Archive for November 3rd, 2008

Monday, November 3, 2008

“Official in Shenzhen Sacked over Drunken Behavior”

That’s the headline China Radio International chose to describe Lin Jiaxiang’s (林嘉祥) dinner in a Shenzhen restaurant. The allegation is that Lin, former Communist Party chief and deputy director of the Shenzhen Maritime Safety Administration, attempted to force an underage girl into the men’s restroom.

It’s encouraging that the story emerged at all. But the way CRI is handling it kind of suggests that they’d kept it all under the carpet if there weren’t those human flesh search engines.

Cai Mingzhao (蔡名照), deputy director of the Chinese State Council’s information office, said on an Internet Convention in September:

“In recent years, spoofs, online violence, human search engines and other emotionality and irrational behavior have caused public concern. This kind of behavior harms online harmony, violates the rights of others, endangers public benefit and should be stopped.”

(近年来,网上恶搞、网络暴力、人肉搜索等情绪化和非理性行为,引起社会的广泛关注和担忧。这些行为损害网络和谐,侵犯他人权益,危害公共利益,应加以引导和制止。)

It’s true – human flesh search engines are uncontrollable and dangerous. They can hit innocent people just as well as villains, and stories like the one about Lin Jiaxiang would require further investigation. An online comment, according to chinasmack.com, goes like this: “I am willing to give a month’s salary/wages. Anyone else willing to give money? Hire an assassin, and murder him.”

Vigilantism (daydreaming about it included) is inappropriate. But who will conduct an investigation on him in China that anyone would trust?

Under circumstances as they are, a lot of things can get out of hand. Censorship isn’t the answer either. A free press could be. But it isn’t all bad news: as we can see from China Radio International’s headline, the radio station is still under the leadership of the party.

Monday, November 3, 2008

“Is your paper still under the leadership of the Party?”

The China Digital Times carries a translation of an article which was written by a Chinese journalist in May of last year – how headlines get written in China.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Politicians Meeting their Promise

On January 27, people in the state of Hesse elected a new parliament (Landtag). Christian Democrats (CDU, with their incumbent prime minister Roland Koch), the sort of Liberals (FDP), the Social Democrats (SPD, with their prime minister candidate Andrea Ypsilanti) and the Greens competed. So did the Left Party.

The CDU and the SPD are Germany’s biggest parties, and they usually lead governments on the federal and the state levels. The FDP and the Greens are classical junior partners – the FDP usually for the CDU (but once in a while also with the SPD), and the Greens usually with the SPD (but once in a while also with the CDU).

The “Left” isn’t considered democratic by many of is political competitors. But that isn’t what made them controversial in Hesse. The CDU and FDP wouldn’t even think of a coalition with the Left Party, because their platforms would never fit. And the SPD had ruled any cooperation with the Left Party out. The elections in January produced no winning coalition – neither the CDU and the FDP, nor the SPD and the Greens. The most likely choice was a “grand coalition” between the CDU and the SPD, but the social democrats’ chair woman and candidate for prime minister, Andrea Ypsilani, began talks with the Left Party, in spite of her promise before the elections not to do so. The roadmap was a coalition between the SPD and the Greens, and support from the “Left” without becoming a coalition partner themselves.

Ypsilanti’s first try to get approval for her move failed, because one single SPD member of parliament, Dagmar Metzger, refused to vote for Ypsilanti if she depended on Left Party support. After long waves of campaigning within the SPD’s faction in Hesse’s parliament to turn opponents to the plan around, Ypsilanti took another foray. Today, it failed. Before the vote was taken to parliament, four SPD members of parliament stated publicly that they would not vote for Ypsilanti. In March, one of Germany’s biggest conservative newspapers criticised the SPD because all but one were ready to renege on a promise that many or most of its supporters considered essential. But one was a lot already. The CDU probably wouldn’t have seen any “renegades” at all in a similar situation.

Never thought that I might be happy when a SPD candidate fails. But this time I am. Here are four politicians who take their old promise seriously. The SPD may not be, but should be, proud of them.

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