Archive for April, 2011

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Learn from Japan: a Normal Internet Environment

Enorth: We will block you - in a most developed way

Enorth (Febr 2011 snapshot): We will block you - in a most developed way

The following is a translation of an article by Guangming Net (光明网), republished by Enorth, on internet supervision and regulation in Japan (互联网监管 –> 监督管理, translated as internet supervision in the following). The article’s intention can probably be best understood in context with articles like this one, of March 25/26.

[Main link: http://news.enorth.com.cn/system/2011/04/22/006419680.shtml. Links within blockquote added during translation – JR]

In recent years, Japan has continuously strengthened supervision of the internet by means of legislation. On the morning of March 11, the day when the magnitude-9 earthquake occured, the cabinet passed a draft of a law section to parliament which wouldn’t only punish the creation, dissemination and possession of viruses, but which also stipulates that the government can require network operators (运营商) to retain users’ network accession and communication data for a maximum of sixty days. Some members of the industry criticized the governments measures to strengthen online monitoring (网上监控), but many people believe that these measures will help to curb the growing number of online crimes.

As a country with a developed economy and a universal availability of computers and internet access, the endless stream (层出不穷、络绎不绝 – céng chū bù qióng, luò yì bù jué) of online crimes has plagued Japan’s government and common people all the time. Criminal elements have used the internet to lure minors into pornographic and obscene activities. Sales of drugs, firearms and knives and incitements of suicide have also frequently occured. Floods of spam emails and viruses are a calamity which seriously affects the population’s use of the internet (垃圾邮件、电脑病毒更是泛滥成灾,严重影响了民众正常使用互联网). Therefore, in accordance with the principle to be vigilant within and relaxed outside (根据内紧外松的原则), Japan’s internet operators and the Japanese government have continuously strengthened supervision of the internet, mainly by legislative means. As early as in 1984, Japan enacted an internet supervision “Telecommunications Business Law” (电讯事业法). With the arrival of the 21rst century, following the developed status and universal availability of the internet, Japan successively established a “Law of Providers’ Responsibility” (规范互联网服务商责任法) [服务商 refers to internet service providers (ISP)] and a “Law against use of dating sites for luring minors” (打击利用交友网站引诱未成年人法), a “Safe online environment for young people law” (青少年安全上网环境整备法), and “Standard e-mail law” (规范电子邮件法), etc., thus efficiently curbing online crime illegality, and harmful information (网上犯罪和违法、有害信息).

This time’s cabinet amendment was meant to increase penalties on the production and dissemination of viruses, and to improve the legal basis for the authorities, from the online information to be provided by the network operators. In this regard, some of the industry criticize the government move as strengthening surveillance of internet users, which could infringe on citizens’ privacy (公民的隐私权, gōngmín de yǐnsī quán). But commentators also believe that in response to the growing scale of online crimes, to protect the netizens’ safety and their ease at using the internet, the government’s legislation draft for strengthened internet supervision gives no cause for much criticism (无可厚非, wú kě hòu fēi). On March 11, after a cabinet meeting, Japan’s National Police Agency also took action against rumors that were being spread (造谣诽谤) to prevent people from using the internet for spreading false news to upset public feelings (扰乱人心, rǎoluàn rénxīn) and to damage social stability (破坏社会稳定, pòhuài shèhuì wěndìng).

For the management of the internet, besides the criminal and civil law, Japan also established the “personal information protection law” (个人信息保护法), “anti-spam law” (反垃圾邮件法), the “law against illegal reading of information” (禁止非法读取信息法), the “electronic contract law” (电子契约法) and other laws and regulations to penalize illegal internet behavior. Internet service providers, internet content providers (ICP), websites, personal homepages and bulletin websites (网站电子公告) all belong to the domain of legal norms (都属于法律规范的范畴). Senders who use websites to send illegal or unhealthy information (不良信息) or publish websites with such content also bear responsibilities by civil law, and websites are under the obligation to check on illegal or unhealthy information. It is exactly because the Japanese government has established a flawless legal system, and because it has continuously kept substantiating it, that a normal environment for Japanese netizens has been protected.

By Saturday (April 23, 2011, 11:55 GMT), no comments had been made on the article, according to the (Guangming / Enorth) article’s “view-all-comments” function. The article was published by Enorth on Friday, April 22, at 07:15 GMT.

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Related
Zhou Yongkang: More Convenience with “Social Management”, February 21, 2011
Net Neutrality: The real internet backbone, Mattias Geniar, January 15, 2011
Why Wikileaks can’t work, December 1, 2010
Censorship: a “Double-Win”, March 31, 2010
Can Cyber Criminals Consent…, Benjamin Wright / SANS Technology Institute, May 14, 2007
Media Self-Regulation in Asia, Chester Yung, Media & Arts Review, 2004

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Wen Jiabao’s Endgame: neither Law, nor Order

Wen Jiabao at the World Economic Forum in Davos, 2008 (Wikicommons, click on this picture for source)

Wen Jiabao at the World Economic Forum in Davos, 2008 (Wikicommons, click on this picture for source)

The State Council outlined the main areas of the economic system’s reform for 2011, on a regular meeting on April 20th, chaired by chief state councillor Wen Jiabao. Besides the usual buzzwords – stability, scientific development, and improving the economic system’s ability to react to economic challenges, capital movement and forms of investment (including private investment or 民间投资) were high on the agenda, too, according to Xinhua, as quoted by China National Radio (CNR).

Another prominent issue, though more familiar than capital issues, was the people’s livelihood (民生), in terms of income distribution and social insurance, both in urban and rural areas, and the establishment of an affordable housing system (住房保障体系). All that and more, plus basic public services – a concept that has been mentioned more and more frequently during the past months, mostly in connection with the concept of “social management”.

It may be tempting to focus on the issue of human rights violations alone. After all, such violations can most easily – and justifiably – be seen in simple terms. The CCP’s and its propganda agents’ attempts to sell it as something more “complicated” can be easily – and correctly -, be condemned. But sometimes, the question is asked if the current political stagnation will continue beyond the expected change in leadership in 2012 / 2013. To go beyond the obvious – that the CCP’s human rights violations are reasons to worry about our interactions with China -, and to “try to predict the future”, we have to go far beyond statements about how we feel. The past six or seven months have been decisive and should be looked at closely, and frequently.

One should bear in mind if there was anyone among China’s leaders who ever came (remotely) close to being a standard bearer of individual rights as the essential prerequisite for a functioning economy and a stable society, it would be Wen Jiabao – for a month, that is, from September to October 2010. But Wu Bangguo, the National People’s Congress’ (NPC) chairman and party secretary, trashed practically every idea of political reform, in favor of “social management” (see second part of this March 13 blogpost), in his work report to the 4th session of the 11th NPC. A Central Committee session in October 2010 – see next paragraph – had shown him (and Wen) the way.

Wen Jiabao is nearing the end of his second term as chief councillor, and party secretary of the State Council – he will probably step down in March 2013, along with the entire “fourth generation” of top leaders, including Hu Jintao (in his capacity as state chairman. As party chairman, Hu is likely to step down in November 2012). Only a month after Wen Jiabao had mentioned a need for reforms of our political system, People’s Daily hit back, in October last year: the Fifth Plenary Session of the Seventeenth Central Committee had decided to adhere

to the road of socialism with Chinese characteristics, upholding the party’s leadership, the role of the people as the masters of their country, the organic unity of government work and the rule of law, the active and prudent promotion of political restructuring, and the continuous advancement of the socialist political system, self-improvement, and development (党的十七届五中全会强调:“坚持中国特色社会主义政治发展道路,坚持党的领导、人民当家作主、依法治国有机统一,积极稳妥推进政治体制改革,不断推进社 会主义政治制度自我完善和发展”).

The editorial citing these central committee findings then interpreted them as an uncompromising adherence to “a hard-earned and efficient political system”. Given that People’s Daily is part of the CCP apparatus, this is exactly the way the central committee (more specifically: the politbureau) does view China’s political system. Wu Bangguo’s work report reflected the Central Committee’s endorsement for the political status quo.

Wen, who had pointed out in September 2010 that

if economic reform doesn’t get the protection that comes from reforming the political system, it won’t be fully successful, and even the achievements made so far could still be lost again,

will spend the remaining twenty-two months of his term as chief councillor on tinkering with the “economic system” alone. That the political system will become an issue once again within less than two years is highly unlikely – the times may be changing fast, but experience tells that CCP’s policies do not. In the light of the months preceding the numerous arrests of dissidents and other shitlisted Chinese citizens – Ai Weiwei is, after all, only one out of many -, one can quite safely predict that there may be more surprises from the CCP’s operational activities and reactions to changing times, but that there will be no more long-term strategic changes.

Bereft of all options to improve political protection for his economic reforms, Wen’s task starts looking depressing. Alright – Tingyi, a major food manufacturer, won’t increase the price for its instant noodles, China’s migrant workers’ most common lunch, writes Felix Lee, in a report for German weekly Die Zeit. This piece of good news about price stability, at least on one item of daily use, is meant to be a signal from the government that there are measures against inflation after all, writes Lee. “Our vigilance” – re inflation – “must never falter”, Wen is quoted by Lee. And to reduce liquidity, and therefore “hot capital” within the market, banks are told to recommend the purchase of gold to its customers, as gold absorbs liquidity without the effects that speculation on property (housing) or food would have.

That’s as much as Wen’s State Council can do for now. “The economic system’s ability to react to economic challenges” will mostly remain a theory, probably even beyond Wen’s last battle.

His most likely successor is Li Keqiang (Hu Jintao reportedly wanted him to become his successor as party and state chairman, but wasn’t able to get him accepted by the collective leadership, and Hu Jintao himself will be succeeded by Xi Jinping, who hails from Jiang Zemin’s political school.

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Related
Human Rights: throw them a Bone, April 16, 2011
China Developers Could Resist Cheap Housing Push, WSJ, April 11, 2011
Seasonal Considerations: Safeguarding “4.9”, February 19, 2011
Inflation: the Emperor’s new Thermometer, February 16, 2011

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Northern Germany: Dustclouds Rolling

If recent years’ springs and summers were meteorologically typical for most of the year, we could expect olive trees to grow here within decades. But every winter would probably kill them again. It seems to me, based on more recent experience, that Northern Germany’s climate is moving towards a two-season climate now, without real springs or falls – it’s been warm or hot from April through August or September, and cold for the rest of the past few years.

Osterwiese - Bremens sixteen-days easter market, opened on April 15.

Precipitation in general is down a lot, and the last rain, except for a few drops that wouldn’t even make you want to shelter, was some five weeks ago, The “water balance” (rain minus evaporation) for Germany in general has been negative since March 1 this year.

waterpipes

Hedges, shrubs, and trees: reaching deep and thriving.

In our region, this seems to have a bad effect especially on oaktrees, which are greening only scarcely, and on all kinds of plants with short-reaching root systems.

A sand storm near Rostock, on the Baltic seacoast, led to a crash of up to eighty cars on the motorway Autobahn 19 on April 9th, with ten deaths and at least 97 injuries. Today, I heard several dust cloud warnings for Lower Saxony’s (the federal state neighboring and surrounding Bremen)  autobahns on the radio, and as it was one of the never-start-thinking radio stations, they kept issuing jubilant weather forecasts – for the weekend and beyond, no rain is expected either.

That doesn’t look like a promising year for farmers. One  can water square meters, but not hectares, during a long dry period.

This post marks the end of my ten-days break from posting. It  wasn’t exactly consistent, but still relaxing.

Now I’ve brought my feedreader back to life. But I don’t feel like writing something about China yet. I might start with something Adam Cathcart appears to have been doing in recent days: reading, reading, reading.

And if you haven’t been to Pingtung Country (屏東縣), Taiwan, and aren’t likely to get there anytime soon, the best thing next to going there yourself might be to read this Pingtung-County-sponsored travelogue by Michael Turton.

Another cool and dry morning: moonset, sunrise, April 2011. Day temperatures go beyond 20 degrees C. now, while the latest night frost was only three nights ago.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Revolutionary: Voice of Korea opens Website

nannynews[Link in Question: http://www.vok.rep.kp/CBC/]

nannynews / JIU

The Voice of Korea [VOK] will open its Internet homepage. The VOK will open its Internet homepage.

Dear audience,
The VOK will newly open its Internet homepage from Sun’s Day on 15 April, the birth anniversary of great leader [suryo’ng] President Kim Il Sung [Kim Il-so’ng]. The Internet homepage address can be located at http://www.vok.rep.kp.

We notify you that the VOK will newly open its Internet homepage from Sun’s Day on 15 April, the birth anniversary of great leader President Kim Il Sung. The Internet homepage address can be located at http://www.vok.rep.kp.

The VOK’s Internet homepage, to be launched anew, will further strengthen relations with the audience.

Central Broadcasting Station, Pyongyang, in Korean 2100 gmt 12 Apr 11 via BBC Monitoring),

via Shortwave Central.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Human Rights: Throw them a Bone

I’m aware that many foreigners who work within China’s propaganda system in one or another way don’t wish China’s dissidents evil. But a recent blogpost on the Peking Duck (TPD) and many  reactions to it seems to depict the relationship between the Chinese and the foreign sides within Chinese propaganda in quite a remarkable way – fundamental misunderstandings included. The foreign side (by no means only TPD) appears to be quite mortified by recent developments.

TPD quotes from a Global Times commentary (English version, dated April 6), telling its readers that the experience of Ai Weiwei and other mavericks cannot be placed on the same scale as China’s human rights development and progress.

A disturbing and nauseating article, finds TPD. Besides, the Global Times’ staff appears to have been assigned to a big, collective fifty-cent-partisan job.

Richard Burger, that’s the TPD blogger, is described by James Fallows of  The Atlantic as

an American with long experience inside China — and working with Chinese authorities to more effectively “tell their story” to the outside world.

Back to the TPD blogpost itself, quoting from a discussion between Burger and an urbane, sophisticated, educated, talented and a truly wonderful person who happens to work for the Global Times:

“Why not throw the West a bone and let him go, declare an amnesty and then explain why he was detained in the first place.”

Foreign propaganda experts – James Fallows, too – appear to be stunned while watching how all the good “development aid” to China is evaporating  – and some of their reactions come across as if that loss hurts them more than the actual human rights violations the Global Times is trying to justify.

And their reactions seem to suggest that there would be more efficient ways than the Global Times’ current approach to do just that. Should I be curious? Should the Global Times be curious?

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Note

This post marks a break from my break from blogging, for the sake of  spontaneity.

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Related
China is no Puppet, it’s Complicated, April 8, 2011

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Long Time no Break

My last break from posting was some ten months ago, and it’s time for another one. Why? Because posting has been a habit of mine for the past two years or more (I started quite exactly three years ago, with a rapidly rising posting frequency). Most habits need to be given a rest every now and then.

That said, I will keep checking for comments, free pending comments from the filter, and take care of stuff that isn’t in line with these simple-enough rules.

Bremen, Überseestadt

Bremen, Überseestadt

Number of posts to date (including this one): 1,280 (mostly of timeless value).

Scheduled break time (minimum): ten days.

Merci de votre fidélité, et à la prochaine.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Bye-bye, Guobao, Berlin Bizarre?

German daily Die Welt believes that Ai Weiwei (艾未未), if he makes it to Berlin again, will find himself in a “bizarre situation”, as the man from whom he wants to buy an industrial building for his projects, a Berlin barrister and realtor, [update: name omitted]  hadn’t only been a leading member of East Germany’s “Free German Youth” (FDJ) mass organization, but had also served the ministry for state security (Stasi) under the alias “Fidel”.

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Related
Huanqiu: China is no Puppet, it’s Complicated, April 8, 2011

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Saturday, April 9, 2011

Obituary: Zhou Haiying, 1929 – 2011

Zhou Haiying [update – Chinese: 周海婴] was born in Shanghai on September 27, 1929 as the only child  of Xu Guangping (许广平) and Lu Xun (魯迅, real name Zhou Shuren / 周树人), probably the (internationally) best-known vernacular-Chinese writer of the 20th century.

Zhou Haiying was a cadre and a politician – vice director at the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television’s (SARFT) policy and regulations department, member of the CPPCC, and a member of the CCP. He studied at Peking University’s (北京大学) physics department in the early 1950s (from 1952).  He is said to have been a wireless / radio expert (无线电专家),  and – in his spare time –  a passionate photographer.

Zhou had suffered from vasculitis since May last year and had been hospitalized all the time since then. He died in Beijing on Thursday, April 7, 2011. He is survived by his wife Ma Xinyun (马新云). Their children, a son and a daughter, live in Taiwan and Japan respectively.

A farewell ceremony is scheduled at Babaoshan Revolutionary Cemetary on Monday.

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Related
China’s Orwell, Jeffrey Wasserstrom / Time, Dec 7, 2009
Seminar on 6-4 held in Beijing, May 24, 2009

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