A radio tradition in Germany that stays alive: relatives of sea-faring people get an opportunity to send their loved ones in the seven seas – minus the Pacific, it seems – Christmas greetings on shortwave. Obviously, the broadcaster, Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) in Hamburg, is going to broadcast the traditional Christmas program, “Gruß an Bord”, on the internet and FM, but they also hired airtime on shortwave for Christmas Eve.
Times, target areas, and frequencies:
6125 kHz (Northern Atlantic), 11955 kHz (Southern Atlantic); 9925 kHz (Atlantic/Indian Ocean, South Africa); 9460 kHz (Western Indian Ocean) and 9885 kHz (Eastern Indian Ocean) from 19:00 UTC to 21:00 UTC and
6040 kHz (Northern Atlantic), 9435 kHz (Southern Atlantic); 9925 kHz (Atlantic/Indian Ocean, South Africa); 9880 kHz (Western Indian Ocean) and 9625 kHz (Eastern Indian Ocean) from 21:00 UTC to 23:00 UTC.
The broadcaster, NDR, doesn’t seem to provide information about the shortwave transmitters, but Nauen and Wertachtal would appear likely, as airtime was rented from these two stations on Christmas 2012, too.
Some more information about “Gruß an Bord” in this previous post.
» End of radio era, Jan 2, 2012
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.
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.
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.
C – Chinese; E – English; F – French.
S (strength) / I (interferences) / O (overall merit)
5 = excellent; 3 = fair; 1 = barely audible.
|4920||PBS Tibet||TIB||E||Nov 2||16:00||2||4||2|
|4905||PBS Tibet||TIB||E||Nov 2||16:00||1||2||1|
|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|
*) See 1) Radio Botswana.
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.
» Terrorists will be nervous, CRI, Nov 14, 2013
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.
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.
*) Roger Goepper (Hrsg.): “Das Alte China”, München, Gütersloh, 1988, pp. 164 – 166
Peter Limbourg, previously in charge of news and political information at ProSiebenSat.1 TV Germany, became director of Germany’s publicly-owned foreign broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) on October 1. He succeeds Erik Bettermann. Deutsche Welle spokesman Johannes Hoffmann published a press release on Monday (edited by press officer Xiaoying Zhang), quoting Limbourg:
It is a great challenge and a fascinating task to be at the helm of Germany’s international broadcaster. Deutsche Welle is a media organization that enjoys an excellent reputation with its audiences worldwide. In a world, where a large number of international broadcasters are now promoting a variety of views, it is all the more important for us to persistently stand for our shared values. We will continue to ensure the credibility that DW’s staff, with great commitment, has established over the last 60 years by providing quality journalism. We will also consistently enhance DW’s multimedia profile.
Limbourg is considered “close to the Christian-Democratic Union”, the ruling party of German chancellor Angela Merkel. Limbourg’s predecessor, Erik Bettermann, is a member of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), and had been in several political functions on the party’s federal level and in the city state of Bremen before becoming DW director. He had been DW director from 2001 to 2013 (September 30), starting during Gerhard Schröder’s (SPD) chancellorship, and getting a second six-year term in November 2006, when the SPD was a junior partner in a “grand coalition” with the Christian-Democratic Union. At the time, Deutsche Welle was funded with 270 million Euros annually, according to Der Tagesspiegel, a paper from Berlin.
Deutsche Welle, as a public broadcaster, is supposed to be autonomous in its decisionmaking, but this autonomy appears to be constrained by political influence on the appointment of its directors, and budgeting and task planning are subject to consultation procedures with the federal government and the lower house of Germany’s federal parliament, the Bundestag. Deutsche Welle itself does, however, have the last word concerning the task planning.
In 2013, the DW budget was still (or again?) at about 270 billion Euros, the same amount as reportedly in 2006.
Deutsche Welle saw a major change in its tasks in 2009, when then director Bettermann announced that the broadcaster wants to reach people who influence opinion making and democratic processes. Prior to that, in 2008, a brawl in the broadcaster’s Chinese department had caught the attention of both the German and the Chinese press. A collection of links of blogs reflecting the aftermath can be found here. A second round of disputes at the Chinese department, including labor disputes, started by 2010. Contrary to 2008, the disputes ended with the termination of contracts with four Chinese or German-Chinese members of DW staff, and went almost unreported in the German press, while getting a lot of coverage in the Chinese press.
An aspect that was usually not emphasized in the Chinese coverage, but played an important role in the weak position of the Chinese or German-Chinese staff appears to be the nature of their work contracts. Probably in or around 2011, Michael Hirschler, a labor union officer, described how DW had frequently succeeded in getting rid of quasi-employees. This seems to apply in all or most cases in the Chinese department of 2010/2011, too.
Peter Limbourg’s statement as quoted in the DW press release of October 7 does not seem to suggest big changes in the broadcaster’s policies. He wants to conduct extensive talks with DW’s staff, the Broadcasting Board, the Administrative Board as well as political and social groups and then set out a new strategic plan for Deutsche Welle for the period from 2014 to 2017. The emphasis appears to be on “shared values” and “multimedia”.
For some information (based on German press) about how the new director was elected, and other impending changes at DW, click here.
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.