Archive for ‘Britain’

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Obituary: Chris Gelken, 1955 – 2014

Chris Gelken, a former anchor and editor at China Radio International, Press TV (Iran), and media in Hong Kong and South Korea, died in the French city of Limoges on April 4, aged 58, according to the Korea Herald online.

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Related

» BC and AD, Ridealist, October 14, 2013
» Have we met, Dec 6, 2011
» Publish & be damned, Korea Herald, April 5, 2010

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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Shortwave Log, Northern Germany, April 2014: Radio Japan

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1. Radio Japan

A radio equipped to receive domestic shortwave radio service does not have a wide enough shortwave band (usually between 3.9 MHz to 12 MHz) and is not adequate to receive RADIO JAPAN,

according to the how-to-listen page on the NHK World (Radio Japan Online) website.

It depends, though. Radio Japan’s broadcasts in Chinese on 9,540 kHz (9.54 MHz), daily at 15:30 UTC have, arrived in moderate or good quality recently. They certainly did every time I listened in April – on nine different days, that is. It’s a signal that travels across seven time zones, on a shortwave band that counts as the most heavily used one.

"Winter in Kenrokuen Park, Kanazawa" - Radio Japan QSL, re December 1985

“Winter in Kenrokuen Park, Kanazawa” – Radio Japan QSL, re December 1985

Reception of the station’s signals directly from Japan was much more difficult in the 1980s, and maybe the remarks about the inadequacy of bands around and below above 25 meters were made back then, and copied into the website later on. In the 1980s, the Cold War was still alive on shortwave. The overkill was never applied in nuclear terms, but it was exercised on shortwave. Monster transmitters of 1,000 kW were most probably first introduced in the USSR, and the Soviet network of “normal” shortwave transmitters, too, was globally unrivaled. The gaps Radio Moscow did leave on shortwave were filled by the Voice of America (VoA), the BBC World Service, Radio Peking (the former name of what is now China Radio International / CRI), and with Germany’s Deutsche Welle “only faintly beeping in a few places” on the radio dial, as Der Spiegel put it in 1984.

Radio Japan wouldn’t even faintly beep in northern or central Europe – or when they did, that would be a very, very special day. Unless when the signal came from Moyabi, Gabon, where the Japanese broadcaster began using a relay transmitter in 1982 or 1983.

Soviet radio megalomania wasn’t the only thing to blame for the rarity of a noticeable direct signal from Japan to Europe.  There were home-made difficulties, too. The shortwave transmission sites were run by KDD (nor merged into KDDI), rather than by NHK or Radio Japan itself, and the  telecommunications corporation’s decisions were chronically ill-founded, according to German journalist and shortwave listener Hermann Jäger (1921 – 1993), who noted in 1987 that the station’s morning broadcasts in German had been fairly audible in the late 1970s, but not after that, and that with few exceptions, the evening broadcasts had been inaudible for many years. Jäger blamed incomprehensible frequency choices:

When a broadcaster in Japan, with 100 or maybe 200 kW at best, chooses a frequency on or right next to Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty‘s from Munich, it won’t work. The [Soviet] jamming stations alone will “make sure” about that.

6070 kHz for another broadcast in German was no good try either: Radio Sofia from Bulgaria blew everything away.

Hermann Jäger wrote his article in 1987, on the 50th anniversary of Radio Japan’s German service*). Another issue he raised was that only earlier that year, in 1987, transmitters of more than 100 or 200 kW had been taken into operation. Until then, Radio Japan had continued working as if the bands were as “empty” as in 1937, 1955 1950, or maybe in 1955.

That has changed. The bands have emptied a lot during the past twenty years. In fact, Japan appears to be one of the rather few OECD countries which haven’t abandoned shortwave as a means of propaganda, public diplomacy, or information. Radio Japan broadcasts on much “emptier” shortwave bands these days, powered with up to 300 kW from Japan, and 500 kW from a French relay station.

Since March 30, Radio Japan has also added broadcasts in Japanese to eastern Europe, on shortwave frequencies, from relay stations in the UK, the UAE, and directly from Japan – see Japan/UAE/U.K. Additional broadcasts of Radio Japan here. The broadcasts have apparently been added for Japanese citizens in eastern Europe.

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*) According to Wikipedia (zh) and Chinese online encyclopedia baike.com, Radio Japan started broadcasts in Chinese in 1937, too. According to zh.wikipedia.org, it was August 23, 1937. On NHK’s website, I didn’t find a specific date. The Chinese programs are mentioned on NHK’s English website, as a caption to a picture of program schedules in 1940 – third photo from top.

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2. Recent Logs (from/after March 29)

[Update/correction: two sentences deleted - part of March 2014 log]

International Telecommunication Union letter codes used in the table underneath:
AFS – South AFrica; ARG – Argentina; CLN – Sri Lanka; D – Germany; IND – India; IRN – Iran; J – Japan; OMA – Oman; SNG – Singapore.

Languages (“L.”):
Be – Bengali; C – Chinese; Ca – Cambodian; E – English; G – German; Pa – Pashto.

kHz

Station

Ctry

L.

Day

GMT

S I O
15140 Radio
Oman
 OMA E Apr
3
14:47 4 5 4
  9540 Radio
Japan
 J C Apr
3
15:30 4 5 4
  9540 Radio
Australia
 SNG E Apr
3
16:00 4 5 4
15235 Channel
Africa
 AFS E Apr
4
17:00 4 5 4
  4880 SW1)
Africa
 AFS E Apr
4
17:30 3 4 3
  9780 VoA/
Deewa
 CLN Pa Apr
5
18:04 4 5 3
  9485 MV Baltic
Radio2)
 D G Apr
6
09:00 5 5 5
  7550 AIR
Delhi
 IND E Apr
73)
18:27 5 5 4
15235 Channel
Africa
 AFS E Apr
83)
17:00 5 5 5
15345 RAE
Buenos
Aires
 ARG G Apr
8
21:00 3 3 3
11710 RAE
Buenos
Aires
 ARG E Apr
11
02:08 2 5 3
  3995 HCJB
Weener-
moor
 D G Apr
12
09:00 4 4 3
  7365 HCJB
Weener-
moor
 D G Apr
12
09:17 3 3 3
17820 IRIB
Tehran
 IRN E Apr
12
10:23 4 5 4
17860 Vo Khmer
M’Chas
Srok
 4) Ca Apr
12
11:30 4 5 4
15345 RAE
Buenos
Aires
 ARG G Apr
18
21:07 4 2 2
11710 RAE
Buenos
Aires
 ARG E Apr
25
02:55 5 5 5
  5980 Channel
Africa
 AFS E Apr
25
03:05 5 5 5
  9540 BBC
World
Service
 SNG Be Apr
28
16:30 5 5 4

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Footnotes

1) A Zimbabwean opposition broadcaster, via Meyerton, South Africa
2) Some delay at the beginning of broadcast
3) Receiver used: Silver XF-900 Spacemaster, built-in antenna. Sony ICF-2001D when not otherwise noted.
4) short-wave.info says that the transmitter’s location is Tajikistan. The organization airing the broadcasts opposes Cambodia’s Hun Sen government and what it views as Vietnamese attempts to create an Indochina Federation, with Cambodia and Laos under Hanoi’s rule.

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Related

» NHK International BC history, NHK
» NHK国际广播发展历程, NHK
» 日本国际广播电台, baike.com
» Gelebte Zeitgeschichte, book review, 2004
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Friday, March 28, 2014

Jamming of BBC World Service on Shortwave continues

Tuned in to the BBC World Service last night, on 15,335 kHz (Singapore relay) and on 15,755; 13,725 and 9,410 kHz (all Thailand relay) respectively. Apart from the transmission on 9,410 kHz, all wavelengths were beamed into the direction of China, if Shortwave Info is correct.

If the jamming originates from China, it is still different from the “Firedrake” recorded here. The noise jamming the BBC isn’t a tune, but a blunt row of monotonous sound waves – click the Soundcloud symbol underneath for a recording.

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The BBC’s broadcasts from Singapore start with a very traditional interval tune – the bells from St Mary-le-Bow. This interval was recorded in 1926 and has been used by the BBC World Service since the early 1940s, according to Wikipedia. If the signal is still the original from 1926, the bells don’t even exist anymore, as they were destroyed during the German “Blitz”, and replaced by new ones, cast in 1956.

Apart from China, Vietnam, too, is said to jam foreign broadcasters – Radio Free Asia (RFE) is said to be the target in the case recorded here. If it is indeed RFE should be hard to tell, because you don’t hear anything but the jamming signal.

In a statement thirteen months ago, on February 25, 2013, the BBC issued a statement saying that

[t]hough it is not possible at this stage to attribute the source of the jamming definitively, the extensive and co-ordinated efforts are indicative of a well-resourced country such as China. The BBC strongly condemns this action, which is designed to disrupt audiences’ free access to news and information.

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying (华春莹) referred reporters to relevant departments at the time when asked about the BBC’s accusation on a press conference.

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Related

» China vs BBC, Kim Andrew Elliott, March 9, 2013
» Particularly intense in Tibet, CDT, Febr 26, 2013

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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Russia Today: the Failed State of Germany

Russian president Vladimir Putin lives in another world, possibly not in touch with reality, German chancellor Angela Merkel – reportedly – believes.

That may or may not be so. But if Foarp is right, there are people at Russia Today, the newly created propaganda machine into which RIA Novosti and the Voice of Russia have now been blended together by a presidential decree, lives who live in a world where Germany is a failed state.

It’s an old story (occured in 2011), but one that hasn’t ended since. Nice stuff therefore for a debate about Westerners working for mere state propaganda outlets, and what they may find there. If you want to comment, please comment there.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Shortwave Log, Northern Germany, November 2013 (2)

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1. Radio Botswana

Another log that takes a look at African radio, after these notes on Voice of Nigeria in September. Radio Botswana is owned by the government of the southern African country where the diamonds are forever. Radio Botswana broadcasts in English and Setswana, and appears to have done so since about 1966, formerly as Radio Bechuanaland. (Yes, KT, the station is online, too, and at least one out of the country’s two million citizens is a musician.)

Obviously, China Radio International (CRI) or, more precisely, a company with a name that amounts to Global Field Media company (环球广域传媒公司), has opened a studio there, but only recently. The Chinese ministry of foreign affairs reported on July 16 this year that on July 15, CRI’s director Wang Gengnian (王庚年), Chinese ambassador to Botswana Zheng Zhuqiang (郑竹强), a deputy secretary from the Botswanean presidential office of public administration as well as delegates from the a/m Global Field Media company, Radio Botswana and from Chinese and overseas Chinese circles had been present at an opening ceremony of a CRI Gabarone program studio (中国国际广播电台哈博罗内节目制作室). CRI is scheduled to contribute material to the programs produced there, as is Radio Botswana.

Three days later, according to Xinhua, Wang Gengnian and the Global Field Media company were in Zambia, for the inauguration of an Overseas Chinese Weekly (华侨周报) there. China’s ambassador to Zambia, Zhou Yuxiao (周欲晓) also attended the ceremony.

Radio Botswana QSL, 1986

Radio Botswana QSL, 1986

The Voice of America (VoA) operates from Moepeng Hill, Botswana, some twenty kilometers from Selebi-Phikwe. According to the British DX Club’s Africa on Shortwave, Radio Botswana was last heard on shortwave in early 2004 (In Britain, anyway). That said, the station is a domestic broadcaster, with no ambitions to be heard worldwide.

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2. Recent Logs

International Telecommunication Union letter codes used in the table underneath:
ARG – Argentina; BOT – Botswana;  CUB – Cuba; IRL – Ireland; NZL – New Zealand; THA – Thailand; TIB – Tibet.

Languages (“L.”):
C – Chinese; E – English; F – French.

Signal Quality
S (strength) / I (interferences) / O (overall merit)
5 = excellent; 3 = fair; 1 = barely audible.

kHz

Station

Ctry

L.

Day

GMT

S I O
 4920 PBS Tibet TIB E Nov 2 16:00 2 4 2
 4905 PBS Tibet TIB E Nov 2 16:00 1 2 1
 5505 Shannon
Volmet
IRL E Nov 2 17:55 5 5 5
 4930 VoA*) BOT E Nov 2 17:58 4 3 3
 5040 RHC Cuba CUB E Nov 3 05:45 4 5 4
 5040 RHC Cuba CUB E Nov 3 06:45 5 5 5
 5040 RHC Cuba CUB E Nov 3 07:00 5 5 5
 9965 Radio
Thailand
THA E Nov 9 19:00 4 5 4
11710 RAE
Buenos Aires
ARG F Nov 22 03:00 4 5 4
11710 RAE
Buenos Aires
ARG C Nov 22 04:30 4 4 4
11710 RAE
Buenos Aires
ARG C Nov 22 04:40 3 3 3
15720 Radio New
Zealand
NZL E Nov 27 12:30 4 5 4
11725 Radio New
Zealand
NZL E Nov 30 07:00 5 5 4

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Notes

*) See 1) Radio Botswana.

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Related

Previous shortwave logs »

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Friday, November 15, 2013

Central Committee 3rd Plenary Session Communiqué: a State Security Bureaucracy

Main Link: The Fifth Big State Institution – 第五大国家机构, Enorth/CPBS, November 13, 2013

While the 18th central committee’s third plenum’s communiqué doesn’t appear to reveal a lot about future economic or social reforms in general (I haven’t read it myself), a fifth big state institution (第五大国家机构, or party institution for that matter), in addition to  the CCP central committee, the state council, the “National People’s Congress” and the “The Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference” may be taking shape – but to suggest that, Chinese media apparently need to quote foreign media or observers. An article by Enorth (Tianjin) is apparently based on China’s domestic radio (Central People’s Broadcasting Station, CPBS, or CNR) in its coverage – possibly because not everyone has the right to quote foreign sources anymore.

The fifth big state institution would be a state security committee. Analysts are quoted as saying that a double role of dealing with basic domestic and external challenges could be discerned.

Plans for a state security committee had been made or demanded since 1997, but were only now taking shape, says the article. And many other countries had similar institutions: America’s national security council (since 1947), France (since 2008), Brazil, Chile, South Africa, Turkey, Thailand, and Malaysia, for example. In Japan, the establishment of a national security council was underway, too.

A security committee needed to be a permanent institution, experts are quoted. And Ruan Zongze, once a secretary in China’s embassy in Britain and now vice director at the China Institute of International Studies, reportedly suggests that building a state security committee was an important and innovative measure, and indicating the growing dynamics of Chinese foreign policy.

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Updates/Related

» Terrorists will be nervous, CRI, Nov 14, 2013

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Friday, November 8, 2013

Press Review: the “Magic” of Third Plenary Sessions

The Chinese Communist Party’s 18th Central Committee’s third plenary session is scheduled to begin on Saturday, and to close on Tuesday. The Economist is full of joy and great expectations:

When colleagues complain that meetings achieve nothing, silence them with eight leaden words: “third plenary session of the 11th central committee”. This five-day Communist Party gathering in December 1978 utterly changed China.

Why should Xi Jinping be in a position to repeat a similar plenum tomorrow, 35 years after the 1th Central Committee? Because Xi, and chief state councillor Li Keqiang, have assembled an impressive bunch of market-oriented advisers, and because Xi himself appears to have more authority than any leader since Deng. And he had done nothing downplay expecations.

press review

The outland expects nothing short of a (counter) revolution.

The Economist’s editorial mentions two fields on which the central committee – in its view – should focus: state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and the countryside. The magazine has been banging on about the latter issue since March 2006 – if not earlier. In its March 25, 2006 edition, it suggested land reform (“how to make China even richer”), and it saw some of its expectations met in winter 2008, but the third plenum that Xi’s predecessor Hu Jintao chaired in October 2008 proved an anticlimax.

If the next days should not produce spectacular decisions, neither the Economist nor the Financial Times appear to be too worried: bloated phrasing, the FT suggests, has not been an obstacle to far-reaching economic policy changes in China over the past 35 years. The FT also agrees with the Economist’s 2008 finding that

for Hu Jintao, Mr Xi’s predecessor, the 2003 third plenum became a marker of his administration’s shortcomings. Mr Hu vowed at the plenum to tackle China’s unbalanced growth, but a decade later left office with the economy even more reliant on investment.

But contrary to the Economist, the FT doesn’t seem to believe that the input from the market-oriented advisers, assembled by Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang, will translate into results quite as dramatic as the think-tank papers. Incremental change would prevail.

One of the ideas – certainly not shared by all Chinese leaders alike – behind the right to farmers to sell their land is that the money earned from sales would enable them to start new lives in the cities or in urbanized areas. This would, apparently, require loosening or abandoning the household-registration system, even if some more conservative models of trading land-related rights rather seem to encourage rural citizens to stay where they are.

This should make sense – maybe not everywhere, but in many places. After all, Hu Jintao’s and Wen Jiabao’s caution wasn’t unfounded. The history of Chinese agriculture seems to have been about making farmers owners of their land – with concepts of ownership which most probably differ from our days -, even if for different goals. The idea then was to make agriculture work, not to make urbanization work. And time and again, land concentrated, back into the hands of small elites, Erling von Mende, a sinologist, suggested in a contribution for a popular-science illustrated book published by Roger Goepper, in 1988.*)

If a peasant in Gansu province sells his few mu of land – to a local developer, for example – and heads to a big city, one may doubt that his small capital would get him very far. He might return to his home province as a poorer man than ever before. It’s unlikely that the center would loosen all the brakes at once.

The most striking thing to me about recent foreign coverage of the plenary session aren’t the technicalities, however. It is the way China is being looked at as just another kind of political system. The potential of big business seems to have squashed ethical issues.

That’s not soft power, but it is Beijing power. A number of former foreign officials, among them Mexico’s former president Ernesto Zedillo and former British prime minister Gordon Brown, pilgrimaged to the Chinese capital to attend a conference of the 21st Century Council, a global think tank (apparently formed by them). They got an invitation for tea met with Xi Jinping, too, who informed them that China would not fall into the middle-income trap.

There is no reason to believe that elites who worship abusive power abroad will show more respect for human rights at home.

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Note

*) Roger Goepper (Hrsg.): “Das Alte China”, München, Gütersloh, 1988, pp. 164 – 166

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Related

» Is China misunderstood, Oct 24, 2012
» Middle-income trap, Wikipedia, acc. 20131108

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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Obituary: Robert Ford, 1923 – 2013

Robert Ford, a British diplomat and radio operator, worked for the Tibetan government during the the late 1940s, and was arrested by the Chinese during the invasion of Tibet in 1950. Charged with espionage and murder, he remained imprisoned until May 1955. He then left China via Hong Kong.

The BBC describes his years of imprisonment and “re-education” in some detail. He began work in Britain’s diplomatic service after his return to Britain and was stationed in a number of countries.

His mission in Tibet had apparently been to build Tibet’s first-ever broadcasting station, and a wireless information system across Tibet. While establishing a radio connection between Chamdo and Lhasa, he also went on air as an amateur radio operator at times, with the callsign AC4RF.

Robert Ford died on September 20, aged 90.

The Dalai Lama, whom Ford had first met in the 1940s, and most recently in April this year, offered his prayers and condolences to Ford’s family members.

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