Posts tagged ‘totalitarianism’

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

How Logical, Mr. Palmer!

When business is going fine, CCP cadres are partners. When it’s going less well, they are mongrels [who] shoot their own people.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Fourth “China Tibet Development Forum”: Come Sigh with Us

When this snow-covered highland which underwent so many changes is so frequently misrepresented or misunderstood, be it intentionally or unintentionally, more people should be helped to understand the real Tibet,

发生在这片雪域高原的沧桑巨变,一直承受着有意无意的曲解或误解,需要让更多人了解真实的西藏

People’s Daily suggested on Friday.

Having brought together nearly one-hundred guests from thirty countries and territories, the “2014 China Tibet Development Forum” reached a “Lhasa Consensus” that is rich in content and fruitful in its results. Admiring New Tibet’s economic and social development, the improvements in its people’s livelihood, cultural protection, ecological construction and other great achievements, the foreign guests, walking a bit of the snow-covered highland’s irreversible modern cultural development themselves, were all praise.

汇聚世界30多个国家和地区近百位嘉宾的 “2014·中国西藏发展论坛”,达成了内容丰富、成果丰硕的“拉萨共识”。赞赏新西藏在经济社会发展、民生改善、文化保护、生态建设等方面所取得的巨大 成就,赞叹雪域高原走上一条不可逆转的现代文明发展进步之路,是与会中外嘉宾的共同心声。

Myths about the old slave society and alarmist stories harbored and produced by some people meant that besides accelerating Tibet’s scientific development further, opening Tibet up to let more people know “the real Tibet” was necessary, People’s Daily wrote.

But there was a problem. News articles like People’s Daily’s seemed to suggest that every participant had shared the consensus – an impression that at least one participant rejected. Talking to the BBC through his mobile phone, Sir Bob Parker, a former mayor of Christchurch in New Zealand, said that he hadn’t endorsed the statement. While knowing that such a statement had been made, he hadn’t signed up. “I think a number of people who were there were a little surprised to hear about that statement.”

Another attendee, Lord Davidson of Glen Clova, a member of the House of Lords, was reportedly not available for an interview with the BBC.

According to Xinhua, the conference, the first “Tibet Development Forum” held in Tibet itself, was sponsored by the Information Office of China’s State Council and the regional government of Tibet. It was reportedly held on August 12 and 13.

The previous three forums had been held in Vienna in 2007, in Rome in 2009, and in Athens in 2011, according to Tibet Express, a Dharamsala-based website.

Let the world gasp in admiration, Xinhua suggested three years ago, itself all sighs of emotion.

It’s nice when you don’t need to do all the sighing alone – but apparently, some people still stubbornly refuse to join.

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Related

» Appeasing China, May 1, 2014
» Keep Calm, Feb 23, 2014
» Voice of Tibet, Feb 1, 2014
» Science in Action, Dec 26, 2010
» Thanking Sandrup’s lawyers, June 26, 2010
» Zap zap jé, Oct 16, 2009

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Monday, July 14, 2014

Monday Start-of-Work Links: Debauchery, Demonic Fetuses, and War

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1. Vietnam’s Key Ally

Vietnam “can’t fight Chinese encroachment alone”, writes Tuong Lai, a  sociologist, also known as Nguyen Phuoc Tuong, and a former adviser to two Vietnamese prime ministers, according to the New York Times. The key ally for Vietnam today is the United States — an alliance that the Vietnamese liberation hero Ho Chi Minh ironically always wanted.

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2. Shinzo Abe ends Tour of  New Zealand, Australia, Papua New Guinea

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe arrived back in Tokyo on Saturday afternoon. He had visited New Zealand, Australia and Papua New Guinea during a trip that began the previous Sunday, according to Radio Japan:

He briefed leaders of the 3 countries on his Cabinet’s decision to reinterpret the Constitution to allow Japan to exercise its right to collective self-defense.
He sought their understanding on Japan’s aim to proactively contribute to global and regional peace and security.

Reinterpretation – or a constitutional putsch, as Jeff Kingston describes it in an article for the Japan Times.

Abe has decided to allow his country to go to war in the defence of its allies. The polite cover story is that Japan needs to be able to help the US in defending itself against the dangerous crazies of North Korea,

writes Peter Hartcher of the Sydney Morning Herald, adding that

The reality is that Japan is bracing for the possibility of war with China.

Meantime, on Saturday, China Youth Net (中国青年网) briefed its readers about what it describes as an anti-communist, anti-China policy with a continuity from former Japanese prime minister Nobusuke Kishi – be it from his days as prime minister from 1957 to 1960, be it from his days in Manchuria – to current prime minister Shinzo Abe:

The [CCTV] report says that Kishi lived a life of debauchery while in China, with alcohol and whores every night. He was called the demon of Manchuria. After the war, he was rated a class A war criminal but in the end managed to avoid trial, becoming Japanese prime minister in 1957. During his term, Kishi actively promoted anti-communism and anti-China, modified the the policies of the peaceful constitution, just as Abe is doing these days. It is exactly the mantle of this war-criminal grandfather.

报道称,岸信介在华期间生活放荡,每晚饮酒嫖妓,人称“满洲之妖”。战后被判为甲级战犯,但最终逃脱审判,并于1957年担任日本首相。在任期间,岸信介积极推进反共反华、修改和平宪法的政策,而如今安倍晋三继承的,正是这个战犯外公的衣钵。

The article also mentions the Nagasaki flag incident:

Kishi was hostile to New China (i. e. communist China). After coming to power, the winds of Japanese politics quickly turned right, with activities hostile towards China. During April and May 1958, the Japan-China Friendship Association’s Nagasaki branch held an exhibition of Chinese stamps and paper cuts. During the exhibition, two thugs tore the Five-Starred Red Flag down, causing the “Nagasaki Flag Incident” which shocked China and Japan, while Kishi actually said that “the article that makes the damaging of foreign flags a punishable crime does not apply to China.” This matter caused outrage in China. In May of the same year, the Chinese government announced that the limits of Chinese tolerance had been reached and that under these circumstances, trade and cultural exchange with Japan would be cut off. After that, Sino-Japanese relations withdrew to the initial stages of the post-war period. Until Kishi stepped down in 1960 and Hayato Ikeda formed a new cabinet, Sino-Japanese relations made a turn for the better again.

岸信介敌视新中国。在他上台后,日本的政治风向迅速右转,进行了一系列敌视中国的活动。1958年四五月间,日中友好协会长崎支部举办中国邮票剪纸展览 会,期间会场上悬挂的五星红旗被两名暴徒撤下撕毁,制造了震惊中日两国的“长崎国旗事件”,而岸信介居然称:“日本刑法关于损坏外国国旗将受惩罚的条款, 不适用于中国。”此事激起了中方的极大愤慨。同年5月11日,中国政府宣布,中方在忍无可忍的情况下决定断绝同日本的贸易往来和文化交流。此后,中日关系 倒退到战后初期状态。直到1960年岸信介下台,池田勇人组织新内阁,中日关系才出现转机。

[...]

While Kishi has a bad reputation in China, Japan’s current prime minister Shinzo Abe, when referrring to this maternal grandfather, blew the trumpet [to his praise]. In his book, “Beautiful Japan”, he acknowledges that “my political DNA has inherited more from Nobusuke Kishi’s genes.”

虽然岸信介在中国臭名昭著,但日本现任首相安倍晋三提到这个外祖父时,却大吹特吹。他在其所写的《美丽的日本》一书中承认:“我的政治DNA更多地继承了岸信介的遗传。”

 

Kishi’s reputation in South Korea isn’t good either. However, his name may serve to insult South Korean politicians. A South Korean member of parliament

described President Park and her Japanese counterpart, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, as the offspring of “demonic fetuses” that should not have been born ― in reference to ex-President Park Chung-hee and ex-Japanese leader Nobusuke Kishi.

In Australia, the government’s policy towards China and Japan appears to be causing headaches. Peter Hartcher of the Sydney Morning Herald notes that

[t]o now, the government and opposition have agreed on how Australia should deal with China. That agreement fell apart this week. It fell apart after the leader of Japan, China’s arch-rival, came to town.

Apparently, Hartcher writes, Australia’s foreign minister

Julie Bishop spoke in anticipation of the potential reaction from Beijing in an interview with Fairfax Media’s John Garnaut.
The story in Thursday’s paper began: “Australia will stand up to China to defend peace, liberal values and the rule of law, says Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.
“In the Coalition government’s clearest statement yet on how to handle China, Ms Bishop said it had been a mistake for previous governments to avoid speaking about China for fear of causing offence.
“China doesn’t respect weakness,” the article quoted Bishop as saying.

Labor disagreed. And once the can had been opened, alleged euphemisms by prime minister Tony Abbott about Japan’s war on its neighbors, made in reply to Abe, became an issue, too.

All that after Abe had left for Papua New Guinea, and before any words of disapproval had emerged from Beijing.

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3. Xinjiang: Have you eaten?

The old traditional Han-Chinese greeting – “did you eat?” – has apparently become a genuine question in Xinjiang. As Han-Chinese cultural imperialism shows concern not only for the spirutual, but also the tangible nourishment of the  colony the autonomous region, Muslim students are forced to have meals with professors to ensure they are not fasting during the current Ramadan, reports the BBC‘s Martin Patience.

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4. Four more Generals

Four Chinese military officers have become generals. Xi Jinping, in his capacity as the party and state Central Military Commission (CMC), issued the promotions and took part in the ceremony on Friday. The promoted officers are Deputy Chief of General Staff (副总参谋长) of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Qi Jianguo (戚建国), Commander of the Shenyang Military Area Command (沈阳军区司令员) Wang Jiaocheng (王教成), Political Commissar of the Shenyang Military Area Command (政治委员) Chu Yimin (褚益民) and Political Commissar of the Guangzhou Military Area Command (广州军区政治委员) Wei Liang (魏亮). CMC vice chairmen Fan Changlong (范长龙) and Xu Qiliang (许其亮) also attended the ceremony.

In neat military formation and high spirits, the promoted officers went to the Chairman’s rostrum. Xi Jinping handed them their letters of appointment and cordially shook their hands to congratulate them. The four military officers, wearing general’s epaulets, saluted to Xi Jinping and the other leading comrades and to all comrades attending the ceremony, and enthusiastic applause rose from the whole audience.

晋升上将军衔的4位军官军容严整、精神抖擞地走到主席台前。习近平向他们颁发命令状,并同他们亲切握手,表示祝贺。佩戴了上将军衔肩章的4位军官向习近平等领导同志敬礼,向参加仪式的全体同志敬礼,全场响起热烈的掌声。

CMC members Chang Wanquan, Fang Fenghui, Zhang Yang, Zhao Keshi, Zhang Youxia, Wu Shengli, Ma Xiaotian and Wei Fenghe attended the promotion ceremony.

中央军委委员常万全、房峰辉、张阳、赵克石、张又侠、吴胜利、马晓天、魏凤和出席晋衔仪式。

The ceremony ended with the resonant sound of military songs. Afterwards, Xi Jinping and other leading comrades stood for a souvenir photo with the promoted officers.

晋衔仪式在嘹亮的军歌声中结束。之后,习近平等领导同志同晋升上将军衔的军官合影留念。

Also in attendance were all the PLA headquarters, all big Danweis (units) of Beijing, leaders of the General Office of Central Military Commission, and others.

出席晋衔仪式的还有解放军各总部、驻京各大单位和军委办公厅领导等。

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Thursday, July 3, 2014

State Vandalism on the Air: from Beijing with Fear and Loathing

It couldn’t last. NHK Radio Japan‘s Chinese programs on 9540 kHz came in with a good signal here in Northern Germany for many months, but that seems to be over now. China People’s Broadcasting Station (CPBS), aka China National Radio (CNR) from mainland China occupies the frequency now.

Radio Japan QSL card from 1986, showing a tea plantation.

Can you pick us up? A Radio Japan QSL card from 1986, showing a tea plantation.

That doesn’t make Radio Japan completely inaudible here, but it’s no fun to listen to a faint Japanese signal behind vocal mainland Chinese commercials. I’ll probably switch NHK podcasts.

To use domestic radio to block international broadcasters is vandalism.

When it comes to certain historical Chinese facts, the Communist Party of China can’t even coexist with them. It seems that Beijing can’t coexist with information from abroad – no matter if facts, lies, or propaganda – either.

The way China is jamming Radio Japan is, by the way, a pussy-footed way of spoiling shortwave. The “Firedrake” would, at least, be a candid statement, even if still as ugly.

Rebroadcasts of China Radio International (CRI) programs and other Beijing-made propaganda, like the ones via Radio Luxemburg‘s 1440 kHz, ought to be tagged with an announcement at the beginning and the end of every hour on the air, informing listeners that while they can listen to the message from Beijing unimpeded, the senders themselves are denying Chinese nationals the experience of listening to international broadcasters.

That one line would tell more about China than a one-hour broadcast by China Radio International.

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Updates/Related

» Radio Japan Mandarin podcasts, regularly updated
» Jamming of BBC continues, March 28, 2014

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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

June 4, 25 Years Later: Drinking the Wolf’s Milk

The Communist Party of China can’t live with the facts – it can’t even coexist with them. Anyone who thinks that we can “get past” the Tian An Men massacre is wrong. China’s collective leadership itself never got past it, and may never get past it. Nor can their business friends, supporters and well-wishers, at home or abroad. Just as stone can’t rot away, the memory of June 4, 1989 lingers. This memory is the touchstone few people inside China dare to touch upon – not the Chinese nomenklatura, nor their beneficiaries, and those who are both administrators and beneficiaries least of all. You comrades have been working hard, Deng Xiaoping told military commanders on June 9, 1989. The CCP, obviously, isn’t advertising the speech, but isn’t hiding it either – People’s Daily online apparently has the speech in full in its archive.

Deng Xiaoping, June 9, 1989

The only official evaluation so far: Deng Xiaoping defends his reform policies of economic openness and political repression, June 9, 1989 (click picture for video)

Richard Burger has a piece on June 4 today, plus an interesting comment there, and a post on May 19, also on this topic.

Many Chinese people were detained after the massacre. Some are reportedly still in prison; less than a dozen according to an estimate by the Dui Hua foundation.

Those in China who remember, and want to remember publicly, are threatened. In an interview with the New York Review of Books, Hu Jia said that for entering Tian An Men Square on June 4, he could receive a twelve-year prison sentence, and that since February 24 this year, his movements have been restricted by the Beijing Municipal Domestic Security Corps and the Tongzhou Branch of the Beijing Municipal Security Detachment, the latter of who had been around since July 2, 2004.

Hu Jia’s wife Zeng Jinyan has moved to Hong Kong with their daughter. “It’s better for them to be there”, Hu said in the New York Review of Books interview, describing how the CCP flag – not China’s national flag – was hanging at his daughter’s kindergarten on the 90th anniversary of the CCP’s founding (apparently on July 1, 2011). “They taught them that the party’s red flag is color with the blood of martyrs. This is really an evil influence on children. We call this ‘drinking the wolf’s milk’.

On June 1, i. e. on International Children’s Day, party and state leader Xi Jinping visited Haidian National Primary School in Beijing. Choreography had a child convey the party’s message: “[To join the Young Pioneers] is kind of an honor.”

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Related

» Informal Discussions, Open University, Apr 11, 2014
» Xi on Teachers’ Guiding Role, Jan 7, 2012

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Updates/Related

» Two HK Vigils, Tealeaf Nation, June 5, 2014
» Hong Kong vigil, BBC News, June 4, 2014
» Take a trip, foreign friends, China University of Political Science and Law, May 29, 2014

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Monday, June 2, 2014

Monday Start-of-Work Links: Fostering Socialist Values on International Children’s Day

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1. Why Russia Today succeeds while CCTV-9 fails: it depends on how you define and choose your target audience, on familiar faces, on the format of your programs, and on integration with the intelligence services, suggests Foarp.

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2. Ar Dee, an ethnic Tibetan, makes no apologies for her Tib-lish. This was posted nearly two weeks ago, but the topic is  basically timeless. It’s about a language we probably won’t find on Google Translate any time soon. About a moment when the author yearned to call on some supernatural power to fix her tongue.

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3. Sichuanese police held anti-terrorism drills in Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, apparently late last month. The drills included the handling of self-immolations. This struck me as weird when reading about it on the exile radio station Voice of Tibet‘s website, but CCTV English actually confirms it. Foarp – see 1. – might have a point. Chinese media for foreign audiences making fun of themselves.-

 

4. June 1 was the International Children’s Day. It seems to be mostly communist folk & custom, and logically, the indoctrination of the young is a job for the top: party and state chairman Xi Jinping, last Friday, called for fostering socialist values among children while sending greetings ahead of Sunday’s International Children’s Day.

The “socialist core values” that the country now upholds embody the thoughts of ancient masters, the aspirations of the nation’s role models, ideals of revolutionary martyrs and expectation of all Chinese people,

China Radio International (CRI) quotes Xi. Xi Jinping arrived at Haidian National Primary School in Beijing at 9:30 local time, according to this Xinhua report, and a student offered him a red scarf on arrival. How his heart pounded with excitement when joining the young pioneers in 1960, Xi told the kids, asking if they didn’t feel the same way.

“Yes”, a child answered. “Why is it so?” “Because it is sort of an honor.” The general secretary [Xi Jinping] said: “I have seen hope on your faces, the hopes of the motherland and the people. It’s just as said in the oath: one needs to be always prepared, to take one’s turn on duty in the future.”

总书记继续说:“记得入队时心怦怦跳,很激动。不知你们有没有这种感觉?”孩子们回答:“有。”“为什么会这样?因为是一种荣誉。”总书记表示,“我在你们脸上看到了希望,祖国和民族的希望。正像誓言说的那样,要时刻准备着,将来接班。”

Referred to as Xi Dada (kind of Uncle Xi) on another occasion, the general secretary was Xi Yeye (Grandfather Xi) at Haidian National Primary School, maybe for the grandfatherly stories he told. The core lesson from Xi’s recollections was that to move from one stripe to two stripes to becoming a standard bearer among the young pioneers required a lot of work, a student is quoted as summarizing the listening experience.

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5. Fei Chang Dao has the latest about efforts to block June-4-related information. Online censorship reportedly includes May 35th (May 31 + 4).

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6. The BBC has a Chinese press review: China media criticise US and Japan leaders …

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7. … but there’s no need to fear Japan anymore. This, anyway, could be the positive message you might extract from the second picture in Chang‘s collection: nearly seven decades after America won the 2nd World War in the Far East, Japan finally submits to Washington, in in the shape of Itsunori Onodera, Japan’s minister of defense. People slightly familiar with China and/or Japan will know that many Chinese and Japanese men hate to be hugged, and might flinch if it happens, but neither Chang nor South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo could apparently resist the temptation. At least, the South Koreans didn’t openly doubt Onodera’s manhood: U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (left) chats with Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera ahead of a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Eaten rat

A rat once eaten and then returned …

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cat

… probably in a fit of bulimia.

Chang, if you find one of these pictures repulsive, you aren’t a man either!

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8. And as we started with propaganda (see “1.“),  let’s wind up with propaganda, too:

Some say that [from] the West is propaganda … - In the U.S. it is called public diplomacy (public diplomacy). We do not do it in sufficient quantities, to be honest.

Attributed to David Kramer, Freedom House executive director, by John Brown who seems to be quoting Kasparov.ru.

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Related

» Previous Monday links, May 25, 2014

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Update/Related

Adjustments at General Staff Headquarters, Oct 25, 2012

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Saturday, May 3, 2014

32nd Ethnic-Unity Education Month in Xinjiang: Attack at Urumqi South Railway Station as Xi Jinping ends Inspection Tour

Urumqi South Station (乌鲁木齐火车南站) saw an explosion and knife attacks at about 7.10 p.m. local time on Wednesday, on arrival of a train from Chengdu (Sichuan Province), the BBC reported on Thursday. Three people were reportedly killed, and 79 injured.

A China Net report of May 3, republished also on May 3 by Shijiazhuang News (石家庄新闻网), emphasized the beauty and encouragement the official press sees in Xi’s visit to Xinjiang from April 27 to 30, during the days before the attack in Urumqi:

In recent days, State Chairman Xi Jinping carried out a four-day inspection tour in Xinjiang. This was the first time that Chairman Xi came to Xinjiang after the 18th CCP National Congress. His words, “Our Xinjiang is still the most Beautiful”, expressed his sincere feelings, and moved countless people who love these lands at one blow. “Uncle Xi has come at last! The people of Xinjiang see their hope!”, a netizen named Jiebushimusi cheered.

近日,国家主席习近平赴新疆进行了为期4天的考察。这是十八大后习主席首次来到新疆,他的一句“最美还是我们新疆”展现出的真挚情感,一下子打动了无数关心、热爱这片土地的人。“习大大终于来新疆了!新疆人民看到希望了!”名为“姐不是缪斯”的网友这样欢呼。

Xi was accompanied by Fan Changlong (范长龙), Wang Huning (王沪宁), Zhang Chunxian (张春贤), Li Zhanshu (栗战书),  Liu Yuejun (刘粤军), Li Changcai (李长才), Wang Jianping (王建平), and Nur Bekri (努尔•白克力), according to state television CCTV.

Xinwen Lianbo, CCTV‘s main news broadcast, covered the inspection tour extensively in its May-1 edition.

A counter-terrorism exercise, Xinjiang Military Region Integrated Training Field, April 29. Click picture for CCTV coverage.

A counter-terrorism exercise, Xinjiang Military Region Integrated Training Field, April 29. Click picture for CCTV coverage.

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Soldiers of six different nationalities dance and listen to the party - click picture for CCTV coverage.

Soldiers of six different nationalities dance and listen to the party – click picture for CCTV coverage.

On May 2, Xinwen Lianbo, again as its first main news story, presented a model-worker Armed-Police hospital in Xinjiang, which had carried out more than one-hundred gallbladder surgeries. The report also noted that May 2014 also marked the 32nd ethnic-unity education month in Xinjiang.

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Related

» 暴恐袭击案告破, Jinghua, May 2, 2014
» Zhu Weiqun, Febr 23, 2014
» Ilham Tohti, Febr 12, 2014
» Important Instructions, Apr 29, 2013
» Nur Bekri, Mar 7, 2009

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

“Optimizing Something”: Russia centralizes Propaganda, scraps Shortwave Broadcaster and other traditional Institutions

As the end of March drew nearer, central Europeans could still hear the station from afar, a muted signal behind some gentle, steady noise. The “Voice of Russia” targeted Australia and New Zealand with an English-language program of four hours daily, from the transmission site of Angarsk, near Irkutsk. Those appear to have been the last programs in English. Chances are that some programs in Japanese were also still aired at the time. A shortwave listener in Taipei kept listening to VoR’s Chinese programs on shortwave, right to the end on March 31 (his post contains some recordings).

Listeners who wrote inquiries to VoR got a reaction. But overall, very little, if anything, was mentioned in the programs on shortwave, about the nearing end of the service. For sure, no words of respect were lost about the medium’s use during some eighty-five years of Russian external broadcasting. Maybe they hadn’t been of much use after all, as the message never seemed to sink in in the target areas? In that case, you could hardly blame shortwave.

On April 1, all of VoR’s shortwave transmissions had become history.

APN-Verlag, via Radio Moscow

The old-fashioned way: propaganda booklet by mail, Ria Novosti via Radio Moscow, March 31, 1987.

The “Voice of Russia” (VoR), formerly known as Radio Moscow or Radio Moscow World Service, only exists as a brand now, within the media empire of Russia Today, which also swallowed Ria Novosti. “We will use the old brand for the time being, but leading international specialists are already working on the new brands and they will be ready soon, the “Voice of Russia” and/or Interfax quoted Russia Today’s editor-in-chief, Margarita Simonyan. A renewed English newswire would be launched on April 1, and it would be available round-the-clock on June 1.

No additional funding would be needed, the editor-in-chief was quoted as saying: “We are not asking additional money for all that, which means we will have to optimize something to get resources for the creation of something more modern. We will stop using obsolete radio broadcasting models, when the signal is transmitted without any control and when it is impossible to calculate who listens to it and where.”

Indeed, this had been the message of Vladimir Putin‘s presidential decree in December, on certain measures to raise the operational effectiveness of state-owned mass media.

Radio Moscow QSL, apparently featuring the Lenin Mausoleum, 1980s.

Radio Moscow QSL, Lenin Mausoleum, 1980s.

On the same day, December 9, Ria Novosti offered a comparatively candid interpretation of the decree: The move is the latest in a series of shifts in Russia’s news landscape that appear to point toward a tightening of state control in the already heavily regulated media sector,

Ria Novosti wrote, and added that

In a separate decree published Monday, the Kremlin appointed Dmitry Kiselyov, a prominent Russian television presenter and media manager recently embroiled in a scandal over anti-gay remarks, to head Rossiya Segodnya.

Russia Today is the English translation for the actual Russian name, Rossiya Segodnya. Rossiya Segodnya, however, is apparently not related to the English-language television channel whose name had also been “Russia Today”, Ria Novosti wrote.

Ria Novosti then added some more information, beyond its own dissolution:

RIA Novosti was set up in 1941, two days after Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union, as the Soviet Information Bureau, and now has reporters in over 45 countries providing news in 14 languages.

Last month Gazprom-Media, which is closely linked to state-run gas giant Gazprom, bought control of Russian media company Profmedia from Russian billionaire Vladimir Potanin. In October, Mikhail Lesin, a former Kremlin advisor, was appointed to head Gazprom-Media.

Reuters also reported the Gazprom-Media story, in November last year.

Radio Moscow, the “Voice of Russia’s” predecessor as the Russian (or Soviet) foreign broadcasting service, was a superpower on the air, during the 1980s. 2094 program hours per week are said to have been produced in that decade,  compared with 1901 hours per week by their American competitors at the Voice of America (VoA).

The discrepancy was even greater when it came to transmitters and kilowatts,according to German newsmagazine Der Spiegel at the time: while Radio Moscow had threehundred transmission sites at their disposal, it was only 110 on the American side – and VoA only had one-twentieth the budget of Radio Moscow.

That was to change, at least in relative terms: the Reagan administration had convinced Congress to provide considerable funding. But as the Cold War came to an end, government interest on all sides in foreign broadcasting faded.

As far as Russia’s external broadcasters, now named “The Voice of Russia”, was concerned, not only the financial or technical equipment weakened, but so, apparently, did their self-image. Religious and esoteric organizations populated many last quarters of the Voice’s – still numerous – broadcasting hours in German, and at least among German-language broadcasters, there seemed to be different concepts of what would be successful or professional coverage of Russian affairs, a feature by German broadcaster DLF suggested.

The broadcasting house certainly no longer came across as the elites’ jumping board, as a place where Egon Erwin Kisch or Bertolt Brecht once worked.

The Kremlin, apparently, saw neither glory and soft power, nor a sufficient degree of checkability in VoR and put an end to the station. It’s hardly conceivable that it could still be revived as a mere “brand”, without actual radio whose signals would reach beyond a few square miles.

But “daily Russian life” – something Russia Today is supposed to cover – may still look different from the ideas of the “new generation” of media planners. On ham radio bands with wide reaches, Russian operators are active above average. And even if Margarita Simonyan, the editor-in-chief of Russia’s new propaganda mega-medium, may be unaware of ham radio or finds it uncool, her boss, Dmitry Kiselyov, should still like it: a ham radio contest commemorating Yuri Gagarin’s 80th birthday.

After all, the internet is a rather non-traditional form of propaganda.

Will Putin’s message sink in, where Stalin’s, Khrushchev’s, or Brezhnev’s mostly failed? If not, don’t blame shortwave – and don’t blame the internet, for that matter.

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