Archive for April 1st, 2011

Friday, April 1, 2011

Tilman Spengler: Itching Powder and Historical Lessons

East and West: access denied (March 2011)

East and West: access denied (March 2011)

Tilman Spengler, a sinologist and novellist, has been refused an entry visa by the Chinese authorities. He was scheduled to travel as a member of a German delegation led by German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle. An exhibition under the auspices of German and Chinese presidents Christian Wulff and Hu Jintao, “The Art of Enlightenment”, opened at Beijing’s National Museum of China today. According to Spengler himself, he had been told that he was “no friend of the Chinese people”. Last September, Spengler lauded Liu Xiaobo, on a Hermann-Kesten Award ceremony for the Chinese dissident.

In an interview published by German weekly Die Zeit today, Spengler said that

[The following are excerpts from the interview. Main link: http://www.zeit.de/kultur/2011-03/china-tilman-spengler – links within blockquotes added during translation – JR]

No effort to carry at least a sparkle of of enlightenment spirit there can be completely wrong. This carries more weight than running the risk of giving the regime some legitimatory luster. That there is a controversy, a small scandalon, will get around in China, too, and provoke one or another bit of thought. The effort of change through rapprochement is better than a moral drive  to show the Chinese the ropes. The situation isn’t fundamentally different from Germany divided, thirty years ago. Also, the National Museums in Berlin’s, The Governmental Collection of Art Dresden’s, and the Bavarian Staatsgemäldesammlung’s exhibition is quite costly…

Q: … the ten-million-Euro budget comes from Germany…

A: … and usually, the side where it is organized will pay, not those who provide the exhibits. It’s the other way round here. Frank-Walter Steinmeier pushed it four years ago. You can’t slam on the brakes last-minute, make an example of it and cancel your attendance as foreign minister.

Q: Why not, actually? Is there still a way to act correctly at all, given the tightened situation, in which the exhibition is held – no matter if you are a politician, or a museum director like Michael Eissenhauer or Martin Roth?

A: Repression mechanisms have certainly tightened in China. But art is innocent, a painting by Henry Raeburn, or a sextant. It’s a message in a bottle, to quote Adorno. Explanations add meaning to the exhibits. You will look at the painting of a beautiful woman, and the explanation may be about the womens’ role at the time, about emancipation. That’s where things become problematic in China, particularly for the gatherings which are scheduled in addition.

Concerning a question about what foreign cultural policies could do to show that China’s identity went beyond the Tian An Men’s architecture, Spengler suggested that

Chinese culture is in a state where critical reflections on its own society hardly happens any more. The intellectual climate is lacking oxygen. There isn’t only the party, there is also a self-inflicted immaturity among the Chinese citizens who don’t push for a right to reflect.

Q: That sounds evangelistic. How can you reflect without freedom of opinion?

A: What I mean is that it won’t hurt to spread some intellectual itching powder. The Chinese are fed up with politics, because they had to talk politics for too long. The elder think of the cultural revolution and cruelties they lived through. Now they may be only too prepared to be no longer allowed to talk about politics. Anyway, you can’t proselytize in China. The affluent American Bible Mission came to Canton with shiploads of bibles in 1902. They wanted to give them away there and further up the Pearl River delta for free. Nobody wanted to have them. But once they gave them a price of two dollars, they flew off the shelves like blazes – a historial lesson for cultural politics.

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Related
Censor Yourself, or Keep out, March 1, 2010
GFOTCP, October 26, 2008

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Friday, April 1, 2011

JR’s Reception Reports: Deutsche Welle Reshuffles

Reception Report: Deutsche Welle, March 2011

Reception Report: Deutsche Welle, March 2011

A Chinese journalist who had worked freelance for the Voice of Germany (Deutsche Welle) for more than twenty years reportedly lost her contract with the foreign broadcasting station at the end of last year. She believes that her contract hadn’t been renewed for political reasons or motivations, and therefore sued the Voice for about 150,000 Euros. The Voice cited an organizational reshuffle as the reason for the end of their contract, reports the Generalanzeiger.

The case was heard by the Labor Court (Arbeitsgericht) in Bonn, and turned down on March 19 this year. On the sidelines of the hearing, the journalist’s attorney reportedly drew a link with older disputes of 2008, when complaints by Chinese dissidents  had led to an examination and acquittal of the station’s Chinese-language department.

In 2008, all staff issues were apparently settled without the involvement of a court.

A china.com commenting thread contains what is said to be an open letter by – apparently laid off – editorial Chinese-service journalists to the German federal parliament (the Bundestag), dated March this year. The letter has apparently not yet been published online as a newsarticle or as a post.

If you don’t speak/read German, but want to know more about the – alleged – 2008 background to the more recent complaint or complaints, JR’s Deutsche-Welle-Chinese-related posts are an absolute must. Help yourselves.

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Related
Just another German Review of the Chinese Press, January 25, 2011
Deutsche Welle Mission Statement (undated)

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Friday, April 1, 2011

Enorth: Internet Freedom is Cyberwarfare

When the first line of an article contains 372 characters (blanks not counted), things are likely to get complicated. Enorth (Tianjin) carries such an article today, and urges all the countries of the world to be on their guard, regarding U.S. state secretary Hilary Clinton‘s position on internet freedom.

[Main link: http://news.enorth.com.cn/system/2011/04/01/006289911.shtml – links within blockquotes were added during translation. The article is apparently Enorth’s own work, as even Xinhua attributes it to them (author: Zhang Qiang, 张强), because no particular other source is given there. – JR]

When America spreads high-sounding advocacy for the “concept of internet freedom of information”  and criticizes other sovereign countries by name for their legitimate management of internet affairs, it may, while ruling two thirds of the empire (三分天下有其二),  still serve the emperor*): firstly, while extending the internet from being a provider of information, to becoming a platform, the West advocates it is “a quintessential expression of thought and information freedom”, but in fact, with the innovative development of the internet, its center of gravity is changing again, as it switches from being a simple form of entertainment and information exchange, to more complex expressions of thoughts, that is to say that although the internet is a virtual space, it constitutes a real influence on real political and economic life, which is why America’s March 2005 Strategic Defense Report (国防战略报告) points out that the internet is [strategically] as important as land, sea, air, and space, and that America must maintain its advantages in these five fields, and secondly, the department of defense’s advanced research project considered the necessities of future wars since 1969, and fourty years after it had funded an embryonic version of the internet, the ARPANET, America now uses the internet as a source of its advantage, mastering its core technology, and controlling its global gateways – as the internet’s root server, and as its hegemonist.

"There are currently no comments"

"There are currently no comments"

The article is part of an apparent CCP propaganda strategy to encourage Chinese internet users’ cooperation in, or at least their tolerance of, internet censorship, but it is more explicit in alleging a role of the internet in American or “Western” warfare against China, than a previous Huanqiu Shibao article a week ago.

The Enorth article suggests that China’s and other countries’   “reasonable internet administration”, “in accordance with their own interests and safety considerations” (于自身利益与安全考虑之下的合理管控行为) hampered American hegemonist ambitions, and that Clinton’s open “fault-seeking” (or gesticulations – 指手画脚) with the internal affairs of sovereign states were reflecting this.

In its second paragraph, the Enorth article quotes a New York Times‘ report of December 2005 about cooperation between intelligence agencies and telecommunication companies to establish a procedure of gathering information from internet messages. An American broadcaster (apparently CBS) is quoted as having reported on January 11, 2006, that several years earlier, the CIA had used high-end technology to steal intelligence reports from other countries (从互联网上窃取他国情报), and that, according to a person responsible, the CIA hadn’t stopped controlling the internet for even one day. This had been particularly true in the aftermath of 9-11, 2001. In its third paragraph, the article concludes:

We are afraid that the American clamor for internet freedom can’t simply be seen as coming from a perspective of information flows: on the one hand, as a country’s dependence on the internet in terms of politics, economics, military matters, and social life has grown, America alone is in control of the root server, which worries many countries. On the other hand, a U.S. government internet safety evaluation report of May 29, 2009 says that threats from the internet had become one of the serious threats America were facing. To be in the foremost position in the internet warfare, the American defense department even created a cyberwarfare department on May 23, 2009, the meaning of which is evident without explanations or words (不言而明).

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Note

*) the article uses a figure of speech from the Analects of Confucius, chapter 8, verse 20. The verse in full:

Shun has five great officials and thus he is able to govern well. Emperor Wu said:”I have ten great officials.” Confucius said:”Indeed, talent is hard to find, is it not true? Following the time of Yao and Shun, talents are now plentiful. Yet one of the ten was a woman, so in actual fact there is nine. When Emperor Wen ruled two thirds of the empire, he still serve the Emperor of Shang Dynasty. Such virtue of Emperor Wu is indeed magnificent.”
In modern Chinese: 帝舜有五位次贤臣,所以天下太平。周武王说:“我有十位贤臣。” 孔子说:“人才难求,难道不是吗?唐尧、虞舜时代之后,与周五王的时代最是人才济济。可是十人中,有一位是妇人,所以实际上只有九人罢了;当初周文王三分 天下拥有其中之二,却仍以臣子之礼侍奉殷商,周文王的德义,可以说是做到了至仁至义了。” /
Classical: 舜有臣五人而天下治。武王曰:“予有乱臣十人。”孔子曰:“才难,不其然乎?唐虞之际,于斯为盛。有妇人焉,九人而已。三分天下有其二,以服事殷。周之德, 其可谓至德也已矣。”
Source: Chinese-Wiki, Analects of Confucius

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Related

People’s Daily Senior Editor discusses Real World, December 13, 2010
Net Nanny: Hostile Acts on the Internet, April 20, 2010
Malware Networks, Cooperation Appreciated, April 6, 2010
The Internet is a Military Secret, August 14, 2009
Serve your Country, Become a Network Security Adviser, July 31, 2009

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