Posts tagged ‘competitiveness’

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Deutsche Welle Task Plan: “Germany must not fall behind”

According to a press release on Wednesday, Deutsche Welle (DW) director Peter Limbourg handed the broadcasting station’s task plan to Norbert Lammert, president of German federal parliament or Bundestag, on Tuesday. The plan (Aufgabenplanung 2014 – 2017) is both a to-do-list and project description, and a request to parliament to fund the projects it contains. On the DW photo, Limbourg manages to look like Lammert’s rich and benevolent uncle with lots to offer.  The photo was shot by Jan Röhl, a freelance photographer in Berlin, who has made photos for DW every now and then and whose website says that every theme should be photographed in a way that makes the beholder wish to experience the displayed situation or to buy the product (das jeweilige Motiv sollte so fotografiert werden, dass der Betrachter den Wunsch verspürt, die dargestellte Situation zu erleben, das Produkt zu erwerben).

“We want to face up to international competition better. To do that, DW has initiated an ambitious course of reorientation”, the director said during the presentation of DW’s strategy for the coming four years. “The interest among global decision makers and opinion formers in our country continues growing. Especially during international crisis and conflicts, the German positions are sought for. Germany’s medial voice in the world communicates it – multi-medial and in thirty languages.”

„Wir wollen uns dem internationalen Wettbewerb besser stellen. Dazu hat die DW einen ambitionierten Kurs der Neuausrichtung eingeleitet“, sagte der Intendant bei der Überreichung der DW-Strategie für die kommenden vier Jahre. „Das Interesse der globalen Entscheider und Meinungsbildner an unserem Land wächst weiter. Gerade in internationalen Krisen und Konflikten sind die deutschen Positionen gefragt. Deutschlands mediale Stimme in der Welt vermittelt sie – multimedial und in 30 Sprachen.“

To the Bundestag president, Limbourg pointed out the enormous efforts made by other states as they strengthened  their global soft power. Russia, for example was advancing the launch of its foreign television program Russia Today’s German program. China, too, was strengthening its medial foreign representation. With this task plan, “we want to convince German politics that Germany must not fall behind in this field”, the director said.

Gegenüber dem Bundestagspräsidenten wies Limbourg auf die enormen Anstrengungen hin, die andere Staaten zur Stärkung ihrer Soft-power in der Welt unternehmen. So treibe Russland den Start eines deutschsprachigen Programms seines Auslandsfernsehens Russia Today voran. Auch China baue seine mediale Außenrepräsentanz aus. Mit der jetzt vorgelegten Aufgabenplanung „wollen wir die deutsche Politik überzeugen, dass Deutschland hier nicht ins Hintertreffen geraten darf“, so der Intendant.

Bundestag President Lammert said: “During these times of current crises, Deutsche Welle fulfills the growingly important task to inform impartially and to explain things. The German program of Deutsche Welle should continue to play an important role.

Bundestagspräsident Norbert Lammert sagte: „Gerade in diesen Zeiten aktueller Krisen erfüllt die Deutsche Welle die immer wichtiger werdende Aufgabe, objektiv zu informieren und aufzuklären. Dabei sollte das deutsche Programm der Deutschen Welle weiterhin eine wichtige Rolle spielen.“

The German program should continue to play an important role. Hear, hear.

Either way, the press release points out that English is meant to become the “flagship” (of DW content, apparently). The focus on English isn’t new, nor is the stated requirement that all content would be planned consistently multi-medially, and interlocked with each other. Interaction with global decisionmakers (“globale Entscheider”) and participants in the formation of political opinion (“Teilnehmer an der politischen Meinungsbildung”), not least by means of “social media” is also emphasized.

Parliament President Lammert should be careful what he wishes for. If German programs should indeed continue to play an important role at DW, chances are that the German language will be savaged by dead sheep. The Germish used in the press release sounds like a washing powder commercial – only less succinct.

Persil washes whiter.

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Related

If Congress will pay, July 5, 2012
Trying to Pigeonhole, Feb 19, 2012
Opinion Leaders, May 20, 2011

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Friday, August 29, 2014

RSF and Republican Congressman demand Sanctions against Chinese State Media

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Reporters without Borders react to Xiang Nanfu’s release

Xiang Nanfu (向南夫), a Chinese journalist, has recently been released on parole after what Reporters without Borders (RSF) suspect was a forced concession. Xiang’s “confession” was broadcast by CCTV 13, a state-run Chinese television channel targeted at a Mandarin-speaking audience beyond the PRC. According to RSF,

on 13 May, ten days after his arrest, he was shown on CCTV13 confessing to having “smeared the Party and the government”.

Announced his release yesterday, the police said he was being freed on parole “because of his poor health and above all because of a relatively good attitude in pleading guilty.”

Xiang’s forced confession was broadcast just five days after a similar “confession” by the well-known journalist Gao Yu. Broadcasting forced confessions is often used to discredit dissident news and information providers.

RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire calls on

the European Council to adopt sanctions against CCTV13 and its executives – China Central Television CEO Hu Zhanfan, CCTV board member Jiao Li and CCTV vice-president Zhang Changming – for broadcasting these forced confession.

Xiang Nanfu had reportedly been charged with publishing “false stories” on Boxun, a dissident website, that “seriously harmed” China’s image. The BBC, in May this year, described Boxun as a website that ran sometimes thinly sourced stories.
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China Human Rights 3 Protection Act of 2014 Bill

Note: documents linked to underneath may be removed or changed – accessed and quoted from on August 29 – JR

According to Voice of Tibet (VoT), a Tibetan exile radio station based in Norway and broadcasting on shortwave from Tajikistan, U.S. Congress is considering a bill (no. 5379) that would intend to protect internationally acknowledged freedom of speech, free flow of information and and foreign journalists and media workers in China. The bill may also limit visa for high-ranking officials in China’s state media wanting to visit the US, and could revoke visa for Chinese media workers with Chinese media in the US.

A bill text as introduced on July 31 in the House of Representatives by Chris Smith (Republican) is available online. Updates should become available from here as they are coming up.

The issue of foreign journalists and media workers is addressed on page 16 of the draft, section 4: To further protect the internationally recognized right of free expression, ensure the free flow of information, and protect foreign journalists and media personnel in China.

Section 4 also addresses competitiveness (page 19). Chinese media organizations that could become targets for sanctions are listed on page 17.

The story about the bill sponsored by Smith has so far mainly been popular on dissident websites, and the apparent lack of mainstream media interest seems to suggest that the initiative won’t develop much traction in Congress.

Opinions from readers more familiar with American politics are welcome.

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Related

» State Vandalism, July 3, 2014
» Voice of Tibet (PBS), Feb 1, 2014
» The Firedrake, Mar 17, 2012
» Be more Xinhua, Oct 10, 2009

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Saturday, May 24, 2014

The only Answer to Bad Journalism: bad Journalism

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Voice of America QSL, 1986

Going, going, gone? Voice of America QSL, 1986

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Russia has returned to its old Pravda-like disinformation tactics, which is why we absolutely have to do the same thing China and the Arab nations are creating sophisticated new broadcasts, and Twitter and social networks are changing the game.

Walter Isaacson, a former Board of Governors Chairman, suggesting that the Voice of America (VoA) should follow a “double mission” to clearly present American policy as well as provide objective news. Quoted by the New York Times.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Norway: “appeasing China seems to take precedence”

Norway’s prime minister and foreign minister are not going to meet the Dalai Lama when he visits next month, as part of an effort to ease tensions with the world’s second-largest economy, Bloomberg reported on April 23. Views and News from Norway wrote on April 9 that Parliamentary President and a long-time supporter of Tibet, Olemic Thommessen, said he would not be meeting with the exiled spiritual leader because it was more important to repair relations with China. Relations between Oslo and Beijing had been frigid ever since Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010, reports the Norwegian English-language website. It was Norway’s – now ruling – Conservative Party, including now prime minister Erna Solberg, who spoke up for human rights issues and Tibet in 2008. The Dalai Lama himself is a Nobel  laureate and visits on the 25th anniversary of being awarded the peace prize.

According to the Views and News report,

Olav Gunnar Ballo, another former leader of the Tibet committee, said it’s a shame Norway’s leading politicians haven’t come out in support of the Dalai Lama, and it’s cowardly that appeasing China now seems to take precedence over human rights issues that were so actively brandished in the past.

According to the Voice of Tibet, a Norway-based broadcaster and website operator, demonstrators protested, on Wednesday, against high-ranking politicians’ decisions not to meet with the Dalai Lama. Among the demonstrators – about 400 according to News and Views -, were Liberal Party leader Trine Skei Grande, MP Rasmus Hansson of the Green Paerty, and rock musician Lars Lillo-Stenberg. Norway should not cave in to force and threats, one of the organizers reportedly told Norway’s public broadcaster NRK. According to Views and News, Liberal Party leader Grande said that

the Dalai Lama would not be received “in the basement” [...] but would be brought to parliament to meet “as many politicians as we can manage to scrape together. We will show that people are concerned about the cowardice shown.”

These are strong words of criticism – and as they come from Norwegians, these words are laudable. But before Europeans elsewhere join the condemnations easily, they should pause and think what they or their countries were doing while Norwegian business was kept in the cold by Beijing. In fact, Oslo resisted the pressures for a remarkably long time.

But it is also true that the Nobel Peace Prize committee in Oslo – independent from government in formal terms, but not when it comes to membership and influence – has made a joke of itself in recent years. Awarding Liu Xiaobo was a brave choice, but the award that had preceded it a year earlier – to Barack Obama -, and the one that followed in 2012,  to the European Union, were silly (to put it mildly).

Are the current (small-scale, but still bigger than elsewhere) protests only the last echoes from Norway’s better days? Or are they an indication that civil society is picking up important issues where the elites are failing? The Dalai Lama himself has turned more to people-to-people diplomacy in recent years, at least formally.

That’s where the future is.

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Related

» press conference, FMPRC (English), April 28, 2014
» press conference, FMPR (Chinese), April 28, 2014
» Dalai Lama in Oslo, schedule May 7-9
» Out of the Flames, Woeser/High Peaks, April 15, 2014

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Monday, April 28, 2014

An Open Letter from Malaysian Politics: Universal Virtues

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Some analysts see Obama’s visit to Malaysia, a close trading partner of China, as a strategy to dilute China’s influence in Southeast Asia, writes the “Global Times”, a state-owned English-language paper from China which is mainly written for a foreign audience (and possibly for Chinese learners of English, too). However, quoting Qu Xing (曲星), director of the China Institute of International Studies, the article suggests that Kuala Lumpur was in fact taking a balanced attitude and showed that Malaysia is trying to avoid confrontation with China on this issue. The article suggests that the American president didn’t make much headway in promoting the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade project that, if put into practice, would manage trade between its original member states of Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, and Singapore, as well as Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, the United States, and Vietnam. If the trade pact would benefit or damage the interests of the nations involved is contested, as is a trade project between America and the European Union, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

The (English-language) “Global Times'” headline is implicitly about censorship: US TV shows removed from popular streaming websites / The removal of several popular American TV series from Chinese video streaming sites over the weekend may indicate stricter online monitoring. Huanqiu Shibao, the Chinese-language sister paper for a mostly domestic readership, carries a headline about the Ukraine crisis. Huanqiu also prominently features a short news article from Jilin: Unearthing the whole story of Japanese invasion has made many experts suffer from depression (日本侵华档案发掘始末:很多专家患上抑郁症). According to the news article, the files in question were some 100,000 volumes of Japanese files in an archive in Jilin, northeastern China, concerning the invasion, 90 percent of them written in Japanese.

Underneath the top headlines, another article of today quotes an American official – or American officials – as saying that America was working on several military plans to contain or deter China (美国官员:美国拟定多套军事方案遏阻中国). Huanqiu quotes a quote from the Chinese edition of the Wall Street Journal (also of Monday) which is avaliable online.

The Wall Street Journal:

American officials say that the American military prepares several plans to strongly respond to future provocative actions in the South China Sea (called Southern Sea by china) and the East China Sea (called Eastern Sea by China). These plans include dispatching B-2 bombers to places close to China, and holding aircraft-carrier exercises in the range of China’s coastal waters.

美国官员称,美国军方准备了多种方案,将强有力地应对中国未来在南中国海(中国称南海)和东中国海(中国称东海)的任何挑衅行动。这些方案包括向靠近中国的地方派遣B-2轰炸机,以及在接近中国沿海水域的范围举行航母演习。

Apart from the explanations in brackets, the first paragraphs are identical at WSJ and Huanqiu. From the second paragraph, Huanqiu cuts a long WSJ story short, with only two more paragraphs:

Security issues play an important role on president Obama’s tour of four Asian countries. On April 28, the American president will sign an agreement in the Philippines which allows American military to return to the Philippines after more than twenty years. The Philippine opposition parties had previously forced America to abandon its military bases on the Philippines.  Equally, Obama stood side by side with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe during his visit to Japan, saying that America’s promise to guarantee Japan’s security was “absolute”.*)

美国总统奥巴马近日 访问亚洲四国,安全问题是他此行的一个重要议题。4月28日,美国总统将在菲律宾签署一项协议,允许美军在二十多年后重返菲律宾。此前,菲律宾反对党曾迫 使美国方面放弃了在菲律宾的军事基地。同样,巴马访问日本时与日本首相安倍晋三并排站在了一起,并表示,美国在条约中对日本的安保承诺是“绝对的”。

Besides military aspects, the Huanqiu account of the WSJ argicle also mentions contingency plans and humanitarian aid operations. Surveillance of areas near China would be strengthened, calls of American navy vessels to allied countries’ ports be intensified, so as to demonstrate American military strength (加强对中国附近地区的监视、增加美国海军对盟友港口的停靠等,以展示美国的军事实力).

A major issue mentioned by the WSJ Chinese edition, about Washington trying to alleviate doubts among its Asian allies in its security assurances, especially after the annexation of the Crimean peninsula (尤其是在俄罗斯吞并克里米亚半岛之后), are not quoted by Huanqiu Shibao.

The full WSJ article (which has been put behind a registration wall by now) quotes Pacific Command public affairs officer Chris Sims as a source.

But it’s not all about the U.S. Navy. Under China’s lead, eight countries’ navies carried out the “Maritime Cooperation 2014″ military exercises off the coast of Shandong province last week. China, Pakistan, Indonesia, India, Singapore and three other countries participated, reports a Beijing Youth article republished  by Huanqiu Shibao on Monday. Beijing Youth in turn quoted Xinhua newsagency as reporting that the exercise featured reactions to non-traditional security issues (非传统安全的内容) such as piracy, terrorism, natural disasters as well as other threats faced by countries in the region and everywhere in the world.

» The Negarakuku Saga, August 2007

Tony Pua (潘俭伟), a member of Malaysia’s Democratic Action Party (DAP) and member of parliament for Petaling Jaya Utara, published an open letter to Barack Obama on Saturday, the day of the American president’s arrival in Kuala Lumpur:

Mr President, with all due respect, we do not need you to visit our country to tell us that our country is a standout example of moderation, because it is not.

Or for you to praise our government that it is a model plural society living in peace and harmony, because it is a façade.

We need you, Mr President, to speak of the universal virtues of humankind, of the principles your forefathers upheld and sacrificed for.

We want you to speak of the importance of basic human rights, equality, freedom and fundamental democratic principles.

We want to know that the president of United States still believe in the protection and promotion of civil liberties throughout the world – those very liberties which allowed you to be in your position today.

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Footnote

*) this apparently refers to this statement by Obama: And let me reiterate that our treaty commitment to Japan’s security is absolute, and Article 5 covers all territories under Japan’s administration, including the Senkaku Islands.

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Related

» Pivotal state, BBC, April 26, 2014

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

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

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

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

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

APN-Verlag, via Radio Moscow

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

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

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

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

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

Radio Moscow QSL, Lenin Mausoleum, 1980s.

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

Ria Novosti wrote, and added that

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

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