When business is going fine, CCP cadres are partners. When it’s going less well, they are mongrels [who] shoot their own people.
1. Vietnam’s Key Ally
Vietnam “can’t fight Chinese encroachment alone”, writes Tuong Lai, a sociologist, also known as Nguyen Phuoc Tuong, and a former adviser to two Vietnamese prime ministers, according to the New York Times. The key ally for Vietnam today is the United States — an alliance that the Vietnamese liberation hero Ho Chi Minh ironically always wanted.
2. Shinzo Abe ends Tour of New Zealand, Australia, Papua New Guinea
Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe arrived back in Tokyo on Saturday afternoon. He had visited New Zealand, Australia and Papua New Guinea during a trip that began the previous Sunday, according to Radio Japan:
He briefed leaders of the 3 countries on his Cabinet’s decision to reinterpret the Constitution to allow Japan to exercise its right to collective self-defense.
He sought their understanding on Japan’s aim to proactively contribute to global and regional peace and security.
Reinterpretation – or a constitutional putsch, as Jeff Kingston describes it in an article for the Japan Times.
Abe has decided to allow his country to go to war in the defence of its allies. The polite cover story is that Japan needs to be able to help the US in defending itself against the dangerous crazies of North Korea,
writes Peter Hartcher of the Sydney Morning Herald, adding that
The reality is that Japan is bracing for the possibility of war with China.
Meantime, on Saturday, China Youth Net (中国青年网) briefed its readers about what it describes as an anti-communist, anti-China policy with a continuity from former Japanese prime minister Nobusuke Kishi – be it from his days as prime minister from 1957 to 1960, be it from his days in Manchuria – to current prime minister Shinzo Abe:
The [CCTV] report says that Kishi lived a life of debauchery while in China, with alcohol and whores every night. He was called the demon of Manchuria. After the war, he was rated a class A war criminal but in the end managed to avoid trial, becoming Japanese prime minister in 1957. During his term, Kishi actively promoted anti-communism and anti-China, modified the the policies of the peaceful constitution, just as Abe is doing these days. It is exactly the mantle of this war-criminal grandfather.
The article also mentions the Nagasaki flag incident:
Kishi was hostile to New China (i. e. communist China). After coming to power, the winds of Japanese politics quickly turned right, with activities hostile towards China. During April and May 1958, the Japan-China Friendship Association’s Nagasaki branch held an exhibition of Chinese stamps and paper cuts. During the exhibition, two thugs tore the Five-Starred Red Flag down, causing the “Nagasaki Flag Incident” which shocked China and Japan, while Kishi actually said that “the article that makes the damaging of foreign flags a punishable crime does not apply to China.” This matter caused outrage in China. In May of the same year, the Chinese government announced that the limits of Chinese tolerance had been reached and that under these circumstances, trade and cultural exchange with Japan would be cut off. After that, Sino-Japanese relations withdrew to the initial stages of the post-war period. Until Kishi stepped down in 1960 and Hayato Ikeda formed a new cabinet, Sino-Japanese relations made a turn for the better again.
岸信介敌视新中国。在他上台后，日本的政治风向迅速右转，进行了一系列敌视中国的活动。1958年四五月间，日中友好协会长崎支部举办中国邮票剪纸展览 会，期间会场上悬挂的五星红旗被两名暴徒撤下撕毁，制造了震惊中日两国的“长崎国旗事件”，而岸信介居然称：“日本刑法关于损坏外国国旗将受惩罚的条款， 不适用于中国。”此事激起了中方的极大愤慨。同年5月11日，中国政府宣布，中方在忍无可忍的情况下决定断绝同日本的贸易往来和文化交流。此后，中日关系 倒退到战后初期状态。直到1960年岸信介下台，池田勇人组织新内阁，中日关系才出现转机。
While Kishi has a bad reputation in China, Japan’s current prime minister Shinzo Abe, when referrring to this maternal grandfather, blew the trumpet [to his praise]. In his book, “Beautiful Japan”, he acknowledges that “my political DNA has inherited more from Nobusuke Kishi’s genes.”
Kishi’s reputation in South Korea isn’t good either. However, his name may serve to insult South Korean politicians. A South Korean member of parliament
described President Park and her Japanese counterpart, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, as the offspring of “demonic fetuses” that should not have been born ― in reference to ex-President Park Chung-hee and ex-Japanese leader Nobusuke Kishi.
In Australia, the government’s policy towards China and Japan appears to be causing headaches. Peter Hartcher of the Sydney Morning Herald notes that
[t]o now, the government and opposition have agreed on how Australia should deal with China. That agreement fell apart this week. It fell apart after the leader of Japan, China’s arch-rival, came to town.
Apparently, Hartcher writes, Australia’s foreign minister
Julie Bishop spoke in anticipation of the potential reaction from Beijing in an interview with Fairfax Media’s John Garnaut.
The story in Thursday’s paper began: “Australia will stand up to China to defend peace, liberal values and the rule of law, says Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.
“In the Coalition government’s clearest statement yet on how to handle China, Ms Bishop said it had been a mistake for previous governments to avoid speaking about China for fear of causing offence.
“China doesn’t respect weakness,” the article quoted Bishop as saying.
Labor disagreed. And once the can had been opened, alleged euphemisms by prime minister Tony Abbott about Japan’s war on its neighbors, made in reply to Abe, became an issue, too.
All that after Abe had left for Papua New Guinea, and before any words of disapproval had emerged from Beijing.
3. Xinjiang: Have you eaten?
The old traditional Han-Chinese greeting – “did you eat?” – has apparently become a genuine question in Xinjiang. As Han-Chinese cultural imperialism shows concern not only for the spirutual, but also the tangible nourishment of
the colony the autonomous region, Muslim students are forced to have meals with professors to ensure they are not fasting during the current Ramadan, reports the BBC‘s Martin Patience.
4. Four more Generals
Four Chinese military officers have become generals. Xi Jinping, in his capacity as the party and state Central Military Commission (CMC), issued the promotions and took part in the ceremony on Friday. The promoted officers are Deputy Chief of General Staff (副总参谋长) of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Qi Jianguo (戚建国), Commander of the Shenyang Military Area Command (沈阳军区司令员) Wang Jiaocheng (王教成), Political Commissar of the Shenyang Military Area Command (政治委员) Chu Yimin (褚益民) and Political Commissar of the Guangzhou Military Area Command (广州军区政治委员) Wei Liang (魏亮). CMC vice chairmen Fan Changlong (范长龙) and Xu Qiliang (许其亮) also attended the ceremony.
In neat military formation and high spirits, the promoted officers went to the Chairman’s rostrum. Xi Jinping handed them their letters of appointment and cordially shook their hands to congratulate them. The four military officers, wearing general’s epaulets, saluted to Xi Jinping and the other leading comrades and to all comrades attending the ceremony, and enthusiastic applause rose from the whole audience.
CMC members Chang Wanquan, Fang Fenghui, Zhang Yang, Zhao Keshi, Zhang Youxia, Wu Shengli, Ma Xiaotian and Wei Fenghe attended the promotion ceremony.
The ceremony ended with the resonant sound of military songs. Afterwards, Xi Jinping and other leading comrades stood for a souvenir photo with the promoted officers.
Also in attendance were all the PLA headquarters, all big Danweis (units) of Beijing, leaders of the General Office of Central Military Commission, and others.
1. Why Russia Today succeeds while CCTV-9 fails: it depends on how you define and choose your target audience, on familiar faces, on the format of your programs, and on integration with the intelligence services, suggests Foarp.
2. Ar Dee, an ethnic Tibetan, makes no apologies for her Tib-lish. This was posted nearly two weeks ago, but the topic is basically timeless. It’s about a language we probably won’t find on Google Translate any time soon. About a moment when the author yearned to call on some supernatural power to fix her tongue.
3. Sichuanese police held anti-terrorism drills in Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, apparently late last month. The drills included the handling of self-immolations. This struck me as weird when reading about it on the exile radio station Voice of Tibet‘s website, but CCTV English actually confirms it. Foarp – see 1. – might have a point. Chinese media for foreign audiences making fun of themselves.-
4. June 1 was the International Children’s Day. It seems to be mostly communist folk & custom, and logically, the indoctrination of the young is a job for the top: party and state chairman Xi Jinping, last Friday, called for fostering socialist values among children while sending greetings ahead of Sunday’s International Children’s Day.
The “socialist core values” that the country now upholds embody the thoughts of ancient masters, the aspirations of the nation’s role models, ideals of revolutionary martyrs and expectation of all Chinese people,
China Radio International (CRI) quotes Xi. Xi Jinping arrived at Haidian National Primary School in Beijing at 9:30 local time, according to this Xinhua report, and a student offered him a red scarf on arrival. How his heart pounded with excitement when joining the young pioneers in 1960, Xi told the kids, asking if they didn’t feel the same way.
“Yes”, a child answered. “Why is it so?” “Because it is sort of an honor.” The general secretary [Xi Jinping] said: “I have seen hope on your faces, the hopes of the motherland and the people. It’s just as said in the oath: one needs to be always prepared, to take one’s turn on duty in the future.”
Referred to as Xi Dada (kind of Uncle Xi) on another occasion, the general secretary was Xi Yeye (Grandfather Xi) at Haidian National Primary School, maybe for the grandfatherly stories he told. The core lesson from Xi’s recollections was that to move from one stripe to two stripes to becoming a standard bearer among the young pioneers required a lot of work, a student is quoted as summarizing the listening experience.
5. Fei Chang Dao has the latest about efforts to block June-4-related information. Online censorship reportedly includes May 35th (May 31 + 4).
6. The BBC has a Chinese press review: China media criticise US and Japan leaders …
7. … but there’s no need to fear Japan anymore. This, anyway, could be the positive message you might extract from the second picture in Chang‘s collection: nearly seven decades after America won the 2nd World War in the Far East, Japan finally submits to Washington, in in the shape of Itsunori Onodera, Japan’s minister of defense. People slightly familiar with China and/or Japan will know that many Chinese and Japanese men hate to be hugged, and might flinch if it happens, but neither Chang nor South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo could apparently resist the temptation. At least, the South Koreans didn’t openly doubt Onodera’s manhood: U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (left) chats with Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera ahead of a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Chang, if you find one of these pictures repulsive, you aren’t a man either!
8. And as we started with propaganda (see “1.“), let’s wind up with propaganda, too:
Some say that [from] the West is propaganda … - In the U.S. it is called public diplomacy (public diplomacy). We do not do it in sufficient quantities, to be honest.
» Previous Monday links, May 25, 2014
Adjustments at General Staff Headquarters, Oct 25, 2012
The protests in Vietnam against the Chinese oil-rig operations near the Paracel Islands are not just jingoism, suggests Bill Hayton, of the BBC Media Action organization. Industrial relations, too, play a role, and conflicts with Chinese bosses or investors (or bosses mistaken for Chinese nationals) are among the currents of anger running underneath the demonstrations’ and riots’ official label:
What we are witnessing in Vietnam is an inchoate sense of anger – partly against China but more urgently against bad employers. This is a nightmare scenario for the Communist Party of Vietnam.
It will be easy for protestors to paint it as betraying the national interest out in the South China Sea (by failing to stand up strongly enough to China) and weak at home for failing to ensure that foreign companies treat their workers fairly.
Probably mot quite beside the point – either Canada Home, an overseas-Chinese paper from Ontario, or Huanqiu Shibao, a Chinese newspaper, or both, warned Vietnam in June 2011 that it shouldn’t manufacture a hostile Sino-Vietnamese atmosphere based on low-class (or vulgar) nationalism. This conflict doesn’t look new at all. Most, if not the majority*) of the Vietnamese citizens who became known as “boat people” in the 1970s, after South Vietnam had been conquered by Hanoi, were ethnic Chinese people, or Hoa people. The current Wikipedia’s article suggests that Hoa population dropped from 1.2 million in 1976 to 935,000 three years later.
But many Vietnamese seem to see their country as a mere victim to China. This probably dates back centuries. Even the country’s name – “Viet” – appears to be of Chinese origin. There were four periods of Chinese domination of Vietnam, between 111 BC to 1427.
Even today, obedience may be what is expected of the southern neighbor (or from a wife from Vietnam, anyway) – and an easy military target for China, at least from the view of the Sunday drivers among the armchair generals. And as recently as in 1979, Deng Xiaoping dispatched Chinese troops into Vietnam, reportedly to teach them some necessary lessons.
On last year’s tomb-sweeping day, Huanqiu Shibao remembered Chinese soldiers buried on Vietnamese soil, and in July 2010, Yazhou Zhoukan, a Malaysian/Hong Kong weekly, suggested that neither China nor Vietnam wanted to get back to history.
*) Most probably not a majority – the numbers make that implausible. The total estimated number of boat people was 1.6 million or more.
U.S.-Japanese Alliance covers Senkaku Islands: Greater Japanese contributions welcome, says Obama; Neighbors mindful, says FMPRC
U.S. president Barack Obama wound up a visit to Japan on Friday and began a visit to South Korea.
The Japanese and US governments issued a joint statement on Friday, after an unusual delay, reports Radio Japan. The statement says the United States and Japan are committed to taking the bold steps necessary to complete a high-standard, ambitious and comprehensive TPP agreement, and says the US and Japan underscore the importance of maintaining maritime order based on international law, including the freedom of navigation and overflight. It was apparently alluding to China’s increased maritime activities.
The statement also says the US provides all necessary capabilities to meet its commitments under the US-Japan security treaty. It says these commitments cover all territories under the administration of Japan, including the Senkaku Islands, adds Radio Japan.
American president Obama and Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe held a press conference on Thursday, and the White House published a transcript of the press conference. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade agreement that is currently meant to include Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam, was one of the big topics, another was military cooperation between Japan and the U.S..
Addressing the Japanese prime minister directly, Obama explicitly stated that under your leadership, Japan is also looking to make even greater contributions to peace and security around the world, which the United States very much welcomes.
Obama also explicitly stated that the American military alliance with Japan covered the Senkaku Islands (aka Diaoyutai Islands), replying to a question from a news person not mentioned by name or organization.
A U.S. reporter follows up on that.
Q (CNN): Thank you, Mr. President. Arigato, Mr. Prime Minister. Mr. President, in regards to the Senkaku Islands, I just want to make sure that this is absolutely clear. Are you saying that the U.S. would consider using military force were China to have some sort of military incursion in those islands to protect those islands? And how does that not draw another red line that you would have to enforce – of putting U.S. credibility, your credibility on the line once again, as it was in the case with Syria and Russia? And on another key security issue, you mentioned North Korea in your meeting with the Prime Minister. Are you issuing a warning to North Korea that there should not be another nuclear test?
And to Prime Minister Abe, do you have confidence in President Obama’s assurances about your security when the U.S. and the West were unable to stop Russia’s advances in Ukraine? Thank you.
After this question, Obama’s answers began to take time. It started with Well, Jim, let me unpack that question because there’s a whole bunch of assumptions in there, some of which I don’t agree with. There was no “red line”, the president added, but only the standard interpretation over multiple administrations of the terms of the alliance, which is that territories under the administration of Japan are covered under the treaty. Diplomacy, not escalation, would be encouraged, according to Obama, who pointed to the removal of chemical weapons from Syria as an example for successful diplomacy.
On the day of Abe’s and Obama’s press conference in Tokyo, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang (秦刚) held one in Beijing, too.
Q: US President Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met the press together after their meeting. Obama said that the Diaoyu Islands are under Japan’s administration and fall within the scope of the US-Japan security treaty. What is China’s comment?
A: China’s position on the issue of the Diaoyu Islands is clear, firm and consistent. China firmly opposes the inclusion of the Diaoyu Islands into the US-Japan security treaty. I have already clarified this solemn position yesterday.
I want to add that the so-called US-Japan security treaty is the product of the Cold War era. It should not be cited to target a third party, let alone to undermine China’s territorial sovereignty. No matter what others may say or do, the solid fact that the Diaoyu Islands are integral parts of China’s territory cannot be changed, nor will our government’s and people’s determination and resolve to safeguard territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests be shaken.
The Obama administration had apparently prepared the ground with an interview. He had told Yomiuri Shimbun that our engagement with China does not and will not come at the expense of Japan or any other ally, and that the Senkaku Islands are administered by Japan and therefore fall within the scope of Article 5 of the U.S.-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security. And we oppose any unilateral attempts to undermine Japan’s administration of these islands.
On Wednesday, Qin Gang – as he pointed out on Thursday – had commented on Obama’s message, too.
Q: Today’s Yomiuri Shimbun published their interview with US President Barack Obama. Obama said in the interview that the Diaoyu Islands are under Japan’s administration and fall within the scope of US-Japan security treaty, adding that the US supports Japan in playing a bigger role in the field of security in the Asia Pacific. What is China’s comment?
A: China’s position on the issue of the Diaoyu Islands is clear and consistent. The Diaoyu Islands are an integral part of China over which China has indisputable sovereignty. The so-called control of the islands by the Japanese side is illegal and invalid. Their provocative actions are undeniable and unjustifiable. Our determination and resolve to safeguard territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests is unshakable.
It should be noted that the US-Japan alliance, as a bilateral arrangement forged during the Cold War era, should never infringe upon China’s territorial sovereignty and legitimate rights and interests. China firmly opposes the inclusion of the Diaoyu Islands into the US-Japan security treaty. The US should respect facts, act responsibly, stick to its commitment of taking no sides in relevant territorial disputes, think twice before saying or doing anything and truly play a constructive role in ensuring regional peace and stability.
For historical reasons, countries in the region as well as the international community are mindful about Japan’s policies in military and security areas. Considering the recent incidents, by incidents I mean the provocative words and actions of the Japanese authority on issues of history, territorial sovereignty and others, Japan’s moves in the military and security areas are also closely watched by us. We hope that relevant parties can show their respect for facts, tell right from wrong, and make positive efforts in safeguarding regional peace, security and stability. As for the Japanese side, we hope they can follow the trend of the times, featuring win-win cooperation, and show us with their concrete actions that they are still on the path of peaceful development.
Meantime, Obama has arrived in South Korea, and is scheduled to visit Malaysia and the Philippines after that.
Huanqiu Shibao, on Tuesday, published an account of an interview with Jin Canrong (金灿荣), a foreign-relations observer, who states a belief that Washington was aware of Japanese ambitions to lead America, rather than to be led by America, and that Washington was confident that its own leadership would prevail in U.S.-Japanese cooperation. However, nobody should make much of the fact that Obama wouldn’t stay in the State Guest House during his stay in Japan, or that he wasn’t accompanied by his wife. China’s feelings were hardly Obama’s concern when making these decisions. A researcher at the Japan Institute of the China Institutes Of Contemporary International Relations, Liu Junhong (刘军红), suggests that several successive Japanese governments had tried to bypass America in order to dominate the East Asian community, but that with America joining the TPP, this Japanese concept had disintegrated. Now, Japan hoped to achieve the goal of domination by “borrowing strength” from America.
“美国有信心主导美日关系而不是被日本主导，肯定不会被日本当枪使”，中国国际问题专家 金灿荣21日对《环球时报》说，对于日本期望美国为其站台的盘算，美国心里是清楚的，但如果认为奥巴马不住国宾馆、米歇尔不随行是顾虑中方感情，那显然是 想多了。金灿荣说，日本近期在扩大集体自卫权方面动作频繁，中方不要指望美国会“管教”日本，相反日本军事动作背后有美国的意思，因为美国人自信完全可以 控制住日本，希望日本在亚洲多发挥军事作用。中国现代国际关系研究院日本研究所研究员刘军红说，最近几届日本政府期待主导“东亚共同体”，也就是甩开美国 单干，但这个构想被美国的TPP瓦解了。现在日本仍未放弃主导亚洲，但希望通过借力美国来实现。
Huanqiu also quotes Russia Today‘s “Voice of Russia” as commenting on Monday that while countries visited by Obama wanted American security assurances, America might not be able to give such guarantees. Those countries needed to understand that America had always kept its own interests first on its mind, and that these interests wouldn’t allow America to openly antagonize China.
Meantime, the “Voice of Russia” is interviewing academics, too. On Friday, the former radio station’s website published remarks by Dmitry Babich, a political analyst of their own. America was lucky enough to have good economic relations with both China and Japan, Babich says, but instead of being a mediator between them Obama engaged himself 100% on the side of Japan, said that the US has to protect Japan according to the defense treaties. And in this way he alienated China and pushed it into the arms of Russia right on the eve of President Putin’s visit.
Or, maybe, Beijing allows Moscow to jump into China’s arms.
But then, Beijing has interests of its own, too. And not confronting America openly – i. e. to maintain big-power relations with Washington – may be a priority for Beijing, at least for the time being.
Conventional wisdom has it that there’s a lot of distrust between China and Japan. There’s also a lot of distrust between Japan and Korea (North and South). And there are Chinese-Korean relations (North and South) which aren’t that easy to characterize.
For ordinary people, there seem to be two worlds. There’s the real world, where you meet people – when travelling for work, and when travelling for fun.
And there’s the internet world.
The difference between these two worlds: the internet is highly politicized. That has been true for the printed press, too, but it never seemed to influence people as much as does the online world. Maybe the internet gives people the feeling that they play a role of their own in shaping it. This may actually be true. But the internet is shaping them in turn. When experienced, skilled propagandists and agenda sellers appear on the scene, frequently unrecognized and unrecognizable, chances are that they will manufacture consent or dissent, according to their goals, commercial or political.
Newspaper articles have always angered people, even in pre-digital times. Once in a while, someone would actually put pen or typewriter to paper and write a letter to the editor – in the evening, or whenever he or she found the time. But more frequently, the anger would evaporate within minutes or hours. There would be no visible reader’s reaction.
The internet is quite different. Once people have joined a discussion (which is easy to do), they will stay involved for quite a while, at least mentally.
A dumb headline is enough to create a shitstorm. Try How to date Japanese women who haven’t been exposed to radiation, published by the South Korean publication „Maxim“. According to this report by the Global Post, Korean readers were quick to point [that headline] out as inappropriate given the sensitive nature of Japan’s continuing recovery after the 2011 tsunami and Fukushima disaster. But obviously, once someone is offended, this isn’t good enough, and the offended themselves need to speak out, too.
But there were messages from the real world, too:
I’m amazed that the mass media is able to link any article to anti-Japanese sentiment, regardless of what the incident is.
What a spoilsport.
Some statistics: the Maxim editor-in-chief reportedly apologized twice. The first apology was – reportedly – widely read as another attack on Japanese dignity, rather than a real apology.
Therefore, a second apology from the editor-in-chief was needed. It still didn’t seem to read like a sincere apology. Hence, it caught more than 130 Japanese comments in one day.
Is that a lot, or is it marginal? The Japanese who wrote those over 130 comments didn’t need to speak or write Korean. Their debate was hosted by the electronic version and the Japanese-language version of the JoonAng Ilbo, one of South Korea’s top three influential newspapers, Japan Today reported on Wednesday.
Was this a worthwhile story? And how many of the Japanese who commented there were actually Japanese women?
Thanks for your time, dear reader.
At a moment when everything had seemed to be set for a showdown, things changed dramatically, writes People’s Daily. Yesterday night, Syria officially responded to the international community and said it was willing to hand over all its chemical weapons so as to avoid American attack. (叙利亚危机剑拔弩张的气氛出现戏剧性变化。
After a short account of Kerry’s sudden suggestion on a press conference in London that Syria could only avoid U.S. military strikes by handing over its chemical weapons, and Russian foreign minister Lavrov’s and Syrian foreign minister Mouallem’s statements, amounting to a Syrian willingness to do just that, plus Obama’s ABC interview, People’s Daily quotes an old diplomat and professor, Zhou Zunnan (周尊南) of the Chinese Foreign Affairs University, in an interview with the “International Financial Journal”:
Russia is very clever. They have successfully used diplomatic techniques, and the important thing is that in the current situation, with all the different parties’ interveaved interests, this is a “good move” [in a game of chess]. On the one hand, America gets under international pressure by gradually lowering other countries’ support for unilateral American war, and on the other, objectively, Russia showed support for Syria, perhaps implicating that “no matter if you use force or if you don’t, we will stand on Syria’s side.”
People’s Daily is hedging its bets, regarding the likelihood of open American military intervention. From the Third Middle-East War (meaning the Six-Day War) to Syria’s occupation of Lebanon in 1976, and to Syria’s “flirting glances” (与伊朗保持“眉来眼去”的关系) with Iran, things had put this Middle-Eastern country’s relations with Western countries “out of sorts”, the paper writes. In the latest stage of the Syrian conflict, America had sought an “pretext” (quotation marks by People’s Daily), which was the chemical weapons. There were several indications, People’s Daily quotes Zhou Zunnan (周尊南), still from the “International Financial Journal”, that the issue of chemical weapons was just an excuse. It would have looked bad to take military action against Syria before the UN inspectors delivered their findings, and besides, Russia had borrowed the position Kerry stated in London, Syria had cleverly strengthened its alliance with Russia, thus putting America into a difficult position. A third problem was American public opinion, according to Zhou.
And after all, the situation was complicated: Turkey would have to forget about a four-country economy including Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, if the Assad stepped down. And Russia’s only naval base in the Mediterranean was Tartus, in Syria. Syria was at the center of solving or mishandling the big Middle-Eastern issues.
Referring to further sources, People’s Daily suggests that oil prices had to be critical factors in Washington’s deliberations, too – with repercussions for the U.S economy. And still, this could also help America to replace the Middle East as the world’s center of energy sources, with an impact on countries depending on those, such as China and India. Therefore, the possibility of military action could not be ruled out. People’s Daily quotes a Russian political scientist (波利卡诺夫) who was also quoted by Xinhua a day earlier as suggesting that the military strikes were only delayed, but had not been stopped by Moscow’s and Damascus’ decisions.
Even China wasn’t on the sidelines in Syria, writes People’s Daily. Syria had maintained close oil trade with China, and Chinese state-owned energy companies had business in Syria. A SINOPEC spokesperson is quoted as saying (again from “International Financial Journal”) that his company had temporarily closed their branch company in Syria, with most of the staff returning to Beijing, and some staying in Lebanon. Despite all the emphasis on diversification, about fifty percent of China’s crude oil imports were still coming from the Middle East, an expert from the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) is quoted.
Economics aside, People’s Daily concludes, there had also been a close Sino-Syrian relationship in other fields. Reports say that when China was treated unfairly in the international arena, it could always count on Syrian support.
This is about as far as official Chinese media go in their support for Damascus. Voicing official or semi-official positions is frequently the job of high-ranking academics, when Zhongnanhai prefers to remain silent or low-key. Zhou Zunnan’s comments in the “International Financial Journal”, which is in fact a branch of People’s Daily itself, probably play this kind of role.
On September 4, another academic, Li Shaoxian (李绍先) of the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, was quoted by Huanqiu Shibao with a rather candid statement (which may or may not mirror the official Chinese position, obviously):
Besides, Li Shaoxian believes that, when Bashar al-Assad said that China and Russia were Syria’s allies, that was the great banner used as a tiger-skin [a way to impress enemies]. China wasn’t Syria’s ally. “Although China and Russia both insist on a peaceful solution and both oppose foreign military intervention, Russia has major actual interests in Syria to protect, while China’s interests in Syria are small.”
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.
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.
This national-condition stuff – China Civil Aviation Cadres Institute associate professor Zou Jianjun has shaped it.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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”?
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”.
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.
» One on One, Wang Zhutian, CCTV, May 12, 2013