I focused on a German blog today, concerning latest developments at Deutsche Welle’s Chinese department. So if you can read German, there’s something to read there. (And if you can’t, maybe a translation machine will make some sense of it.)
One could get this impression. In 2010/2011, four Deutsche Welle editors were reportedly fired for being too CCP- or too China-friendly. Granted, the official reasons cited were different. Now, Su Yutong, a blogger and an editor with Deutsche Welle, has gotten the sack – her contract ends in 2015 and won’t be renewed, reports the New York Times.
The paper quotes Deutsche Welle spokesman as saying that Su had tweeted about internal issues, in a way that no company in the world would tolerate. But the internal affairs look interesting indeed. Because this time, it appears that this time, members of the DW Chinese department would be under pressure for not being friendly enough.
As is frequently the case, Su Yutong’s contract with Deutsche Welle wasn’t permanent, which makes it easy to get rid of unwanted or no-longer-wanted employees once their contracts expire. I wrote about this issue and the cases of quasi-employees at DW in some deteail in June last year, when Zhu Hong, one of the two former employees of the DW Chinese department who lost their jobs in 2010/11, lost her case at the Federal Labor Court – see second half of the post.
Just a reminder to myself that I’ll need to read this closer tomorrow:
New York Times, August 21, German Broadcaster fires Chinese Blogger.
Many thanks to the reader who drew my attention to the article.
1. NPC Standing Commission hears Budget and Final Accounts
In his capacity as China’s top legislator (and CCP Politburo Standing Commission member) Zhang Dejiang (张德江) was present at the second plenary meeting of the 12th National People’s Congress’ Standing Committee’s 9th session, reviewing the final accounts of the 2013 budget. CCTV‘s main evening news, Xinwen Lianbo:
The second plenary meeting of the 12th National People’s Congress’ Standing Committee’s 9th session was held in Beijing at the Great Hall of the People, in the afternoon of June 24. Committee chairman Zhang Dejiang attended.
Vice committee chairman Ji Bingxuan chaired the meeting. 162 Standing Committee members were attending, and the quorum as stipulated by law was therefore met.
On behalf of the State Council, finance minister Lou Jiwei delivered a report concerning the 2013 central final accounts. In 2013, the central government had overall revenues of 6.02 trillion yuan RMB, achieving 100.2 per cent of the budgeted amount, and an increase of 7.2 per cent over the 2012 budget. Central government expenditure was at 6.85 trillion yuan RMB, or 98.5 per cent of the budgeted amount, an increase of 6.8 per cent. In general terms, the implementation of the central budget had been good, but with some problems. The next steps will emphasize the strong advance of the fiscal and taxation system, close attention to fiscal and tax policies, measures, and implementation, tangible strengthening of local government debt management, and great efforts to consolidate financial and economic order etc..
受国务院委托， 财政部部长楼继伟作了关于2013年中央决算的报告。2013年，中央公共财政收入60198.48亿元，完成预算的100.2%，比2012年增长 7.2%。中央公共财政支出68491.68亿元，完成预算的98.5%，增长6.8%。总的看，中央财政预算执行情况良好，但也存在一些问题。下一步将 重点做好扎实推进财税体制改革，狠抓各项财税政策措施落实，切实加强地方政府性债务管理，大力整饬财经秩序等工作。
On behalf of the State Council, National Audit Office general auditor Liu Jiayi reported the 2013 central budget implementation and other revenue and expenditure audits. After reporting, item by item, central budget revenue and expenditure and final accounts drafts, central financial management, the budget implementation and final accounts at the central government authorities, government debt, key people’s-livelihood projects and mineral resources, state-owned financial institutions, state-owned enterprises and other audits as well as major clues of illegality, he made the following suggestions for the next steps in work improvement: strict financial discipline, tangible administrative achievements in accordance with the law, financial management in accordance with the law, accelerating the transformation of government functions and streamlining administration and delegating powers to the lower levels, deepening the promotion of fiscal and taxation system reform, making efficient use of assets, optimizing structures, and increasing the use efficiency of financial funds.
受国务院委托，审计署审计长刘家义报告了2013年度中央预算执行和其他 财政收支的审计情况。在逐项报告了中央财政预算收支执行及决算草案、中央财政管理、中央部门预算执行和决算草案、政府性债务、重点民生工程及矿产资源、国 有金融机构、国有企业等审计情况及查出的重大违法违规案件线索情况后，报告提出下一步改进工作的意见：严肃财经纪律，切实做到依法行政、依法理财；加快转 变政府职能和简政放权，深入推进财税体制改革；盘活存量、优化结构，提高财政资金使用效益。
The meeting heard National People’s Congress Financial and Economic Affairs Committee deputy chairman Liao Xiaojun’s report on the 2013 central final accounts review. The committee believes that the 2013 central final accounts draft reflects the good implementation of the central budget, and recommended the approval of the draft. As for the problems [the draft] also reflected, the committee suggested to accelerate the promotion of budget system reform, further standardization of budget and final accounts management, the building of a comprehensive governmental debt management system, and the strengthening of auditing and supervision.
会 议听取了全国人大财政经济委员会副主任委员廖晓军作的关于2013年中央决算审查结果的报告。财经委认为，2013年中央决算草案反映了中央预算执行情况 是好的，建议批准该草案。针对反映出的问题，财经委建议加快推进预算制度改革，进一步规范预决算管理，健全政府性债务管理制度，加强审计监督。
On behalf of the State Council, People’s Bank of China deputy governor Liu Shiyu delivered a work report concerning the strengthening of supervising and averting financial crisis. He said that in recent years, in the face of the complications and changes in the international economic situation, downward pressures in the domestic economy had become stronger, the financial crisis had led to accumulated risks, the State Council had issued a number of policies and measures conducive to averting and defusing financial crisis, safeguarding financial stability, and conducive to economic restructuring and transformation of development methods. [The State Council] had firmly kept to the bottomline of not allowing systemic or regional financial crises. The strengthening and improvement of financial supervision and management and prudent macro-management, the continuous comprehensive promotion of macro-economic stability and a modern financial system that supports substantial economic development.
受国务院委托，中国人民银行副行长刘士余作了关于加强金融监管防范 金融风险工作情况的报告。他说，近年来，针对国际经济形势复杂多变、国内经济下行压力加大、金融风险有所积聚的情况，国务院出台了一系列既有利于防范化解 金融风险、维护金融稳定，又有利于促进经济结构调整和发展方式转变的政策举措，牢牢守住了不发生系统性区域性金融风险的底线。今后，将进一步加强和改善金 融监管和宏观审慎管理，不断健全促进宏观经济稳定、支持实体经济发展的现代金融体系。
Besides playing democracy on Tuesday afternoon, Zhang Dejiang also met the speaker of an elected parliament, Pandikar Amin Mulia from Malaysia.
2. Staying ahead of the Enemy (in Xinjiang)
Shanghai Daily, on Tuesday, quoted State Internet Information Office (SIIO) spokesman Jiang Jun as telling a press conference that terrorist forces have “turned the Internet into a principal tool for their operations.”
[...] China launched a campaign on Friday to rid the Internet of audio and video materials that promote terrorism and violence. The move is aimed at safeguarding social stability in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and long-term peace, according to the SIIO.
Meantime, authorities on the ground in Xinjiang are victorious, People’s Daily reported on Monday. 96 per cent of “terrorist gangs” had been detected during planning stage (or in their embrionyic stage, 在萌芽状态) and been wiped out (or knocked out, 打掉), “Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region” Public Security Bureau deputy director Wang Qianrong (王谦榕) reportedly told a press conference. High-pressure policing (打高压态势), attacks at first opportunity (主动进攻) and staying ahead of the enemy (先发制敌) had been instrumental in normalizing the situation.
3. Staying ahead of the Enemy (in Mainland and Hong Kong)
Despite what organisers called the biggest cyber attack in Hong Kong’s history, hundreds of thousands of people have been able to voice their opinion in an unofficial pro-democracy referendum that started on Friday, the BBC‘s Juliana Liu wrote in the broadcaster’s China blog on Monday. Some 689,000 ballots had been cast on June 23, by 14:00 GMT. It probably helped that 15 polling stations provided opportunities to cast one’s vote in person.
They had a choice between three candidates for the office of Hong Kong Chief Executive. Occupy Central is the major force between these – unofficial – elections.
The Economist, obviously sympathetic to the elections, warns that in China’s most prosperous city, both sides have a lot to lose and should be looking for a way to climb down. Beijing shouldn’t alienate Hong Kongers who, in a free election, … would have probably chosen a pro-China candidate anyway, but many of whom moved towards the radicals’ camp after a senior mainland fgure talked about dealing with disorder by sending in the Chinese army.
Also on Monday, with the number of votes at 700,000 by then, Foarp notes that to put pressure on a free society [is] liable to back-fire by driving people to the other side. That said, Occupy Central could have made more of the opportunty afforded to them by Beijing’s intransigence. By giving the voters a choice between the central-government proposed system and their democratic cause, the voters’ message could have been made so much clearer.
An unfriendly interpretaton would be that maybe neither Beijing nor Occupy Central want to leave anything to chances. A friendlier one would be that Occupy simply wanted to demonstrate democratic practice. The turnout, anyway, was remarkable – too remarkable to be officially noted in China. The searchword combination 622 Referendum was censored on Sina Weibo as the Occupy referendum approached, Fei Chang Dao noted on Sunday.
1. Why Russia Today succeeds while CCTV-9 fails: it depends on how you define and choose your target audience, on familiar faces, on the format of your programs, and on integration with the intelligence services, suggests Foarp.
2. Ar Dee, an ethnic Tibetan, makes no apologies for her Tib-lish. This was posted nearly two weeks ago, but the topic is basically timeless. It’s about a language we probably won’t find on Google Translate any time soon. About a moment when the author yearned to call on some supernatural power to fix her tongue.
3. Sichuanese police held anti-terrorism drills in Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, apparently late last month. The drills included the handling of self-immolations. This struck me as weird when reading about it on the exile radio station Voice of Tibet‘s website, but CCTV English actually confirms it. Foarp – see 1. – might have a point. Chinese media for foreign audiences making fun of themselves.-
4. June 1 was the International Children’s Day. It seems to be mostly communist folk & custom, and logically, the indoctrination of the young is a job for the top: party and state chairman Xi Jinping, last Friday, called for fostering socialist values among children while sending greetings ahead of Sunday’s International Children’s Day.
The “socialist core values” that the country now upholds embody the thoughts of ancient masters, the aspirations of the nation’s role models, ideals of revolutionary martyrs and expectation of all Chinese people,
China Radio International (CRI) quotes Xi. Xi Jinping arrived at Haidian National Primary School in Beijing at 9:30 local time, according to this Xinhua report, and a student offered him a red scarf on arrival. How his heart pounded with excitement when joining the young pioneers in 1960, Xi told the kids, asking if they didn’t feel the same way.
“Yes”, a child answered. “Why is it so?” “Because it is sort of an honor.” The general secretary [Xi Jinping] said: “I have seen hope on your faces, the hopes of the motherland and the people. It’s just as said in the oath: one needs to be always prepared, to take one’s turn on duty in the future.”
Referred to as Xi Dada (kind of Uncle Xi) on another occasion, the general secretary was Xi Yeye (Grandfather Xi) at Haidian National Primary School, maybe for the grandfatherly stories he told. The core lesson from Xi’s recollections was that to move from one stripe to two stripes to becoming a standard bearer among the young pioneers required a lot of work, a student is quoted as summarizing the listening experience.
5. Fei Chang Dao has the latest about efforts to block June-4-related information. Online censorship reportedly includes May 35th (May 31 + 4).
6. The BBC has a Chinese press review: China media criticise US and Japan leaders …
7. … but there’s no need to fear Japan anymore. This, anyway, could be the positive message you might extract from the second picture in Chang‘s collection: nearly seven decades after America won the 2nd World War in the Far East, Japan finally submits to Washington, in in the shape of Itsunori Onodera, Japan’s minister of defense. People slightly familiar with China and/or Japan will know that many Chinese and Japanese men hate to be hugged, and might flinch if it happens, but neither Chang nor South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo could apparently resist the temptation. At least, the South Koreans didn’t openly doubt Onodera’s manhood: U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (left) chats with Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera ahead of a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Chang, if you find one of these pictures repulsive, you aren’t a man either!
8. And as we started with propaganda (see “1.“), let’s wind up with propaganda, too:
Some say that [from] the West is propaganda … - In the U.S. it is called public diplomacy (public diplomacy). We do not do it in sufficient quantities, to be honest.
» Previous Monday links, May 25, 2014
Adjustments at General Staff Headquarters, Oct 25, 2012
1. A Deity doesn’t need to have a mind of his own,
argues Korhonen Pekka, a Finnish political scientist, in a post for Sino-NK. Nor does Kim Jong-un, he writes. Pekka interprets Kim’s reign as rather ceremonial, and that the bureaucracy is calling the shots. That however doesn’t appear to bode well for the future.
2. Lawyers should not Overestimate their Political Clout,
Fei Chang Dao quotes an editorial by Shan Renping (which is the pen name of Huanqiu Shibao‘s editor-in-chief, Hu Xijin). Fei Chang Dao (there appears to be a lawyer behind the blog) also explains the differences between the Chinese version of the article, and one published by Huanqiu’s sister edition in English, the “Global Times”. More recently, Fei Chang Dao explores how June-4 related searchwords are censored.
3. Public Diplomacy and its Limits
Obama’s Policies on Syria and Egypt, as well as on intelligence operations of U.S. administrations as revealed by Edward Snowden [...] will have serious impacts on U.S. popularity in the world, Kilic Kanat, a political scientist, wrote on May 12, in an article for the English-language Daily Sabah from Istanbul. If Obama kept following his current policies especially on Syria and Egypt, [...] the U.S. may face another downward trend in its standing. Under those circumstances, public diplomacy campaigns will only waste money on U.S. foreign policy.
Russia, Ukraine, or the Far East don’t seem to matter at all.
4. Meantime, on Capitol Hill …
… American senators and retired propaganda apparatchiks are trying to make sure that money spent on public money gets wasted indeed, by demanding that the language of Voice of America’s mission [..] explicitly state that the outlet has a role in supporting American “public diplomacy” and the policies of the government. To bring it down to a round figure, Fulbright scholarships are apparently being targeted by budget cuts.
No need for international exchange when you can broadcast linear propaganda, be it on shortwave, be it on “social media”.
This is the Voice of America, signing on. Hello World, shut up and listen!
» Umstrukturierung des US-Auslandsfunks, Radio Eins, April 5, 2014
This – JR’s China Blog – is now a veteran blog. Thinking about it, I probably agree with FOARP, and I also agree that sometimes, blogs remain an adequate form to write about things at (some) length. Like this post about how it may feel when you come back to China after a break of several years.
» Once Upon a Time, Dec 25, 2009
or those of you who would like to read foreign comments under their posts:
it’s not that I wouldn’t want to comment on your blogs. But if a facebook profile is required, or if I have to register with some “discuss” software, or whatever, it doesn’t seem worth the hassle. There are bloggers who are not active on facebook, and I’m one of them.
Just make sure that a name and a url (or a mailbox) will be all that is required to leave a comment.
WordPress offers an annual report for 2013 to each individual blogger, with individual statistics. As the previous summary for 2012, too, the 2013 summary for
JR’s China blog is upbeat. And it handsomely ignores an interesting fact: this blog has seen the second traffic decline in two consecutive years. That’s what my actual WP dashboard tells me, and it’s useful information indeed. It helps me to think about what makes me write, and what makes others read.
Reflecting on the statistics, I understand that my entries haven’t necessarily become less interesting. I’ve posted less frequently, of course. But that’s probably not the only reason fort he decline. The decline in stats began in 2012, and it didn’t come with a decline in blogging activity. A rough estimate, based on my drafts on my computer, suggests that there were 252 new posts in 2011 and 275 new posts in 2012.
There’s a number of factors that, maybe, drove this blog before 2012, and that abated somewhere in the second half of 2011, or the first half of 2012.
One is the general trend. Microblogging has, in many bloggers‘ lives, replaced actual blogging. Facebook may be another alternative to blogging (even if one I’d never consider myself).
My own writing may be a factor, too. To rate the quality of someone’s writing, or the appeal of it to readers, is difficult when it’s actually your own writing. I’m not trying to be my own critic now. But there’s one thing I can easily discern. Before 2012, I wrote about China and human rights, and made fun of the CCP. It was simple argumentative technology, and it was easy reading. From 2012, I turned to a more “researching” or “deliberative” kind of blogging. There’s probably a post to mark the turn: JR turns to science.
It’s never become real science, I guess, but it did become more about translation and analysis. This started in December 2011, the timing of that post basically corresponds with my memory.
The topic that made me change my blogging approach – not completely, but gradually first, and then to quite a degree – was the Zhang Danhong incident in 2008, and the case of four Deutsche Welle employees who were sacked in 2010/2011. My own situation had changed, too. After having lived in China for a number of years, I had returned to Germany – probably for good. I can’t imagine living in China for another number of years. The people and things that matter most to me are now here.
That doesn’t make China less fascinating to me. But my perspective has shifted. It’s where China has an impact on life in Germany, and the other way round, what interests me most.
In a way, that seems to have the potential of a pretty global topic – there are “thousands of miles” where one country, or one civilization, overlaps with another. But these are, seemingly anyway, rather unspectacular seams around the globe. They usually go as unnoticed by the public as does Chinese economic involvement in Africa or Latin America. Jeremy Goldkorn bemoaned the state of the South African media in 2010: even if a foreign country becomes your new number one trading partner, you may not notice it at all.
The challenge for the press would be to start digging on those sites, along those global borders and seams around the globe – in a way that people want to read. The challenge for a blogger may be pretty much the same.
But to react to this (supposed) demand would require much more of my time, and a willingness to become more „public“ on the internet, as a person. And it would be an experiment which still wouldn’t necessarily lead to a bigger impact.
After all, these reflections are only about what I think people would be interested in. Many bloggers – and many news people and entertainers – believe they know what people actually want to see most. And in most cases, their beliefs are probably wrong.
But if I were a press pro (with a generous boss), I’d probably give it a try. And yes, a bit of curiosity remains: how would it work out?