Archive for March 27th, 2009

Friday, March 27, 2009

Deutsche Welle Chinese Department Acquitted

Net Nanny's take

GEE, you are AMATEURS!

Ulrich Wickert is a former television anchorman, correspondent, and son of Erwin Wickert, a diplomat and author of several books on China. Last year, Erik Bettermann, director of Deutsche Welle (aka the Voice of Germany) asked Ulrich Wickert for an evaluation of the station’s Chinese department’s work. The situation was tense; Bettermann had to testify in a parliamentary commission next day. Wickert agreed to review the Chinese department’s previous articles and productions, and Bettermann was in a position to tell the parliamentary commission that an independent review was in progress, writes the Süddeutsche Zeitung.

Wickert delivered his findings on February 4, according to the Süddeutsche. Apparently, it took an investigative journalist to smell the finished report. The Süddeutsche asked the Voice for a comment, and Bettermann praised Wickert’s work as “great”, but said he didn’t want to publish Wickert’s report, as he didn’t want “to revive the China debate again”.

Wickert’s findings in short, according to the Süddeutsche Zeitung: accusations of slanted China coverage were completely unfounded. Politicians had picked up the accusations unchecked, hoping that they would help them to get public attention.

It’s no sweetheart report. Director Bettermann is criticized by Wickert for hasty and unjustified personnel decisions, apparently because of public and political pressure. Wickert also quotes Freimut Duve, former OSCE representative on freedom of the media: a statement by a journalist must not be put into context with his or her country of origin. Zhang Danhong, the Chinese service’s deputy manager, had come under attack for saying that China had succeeded in lifting 400 mn people out of poverty during the past thirty years, thus contributing more than any other political force to achieve article three of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Reacting to the controversy following Zhang’s remarks, Bettermann had suspended her from work in front of the microphone last year. Wickert pointed to a similar statement by Georg Blume, China correspondent for the weekly Die Zeit, which never became controversial.

Friday, March 27, 2009

WordPress Apparently Unblocked in China

This blog is found by unusual searchword combinations – and more traffic than before. Apparently, blogs hosted by wordpress are currently not blocked in China.

The CNN/Time China Blog reports that it is unblocked for the first time since it moved to WordPress.


Update (December 15, 2009)

As this post is getting a lot of traffic recently, I should update this… As the Time China Blog correctly noted, the Net Nanny is cruel and capricious. To my knowledge, the opportunity for patriotic and law-abiding Chinese citizens living in their motherland to call foreign bloggers idiots right on the scenes of their crimes ended long ago.

Friday, March 27, 2009

It’s Spring…

… when you can feel the sunrise on a rainy morning.

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Friday, March 27, 2009

Simon Johnson: Through the Eyes of the IMF


Of course, the U.S. is unique. And just as we have the world’s most advanced economy, military, and technology, we also have its most advanced oligarchy.

In a primitive political system, power is transmitted through violence, or the threat of violence: military coups, private militias, and so on. In a less primitive system more typical of emerging markets, power is transmitted via money: bribes, kickbacks, and offshore bank accounts. Although lobbying and campaign contributions certainly play major roles in the American political system, old-fashioned corruption—envelopes stuffed with $100 bills—is probably a sideshow today, Jack Abramoff notwithstanding.

Instead, the American financial industry gained political power by amassing a kind of cultural capital—a belief system. Once, perhaps, what was good for General Motors was good for the country. Over the past decade, the attitude took hold that what was good for Wall Street was good for the country. The banking-and-securities industry has become one of the top contributors to political campaigns, but at the peak of its influence, it did not have to buy favors the way, for example, the tobacco companies or military contractors might have to. Instead, it benefited from the fact that Washington insiders already believed that large financial institutions and free-flowing capital markets were crucial to America’s position in the world.


Even leaving aside fairness to taxpayers, the government’s velvet-glove approach with the banks is deeply troubling, for one simple reason: it is inadequate to change the behavior of a financial sector accustomed to doing business on its own terms, at a time when that behavior must change. As an unnamed senior bank official said to The New York Times last fall, “It doesn’t matter how much Hank Paulson gives us, no one is going to lend a nickel until the economy turns.” But there’s the rub: the economy can’t recover until the banks are healthy and willing to lend.


The challenges the United States faces are familiar territory to the people at the IMF. If you hid the name of the country and just showed them the numbers, there is no doubt what old IMF hands would say: nationalize troubled banks and break them up as necessary.

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