Posts tagged ‘Syria’

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Monday Start-of-Work Links: Kim Jong-un “not the real Actor”?

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1. A Deity doesn’t need to have a mind of his own,

argues Korhonen Pekka, a Finnish political scientist, in a post for Sino-NK. Nor does Kim Jong-un, he writes. Pekka interprets Kim’s reign as rather ceremonial, and that the bureaucracy is calling the shots. That however doesn’t appear to bode well for the future.

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2. Lawyers should not Overestimate their Political Clout,

Fei Chang Dao quotes an editorial by Shan Renping (which is the pen name of Huanqiu Shibao‘s editor-in-chief, Hu Xijin). Fei Chang Dao (there appears to be a lawyer behind the blog) also explains the differences between the Chinese version of the article, and one published by Huanqiu’s sister edition in English, the “Global Times”. More recently, Fei Chang Dao explores how June-4 related searchwords are censored.

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3. Public Diplomacy and its Limits

Obama’s Policies on Syria and Egypt, as well as on intelligence operations of U.S. administrations as revealed by Edward Snowden [...] will have serious impacts on U.S. popularity in the world, Kilic Kanat, a political scientist, wrote on May 12, in an article for the English-language Daily Sabah from Istanbul. If Obama kept following his current policies especially on Syria and Egypt, [...] the U.S. may face another downward trend in its standing. Under those circumstances, public diplomacy campaigns will only waste money on U.S. foreign policy.

Russia, Ukraine, or the Far East don’t seem to matter at all.

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4. Meantime, on Capitol Hill …

… American senators and retired propaganda apparatchiks are trying to make sure that money spent on public money gets wasted indeed, by demanding that the language of Voice of America’s mission [..] explicitly state that the outlet has a role in supporting American “public diplomacy” and the policies of the government. To bring it down to a round figure, Fulbright scholarships are apparently being targeted by budget cuts.

No need for international exchange when you can broadcast linear propaganda, be it on shortwave, be it on “social media”.

This is the Voice of America, signing on. Hello World, shut up and listen!

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Related

» Umstrukturierung des US-Auslandsfunks, Radio Eins, April 5, 2014

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Friday, September 20, 2013

China’s low Profile: As Close as They can

Links within the following blockquotes were added during translation / quotation — JR
Kerry Brown, a professor of Chinese politics at the University of Sydney, recently asked in an article for the BBC if China’s “non-interference policy” was sustainable.

Although China’s global influence had grown during the past decades, Brown wrote,

[..] Chinese leaders still stay as close as they can to the principles of peaceful coexistence and non-interference set out by Zhou Enlai. Despite the fact that the world has changed so radically in this time, these principles are useful because they avoid China being dragged into situations that overstretch and challenge it, they avoid it being pushed into a corner where it can be painted as a foe of the US and the rest of the developed world, and they allow it to continue focusing on its own formidable internal development issues.

Indeed, China’s profile remained low in the Syrian conflict, so far, and seemed to follw Russia’s diplomatic wake rather than pursuing a globally visible role of its own (which does not necessarily mean that Beijing sees eye to eye with Moscow on each and every issue).

At the same time, not only foreigners wonder where China is when it comes to the current crisis (or its recent defusing). Domestic Chinese press does describe China’s position at times, not least to keep face-conscious readers happy, probably.

Xinhua newsagency, for example, carried an interview with China’s special Mideast envoy Wu Sike (吴思科) on September 10 this year. Excerpts:

The Syrian “chemical weapons” issue is confusing, and it hasn’t yet been possible to determine who is right and who is wrong, I have once lived in Syria for four years, and my impression of the locality was very good. Before the chaos caused of the war, it was a society of moderate prosperity [or a moderately well-off society], with many historical relics, and very friendly people. But now, according to UNHCR statistics, the number of refugees who fled abroad has surpassed two million, with one million of them children, and six million people are displaced within Syria. These aren’t just numbers; this is the suffering of homeless Syrian people who even lost loved ones. Who wants to be responsible for aggravating their crisis?

虽然叙利亚“化武”问题扑朔迷离,孰是孰非迄今尚无定论。我曾经在叙利亚生活过4年,对该地区印象很好,那里在战乱之前处于小康社会,历史遗迹很多,人民非常友好。
但是目前根据联合国难民署提供的数据,目前逃往国外的叙利亚难民已超过200万,仅儿童难民数量已超过百万,叙利亚境内还有600万人流离失 所。这些不仅仅是一个又一个的数字,而是一个个被迫流离失所甚至失去亲人的叙利亚人民的苦难。有谁能背得起加剧叙人道危机的责任?!

[.....]

Wu Sike describes his role in Mideast diplomacy:

Last year in December, I took part in a conference in Bahrain, and the participating countries all thought that the United Nations should mediate. Now, America tries to be above international situations, which is a really high-handed behavior. But the intriguing thing this time is that America’s allies, such as Italy or Germany aren’t positive [about America's approach]. Therefore, China unequivocally advocates opposition against military methods, and advocates political means to solve the Syrian conflict. War will only complicate the situation further, intensify contradictions and clashes, and is no way to solve the problem. Therefore, political means should be used for a solution.

吴思科:去年12月份我在巴林参加会议,与会的中东各国都认为应该由联合国出面进行斡旋调解,现在美国的做法是企图让一个国家凌驾在国际组织之上,是非常霸道的表现。
但是这次耐人寻味的是,美国的盟国如意大利、德国并不积极,因此中国明确主张反对用军事的方式,应该用政治的方式,去解决叙利亚的争端。战争只会让局势更加复杂,让矛盾冲突更加剧烈,不是解决问题的方法。因此应该用政治手段解决。

[.....]

The Mideast situation is complex. When I visited Cairo, Arab-League general secretary Nabil Elaraby believed that the current problem was that the Syrian government believes that they still have strong troops to overcome its opponents. But the opposition believes that if only they persist for another day, there will be people abroad who will support them. Neither side wanted to abandon military means to protect itself, and there’s an impasse. Under such circumstances, efforts by the international community are required. The UN have now started an investigation of the chemical-weapons incident. To go to arms before the investigation’s findings are published runs counter to the purpose of the “UN Charter”. All parties should wait for and respect the findings of the investigation.

中东地区的形势错综复杂,我在开罗访问的时候,阿盟秘书长阿拉比认为现在的难点是叙利亚政府认为自 己手中还有强大的军队,能够征服他的反对者。而反对派认为只要自己坚持一天,国外就有人会支持,双方都不愿放弃军事手段来保卫自己,这是一个死结。因此, 在这种情况下,需要国际社会的努力。
目前联合国已经开始对叙利亚化武事件展开调查,在联合国调查结果公布前就诉诸武力有悖于《联合国宪章》宗旨,有关各方应期待并尊重联合国的调查结果。

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Two years earlier (and this should not suggest that Wu Sike never talked again, prior to September this year), Wu Sike also commented on Mideast affairs. Back then, his Mideast and Syria comments were embedded in a broader picture of Chinese diplomacy.

Public Diplomacy Net was established on May 1, 2011, with former Chinese foreign minister Tang Jiaxuan, former chairman of the foreign aff airs committee of the “Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference” Zhao Qizheng, Commission for Africa member Ji Peiding and Chinese special Mideast envoy Wu Sike as the website’s advisors.

Soon after, in September 2011, Wu Sike was interviewed by the website, or responded to netizens’ questions. The main topic at the time was a white paper on China’s peaceful development, issued earlier that month on September 6, but as Middle-East special envoy, Wu was also asked questions related to the Middle-East peace process and the growing Syria conflict.

One of his answers further down in the following blockquote could count as an answer to the question at the beginning of this post, asked by Professor Brown, as to why China sticks to a low profile. The Chinese wording for “low profile” – or hiding your brightness and biding your time, depending on your translation, is 韬光养晦, is attributed to Deng Xiaoping.

Wu Sike’s answer to the first question of the interview is lengthy, and contains several paragraphs.

Main Link: http://www.pdcec.com/bencandy.php?fid=60&id=7964

Public Diplomacy Net (PDN) / Wu Sike (WSK)

PDN: Special Ambassador Wu, the information office of the state council published the “China’s Peaceful Development” white paper on September 6, please explain the main content of the white paper to our netizen friends.

公共外交网:吴特使,国务院新闻办公室于9月6日发表了《中国的和平发展》白皮书,现在请您向网友们介绍一下白皮书的主要内容。

WSK: The white paper on “China’s Peaceful Development” has received broad attention at home and abroad. It is the declaration of China’s peaceful development, a roadmap, with absolutely important significance. It provides, for the first time, a comprehensive and systematic explanation of China’s path of peaceful development, the strategy and foreign policies of China’s peaceful development. It states Chinese path of peaceful development, the goals of peaceful development, and actively responds to the questions about how China wants to apply its strength and foreign relations and similar issues.

吴思科:国务院新闻办于9月6日发表了《中国的和平发展》白皮书,引起国内外广泛关注。白皮书是中国和平发展的宣言书、路线图,有着十分重要的意义。白皮书首次对中国和平发展道路、和平发展战略和对外大政方针做了全面系统的阐释,表明了中国的发展道路、发展目标,并积极回应力国际社会关切的中国如何运用实力以及与外部世界的关系等问题。

The white paper explains China’s development path, and strategic direction still more comprehensively, systematically and clearly to the world. Peaceful development has become China’s national will. The white paper officially defines the conceptof “core interests“, it points out that China will resolutely protect its core national interests, including the country’s sovereignty, security, territorial integrity, national unity, China’s political system and general social stability as established by the constitution, the basic guarantees for sustained economic and social development.

白皮书向世界更加全面、系统、清晰地阐明中国的发展道路和战略走向。和平发展已经上升为中国的国家意志,白皮书正式界定了“核心利益”的概念,指出中国坚决维护国家核心利益,包括:国家主权,国家安全,领土完整,国家统一,中国宪法确立的国家政治制度和社会大局稳定,经济社会可持续发展的基本保障。

The white paper explains how the big country with its 1.3 billion people develops on the path of socialism, sums up its content and its characteristics, especially emphasizes that peaceful development is socialism with Chinese characteristics’ essential content, raises peaceful development to the rank of national will, turns it into the overall national development plan and fundamental policy, and implements domestic and external practice.

白皮书,阐述了这个有13亿人口的走社会主义道路的大国如何发展,这次把内涵及其特点进行归纳,特别是强调和平发展是中国特色社会主义道路的本质内容,把和平发展上升到国家意志,转化为国家的整体发展规划和大政方针,并且落实到对内和对外的广泛实践中。

China is a responsible big country, the white paper uses the “promote and build a harmonious world, maintain the standing-of-one’s-own-and-peace foreign polciies, advocates the new security concept of mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality [of states, apparently] and cooperation, an international concept of active international responsibility, pursuing good-neighborly regional cooperation concepts”, thus summarizing China’s peaceful-development foreign policy.  Among these, Active international responsibility has appeared in a public official document for the first time. Cooperation on environmental issues is discussed as an organic part of a harmonious world.

中国是负责任的大国,白皮书用“推动建设和谐世界,坚持独立自主和平外交政策,倡导互信、互利、平等、协作的新安全观,秉持积极有为的国际责任观,奉行睦邻友好的地区合作观”概括了中国和平发展的外交政策。其中,积极有为的国际责任观是首次出现在政府公开文件中;把环保合作作为和谐世界的有机组成部分进行论述。

Peaceful development is the national will. Therefore, as Chinese citizens, we need the concept of peaceful development to be reflected in our practical work. Also, we need to let the world understand the firm idea of China’s peaceful development.

和平发展是国家意志。因此,作为中国公民需要把和平发展的理念体现在我们的现实工作当中。另外,我们还需要让世界了解中国和平发展的坚定理念。

After studying the white paper, I felt that there needs to be a deepened understanding from two aspects:

研读了白皮书以后,我感觉要从两个方面加深认识:

One is that peaceful development is the call of our times. We can see from the world’s historical development that [a country's?] strength leads to hegemony [or tyranny], and when a great power rose, it always replaced another great power by force, making both of them suffer. History has developed to a new era, and this road should be taken. In these times of globalization and rapid technological development, we should build a harmonious world with the methods of win-win. This is the requirement of global development and a certainty of historical development.

一是和平发展是当今时代的呼唤。从世界历史的发展过程中来看,国强必霸,历史上大国崛起,都是通过武力取代另一个大国,最后总是两败俱伤。历史发展到一个新的时期,这条路不应该走下去了。在当今经济全球化和科技高速发展的时代,应该通过合作实现共赢的方式共建一个和谐世界,这是世界发展的需要,也是历史发展的必然。

The second [aspect] is the fulffillment of “peace” as China’s concept with its great and far-reaching significance, as seen from China’s traditional culture. From ancient times, China’s philosophy has been about the “unity of nature and humanity”, that national characteristics [or identity] “values peace”, that there is diversity in harmony, about exploring inclusiveness, about open-mindedness, good-neighborliness and friendliness – this is the guiding spirit of China’s exchange with the outside world.

二是践行“和”之中国理念意义重大而深远。从中国的传统文化来讲。中国自古以来的哲学就是天人合一,民族特性都是“以和为贵”,和而不同,讲究包容性,有开放的心态,讲求睦邻友善,这是中国对外交流的指导精神。

[This para is an incomplete translation] The Silk Road which opened more than two-thousand years ago, has enriched our culture and development through trade and cultural interaction, agriculture and our species. It has made lives richer.

中国2000多年之前就有通向西域的丝绸之路,通过贸易和文化的互通有无带动中国的对外交流,也促进了我们中华文明的发展,农业发展上来说也丰富了我们的物种,使生活更加丰富。

More than six-hundred years ago, China’s famous navigator Zheng He took his seven voyages to the Western seas, to western Asia, eastern Africa, to thirty countries and regions. It was a big fleet, but they didn’t carry armed force. They carried concepts of friendship and peace. They promoted bilateral exchanges, and bequeathed us a much-told tale. Historically, China maintained an ideology that valued peace.

600多年前,中国著名航海家郑和七下西洋,到了西亚、非洲东部的30个国家和地区。船队阵容强大,但是他们没有带去武力,带去的是友谊、和平的理念,促进双方的交往,留下了历史的佳话。在历史上,中国就是坚持以和为贵的指导思想。

After the establishment of New China, we first issued the five principles of peaceful coexistence. This is both a fundamental policy in Chinese diplomacy and a manifestation of traditional Chinese civilization: mutual respect, no interference into each other’s internal affairs, etc.. After that, through our continuous development and changes, we have continuously enriched the five principles on their [own] foundation. In economic exchange, China maintains equality and mutual benefit and cooperational win-win. In terms of security concepts, mutual trust, hand-in-hand cooperation, it’s facing the traditional and non-traditional global security threats.  Another advocacy is a kind of green development concept, humankind’s common care for the earth, and environment protection.

新中国成立以后,我们最早提出和平共处五项基本原则。这既是中国外交的基本政策,也是中国传统文明的体现,互相尊重、互不干涉内政等。此后,随着我们不断的发展变化,在和平共处五项原则上不断地丰富其内容。在对外经济交往方面中国坚持的是平等互利、合作共赢的方针;在安全观方面,相互信任、携手合作、共同应对世界面临的传统和非传统的安全威胁。另外主张一种绿色发展观,人类共同呵护地球家园,共同保护环境。

PDN: This interview has attracted many netizens’ attention, many have asked questions, and in the following, we would like to ask special envoy Wu Sike for some answers.

公共外交网:本次访谈得到众多网友的关注,网友们提出了一些问题,下面就网友关心的话题请吴特使给予解答。

WSK: Fine.

吴思科:好的。

PDN: A netizen asks, which role is China playing in the Middle-East peace process?

公共外交网:有网友问,您认为中国在中东的和平进程问题中起到了怎样的作用?

WSK: The hot spot of the Middle East is a global concern. China’s regional peace and stability is also closely interrelated with global peace and stability. Therefore, China has always paid attention to the Mid-East situation, and has made unremitting efforts for Mid-Eastern peace.

吴思科:中东的热点问题是举世关注的,中国地区的和平稳定也是与世界的和平稳定密切相关,因此中国始终关注中东地区的形势,为推动中东和平进程作出不懈的努力。

PDN: What is the base line of “peaceful development”?

公共外交网:请问“和平发展”的底线是什么?

WSK: China’s peaceful development is our national policy. We will unservingly take the path of peaceful development, and also, the “white paper” has clearly defined China’s core national interests, which won’t waver in the least, either. Only when there is respect for the other side’s core interests, peace can be effectively protected, and sustainable development be put into place.

吴思科:中国的和平发展是我们的国策,我们会坚定不移地走和平发展之路,同时这个“白皮书”也明确界定了中国国家的核心利益,这也是不容丝毫动摇的,只有相互尊重对方的核心利益才能够有效维护和平,实现可持续发展。

[...]

PDN: What is your understanding of “hide your brightness, bide your time“?

公共外交网:您如何理解中国的“韬光养晦”?

WSK: To keep a low profile and to actively make a difference is an important principle of China’s diplomacy. To keep a low profile is no makeshift measure. China needs to achieve comprehensive rejuvenation, to make efforts for another long period, and in this process, we always need to be modest and prudent, learn others’ strengths, and while developing economically, we need to change the ways of development, achieve scientific development, and even if Chjna has developed strongly, we must maintain peaceful policies. That’s in the fundamental interest of the Chinese people, and in line with the interests of the peoples of the world.

吴 思科:坚持韬光养晦,积极有所作为,这是中国外交的一条重要原则,韬光养晦不是权宜之计,中国要实现全面复兴,还需要经历一个很长时间的努力,在这个过程 中我们始终需要谦虚谨慎,学习别人的长处,在经济发展的同时还需要转变发展方式,实现科学发展,即使中国发展强大了,也必须继续坚持和平的方针。这是中国 人民的根本利益所在,也符合世界人民的共同利益。

PDN: How does China pursue win-win in cooperation?

公共外交网:中国如何寻求合作共赢呢?

WSK: China has always adhered to the policy of cooperational win-win, and has explored this new method of cooperation. Cooperational win-win has created favorable conditions for our country’s economic development, and has also made a contribution to global economic development. As for myself, I have been involved in promoting Chinese cooperation with Arab and African countries, achieving cooperational win-win projects which are too many to enumerate. These projects have been mutually beneficial, this is cooperation needed by both sides, and they have ample prospects.

吴 思科:中国在对外合作方面一直遵循合作共赢的方针,并不断探索扩大这种合作的新的方式,这种合作共赢、共同发展的合作理念为我国的经济发展创造了有利的条 件,同时也为世界经济的发展做出了贡献。我本人就曾经参与推动中国和阿拉伯国家、非洲国家的合作,实现合作共赢的合作项目不胜枚举,这些项目都为双方带来 的共同利益,。这种合作是双方的共同需要,也有着广阔的前景。

PDN: What, in your view, are the main points about the China’s peaceful development “white paper”?

公共外交网:您认为本次发表的《中国的和平发展》白皮书中,最大的亮点是什么?

WSK: I think they are the clear definition of China’s core interests, at the same time explaining the six big characteristics of China’s peaceful development, which are scientific development, development standing on one’s own, opening up development, peaceful development, cooperation development, and common development. You could say that this is a high degree of summarization with strong guiding significance for what fits our national situation in the sixty years since the establishment of New China, and especially for the more than thirty years of reform and opening up.

吴 思科:我认为最大的亮点是明确界定了中国的核心利益;同时阐述了中国和平发展的六大特征,就是科学发展、自主发展、开放发展、和平发展、合作发展、共同发 展。可以说这是对新中国成立60年特别是改革开放30多年来我国探索适合自己国情发展道路实践的高度总结,有很强的指导意义。

PDN: As the Middle-East envoy, how do you see the current situation in the Middle East?

公共外交网:您作为中国中东问题特使,如何看当下的中东局势?

WSK: The Middle East is experiencing the biggest upheaval and change since more than half a century, with far-reaching effects to the region. In a situation of international change, big developments, and major adjustments, people there are seeking change, seeking development, improvement for the peoples’ livelihoods, and these are absolutely reasonable demands. We hope that some countries in the region can achieve peaceful change, find their own ways of development that fit into the new situation, soon achieve stability, with the fulfillment of the peoples’ demands. We also hope that in the Mideast hotspots, issues can be solved through negotiations, and peacefully, which is in the interest of all countries and peoples in the region, and also beneficial for global causes of peace and stability and development.

吴 思科:当前中东正经历近半个世纪以来最大的政治动荡和变革,对该地区正在产生深远的影响。在国际形势大变化、大发展,国际格局大调整的情况下,该地区的人 民求变革、求发展、求改善民生,这是完全合理的诉求。我们希望该地区的一些国家能够实现和平的变革,找到新形势下适合各自发展的方式,早日实现稳定,使人 民的诉求能够得以实现。同时也希望中东地区的热点问题能够通过谈判的方式实现和平解决,这既是该地区各个国家和人民的利益所在,也有利于世界的和平稳定和 发展事业。

[The following two questions and answers discuss the way China is seen from outside, the "China threat talk" (所谓中国威胁论), "cold war mentality", hopes and fears about China's development, etc, and China's role in peacekeeping missions.]

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Chinese Press Review: Syria, very clever

At a moment when everything had seemed to be set for a showdown, things changed dramatically, writes People’s Daily. Yesterday night, Syria officially responded to the international community and said it was willing to hand over all its chemical weapons so as to avoid American attack.  (叙利亚危机剑拔弩张的气氛出现戏剧性变化。
昨日晚间,叙利亚正式回复国际社会,叙利亚愿意交出全部化学武器以换取免遭美国打击。)

After a short account of Kerry’s sudden suggestion on a press conference in London that Syria could only avoid U.S. military strikes by handing over its chemical weapons, and Russian foreign minister Lavrov’s and Syrian foreign minister Mouallem’s statements, amounting to a Syrian willingness to do just that, plus Obama’s ABC interview, People’s Daily quotes an old diplomat and professor, Zhou Zunnan (周尊南) of the Chinese Foreign Affairs University, in an interview with the “International Financial Journal”:

Russia is very clever. They have successfully used diplomatic techniques, and the important thing is that in the current situation, with all the different parties’ interveaved interests, this is a “good move” [in a game of chess].  On the one hand, America gets under international pressure by gradually lowering other countries’ support for unilateral American war, and on the other, objectively, Russia showed support for Syria, perhaps implicating that “no matter if you use force or if you don’t, we will stand on Syria’s side.”

“俄罗斯很聪明,他们成功利用了外交技巧,重要的是,在目前各方面利益交织的格局下,这是一步‘好棋’。”老外交官、外交学院教授周尊南对《国际金融报》记者表示,“一方面,美国会陷入国际压力,进一步压低其他国家对美国单方面发动战争的支持度;另一方面,俄罗斯客观上表达了对叙利亚的支持,言外之意可能是‘不管你动不动武,我都会站在叙利亚’这边。”

People’s Daily is hedging its bets, regarding the likelihood of open American military intervention. From the Third Middle-East War (meaning the Six-Day War) to Syria’s occupation of Lebanon in 1976, and to Syria’s “flirting glances” (与伊朗保持“眉来眼去”的关系) with Iran, things had put this Middle-Eastern country’s relations with Western countries “out of sorts”, the paper writes. In the latest stage of the Syrian conflict, America had sought an “pretext” (quotation marks by People’s Daily), which was the chemical weapons.  There were several indications, People’s Daily quotes Zhou Zunnan (周尊南), still from the “International Financial Journal”, that the issue of chemical weapons was just an excuse. It would have looked bad to take military action against Syria before the UN inspectors delivered their findings, and besides, Russia had borrowed the position Kerry stated in London, Syria had cleverly strengthened its alliance with Russia, thus putting America into a difficult position. A third problem was American public opinion, according to Zhou.

And after all, the situation was complicated: Turkey would have to forget about a four-country economy including Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, if the Assad stepped down. And Russia’s only naval base in the Mediterranean was Tartus, in Syria. Syria was at the center of solving or mishandling the big Middle-Eastern issues.

Referring to further sources, People’s Daily suggests that oil prices had to be critical factors in Washington’s deliberations, too – with repercussions for the U.S economy. And still, this could also help America to replace the Middle East as the world’s center of energy sources, with an impact on countries depending on those, such as China and India. Therefore, the possibility of military action could not be ruled out. People’s Daily quotes a Russian political scientist (波利卡诺夫) who was also quoted by Xinhua a day earlier as suggesting that the military strikes were only delayed, but had not been stopped by Moscow’s and Damascus’ decisions.

Even China wasn’t on the sidelines in Syria, writes People’s Daily.  Syria had maintained close oil trade with China, and Chinese state-owned energy companies had business in Syria. A SINOPEC spokesperson is quoted as saying (again from “International Financial Journal”) that his company had temporarily closed their branch company in Syria, with most of the staff returning to Beijing, and some staying in Lebanon. Despite all the emphasis on diversification, about fifty percent of China’s crude oil imports were still coming from the Middle East, an expert from the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) is quoted.

Economics aside, People’s Daily concludes, there had also been a close Sino-Syrian relationship in other fields. Reports say that when China was treated unfairly in the international arena, it could always count on Syrian support.

This is about as far as official Chinese media go in their support for Damascus. Voicing official or semi-official positions is frequently the job of high-ranking academics, when Zhongnanhai prefers to remain silent or low-key. Zhou Zunnan’s comments in the “International Financial Journal”, which is in fact a branch of People’s Daily itself, probably play this kind of role.

On September 4, another academic, Li Shaoxian (李绍先) of the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, was quoted by Huanqiu Shibao with a rather candid statement (which may or may not mirror the official Chinese position, obviously):

Besides, Li Shaoxian believes that, when Bashar al-Assad said that China and Russia were Syria’s allies, that was the great banner used as a tiger-skin [a way to impress enemies]. China wasn’t Syria’s ally.  “Although China and Russia both insist on a peaceful solution and both oppose foreign military intervention, Russia has major actual interests in Syria to protect, while China’s interests in Syria are small.”

李绍先还认为,叙利亚总统巴沙尔说中国、俄罗斯是其盟友的说法是“拉大旗作虎皮”,中国不是巴沙尔的盟友。
“尽管中俄对坚持和平解决、反对外来军事干预是一致的,但中俄的考虑并不完全一致,俄罗斯在叙利亚有重大的现实利益要保护,而中国在叙利亚的利益很少”。

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Related

» Netzschau (German blog), Sept 10, 2013
» Less than 40 percent, Global Times, Dec 12, 2011

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Monday, September 9, 2013

Why America needs to act on Syria

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Related

» Grand old Duke, Max Hastings / Daily Mail, Aug 29, 2013

Friday, August 16, 2013

Song Luzheng on Democracy: “Idle Masses indulging in a Life of Pleasure and Comfort”

Song Luzheng (宋鲁郑) is a journalist and (semi-)official living in France. The following are excerpts from an article published by Guanchazhe, a Shanghai-based website, on Thursday, and republished by the nationalist Huanqiu Shibao (online), also on Thursday. The article also appears on his regular blog.

Quotes made by Song Luzheng within the excerpts and translations underneath are my translations from Chinese to English. The wordings of the actual English-language originals (including book titles) by Niall Ferguson and Thomas Friedman may be different.

Main Link: The Tragedy of the Egyptian Raids confirm, once again, the Predicament of Democracy (埃及清场悲剧再次验证民主困境)

The bloody way in which the Egyptian military cracked down on the Morsi supporters has shocked the world. One after another, European countries condemned the “big terrorist massacre”, but Kerry, the secretary of state in charge of America’s diplomacy, of the world’s most developed democracy, with a surprising smile on his face on a press conference, didn’t condemn the military massacre in the least, and only uttered  that this was “deplorable”, that “violence was no solution and only brought about more instability and economic disaster” (but who used violence? The protesters?). Also, the only “sanction” the Obama administration imposes is “the military exercises with Egypt may be cancelled”. This is completely different from condemning the situation in Syria and taking action. Apparently, public intellectuals under American influence, abroad and at home, are in a hurry to stand on the side of the military which massacres peaceful Egyptian citizens.

埃及军方如此残酷的血腥镇压穆尔西的支持者, 举世震惊。欧洲各国纷纷表态谴责这起“恐怖大屠杀”,而世界上最发达的民主国家美国,其主管外交的国务卿克里竟然笑容满面地出席记者会,对埃及军方主导的 大屠杀毫无谴责,仅仅说了一句“悲惨的”,并不痛不痒地说“暴力不是解决方案,通向暴力的道路只能带来更大的不稳定、经济灾难”(但谁在使用暴力?抗议者 吗?)。与此同时,奥巴马政府的官员提出的唯一“制裁”措施竟然是:“可能取消与埃及的军事演习”。这和美国谴责叙利亚的态度和采取的行动完全不同。看 来,受美国影响,海内外的不少公知们很快也要站在屠杀埃及平民的军方一边了。

Most of today’s developed countries, with the exception of Britain, went through times of destruction, writes Song, and adds:

In fact, China went through a similar experience, only at a higher cost. This was the Republic of China, founded in 1912. Simply-put, the Republic of China didn’t bring China independence, nor did it bring China unity, let alone an era of strength, prosperity and dignity. In its short 37 years, the economy went into bancruptcy, there was warlordism, large-scale civil war, invasions by foreign enemies, territorial disintegration, corruption from the top to the bottom etc., and until it [the ROC] withdraw from the stage of history, China had almost reached the status of a savage nation. Life expectancy was at 35 years, illiteracy up to 80 percent. The only time in several thousands of years that China fell behind India was at that time. Not even the Cultural Revolution managed to do that. China at the end of the Qing dynasty faced three challenges: extreme poverty and weakness and encirclement by big powers, national disintegration, and military split by warlordism, and the Republic of China not only failed to provide solutions, but worsened even further. If one says that the Qing dynasty was a big collapsing building, the Republic of China not only failed to work on the Qing dynasty’s foundations, but even lost that foundation. It was at that time that Outer Mongolia was lost without a war, as the first territory in China’s history.

其实中国自己也曾有过类似的经历,只是代价更为不菲。这就是 1912年建立的中华民国。简言之中华民国是一个既没有带给中国独立、也没有带来统一,更没有带来富强与尊严的时代。在其短短的三十七年间,经济陷入破 产,军阀混战,大规模的内战,外敌入侵,国土分裂,从上到下的完全腐败,等到它退出历史舞台的时候,中国已几乎到了“蛮荒亡国”的地步:人均寿命不足35 岁,文盲高达80%。中国几千年唯一一次落后于印度就在此时,甚至文革都未能做到一点。清末中国面临的三大挑战:极端的贫困和积弱不振、列强环伺的生存危 机、国家的分裂和军队的军阀化,中华民国不但一个都没有解决,反而更加恶化。如果说清朝是倒塌的大厦,中华民国则不但连清理地基的工作都未能做到,而且把 地基都丢掉了。外蒙古也就是这个时期,成为中国历史上首个不是因为战败而丧失的领土。

Although a high price for democratic transition was a historical law [anyway], there were still more special factors at work in Egypt, according to Song: it was particularly poor, it was under the impact of the global economic crisis and of revolution at home, an unemployment rate of 31 percent (only nine percent before the revolution), and adding to that, illiteracy was at 27 percent, with female illiteracy at 69 percent.  A well-performing democracy needed an economic base and universal education. Lacking secularism in the Islamic world is also cited as a factor.

Also, some Muslim societies have long lacked a spirit of compromise and tolerance. This national character displays itself in a firm position and no concessions. This led to a situation where, when a ruler [Muarak] made concessions, prepared to move toward democracy, the country missed out on this top-down transition model which would have come at rather low costs, and even after a democratic success, and used extreme methods to solve conflicts. This happened both in Tunisia and in Egypt. When Muarak announced that he wouldn’t stay in office for another term and that his sons wouldn’t participate in elections, and that after his current term, there would be comprehensive, free and fair elections, the masses rejected this. As a result, power was transferred to the military, thus extending the transition period.  And after one year of rule by Morsi, the first president elected by the people was pushed off the stage by another street revolution, causing nation-wide confrontation and resulting in an unprecedented bloody tragedy. This kind of lack of compromise has already strangled Egypt’s democracy in its cradle. History shows again and again that what is born in a pool of blood is only violent, not democratic.

再者,有些穆斯林社会长期缺乏妥协和宽容精神,这种国民性在革命时可以表现 为立场坚决,绝不退步。却也造成当执政者做出让步,准备走向民主时,国家错过从上而下的、代价较低的转型模式,甚至在民主成功之后,采用极端手段来解决冲 突。这一幕在突尼斯和埃及都反复上演。当穆巴拉克宣布不再连任、自己的儿子也不参选、任期届满之后即进行全面、自由、公正的选举时,却被民众拒绝了。结果 权力被交给军方,大大延长了过渡期。随后又在穆尔西执政一年后,再次以街头革命的方式,将首位民选总统赶下台,造成全国性的对抗,终至演变成空前的血腥悲 剧。实际上,这种不妥协,已经把埃及的民主扼杀在摇篮中。历史已经一而再地证明,在血泊中诞生的只有暴力,而不是民主。

Revolutions like these were most likely to happen in demographically young countries, Song continues. Japanese media had pointed out that therefore, a revolution was unlikely to happen in a country like China, which was older on average, and with only one child per family.

The West itself was equally in trouble, writes Song, enumerating the share of respective national debt as a share of GDP. All of those shares were above the internationally accepted warning line of 60 percent.

The trouble was that democratic systems were based on the expectation that the people were perfect, and wouldn’t allow abuse. Unreasonable public expectations made politicians accept even unreasonable demands:

By using the ballot box in this Western system, people can force politicians to accept unreasonable and even perfectly unreasonable demands. Today’s Western debts come from deficit spending [今天西方国家普遍出现的债台高筑寅吃卯粮], high levels of welfare are hard to sustain and impossible to reform, the masses idly indulge in a life of pleasure and comfort, and falling competitiveness and falling economic growth have their sources here.

西方危机的深层根源就在于它实行的一人一票的民主制度。当今民主制度有一个理论假想:政府是应有 之恶,要进行限权,但对人民却又认为是道德完美、能够做到绝对正确。事实上,人民的全体和个体的人民一样,都有先天性的人性缺憾,比如好逸恶劳贪得无厌、 目光短浅急功近利等等。而任何权力包括民权没有限制都会被滥用。于是在西方这种制度模式下,民众可以通过选票迫使政治人物接受并非理性、甚至完全不合理的 诉求。今天西方国家普遍出现的债台高筑寅吃卯粮、高福利难以为继却无法改革、民众日益懒惰贪图享乐、竞争力下降经济增长乏力的根源就在于此。

When it is said that traditionally socialist countries with absolute public ownership of means of production (and economic equality) has proven a failed utopia, the failure of Western democratic societies as another big Utopia with absolute equality (one man, one vote) is now also being proven.

如果说过去传统社会主义国家生产资料的绝对公有制(即经济上均贫富)是人类已经证明失败的乌托邦,那么西方民主社会另一大乌托邦即政治权力的绝对平等(一人一票)的失败也正在被历史所验证。

Song mentions the role of Wall Street’s five largest investment banks in the 2008 U.S. elections:

While collusion between officialdom and business in China still requires secrecy, it happens in broad daylight in the West.

由于西方的民主制度法必须通过选举,而选举成本堪称天文数字,这又给了资本介入的契机。我们知道2008年华尔街五大投行全军覆灭,但高盛集团的政治献金仍然高达数亿美元(如果说中国官商勾结还需要遮遮掩掩,在西方则是光天化日)。

Apparently based on the bestseller “This Town”, Song details his statement about democracy.

This book’s grim conclusion is this: transactions between power and money has become a thorough procedure. America has become exactly the way of the Roman empire in its late stage, before its collapse: Systematic political corruption, evil action as the usual practice, and legal offense in vogue.

这本书得出的冷酷结论是:权钱交易已经彻底地程序化。美国正如罗马帝国崩溃前的末期:制度化的政治腐败,作恶成了惯例,违法成了时髦。

[...]

In the face of the crisis of Western democracy, more and more scholars are waking up. Niall Ferguson, one of the West’s most renowned and influential historians, called “one of the world’s 100 most influential people” by “Time”, wrote -  after writing “Money and Power” and “Civilizaton” – about “The Western Civilization’s four Black Boxes”. In this book he argues that questions about the decline of the West lies in the degeneration of the institutions. Representational government, free markets, the rule of law, and civil society were once western Europe’s and North America’s four pillars, but are now in decay. The root lies in the irresponsibility to which the voting people have turned, living at the costs of future generations.

面对西方民主的危机,越来越多的学者开始醒悟。当代西方声誉最高、影 响力最大的历史学者,被《时代》周刊称为“影响世界的100人”之一的尼尔·弗格森,在《金钱与权力》、《文明》后,又推出一本新作:《西方文明的4个黑 盒子》,在这本书中,他认为西方衰落的答案就在西方的建制正在退化。代议政体、自由市场、法治、公民社会,曾是西欧、北美社会的四大支柱,但在今天这些建 制已败坏变质。根源则在于作为选民的人民变得不负责任,使一代选民得以在牺牲未来数代人利益下过日子。

This is also why the “New York Times’” columnist Thomas Friedman, in his new book “[The World is] Hot, Flat, and Crowded”, goes as far as titling one chapter “If America could be China for one Day”. He gives an example: “If need be, China’s leaders can change the regulatory system, the standards, infrastructure to safeguard the country’s long-term strategic benefit. If such issues get discussed and implemented in Western countries, I’m afraid it takes years or even decades.” [...]

这也是为什么《纽约时报》专栏作家托马斯·费里德曼新书《世界又热又平又挤》有一章的标题竟然是这样的: 假如美国能做一天中国。他举例道:“如果需要的话,中国领导人可以改变规章制度、标准、基础设施,以维护国家长期战略发展的利益。这些议题若换在西方国家 讨论和执行,恐怕要花几年甚至几十年的时间。” [.....]

This is where Song Luzheng gets back to Egypt, as a painfull lesson for Egypt itself, but a fortune for China (埃及的惨痛教训,对于中国实是极为宝贵的财富).

There are the three major human civilizations: Christian civilization, Islamic civilization, and Confucian cvilization. Only the Western democratic system can keep pace with China’s political civilization. But this kind of Western system has developed to today’s dysfunctionality, increasingly unable to adapt to the challenges of globalization. Apparently, Chinese civilization cannot be refused to play an important role among the world’s civilizations!

目前人类三大主要文明:基督教文明、伊斯兰教文明和儒家文明,真正能和中国政治文明并驾齐驱的只有西方的民主制度。但西方这种制度发展到今天已弊病丛生,日益无法适应全球化的挑战。看来,中华文明将不得不再一次在世界文明中扮演极为重要角色!

We can say that the decline of Western democracy and China’s institutional civilization full of vitality are humankind’s greatest and most influential change. In the old days, China’s  huge contributions to humankind weren’t only reflected in economics, but more importantly in its institutional civilization. These days, as China is becoming strong and prosperous again, it will also, once again, carve out another height of institutional civilization for humankind.

我们可以说,西方民主的衰落与中国制度文明充满生命力的崛起将是二十一世纪人类最伟大、影响最为深远的变革。昔日中国对人类的巨大贡献并不仅仅表现在经济的富庶,更重要的是制度文明。今天的中国,在重新走向富强的同时,也将再一次为人类开拓出更高的制度文明。

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Related

» Those Southern Newspaper’s Commentators, Jan 28, 2013
» Refuting Western Rhetoric, china.org.cn, Nov 18, 2012
» JR turns to Science, Dec 17, 2011
» Make America collapse, Feb 14, 2010

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Friday, April 26, 2013

Herrschaftswissen: Free or not, but “Engineered”

Wikileaks may have been useful in making some of the (Western or Arab) governments’ inside workings a bit more transparent – but it seems to me that what has been published by them doesn’t outweigh what is published by government themselves, or by their advisers, or by the mainstream press. We could have every government archive at our disposal, and would still face the problem of finding out what matters, and the problems of interpretation.

The Genius leads the spectators: engineering of consent in its early stages.

The Genius leads the spectators: engineering of consent in its early stages.

In this post, I will try to describe two examples of Herrschaftswissen, and one (rather old) example of methodology. A talk (not an article) on Wikipedia about enlightenment in Western secular tradition translates Herrschaftswissen as knowledge restricted to the rulers. I’m not sure if this should count as an exact translation, or just as a rough one.

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Example 1: David Cameron’s “Muscular Liberalism”

In February 2011, British prime minister David Cameron addressed the Munich Security Conference, an annual conference on international security policy held in Bavaria’s capital. It is an example of how politics and mainstream media work hand in hand – it was founded by a publisher in 1962, and that publisher was succeeded by a former high-ranking government bureaucrat in 1998.

In his speech, Cameron focused on radicalization among Muslims in many European countries. There isn’t much in the speech itself that I would object to, but what I view critically is the context of the speech.

While Cameron was focused on radical Islamists in Europe, the “Arab Spring” was in full swing. Cameron gave his talk on the eve of the outbreak of the Syrian civil war – a war described by the BBC‘s Jim Muir as a proxy struggle between the US-led western world and al-Qaeda international.

The West’s undertaking could also be described as a struggle to discern moderate and radically Islamist forces among the opposition fordes in Syria – a struggle European governments are facing at home, too. But that’s a problem the West could have spared itself. If Western governments (and their Arab and Turkish allies) succeeded in toppling Syria’s Baath regime and install a “moderate” new regime, chances are that the new regimes human rights record would be no better than that of the Baath party. Governments who encourage and support radicalism in mainly Muslim countries are hardly qualified to encourage moderation among Muslims in their own countries.

A few days ago, the European Union’s Counter-terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove told told the BBC that among the estimated 500 European citizens who were currently fighting in Syria, but most likely many of them will be radicalised there, will be trained.

When you want to undermine Islamist radicalization at home, the West’s strategy on Syria doesn’t look too reasonable. Those who Cameron purportedly wants to win over know very well how ambivalent muscular liberalism is about terrorism, when it is about practise, rather than about talk.

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Example 2. Trust in the CCP’s Central Committee

“Unity” is one of the supreme banners of the Chinese Communist Party. The downfall of Chongqing’s party chief Bo Xilai, only eight months ahead of the 18th National Congress of the CCP, came at a sensitive time. But if the power struggle about Bo Xilai was unpleasant or embarrassing already, the “visit” (or rather the tempoary getaway) of Chongqing’s Public Security Bureau head to the U.S. consulate in Chengdu in February 2012 should count as a PR disaster for the CCP.

The Chinese press had to pick up the pieces in the guidance of public opinion. Huanqiu Shibao, a CCP-owned but rather popularar Chinese paper, applied a mix of natural science (China’s rapid development is like a living body’s development, and there may always be some particulars we haven’t been familiar with) and orthodoxy (In China’s society of numerous and complicated voices, trust in the party’s central committee has become reason for society in its entirety). There was, Huanqiu elaborated, no contradiction between emancipation of mind and trust in the party’s central committee:

It is exactly for the diversity, for having several options, that we truly discover that trusting the party’s central committee, implementing the party’s road map, is more reliable than any other method other people may teach us, and more able to create the conditions that make the country and the individual develop.

This sounds like muscular socialism with Chinese characteristics.

Both Cameron and Chinese propaganda emphasize unity when it comes to fundamentals. The fundamentals are very different from each other, but the tools they are using to justify and legitimize their dominance are quite similar. However, Camaron’s game is easier to play than the CCP’s. When Chinese media openly bash dissidents, they risk getting unusually unharmonious responses from their recipients. When Cameron addresses radical Islamism, he will get his share of criticism, too, but that is nothing uncharacteristic in the British media.

And despite some inevitable criticism, when a European leader singles out radicalization among Muslims, chances are that the mainstream will respond rather favorably.

The problem for European politicians is that the political class is lacking the high degree of legitimacy – in view of the public – that it (reportedly) used to have. Or, as the Economist‘s Bagehot observed, the pomp of Margaret Thatcher‘s funeral met with shallow public interest. Even Mrs Thatcher’s enemies trusted that her motives were sincere, argues the Economist, but now all politicians are distrusted.

Not just among radical or not so radical Muslims. But if you pick a frequently disliked minority as Cameron does, you may still strike a chord with an increasingly resentful majority.

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3. Engineering of Consent

In 1955, an American public-relations counsel, Edward L. Bernays, wrote an article, summarizing what he referred to as the engineering of consent. Bernays didn’t necessarily invent it, but at the time when he wrote about it, he had probably been among the most successful thinkers about and propagandists and practitioners of the concept for decades. The engineering of consent should under no circumstances [...] supersede or displace the functions of the educational system, either formal or informal, Bernays wrote, in bringing about understanding by the people as a basis for their action. Rather, engineering of consent supplemented the educational process.

But in the previous paragraphs, Bernays had also written that

[..] it is sometimes impossible to reach joint decisions based on an understanding of facts by all the people. The average American adult has only six years of schooling behind him. With pressing crises and decisions to be faced, a leader frequently cannot wait for the people to arrive at an even general understanding. In certain cases, democratic leaders must play their part in leading the public through the engineering of consent to socially constructive goals and values. This role imposes upon them the obligation to use the educational processes, as well as other available techniques, to bring about as complete an understanding as possible.

Bernay’s essay leaves it essentially to the adopters how to make use of the toolkit he provided. Given that the tools are highly effective, it is obvious that they aren’t only used when the gap between public understanding and necessity (problem-solving) can’t be bridged in time, but whenever opportunists finds the engineering useful. Or, to put it more catchy: the dumber a policy, the dumber the public needs to be, and all the more, engineering of consent needs to supersede education.

Both democratically-elected and totalitarian politicians appear to be keen adopters, and it would be for the public itself to become more informed, to judge if the actons of politicians are in the public interest, or if they are not.

But the opposite is the case. While many European middlebrows regard the political class and their techniques as ethically rotten or even detest them for the manipulation, they are themselves adopters of spin-doctoring, too. Many blogs,  comments and other expressions of (political) opinion seem to apply the means and methods used by the political class to make their case. There seems to be an ambivalence among the ruled about the desire to belong to the political class, and to refute it.

Not to mention Wikileaks. Wikileaks doesn’t “educate”, either.

In that regard, the average Chinese netizen appears to be more aware of the manipulation he or she is subjected too, than the Western subject to the same PR technology – Chinese awareness states itself in terms like “we’ve been harmonized” [by Chinese authorities or media]. Or, when Huanqiu Shibao wrote in 2012 that opinion poll results published by American Gallup  showed that during the preceding three years, among the five BRIC states’ population, the Brazilians and Chinese had been most satisfied with their living standards, and only the Chinese felt during three successive years that the living standard had continuously improved, a commenter laconically replied that he had been satisfied (in a passive-voice sense) by the Americans. In certain ways, the experience of living under a totalitarian government seems to stimulate clear-sightedness.

Bernays reportedly liked to close his speeches and talks with an invariable summary: And everybody is happy.

There may not be a great future for public happiness. But quite probably, there is one for the engineering of consent.

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Related

» Battle of Opinion, Feb 13, 2013

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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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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Information Warfare in the Far and the Middle East (and in Europe)

Links within blockquotes added during translation.

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1) To be Blown Away: Pyongyang continues Dialog with other Means

Xinhua/Enorth, Oct 20 —

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According to a KCNA report on Friday, North Korea’s People’s Army’s Western Front headquarters issued a statement condemning South Korean organizations’ plans to distribute leaflets among North Koreans, saying that once such distribution was detected, military strikes would be conducted right away and without prior warning.

据朝中社19日报道,朝鲜人民军西部前线司令部当天发表公告,谴责韩国团体计划向朝鲜散布传单,表示一旦发现有任何动向散布传单,将不做事先警告立即实施军事打击。

The notice said that YTN Television and other media reported that South Korea would insult North Korea’s supreme dignity and sacred system by disseminating leaflets from Imjingak Park in the city of Paju [in South Korea's northwestern, Gyeonggi Province. They schemed to write slanderous content against the sacred and supremely dignified North Korea on those leaflets, and use more than ten big balloons to fly them into North Korea.

通告说,韩国YTN电视台等新闻媒体报道,韩国将于22日上午11时30分在韩国京畿道坡州市临津阁散布侮辱朝鲜最高尊严和神圣体制的传单。他们图谋在传单上写进诋毁朝鲜神圣最高尊严的内容,并将其放入10多个大型气球向朝鲜地区放飞。

The notice said that this action was a move by South Korean authorities themselves, directed and carried forward by the [South Korean] military. This was an intolerable challenge against the North Korean army and people, a deliberate action to push North-South relations to the worst situation.

通告说,此次散布传单行动由韩国当局亲手策划,并由军方主导推进。这是对朝鲜军民不可容忍的挑战,是故意把北南关系推向最坏局面的行径。

Paju is situated near the Korean peninsula’s demarcation line. The notice said that from now on, Imjingak Park and surrounding areas, as a forthright site for leaflet dissemination, would become a target to be destroyed by North Korean troops. As soon as any dissemination activities from Imjingak Park and surrounding areas were detected, the North Korean People’s Army Western Command headquarters would conduct military strikes right away, mercilessly, and without prior warning.

坡州市临近朝鲜半岛军事分界线。通告说,从现在起,被公开为散布传单地点的韩国京畿道坡州市临津阁及其周边地区将成为朝鲜军队直接瞄准射击摧毁目标。一旦发现临津阁及其周边地区有任何散布传单的动向,朝鲜人民军西部前线部队将不做事先警告,立即实施毫不留情的军事打击。

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KCNA (Japan), Oct 19 —

Pyongyang, October 19 (KCNA) – The Western Front Command of the Korean People’s Army released the following notice Friday:

The Lee Myung Bak group of traitors, keen on escalating confrontation with fellow countrymen, is planning to scatter leaflets slandering the dignity of the supreme leadership of the DPRK, being unaware of its fate on the verge of ruin.

According to YIN and other media of south Korea, leaflets slandering the dignity of the supreme leadership of the DPRK and insulting the noble social system in it will be scattered from Rimjin Pavilion in Phaju City, Kyonggi Province at 11:30 a.m. on October 22.

The south Korean group of traitors said that it would use the Association for Promotion of Democracy of North Korea, a collection of riff-raffs, in the operation with the aim to intensify psychological warfare against the DPRK. It is set to send more than 10 huge balloons carrying the leaflets to areas of the DPRK side.

What matters is that the plan was directly invented by the group of traitors and is being engineered by the south Korean military.

This is an unpardonable challenge to the army and people of the DPRK and a deliberate act aimed to push the north-south ties to the lowest ebb.

The Lee regime considers that aggravated north-south ties before the “presidential election” will be favorable for the conservative forces. Human scum under the patronage of the group has common mentality with the group. This resulted in the undisguised operation of scattering the leaflets.

It is the firm will of the army not to overlook any act of provoking the dignity of the supreme leadership of the country and its social system.

The Western Front Command of the KPA issues following notice upon authorization:

1. Rimjin Pavilion in Phaju City, location from where the puppet forces made public they would send leaflets and its surrounding area will become targets of direct firing of the KPA from now.

The location is the origin of provocation which can never be left as it is and a target of physical strike to be immediately blown away.

2. The moment a minor movement for the scattering is captured in Rimjin Pavilion and in its vicinity, merciless military strike by the Western Front will be put into practice without warning.

Scattering of leaflets amounts to an undisguised psychological warfare, breach of the Korean Armistice Agreement and an unpardonable war provocation.

3. South Korean inhabitants at Rimjin Pavilion and its surrounding area are requested to evacuate in anticipation of possible damage.

The KPA never makes an empty talk.

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2) Blatant Violation of TV regulations in Middle East

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Satellite dishes, Aleppo, Syria

Hello, Halab, can you hear us? (Archive)

Jon Williams on Twitter:

BBC World News being deliberately jammed from within Syria. Unclear who responsible, but blatant violation of international TV regulations.

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VoA News, Oct 19 —

The Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees the Voice of America and other U.S.-funded international broadcasters, has joined European public media outlets in condemning the jamming of satellite signals across the Middle East and Europe.

BBG Director Richard Lobo said in a statement Friday that the jamming of U.S. satellite signals and those of other broadcasters is a “blatant violation of international regulations.” He added that the deliberate interference of news and information programs in countries with restrictive media denies millions of people access to information.

[...]

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Deutsche Welle Chinese website, Oct 19, 2012

[...]

On Thursday morning (October 18, 2012), Deutsche Welle was first jammed. Deutsche Welle director Eric Bettermann protested against this interference with media freedom. Bettermann said that Deutsche Welle is preparing a resolution, together with other countries’ international broadcasters.

周四早上(2012年10月18日),先是德国之声的广播节目受到干扰。德国之声台长埃里克·贝特曼对这种再次干预媒体自由的行为提出抗议。贝特曼说,德国之声电台正在与其他国家的国际广播电台一起筹备一项联合决议。

Experts suspect Iran to be the mastermind behind the scene. According to media reports, this country has jammed Western broadcasters and television stations several times in recent years, preventing people to listen to some programs.

专家怀疑,伊朗是目前干扰行动的幕后策划者。据媒体报道,该国近年来已多次干扰西方电台和电视台的节目播出,阻止人们收听这些电台的节目。

Experts reckon that recent interference with Western broadcasters is related to European satellite Eutelsat ceased broadcasting 19 Iranian programs.  On Monday (October 15, 2012), the European satellite operator stopped Iranian Television network’s IRIB programs, making it impossible to listen to Iranian radio programs and watching Iranian television programs outside Iran, including international news channel 电视新闻.

据专家估计,最近针对西方电台和电视台节目发出的干扰信号,与欧洲通信卫星公司Eutelsat停止对伊朗19套节目进行转播的决定相关。周一,(2012年10月15日),欧洲通信卫星公司运营商停止了对伊朗广播电视联盟IRIB的节目转播,因此在伊朗境外无法再收听伊朗电台和电视台的节目,其中也包括伊朗的国际新闻频道”电视新闻”栏目。

The satellite operator says that the switch-off was a decision by the Council of the European Union in March. At the time, EU leaders included Iranian radio and television network IRIB in the EU sanctions list. In August 2009 and in December 2011, IRIB broadcasted the trials of people who had confessed after torture, which was in violation of international law.

欧洲通信卫星公司表示,停止转播伊朗电台电视台的节目是欧盟理事会今年3月做出的决定。当时,欧盟领导人将伊朗电台和电视台联盟IRIB的负责人列入了受欧盟制裁者名单。 IRIB曾在2009年8月和2011年12月播放刑讯逼供和公开审判的镜头,此举违反国际法。

[...]
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Die Zeit, Oct 19, 2012

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports that Deutsche Welle suspects that Iran is behind the attack against their program. According to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the broadcaster, together with other foreign broadcasters, prepares a resolution. DW director Erik Bettermann protested against the disruptions.

Wie die FAZ berichtet, vermutet die DW den Iran hinter der Attacke gegen ihr Programm. Laut FAZ bereitet der Sender mit anderen Auslandssendern eine gemeinsame Resolution vor. DW-Intendant Erik Bettermann protestierte gegen die Störungen.

According to the report, Iran had repeatedly disrupted broadcasts from Deutsche Welle and the BBC. The latest infringement would thus be related with the cut-off of Iranian programs on the Hotbird satellite. Eutelsat and the British company Arqiva had switched them off in accordance with EU sanctions against Iran.

Dem Bericht zufolge hat der Iran in den vergangenen Jahren wiederholt die Ausstrahlung von DW und BBC gestört. Der jüngste Übergriff stehet demnach im Zusammenhang mit der Abschaltung der Übertragung von 19 iranischen Programmen über den Satelliten Hotbird. Eutelsat und das britische Unternehmen Arqiva waren mit der Abschaltung Sanktionen der EU gegen den Iran nachgekommen.

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IRIB, Oct 20, 2012

[Iranian lawmaker Hojjatollah Souri*)] added that dozens of Western channels are working in Iran and many of them target the culture and beliefs of Iranians. He continued “But these countries cannot tolerate 19 Iranian international satellite channels and this shows that these 19 channels belonging to the Islamic Republic are more influential than … Western ones.”

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Note

*) According to UK for Iranians, a man named Hojjatollah Souri is in charge of Evin Prison. The lawmaker quoted above may or not be the same person.

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Related

» Keep Shortwave, for Now, July 24, 2011
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