Posts tagged ‘accountability’

Thursday, April 17, 2014

“Optimizing Something”: Russia centralizes Propaganda, scraps Shortwave Broadcaster and other traditional Institutions

As the end of March drew nearer, central Europeans could still hear the station from afar, a muted signal behind some gentle, steady noise. The “Voice of Russia” targeted Australia and New Zealand with an English-language program of four hours daily, from the transmission site of Angarsk, near Irkutsk. Those appear to have been the last programs in English. Chances are that some programs in Japanese were also still aired at the time. A shortwave listener in Taipei kept listening to VoR’s Chinese programs on shortwave, right to the end on March 31 (his post contains some recordings).

Listeners who wrote inquiries to VoR got a reaction. But overall, very little, if anything, was mentioned in the programs on shortwave, about the nearing end of the service. For sure, no words of respect were lost about the medium’s use during some eighty-five years of Russian external broadcasting. Maybe they hadn’t been of much use after all, as the message never seemed to sink in in the target areas? In that case, you could hardly blame shortwave.

On April 1, all of VoR’s shortwave transmissions had become history.

APN-Verlag, via Radio Moscow

The old-fashioned way: propaganda booklet by mail, Ria Novosti via Radio Moscow, March 31, 1987.

The “Voice of Russia” (VoR), formerly known as Radio Moscow or Radio Moscow World Service, only exists as a brand now, within the media empire of Russia Today, which also swallowed Ria Novosti. “We will use the old brand for the time being, but leading international specialists are already working on the new brands and they will be ready soon, the “Voice of Russia” and/or Interfax quoted Russia Today’s editor-in-chief, Margarita Simonyan. A renewed English newswire would be launched on April 1, and it would be available round-the-clock on June 1.

No additional funding would be needed, the editor-in-chief was quoted as saying: “We are not asking additional money for all that, which means we will have to optimize something to get resources for the creation of something more modern. We will stop using obsolete radio broadcasting models, when the signal is transmitted without any control and when it is impossible to calculate who listens to it and where.”

Indeed, this had been the message of Vladimir Putin‘s presidential decree in December, on certain measures to raise the operational effectiveness of state-owned mass media.

Radio Moscow QSL, apparently featuring the Lenin Mausoleum, 1980s.

Radio Moscow QSL, Lenin Mausoleum, 1980s.

On the same day, December 9, Ria Novosti offered a comparatively candid interpretation of the decree: The move is the latest in a series of shifts in Russia’s news landscape that appear to point toward a tightening of state control in the already heavily regulated media sector,

Ria Novosti wrote, and added that

In a separate decree published Monday, the Kremlin appointed Dmitry Kiselyov, a prominent Russian television presenter and media manager recently embroiled in a scandal over anti-gay remarks, to head Rossiya Segodnya.

Russia Today is the English translation for the actual Russian name, Rossiya Segodnya. Rossiya Segodnya, however, is apparently not related to the English-language television channel whose name had also been “Russia Today”, Ria Novosti wrote.

Ria Novosti then added some more information, beyond its own dissolution:

RIA Novosti was set up in 1941, two days after Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union, as the Soviet Information Bureau, and now has reporters in over 45 countries providing news in 14 languages.

Last month Gazprom-Media, which is closely linked to state-run gas giant Gazprom, bought control of Russian media company Profmedia from Russian billionaire Vladimir Potanin. In October, Mikhail Lesin, a former Kremlin advisor, was appointed to head Gazprom-Media.

Reuters also reported the Gazprom-Media story, in November last year.

Radio Moscow, the “Voice of Russia’s” predecessor as the Russian (or Soviet) foreign broadcasting service, was a superpower on the air, during the 1980s. 2094 program hours per week are said to have been produced in that decade,  compared with 1901 hours per week by their American competitors at the Voice of America (VoA).

The discrepancy was even greater when it came to transmitters and kilowatts,according to German newsmagazine Der Spiegel at the time: while Radio Moscow had threehundred transmission sites at their disposal, it was only 110 on the American side – and VoA only had one-twentieth the budget of Radio Moscow.

That was to change, at least in relative terms: the Reagan administration had convinced Congress to provide considerable funding. But as the Cold War came to an end, government interest on all sides in foreign broadcasting faded.

As far as Russia’s external broadcasters, now named “The Voice of Russia”, was concerned, not only the financial or technical equipment weakened, but so, apparently, did their self-image. Religious and esoteric organizations populated many last quarters of the Voice’s – still numerous – broadcasting hours in German, and at least among German-language broadcasters, there seemed to be different concepts of what would be successful or professional coverage of Russian affairs, a feature by German broadcaster DLF suggested.

The broadcasting house certainly no longer came across as the elites’ jumping board, as a place where Egon Erwin Kisch or Bertolt Brecht once worked.

The Kremlin, apparently, saw neither glory and soft power, nor a sufficient degree of checkability in VoR and put an end to the station. It’s hardly conceivable that it could still be revived as a mere “brand”, without actual radio whose signals would reach beyond a few square miles.

But “daily Russian life” – something Russia Today is supposed to cover – may still look different from the ideas of the “new generation” of media planners. On ham radio bands with wide reaches, Russian operators are active above average. And even if Margarita Simonyan, the editor-in-chief of Russia’s new propaganda mega-medium, may be unaware of ham radio or finds it uncool, her boss, Dmitry Kiselyov, should still like it: a ham radio contest commemorating Yuri Gagarin’s 80th birthday.

After all, the internet is a rather non-traditional form of propaganda.

Will Putin’s message sink in, where Stalin’s, Khrushchev’s, or Brezhnev’s mostly failed? If not, don’t blame shortwave – and don’t blame the internet, for that matter.

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Saturday, February 15, 2014

World Radio Day, and how did Li Wai-ling get Fired?

February 13 (Thursday) was World Radio Day. That was an adequate day for the Hong Kong Journalists Association to bring Li Wai-ling (or Li Wei-ling, 李慧玲) and the press together. But let’s go through the issues one by one.

The Genius leads the spectators: engineering of consent in its early stages in applauding his works.

If everyone is happy, who needs a free press?

China’s growing economic weight is allowing it to extend its influence over the media in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, writes Reporters without Borders, in their 2014 report, published earlier this week. The BBC added a palpable story on Friday, about the sacking of Li Wei-ling, a radio talk show host at a commercial station in Hong Kong who has been sacked and who, on a press conference on Thursday, accused the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of having put pressure on her employer.

Organizations like Reporters without Borders have their merits. This may be even more true for the Hong Kong Journalists Association who organized Ms Li Wei-ling’s press conference. Reporters, talk show hosts and all the people who are critical and daring in the face of power deserve solidarity.

But this goes for reporters and journalists in Western countries, too. The problem with stories like the BBC’s, served to an American or European audience, seems to be that they blind people for problems at home. Here, too, broadcasters need to apply for frequencies. Here, too, they need to rely on political decisions when they are public broadcasters. On licence fees, or on public budgets. Advertisers, too, may exert influence.

My window on press freedom is small. The case I really looked at rather closely during the last years was that of the Chinese department at Deutsche Welle. I’m looking at these issues as a listener to and reader of the media.

This post might serve as the short version, and here is a longer one. They are about German politics, and the media.

The freedom of the press isn’t necessarily the freedom of a journalist to speak or write his mind, or to publicly highlight whatever scandal he or she may discover. This depends on a reporter’s or journalist’s employer, and frequently, reporters and editors-in-chief in the free world are very aware of when to better censor themselves, so as to keep their jobs.

This tends to be particularly true when a journalist’s contract is non-permanent. You don’t need state authorities to censor journalists when journalists’ employment is as precarious as is frequently the case in Western countries.

There is no point in pitting Chinese journalists against Western journalists, or the other way round. But there is a point in looking at every situation without ideological blinkers. Suppression of freedom from commercial organizations (and, sometimes, public-private networks) may still allow media that offer valid criticism of suppression in totalitarian countries – after all, that’s “them”, not “us”. Media in totalitarian countries can also, at times, provide valid criticism of media in freer countries. It is useful to read and listen to as many different outlets from as many different political systems as you can.

But there is no need or justification to blindly trust either of them. Without a broad global audience that develops criteria to judge press reports, freedom will get under the wheels of authoritarianism, even in – so far – free societies. The internet has become a place where journalists and their listeners and readers should meet, and be as honest with each other as they can. Its also the place where the struggle for freedom on the airwaves has to begin, time and again, whenever powers of whichever color try to weigh in on them.

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Related

» Radio Sparsam, Jan 26, 2014
» Authentic, Feb 16, 2013

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Monday, February 10, 2014

And now for the not-so-pleasant Reform Tasks: the Fat Years are Over, Xi Jinping tells Russian TV

The following is a translation of a Xinhua article, as carried by several Chinese websites. Links within blockquote added during translation into English. the article quotes excerpts from an interview conducted between Xi Jinping and Russian television.

The closing remarks by Xi about the end of the pleasant reforms may be, but don’t have to be an indication that times could get tougher for Chinese citizens in economic terms. It may just as well suggest that the task of governing China is becoming more difficult for the leaders, or simply to understate China’s prospects in front of a Russian audience. This kind of “deep sigh” seems to run through the China-related paragraphs of the interview. Either way, the interview has now been published in Chinese online media, too.

From February 6 to 8, Chinese state chairman Xi Jinping went to the southern Russian coastal city of Sochi to attend the opening ceremony of the twenty-second Olympic Games. While in Russia, Xi Jinping also held a bilateral meeting with Russian president Putin. He also gave an interview to Russian television, answering anchor Buliliaofu’s [Chinese phonetics of a Russian name] questions about the Sochi Winter Olympic Games, Sino-Russian relations, the prospects of China’s comprehensive and deepened reform and development, and other questions.

2月6日至8日,中国 国家主席习近平赴俄罗斯南部海滨城市索契出席第二十二届冬季奥林匹克运动会开幕式。在俄期间,习近平还与俄总统普京举行了双边会晤。习近平还接受了俄罗斯 电视台的专访,就索契冬奥会、中俄关系、中国全面深化改革和发展前景等问题回答了主持人布里廖夫提问。

Q: What’s your impression of Sochi?
您对索契的印象如何?

A: This is my first visit to Sochi, but I have heard about Sochi before. When I was young, I read the novel “How the Steel was Tempered”, which Ostrovsky completed right here in Sochi. Legend has it that Prometheus was exiled to the mountains around Sochi, and Sochi has preserved many Roman and Byzantine empire remains, which should tell that Sochi is a city with a time-honored culture.

Sochi’s geographic position is special, in that it belongs to the northernmost region with subtropical climate. From what I have seen and heard here, this is all true. All four seasons of the year are green, the skies and seas are blue, with very good natural alpine ski areas. The people of Sochi are very friendly and hospitable. Sochi is very vital, charming, and the perfect place for holding the Winter Olympic Games. After the Winter Olympic Games, this place will be even better known, and many people, including Chinese tourists, will come here.

这是我第一次来索契,但我对索契早有所闻。我年轻时多次读过《钢铁是怎样炼成的》这本小说,奥斯特洛夫斯基就是在索契完成了这部著作。传说普罗米修斯曾经被禁锢在索契的群山之中,索契保留着不少罗马帝国、拜占庭帝国的遗迹,这足以说明索契是一个历史悠久的文化名城。

索 契地理位置特殊,是地球最北端唯一属于亚热带气候的地区。这次来索契,所见所闻,果然名不虚传。这里四季常绿,蓝蓝的天,蓝蓝的海,有很好的天然高山雪 场。索契人民热情好客。索契很有活力,很有魅力,举办冬奥会再适合不过了。索契冬奥会之后,这里的名声会更大,更多的人包括中国游客会慕名而来。

Q: What are your hopes for the Chinese delegation’s performance during the Sochi Winter Olympics?
您对中国奥运代表团参加索契冬奥会的表现有何期待?

A: China still lags behind in winter sports, especially when it comes to countries that are strong in these fields. In recent years, we have made rather quick progress in ice-skating, with some strengths in free-style skiing. This morning, I met some athletes and coaches of the Chinese sports delegation. The Chinese athletes have made great training efforts, they will carry forward the Olympic spirit, will overcome their selves, go beyond themselves, and develop to their best levels.

Meantime, the Chinese cities of Beijing and Zhangjiakou  have officially put forward their joint application to the International Olympic Committee to host the 2022 Winter Olympic Games. We are also here to learn from the Russian people, from the Russian athletes, from the strong Russian sports disciplines, and the successful Russian methodology in holding the Winter Olympic Games.

中国冬季运动项 目特别是滑雪项目竞技水平同冰雪运动强国相比还有较大差距。近些年,我们在滑冰项目上进步较快,在自由式滑雪空中技巧等项目上具备一定实力。今天上午,我 见了中国体育代表团部分运动员、教练员。中国运动员为参加索契冬奥会做了艰苦训练,他们会发扬奥林匹克精神,努力战胜自我、超越自我,发挥自己的最好水 平。

同时,中国北京市联合张家口市已经向国际奥委会正式提出申办2022年冬奥会,我们也是来向俄罗斯人民学习的,向俄罗斯运动员学习,向俄罗斯的体育强项学习,向俄罗斯举办冬奥会的成功做法学习。

Q: You will soon have served as China’s state chairman for a year. How does it feel to be the leader of such a big country?
您担任中国国家主席快一年了,领导中国这么大的国家,您的感受是什么?

A: China is a country with a territory of 9.6 million square kilometers, fifty-six nationalities, 1.3 billion inhabitants, with a level of economic development that isn’t very high so far, with the people’s standard of living also not being very high yet. To govern such a country isn’t easy. One has to have a long-term perspective, but be down-to-earth, too. In the past, I have worked in many different places in China. I know very well that from China’s east to its west, from the local to the central level, the differences are too big. Therefore, to be a Chinese leader, one has to understand the issues clearly, to make overall plans while taking all factors into consideration, to maintain an overlall balance, to highlight the key issues, [to mobilize what is pivotal?] , and sometimes, you have to drop small things to grasp big things, [...], or figuratively speaking, it takes ten fingers to play the piano.

中国有960万平方公里国土,56个民族,13亿多人口,经济社会发展水平还不高,人民生活水平也还不高,治理这样一个国家很不容易,必须登高望远,同时 必须脚踏实地。我曾在中国不同地方长期工作,深知中国从东部到西部,从地方到中央,各地各层级方方面面的差异太大了。因此,在中国当领导人,必须在把情况 搞清楚的基础上,统筹兼顾、综合平衡,突出重点、带动全局,有的时候要抓大放小、以大兼小,有的时候又要以小带大、小中见大,形象地说,就是要十个指头弹 钢琴。

Q: Last year, when you had just become state chairman, the first country you visited was Russia. This year, right after New Year, the first country you visit is once again Russia. The Russian people feel heartened by this. What were your considerations when making this decision?
去年您就任国家主席后,出访首选国家就是俄罗斯,今年新年伊始,您出访仍首选俄罗斯,对此俄罗斯人民倍感振奋。请问您作出这样的决定有何考虑?

A: Yesterday, I looked back together with President Putin, during our meeting. I am very satisfied with the development of Sino-Russian relations. This is a time when the development of Sino-Russian relations has the most solid foundations, the highest degree of mutual trust, and the greatest degree of regional and global influence. Visits between friends narrow distance, between relatives bring closeness. Holding the Winter Olympic Games is a happy occasion for Russia, and a great event for the international Olympic movement. China and Russia are good neighbors, good friends, and good partners. I and President Putin are old friends. According to the tradition of Chinese people, when neighbors and friends have a happy occasion at their homes, one obviously wants to congratulate and to participate together with the Russian people.

昨天,我同普京总统会晤时共同作了回顾。我对中俄关系发展取得的成果十分满意。当前中俄关系发展是基础最牢、互信最高、地区和国际影响最大的一个时期。

亲戚越走越亲,朋友越走越近。举办冬奥会是俄罗斯的喜事,也是国际奥林匹克运动的盛事。中俄是好邻居、好朋友、好伙伴,我和普京总统是老朋友了。按照中国人的传统,邻居和朋友家里办喜事,当然要来贺喜,同俄罗斯人民共襄盛举。

Q: The 18th central committee’s third plenary session passed the decision to comprehensively deepen reform and on several other important issues. You are the head of the leading group [or steering group, 领导小组]. What is your governing philosophy?

中共十八届三中全会通过了关于全面深化改革若干重大问题的决定,您本人担任全面深化改革领导小组组长。请问您的执政理念是什么?

A: To focus the abilities to promote reform, we have formed the central leading group for the comprehensive deepening of reform, headed by me. The task is to unify, deploy and to coordinate some important issues. I have called this “one-tenth deployment, nine-tenths implementation”.

In a country like China with 1.3 billion people, it isn’t easy to deepen reform. After 30 years of reform, China has entered the deep water [or blue water], and all the pleasant reforms have been completed. The delicious meat has been eaten, and what is still on the dishes are rather tough bones. This requires our courage, and steady moves. Courage means to push reform even when it is difficult, and to prove worthy, to tackle the hard bones, and to enter dangerous shoals. Steadiness is about keeping to the accurate direction, driving steadily, and, above all, to avoid disruptive mistakes.

To summarize my governing philosophy, it is to serve the people and to assume the responsibilities that are my duties.

为了集中力量推进改革,我们成立了中央全面深化改革领导小组,由我本人担任组长,任务就是统一部署和协调一些重大问题,再把工作任务分解下去逐一落实。我把这叫作“一分部署,九分落实”。

在中国这样一个拥有13亿多人口的国家深化改革,绝非易事。中国改革经过30多年,已进入深水区,可以说,容易的、皆大欢喜的改革已经完成了, 好吃的肉都吃掉了,剩下的都是难啃的硬骨头。这就要求我们胆子要大、步子要稳。胆子要大,就是改革再难也要向前推进,敢于担当,敢于啃硬骨头,敢于涉险 滩。步子要稳,就是方向一定要准,行驶一定要稳,尤其是不能犯颠覆性错误。

我的执政理念,概括起来说就是:为人民服务,担当起该担当的责任。

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Mass Line, Second Phase: taking the Successes to the Grassroots

1. A Visit to Inner Mongolia

Lunar New Year’s eve is here, and old comrades get their visits from active cadres as every year. Meantime, Xi Jinping went to Inner Mongolia, braving the cold and having lunch with the guardians of the motherland’s borders.

CCTV’s Xinwen Lianbo had an epic tale of the tour last night (click picture for video).

Xi Jinping: lunch with the warriors

As modest as Joe Biden: CCP secretary-general / state chairman / CMC chairman Xi Jinping has lunch with the warriors in Inner Mongolia

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2. Local Press Coverage on Mass Line’s second Phase

Local media reported the beginning of the second phase of mass line education last week. “Holy Tibet”, a People’s Broadcasting Station (PBS / CPBS) broadcast in English, reported remarks by Liu Yunshan on Tuesday, exactly one week after they were made on January 21. The radio announcement is slightly different from this Xinhua (English) article, but its content is similar. Listen here. (Recording may be removed in a week.)

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Yongzhou City government in southern Hunan Province republished on Monday an article by Yongzhou Daily.

In the morning of January 24, the first phase of the party’smass line education ended with a summary, and a video conference making arrangements for the second phase was held. The main task of the conference was to conscientiously study the implementation of the spirit of secretary-general Xi Jinping’s important speeches, and the spirit of the Central Committee’s meetings, to carry out a summary of the first phase of educational activities in our province, and to make arrangements for the second phase of educational activities. Tang Songcheng, Gao Jianhua, Tang Ding, Dong Shigui, Yi Jialiang, Jiang Shansheng, Zhu Yinghong, Shi Yanping, Zhang Hengzhou and other municipal leaders took part in the video conference from their homes [that's what the article apparently says  - ..... 张恒洲等在家的市级领导参加永州分会场会议].

1月24日上午,全省党的群众路线教育实践活动第一批总结暨第二批部署视频会议召开。会议 的主要任务是,认真学习贯彻习近平总书记重要讲话和中央会议精神,对我省第一批教育实践活动进行总结,对第二批教育实践活动作出部署。唐松成、高建华、唐 定、董石桂、易佳良、蒋善生、朱映红、石艳萍、张恒洲等在家的市级领导参加永州分会场会议。

The meeting pointed out that the effects and experiences needed to be conscientiously summarized, and the results of the first phase of educational practice be continiously consolidated and broadened. Ever since the first phase of educational practice activities had been started, the entire province, elders and the young, have closely connected to the theme of “for the people, practical work, honesty”, comprehensively implemented “looking into the mirror, dressing accurately, taking a bath, treating the illnesses”, emphasized leadership by example, adhered to open doors [to the cadres' offices, for the public, apparently], boradened the masses’ participation, implemented strict requirements, showed the courage to face [tough issues of?] competition, and these activities have achieved first successes (取得了阶段性成果).

会议指出,要认真总结成效和经验,不断巩固和扩大 第一批教育实践活动成果。第一批教育实践活动启动以来,全省上下紧紧围绕“为民、务实、清廉”这一主题,全面落实“照镜子、正衣冠、洗洗澡、治治病”的总 要求,注重示范带动,坚持敞开大门,扩大群众参与,落实从严要求,敢于较劲碰硬,活动取得了阶段性成果。

The meeting believed that doing a good job at the second-batch educational activities is an inevitable necessity for implementing the scientific development of the [Hunan] province, enriching the people and strengthening the province, whole-heartedness and cohesion; an inevitable necessity for accelerating the building of a service-oriented party organization and doing good mass work, the inevitable necessity for concentrated reflection on the solution of outstanding problems, for a yet closer relationship between the party and the masses, and for consolidating the fruits of the first phase of activities and ensuring the activities’ success from the beginning to the end. [...]

会议认为,抓好第二批教育实践活动是落实全省科学发展,富民强省、凝心聚力的必然要求,是加快整合服务型党组织建设和做好群众工作的必然要求,是集中反映解决突出问题、进一步密切党群干群关系的必然要求,是巩固第一批活动成果,确保活动善始善终的必然要求。[.....]

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3. Central-Level Mass-Line Meeting

The central-level conference for summarizing the first phase of mass line practice education and for arranging the second phase had taken place in Beijing, four days earlier. In a report on the same day – January 20 -, Xinhua newsagency reported that secretary-general, state chairman and central military commissions’ chairman Xi Jinping attended the meeting and delivered an important speech, summarizing the first phase of educational activities and making arrangements for the second phase.

He emphasized that ample use of the experiences from the first phase needed to be made, [the need for] staunch opposition against the “four winds” [i. e. undesirable working styles], to start with the issues that most concerned and pressed the masses, making efforts to solve problems of immediate concern to the interests of the masses, solving problems of bad work style (or malpractice) where this occured next to the people [this seems to target lower-rank cadres who are dirctly in touch with the public], implementing the results of improved work style at the grass roots, letting the masses enjoy the benefits and striving to achieving substantial results in the masses’ satisfaction.

他强调,要充分运用第一批活动经验,紧紧扭住反对“四风”,从群众最关心、最迫切的问题入手,着力解决关系群众切身利益的问题,解决群众身边的不正之风问题,把改进作风成效落实到基层,真正让群众受益,努力取得人民群众满意的实效。

Politburo standing committee members Li Keqiang, Zhang Dejiang, Yu Zhengsheng, Wang Qishan and Zhang Gaoli attended the meeting, and central party mass line education practice activities group leader Liu Yunshan chaired the meeting. The meeting was carried out as a video and telephone conference, open to the county-level units and to the above-regiment units of the PLA and the armed police.

中共中央政治局常委李克强、张德江、俞正声、王岐山、张高丽出席会议,中央党的群众路线教育实践活动领导小组组长刘云山主持会议。会议以电视电话会议形式举行,开到县一级和人民解放军、武警部队团级以上单位。

Xi Jinping, too, pointed out “first successes”, such as having put brakes on the spread of the four undesirable work styles (刹住了“四风”蔓延势头), and overall improvements in social atmosphere (社会风气整体好转). The masses fully identified [with the mass line], and assessments within and without the party had been positive.

Xi Jinping emphasized that the first phase of educational practise activities had achieved important results, mainly maintaining leadership by example by leading cadres, by maintaining open doors [see Yongzhou government quote], outstanding [or prominent] problem-orientation, making a start by rectifying problems, injecting momentum through rectifying problems, providing answers by rectifying problems, upholding standards, exercising strict control, continuously tightening the screws, tightening and winding up the clockwork, and making sure that the activities aren’t carried out only formally.

习近平强调,第一批教育实践活动之所以能够取得重要成果,主要是我们坚持中央和领导干部带头示范,坚持开门搞活动,突出问题导向,以问题整改开局亮相,以问题整改注入动力,以问题整改交出答卷,坚持标准,严格把关,不断拧紧螺丝、上紧发条,保证活动不走过场。

Xi was also quoted as saying that ideals and faith were the “calcium” of a communist’s spirit (理想信念是共产党人的精神之“钙”), and as emphasizing the value of criticism and self-criticism. He also re-iterated his (“maoist”) slogan of “looking into the mirror, dressing accurately, taking a bath, treating the illnesses”, as later repeated on provincial levels (see Yongzhou).

Xi Jinping emphasized that more attention needed to be paid to bringing the masses’ enthusiasm [or initiative, 积极性] into play. The second phase of education practise activities needed to develop at the doorsteps of the mass families. It is necessary that open-door activities are adhered to, that the participation and supervision of/by the masses is ensured at every link and every piece of work, that the judgment of the masses is asked for, that attitudes are sincere, that guidance is strengthened, that methods are paid attention to, and that the party’s correct becomes the conscious [or voluntary] action of the masses. [...]

习近平强调,要更加注重发挥群众积极性,第二批教育实践活动在群众家门口开展,必须坚持开门搞活动,确保每个环节、每项工作都让群众参与、受群众监督、请群众评判,态度真诚,加强引导,讲究方法,把党的正确主张变为群众的自觉行动。 [.....]

Members of the politburo, central committee secretariat, party members of the NPC and vice chairman (or vice chairpersons) of the NPC, members of the state council, the chairman of the supreme court,the head of the supreme procurate, CPPCC party members and deputy CPPCC vice chairman (or vice chairpersons) took part in the conference.

A number of organizations are also said to have attended, apparently to illustrate the remark about county-level (and military regimental) units. The Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, for example, attended the conference, too.

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Related

» “Holy Tibet” Radio (state propaganda)
» Censorship row, Asahi Shimbun, Jan 14, 2013
» A million emancipated serfs, Peking Review, 38/1975

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Creating “a Good Public-Opinion Environment”: Nationwide Campaign against “Three Falses”

Hunan Province is striking hard at false media, false media organizations and false reporters, reports Rednet (Changsha, Hunan). The provincial authorities issued an order that work groups on eliminating pornography and illegal publications should carry out their work in the general public and at the grassroot units. The CPP mass line educational requirements is quoted as a basis for the crackdown on the “three falses” (三假) which reportedly started on January 4 and is scheduled to last until the end of March. It is said to be targeted at editorial offices, news bureaus and news websites or newslike websites (新闻类网站) that disturb the order of the press, negatively affect society and harmony. The report blames the “three falses” for rumormongering, hawking advertising space, blackmail (this seems to refer to issues like negative publicity, paid news, etc.

The stated goal of the operations is the building of a good public-opinion environment for society (营造良好的社会舆论环境).

The operations in Hunan are part of a nation-wide campaign. China Cultural Media online gave the campaign a mention last Thursday.

Meantime, Chinese lawyer and transparency campaigner Xu Zhiyong (许志永) is on trial, charged with gathering crowds to disrupt public order. And the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) reports that close family members of China’s political elite, including the brother-in-law of President Xi Jinping, have been exposed as operating companies in offshore tax havens, according to leaked financial documents obtained as part of a major international investigation.

The documents, according to the Guardian, also disclose the central role of major Western banks and accountancy firms.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Shinzo Abe’s visit to the Yasakuni Shrine

Listening to Radio Taiwan International and KBS Seoul‘s foreign service, the unease about Shinzo Abe‘s visit to the Yasakuni Shrine is palpable. I don’t know how Japanese people feel about their prime minister’s visit, or about utterances by Japanese politicians who trivialize their country’s past warcrimes. My guess is that there are many different feelings among the Japanese – but that a majority elects politicians with these kinds of attitudes anyway.

I’m not familiar with the Yasakuni Shrine. There may be reasons to visit ancestors, no matter their past. But when a politician tries to play crimes down, or if he denies them, there is something wrong with him.

If politicians from my country were careless or disrespectful about the sufferings of victims abroad, I wouldn’t believe for a moment that such politicians could care any more about injustices that hit people at home. I wouldn’t believe that he might be able to respect my dignity, or the dignity of his and my compatriots. A politician with a flawed sense of justice wouldn’t get my vote.

Monday, December 23, 2013

“National People’s Congress” standing committee scheduled to deal with “Reeducation through Labor”

The 12th (i. e. current) “National People’s Congress” (NPC) presidium held its fourteenth meeting in the Great Hall of the People on December 16 and scheduled the sixth meeting of the NPC’s standing commission for December 23 to 28, the Beijing Times (京华时报) reports. The report also has an account of the “historic evolution” of reeducation through labor – the abolishment of which is said to be a major issue during the sixth NPC stading commission meeting -, much of which is mirrored in this Wikipedia entry (accessed Dec. 23).

Interestingly, the concept is described as a foreign concept: Reeducation through labor was introduced to China from the former Soviet Union, and came into being in China during the founding days of the PRC, during the campaign “to eleminate counterrevolutionaries”.

The abolishment of reeducation of labor was one of the internationally noticed decisions at the third plenary session of the 18th CCP central committee in November. However, many of China’s re-education through labor camps, instead of being abolished in line with a ruling Communist Party announcement this month, are being turned into compulsory drug rehabilitation centers where inmates can be incarcerated for two years or more without trial, suggests this Reuters report.

And an Amnesty International Paper asks if the soup, rather than the medicine, is being changed. The “Reeducation-through-Labor” system wasn’t the only form of illegal deprivation of liberty in China, the paper says, citing “black jails” (p. 8), “legal education classes” (p. 9), the abuse of psychiatric institutions (p. 9), and drug detention centers (p. 9).

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Related

In violation of the law, CMP, Nov 22, 2012

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Friday, December 20, 2013

Chinese Press and Blog Review: funerals and self-immolations

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1. Reforming Cadres’ and Party Members’ Funerals

One of the most-read domestic news in China’s online media on Friday appears to be a state-council opinion on reform of cadres‘ and party members‘ funerals. Cremation should be the regular way, thriftily and in an ecological way, the opinion is quoted. The opinion encourages organ donations, regulated land use (and no waste of land) for graveyards, no “superstitious” or “feudal” rites (no fengshui either), etc.. However, party members who belong to national minorities should be buried with respect to customs and in accordance with the relevant rules and regulations, according to reports.

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2. Self-Immolation in Gansu Province

A Tibetan monk reportedly killed himself by self-immolation in Amchok town, Sangchu County, within the “autonomous” Tibetan prefecture of Gannan, in Gansu Province, on Thursday. His name is said to be Tsuiltrim Gyatso, a man in his early fourties. According to Phayul, he is the 125th Tibetan since 2009 to set himself on fire to protest the Chinese government.

Tsering Woeser quotes from what is said to be Tsuiltrim Gyatso’s suicide note:

Dear brothers, did you hear? Did you see? To whom can the distress of six million Tibetans be told? Black Han Chinese brutal prison, taking our golden and silver treasures, leaving the ordinary people in poverty, thinking of it, it brings still more tears to my eyes.
亲爱的兄弟,你听到了吗?你看见了吗?六百万藏人的苦难向谁诉说?黑汉人暴虐的监狱,夺走了我们黄金白银般的宝库,使百姓们处于苦难中,想起这,不禁流泪不止。

I will burn my precious body, for the venerable Dalai Lama to return to the native land, for the Panchen Lama to be released, for the happiness and benefit of six million Tibetans, I will offer my body to the fire.
将我宝贵的身体燃烧,为了尊者达赖喇嘛返回故土,为了班禅喇嘛获得释放,为了六百万藏人的福祉,我将身体献供于烈火。以此祈愿消除三界众生的苦难,走上菩提之路。

Three treasures, Buddha, Dharma, Sangha: please bless and protect those who are helpless, compatriots from the snowland, be united [unreadable] Snowland fighter Tsuiltrim Gyatso.
佛、法、僧三宝啊,请护佑无助的人们,雪域同胞们,要团结xxxxx (此处字迹不清 )……
———雪域斗士次成嘉措

According to Tsering Woeser’s blog, Tsuiltrim Gyatso’s remains was taken to his monastery by fellow monks, and more than 400 monks held prayers for him, but the current situation wasn’t known, writes Woeser.

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Related

» Inevitable Humiliations, Sept 17, 2011

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