… was back to Regent Street / Piccadilly Circus today – at least for a while. Taiwanese students and travellers rallied holding flags of their own right where the Regent Street Association had removed the ROC flag, apparently on Tuesday. The BBC‘s photo collection seem to suggest that it was quite a good-natured and even cheerful event.
If there is something remarkable about the Taiwanese / Republic of China flag in Regent Street, and the way it was removed, it’s that all kinds of stakeholders were discussing it – except those who, allegedly, reportedly, took offense, i. e. the Chinese embassy in London. According to AFP, the Chinese embassy did not respond to repeated requests to comment.
It’s probably a wise move that the Taiwanese president – if at all – wants the issue to be raised with China, rather than with Britain. Let the Chinese antagonize at least some in the European public, and don’t antagonize the European public against Taiwan – by calling us out on our servile efforts to please Beijing, for example. That would make us very angry, wouldn’t it?
But as Europeans, and among ourselves, we should look at the incident, feel ashamed, and try to improve.
What strikes me about as much our embarrassment to see a free country’s flag in a highstreet is an apparent online trend to react to symbolic incidents, rather than to real trends. I mean, this blog had only seen modest traffic since early summer. It’s the same every year; once summer has arrived on the northern half of the globe, clicks go down.
But once I had posted about the flag removal on Regent Street on Tuesday, traffic skyrocketed.
Not entirely surprisingly though – after all, there wasn’t much coverage during the first one or two days, except by the BBC‘s Mandarin service. But the way the internet public gets excited – or bored – also suggests that the global village isn’t really interested in politics, not even where it ostensibly talks politics most of the time.
Among a European public, the story doesn’t sell. Stories like these tell us more about our moral weaknesses than we want to hear.
“A guy called Mitt Romney” who apparently managed to hurt the feelings of some, many, or no Londoners seemed to matter much more.
The BBC‘s English website does mention the Chinese “intervention”, however, even if only as a footnote here:
London 2012 organisers said the business association behind the display decided to put up the “correct flag… the one used for Olympic Games”.
But they could have decided to keep the actual flag up there, too.
Or couldn’t they? Maybe the answer to the question follows one paragraph further down:
A global investment conference in London kicked off a series of business summits intended to showcase the UK …
That’s where the symbolism ends, and real life begins. If you believe that the Olympic Games are about sports, think again.
» The Sporting Spirit, orwell.ru, accessed July 27, 2012
Chinese officials are believed to have raised concerns over the use of Taiwan’s flag at the Regent Street Association’s display.
A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We contacted the RSA (Regent Street Association) and suggested they might want to talk to LOCOG regarding the flag under which Taiwan participates in the Olympics. With all parties we have been clear that this is a matter for the RSA.”
London Evening Standard, July 26, 2012
The tale of how we came to be called “Chinese Taipei” is worth repeating. Taiwan withdrew from the United Nations in 1971 after the world body recognized the communist People’s Republic of China. Soon after, the ROC on Taiwan began to be squeezed out of other international organizations and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) informed Taiwan that it could no longer participate as the Republic of China.
The IOC suggested some alternative titles including “China, Taipei,” “Taiwan” and even “Formosa.” At the time, China was still quite weak on the world stage and incapable of resisting the IOC’s name ideas. In fact, China back then would have been quite pleased to have Taiwan compete as “Taiwan,” as the name would have indicated that Taiwan had rescinded its claim to the whole of China. Taiwan’s leaders of the time, however, could not accept any of the three name ideas as all three were politically inaccurate, as far as they were concerned.
The China Post, August 12, 2008
» ROC Flag removed, July 24, 2012
Originally among the world’s national flags hanging above Regent Street, the Republic of China’s flag (i. e. Taiwan’s flag) has been removed, the BBC’s Mandarin website reports. The BBC’s Chinese department contacted the Regent Street Association to ask for the reason, but were asked to contact the London Olympic organizers instead.
The BBC Mandarin website was then told by a press officer at the London organizing committee that this issue was outside the London Olympics’ jurisdiction.
Taiwan takes part in a number of international events, including the Olympic Games, under the name of “Chinese Taipei” (中华台北 or chunghua taipei), a carefully crafted label to appease Beijing.
The London Olympic Games are scheduled to begin on Friday.
Netherlands vs. Denmark: no Radio Nederland shortwave transmission, no transmission on the two Dutch medium waves – but the BBC World Service covers the game in the 13 m band – for Africa, and for JR.
Shangguan Pengfei (上官鹏飞), a Sanshou athlete from Henan Province, died on December 11 or December 12. He had been in a coma for 42 days after he had been knocked out by Cui Fei (崔飞), an athlete with Beijing’s Armed Police Force. Shangguan had reportedly suffered a fatal blow to the back of his head in a national semi-final in Haikou, Hainan, on October 31. Officials from China’s sports authority denied reports that treatment had been untimely, and other allegations.
Red Net Changsha (红网长沙) reports that in a briefing in Beijing on Wednesday, the Wushu Management Center gave its first official comment on Shangguan’s death. All first-aid and further measures had been carried out properly, Management Center officials said, but fierce discussions among netizens followed the briefing anyway. There had been online allegations that the referee hadn’t stopped the fight in time, after Shangguan had been hit on the back of his head. The Management Center said that a referee committee had watched the footage of the fight on the same evening and had come to the conclusion that neither Shangguan nor Cui had used inproper means, and that the referee had acted correctly.
In what is said could be a confusion between Cui, and another man of the same name’s microblog, netizens had reportedly not only accused the referee, but Cui, too – for “lacking martial arts virtues” (缺乏武德). “Human-flesh searchers” criticized Cui for “travelling” and “visiting good restaurants”. Answering a question from an IFeng (Phoenix) reporter, Wushu Mangement official Gao Xiaojun (高小军) said that Cui had been to the hospital after the match and that both he and other members of his team had spontaneously expressed their regrets to Shangguan’s family.
Shangguan Pengfei was born in Jiaozuo (焦作市), a prefecture-level city in Henan Province , on October 24, 1988. According to Baike Baidu, he had travelled to Shaolin Monastery a number of times ever since he had been a child. Among his main personal sports achievements was the Wushu School’s championship in 2008, and ranking third in third at the 2010 World Wushu Championship (国际武术搏击王争霸赛季军), apparently in Chongqing.
5) Exerting Great Efforts to Development of Non-Profit Cultural Causes, Safeguarding the People’s Fundamental Cultural Rights
To meet the people’s fundamental cultural needs is the fundamental task of socialist cultural construction. It is necessary to maintain governmental guidance, and to strengthen the building of a basic cultural infrastructure, to perfect a public cultural network, to let the broad masses enjoy basic public cultural services in accordance with the criteria of non-profitability, fundamentality, impartiality, and convenience, at no costs or or at favorable prices.
a) Build a public cultural service system. Strengthen the role of public cultural service as the materialization of the people’s fundamental cultural rights. It is necessary to perfect a functional, practical and highly efficient cultural service system which covers the cities and the countryside, with public finances as support, non-profitability as the backbone, the entire people as the object of this service, and by safeguarding that the people and the public watch television, listen to the radio, read books and newspapers, conduct appraisals of these, and have a share in public cultural activities and similar fundamental cultural rights. Process regular budgets for major cultural products and service projects and non-profit cultural activities. Take measures for government procurement, project subsidies, directional [or directed] sponsorship, loans, tax deduction and similar policies to encourage all kinds of cultural enterprises to participate in public cultural service. Encourage the gratuitous use of state-invested, subsidized or copyrighted cultural products within the public cultural system. Strengthen the construction of cultural centers, museums, libraries, art galleries, science museums, memorial halls, workers’ cultural palaces, youth palaces, and similar infrastructure and patriotic-educational model bases, and perfect cultural service open and free for society, encourage other state-owned cultural units educational institutions etc. to carry out non-profit cultural activites, and provide facilities for mass activities in public places. Comprehensively plan and build a cultural infrastructure on a basic level, equally emphasize project planning, construction and management, apply resource integration, and joint construction and use. Strengthen neighborhood and public cultural infrastructure, include neighborhood cultural centers’ construction in urban and rural planning and design, and broaden investment channels. Perfect cultural service infrastructure for women, minors, the elderly, and the handicapped. Guide and encourage forces within society to provide facilities and other forms of participation in public cultural service, by setting up entities, by project funding, and sponsorship. Promote the creation of national cultural service system model areas. Establish index systems for the public cultural service systems and methods to measure their achievements.
b) Developing a Modern Mass Media System. To improve the energy and influence of socialist advanced culture, it is necessary to accelerate the development a dissemination system with advanced technology, efficient transmission, and broad coverage. Party newspapers and journals, news agencies, radio and television stations, and important publishing houses must be strengthened; editorial, distribution, and dissemination systems continuously be perfected; and digitization and expansion of effective coverage be accelerated. The building of international dissemination must be strengthened, first-class international media be created, the rate of own news material, of news first published, and effective news1) must be increased. Create a unified, jointly active, safe and reliable national emergency broadcasting system. Perfect the building of a national digital library. Integrate cable television networks, and build a television network company on the national level. Promote the integration of communication networks, broadcasting networks, and the internet, the building of an integrated broadcasting control platform, a pattern of innovative business, bring all sorts of information network facilities into a function of cultural dissemination, and achieve connected, interflowing, orderly operations.
c) To establish a transmission system for superior traditional culture. Superior traditional culture condenses the Chinese nation’s restless strife and the spiritual richness of long-standing renewal is the solid foundation of developing the advanced socialist culture, and an important sustenance for the building of the Chinese nation’s common spiritual home. It is necessary to know the motherlands traditional culture, to remove what is useless, to make old things work in our times [or to put the past at the service of the present], to make it newly helpful in development, with equal emphasis on maintaining and protecting what is useful, and on its popularization. [It is necessary to] strengthen the excavation and elucidation of traditional cultural ideological values, to maintain the fundamental elements of national culture, and to let superior traditional culture become the people’s inspiration on their road forward to spiritual strength. Strengthen the arrangement and publication of cultural classics, and promote the digitization of the classical resources. Strengthen the country’s important cultural and natural heritage, the units in charge of protecting major cultural objects, the maintenance and restoration of famous historical cities, towns, and villages, and the transmission of immaterial cultural heritage. Unearth traditional popular festivals’ contents, and broaden the development of superior traditional education’s popularization. Bring into play the fundamental function of popular education in the innovation of cultural dissemination, improve the contents of lessons in superior traditional culture, and improve the establishment of teaching and training bases for superior traditional culture. Vigorously promote and regulate the use of a common state language and and written characters, scientifically protect every nationality’s lettering. Enable the prosperous development of the cause of national minorities’ culture, carry out the work of protecting the national minorities’ cultural peculiarities, strengthen party newspapers and party magazines in the language of the national minorities, radio and television programs, publications and translations. Strengthen cultural exchanges and cooperation with Hong Kong and Macau, and all kinds of cultural exchange with Taiwan, to unfold Chinese splendid2) culture together.
d) Speed up a united urban-rural cultural development. Add to the quantity of cultural services in the countryside, reduce the gap between urban and rural cultural development – to build a new pattern of united [or concerted] cultural development between the cities and the countryside is of major significance for the advancement of the new socialist countryside. With the countryside and the China’s western regions as key areas, the building of county-level cultural palaces and libraries, combined township cultural stations, rural cultural rooms must be strengthened, rural infrastructure must be deepened in terms of radio and television broadcasts, shared use of cultural information resources, rural film screenings, farming book rooms and other cultural projects which are beneficial for the people, with broadened coverage, and the elimination of blind spots, increased standards, perfected service, and improved management. Support and assistance for cultural services in old liberated areas [or early revolutionary base areas, 革命老区], national minority areas and poor areas must be intensified. The entire people’s reading, sports, and cultural scientific hygiene sanxiaxiang3) must be deepened and promoted, and scientific and educational writing styles, law and hygiene, the “Four Communities” (四进社区), giving pleasure to the grassroots and other activities must become regular. Companies, communities [or neighborhoods] must be lead to carry out activities beneficial to migrant workers, and migrant workers be in the best possible ways be integrated into the urban cultural service systems. Joint mechanisms between the cities and their rural hinterlands must be established, cultural resources be allocated between cities and the countryside in a reasonable way, cities be encouraged to support the countryside, and helping the countryside must become a fundamental indicator of a city’s civilizational level. Cultural units must be encouraged to provide mobile services, network services, media be encouraged to arrange publication and frequency supply in the countryside, and the work of having party papers and magazines be subscribed and read for free at the rural grassroots levels. Cultural enterprise must be supported in building chains of cultural networks at the grassroots and in the countryside, cinema chains be promoted, and performing arts be extended into cities and counties, and performing artists be supported in going deep into the grassroots and the countryside to perform. Special funds are to be established at the central, provincial and municipal levels, and the allocation of certain amounts of centrally-provided funding to the building of culture in [rural] towns and villages be guaranteed.
1) This is about Chinese international media (such as China Radio International, CNTV, etc.) should begin to set the global news agenda, with news which a) hasn’t been published elsewhere before, and b) actually catches international interest. The intention probably is to make not only such media’s newscasts internationally relevant, but their editorials, too.
2) Just as in the previous lines, when translated as “superior”, the adjective used in the document is 优秀 (yōuxiù). However, I chose “splendid” as a translation here, because the intended meaning of “superior” isn’t necessarily “superior to other cultures”. A discussion of what yōuxiù usually stands for might be useful here.
3) san xia xiang refers to the three activities mentioned above, and seem to involve stays by college students or graduates in the countryside to “spread science” there, especially in these three fields.
» Propaganda will Set You Free, Aug 9, 2009
Continued here »