Posts tagged ‘CCP’

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

VoT: Tibetan Student beaten to Death after Village “Elections”

A young Tibetan student was beaten to death in Dari County, southeastern Qinghai province, earlier this month, according to Voice of Tibet (VoT), a Norwegian-based radio station and website.A two-committee “election” held in Dari County on December 7 reportedly led to clashes, after Communist cadres or employees had forcibly demanded (强制要求) that Tibetans vote a Han Chinese candidate ito office, in accordance with the authorities’ prior arrangements.

Thirteen persons were arrested and interrogated. On December 10, the student was brutally beaten and died on the afternoon of December 11, in the county hospital, according to VoT.

Dari County, which is part of Golog (or Guoluo, 果洛州) Tibetan “Autonomous” Prefecture, is described by VoT as Tibetan territory. Much of Qinghai, a province established by the KMT government in 1928, was once Tibetan.

Contact, a magazine published in Dharamsala, reported on Monday that the student’s name was Karmey, and that he died aged twenty-two.

In September, the International Campaign for Tibet published what appear to be regulations issued by the Chinese authorities. These were said to be in force in Ngari Prefecture, western Tibet. Different ways of “maintaining stability” are apparently taken in different places.

Village-level “elections” are ostensible means of “democratization”, a process apparently started by Chinese central legislation in 1987.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Nanjing Massacre MemorialDay: an Enorth account of a War Veteran’s Memories

The following is a translation of an article published by Enorth, an official online news portal for Tianjin municipality. Explanatory notes put into [square brackets]. Links within blockquotes inserted during translation. Mistakes during translation likely.

Main Link: National Memorial Day: Tianjin’s only Chinese Expeditionary Force Veteran tells Story of Japanese War

Enorth — He was fifteen at the time of the Nanjing massacre, and witnessed the panic and helplessness of the refugees who had escaped from there, and the bloody images of Japanese soldiers hunting the common people of Nanjing. He gave up the pen for the sword, and as a member of the Whampoa / Huangpu Branch Seventeen, joined the Chinese Expeditionary Force and fought in the battle of Taungoo, the fiercest in the defense war of Myanmar, he’s the only Tianjiner still living and in good health who was part of the Chinese Expeditionary Force – the War of resistance against Japan veteran Yang Cenfeng. On December 13, 2014, the first day of commemoration [of the Nanjing massacre] held in China, 93-year-old Yang Cenfeng told us this dark period in history 77 years ago, which no Chinese people can ever forget.

天津北方网讯:南京大屠杀发生之时,他15岁,目睹了南京城逃出难民的惊恐无助,目睹了日本军人追杀南京百姓的血腥画面。他投笔从戎,以黄埔十七期的身份,加入了中国远征军,参加了缅甸防御战最惨烈的同古战役,他就是天津现今唯一健在的中国远征军军官、抗日老兵杨岑峰。在2014年12月13日,中国首个国家公祭日之时,93岁的杨岑峰向我们讲述了77年前,那段黑暗、但每个中国人绝不能忘却的历史。

Nanjing falls, Blood colors the Yangtze River

南京失守 血染长江

Seventy-seven years ago, Yang Cenfeng was in senior high school and living in a family of seven, in Wuhu, next to the Yangtze River. This was a gateway to Nanjing, with only some ninety kilometers between there and Nanjing. After the Japanese had occupied Nanjing, the burning, killing and looting started, and some lucky Nanjingers fled in panic to Wuhu, which, although peaceful, saw the Japanese soldiers coming nearer with each passing day.

77年前,杨岑峰正在读高三,一家7口住在长江边的芜湖,那里是南京的门户,距离南京仅有90多公里,日本人占领南京后,烧杀抢掠,有些幸存的南京人惊恐地向芜湖逃难,而芜湖也非太平之所,日渐被日本兵逼近。

At the time, everyone had heard about the disaster of Nanjing, and hated and feared the Japanese. And in fear, the people of Wuhu spent the Spring Festival days of 1938.

那个时候,人们都听说了南京城的惨剧,对日本人又恨又怕。而在恐惧中,芜湖迎来了1938年的春节。

“I remember the day of Spring Festival, we were just having a somewhat gloomy family reunion dinner. Just when the meal came onto the table, the air-raid sirens went off, and Japanese airplanes passed through, dropping bombs. At the time, the planes flew at particularly low heights, and I could clearly see the Japanese flag underneath the wings. They bombed unscrupulously, strafing here and there, and whereever they went, they left ruins, and seas of fire”, Yang Cenfeng said.

“我记得春节那天,马马虎虎地吃着团圆饭。刚把饭端上桌的时间,放空警报响了,日本的飞机过来轰炸了。当时飞机飞得特别低,我可以清楚地看见机翼之下的日本国旗。他们素无忌惮地投炸弹、扫射,所到之处一片废墟、一片火海。”杨岑峰说。

When the Japanese army approached Wuhu, many common people of Wuhu also fled into all directions, placing their hopes on the New Fourth Army on the northern side of the Yangtze River.

随着日军逼近芜湖,大批的芜湖百姓也是四散逃窜,在他们的心里,江北的新四军是希望所在。因此,大批的百姓都聚集在长江边,等着轮渡,过江逃命。

Yang Cenfeng’s recollections continue with a description of how people fleeing Wuhu and waiting for the ferry to the northern banks of the Yangtze – the place densely crowded – were bombed by Japanese warplanes, with countless numbers of people dying on the riverside, or dying in the river. How many people actually died, Yang Cenfeng doesn’t know, but he remembers how the water of the river turned red from the blood, from people who had come there to seek survival.

Yang Cenfeng’s family leapt from death back into life, finding survival in a small village in Jiangbei [here, geographically and literally: north of the Yangze River] under the protection of the New Fourth Army. At the time, a political instructor named Huang left an unforgettable impression on Yang Cenfeng.

死里逃生的杨岑峰一家来到了江北新四军保护下的一个小村子避难。当时,一位姓黄的指导员,给杨岑峰留下了难忘的印象。

“He put us into groups of, say, forty to fifty students, he told us that ‘young students should protect and defend China’, put us into a few groups so that we would stand guard, and taught us many songs to boost our morale.

“他把我们青年学生召集在一起,大约四五十人吧,告诉我们‘青年学生应该保家卫国’,把我们分成几组,站岗放哨,还教了我们很多歌,鼓舞我们的士气。”

Instructor Huang’s lessons turned Yang Cenfeng to the idea of giving up the pen for the sword, and after a stay of four or five months in the village, he enrolled at the Huangpu Military Academy’s Southern Anhui [皖南 stands for Anhui-south]. Together with fourteen classmates, all eye witnesses of the Japanese invaders’ atrocities, walked more than 150 kilometers in four days, and reached the administrative office in Tunxi in southern Anhui, and joined the army to join the resistance against Japan.

黄指导的教诲,让杨岑峰萌生了投笔从戎的念头,在小村子呆了四五个月之后,黄埔军校在皖南招生。目睹了日本侵略者暴行的杨岑峰和14个同学步行4天150多公里路,来到了当时皖南行署所在屯溪市,投笔从戎,参加抗日。

“My family wouldn’t let me go, so I secretly took three silver dollars from home and went to Tunxi with my classmates.”

“当时家里人也担心不让去,我就偷偷地拿了家里的3块大洋,和同学们走到了屯溪。”

But an application for [entrance] exams required graduation from senior high school. Lacking qualification, Yang Cenfeng and his classmates, with their own determination and willpower to resist Japan, impressed the school and were finally admitted to the exams. Going through layers of selection with subjects of literature, math, English, politics etc., Yang Cenfeng and ten of the classmates who had traveled with him entered Huangpu Military Academy.

但是,按照报考要求高中毕业,杨岑峰和同学们不够资格,他们就用自己抗日的决心和毅力打动着校方,最后终于感动了校方参加了考试。在经历了文学、数学、英语、政治等五六门功课的层层选拔,杨岑峰和其他同来的10位同学,加入了黄埔军校。

Having become a student of the Huangpu Branch Seventeen, and because of the Japanese closing in, southern Anhui became into imminent danger, and to protect the young seed of resistance against Japan and national salvation, the Branch Seventeen had to be transferred to Chengdu in Sichuan. After a four-months walk, Yang Cenfeng and his classmates arrived in Chengdu, and began their life of learning there.

成为了黄埔17期学员之后,由于日本人的步步紧逼,皖南岌岌可危,为了保住这些抗日救国的种子,黄埔17期学员需要转移到四川成都,杨岑峰和同学们步行4个多月,来到了成都,在那里开始了黄埔军校的学习生活。

The article / its rendition of Yang Cenfeng’s memories describes the year of 1941 as the peak of the Japanese war, with Academy students becoming replaces for soldiers who lost their lives or their fitness to fight. After two years at the academy, Huang joined the 96th Division of the Fifth Army of the Chinese Expeditionary Force as a platoon leader and a second lieutenant (少尉排长).
The Chinese Expeditionary Force is described as a model of China cooperating directly with military allies, and also claims that this had been the first time ever that Chinese troops had left the country to fight in a war (这是中国与盟国直接进行军事合作的典范,也是甲午战争以来中国军队首次出国作战 …). In the three years and three months of Chinese involvement in the China Burma India Theater, China deployed some 400,000 soldiers, 200,000 of who became casualties, the article says, and describes the battles in which Yang Cenfeng took part as the fiercest in the defense of Burma / Myanmar. The battle of Taungoo is described as Yang Cenfeng’s most agonizing and most deeply-felt experience of Japanese troops’ brutality (他一生中最惨痛的经历,也是最深刻感受到日本军队残忍的一幕).

Withdrawal to Savage Mountain, Supporting the Flying Tigers

撤退野人山 支援飞虎队

But because of a Japanese breakthrough at the British flank, the 200th and 96th divisions of the Chinese Expeditionary Force were surrounded, and after defending to the last for eight days and eight nights, Tonggu could still not be held. In the end, after breaking through the encirclement into the endless virgin forests of Savage Mountain, the 96th Division went through Putao in northernmost Myanmar and entered Yunnan province, returning home.

然而,由于英军侧翼被突破,中国远征军200师和96师被包围,在死守了8天8夜之后,同古最终还是没有守住。最终,96师从茫茫的原始森林野人山突围后,从缅甸北端的葡萄进入云南福贡回国。

Looking back at the breakthrough at Savage Mountain, Yang Cenfeng says that rather than a way out, it was another dead end. Behind them, the enemy forces pursuing them, in front of them, the virgin forests as a no man’s land with all kinds of venomous serpents, wild animals, and disease awaiting them.

回忆起野人山突围,杨岑峰说,那与其说是生路,其实也是另一条死路。后面有敌军追,前面原始森林无人区又有各种毒蛇猛兽、瘟疫疾病等着他们。

“You won’t believe it, but there were ants as long as your fingers,” Yang Cenfeng says. “Diseases claimed many lives, and it was even worse for the few women soldiers. They became unable to walk and had to lie on the naked ground to wait for death to come.”

“说起来你们不信,蚂蚁都有手指那么长。”杨岑峰说,“瘟疫疾病夺走了很多人的生命,那些女兵们更惨,走不动了,最后只能在原地等死。”

There are people who have recorded this kind of miserable story: 1,500 wounded and ill soldiers were unable to go with the troops’ withdrawal, but didn’t want to be captured and humiliated. They set themselves on fire and became martyrs …..

曾经有人记录过这样一个极为悲惨的故事:1500名伤病员无法跟随部队徒步撤退,又不愿意被俘受辱,最后点火自焚,壮烈殉国……

In the end, with astonishing willpower, the 96th Division completed its roundabout route in 35 days, through the northern Myanmar Savage Mountain, across more than 300 kilometers, with less than half of them making their way home.

最终96师以惊人的毅力,用了35天,跨越了整个缅北野人山,绕道300多公里,人员损失大半终于撤回了国内。

After returning to Kunming, Yang Cenfeng’s troops were deployed to protect Kunming airport, working with the famous “Flying Tigers”. Finally, after completing the northern Burma counter attack, thus reopening the international traffic line, safeguarding a stream of international support into China and driving the Japanese army out of southwestern China, after clamping down on and inflicting heavy losses on the Japanese troops in northern Myanmar and Yunnan province, creating favorable conditions for the allied forces, to open the battleground for the counter-attack on Japan.

撤回昆明之后,杨岑峰所在的部队被安排守卫昆明机场,配合大名鼎鼎的“飞虎队”作战。最终,完成了缅北反攻,重新打通了国际交通线,保障了国际援华物资源源不断地运入中国,并把日军赶出了中国西南大门,钳制和重创了缅北、滇西日军,为盟军收复全缅甸创造了有利条件,揭开了正面战场对日反攻的序幕。

In remarks at the end of the article, the Enorth reporter describes Yang Cenfeng as looking younger than his age (92 or 93), as saying that the party and the state were showing great concern and care for him, and that he was very satisfied. His hobbies are also mentioned, as shown in the pictures within the article. But he would never forget his painful war experiences, the brothers in arms he lost, and he would always utterly detest the atrocities committed by the Japanese invaders.

He says that his survival was luck. He therefore cherishes the era of peace, and he can’t forgive people who distort history.

他说,自己能侥幸活下来,是幸运的,因此,他也更珍惜和平年代的生活,对于歪曲历史的人绝对不能原谅。

As a veteran of the war of resistance against Japan, he feels encouraged by the establishment of a national day of commemoration and warns coming generations that history must not be forgotten, to be vigilant about the stirring between the dry bones of Japanese militarism, to use history as a guide, to strengthen our motherland, and to achieve the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

作为抗日老兵,他很欣慰国家从今年开始设立了公祭日,他告诫后人们,绝对不能忘记历史,警惕日本军国主义死灰复燃,以史为鉴、强大我们的祖国,实现中华民族的伟大复兴。

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Related

» Wartime childhood, Sept 7, 2009

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Saturday, December 13, 2014

After Zhou Yongkang’s Arrest: Xi Jinping rules – but how safe will he be in [2013] 2023?

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A regular stream of news from the anti-corruption front keeps flowing to keep the Chinese public happy.

Hammer and Chisel

Hammer and Chisel

Zhang Xinhua (张新华), an industrial manager, sentenced to death on Wednesday, for embezzlement of some 340 Million Yuan RMB, a China News Service (中新网) article republished here by Enorth (Tianjin) reported on that same day.

Li Zhijiang (李志江), a former member of Taiyuan’s CPC city committee‘s standing committee and former head of the party’s organizational department there, has been removed from his posts for violating the spirit of the CCP’s Eight Provisions (中央八项规定精神), neglecting his job (or dereliction of duty, 失职), and other mistakes. This seems to have happened some time ago, a People’s Daily online article, rendered here by Youth Net, wrote this week.

And former development and reform commission deputy director Liu Tienan (刘铁男) goes to jail for life, CCTV reported, also rendered by Youth Net, on Wednesday. Liu had come under scrutiny late in 2012, thanks to the research of an investigative journalist.

Zhou Yongkang (周永康) is no longer a party member, and his arrest was announced on December 5. In its Banyan column, The Economist is critical of how China’s former “security” tsar is being treated by his – also former – comrades:

He has always looked a rather nasty piece of work, and China’s press now tells us just how nasty. Zhou Yongkang is a thief, a bully, a philanderer and a traitor who disclosed state secrets. The spider at the centre of a web of corrupt patronage, he enriched himself, his family, his many mistresses and his cronies at vast cost to the government.

But some delighted Chinese readers might also wonder how Zhou could possibly make it to the top if he was such a thoroughly bad egg.

Basically all the foreign press considers Zhou’s big fall – the biggest fall of the biggest stakeholder ever since the Gang of Four – as proof that CCP secretary general and state chairman Xi Jinping is now in full control at the helm. But The Economist also warns that

[..] Mr Zhou’s case carries a danger for Mr Xi. By advertising the party as motivated by its zeal to combat corruption and as led by those promoted solely on merit, he may raise expectations of transparency and honesty that he will find hard to meet.

There are other big question marks, too. By recent standards – i. e. for the past two decades or so -, there has been an arrangement among China’s top leaders of how they come to power, and how they leave power. Any member of the collective leaderships with Jiang Zemin (until 2002) and Hu Jintao (until 2012) at the core would be a member of the politburo’s standing committee for a maximum of ten years. And no leader after Jiang Zemin would stay in power for more than ten years either.

Jiang and Hu never seem to have tried breaking that rule.

This theory of how succession works in Beijing suggests that Deng Xiaoping, after having had to sack two party secretary-generals,

made an unprecedented move – he simultaneously appointed two generations of successors, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao. One generation had to pass on the leadership to the next after two terms, after 10 years. This arrangement had one advantage, in this way there existed a mutually constraining relationship between two generations of successors; when Jiang’s time was over, he had to pass leadership on to Hu and thus, he would not generate the courage to betray the inflated ego of Deng Xiaoping; after handing the power over, Jiang would automatically come under Hu’s authority and so in order to protect himself, he would avoid a life-and-death struggle between two factions. Hu, on the other hand, had to rely on the legitimacy granted by Deng Xiaoping so as to guarantee that he would actually take over power according to plan and also so as to avoid that he would, like many successors in the past, leave the stage in poverty and misery; hence, he was very much concerned about treating Deng Xiaoping’s ideas as his guiding principles, protecting them with everything he had.

One may wonder if Xi Jinping is going to accept the same arrangement for himself, in 2022/23. It can be hard to be a pensioner in Zhongnanhai.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Zhou Yongkang’s big Fall and Citizen Power Fantasies

Zhou Yongkang has been arrested and expelled from the Communist Party, the BBC quotes Chinese media reports, and quotes a cute Sina-Weibo post from an apparently Chinese user: We have zero-tolerance against corruption!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

China’s Legal Reform Projects: Slowly, very slowly

The fourth plenary session of the 18th CCP central committee took place from October 20 to October 23. Less than a month before the opening of the plenum, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) quoted a politburo statement of September 29 as saying that the plenary session’s focus would be on improving the administration of law. At the center of that, according to the SCMP, would be a battle against corruption.

In July, Stanley Lubman, a lawyer and longtime observer of legal issues in China, wrote in the Wall Street Journal‘s (WSJ) China blog (China Realtime) that the CCP’s central leading group for judicial reform of the party and the “Supreme People’s Court” were signalling a serious intention to implement measures that could lead to a shift of power over finances and personnel in basic courts, from local governments and local “people’s congresses” to provincial governments. Pilot projects were planned in Shanghai, Guangdong, Jilin, Hubei, Hainan and Qinghai. If successful, these reforms could boost citizens’ chances to challenge local cadres over issues such as illegal land seizures or concealment of violations of product safety and environmental laws. However, this didn’t mean that courts would be insulated from pressures from those higher-level officials on their decision-making. Importantly, nothing in these reforms is aimed at diminishing Communist Party control over outcomes in the courts.

Lubman also links to a creative-commons translation cooperative, China Law Translate, which describes the pilot projects on the provincial and municipal (Shanghai) level in more detail.

Ultimate CCP control reservation apart, Lubman’s article came across as sort of optimistic. Less so an article by Russell Leigh Moses, dean of academics and faculty at the Beijing Center for Chinese Studies, published on October 24. If the communique issued after the plenary session was something to go by, this was a plenum that wasn’t interested in engineering far-reaching changes to China’s legal system. China would move slowly, very slowly, suggests the headline.

That said, the term under the party’s leadership (党的领导 / 党的领导下), quoted from the communiqué by Moses as a reminder that the conception and implementation of law belongs only to the Communist Party, can’t have surprised any observer.

According to the Economist, the CCP’s new enthusiasm for the rule of law springs from the campaign against corruption – see first paragraph of this post, too (SCMP quote). The battle is old (Xi Jinping’s predecessor as party and state chairman, Hu Jintao, warned in November 2012 that corruption, if not tackled by politics, could prove fatal to the party.

The battle is even older than old. Shen Zewei, China reporter for the Singaporean daily Lianhe Zaobao (United Morning News), quoted a Taiwanese researcher, Lee Yeau-tarn, in 2009 that Chiang Kai-shek had been able to implement land reform in Taiwan, but not in the mainland, because the KMT had been intricately connected with the despotic gentry.

This suggests that even Moses’ forecast could prove overly optimistic for China.

The Economist’s November 1 edition, however, sees the glass half-full – or even more positively. After all, one of the weekly’s editorials argues, the constitution, emphasized by the CCP leadership,

enshrines property rights. Of the many thousands of “mass incidents” of unrest each year in rural China, 65% relate to disputes over the (often illegal) seizure of land by officials. Mr Xi wants to make it clear that their behaviour is not just illegal but also unconstitutional. That sounds scarier.

Farmland reform, which was at the focus of the 17h Chinese Communist Party Central Committee’s Third Plenary Session in 2008, back then under the Hu Jintao/Wen Jiabao leadership -, is also moving slowly, very slowly. And the fourth plenary session of this 18th central committee might be considered another push into the direction of a more just, and more efficient, use of land – six years later.

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Related

» Dead Cats, rotten Fish, Nov 7, 2011
» Rural Land Certificates, July 10, 2011
» Wen Jiabao’s Endgame, April 21, 2011
» Tossing the Mountain around, Nov 8, 2010
» Farmland Reform, Oct 8, 2008

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Friday, October 31, 2014

Huanqiu Shibao on Occupy Central: “This Country has Ways and Means”

An article published by Huanqiu Shibao on October 22 went through much of the usual reflections on how Occupy Central was – supposedly – harmful for Hong Kong, but then offers a question that may as well be considered an ultimatum:

Those who, with Western forces at their center, continue to applaud the “Occupy Central” participants, and those exiles who ran away during the early years, may look at “Occupy Central” as a hopeful indication that the fortunes would be turning in their favor. A formation that opposes China’s rise is taking shape. Their goal is to severely wound China, as a prelude to bringing down China. May we ask if this is the intention of the young students who are taking part in “Occupy Central”?

以西方为中心的外部势力会继续为香港“占中”者喝彩,那些早年跑出去的流亡者们会视“占中”为他们时来运转的希望。一个针对崛起中国的阵形眼看着一天天成型。它的目标是要重伤中国,作为“扳倒”中国的序曲。请问这是香港参与“占中”年轻学生们的初衷吗?

If not, we ask these students to leave early. For the very small minority of those who look at China as a mortal enemy this country has ways and means to deal with them.

如果不是,请那些学生早早离开。至于极少数视社会主义中国为死敌的人,这个国家自会有对付他们的办法。

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Related

» Chorus of Condemnation, Oct 7, 2014
» OC coverage links, Oct 3, 2014

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Updates/Rlated

» Anti-China scheming, “Global Times”, Oct 22, 2014

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Quick Review: Princess Cheng, the Dalai Lama, and the Motherpapers

Stay away from blogging for a fortnight, and you will miss out on a lot of news. Here are some that caught my attention during the past two weeks, without time to blog about them, let alone making a real translation of it.

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1. This Land is my Land: Princess Wencheng, from Tang China to Tibet

Wang Lixiong, a Chinese tibetologist, described his take on the Tang Dynasty’s motives to get Princess Wencheng married to then Tibetan King King Songtsän Gampo.

Wang’s take is that the mere fact that you marry one of your princesses to the ruler of a distant land still doesn’t make that ruler’s land your land. If and how far his view may differ from the narratives Chinese propaganda has spread abroad successfully, would take a good translation of the entire blogpost, as published by Tsering Woeser, on October 23.

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2. That Land is China’s Land: no Entry into South Africa for Dalai Lama

I’m wondering if the Dalai Lama expects to see the country of South Africa in his lifetime. Chinafile collected some links and reactions to this most recent – apparent – refusal from Pretoria to grant Tibet’s spiritual leader a visa.

Pretoria reportedly also blocked a Dalai Lama visit in March 2009. Less than two month later, then South African minister for International Relations Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said that the Dalai Lama could now visit South Africa any time he wanted.

Anyway. So far, it hasn’t happened.

one_hundred_fake_euros

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3. What shall we do with the Motherpapers?

Nothing, says China Media Project (CMP), Hong Kong, a website observing the mainland Chinese media scene.

Not if it is about People’s Daily, the mother of all motherpapers, anyway. Motherpapers, writes CMP, usually get their budgets right from the Chinese Communist Party, and may also be supported by their child papers (which are more commercial, carry more advertising, and may have more interested readers). Because you can’t discuss the real challenges in China.

Personal note: I’m sometimes criticized by Chinese people for reading People’s Daily or other orthodox stuff, and for watching Xinwen Lianbo, the main CCTV news broadcast. There are so many more interesting media, they say.

Which is true. But as the CCP never invites me to their schooling sessions, not even on village level, motherpapers and CCTV is all I can get for my better information about how the party is ticking.

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There’s still more stuff I (just as superficially) read during the second half of October, but I might still get round to them in some more detail.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Deutsche Welle projects: “cooperating” with CCTV, “countering” Russia Today

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Main link: Druck auf die Deutsche Welle, October 1, 2014

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1. News article: “Pressure on Deutsche Welle”

Deutsche Welle (DW) director Peter Limbourg advocates a role for the foreign broadcaster as an English-language counterweight to Russian propaganda outlet Russia Today, according to an article published by Kölnische Rundschau, a paper from Cologne, on October 1. “It’s not about responding to massive Russian propaganda with ‘counter-propaganda’, but about conveying our free democratic concept by means of good journalism, in accordance with Western standards, the paper quotes Limbourg.

The two parties that have formed Germany’s federal government in a “grand coaliton” since December 2013 differ about the idea. While Roderich Kieswetter, a member of parliament from chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Party (CDU), likes the idea that someone “counters with medial elucidation”, the Social Democrats’ (SPD) parliamentary budget commission member Johannes Kahrs is skeptical: “I don’t think much of propaganda”. He added that “to state our values should be as much a matter of course as paying the DW employees in accordance with tariffs”.

Neither CDU nor SPD have committed themselves to increasing DW funds so as to enable the station to counter Russia Today.

Either way, Kölnische Rundschau writes, Limbourg is “under heavy pressure”, “on several fronts”. German news magazine Der Spiegel had reviewed DW’s China coverage critically – ever since freelance journalist Su Yutong had been fired, a constant stream of accusations that Limbourg had “kowtowed” to Beijing kept flowing, and Limbourg’s cooperation plans with Chinese state television CCTV had been “another step on a course that was being criticized as precarious”. Christian Mihr, head of the German section of Reporters without Borders (RSF), had told conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) that his organization “sharply condemned” the cooperation, and the Green-leaning paper taz pointed out that CCTV had broadcast several “public confessions” of journalists and bloggers. Markus Löning, the federal government’s human-rights commissioner, criticized Limbourg’s plans as “dangerously naive”.

Kölnische Rundschau also points out that some 200 employees have lost some or all of their work at DW. Freelancers are said to be particularly affected by saving measures.

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2. Assessment

Are Limbourg’s plans doomed already? Not necessarily. While recent decisions are controversial, Limbourg might still see them through – or back down in certain, but not all fields, depending on how support and opposition develop. When it comes to “cooperation” with party mouthpieces from China, there’s probably a lot of silent support in Germany that isn’t always reflected in the media. At least some circles in German business, the Asia-Pacific Committee of German Business (APA), criticized German media this summer for being “inaccurate” in their China coverage, according to a report by Deutsche Presseagentur (dpa),:

It was “the common task of governments and companies on both sides to promote a good reputation of Chinese companies in Germany”, the recommendations, on hand at dpa newsagency in Beijing on Tuesday [July 8], say. This was about a “fair and accurate” presentation. Background [of these recommendations?] is Chinese criticism of German media which “irresponsibly and inaccurately report about Chinese human rights and political issues”, a position paper still in progress says.

APA chairman Hubert Lienhard, talking to journalists, resolutely denied the existence of this paragraph in the raft. However, only a week ago, a draft of the paper containing this criticism circulated in the German embassy in Beijing. Accusations like these were, however, not adopted in the recommendations to the two heads of government, recommendations the APA commission does not want to publish. […]

It is this kind of climate where business interests gain weight, and where principles go down. That said, at least publicly, the German federal government wasn’t sympathetic towards the APA recomendations.

While former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder, chairman of the board at Nord Stream AG, a consortium for construction and operation of the Nord Stream submarine pipeline between Vyborg in Russia and Greifswald in Germany, tirelessly advocates cooperation with Russia, Moscow doesn’t appear to have nearly as much sway over German published opinion or business as Beijing.

This doesn’t seem to suggest that countering Russian propaganda should be a priority. But it’s an easier target than Chinese propaganda.

And many Western “opinion formers” have apparently felt haunted by Russian propaganda, or by what they consider to be the effects of it, right at home.

Confucius Institutes are apparently much less offensive.

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Related Tag

» Deutsche Welle

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Related

» Chinesische Rochade, FAZ, Sept 26, 2014
» Weichgespült, DJV, Sept 15, 2014

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