Posts tagged ‘competitiveness’

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.

____________

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。

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Third Plenary Session: Preparing the Local Levels, Trimming the Ostrich

The following is an account of (including some quotes from) a Xinhua article, republished by Enorth (Tianjin).

“Local government reform is an issue of our revolution that involves a broad range of interests in their depths.” Chief state councillor Li Keqiang said in a video and telephone conference on local government functional transformation and institutional reform held the other day that if the reform of central government is part one, the reform of local government is part two. It needed to be considered with all things taken into consideration, and thought about with thorough knowledge, so as to write a good complete chapter of government reform.

“地方政府改革是一场自我革命,涉及面广、触及利益深。”国务院总理李克强在日前召开的地方政府职能转变和机构改革工作电视电话会议上指出,如果说中央政府改革是上篇,地方政府改革就是下篇,需要整体构思、通盘考虑、上下贯通,把政府改革的整篇文章做好。

Experts have pointed out that in previous cases of government functional transformation and institutional reform, there had been “a lot of action at the top, but many discounts [on the promises] further down”.  The new round of streamlining administration and delegating powers to the lower levels (简政放权) has now entered its key phase of comprehensive deepening, and if good policies [or guidelines] can be truly implemented will prove in the difficulties and focal points of government functional transformation and institutional reform.

专家指出,过去几次政府职能转变和机构改革都出现过“上面动作大,下面打折扣”的情况。新一轮简政放权已经进入全面深化的关键时期,好政策能否真正落到实处,难点重点都在地方政府职能转变。

Li is also quoted as saying that government reform was meant to facilitate government-market relations, government-society relations and relations between the center and localities to bring the market more fully into play. Overcoming the challenges of deepening reform from within government at the local levels would constitute the last mile of streamlining administration and delegating powers to the lower levels, and provide the dividends of reform (改革红利) all the more effectively.

The article also quotes a Development Research Center of the State Council researcher, Zhang Liqun (张立群), as saying that streamlining administration and delegating powers to the lower levels – a move for decentralisation, reduction of administrative examination and approval, and stimulation of the private sector’s vitality – was showing initial effects.

The state council had decentralized more than 300 items of administrative examination and approval, the article says, and during that time, the number of company registrations had risen by 25 percent. Among these, the number of private-enterprise (民营企业) and individual-enterprise (个体企业) registrations had risen by 37 percent. These had grown more rapidly than the rate of government investment.

Li Keqiang seems to put the onus of success flatly on the local or regional governments, describing the devolution of of responsibilities as the fulfilled task of the central government. He was seconded by Wang Yukai, a Chinese Academy of Governance professor, who repeated Li’s point that the local levels needed to take responsibility, adding that the central and local government needed to be consistent (上下一贯), and that they needed to guarantee that government decrees went unimpeded (政令畅通).

Both the calamities [or vicious cycles] of “easing once, chaos comes” and “administering once, death comes” needed to be avoided, Li told the conference – his wording suggests that it wouldn’t be the first time that a balance of easing without losing control (疏而不漏) could be lost.

The conference is portrayed as a concert, with Li and the Academics taking turns in plowing through local conscience, reminding the object of their speeches that more than nintety percent of civil servants and 85 percent of government finance (or public economy?) were, in the end, local.

Only the second-last paragraph contains the remarks of a local official – but he does have the last word in the article. Ma Wenda (马文达), head of a health supervision bureau in Guyuan, Ningxia, told the conference that in his place, 48 people had to supervise 1,264 food-and-catering-related companies, 560 public places, 91 medical facilities and 176 schools. Supervising all these scattered places was not easy.

Li Keqiang has the final word: Some authorities had become rather big on the surface, but small further down, like ostriches. Everywhere, efforts needed to be made to strengthen what needed to be strengthened, weaken what needed to be weakened, and above all strengthen the grassroots.  Upper levels needed to trim fat, and grassroot levels needed to be strengthened.

Friday, September 20, 2013

China’s low Profile: As Close as They can

Links within the following blockquotes were added during translation / quotation — JR
Kerry Brown, a professor of Chinese politics at the University of Sydney, recently asked in an article for the BBC if China’s “non-interference policy” was sustainable.

Although China’s global influence had grown during the past decades, Brown wrote,

[..] Chinese leaders still stay as close as they can to the principles of peaceful coexistence and non-interference set out by Zhou Enlai. Despite the fact that the world has changed so radically in this time, these principles are useful because they avoid China being dragged into situations that overstretch and challenge it, they avoid it being pushed into a corner where it can be painted as a foe of the US and the rest of the developed world, and they allow it to continue focusing on its own formidable internal development issues.

Indeed, China’s profile remained low in the Syrian conflict, so far, and seemed to follw Russia’s diplomatic wake rather than pursuing a globally visible role of its own (which does not necessarily mean that Beijing sees eye to eye with Moscow on each and every issue).

At the same time, not only foreigners wonder where China is when it comes to the current crisis (or its recent defusing). Domestic Chinese press does describe China’s position at times, not least to keep face-conscious readers happy, probably.

Xinhua newsagency, for example, carried an interview with China’s special Mideast envoy Wu Sike (吴思科) on September 10 this year. Excerpts:

The Syrian “chemical weapons” issue is confusing, and it hasn’t yet been possible to determine who is right and who is wrong, I have once lived in Syria for four years, and my impression of the locality was very good. Before the chaos caused of the war, it was a society of moderate prosperity [or a moderately well-off society], with many historical relics, and very friendly people. But now, according to UNHCR statistics, the number of refugees who fled abroad has surpassed two million, with one million of them children, and six million people are displaced within Syria. These aren’t just numbers; this is the suffering of homeless Syrian people who even lost loved ones. Who wants to be responsible for aggravating their crisis?

虽然叙利亚“化武”问题扑朔迷离,孰是孰非迄今尚无定论。我曾经在叙利亚生活过4年,对该地区印象很好,那里在战乱之前处于小康社会,历史遗迹很多,人民非常友好。
但是目前根据联合国难民署提供的数据,目前逃往国外的叙利亚难民已超过200万,仅儿童难民数量已超过百万,叙利亚境内还有600万人流离失 所。这些不仅仅是一个又一个的数字,而是一个个被迫流离失所甚至失去亲人的叙利亚人民的苦难。有谁能背得起加剧叙人道危机的责任?!

[.....]

Wu Sike describes his role in Mideast diplomacy:

Last year in December, I took part in a conference in Bahrain, and the participating countries all thought that the United Nations should mediate. Now, America tries to be above international situations, which is a really high-handed behavior. But the intriguing thing this time is that America’s allies, such as Italy or Germany aren’t positive [about America's approach]. Therefore, China unequivocally advocates opposition against military methods, and advocates political means to solve the Syrian conflict. War will only complicate the situation further, intensify contradictions and clashes, and is no way to solve the problem. Therefore, political means should be used for a solution.

吴思科:去年12月份我在巴林参加会议,与会的中东各国都认为应该由联合国出面进行斡旋调解,现在美国的做法是企图让一个国家凌驾在国际组织之上,是非常霸道的表现。
但是这次耐人寻味的是,美国的盟国如意大利、德国并不积极,因此中国明确主张反对用军事的方式,应该用政治的方式,去解决叙利亚的争端。战争只会让局势更加复杂,让矛盾冲突更加剧烈,不是解决问题的方法。因此应该用政治手段解决。

[.....]

The Mideast situation is complex. When I visited Cairo, Arab-League general secretary Nabil Elaraby believed that the current problem was that the Syrian government believes that they still have strong troops to overcome its opponents. But the opposition believes that if only they persist for another day, there will be people abroad who will support them. Neither side wanted to abandon military means to protect itself, and there’s an impasse. Under such circumstances, efforts by the international community are required. The UN have now started an investigation of the chemical-weapons incident. To go to arms before the investigation’s findings are published runs counter to the purpose of the “UN Charter”. All parties should wait for and respect the findings of the investigation.

中东地区的形势错综复杂,我在开罗访问的时候,阿盟秘书长阿拉比认为现在的难点是叙利亚政府认为自 己手中还有强大的军队,能够征服他的反对者。而反对派认为只要自己坚持一天,国外就有人会支持,双方都不愿放弃军事手段来保卫自己,这是一个死结。因此, 在这种情况下,需要国际社会的努力。
目前联合国已经开始对叙利亚化武事件展开调查,在联合国调查结果公布前就诉诸武力有悖于《联合国宪章》宗旨,有关各方应期待并尊重联合国的调查结果。

====================

Two years earlier (and this should not suggest that Wu Sike never talked again, prior to September this year), Wu Sike also commented on Mideast affairs. Back then, his Mideast and Syria comments were embedded in a broader picture of Chinese diplomacy.

Public Diplomacy Net was established on May 1, 2011, with former Chinese foreign minister Tang Jiaxuan, former chairman of the foreign aff airs committee of the “Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference” Zhao Qizheng, Commission for Africa member Ji Peiding and Chinese special Mideast envoy Wu Sike as the website’s advisors.

Soon after, in September 2011, Wu Sike was interviewed by the website, or responded to netizens’ questions. The main topic at the time was a white paper on China’s peaceful development, issued earlier that month on September 6, but as Middle-East special envoy, Wu was also asked questions related to the Middle-East peace process and the growing Syria conflict.

One of his answers further down in the following blockquote could count as an answer to the question at the beginning of this post, asked by Professor Brown, as to why China sticks to a low profile. The Chinese wording for “low profile” – or hiding your brightness and biding your time, depending on your translation, is 韬光养晦, is attributed to Deng Xiaoping.

Wu Sike’s answer to the first question of the interview is lengthy, and contains several paragraphs.

Main Link: http://www.pdcec.com/bencandy.php?fid=60&id=7964

Public Diplomacy Net (PDN) / Wu Sike (WSK)

PDN: Special Ambassador Wu, the information office of the state council published the “China’s Peaceful Development” white paper on September 6, please explain the main content of the white paper to our netizen friends.

公共外交网:吴特使,国务院新闻办公室于9月6日发表了《中国的和平发展》白皮书,现在请您向网友们介绍一下白皮书的主要内容。

WSK: The white paper on “China’s Peaceful Development” has received broad attention at home and abroad. It is the declaration of China’s peaceful development, a roadmap, with absolutely important significance. It provides, for the first time, a comprehensive and systematic explanation of China’s path of peaceful development, the strategy and foreign policies of China’s peaceful development. It states Chinese path of peaceful development, the goals of peaceful development, and actively responds to the questions about how China wants to apply its strength and foreign relations and similar issues.

吴思科:国务院新闻办于9月6日发表了《中国的和平发展》白皮书,引起国内外广泛关注。白皮书是中国和平发展的宣言书、路线图,有着十分重要的意义。白皮书首次对中国和平发展道路、和平发展战略和对外大政方针做了全面系统的阐释,表明了中国的发展道路、发展目标,并积极回应力国际社会关切的中国如何运用实力以及与外部世界的关系等问题。

The white paper explains China’s development path, and strategic direction still more comprehensively, systematically and clearly to the world. Peaceful development has become China’s national will. The white paper officially defines the conceptof “core interests“, it points out that China will resolutely protect its core national interests, including the country’s sovereignty, security, territorial integrity, national unity, China’s political system and general social stability as established by the constitution, the basic guarantees for sustained economic and social development.

白皮书向世界更加全面、系统、清晰地阐明中国的发展道路和战略走向。和平发展已经上升为中国的国家意志,白皮书正式界定了“核心利益”的概念,指出中国坚决维护国家核心利益,包括:国家主权,国家安全,领土完整,国家统一,中国宪法确立的国家政治制度和社会大局稳定,经济社会可持续发展的基本保障。

The white paper explains how the big country with its 1.3 billion people develops on the path of socialism, sums up its content and its characteristics, especially emphasizes that peaceful development is socialism with Chinese characteristics’ essential content, raises peaceful development to the rank of national will, turns it into the overall national development plan and fundamental policy, and implements domestic and external practice.

白皮书,阐述了这个有13亿人口的走社会主义道路的大国如何发展,这次把内涵及其特点进行归纳,特别是强调和平发展是中国特色社会主义道路的本质内容,把和平发展上升到国家意志,转化为国家的整体发展规划和大政方针,并且落实到对内和对外的广泛实践中。

China is a responsible big country, the white paper uses the “promote and build a harmonious world, maintain the standing-of-one’s-own-and-peace foreign polciies, advocates the new security concept of mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality [of states, apparently] and cooperation, an international concept of active international responsibility, pursuing good-neighborly regional cooperation concepts”, thus summarizing China’s peaceful-development foreign policy.  Among these, Active international responsibility has appeared in a public official document for the first time. Cooperation on environmental issues is discussed as an organic part of a harmonious world.

中国是负责任的大国,白皮书用“推动建设和谐世界,坚持独立自主和平外交政策,倡导互信、互利、平等、协作的新安全观,秉持积极有为的国际责任观,奉行睦邻友好的地区合作观”概括了中国和平发展的外交政策。其中,积极有为的国际责任观是首次出现在政府公开文件中;把环保合作作为和谐世界的有机组成部分进行论述。

Peaceful development is the national will. Therefore, as Chinese citizens, we need the concept of peaceful development to be reflected in our practical work. Also, we need to let the world understand the firm idea of China’s peaceful development.

和平发展是国家意志。因此,作为中国公民需要把和平发展的理念体现在我们的现实工作当中。另外,我们还需要让世界了解中国和平发展的坚定理念。

After studying the white paper, I felt that there needs to be a deepened understanding from two aspects:

研读了白皮书以后,我感觉要从两个方面加深认识:

One is that peaceful development is the call of our times. We can see from the world’s historical development that [a country's?] strength leads to hegemony [or tyranny], and when a great power rose, it always replaced another great power by force, making both of them suffer. History has developed to a new era, and this road should be taken. In these times of globalization and rapid technological development, we should build a harmonious world with the methods of win-win. This is the requirement of global development and a certainty of historical development.

一是和平发展是当今时代的呼唤。从世界历史的发展过程中来看,国强必霸,历史上大国崛起,都是通过武力取代另一个大国,最后总是两败俱伤。历史发展到一个新的时期,这条路不应该走下去了。在当今经济全球化和科技高速发展的时代,应该通过合作实现共赢的方式共建一个和谐世界,这是世界发展的需要,也是历史发展的必然。

The second [aspect] is the fulffillment of “peace” as China’s concept with its great and far-reaching significance, as seen from China’s traditional culture. From ancient times, China’s philosophy has been about the “unity of nature and humanity”, that national characteristics [or identity] “values peace”, that there is diversity in harmony, about exploring inclusiveness, about open-mindedness, good-neighborliness and friendliness – this is the guiding spirit of China’s exchange with the outside world.

二是践行“和”之中国理念意义重大而深远。从中国的传统文化来讲。中国自古以来的哲学就是天人合一,民族特性都是“以和为贵”,和而不同,讲究包容性,有开放的心态,讲求睦邻友善,这是中国对外交流的指导精神。

[This para is an incomplete translation] The Silk Road which opened more than two-thousand years ago, has enriched our culture and development through trade and cultural interaction, agriculture and our species. It has made lives richer.

中国2000多年之前就有通向西域的丝绸之路,通过贸易和文化的互通有无带动中国的对外交流,也促进了我们中华文明的发展,农业发展上来说也丰富了我们的物种,使生活更加丰富。

More than six-hundred years ago, China’s famous navigator Zheng He took his seven voyages to the Western seas, to western Asia, eastern Africa, to thirty countries and regions. It was a big fleet, but they didn’t carry armed force. They carried concepts of friendship and peace. They promoted bilateral exchanges, and bequeathed us a much-told tale. Historically, China maintained an ideology that valued peace.

600多年前,中国著名航海家郑和七下西洋,到了西亚、非洲东部的30个国家和地区。船队阵容强大,但是他们没有带去武力,带去的是友谊、和平的理念,促进双方的交往,留下了历史的佳话。在历史上,中国就是坚持以和为贵的指导思想。

After the establishment of New China, we first issued the five principles of peaceful coexistence. This is both a fundamental policy in Chinese diplomacy and a manifestation of traditional Chinese civilization: mutual respect, no interference into each other’s internal affairs, etc.. After that, through our continuous development and changes, we have continuously enriched the five principles on their [own] foundation. In economic exchange, China maintains equality and mutual benefit and cooperational win-win. In terms of security concepts, mutual trust, hand-in-hand cooperation, it’s facing the traditional and non-traditional global security threats.  Another advocacy is a kind of green development concept, humankind’s common care for the earth, and environment protection.

新中国成立以后,我们最早提出和平共处五项基本原则。这既是中国外交的基本政策,也是中国传统文明的体现,互相尊重、互不干涉内政等。此后,随着我们不断的发展变化,在和平共处五项原则上不断地丰富其内容。在对外经济交往方面中国坚持的是平等互利、合作共赢的方针;在安全观方面,相互信任、携手合作、共同应对世界面临的传统和非传统的安全威胁。另外主张一种绿色发展观,人类共同呵护地球家园,共同保护环境。

PDN: This interview has attracted many netizens’ attention, many have asked questions, and in the following, we would like to ask special envoy Wu Sike for some answers.

公共外交网:本次访谈得到众多网友的关注,网友们提出了一些问题,下面就网友关心的话题请吴特使给予解答。

WSK: Fine.

吴思科:好的。

PDN: A netizen asks, which role is China playing in the Middle-East peace process?

公共外交网:有网友问,您认为中国在中东的和平进程问题中起到了怎样的作用?

WSK: The hot spot of the Middle East is a global concern. China’s regional peace and stability is also closely interrelated with global peace and stability. Therefore, China has always paid attention to the Mid-East situation, and has made unremitting efforts for Mid-Eastern peace.

吴思科:中东的热点问题是举世关注的,中国地区的和平稳定也是与世界的和平稳定密切相关,因此中国始终关注中东地区的形势,为推动中东和平进程作出不懈的努力。

PDN: What is the base line of “peaceful development”?

公共外交网:请问“和平发展”的底线是什么?

WSK: China’s peaceful development is our national policy. We will unservingly take the path of peaceful development, and also, the “white paper” has clearly defined China’s core national interests, which won’t waver in the least, either. Only when there is respect for the other side’s core interests, peace can be effectively protected, and sustainable development be put into place.

吴思科:中国的和平发展是我们的国策,我们会坚定不移地走和平发展之路,同时这个“白皮书”也明确界定了中国国家的核心利益,这也是不容丝毫动摇的,只有相互尊重对方的核心利益才能够有效维护和平,实现可持续发展。

[...]

PDN: What is your understanding of “hide your brightness, bide your time“?

公共外交网:您如何理解中国的“韬光养晦”?

WSK: To keep a low profile and to actively make a difference is an important principle of China’s diplomacy. To keep a low profile is no makeshift measure. China needs to achieve comprehensive rejuvenation, to make efforts for another long period, and in this process, we always need to be modest and prudent, learn others’ strengths, and while developing economically, we need to change the ways of development, achieve scientific development, and even if Chjna has developed strongly, we must maintain peaceful policies. That’s in the fundamental interest of the Chinese people, and in line with the interests of the peoples of the world.

吴 思科:坚持韬光养晦,积极有所作为,这是中国外交的一条重要原则,韬光养晦不是权宜之计,中国要实现全面复兴,还需要经历一个很长时间的努力,在这个过程 中我们始终需要谦虚谨慎,学习别人的长处,在经济发展的同时还需要转变发展方式,实现科学发展,即使中国发展强大了,也必须继续坚持和平的方针。这是中国 人民的根本利益所在,也符合世界人民的共同利益。

PDN: How does China pursue win-win in cooperation?

公共外交网:中国如何寻求合作共赢呢?

WSK: China has always adhered to the policy of cooperational win-win, and has explored this new method of cooperation. Cooperational win-win has created favorable conditions for our country’s economic development, and has also made a contribution to global economic development. As for myself, I have been involved in promoting Chinese cooperation with Arab and African countries, achieving cooperational win-win projects which are too many to enumerate. These projects have been mutually beneficial, this is cooperation needed by both sides, and they have ample prospects.

吴 思科:中国在对外合作方面一直遵循合作共赢的方针,并不断探索扩大这种合作的新的方式,这种合作共赢、共同发展的合作理念为我国的经济发展创造了有利的条 件,同时也为世界经济的发展做出了贡献。我本人就曾经参与推动中国和阿拉伯国家、非洲国家的合作,实现合作共赢的合作项目不胜枚举,这些项目都为双方带来 的共同利益,。这种合作是双方的共同需要,也有着广阔的前景。

PDN: What, in your view, are the main points about the China’s peaceful development “white paper”?

公共外交网:您认为本次发表的《中国的和平发展》白皮书中,最大的亮点是什么?

WSK: I think they are the clear definition of China’s core interests, at the same time explaining the six big characteristics of China’s peaceful development, which are scientific development, development standing on one’s own, opening up development, peaceful development, cooperation development, and common development. You could say that this is a high degree of summarization with strong guiding significance for what fits our national situation in the sixty years since the establishment of New China, and especially for the more than thirty years of reform and opening up.

吴 思科:我认为最大的亮点是明确界定了中国的核心利益;同时阐述了中国和平发展的六大特征,就是科学发展、自主发展、开放发展、和平发展、合作发展、共同发 展。可以说这是对新中国成立60年特别是改革开放30多年来我国探索适合自己国情发展道路实践的高度总结,有很强的指导意义。

PDN: As the Middle-East envoy, how do you see the current situation in the Middle East?

公共外交网:您作为中国中东问题特使,如何看当下的中东局势?

WSK: The Middle East is experiencing the biggest upheaval and change since more than half a century, with far-reaching effects to the region. In a situation of international change, big developments, and major adjustments, people there are seeking change, seeking development, improvement for the peoples’ livelihoods, and these are absolutely reasonable demands. We hope that some countries in the region can achieve peaceful change, find their own ways of development that fit into the new situation, soon achieve stability, with the fulfillment of the peoples’ demands. We also hope that in the Mideast hotspots, issues can be solved through negotiations, and peacefully, which is in the interest of all countries and peoples in the region, and also beneficial for global causes of peace and stability and development.

吴 思科:当前中东正经历近半个世纪以来最大的政治动荡和变革,对该地区正在产生深远的影响。在国际形势大变化、大发展,国际格局大调整的情况下,该地区的人 民求变革、求发展、求改善民生,这是完全合理的诉求。我们希望该地区的一些国家能够实现和平的变革,找到新形势下适合各自发展的方式,早日实现稳定,使人 民的诉求能够得以实现。同时也希望中东地区的热点问题能够通过谈判的方式实现和平解决,这既是该地区各个国家和人民的利益所在,也有利于世界的和平稳定和 发展事业。

[The following two questions and answers discuss the way China is seen from outside, the "China threat talk" (所谓中国威胁论), "cold war mentality", hopes and fears about China's development, etc, and China's role in peacekeeping missions.]

Monday, September 2, 2013

Chairman Xi, Braving the Wind and the Rain in Shenyang Military Region

The following is a translation of the top news of CCTV’s main newscast, Xinwen Lianbo, aired on August 30. Links within the translation added during translation.

Main Link: Xi Jinping visits Shenyang Military Region (习近平视察沈阳战区部队)

CCTV online news (Xinwen Lianbo): On the eve of the National Games of the People’s Republic of China‘s opening ceremony, CCP Secretary General, State Chairman, and Central Military Commission Chairman Xi Jinping paid a special inspection visit to the Shenyang combat zone troops. He emphasized that the implementation of the party’s goal of a strong army under new circumstances needed to be deepened, that the building of the troops needed to be comprehensively strengthened, that the ability to perform missions and responsibilities needed to be improved, to make yet bigger new contributions.

央视网消息(新闻联播):中共中央总书记、国家主席、中央军委主席习近平在出席十二届全运会开幕式 前夕,专门视察了沈阳战区部队。他强调,要深入贯彻落实党在新形势下的强军目标,加强部队全面建设,不断提高履行使命任务能力,为维护国家主权、安全、发 展利益作出新的更大贡献。

Xi Jinping has always shown great interest in the construction and crew training of China’s first aircraft carrier. In the morning of August 28, after getting off the plane, he braved the wind and the rain and came to the Naval Aircraft Integrated Testing and Training Base, watched the carrier-based aircrafts taking off from ski-jump ramps, landing-blocking training, and inspected relevant equipment on the ground. On seeing the pilots completing all kinds of trainings very efficiently, Xi Jinping was most happy and applauded them enthusiastically. Xi Jinping cordially received the first batch of officers on board, the test pilots, and the pilots of the carrier-based aircraft, and strongly appreciated the excellent skills and virtuosity shown by the pilots under complex weather conditions. Xi Jinping also listened closely to an introduction of the carrier-based aircrafts’ design and functions, required the technicians in charge to conscientiously analyse the aircraft test flight data, and to climb to the top of science and technology. On leaving, he encouraged everyone to make persistent efforts, to deepen their studies, to learn diligently and to train proficiency, tp become excellent carrier-based aircraft pilots soon.

习近平一直十分关心我国第一艘航空母舰建设和部队训练。28日上午,他一下飞机就冒着风雨来到海军某舰载机综合 试验训练基地,观看舰载机滑跃起飞、阻拦着陆训练,实地察看有关设备。看到飞行员们干净利落完成了各项训练科目,习近平十分高兴,为他们热情鼓掌。习近平 亲切接见了首批上舰指挥员、试飞员和舰载机飞行员,高度赞赏飞行员在复杂气象条件下表现出的过硬本领和精湛技艺。习近平还仔细听取了舰载机设计和性能介 绍,要求有关科技人员认真分析战机试飞数据,不断攀登科技高峰。临别时,他勉励大家再接再厉、深入钻研、勤学精练,早日成为优秀的航母舰载机飞行员。

On that day in the afternoon, again through wind and rain, Xi Jinping went to Dalian, to board the “Liaoning” naval vessel there. The military flag fluttered in the wind, the sailors stood in good order and the “Liaoning” greeted a moment of glory. Xi Jinping inspected the guard of honor, then climbed up a ladder, then to the hangar, the battle stations, he inspected the equipment and facilities, enquired about the technical and tactical performance, and about the officers’ and men training situation. Xi Jinping showed great concern for logistical support, accomodation [of the crew], food, medical care, and asked detailed questions. He accepted the ship emblem and ship cap, carefully prepared by the sailors, and solemnly signed his name in the logbook. At parting time, Xi entered the gangway, affectionately waved to the sailors, told the ship captain and political commissar to be mindful of their duties, not to dishonor their mission, to shape combat effectiveness and security effectiveness soon, and to make their contributions to a powerful People’s Navy.

当天下午,习近平又风雨兼程赶往大连,登上停泊 在大连港的辽宁舰。军旗迎风飘扬,水兵整齐列队,辽宁舰迎来了一个庄严光荣的时刻。习近平检阅了水兵仪仗队,随后攀舷梯、下机库,深入舱室战位,察看舰上 装备设施,询问技战术性能,了解官兵工作训练情况。习近平十分关心舰上官兵后勤保障情况,住宿、饮食、看病等,他问得很详细。习近平接受了水兵们精心准备 的舰徽、舰帽,郑重在航泊日志上签名。离别时,习近平登上舷梯,向水兵们深情挥手,他叮嘱辽宁舰舰长和政委,你们要牢记职责,不辱使命,早日形成战斗力和 保障力,为建设强大的人民海军做贡献。

On the afternoon of August 29th, Xi Jinping visited the Shenyang Military Region authorities, received officers from the divisional level upwards, and heard the Shenyang Military Region work report. Xi Jinping fully affirmed the achievements made in the building of Shenyang Military Region troops during recent years. He emphasized that the implementation of the party’s goal of a strong army under new circumstances was related to national defense and the overall situation of troop building, and the army’s performance of their missions and responsibilities.  We need to persist in the deep implementation of the goal of a strong army in the building of the troops, vigorously promote the learning and education of the goal of a strong army, uphold the connection between theory and practice, make good use of transformation, to make it a strong driving force for strengthen the comprehensive building of the troops, deepening the reform and innovation of the troops, and for promoting military preparedness. Always hold on to and listen to this spirit of a strong army under the party’s command, by active work on your own initiative, to occupy the troops ideological, cultural, and public-opinion position. Make sure about the troops’ loyalty, absolute purity [or honesty], absolute reliability, so that they always, under all circumstances, firmly obey the party’s central committee and the central military commission. The party committees on all levels must play a leading role at the core in the realization of the goal of a strong army. They must lend efforts to improving the standards of scientific decision-making, democratic decision-making, and of decision-making in accordance with the law. The implementation of the goal of a strong army must be expanded to the grassroots and the most outlying points, the enthusiasm, self-initiative, and creativity of officers and soldiers for the realization of the goal of a strong army be brought into play, to firmly build the solid foundatoin for the goal of a strong army.

29日下午, 习近平来到沈阳军区机关,接见驻沈阳部队师以上干部,听取沈阳军区工作汇报。习近平对近年来沈阳军区部队建设取得的成绩给予充分肯定。他强调,贯彻落实党 在新形势下的强军目标,关系国防和军队建设全局,关系我军有效履行使命任务。要坚持在部队建设中深入贯彻落实强军目标,大力推进强军目标学习教育,坚持理 论联系实际,搞好转化运用,使之成为加强部队全面建设、深化部队改革创新、推进军事斗争准备的强劲动力。要始终扭住听党指挥这个强军之魂,以积极主动的工 作占领部队思想阵地、文化阵地、舆论阵地,确保部队绝对忠诚、绝对纯洁、绝对可靠,任何时候任何情况下都坚决听从党中央、中央军委指挥。各级党委要发挥在 实现强军目标中的核心领导作用,着力提高科学决策、民主决策、依法决策水平。要推动贯彻落实强军目标向基层拓展、向末端延伸,发挥广大官兵为实现强军目标 而奋斗的积极性、主动性、创造性,切实打牢实现强军目标的坚实基础。

Xi Jinping emphasized that there is the need to continue the in-depth construction of the army style in accordance with rising standards, to achieve a fundamental improvement in the building of the army style. In accordance with the general requirements of “looking in the mirror, tidying our attire, taking a bath and curing our diseases”, concentrate on the continuous solution of the four working-style problems of formalism, bureaucratism, hedonism and extravagance, aim at the problems, we must do a good job in rectification, and make sure that special rectification achieves real effects. We must keep the doors open and engage in activities, work and pull together to solve problems, and, achieve solid education. From top to bottom, we must maintain our grasp, one level on the other, and one level leading the other in [the process of] change. We must establish a scientific and reasonable set of rules and regulations, and promote the working-style normalization and durability. Other tasks must be accomplished at the same time with strengthening the work style, with scientific coordination, organic combination [the term might come close to synergy effects], grasping two links at the same time and being mindful of advancing both of them.

习近平强调,要坚持按照标准更高、走在前列的要求不断把部队作风建设引向深入,努力实现 作风建设根本性好转。要按照“照镜子、正衣冠、洗洗澡、治治病”的总要求,集中精力持续解决“四风”问题,针对问题抓好整改,确保专项整治取得实实在在的 成效。要坚持开门搞活动,群策群力把问题解决好、把教育实践活动搞扎实。要坚持自上而下抓,一级抓一级,一级带着一级改。要建立一整套科学合理的法规制 度,推动作风建设常态化长效化。要把加强作风建设同完成其他各项工作任务结合起来,科学统筹、有机融合,做到两手抓、两促进。

Xi Jinping pointed out that support for local economic construction needed to be made an important task, that a good job at supporting the poor and the hardship-stricken, assistance for students and education, medical support, the building of a new [rural] countryside etc. needed to be done. The fields and scopes of integration of the military and civilians needed to be expanded, the defense economy and society’s economy be promoted, military-use and civilian-use technology, army talents and local talents be developed in mutually compatible ways. Support and participation in the construction of local ecological civilization, combined military-civilian efforts in good protection and development of the fertile white mountains and the black water [characteristics of northeastern China, which Liaoning province with its capital Shenyang is part of] was needed.

习 近平指出,要把支援地方经济建设作为一项重要任务,深入做好扶贫帮困、助学兴教、医疗扶持、支援新农村建设等工作。要拓展军民融合的领域和范围,积极推进 国防经济和社会经济、军用技术和民用技术、部队人才和地方人才兼容发展。要支持和参加地方生态文明建设,军民合力把美丽、富饶的白山黑水保护好、发展好。

Finally, Xi Jinping emphasized that right now, the Shenyang Military Region troops needed to play a role as the main force and a shock brigade in flood-relief efforts, protect the safety of the people’s possessions and the fruits of its economic construction. Security and supporting tasks for the 12th National Games needed to be fulfilled meticulously, to make an active contribution to “safe and peaceful National Games”.  Fan Changlong, Wang Huning, Li Zhanshu and Wu Shengli, Liu Xiaojiang, Wang Jiaocheng and Chu Yimin took part in the relevant activities [of Xi Jinping's visit].

习近平最后强调,当前,沈阳军区部队要在抗洪抢险斗中发挥主力军和突击队作用,保护人民财产安全和经济建设成果。要精心做好第十二届全运会有关安保和支援任务,为实现“平安全运”积极贡献力量。范长龙、王沪宁、栗战书和吴胜利、刘晓江、王教成、褚益民参加有关活动。

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Related

» Military Pop, August 1, 2013
» Quietly like the Rain, July 25, 2013
» Braving the Tide and Sky, Oct 6, 2012
» The Soldiers’ Haircuts, March 10, 2012

Friday, August 16, 2013

Song Luzheng on Democracy: “Idle Masses indulging in a Life of Pleasure and Comfort”

Song Luzheng (宋鲁郑) is a journalist and (semi-)official living in France. The following are excerpts from an article published by Guanchazhe, a Shanghai-based website, on Thursday, and republished by the nationalist Huanqiu Shibao (online), also on Thursday. The article also appears on his regular blog.

Quotes made by Song Luzheng within the excerpts and translations underneath are my translations from Chinese to English. The wordings of the actual English-language originals (including book titles) by Niall Ferguson and Thomas Friedman may be different.

Main Link: The Tragedy of the Egyptian Raids confirm, once again, the Predicament of Democracy (埃及清场悲剧再次验证民主困境)

The bloody way in which the Egyptian military cracked down on the Morsi supporters has shocked the world. One after another, European countries condemned the “big terrorist massacre”, but Kerry, the secretary of state in charge of America’s diplomacy, of the world’s most developed democracy, with a surprising smile on his face on a press conference, didn’t condemn the military massacre in the least, and only uttered  that this was “deplorable”, that “violence was no solution and only brought about more instability and economic disaster” (but who used violence? The protesters?). Also, the only “sanction” the Obama administration imposes is “the military exercises with Egypt may be cancelled”. This is completely different from condemning the situation in Syria and taking action. Apparently, public intellectuals under American influence, abroad and at home, are in a hurry to stand on the side of the military which massacres peaceful Egyptian citizens.

埃及军方如此残酷的血腥镇压穆尔西的支持者, 举世震惊。欧洲各国纷纷表态谴责这起“恐怖大屠杀”,而世界上最发达的民主国家美国,其主管外交的国务卿克里竟然笑容满面地出席记者会,对埃及军方主导的 大屠杀毫无谴责,仅仅说了一句“悲惨的”,并不痛不痒地说“暴力不是解决方案,通向暴力的道路只能带来更大的不稳定、经济灾难”(但谁在使用暴力?抗议者 吗?)。与此同时,奥巴马政府的官员提出的唯一“制裁”措施竟然是:“可能取消与埃及的军事演习”。这和美国谴责叙利亚的态度和采取的行动完全不同。看 来,受美国影响,海内外的不少公知们很快也要站在屠杀埃及平民的军方一边了。

Most of today’s developed countries, with the exception of Britain, went through times of destruction, writes Song, and adds:

In fact, China went through a similar experience, only at a higher cost. This was the Republic of China, founded in 1912. Simply-put, the Republic of China didn’t bring China independence, nor did it bring China unity, let alone an era of strength, prosperity and dignity. In its short 37 years, the economy went into bancruptcy, there was warlordism, large-scale civil war, invasions by foreign enemies, territorial disintegration, corruption from the top to the bottom etc., and until it [the ROC] withdraw from the stage of history, China had almost reached the status of a savage nation. Life expectancy was at 35 years, illiteracy up to 80 percent. The only time in several thousands of years that China fell behind India was at that time. Not even the Cultural Revolution managed to do that. China at the end of the Qing dynasty faced three challenges: extreme poverty and weakness and encirclement by big powers, national disintegration, and military split by warlordism, and the Republic of China not only failed to provide solutions, but worsened even further. If one says that the Qing dynasty was a big collapsing building, the Republic of China not only failed to work on the Qing dynasty’s foundations, but even lost that foundation. It was at that time that Outer Mongolia was lost without a war, as the first territory in China’s history.

其实中国自己也曾有过类似的经历,只是代价更为不菲。这就是 1912年建立的中华民国。简言之中华民国是一个既没有带给中国独立、也没有带来统一,更没有带来富强与尊严的时代。在其短短的三十七年间,经济陷入破 产,军阀混战,大规模的内战,外敌入侵,国土分裂,从上到下的完全腐败,等到它退出历史舞台的时候,中国已几乎到了“蛮荒亡国”的地步:人均寿命不足35 岁,文盲高达80%。中国几千年唯一一次落后于印度就在此时,甚至文革都未能做到一点。清末中国面临的三大挑战:极端的贫困和积弱不振、列强环伺的生存危 机、国家的分裂和军队的军阀化,中华民国不但一个都没有解决,反而更加恶化。如果说清朝是倒塌的大厦,中华民国则不但连清理地基的工作都未能做到,而且把 地基都丢掉了。外蒙古也就是这个时期,成为中国历史上首个不是因为战败而丧失的领土。

Although a high price for democratic transition was a historical law [anyway], there were still more special factors at work in Egypt, according to Song: it was particularly poor, it was under the impact of the global economic crisis and of revolution at home, an unemployment rate of 31 percent (only nine percent before the revolution), and adding to that, illiteracy was at 27 percent, with female illiteracy at 69 percent.  A well-performing democracy needed an economic base and universal education. Lacking secularism in the Islamic world is also cited as a factor.

Also, some Muslim societies have long lacked a spirit of compromise and tolerance. This national character displays itself in a firm position and no concessions. This led to a situation where, when a ruler [Muarak] made concessions, prepared to move toward democracy, the country missed out on this top-down transition model which would have come at rather low costs, and even after a democratic success, and used extreme methods to solve conflicts. This happened both in Tunisia and in Egypt. When Muarak announced that he wouldn’t stay in office for another term and that his sons wouldn’t participate in elections, and that after his current term, there would be comprehensive, free and fair elections, the masses rejected this. As a result, power was transferred to the military, thus extending the transition period.  And after one year of rule by Morsi, the first president elected by the people was pushed off the stage by another street revolution, causing nation-wide confrontation and resulting in an unprecedented bloody tragedy. This kind of lack of compromise has already strangled Egypt’s democracy in its cradle. History shows again and again that what is born in a pool of blood is only violent, not democratic.

再者,有些穆斯林社会长期缺乏妥协和宽容精神,这种国民性在革命时可以表现 为立场坚决,绝不退步。却也造成当执政者做出让步,准备走向民主时,国家错过从上而下的、代价较低的转型模式,甚至在民主成功之后,采用极端手段来解决冲 突。这一幕在突尼斯和埃及都反复上演。当穆巴拉克宣布不再连任、自己的儿子也不参选、任期届满之后即进行全面、自由、公正的选举时,却被民众拒绝了。结果 权力被交给军方,大大延长了过渡期。随后又在穆尔西执政一年后,再次以街头革命的方式,将首位民选总统赶下台,造成全国性的对抗,终至演变成空前的血腥悲 剧。实际上,这种不妥协,已经把埃及的民主扼杀在摇篮中。历史已经一而再地证明,在血泊中诞生的只有暴力,而不是民主。

Revolutions like these were most likely to happen in demographically young countries, Song continues. Japanese media had pointed out that therefore, a revolution was unlikely to happen in a country like China, which was older on average, and with only one child per family.

The West itself was equally in trouble, writes Song, enumerating the share of respective national debt as a share of GDP. All of those shares were above the internationally accepted warning line of 60 percent.

The trouble was that democratic systems were based on the expectation that the people were perfect, and wouldn’t allow abuse. Unreasonable public expectations made politicians accept even unreasonable demands:

By using the ballot box in this Western system, people can force politicians to accept unreasonable and even perfectly unreasonable demands. Today’s Western debts come from deficit spending [今天西方国家普遍出现的债台高筑寅吃卯粮], high levels of welfare are hard to sustain and impossible to reform, the masses idly indulge in a life of pleasure and comfort, and falling competitiveness and falling economic growth have their sources here.

西方危机的深层根源就在于它实行的一人一票的民主制度。当今民主制度有一个理论假想:政府是应有 之恶,要进行限权,但对人民却又认为是道德完美、能够做到绝对正确。事实上,人民的全体和个体的人民一样,都有先天性的人性缺憾,比如好逸恶劳贪得无厌、 目光短浅急功近利等等。而任何权力包括民权没有限制都会被滥用。于是在西方这种制度模式下,民众可以通过选票迫使政治人物接受并非理性、甚至完全不合理的 诉求。今天西方国家普遍出现的债台高筑寅吃卯粮、高福利难以为继却无法改革、民众日益懒惰贪图享乐、竞争力下降经济增长乏力的根源就在于此。

When it is said that traditionally socialist countries with absolute public ownership of means of production (and economic equality) has proven a failed utopia, the failure of Western democratic societies as another big Utopia with absolute equality (one man, one vote) is now also being proven.

如果说过去传统社会主义国家生产资料的绝对公有制(即经济上均贫富)是人类已经证明失败的乌托邦,那么西方民主社会另一大乌托邦即政治权力的绝对平等(一人一票)的失败也正在被历史所验证。

Song mentions the role of Wall Street’s five largest investment banks in the 2008 U.S. elections:

While collusion between officialdom and business in China still requires secrecy, it happens in broad daylight in the West.

由于西方的民主制度法必须通过选举,而选举成本堪称天文数字,这又给了资本介入的契机。我们知道2008年华尔街五大投行全军覆灭,但高盛集团的政治献金仍然高达数亿美元(如果说中国官商勾结还需要遮遮掩掩,在西方则是光天化日)。

Apparently based on the bestseller “This Town”, Song details his statement about democracy.

This book’s grim conclusion is this: transactions between power and money has become a thorough procedure. America has become exactly the way of the Roman empire in its late stage, before its collapse: Systematic political corruption, evil action as the usual practice, and legal offense in vogue.

这本书得出的冷酷结论是:权钱交易已经彻底地程序化。美国正如罗马帝国崩溃前的末期:制度化的政治腐败,作恶成了惯例,违法成了时髦。

[...]

In the face of the crisis of Western democracy, more and more scholars are waking up. Niall Ferguson, one of the West’s most renowned and influential historians, called “one of the world’s 100 most influential people” by “Time”, wrote -  after writing “Money and Power” and “Civilizaton” – about “The Western Civilization’s four Black Boxes”. In this book he argues that questions about the decline of the West lies in the degeneration of the institutions. Representational government, free markets, the rule of law, and civil society were once western Europe’s and North America’s four pillars, but are now in decay. The root lies in the irresponsibility to which the voting people have turned, living at the costs of future generations.

面对西方民主的危机,越来越多的学者开始醒悟。当代西方声誉最高、影 响力最大的历史学者,被《时代》周刊称为“影响世界的100人”之一的尼尔·弗格森,在《金钱与权力》、《文明》后,又推出一本新作:《西方文明的4个黑 盒子》,在这本书中,他认为西方衰落的答案就在西方的建制正在退化。代议政体、自由市场、法治、公民社会,曾是西欧、北美社会的四大支柱,但在今天这些建 制已败坏变质。根源则在于作为选民的人民变得不负责任,使一代选民得以在牺牲未来数代人利益下过日子。

This is also why the “New York Times’” columnist Thomas Friedman, in his new book “[The World is] Hot, Flat, and Crowded”, goes as far as titling one chapter “If America could be China for one Day”. He gives an example: “If need be, China’s leaders can change the regulatory system, the standards, infrastructure to safeguard the country’s long-term strategic benefit. If such issues get discussed and implemented in Western countries, I’m afraid it takes years or even decades.” [...]

这也是为什么《纽约时报》专栏作家托马斯·费里德曼新书《世界又热又平又挤》有一章的标题竟然是这样的: 假如美国能做一天中国。他举例道:“如果需要的话,中国领导人可以改变规章制度、标准、基础设施,以维护国家长期战略发展的利益。这些议题若换在西方国家 讨论和执行,恐怕要花几年甚至几十年的时间。” [.....]

This is where Song Luzheng gets back to Egypt, as a painfull lesson for Egypt itself, but a fortune for China (埃及的惨痛教训,对于中国实是极为宝贵的财富).

There are the three major human civilizations: Christian civilization, Islamic civilization, and Confucian cvilization. Only the Western democratic system can keep pace with China’s political civilization. But this kind of Western system has developed to today’s dysfunctionality, increasingly unable to adapt to the challenges of globalization. Apparently, Chinese civilization cannot be refused to play an important role among the world’s civilizations!

目前人类三大主要文明:基督教文明、伊斯兰教文明和儒家文明,真正能和中国政治文明并驾齐驱的只有西方的民主制度。但西方这种制度发展到今天已弊病丛生,日益无法适应全球化的挑战。看来,中华文明将不得不再一次在世界文明中扮演极为重要角色!

We can say that the decline of Western democracy and China’s institutional civilization full of vitality are humankind’s greatest and most influential change. In the old days, China’s  huge contributions to humankind weren’t only reflected in economics, but more importantly in its institutional civilization. These days, as China is becoming strong and prosperous again, it will also, once again, carve out another height of institutional civilization for humankind.

我们可以说,西方民主的衰落与中国制度文明充满生命力的崛起将是二十一世纪人类最伟大、影响最为深远的变革。昔日中国对人类的巨大贡献并不仅仅表现在经济的富庶,更重要的是制度文明。今天的中国,在重新走向富强的同时,也将再一次为人类开拓出更高的制度文明。

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Related

» Those Southern Newspaper’s Commentators, Jan 28, 2013
» Refuting Western Rhetoric, china.org.cn, Nov 18, 2012
» JR turns to Science, Dec 17, 2011
» Make America collapse, Feb 14, 2010

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Monday, July 29, 2013

Local Government Debts: Beijing seeks the big Picture

New bosses usually want to know the status they’ve inherited. The new collective leadership around Xi Jinping is no exception: the state auditing administration, in accordance with the demands of the state council, is going to arrange a national audit concerning governmental debt. The focus is on local governments, according to Economic Reference ( 经济参考报, via Enorth):

The “black hole” of local government debt has triggered the vigilance of the center. Experts believe that illegal financing by local governments will be in the audit’s focus, and that the audit will include the financial situations of township and village governments.

“近日,根据国务院要求,审计署将组织全国审计机关对政府性债务进行审计。”国家审计署网站28日挂出的一条短消息,瞬间传遍市场,释放出强烈的信号———地方政府债务“黑洞”已经引发中央高度警觉。专家认为,地方政府的违规融资行为将是此次审计的重点,同时乡村一级政府债务情况也有望纳入审计。

This would include the debts/repayables of local investment platform companies (地方融资平台公司), says the article – however, this wasn’t the first audit of this kind. From March to May 2011, the state auditing administration had examined 31 provincial governments (including autonomous regions and municipalities) as well as five state-planned and administration levels within city-level. As of the end of 2010, with the exception of 54 county governments with no debts, provincial, city and county-level governments had accumulated 10.7 trillion Yuan RMB of debts (10,700,000,000,000).

After that, no nation-wide audits had been carried out, however, 36 local governments and their sub-levels had been examined from November 2012 to February 2013.

The article also quotes an IMF estimate as saying that Chinese government debt in its broad sense (including the central government’s and local governments’ spending on infrastructure which wasn’t included in governmental (official) budgets would already exceed 45 percent of GDP.

Other sources quoted put the percentage even higher, such as 78 percent by the end of 2012, according to a report by the Standard Chartered Bank, but despite many estimates abroad and at home, there were no official, authoritative statistics yet.

The article quotes a number of experts with their assessments, and a person close to the ministry of finance. The latter is quoted as saying that “in some counties and counties, the problem of government finance and government debts is very serious and has to be taken seriously.”

It’s a fairly candid article, and it is in line with generally more sober reports on the state of the economy, but it is strictly focused on pointing out what needs to be done, and carefully avoids any “doom-and-gloom” scenarios of the kind which would hardly be missing in a European description of either a Chinese or a European mess. The article also avoids pointing out the central government’s responsibility for the ambiguous financial status of lower government levels.

In the wake of the global financial crisis since 2008, stimulus programs – particularly investment in infrastructure – had been China’s answer to slowing global demand for Chinese products. Reportedly, the central government decided on the stimulus, but most of the investments actually had to be made (and financed) by local governments, and they were carried out by provincial or locally-owned investment companies.

As early as in March 2010, Victor Shih (Northwestern University), who apparently dug comparatively deep into the issue at the time, foresaw no Chinese financial crisis, but a costly process to restructure and recapitalize the banks.

That process is now in its infancy – and it is hard to tell if it will even manage to depict the as-is status accurately. The CCP is facing a number of options or necessities beyond financial restructuring, too, which might look like this, more or less. It won’t just be a matter of financial restructuring, but a matter of restructuring the economy: in the long run, misallocated capital can’t come cheaply.

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Related

» Who will bear the Costs, July 7, 2013

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Saturday, July 13, 2013

What the Heck are “National Conditions”?

From Qianjiang Evening Post (钱江晚报), Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, founded in 1987.  Although named “evening paper”, it is sent to subscribers in the morning. The following signed editorial was apparently published online on Friday.

Links added during translation.

If “national condition” is some kind of dough, National Food Safety Assessment Center deputy Wang Zhutian has put it into a mold.

“国情”是个面团,国家食品安全风险评估中心主任助理王竹天把它捏成了方的。

This official, assigned to watch over the food security of 1.3 billion Chinese people, said in reply to questions concerning the definition of our country’s food security issues that we are a developing country, and that we need to define our standards in accordance to our “national condition”. If we took European air-quality standards, we wouldn’t be up to the standards.

这位身居13亿中国人食品安全站岗放哨要职的官员,在回答我国食品安全标准制定的问题时说,我们是发展中国家,还要按照“国情”来制定我们自己的标准。如果我们都拿欧洲空气做标准,那么我们都不合格。

This national-condition stuff – China Civil Aviation Cadres Institute associate professor Zou Jianjun has shaped it.

“国情”这团面,中国民航干部学院副教授邹建军把它捏成了圆的。

He voiced disdain for a flight data statistic  – he believes that to put Beijing Capital Airport and Shanghai Pudong Airport into a punctuality statistic with an overall of 35 airports worldwide, where they rank last and second-last, won’t perfectly reflect actual punctuality, and emphasizes that currently, our economic development doesn’t match Europe’s or America’s, and to put them all together [in the same statistic] was unreasonable.

这位专家对美国航空数据网站发布的一组数字表示不屑。他认为,北京首都机场、上海浦东机场双双包揽上个月全球35个国际机场准点率排名倒数第一第二名,这个数据不能完全准确反映实际准点率,并强调,目前我国经济发展水平并未与欧美相同,放在一起比较并不合理。

According to Wang Zhutian’s theory, the “national condition” of food safety standards – i. e. an acknowledged “national condition” – China, in its primary stage of socialism, should forget about wild hopes for eating with the same peace of mind as people in developed countries.

按照王竹天主任的理论,食品安全标准的“国情”,就是一个认命的“国情”,社会主义初级阶段的中国,别奢望吃上与发达国家一样放心的食品。

I don’t know how much of a natural connection there is between melamine in milkpowder and the incessant stream of poisonous rice and ginger, and the degree of  a country’s economic development. If there is a relation, is it that not enough tax money is spent on supervision? Or is it that the money spent by consumers on food doesn’t qualify for eating with their minds at ease?

我不知道奶粉中的三聚氰胺、层出不尽的毒大米毒生姜,与一个国家经济发达程度有多少必然的关系。如果有关系,是指纳税人提供给监管的钱不够花?还是消费者现有的食品购买支出,没资格吃上放心的食品?

From the common peoples’ dining tables to the state council’s meetings, the entire country is filled with fear about food safety issues, and this supervision official puts his “national-condition” dough into the mold. If “national conditions” become the food-safety supervision officials excuse for inaction, it will be a crudely-made protective umbrella for the inaction, and “national condition” will be a warning to compatriots to resign themselves to the destiny of accepting cheap standards.

吃的安全问题,从黎民百姓的餐桌上,摆到了国务院常务会议上,全中国都在为食品安全问题提心吊胆,偏偏这监管的官员,把它摆到了“国情”这个任他们拿捏的面团里。如果“国情”可以成为食品监管不作为的借口,可以成为放任食品粗制滥造的保护伞,那么,“国情”就是个告诫国人自认命贱的标准。

To grasp the theory of “national condition”, some of our experts and officials aren’t ahead of the rest of us with their standards, but the skin of their face is thicker than ours. The airports we built [in this country], in the words of our achievers, experts and officials, are of “international standards”.  Our high-speed trains, are testimony that there is “no match for them elsewhere in the world”. But when comparisons are about operation capabilities or quality of service, “national conditions” serve as shields. Our experts and officials don’t feel the least of shame that in many fields, China trails behind internationally.

在把握“国情”的理论上,我们现在的一些专家和官员,已经不是在与别人比水平有多高,而是在与别人比脸皮有多厚。建机场,夸成就,专家和官员嘴里,那是一个“国际一流”。修高铁,说功劳,那是一个“世上无双”。但是,比运营能力、比服务水平,“国情”就被扯出来做挡箭牌了。中国很多事情在国际上“垫底”,我们在这些专家和官员身上,感受不到丁点儿羞耻。

You don’t get on your plane or train? It’s “national condition”. Delays in arrival? “National conditions”. Rising prices? They have nothing to say. When spending money, they have nothing to say. Showing off their (small) achievements? Nothing to say. When earning high salaries and state remuneration from taxpayers’ money, when counting their money, have they ever mentioned “national conditions”?

坐不上飞机火车的时候,他们说“国情”。晚点的时候,他们说“国情”。涨价的时候,他们不说了。花钱的时候,他们不说了。表功的时候,他们不说了。拿着纳税人供奉的高薪与厚禄,在点钱的时候,他们说过一句“国情”了吗?

What kind of condition is a “national condition”? First of all, it should be the people’s conditon, the responsibility entrusted to officials and experts, the willingness to be worthy. Apart from the people’s feelings, it is this inaptness, this demand on compatriots to acknowledge their own worthlessness which is China’s most unfortunate “national condition”.

“国情”是个什么情?它首先应该是民情,是官员与专家寄托在百姓身上负责任、愿担当的感情。抛开民情,站在那个与自己的能力、品行不相匹配的位置上,以“国情”的名义让国人自认命贱,这才是中国最不幸的“国情”。

What’s the “national condition”? Above all, it should be the people’s sentiments, the responsibility for the common people, entrusted to officials and experts, the desire to be worthy.

“国情”是个什么情?它首先应该是民情,是官员与专家寄托在百姓身上负责任、愿担当的感情。

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Related

» One on One, Wang Zhutian, CCTV, May 12, 2013

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