Posts tagged ‘rule of law’

Saturday, December 13, 2014

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

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

Hammer and Chisel

Hammer and Chisel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Zhou Yongkang’s big Fall and Citizen Power Fantasies

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

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

China’s Legal Reform Projects: Slowly, very slowly

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Related

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

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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

China News Service: “Hong Kong Citizens rise in a Chorus of Condemnation of Occupy Central”

Main link: “Rising Wave of Voices opposing Occupy Central”, CNS/Enorth, Oct 10

Enorth (Tianjin), Sohu (nationwide), Hua Shang Net (from Xi’An, main focus on trade and apparently ), and possibly some more websites with readers who are less interested in politics than People’s Daily or Huanqiu Shibao readers carried an article from China News Service (CNS, 中国新闻) on Monday, describing the “Occupy Central” movement as seriously damaging the territory’s  social order and as damaging the good international image of Hong Kong.

CNS is China’s second-largest newsagency, after Xinhua.

No warranty that the CNS comprehensive report quotes the papers from Hong Kong accurately and in a balanced way. Some of the CNS article comes across as manipulative or wrong, but the anger of Hong Kongers whose incomes are affected (maybe not the tram drivers as said in the CNS article, but certainly many cab drivers, shop owners etc.) appears likely to put Occupy Central at odds with many.

The Alliance for the Protection of Universal Suffrage and against Occupy Central and their ballot (which topped Occupy Hong Kong’s) got some coverage in European media in summer, but appears to have been mostly forgotten since.

Not only reports from a totalitarian country like China can be misleading – self-deception is a universal weakness.

Links within blockquotes added during translation. Corrctions, and advice on how to fill the gaps I couldn’t translate (see last paragraph), will be welcome.

Wave of Voices from all Walks of Life in Hong Kong opposing “Occupy Central” keeps rising

香港各界反对“占中”声浪日益高涨

Comprehensive report — A few people who started a so-called “Occupy Central”, an illegal gathering, in the early hours of September 28, has kept going on for eight days so far. They have caused traffic jams, created conflicts, hampered all professions, seriously damaged Hong Kong’s social order, affected the peaceful lives and safety of the masses, and also damaged Hong Kong’s good international image, thus arousing strong dissatisfaction and a continuously rising wave of opposing voices against “Occupy Central”.

综合报道,香港少数人自9月28日凌晨起发动所谓“占领中环”的非法集会,至今已经8天了,他们堵塞交通、制造冲突、妨碍百业,严重破坏香港社会秩序,影响民众生活安宁和安全,也破坏香港良好的国际形象,引起香港各界和民众的强烈不满,反“占中”声浪日益高涨。

42 members of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council published a joint statement on October 3, expressing concern about the endless illegal occupation, calling for reasonable dialog among the citizens, urging the “occupiers” to stop and to reflect and to end their behavior that was destructive for society as possible, to let society get back to normal.

香港42名立法会议员3日发表联署声明,对无休止的违法占领行动表示忧虑,呼吁市民理性对话,要求“占中”者“停一停,想一想”,尽快停止破坏社会行为,让社会恢复正常。

36 Hong Kong SAR delegates to the National People’s Congress have also published a joint statement supportive of the police’s legal maintenance of social stability, calling on the “occupiers” to stop harming the general public’s development interests. The delegates called for cherishing and protecting Hong Kong’s long-term stability and prosperity, for mutual respect, and for not harming the general public’s devlopment interest.

香港特别行政区的36名全国人大代表也发出联合声明,支持警方依法维护社会稳定,呼吁“占中”者不要继续损害广大市民的发展利益。代表们呼吁,珍惜和维护香港的长期稳定繁荣,相互尊重,不应损害广大市民的发展利益。

Hong Kong Civil Servants General Union also called on the “Occupy Central” demonstrators not to hamper public servants on their way to their workplaces, because civil servants were serving the city, and if their access to work was blocked, citizens would be the ultimate victims.

香港公务员总工会亦呼吁“占中”行动的示威人士,不要阻碍公务员上班,因为公务员都是为市民服务,如果上班受阻,最终受害的是市民。

Hong Kong’s tourism industry was a “disaster zone” affected by “Occupy Central”. On a press conference on October 3, Hong Kong tourism trade union(s) expressed dissatisfaction about how “Occupy Central” affected many touristical, consumption and business districts, even leading to travel warnings in some countries by which tourism was taking a serious hit.

香港旅游业是被“占中”殃及的“重灾区”。香港旅游联业工会联会3日召开记者会,表达不满“占中”影响多个旅游、消费及商业区,导致有国家对香港发出旅游警示,重创旅游业。

Hong Kong railworker union(s) also published a statement, strongly condemning “Occupy Central” as a collective and as individuals. The statement points out that traffic on the streets of Central were affected, leading to a sharply increasing workload for the railworkers, excessive work and physical wear and tear. Also, tram drivers, because of the suspension of some road sections, had been compelled to take unpaid days off. Incomes were declining every day.

香港铁路工会联合会也发声明,对“占中”的团体和个人予以严厉谴责。声明指出,占中令路面交通受影响,而铁路运输从业员工作剧增,连日超负荷工作,体力损耗极大。另一方面,电车司机因部分路段停驶而被迫放无薪假,收入每天都在减少。

As the harm done to the economy by “Occupy Central” intensifies, Hong Kong citizens rise in a chorus of condemnation. On October 2, many private associations held activities opposing “Occupy Central” actions. Mr. So, a citizen, said that “demonstrators have blocked all kinds of traffic and important roads, bringing chaos into our lives”.

“占领中环”非法集会对经济社会造成的危害愈演愈烈,香港市民齐声谴责。10月2日,香港多个民间团体举行活动,启动反对“占领中环”行动。市民苏先生表示, “示威人士堵塞了多处交通要道,把我们的生活全搞乱了。”

On October 3 and 4, citizens opposing “Occupy Central” came to “Occupy Central” strongholds in Causeway Bay and in Mong Kok, asking police to restore social order as soon as possible. Some of the citizens who had spontaneously come to the scene chided the “occupiers” for keeping others from “making a living”and demanded the “occupiers” to open the roads for the citizens’ use.

10月3日和4日,有反“占中”市民到铜锣湾及旺角等“占中”据点,要求警方尽早清场并恢复社会秩序。部分自发到场的市民斥责“占中”者“阻人揾食”(阻碍别人谋生计),要求“占中”者让出道路供市民使用。

The jamming of many roads by “Occupy Central’s” illegal activities has caused the trade of taxi drivers in Hong Kong great losses. On October 5, the cab drivers at Central Piers strongly condemned “Occupy Central’s” activities, demanding an immediate end to “Occupy Central’s” illegal forcible occupation of roads, supporting police law enforcement, and announcing collective civil claims against “Occupy Central’s” initiators.

Ever since the beginning of “Occupy Central’s” illegal gatherings, Hong Kong media have called on the “occupiers” to immediately abandon the occupation activities and to restore social order, as well as Hong Kong’s peaceful life and harmony.

“占领中环”非法集会发生后,香港媒体连日来呼吁,“占中”者应立即放弃占领行动,恢复社会秩序,还香港安宁和谐。

A “Ta Kung Pao” editorial pointed out that if an offense is allowed to succeed once, “Occupy Central” could defeat society and put it in opposition to the central government [Beijing], creating areas of anarchy – would this still justify the pride of seven million citizens in their international center of finance and “One Country, two Systems”? The editorial called on the “occupiers” to immediately clear the roads. An article by Hong Kong’s “Wen Wei Po” titled “The initiators of ‘Occupy Central’ have a responsibility to end it” said that “Occupy Central” had paralysed traffic, damaged social order, and displayed signs of getting out of control. “It is the responsibility of the initiators to immediately put the occupation activities to a halt. The paper, on October 4, wrote that “Occupy Hong Kong” had caught widespread indignation and discontent, that public opinion was rebounding, citizens were beginning to oppose “Occupy Central”, not only demanding harmony and stability, but wanting to live and work in Hong Kong in accordance with their own wishes. “Occupy Central” was not reaching the hearts of the citizens. “Ming Pao’s” editorial points out that looking at the general situation, “Occupy Hong Kong” should end its activities if they wished Hong Kong well. [Didn’t get the meaning of the following sentence: 如果“占中”的始作俑者戴耀廷等人发出呼吁,叫停“占中”,将是对历史负责的一步.] “Oriental Daily’s” editorial [title: 独有英雄驱虎豹,更无豪杰怕熊罴] believes that “Occupy Central” is simply a political fraud, and from head to tail unable to separate from the shadows of foreign forces wanting to bring chaos to Hong Kong and aiming for subversion in mainland China.

《大公报》社评指出,一个违法就能得逞、“占领”就能胜出的社会,一个公然与中央对抗、制造“无政府状态”的地方,还是值得七百万市民引以为豪的国际金融中心和“一国两制”的香港吗?评论呼吁参与“占中”者立即离开马路。香港《文汇报》文章《“占中”发起人有责任叫停占领行动》称,“占中”瘫痪交通、破坏社会秩序,已呈现失控状态。“占中”发起人有责任马上叫停占领行动。该报4日社评认为,“占中”天怒人怨,民意终于大反弹,市民群起反对“占中”,不仅说明要求和谐稳定、希望安居乐业才是香港社会的最大民意,也说明“占中”不得人心。《明报》社评提出,盱衡整体情势,权衡利害得失,若为香港好,“占中”应当停。如果“占中”的始作俑者戴耀廷等人发出呼吁,叫停“占中”,将是对历史负责的一步。《东方日报》社评《独有英雄驱虎豹,更无豪杰怕熊罴》认为,“占中”根本就是一个政治骗局,从头到尾都离不开外部势力的影子,都以搞乱香港、颠覆内地为政治目的。

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Related

» Bao Tong: Take a Break, Sinosphere, Oct 5, 2014

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Message from Ilham Tohti: China can do better

Tsering Woeser writes that Li Fangping, a lawyer, has recorded a statement by Ilham Tohti, the Uyghur economist who was sentenced to life inprisonment by the Intermediate People’s Court in Urumqi on Tuesday. Tohti made his statement after he was sentenced, and said that he shouts out loudly for his Uyghur nationality, and even more for the future of China. He feels that he can endure his fate, that he will not betray his conscience. If I emerge from jail self-injured or after suicide, this will definitely be false [information].

I firmly believe that China can do better, and that the constitutional rights will be respected. God gave peace to Uyghurs and Han Chinese, and only when there is peace, good intentions will work in the interests of both.

之五:我虽已离去,但我依然期待阳光、期待未来。我坚信中国会更好、维吾尔人的宪法权利必将得到尊重。
之六:和平是上天赠送给维汉人民礼物,唯有和平、善意才能创造彼此的共同利益。

During the eight months in prison so far, he had only been allowed outside his cell for three hours. He could still count himself lucky, compared to other people accused of separatism, as he could choose his lawyer – a Han nationality lawyer -, in that his family could listen on during the trial, and in that he had been able to say what he wanted to say. He hoped that his case could help to further the rule of law in Xinjiang, even if only a bit.

He slept well last night, for over eight hours, better than anytime during the eight months in prison. He felt strong, but unable to report his situation to his mother. “Just tell her that I’ve been sentenced to five years in prison. That should do.”

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Related

» Dolkar Tso thanks Sandrup’s lawyers, June 26, 2010

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Updates / Related

» Reason and Peace underfoot, Teng Biao / Guardian, Sept 24, 2014

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Saturday, September 13, 2014

German Journalists Association Press Release: DW Kowtow to China?

The following is a press release by the German Journalist’s Association (Deutscher Journalisten Verband, DJV), published on Thursday, concerning Deutsche Welle. Links within blockquotes added during translation. First read at Tabooless Babbles. Main link: Kotau vor China?

The German Journalists’ Association has called on Deutsche Welle director Peter Limbourg to support voices critical of China within the German foreign broadcaster, and not to constrain them. Under the new editorial management, too, internal editorial freedom needed to be preserved, DJV federal chairman Michael Konken demanded. “Political issues, with criticism of human-rights violations obviously among them, need to maintain an adequate share in Deutsche Welle’s programs.” “Fabric-conditioned” [or diluted] China coverage with the aim to get access to a censored market was no reasonable option for the German foreign broadcaster. The DJV expects Limbourg to preserve Deutsche Welle’s brand essence as a broadcaster under public law, independent from the state, that reports critically and at arms length about authoritarian regimes of all kinds. Deutsche Welle’s cooperations with Chinese state broadcasters and putting an end to the employment of an author critical of China would do more harm than good to the German foreign broadcaster. “A kowtow to the powerful in Peking doesn’t suit the broadcaster as a voice of liberty”, the DJV chairman said. External Communications Committee: Hendrik Zörner Check with phone 030/72 62 79 20, Fax 030/726 27 92 13

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Der Deutsche Journalisten-Verband hat den Intendanten der Deutschen Welle Peter Limbourg aufgefordert, China-kritische Stimmen im deutschen Auslandssender zu unterstützen und nicht zu behindern.

Auch unter der neuen Redaktionsleitung müsse die innere Redaktionsfreiheit gewahrt werden, forderte DJV-Bundesvorsitzender Michael Konken: „Politische Themen, zu denen selbstverständlich auch die Kritik an Menschenrechtsverletzungen gehört, müssen weiterhin einen angemessenen Anteil am Programmauftritt der Deutschen Welle haben.“ Eine „weichgespülte“ China-Berichterstattung mit dem Ziel, Zugang in einen zensierten Markt zu erhalten, könne für den deutschen Auslandsrundfunk keine vernünftige Option darstellen. Von Intendant Limbourg erwartet der DJV, dass er auch künftig den Markenkern der Deutschen Welle als einem  staatsunabhängigen, öffentlich-rechtlichen Sender bewahrt, der kritisch-distanziert über autoritäre Regime jeglicher Art berichtet. Die von Limbourg angekündigten Kooperationen mit chinesischen Staatssendern und die Beendigung der Tätigkeit einer China-kritischen Autorin durch die Deutsche Welle würden dem deutschen Auslandssender mehr schaden als nützen. „Ein Kotau vor den Mächtigen in Peking vertrüge sich nicht mit dem Ansehen des Senders als Stimme der Freiheit“, sagte der DJV-Vorsitzende. Referat Presse- und Öffentlichkeitsarbeit: Hendrik Zörner Bei Rückfragen: Tel. 030/72 62 79 20, Fax 030/726 27 92 13

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Updates/Related

» Peaceful, constructive journalism, Inquirer (Philippines), Sep 9, 2014
» Protest der Mitarbeiter, ver.di, Sep 5, 2014
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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Deutsche Welle: Invincible in the Labor Courts, vulnerable in Propaganda Wars

In an interview with dissident website Boxun (rendered here by Beijing Spring), Su Yutong (苏雨桐) spoke about her dismissal by German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW):

Personally, I think this isn’t necessarily a good thing to happen, because but this incident may provide a glimpse on many things, it may lead to further debate, such as to which degree have Western media been infiltrated? Is the personal freedom of speech of people at the media protected or not? When you look at it from this perspective, [my dismissal] is an absolutely positive thing to happen. This is the opposite case of the one we had after the Zhang Danhong incident. We can also, from one side, verify the reach of the hands of the Chinese Communist Party to every corner of the world. How Western democratic societies can resist the Chinese autocratic pattern, which comes with money, needs to be reflected upon.

对于“被离职”,苏雨桐向博讯记者表示:“我觉得于我个人来说,未必是一件令人高兴的事情,但这个事件可以窥见很多东西,也可能会引起接下来的讨 论,西方媒体被渗透的程度?媒体人的私人言论自由受不受保护?从这个意见上来说,完全是一件积极的事情。这是自张丹红事件后,与之相反的一个案例,也可以 从一个侧面印证中共的手伸到世界各个角落。更大的思考在于,西方民主社会如何抵抗带着金钱袭来的中国独裁模式。”

Boxun asked about “similarities and differences” between how Su and Zhang Danhong (张丹红), in 2008, had been treated by DW.

Su Yutong said that this was absolutely not comparable. “I was dismissed, and Zhang Danhong was not. She was moved to another department. That’s one difference. The other is that Zhang Danhong spoke in favor of an autocracy. This touched upon a bottomline of values. But DW still wouldn’t dismiss her, and only found that her position and her values weren’t suitable for her work as deputy chief editor at DW Chinese department. So she was transferred to another department. But I was dismissed, based on a technicality (the so-called leaking of DW internal information), for opposing a columnist who defended an autocracy.

苏雨桐表示,这根本没有可比性。“我是被离职,而张丹红从未被离职,是调职,这是第一。第二,张丹红为专制辩护,触到提价值底线,但德国之声并没 有辞退她,而是认为她的立场和价值观不适合做中文部副主任,调职。而我是因为反对为专制辩护的专栏作者,被以技术性原因(所谓的泄露德国之声内部消息)为 由被离职。”

There aren’t only differences at Deutsche Welle’s Chinese department. According to a DW editor who spoke with German daily Junge Welt in May this year, on condition of anonymity, said that they were compelled to refer to the Crimea referendum in March as the “illegal” or “so-called” referendum.  And more in general, editorials about Russian president Vladimir Putin were only written by editors deemed “suitable” for the topic. What if the anonymous editor would not write in conformity with the prescribed terminology? Answer:

I hope I will never know what happens in such a case. Many try to circumvent the requirements by using less problematic synonyms. It is, after all, fertile soil for censorship when you need to support a family with two children, working on a fixed-term contract. Eventually, you’ll find yourself censoring yourself – because you want to keep your job, you write in a way that won’t cause offense. There are many good journalists at DW, but I haven’t seen great rebels there yet.

Ich hoffe, daß ich nie erfahren werde, was in einem solchen Fall passiert. Viele versuchen die Vorgaben zu umgehen, indem sie z.B. weniger problematische Synonyme benutzen. Es ist halt ein fruchtbarer Boden für die Zensur, wenn man als Journalist eine Familie mit zwei Kindern ernähren muß und auf Basis von Zeitverträgen arbeitet. Irgendwann ertappt man sich bei der Selbstzensur – weil man seinen Job behalten will, schreibt man so, daß es keinen Anstoß erregt. Gute Journalisten gibt es bei der DW massenweise – große Rebellen sind mir bisher aber nicht aufgefallen.

The problem here is that getting rid of quasi-employees is easy for Deutsche Welle. Strictly speaking, based on labor-law terms, Su Yutong wasn’t even dismissed. Su’s contract “expires” next year, and won’t get “renewed”. The same was the case with Wang Fengbo (王凤波) and some of his colleagues at DW whose contracts expired in 2010 or 2011. But for whatever reason, Boxun apparently didn’t ask Su Yutong questions about similarities with these former colleagues’ cases.

Deutsche Welle appears to have become nearly invincible in the labor courts. But on the other hand, the management’s apparent influence on content has also made the organization an ideal battleground for propaganda wars – when there is a lack of professional principle, everything becomes possible. Beijing and the dissidents have apparently seized these opportunities first. But other players will keep succeeding – until Deutsche Welle becomes a believable source for news again, or until German parliament lays the station to rest forever.

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Related posts under the Deutsche Welle tag.

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Deutsche Welle controversies: “a Tendency to influence Content from the Top”

It seems that Germany’s foreign broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) is kissing Beijing’s butt like never before – far beyond where it was in 2008, before DW suddenly started aiming at Beijing’s throat. DW director Peter Limbourg is currently travelling in China, according to a New York Times Sinosphere article, published online on Tuesday:

Mr. Limbourg was in the western Chinese region of Xinjiang, Deutsche Welle said by telephone on Monday from its headquarters in Bonn. He was to take part in a China-German Media Forum starting on Tuesday in Beijing co-sponsored by Global Times, a nationalist newspaper that is part of the Communist Party’s flagship People’s Daily group, the broadcaster confirmed.

The New York Times’ Tuesday article also republishes an open letter by Su Yutong to director Limbourg. Su had been fired by DW on August 19. DW spokesman Johannes Hoffmann had told the New York Times last month that Su Yutong had tweeted about internal (DW) issues in a way that no company in the world would tolerate. We warned her, and she continued to do it.

Su’s open letter suggests a visit by Limbourg to Gao Yu (高瑜), a former contributor to DW who is now under detention in China.

German green-liberal daily tageszeitung (taz) reports about Su Yutong‘s case, the purportedly regular transferral of Chinese department director Matthias von Hein, and about at least two commentaries critical of Israel which had not been published – “they were in the editorial department’s computer system, ready for publication. But at the very last moment, someone put on the emergency brake and stopped publication.

All events combined – censorship of the Israel-related commentaries and the mess in the Chinese department – are causing misgivings, writes taz:

The German Journalists Association [Deutscher Journalisten Verband, DJV] has been asked for advice by several employees. The DJV is seriously worried, and its speaker, Hendrik Zörner, makes no secret of it: “What worries us greatly is that there’s a tendency at Deutsche Welle to influence content from the top.”

[…]

The broadcaster’s statement concerning censorship is curt: a message from chief editor Alexander Kudascheff says that the articles hadn’t met DW’s journalistic standards, and that there had been talks with the authors. The articles are on hand at taz, and while you may disagree with the authors, there is certainly no offense against journalistic standards.

Indeed, “standards” appear to have become a mantra of Deutsche Welle leaders when in fact, they seem to be targeting unwanted content. When a “monitor”, German sinologist Jörg M. Rudolph, was appointed to supervise the Chinese department in 2009, the stated goal had also been to “improve standards”.

In March 2013, the Journalists Association had expressed its hope that Peter Limbourg, who had just been chosen as Deutsche Welle’s new director, would put journalism first (dem journalistischen Auftrag des Senders sei Vorrang einzuräumen). The Journalists Association has also followed the issue of quasi-employees at DW.

 

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