Posts tagged ‘superstition’

Monday, April 29, 2013

Xinjiang 4-23 “Terrorist Attack”: Important Instructions from Beijing, Lack of Compassion from Washington

The incident in Bachu County / Selibuya (Kashgar Prefecture) on April 23 which reportedly led to the deaths of 21 people, including 15 police officers and officials, is closely monitored by the central party and state leadership, according to Chinese state media quoted by the BBC‘s Mandarin website on Friday. A Huanqiu Shibao report, also of Friday, is quoted as saying that the CCP central committee attached great importance to the incident and that secretary-general Xi Jinping had issued important instructions and requirements concerning the handling of the case, its aftermath, and the safeguarding of stability in Xinjiang. Six suspects reportedly died, and eight were arrested.

Foreign journalists were allowed to travel to the region but frequently faced intimidation and harassment when attempting to verify news of ethnic rioting or organised violence against government authorities, the BBC’s Beijing correspondent Celia Hatton wrote in a report published last Wednesday, and a report from the BBC’s China correspondent Damian Grammaticas, published on Friday, seems to confirm that local authorities tend to interfere, as Grammaticas and his team were ordered to leave Selibuya.

Tianshan Net, a website run by the propaganda department of the CCP’s Xinjiang branch, and frequently quoted by official and non-official Chinese media in the 4-23 context, reports today that in the wake of the 4-23 [April 23] serious violent terrorist incidents, a ceremony to honor the meritorious was held at the Science and Culture Square Conference Center in Kashgar at noon local time today. Three advanced collectives (including the Selibuya party committee) and 91 advanced individuals had been commended. (天山网喀什讯(记者李敏摄影报道)4月29日上午12:00,自治区处置“4.23”严重暴力恐怖案件有功人员表彰大会在喀什市科技文化广场喀什噶尔会议厅召开。大会对巴楚县色力布亚镇党委等3个先进集体和阿布拉江•克热木、谢武中等91名先进个人予以表彰。) The fifteen party and government comrades who had sacrificed their lives were posthumously awarded titles as outstanding party members and anti-terrorism warriors during the ceremony, writes Tianshan. (自治区党委、政府追授在处置“4.23”严重暴力恐怖案件中牺牲的15名同志为优秀共产党员、反恐勇士称号。) Nur Bekri and other leading regional officials attended the ceremony.

On Friday, Tianshan Net republished a Huanqiu Shibao report criticizing America for showing no compassion in the wake of the incident, quoting a U.S. state department spokesman’s demands for a transparent investigation. The criticism was based on Beijing’s foreign-ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying‘s statement on Thursday, who had stated dissatisfaction with Washington’s lack of compassion (无同情心).

Sina.com (in English) suggested a moral link between the recent Boston Marathon bombings and the incident in Xinjiang, and also quoted Hua Chunying from her Thursday press conference.

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Related

» Due process protections, BBC News, April 25, 2013

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Friday, April 19, 2013

Press and Blog Review: Perfectly Logical Chains

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1. Li Ruihuan: Modest and Scrupulous about every Detail

Main Link: “Just talking won’t do, we need to argue” – Li Ruihuan’s “Views and Statements” / 光讲事儿不行,得讲理儿” ——李瑞环的“看法”与“说法”

Li Ruihuan

In spring 2013, permanent member of the 14th and 15th politburo standing committee and former Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference chairman Li Ruihuan has published his fourth book (four volumes) after retirement, “Views and Statements”, writes an intern at Nanfang Weekly who reviews the book. Renmin University (People’s University) president Chen Yulu is quoted as referring to it as authentic history and an encyclopedia of party and government work. The reviewer at Nanfang finds a perfectly logical chain in the opus, which begins with reform and opening up, and carries on with party construction (or building the party), the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, ethnic religion, propaganda and art, ideological and political work, urban construction, etc. Li had been scrupulous about every detail, he had issued 108 issues to deal with, and all had gone through the editorial team’s discussion. Obviously, the book also contains speeches.

Li Ruihuan’s approach had been democratic, Renmin University Publishing chief editor He Yaomin is quoted as saying – Li Ruihuan liked to let the editors discuss, looking on and listening. “He also spoke his views, but in case that he didn’t convince us, he’d let us return home and think things over again.”

Given the encyclopedic nature of the work, party secretary at the Central Institute of Socialism, Ye Xiaowen, was also part of the team of editors. Not missing are remarks about Li’s modest lifestyle, and his awareness of the importance of self-criticism, so as to be aware of problems early on.

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2. Village Teacher: It’s Now or Never

Village Teacher

Main Link: One Explosion after another, and Obama still hasn’t pissed off? / 美国爆炸连连,奥巴马还不滚蛋吗?

A “Farmer Teacher from the Village” (农村老师) also made a statement this week, with a focus on international politics. Chances are that there was no editorial team around to assist him:

These are some of America’s most unlucky days, and this American president is good for nothing. Not only is he black, intelligent and self-confident, but also unable, and all he can do is to show off his eloquence. […] This decade hasn’t been good for America in military, diplomatic and political terms, and the main reason is the election of a black president. Facts have shown that a black sheep cannot get along well with a bunch of bold lions. One could say that America has gradually become the most unsafe country, with one explosion after another, making Americans question Obama’s ability to govern. Indeed, as the Korean peninsula shows, Obama is one of the most incompetent presidents in American history, which is America’s nightmare, but China’s good luck. From the American president’s incompetence, greater benefits can be drawn, and China needs to do this. It needs to dispatch troops to fishing islands [this apparently refers to the Senkaku Islands in the first place], to make sense [of the fact that] American president Obama just relies on tricks. There is no need to fear this kind of president, but if this president is good for nothing, can we think of ourselves as stronger than him? We need no re-play of the Sino-Japanese War [of 1894/1895], I don’t want to see China sign another Shimonoseki Treaty in my lifetime, because that would be painful. Of course, big countries like China and America won’t simply go to war, but America’s decline is inevitable. They chose a useless president and gradually enter their own era of decline. If China doesn’t seize this opportunity to cripple America now, there will hardly be opportunities later. If in future, America becomes strong again, this won’t be good for China. I said early on that that black devil is useless, that his election is China’s opportunity, but there won’t be too many of such opportunities, [… – unable to translate this – JR.]
Therefore, with one explosion after another in America, why doesn’t Obama piss off? If he doesn’t piss off, the damage will only be America’s, and America will be more and more unluky, and China’s opportunities will get ever greater, but if the opportunity isn’t being seized, there will be a rude awakening.

Only one reader cared to comment so far, and offers some cooling analysis: A president can’t change America’s current situation in a moment.

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Related

» Make America collapse, Feb 14, 2010
» Stock Taking, Feb 8, 2013

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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Germany’s Slow-Motion China Debate

When Mao Zedong died and Hua Guofeng succeeded him, there was much more China coverage on the German media than now – from what I can remember. I was ten years old at the time, but have never forgotten how the newsreaders pronounced the new helmsman’s name: Hu-ah Ku-oh Fang. The muscles in their faces were working hard during the two or three seconds it took to read his name out. The rather intense coverage probably lasted until 1979 at least.

China came back, bigtime, in Germany’s news coverage during 2008 (and, I’m sure, in 1989, too, but I hardly remember that time in the news). By that time, China was no longer a faraway country, with a few blurred television pictures “received in Hong Kong”, but more like news from an uncannily close neighbor.

Meantime, to use a cuisinary term, the clash with China – or the CCP – keeps simmering over low heat in the German press. On March 10 – twenty days ago -, a radio essay by Sabine Pamperrien, the source of many or most of the coverage on the Zhang Danhong affair at Germany’s foreign broadcaster Deutsche Welle  in 2008, was aired by Deutschlandfunk, one of Germany’s two nationwide radio broadcasters. She criticized the views of former German chancellor Helmut Schmidt on non-interference, arguing that in terms of international law, Schmidt’s opinion was a minority opinion, even if Schmidt argued as if his opinion was apodictic. Non-interference wasn’t codified, but derived from customary international law – just as human rights widely were. Pamperrien argues that the “international responsibility to protect (R2P) had been drafted, more than ten years ago, to define the concept of sovereignty within the UN Charter anew. This wasn’t codified either, but was becoming more and more customary:

Deshalb wurde vor über zehn Jahren mit dem Begriff der “internationalen Schutzverantwortung” eine Neudefinition des Souveränitätsbegriffs der Charta der Vereinten Nationen entworfen. Danach sind Menschenrechte nicht innere Angelegenheiten von Staaten, sondern supranationales Recht. Auch das ist nicht kodifiziert, setzt sich gewohnheitsrechtlich aber immer mehr durch.

It should not be forgotten, Pamperrien adds, that non-interference had been the central defense club (Abwehrkeule) of communist potentates during the Entspannungspolitik (détente), whenever dissidents in their countries – or expelled by their governments – became a topic.

Coincidentally or not, Wolf Biermann, a former East German citizen, expelled by the East German government in 1976, wrote an open letter to Liao Yiwu (published on March 27). Biermann expressed anger about Helmut Schmidt (in his capacity as the co-editor of German weekly Die Zeit, which had been speading stinking news lately. Stinking news, that is, about Liao Yiwu.

For sure, German sinologist Wolfgang Kubin had alluded to the topic of Liao Yiwu, and to a chance that Liao’s descriptions might require verification. Friends who had visited Liao in prison had told him (Kubin) that the conditions of Liao’s imprisonment hadn’t been as harsh as he [later] described them, that much what he couldn’t publish here  [in China, apparently] wasn’t documentation, but fiction, and that the case deserved closer investigation (“Der Fall lohnte einer genaueren Untersuchung”).

But that was in October 2012, and Biermann doesn’t state explicitly which comments about Liao Yiwu in Die Zeit caused his anger – Kubin’s, or anyone else’s. In another article, nine days ago, Die Zeit stated that Kubin hadn’t been able to prove his accusation against Liao.

I wrote an article on Biermann’s and Pamperrien’s criticism on “my” German blog – on a platform provided by German weekly Der Freitag – on Wednesday, with a reference to the Zhang Danhong affair and the events that unfolded at Deutsche Welle, It dawned on me that I hadn’t asked myself too many questions about all those events for a long time, and that I hadn’t asked any stakeholders questions for a long time. The thread that followed my post on my German blog was actually instructive – it has given me several ideas on how to do some more research. That may require time, once again, and will inevitably reduce my blogging frequency further – at least for a while.

The funny bit about that is that I’m under no time pressure. No big newsagency, no big paper, no broadcaster is likely to pick up the Deutsche-Welle issues any time soon. But as time passes, more and more information is trickling down – not least from Li Qi‘s Deutsche Welle’s China Nightmare. The book remained available – as far as I can see, no judicial steps have been taken against the publishing house, and apparently, no counterstatements have been made.

The anti-CCP mill, too, is grinding its way rather slowly. Biermann’s reaction to the coverage of Die Zeit seems to suggest that, and so does Pamperrien’s: Helmut Schmidt had made his remarks about non-interference and other issues more than one years earlier, on January 31, 2012.

Back then, Tai De took issue with Schmidt’s remarks about the Korean War.

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Related

» Deutsche Welle Link Collection, Febr 3, 2012
» Xu Pei and the Dirty Old Men, May 17, 2010

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Thursday, January 10, 2013

After Suicide: Guangzhou Government Defends Qi Xiaolin’s Name

« Previous coverage (January 9)

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Main Link: secretary of the political and law committee: no Violations of Discipline found (穗政法委书记:未发现祁晓林违法纪)

Links within blockquote added during translation.

Yangcheng Evening Post, reporter Wang Pu. On January 9 at noon, Guangzhou Municipal PSB office’s website “Guangzhou Golden Shield” (广州金盾网) stated: deputy municipal PSB director Qi Xiaolin hanged himself to death.

羊城晚报讯 记者王普报道:1月9日中午,广州市公安局官网“广州金盾网”发布消息:广州市公安局副局长祁晓林自缢身亡。

The notice said: on January 8, 2013, Guangzhou Municipal PSB deputy director Qi Xiaolin hanged himself and died, aged 55. Comrade Qi Xiaolin suffered from depression at his lifetime. Yangcheng Evening Post learned that Qi hanged himself in his office’s rest room inside the Guangzhou PSB building.

消息称:“2013年1月8日18时许,广州市公安局党委副书记、副局长祁晓林自缢身亡,终年55岁。祁晓林同志生前身患疾病,有抑郁症状。”羊城晚报记者了解到,祁晓林是在广州公安局大楼内自己办公室内的洗手间自缢的。

“Qi Xiaolin indeed suffered from depression, but there had been no indication that he would hang himself”, a PSB officer told this reporter. On Tuesday afternoon, there had been a democratic cadre appraisal of mid-level cadres, and these cadres had all voted there in the [PSB building’s] auditorium. “At that time, Qi Xiaolin and other leading cadres attended on the rostrum, and while they were checking the votes, he returned to his office. As the counting process took quite a while, nobody noticed that Qi hadn’t returned, or wondered why he didn’t come back.” It is said that Qi’s secretary wanted to ask him back to the meeting and found that he had hanged himself to death. He left no suicide note. Legal medical examinations and procurial organs found no doubts about the cause of death.

“祁晓林的确是有患病,但突然自缢却一点征兆也没有。”一位公安人员告诉记者,1月8日下午,广州市公安局中层干部集体民主评选干部,处以上干部都到公安 局礼堂内投票。“当时,祁晓林副局长与其他局领导在主席台上,验票时他回到了自己办公室。由于验票时间较长,没有人再留意到祁晓林最后没有到场,或者是为 什么没有到场”。据称,验票结束后祁晓林的秘书通知其回到会议上,进入办公室后,才发现祁晓林已自缢身亡。他生前没有留下遗书。经法医、检察机关勘查证 实,死亡原因无疑点。

Qi Xiaolin entered rural ranks after junior high school graduation, then entered police school, initially at Guangzhou Huangpu District PSB branch office, and rose from an ordinary policeman to become the branch office’s deputy political commissar and director, then switched to Fangcun PSB branch office to become its director, and then became Guangzhou Municipal PSB deputy party secretary and deputy director in 2003, ranking third in its hierarchy.

祁晓林1973年初中毕业后到农村插队,之后考入警校,最早在广州市黄埔区公安分局工作,由普通警员升任分局副政委、分局局长,2000年交流至芳村公安分局任局长,2003年升任广州市公安局党委副书记、副局长,在广州市公安局领导中排名第三位。

A senior people’s policeman told this reporter that “Qi Xiaolin was good at investigating criminal cases. During his time at Huangpu and Fangcun Districts, he solved important cases. After becoming deputy PSB director, he was mainly in charge of the traffic police, PSB internal security, the subway and liason with Tianhe District PSB branch office. The last public event he attended was on December 18, 2012, at the “National key internet media Guangdong line – Guangzhou scientific development implementation informative meeting”.

一位资深民警告诉羊城晚报记者:“祁晓林是侦办刑事案件的一把好手,他在黄埔区、芳村区时都曾破获大要案件。”祁晓林任广州市公安局副局长后,分管部门为 交警、内保、保卫、地铁,联系天河区公安分局。祁晓林最后一次出席公开活动是2012年12月18日在“全国重点网络媒体广东行——广州落实科学发展观情 况介绍会”上介绍广州社会治安情况。

There had been beliefs that Qi, having been in charge of traffic police for so long, was linked to corruption cases in this administrative field, but a people’s policeman said: “That’s not too likely. If there was such a link, he wouldn’t have been left in charge of car traffic administration.”

因祁晓林分管交警多年,有人事后将其自杀与此前广州市车管所腐败窝案联系起来,一位民警认为:“不大可能,如果他与车管窝案有牵连,早就不会让其继续分管交警”。

An old classmate said: “Qi Xia0lin was introverted, not very talkative. He frequently felt pain on his neck, didn’t sleep well, and I’ve heard his family people say that they had learned about his depression”. A people’s policeman said: “Qi Xiaolin was responsible for security work for a long time. There was a lot of pressure.”

祁晓林的一位校友称:“祁晓林性格内向、不愿意将什么事情说出来,他颈椎部位经常有疼痛,一直睡眠不好,听他家人说已发现有抑郁症”。一位民警称:“祁副局长期分管保卫工作,责任、压力较大”。

Yangcheng Evening Post concludes the article with a statement from Wu Sha (吴沙), Guangzhou secretary of the political and law committee (see here for a “Global Times” news article in English). After his statement, Wu expressed his sympathy to Qi’s relatives.

The statement was apparently needed, not necessarily because of Qi Xiaolin as a person, but because of general suspicion against the PSB or public officials. Among those who have commented on Huanqiu Shibao on the story since yesterday, cynicism prevails. There are only six comments now – at least some more have been removed since. None of them is sympathetic, but eleven hours ago, “King Qin’s Warrior” had the last word so far with the only comment at a conflict of sorts with the others: Take severe measures against corruption, so that a prosperious people lives in the country at peace. Let the nation unite, and defend itself against foreign enemies.

According to Yangcheng Evening Post, Qi Xiaolin was born in September 1957, and was a native of Haiyang, Shandong Province.

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Related

» Partytalk, May 19, 2012
» Satisfaction of the People, Aug 16, 2009

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Is China Misunderstood? And if Yes, How?

  • “People in China have as many freedoms as people in Europe, as long as they don’t organize to challenge CCP rule.”

Not really. Frequently, challenging one bureaucrat amounts to challenging the party. What you can and what you can’t do depends on your connections, and even if you are pretty well connected, no independent court will protect you and the liberties you have taken to do things when the party decides that it has a stake in your case.

  • “The Chinese Communist Party has lifted hundreds of millions of Chinese people out of poverty.”

That’s conventional wisdom. But isn’t it the party’s decision to leave more space for  privately-owned business – i. e.  a withdrawal from business administration – which has led to that success?

  • “Authors like Mo Yan show that you are quite free to criticize leadership decisions – even if you are formally part of the system.”

Mo Yan spoke up for Liu Xiaobo (with some disclaimers included in his talk), and that was a good decision – but if he wasn’t part of the system, and right in the limelight, such a public statement might have earned him an invitation for a cup of tea at the next public security office – or worse.

What is true is that China is much more of a mixed economy these days, than thirty years ago. What may also be true is that the cadres, too, have become much more affluent. Some leaders, especially top leaders, have become rich.

And this seems to amount to a strange excuse, frequently offered by CCP apologists: because the Communist leaders – and top leaders not least – are so corrupted, their theories can’t be taken seriously anymore. Or rather: even as a democrat, you don’t need to take their theories seriously anymore.

That’s a nice license to do business with the guys. Unfortunately, it’s a faked license.

It is true that what the CCP cadres do has little to do with their original theories. But that only means that their concept of class relations has changed. Contrary to what coverage frequently suggest,  that’s no bashful change. It’s clearly documented, not least in Jiang Zemin‘s Three Represents which are part of the official party theories. All this hasn’t hasn’t changed the CCP’s view of who should rule the country, and how they want to rule.

The CCP claims the function to decide what Chinese culture is, and what isn’t. They are the “standard bearers” and the “developers” of Chinese culture. They have left cultural organizations and individuals more leeway than during the Maoist days, just as they have left businesses more leeway – see above. But all that is revocable. It is part of the party’s development project. Obviously, people make use of the leeway they have – but given that the party has the last word on what will make it, and what won’t, its claim to be the developer is often taken remarkably lightly.

Above all, however, there is one constant: that while the outside world has certain good things to offer, it is, above all, a threat. The concept that an imagined innocence, “cultural” purity, or general well-being of the Chinese people can only be safeguarded by the CCP’s monopoly to power has never changed since the party came to power. A country that swallows the humiliations that come from this power monopoly and ultimately has to blame the outside world for exactly these humiliations can’t be a terribly friendly country.

The Libyan or the Syrian regimes have never been popular among Americans or Europeans. The Chinese regime isn’t, either. There is a lot of fault-seeking going on. Every incident, every blooper, and every corruption case among more senior officials are highlighted in the Western press, as if corruption was something particularly Chinese, or even something particularly CCP. But that seems to be arrogance, and wannabe virtue, rather than objectivity. Just as there was a preparedness to believe that basically, Libyans or Syrians were prepared to tolerate, if not support, their leaders, there is a preparedness to believe the same thing of China and the CCP.

When taking a benevolent view of Western governments and the Western public perception, they were also prepared to believe that at least the Syrian regime would give way to democracy (or theocracy) peacefully, rather than clinging to power by all means. If we may believe Western governments’ statements these days, they are absolutely shocked that, once having shown signs of vulnerability, such regimes aren’t tolerated by their own people anymore. By the same logic, Western governments are even more shocked to learn that such regimes would go “from house to house” to find and slaughter oppositionals, suspected or proven. By the same logic, Western governments and the Western public are outraged to learn that a regime may actually bomb its own cities, at war with many of its own people.

They would quite probably be just as “shocked” if such events occured in China. And then they would start explaining why they did have reasons to believe that the CCP regime was “responsible” and “accountable” to the people, why they did have reasons to believe that the party would put the people first, and put itself next.

And as long as shit doesn’t happen, they’ll tell you how the status quo in China is still better than any conceivable alternative. (That said, many foreign party apologists aren’t that much more interested in trying to imagining alternatives, than the CCP itself.)

People who are using excuses like the ones quoted at the beginning are most probably those who actually “misunderstand” China most fundamentally. But it’s a wishful misunderstanding. A less friendly word for it would be complicity.

That complicity is no crime. Or, if it is, this blogger, too, is complicit. I accept that our governments and businesses need to find compromises with totalitarian dictators, at least for the time being.  What I don’t accept is the beautification of the regime. Whoever justifies its existence needs to be prepared to accept the same standards in his home country – not necessarily as a ruler, but as a subject to such rule. (One problem among Western decision makers is that they themselves can only think of themselves as rulers, not as subjects.) But if you argue that, because of the “circumstances”, this or that has to be good enough for Chinese citizens, this or that has to be good enough for you, too – provided that the “circumstances” (seem to) demand it.

To be clear: this is no suggestion that Western intelligence services should sponsor underground organizations in China. It is a suggestion that people should stop thinking of China as some kind of “democracy”, or a “democratizing country”, only because it makes it easier for us to justify our business with China. The issue isn’t how Westerners could “westernize”, “democratize” or whatever-ize China. It is to make sure that our own values don’t become blurred in the process of interaction.

A paranoid scenario? Up to you. But take a look at the debate between U.S. president Barack Obama and his challenger Mitt Romney on foreign policy. Not a single mention of China’s political system. Rather: long debates on how to “shape” the Middle East.

And all that – my take of it, that is – to flatter power delusions among the American public.

That’s where the circle closes. Power isn’t irrelevant. But without a conscience – an understanding of what we are doing -, it may be wielded in a pretty CCP way: self-flattering, self-serving, and oblivious.

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Related

» Enabling “Democracy in International Relations”, The Peking Duck (guest post), Oct 2, 2012
» Asma Al Assad, the All-Natural Beauty, The Richest People, Febr 23, 2011
» Huang Mengfu: It’s Complicated, Jan 7, 2009

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

People’s Daily Online on Economic Sanctions against Japan: “Don’t Hurt the Friends, don’t Please the Enemy”

The following is a translation of an article published by People’s Daily Online (人民网) on September 18, 2012.

Links within blockquotes were added during translation.

The article focuses on two levels of sanctions: government-level (with a very cautious attitude) and “non-governmental boycotts” (with an “understanding” attitude).  In terms of business, the article addresses losses that China would incur in terms of technological progress if it took comprehensive “countermeasures” against Japan. Further down, the article suggests that rare-earth sanctions against Japan had basically backfired, in or since 2010.

Rather than expressing an editorial stance of its own, the article quotes a number of academics. The subtitles within the following translation are not part of the original article.

Main Link: 打经济战 中国承受力定比日本强? – People’s Daily Online, September 18, 2012
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Economic Sanctions: Not while Japan maintains its Technological Edge

[…] Vice Minister of Commerce Jiang Zengwei said recently that the so-called “islands purchase” by Japan (Diaoyu Islands) made it hard to avoid negative impacts on Sino-Japanese trade relations.

因日本对中国固有领土钓鱼岛进行所谓“国有化”,中日关系再度降温,由此引发的寒潮在经贸领域已经有首当其冲的显现。商务部副部长姜增伟日前表示,日方的所谓“购岛”(钓鱼岛)行为,难以避免地会对中日经贸关系产生负面影响。

In Chinese public opinion, voices sympathetic to terrorizing Japan by economic sanctions have emerged, which say with certainty that Japan’s economy was more dependent on China than vice versa. Even if economic and trade confrontation had the killing power of weapons on both sides, China’s ability to bear that was far stronger than Japan’s. However, to “play the economic card needed to be done  cautiously, and the two countries’ abilities to bear this be judged by seeking the truth in the facts, and this issue be dealt with rationally and objectively”. Recently, a scholar with a good knowledge of Sino-Japanese economic and trade issues talked with this People’s Daily Online reporter.

中国舆论中已出现用经济制裁威慑日本的声音,并言之凿凿:日本经济对中国经济的依存度高于中国对日本。虽然中日经贸对峙对双方都有杀伤力,但中国承受能力远高于日本。然而,“打经济牌必须慎重,要实事求是地评估两国的承受力,理性客观地对待这个问题。”近日,谙熟中日经贸事务的学者如是告诉人民网记者。

Japan’s economy entered a long-term depression in the 1980s, with exports as the main driving force in economic development. Although European and American markets were the main factors in influencing Japan’s economy, China’s influence was no insignificant factor either.

自上世纪80年代中期始,日本经济陷入长期萧条,出口是其经济发展的最主要动力。虽然欧美市场是影响日本经济的最主要因素,但是对日本经济而言,中国因素早已不可忽视。

China is currently Japan’s biggest trading partner and its biggest export market. According to Japan’s Ministry of Finance statistics, Japan’s trade with and its exports to China stand at 19.7 percent and 20.6 percent respectively, in its total amount of foreign trade. After the European Union, America, and ASEAN, Japan is China’s fourth-largest trading partner.

中国是目前日本最大的贸易伙伴和最大出口对象国。据日本财务省统计,2011年日本对华贸易和对华出口将分别占日本外贸总额和出口总额的19.7%和20.6%。而日本在欧盟、美国、东盟之后,是中国的第四大贸易伙伴。

Analysts have pointed out that Japan’s economy is more dependent on China than vice versa. Even if economic and trade confrontation had the killing power of weapons on both sides, China’s ability to bear that was far stronger than Japan’s. Once China started economic and trade sanctions against Japan, this could lead to a Japanese economic crisis.

有分析人士指出,日本经济对中国经济的依存度高于中国对日本。虽然中日经贸对峙对双方都有杀伤力,但中国承受能力远高于日本。一旦中方启动经济制裁,可能引发日本经济危机。

Feng Zhaokui, a researcher with the National Japanese Economic Research Institute, told this People’s Daily Online reporter that taking economic countermeasures against Japan’s economy could have a greater than on China in theory. “However, the so-called ability to bear” is no mere matter of numbers.

而全国日本经济学会研究员冯昭奎则告诉人民网记者,对日本采取经济上的反制措施,理论上日本受到的影响大于中国。“但是所谓的‘承受能力’却不是光用数字就能够衡量的。

Feng Zhaokui says that since 2002, in Sino-Japanese trade, China has always recorded a trade deficit, mainly because much of the trade was in the field of production. The levels of bilateral import and export differed, and the weight of technological content differed. In the industry chain, Japan stood at the high end, and China mainly imported key core technological components from Japan, with high technological content, much added value, and if these imports were affected, the industrial chain would see disrupture, which would damage China’s production. Even as Sino-Japanese trade was gradually transforming from a vertical division of labor to a horizontal pattern, Japan generally was the side with goods of high technological content, high added value and maintained an edge there.

冯昭奎说,自2002年以来,在中日贸易中,中方一直处于逆差状态,主要原因在于中日之间在生产领域内的贸易所占比重较大。中日双方的进出口产品层次不同,技术含量不同。日本处于产业链的高端,中国从日本主要进口关键的核心零部件,技术含量高、附加值高,如果进口受影响,产业链将面临断裂,对中国将产生损害。尽管中日之间的贸易结构正在逐步从垂直分工向水平分工方向转化,但总体来看,日本在技术含量高、附加值高的产品方面仍占优势。

According to surveys, Japanese foreign direct investment (FDI) in China in 2011 was at 6.35 billion US dollars, an increase of 49.7 percent compared with the previous year. This was abut 40 percentage points more than the increase in what China attracted in overall FDI (9.72 percent). Japanese investment in China supported Japan’s economic recovery and growth; it also contributed to China’s economic development. Hasty economic sanctions against Japan could lead to Japanese companies withdrawal from China.

调查显示,2011年日本对华直接投资实际到位资金63.48亿美元,同比增速高达49.7%,而中国实际吸引外资增幅为9.72%,与此相比整整高出近40个百分点。日本对华投资有力地支持了日本经济的复苏和增长,也对中国经济的发展做出了贡献。如果轻率地对日本使用经济制裁,可能会导致在华日企撤离中国。

“China’s economic growth this year is voluntarily restricted to eight percent, which is to say that we are approaching the lower limit”, says Feng, as China adds twenty million new workforce annually. Our country has entered a period of accelerated promotion of economic transformation, it faces growing pressures from the global economy which complicate the external environment, with growing uncertain factors such as if the economy can maintain needed growth, and the job market may suffer blows. “Therefore, the economic card must be played cautiously, and the two countries’ ability to bear this be judged by seeking the truth in the facts, and this issue be dealt with rationally and objectively”.

“今年中国的经济增长率将自行控制在8%,对我们来说,是接近下线的。”冯昭奎说,而中国每年新增劳动力一两千万。我国已经进入加快推进经济转型的关键时期,面临着世界经济下行压力增大的复杂外部环境,不确定因素增强,如果经济不能保持适当的增速,就业市场就会受到冲击。“所以,打经济牌必须慎重,要实事求是地评估两国的承受力,理性客观地对待这个问题。”

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The Rare-Earths Card

Among the economic-sanction measures discussed recently, limiting exports of rare earths to Japan has been most frequent. Many people say that when it comes to rare-earths resources, Japan will continue to depend heavily on China in the near future, and therefore, China should play the “rare-earth card”.

在近日经济制裁日本的诸多措施中,限制对日稀土出口是讨论得最多的。不少人士表示,日本在稀土资源近期仍将倚重中国,因此中国可打出“稀土牌”。

According to the Nihon Kezai Shimbun, Japan’s imports of rare earths frm China have fallen by 3007 tons during the first six months of 2012, i. e. 49.3 percent of Japan’s total imports. These imports were reduced by fifty percent within half a year. Before 2009, 90 percent of Japan’s rare-earths imports came from China.

而据《日本经济新闻》报道,2012年1到6月份,日本从中国进口的稀土资源下降到3007吨,仅占全部输入总量的49.3%,半年内减少了50%。而在2009年之前,日本的稀土资源9成以上都需依靠中国进口。

China got a lesson, in terms of economic sanctions”, Feng believes. In 2010, Japan had illegally detained the captain of a Chinese trawler. Although China hadn’t openly acknowledged the use of economic sanctions, practically, China temporarily halted rare-earths exports and created temporary difficulties for Japan at the time. “But in fact, Japan mainly cried out, and had already got prepared. Their inventories were ample.

“在经济制裁方面,中国是有教训的。”冯昭奎认为,2010年,日本非法扣押中国渔船船长。中国虽然没有公开承认使用了经济制裁,但事实上中国暂停了对日稀土出口,当时给日本造成一时困难。“但其实困难主要是日本叫唤出来的,他们早就有备无患,存货很多。”

China holds only one-third of the global rare-earth reserves, but currently supplies some 90 percent of the worldwide quantity. “There are countries rich in rare earths, too, and their technological ability to produce them has increased” Feng Zhaokui says. After China had restricted imports of rare earths in 2010, Japan resumed research of resources policies, and especially decided that it couldn’t depend on only one country for rare minerals and rare metals. These days, Australia, Malaysia and other countries rare-earth projects are developing very smoothly.

中国的稀土储量只占世界的三分之一,却承担了目前国际市场上90%的供应量。“国外也有稀土资源丰富的国家,而且有技术,这两年里他们把稀土生产搞上来了。”冯昭奎说,2010年中国限制稀土出口后,日本就重新研究了资源政策,尤其决定稀土及稀有金属不能只依赖一个国家。如今澳大利亚、马来西亚等地的稀土项目,进展得都很顺利。

“As far as our talk about having a monopoly position on rare earths, other countries have caught up, and we haven’t increased our technological content, and we haven’t upgraded the industrial change. Our competitiveness in the field of rare earths has been greatly affected.”

“而我们总说在稀土产量上有垄断地位,但是现在其他国家赶上来了,我们却没有提高技术含量,升级产业链,在稀土产业竞争力方面大受影响。”

Feng believes that rare earths won’t restrain Japan anymore, and that they are no longer a card that could be played. If one wanted to impose economic sanctions, one had to take the rare-earths lessons into account.

冯昭奎认为,稀土已经制约不了日本,不再是一张牌。如果要采取经济制裁措施,一定要吸取稀土教训。

In the wake of the heightened temperatures from the Diaoyu Islands’ issue, another popular surge in “boycotting Japanese goods” and even a low in travels to Japan are inevitable. Information from all travel agencies say that since September, the number of group travels to Japan had gone down drastically, and some travel agencies have stopped Japan travel services altogether. Numbers released by the Chinese automotive industry on September 10 show that compared with last year’s same period, August sales of Japanese cars had dropped by two percent. From August, Japanese goods such as household appliances had also gone down in China.

在钓鱼岛事件升温之际,“抵制日货”的浪潮不可避免地在民众中再次掀起,连带着赴日旅游也遭遇低谷。来自各大旅行社的消息称,进入9月份以来,赴日旅游成团数量急剧减少,有的旅行社则干脆停止赴日旅游业务。中国汽车工业协会9月10日公布数据显示,与上年同期比较,8月日系车销量下降2%。而8月份以来,日系品牌家电在中国销售额也整体大跌。

Vice Minister of Commerce Jiang Zengwei said on a press conference that given Japanese violations of Chinese territory, Chinese consumers had a right to express their position in reasonable manners, and that we should express understanding for that.

商务部副部长姜增伟近日在记者会上表示,针对日方侵犯中国领土主权的行为,中国消费者以理性的方式表达其立场和他们的一些想法,是他们的权利,我们对此应该表示理解。

“Reach for the wine when friends arrive, and reach for the gun when enemies arrive”, China Academy of Social Science Japan Institute director Gao Hong told People’s Daily Online reporter in an interview. The Chinese people have shown patriotic enthusiasm, and spontaneous boycotts of Japanese goods was a right which gave no cause for criticism. “However, we need to distinguish between the non-governmental and the governmental level when it comes to the economic card. At the government level, more economic policies need to be adjusted to each other.”

“朋友来了有好酒,敌人来了有猎枪,”中国社科院日本所副所长高洪在接受人民网记者采访时也如是说,中国人民出于爱国热情,自发地抵制日本产品,是自己的权利,无可厚非。“但是经济牌要有区分,政府层面和民间层面的牌是不一样的,政府层面更多的是进行经济政策的调整。”

Liu Gang, professor at the Okinawa University, pointed out in a number of media that to sanction a country, other countries’ support was frequently required. To mobilize international sanctions against Japan, these needed to be adopted by the United Nations. That’s how so-called sanctions would be legitimate. If one country high-handedly reached for the big stick of economic sanctions, this didn’t only deviate from WTO principles, but also give rise to gossip and a series of other side effects.

日本冲绳大学教授刘刚在此前的媒体评论中分析指出,制裁一个国家,通常应该有其他国家的支持。如若真要动用国际力量制裁日本,有必要提请联合国通过。这样,所谓的制裁行动才具有正当性。如果一国妄自舞起经济制裁大棒,不仅容易偏离WTO原则,更易授人口实,引起一连串的副作用。

“As for economic sanctions, I believe that generally-speaking, it isn’t China’s position that they should be a tool in handling international relations”, Qu Xing, director of the China Institute of International Studies, clearly points out.

“对于经济制裁,我觉得中国一般地讲,不主张把制裁作为处理国际关系的一个手段。”中国国际问题研究所所长曲星明确地指出。

Gao Hong also told the People’s Daily Online reporter that as far as countermeasures were concerned, these were meant to subdue the other side. Countermeasures needed to correspond with the other side’s provocation. If Japan didn’t continuously act provocatively on the economic level, countermeasures on a governmental level could usually not be carried out. After Japan’s so-called “nationalization” [of three of the Senkaku islands – JR], China had announced its points about the Diaoyu territorial seas, institutionalized the dispatch of naval patrol boats, and submitted material and cartography to the United Nations, etc.. These “combined punches” had already hit Japan where it was vulnerable.

高洪也告诉人民网记者,就反制来讲,反制是针对对方进攻所采取的反击制服的斗争手段。反制和挑衅的层次和力度相当。如果日本在经济上没有进一步的挑衅行为,政府层面的经济反制一般不会进行。在日本对钓鱼岛进行所谓“国有化”后,中方随即公布钓鱼岛领海基线基点,派海监船对钓鱼岛实施常态化监测,以及向联合国提交钓鱼岛坐标表和海图等,这一套“组合拳”已经击中日本的要害。

Liu Gang believes that Japan’s established policy of swallowing the Diaoyu Islands is an international problem, and China didn’t need to oblique references to that. The best approach would be tit-for-tat, to confine oneself to the facts, to make representations when needed, and to let strength and actions speak – to learn from Russia meant to use strength as a backup, with less talk and more action.

刘刚认为,吞下钓鱼岛已经是日本的既定方针和国是问题,对此问题,中国没必要再旁敲侧击,又何必冀望于“歪打”迂回,反而最好针锋相对,就事论事,该怎么交涉就怎么交涉,让实力和行动说话。学习俄罗斯,以实力做后盾,少说多做。

The Diaoyu issue is inherited from history, as many experts say. The struggle for the Diaoyu Islands is a long-term one and can’t be done overnight. This is only the first round of the struggle, and the struggle needed long-term preparation. China’s departments in charge also state clearly that they reserve the right to all kinds of action. Since a long-term struggle was needed, strategies needed to be made, orders [of approaches], and sequences of goals. Nothing should be done on the spur of sentiments, and not in a way that would “hurt friends and please the enemies”.

正如近期不少专家学者所说,钓鱼岛问题是历史遗留问题。关于钓鱼岛的斗争是长期的,不能一蹴而就。现在只是斗争的第一回合,要做斗争的长期准备。中国相关部门也明确表示,保留一切行动的权利。既然要做长期斗争,就要讲策略、讲次序、讲阶段性目的,不能意气用事,做令“亲者痛、仇者快”之事。

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Related

» Making Patriotism Useful, Sep 17, 2012
» The Nine-Dotted Line, Foarp, Sep 30, 2011
» Collision with Sth Korean Coast Guard, Dec 18, 2010
» A Nefarious Turn, Sep 25, 2010

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Senkakus: Some Plans are too Complex to keep the Peace

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One Conflict, two Sustainable Solutions

When it comes to the Senkakus (or Diaoyu Islands, in Chinese), I’m sure there are lawyers who can make a convincing case for China’s, or for Japan’s position. The immediate problem seems to be that neither side – neither Beijing, nor Tokyo – will be prepared to have an international court – the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) would be a likely address – decide their dispute. The Economist suggested a natural solution, i. e.:

Our own suggestion is for governments to agree to turn the Senkakus and the seas round them—along with other rocks contested by Japan and South Korea—into pioneering marine protected areas. As well as preventing war between humans, it would help other species.

Hardcore ecologists may agree. If any territory that gets contested by anyone was ti be turned into ecological habitat, too, they might agree even more. But what we need in this context aren’t conservation areas. International relations need rules.

In that light, another suggestion, also by the Economist, but in another article, makes much more sense:

[..] for the majority of disputes, the courts can provide fair results. It may take decades to finish the job, but a long wait is better than the alternative. In the words of one international lawyer: going to court is always cheaper than going to war.

The Economist believes in progress. That doesn’t mean that they would never support war. They supported the war against Iraq in 2003, for example. But generally, their stance seems to be that global economic integration and growing prosperity would be the real way forward. By habitat or by law.

After all, war on Iraq looked manageable, in 2003. A war between China and Japan, one a nuclear military power, the other quite probably backed by a nuclear military power, looks very different, not to mention the impact on the global economy, even if war could be limited.

Click the blood to enter the Mukden Incident Museum

Click the blood to enter the Mukden Incident Museum

It is right to work for peace. But should we take the peace for granted?

Foarp appears to believe that, and cites two reasons:

  • it is the government that drives the demonstrations in China, which in themselves fit a long running pattern for such demonstrations
  • There is nothing to fight for. The islands themselves are of little or no value and are incapable of sustaining significant numbers of inhabitants.

In short, according to Foarp, the current

sudden outburst of government-directed anger against Japan is most likely an attempt at distraction from the CCP’s current problems surrounding this year’s transition of leadership in Beijing. Put simply, in observing Chinese political affairs you should never forget which hand holds the whip.

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Totalitarianism can change Public Opinion, but not Anytime

Both Foarp and I, if I remember our past discussions correctly, think of China as a totalitarian state. But that doesn’t mean that the whip is irrevocably in the hands of the CCP. The CCP did create many of the factors that make nationalism a double-edged sword for Beijing. Nationalism can be the mastic that holds the party and the “masses” together. But nationalism is also one of the few areas of “public opinion” where government censorship on “patriotic” utterances looks truly awkward, and makes the CCP’s own “patriotism” look dingy. In short: a petroleum tanker notched up to full speed over decades – think of patriotic education as the heavy fuel that drives it – can’t easily be stopped within days, or even weeks, without get into odds with people whose anger you would better agree with, for the sake of your own credibility.

Japan is no one-party dictatorship. But there are political parties which use nationalism as a whip on more moderate competitors. Yoshihiko Noda‘s decision to buy three of the Senkaku islands was most probably driven by the desire to snatch that booty away from Shintaro Ishihara, Tokyo’s nationalistic mayor, who had previously planned to buy those islands from its private owners. Depending on Japan’s future national elections, nationalists may still inherit those islands from the moderates.

Nationalism may come, in many ways, naturally. That is debatable in itself, but it’s my belief that love for ones own country, even hot-headed at times, for a limited period and under certain circumstances, can be natural. What is not so natural is the mixture of victimization and megalomania Chinese students have been fed with for many decades. It’s a rather philistine kind of megalomania, but it is too presumptuous to be considered normal. The Bangkok Post published an article by Robert Sutter on Tuesday, and it is more outspoken than what you will get to read in most cases. Above all, it describes a Chinese tendency to believe in a unity of foreign-policy principles and practice, while  from the viewpoint of the neighbours and foreign specialists, the principles kept changing and gaps between principles and practice often were very wide. And Chinese opinion sees whatever problems China faces with neighbours and other concerned powers including the US over sensitive issues of sovereignty and security as caused by them and certainly not by China.

Combine that with a belief that China is becoming invincible. Most Chinese citizens have never been in the army. Even less have seen genuine war. War seems to be a remote thing, even if it should occur. When Yugoslavia was on fire in the 1990s, I was in China, and I was told that Europe was enviable – it had Northern Ireland, the Basque country, and Yugoslavia. There was real action in our place. And those who talked that way were no idiots who ran around in camouflage suits after hours – they were quite normal people. It became a completely different story when the Chinese embassy in Belgrade was bombed a few weeks later.

Patriotism is – in itself – a good thing. That’s why all powers, but totalitarian ones in particular, want to manipulate it to their own ends. A totalitarian political system has the most comprehensive plans. The problem with that, as Walter Sobchak famously said:

If the plan gets too complex something always goes wrong.

Tokyo, and most Japanese people, probably don’t want war. Beijing, and most Chinese people, probably don’t want war, either. But Chinese anger on Japan is not just a welcome “distraction” for Beijing, as Foarp and many commenters suggest. It is fuel that Beijing wants to harness. That, see above, is a very complex plan.

Mark it zero.

This is a league game, Smokey. Mark it zero.

A disproportionate demand for respect – and that’s what nationalism is about -, is usually based on a long, complex story. Therefore, there’s no need for anything substantial to fight over. The demands are substance enough.
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If you want a Fight, there’s Always something to Fight over

One can get too obsessed with history. It’s not the proverbial “mirror” to predict the future – but it does give us clues about human behavior – behavior that seems to make sense to contemporaries, even if it leads to war. Behavior that makes no sense to the later generations, or at hindsight, often not even in the countries who “won”.

On July 29 and 30, 1914, Russian Czar Nicholas II and German Emperor Wilhelm II exchanged several telegrams, in which they made demands on each other and at the same time assured each other that neither of them wanted a war. At the same time, Austria-Hungary was mobilizing its army. history.com has English translations of those telegrams. What history.com apparently missed: Serbia actually accepted Vienna’s ultimatum. The German emperor’s reaction:

That’s more than one could expect! A great moral success for Vienna, but with it all reason for war disappears. (Das ist mehr als man erwarten konnte! Ein großer moralischer Erfolg für Wien, aber damit fällt jeder Kriegsgrund weg.)

If all reason for war had disappeared, Vienna didn’t care, and invaded Serbia anyway. From that moment on, Czar Nicholas was under pressure from the Russian public – and Russia’s international position was at stake. Simply giving in would have been another blow, five years after the Bosnian crisis.

Neither war, nor a trade war between China and Japan, are inevitable. But status and influence in East Asia are a league game. Japan “retreated” in a diplomatic showdown about the arrest of a Chinese trawler crew in 2010.

Business concerns prevailed, the Economist noted, in September that year,

and so did China, in a sense. A bitter feud with Japan had been escalating since September 7th, when a Chinese fishing boat ran into a Japanese patrol in waters which both countries claim as sovereign territory. Today Japan released the boat’s Chinese skipper, who had been accused of bashing into the two Japanese vessels deliberately. With the release of the captain, Zhan Qixiong, the diplomatic world breathes a sigh of relief. But how to score this match? Japan comes off looking weak, as it succumbs to an avalanche of pressure.

That’s not going to work every time. Neither public pressure in China (which has long forgotten 2010 and feels “humiliated” all over again), nor public pressure in Japan should be underestimated.

Nothing to fight for?

People who feel that they are just bystanders may feel that real clashes would be irrational. People who feel that they are stakeholders may view things very differently.

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Updates/Related

» Out of Hand, Beijing Cream, Sep 17, 2012
» Caught in the Screw, Nov 18, 2010

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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Anti-Japan Demonstrations: the Eggs of Anger

In the name of virtue, every messiness must be considered sublime.

Eggs of Anger, two per protester.

Eggs of Anger (愤怒的鸡蛋), provided by a No-Worries Farm (安心农场). Click picture for a Sinostand report.

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Related

» Press Review, Sept 15, 2012

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