in Nepal, accounting for about 44% of total approved foreign direct investment of over 346 mn US-D and also for 28.2% or 1281 operating ventures with foreign investment. China is only the second-largest investor with just about 12% share in cumulative investment, and Japan is third with 10% share. 4)

These are no huge numbers, and positions can easily be reversed, but in more general terms of global trade, what China can offer Nepal is also limited. The closest (and only practical) sea ports for Nepalese trade with overseas countries are in India. As a trading partner, China doesn’t (yet) feature prominently either.

India’s general elections may have some, or a big effect on Nepal’s development. The incumbent India Congress Party seems more willing to respect Kathmandu’s choices, than the Hindu BJP would.

But above all, Nepal’s future will depend on the ability of its own politicians to cooperate amongst each other, at least when it comes to issues of strategic importance. More independence from India would be not only in the Maoists, but even in Nepal’s Congress Party’s interest. So far, the country’s political culture doesn’t look mature at all. “To hear the [political party] leaders describe one another in private, their unity seems as amicable as that of fighting cats trapped in a bag”, wrote the Economist in 2007 5), and given the UN’s January report, things haven’t become nicer so far.

Nepal could actually profit from Beijing’s uninspired Tibet policy and its exigencies, if Nepalese politicians got their act together. But that’s a big “if”.

1) Economist, Feb 28, 2009, p. 16
2) Economist, Mar 31, 2007, p. 62
3) Economist, Jan 17, 2009, p. 50
4) All India Radio, Daily Commentary, Mar 3, 2009
5) Economist, Mar 31, 2007, p. 63

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