Archive for May, 2011

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Class Struggle in Dunhuang Road, Tenant Huang shows a Flag

Xinhua Net, via Enorth — This is something rarely seen in Taiwan, writes the Chinese newsagency. Xinhua reproduces a story apparently first reported by Taiwan’s TVBS television station.

A row of seven wuxing hongqis (五星红旗, red flags with five stars, i. e. the PRC flag) had been put up and were fluttering in the wind above a row of shanty buildings in Dunhuang Road (敦煌路), Taipei. Asked by a TVBS reporter as to why flying the Taiwanese (RoC, Republic of China) flag wouldn’t serve the purpose, the owner named Huang (黄) asked back:

I ask you, why should I fly that flag? To fly the wuxing hongqi serves a purpose. I want to highlight (unfairness) – if it serves the purpose or not. Taiwan’s authorities and judiciary are at the service of capitalism and the bourgeoisie.

Huang’s family has reportedly owned the buildings for four generations, but sixty years ago, his family people were basically tenants who had rented the ground from a family named Chan (陳, simplified: 陈, pinyin: Chen). As property prices had been rising, the Chan family now wanted to reclaim the ground. On entering the buildings, one would find a painted red line there – the front half of the buildings stood on ground owned by the city government; the rear building stood on ground owned by the Chans. [The Huangs apparently had a long-term lease on the ground – JR]

Given that the history of ownership was complex and dates from long ago, Huang reportedly defies a court ruling and demands more than the ten thousand New Taiwan Dollars in damages (or demolition fee) per square meter the landlord (地主) was required to pay.  Huang points to the market value which (in his view) required a much higher fee. The area in question reportedly amounts to some 33,000 sqm.

The case had drawn a lot of attention on the other side of the Taiwan Strait, i. e. in China, TVBS itself reported on Saturday. Enorth (Tianjin) republished Xinhua’s account of the TVBS story on Sunday; so did Huanqiu Shibao, SINA, China Radio International, and many others.


» It’s hard to be a Historian in Taiwan, February 5, 2011
» Xinhua: “Taiwan Public condemns ‘Rebiya card'”, July 23, 2010
» Reform without Zijiren, October 5, 2009

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Dog, Traitor, Ambassador: Learn Chinese from Chinese Fenqings

Huanqiu Shibao, on Saturday, published an American press review of US trade secretary Gary Locke‘s hearing at the Senate’s Committee of Foreign Relations, which took place on Thursday. There had been no tensions, and it had been a “perfect hearing”, Huanqiu quotes the American press, among them the Seattle Times (在这场被美国媒体称为“没有悬念”的听证会上,骆家辉“轻松应对”,做出了“最完美的证言”).

And as a smooth hearing is worthy of a perfectly huanqiu commenting thread, the readers – or those who care to comment – really put their shoulders to the wheel.  A choice from the latest comments (no niceties among the latest ten of them):

Sigh…  a traitor is just a traitor, a traitor through and through

A Chinese as an ambassador to China, containing China by China, that’s interesting

Even though he is ethnically Chinese, he can’t speak a single line of Chinese. What can be good about forgetting ones own origins? Do our media need to pay that much attention to this? This is just a dog, raised by America.


Few Questions for Locke, Seattle Times, May 26, 2011
Concerning Traitors, August 25, 2009

Friday, May 27, 2011

It’s just Network Security Training

China’s military has set up an elite Internet security task force tasked with fending off cyberattacks, state media reported on Friday, denying that the initiative is intended to create a “hacker army”,

reports AFP, via Channel Asia (Singapore).

If this information, given by China’s defense ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng, will indeed ring alarm bells around the world among governments and businesses wary of Beijing’s intentions is a different question. Geng actually confirmed what has been common wisdom for several years, even if Beijing now added an official story to it.

Foreign expertise would be welcome, too, People’s Daily‘s English edition quotes Geng.

According to Guy-Philippe Goldstein, a novelist and a strategy consultant, cyber war will amount to destabilizing innovation in warfare. Goldstein offered some history of such innovation, too, in an article for the Süddeutsche Zeitung (Munich), in 2009. He also named the – few – countries that in his view have the potential to get in on cyber warfare.

Singapore’s Morning News (联合早报) special correspondent Zhang Xiaozhong wrote an article on hacker schools in China, also in 2009. Zhang suggested that while there was a variety of motivations to become a skilled hacker, it wasn’t every Chinese hacker’s goal to pursue a military career, or to use hacking as a toll in political activism. On the other hand, Zhang’s description of the scene in China would indeed suggest that the military forces had an exceptionally deep talent pool to draw from at its disposal, when it built the team whose existence Geng confirmed on Friday.

The Chinese hacking “industry” is highly ambivalent in the way it presents itself, and in the way it wants to be seen.

In general, hacking schools don’t like to be referred to as hacking schools,

Zhang wrote.

A hackers base security adviser, Wang Xianbing (王献冰), had previously told a paper quoted by Zhang that “we are a network security training school”.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Cold War – Come on, Let’s Twist Again

Hardly anything stated in the open letter published by four former editorial journalists of  Deutsche Welle‘s (Voice of Germany) Chinese department can be accepted as a fact right away. Even China Daily Net (中国日报网, via Huanqiu Shibao and many other Chinese papers who republished it) appeared to frown – not at the allegations, but at the four authors’ inability to give a more succinct account of what comes across as a plight under an autocratic (Deutsche-Welle-departmental) regime.

Kiss, bow, or shake hands

"Kiss, bow, or shake hands" (click picture above for more business etiquette)

From November 2008 until now, I have rarely asked myself how I do feel about the changes that have taken place at Deutsche Welle myself, and whenever I did, I found that my feelings were mixed. Yes, more critical coverage on China was what I had missed during the years between 2000 and 2008, but the way the Welle managed the crisis brought about – apparently – by a few Chinese dissident and several German intellectuals didn’t make me feel exactly happy. That said, given the sluggish first eight years of this century, it was no surprise that a Chinese department which had seemed to have developed a policy of arrogance towards human rights issues, and a policy of chumming up to power (business and CCP alike) had begun to reel once their critics – apparently all of a sudden – began to have an impact on the debate about Deutsche Welle.

Deutsche Welle headquarters, Bonn

Deutsche Welle headquarters, Bonn (Wikimedia Commons, click on the picture for source)

The Welle’s general management didn’t seem to deserve great points of performance, either. It’s ways of interaction with parliament, political parties, the dissidents, and their Chinese audience looked like politics at its worst. The good thing was that, as bad as it was, there wasn’t much porcelain to be destroyed anyway – not from my personal point of view. Boredom would be a nicety to describe my feelings when listening to the Chinese programs. No wonder that Wei Jingsheng wasn’t listening any more.

In recent days, I had a discussion with a sinologist – no discussion that would be available online, and not in the Deutsche-Welle context – who suggested that what mattered, when it came to information from German media, was that Chinese people would actually be interested in reading along. Window-speeches (his referral to what others might call “value-based journalism”) wouldn’t cut it.

Maybe it wouldn’t. But to me, this was an obvious example of how easy you might lose your own way, if you only care about what others (supposedly) want to hear, or if you only care about the terms on which others would be willing to discuss things at all.

So should I feel unhappy about the way China’s press covers the current status at Deutsche Welle? Should those Chinese listeners or readers who want information, rather than propaganda, feel bad about it?

Footnotes to any answer might be plenty. In my view, the Welle shouldn’t target “opinion leaders” first and foremost, as it apparently plans to do. Deutsche Welle should simply inform its listeners and readers accurately – peasants in rural China, and other professionals of all kinds in urban China alike, and without worrying if Anti-CNN might like or dislike what they report.

But I think what encouraged me when reading the – surely not too dependable, – Chinese media coverage on Deutsche Welle was an – alleged – statement by Jörg Rudolph, again allegedly working for the Chinese department as a hired consultant (the Chinese press describes the situation in more colorful ways) which would suggest that Taiwan should be seen as an independent state. It wouldn’t make a huge difference, even if it was correctly attributed to Rudolph, but it might be an encouraging indicator for a more generally changing tide. It may be inconceivable for many Chinese nationals who have never seen Taiwan depicted in a color different from China’s on international maps, but not so inconceivable for Europeans, or in fact for people anywhere else in the world, outside China. Former Estonian foreign minister Kristiina Ojuland, herself an experienced observer of (Russian, in her country’s case) colonialism until the early 1990s, suggested in April that in long-term perspective, the one-China policy is not and cannot be in the interest of the EU.

American decisions will matter much more than European ones – only America can really help to defend Taiwan militarily, if need be. But a change in European policies can provide Taiwan with some of the global political and economic breathing space it has been struggling for during the past two decades, or even longer. Such change may also encourage America to keep seeing Taiwan as what it is: as a democratic country, doing no harm to anyone, but being bullied by an imperialist neighbor. Provided that the EU will maintain its arms embargo as part of its trade relations with China, it may help to end the unworthy status quo, where European countries would deliver arms to all kinds of bandits near and far, officially or indirectly, but refuse to supply diesel-electric submarines to Taiwan, for fear of “angering China”, or – to take the hypocrisy to a maximum level – for fear of aggravating a tense situation in a region of conflict.

It would be illusionary to think that to show respect alone will help to improve relations with China. To be respectful is an obvious duty, but contrary to what is often suggested, it doesn’t work wonders. Many things made me start blogging some three years ago – it was a big bag of different motivations. But one of them was anger. I saw several otherwise respectable Chinese overseas students turn into bullies in Bremen, in 2008, I faced some kind of semi-religious zeal concerning their motherland, and I felt that their demands for “respect” were becoming insatiable. To continue showing respect and nothing else under such conditions can’t work – neither in individual lives, nor within the “global community”.

It seems that many people here began to see things in similar ways. The apparent turnaround at Deutsche Welle is one symptom out of many. Depending on the real Deutsche-Welle story, there will be encouraging and discouraging aspects, to (yet) unknown extents respectively.

But as People’s Daily suggests that Deutsche Welle “still cherishes the legacy of cold war mentality”, I have to say that while personally, I don’t cherish cold-war methods, I do feel that such methods have been used by Beijing all along the way, either since the late 1970s (after all, China profited from the Western-Soviet standoff then), or from 1989, when it began to emphasize the need to be “vigilant” against Western schemes to “subjugate” China. “The West” is the big bad ghost which helps to rally the Chinese nation behind or around the CCP.

In recent months, the Chinese approach to paint North American and European countries as enemies has reached new heights. We can’t afford to see China as a “friend” under such circumstances. And when it comes to those who are bullied most by Beijing, we owe them a minimum of loyalty. Taiwan could become a test case, and for Europe, it would be the most likely one.

There is no need to “defriend” China. Friendship may come naturally, or not at all. Besides, I’m not sure if countries can be friends anyway – friendship seems to be a rather personal concept to me. What should be obvious is that the current status doesn’t amount to friendship at all. The mutual goal of Europe and China might be partnership where it is feasible, “on fields of mutual interest”.

If such fields would turn out to be rather small, this could really result in another cold war. That would be no reason to be happy. But it wouldn’t spell the end of international relations, either.


Tell us how You really Feel, FOARP, April 21, 2011
The Adequate Adversary, August 13, 2010

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Deutsche Welle, Open Letter: Huanqiu wades into the Details

Following the People’s Daily‘s English edition (with an article published on May 21), Huanqiu Shibao today reprints much, or all of the open letter “published on the internet” (前不久通过互联网发表 [的] 公开信) [i. e. particularly by German online paper Neue Rheinische Zeitung (NRhZ, see previous post), plus some less established websites – JR].

Huanqiu Shibao:

Summary – Four ethnic Chinese who formerly worked for the “Voice of Germany” have recently published an open letter on the internet, and based on their personal experiences, condemned the “Voice of Germany’s” defiance of ethical journalistic standards, its review and ousting of Chinese staff, its conducting thought examinations and political examinations, installing a secret internal “supervisor”, purging staff “with different views”, and using standards of ideology and the question if they did or didn’t criticize China in interviews and news coverage as a standard. The open letter believes that the “Voice of Germany’s” Chinese department has become some kind of political tool. As it is a rather long letter, we are publishing it in two parts.

The open letter’s main points, according to Huanqiu Shibao  [all links within the account added by JR]:

  1. The non-renewal of existing contracts and dismissals had initially been explained with budget cuts, but several other explanations had been added once the ones about the budget had been proven false. In fact, the measures taken by the Welle had been belated consequences of a previous brawl, about Zhang Danhong, in 2008. It is also pointed out that what Zhang had said had basically been similar to statements by Die Zeit China correspondent [Georg Blume]
  2. Critics of the DW’s Chinese department had demanded examinations of the staff’s backgrounds, including family people / parents, re party membership etc., and reviews of how the DW advocated human rights. As seen from outside, the Welle had turned such demands down, but actually, the station hadn’t only satisfied the demands. Zhang had been defended only half-heartedly, and the Wickert report (compiled by former television anchor Ulrich Wickert), asked for by DW director Erik Bettermann, had never been made public.
  3. Pressure had been exerted on staff, unsubstantiated criticism of their work had been expressed by a temporary head of the Chinese department (Golte-Schröder, in charge from December 2008 to December 2009, and chiefly head of the DW Asia department). She is also criticized in the open letter for not speaking Chinese) and for not being able to judge the staff’s work, having relied on a Chinese national (戴英, Dai Ying), instead.
  4. While People’s Daily’s English edition, in an article of May 21, doesn’t mention the name of a secret supervisor, Huanqiu Shibao now quotes the open letter’s paragraph in question in full, including the name of Jörg Rudolph (约尔格.鲁道夫), who was controversial (umstritten in German, 很有争议 in Huanqiu’s Chinese translation) in academic circles. Rudolph had been – or was still – in charge of rating articles, making sure that nothing that could be pro-China in dissidents’ views would appear again (seine Tätigkeit soll vielmehr sicherstellen, dass in den Beiträgen der Redaktion schon der Anschein einer chinafreundlichen Berichterstattung in den Augen der Dissidenten vermieden wird / 鲁道夫的工作并不是要避免文章语法或格式错误,而仅仅是要保证中文部不再出现任何在异见人士看来“亲华”的文章). It was also in a discussion between Rudolph and the Chinese department staff, according to the open letter, that Rudolph expressed the expectation that Taiwan would, in the future, be referred to as an independent state. The open letter points out that this was not in accordance with the policy of Germany’s foreign office.
  5. The staff had been told, or asked,  to commit themselves to certain goals or standards (neither the goals nor the order or request seem to be described  clearly in the open letter, but the impression is stated that the aim of the measure had been to create or add pressure). In the end, the personnel department and the employee committee had decided that the commitment to be given was legally dubious, and was retracted (Nach der gemeinsamen Überprüfung von Personalrat und Personalabteilung wurde die Unterschriftsaktion als rechtlich bedenklich bewertet und zurückgezogen). Three of the five who hadn’t signed were among those who had been dismissed by Deutsche Welle.
  6. Outsiders could get the impression that in the case of Zhang Danhong, political issues and human rights had been the heart of the matter, write the open letter’s authors. However, there had never been differences between the Chinese department’s editorial staff and the leadership of the Voice of Germany (or Deutsche Welle, DW), concerning the importance of human rights which, the staff, too, had always believed, should be the basis for China’s future. Rather, matters of professionalism were been at the center of the dispute. (作为“中国论战”和“张丹红事件”的旁观者,大家可能都很自然地认为事件跟政治取向、人权理念的差异有关。但事实并非如此,因为所有相关记者都认为,中国 的未来应立足于自由民主的基本秩序,以人权、民主为准则。在诸如对人权影响的看法,以及“批评中国存在破坏人权的行为”等问题上,被解雇的员工与编辑部的 新领导层的看法是一致的。)

This is no rendition of the open letter in full, but might give you an idea about its central issues – until China Daily or the People’s Daily’s English edition provide a full English translation. Addenda or corrections (via comments) are welcome. The German original can be found here.

For more Deutsche Welle-related information from this blog, click this tag, and brace for dozens of posts. Not all of them (but most of them, I guess) are related to the Welle’s Chinese department.

Update: search results, May 26, 2011 ("Voice of Germany" "open letter")

Update: search results, May 26, 2011 ("Voice of Germany" "open letter")


Ai Weiwei and Sino-German Relations, Adam Cathcart, May 25, 2011
Letter to H. E. (2008), Dorks on Duty, April 9, 2010

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

DW: JR’s Searchword Service

Are THEY the secret plotters against free speech at Deutsche Welle?

Are THEY the secret plotters against free speech at Deutsche Welle?

[Deutsche Welle] hired a disputed Sinologist based in Germany, whose job is to sniff out all reports with even the slightest hint of friendliness toward China.

After two and a half years on his throne of censorship he has amassed venomous remarks on not only China-friendly reports but also the editors working at the China-Redaktion der Deutsche Welle and he even clamors for recognizing Taiwan as an “independent country”.

The name of the man People’s Daily‘s English Edition apparently doesn’t wish to name would be Jörg-Meinhard Rudolph. His name is mentioned in the open letter to German Federal Parliament, and the Deutsche Welle (Voice of Germany) broadcasting commission, written by four Deutsche Welle staff members whose contracts had reportedly not been renewed.

According to the open letter, Rudolph’s work and the standards allegedly applied would be secret, or secretive. The letter goes far more into detail than the People’s Daily article, which quotes four paragraphs of  it.

As to why the letter’s authors haven’t taken to court yet (where the described practise, if existing, would most probably be declared illegal), or to one of the trade unions in charge of journalists’ interests (such as ver.di) is a matter which hasn’t been addressed in the open letter (inasfar as it is available online).

The Neue Rheinische Zeitung (NRhZ) published the open letter on April 1 this year (see bottom of article there). I’m not aware of reactions from the Bundestag or the broadcasting commission.


» Discussion about Deutsche Welle Chinese dept (comments to a post with an originally different topic),
» Deutsche Welle reshuffles, April 1, 2011
» Unharmonious Days, November 14, 2008

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Beijing: Inasmuch as Ye have Dunnit to Pakistan…

Should the US ever attack Pakistan and send troops into the country, Beijing would consider that an attack on China itself, and react correspondingly, Chinese negotiators said in Washington D.C., on May 9, during a U.S.-Chinese meeting on strategic and economic issues, reports Spiegel Online. The Chinese delegation had been led by vice premier Wang Qishan. Spiegel bases its  report on information obtained from a high-ranking Pakistani diplomat.

Pakistan and China, not too similar in cultural terms, are united by their common enmity with India, according to Spiegel Online.

Meantime, China on Tuesday indicated it would not invest funds on creating another naval base in Pakistan, according to the Times of India, as Beijing was apparently jolted by the Taliban attack on Pakistan’s naval base.

If you go by comments made by foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu (as quoted by the Times of India), such a naval base had been no issue anyway:

Chinese foreign ministry said it had not seen any proposal to build a naval base in Pakistan. The statement amounts to a rejection of Pakistani defense minister Ahmad Mukhtar’s claim that his government was pushing Beijing to build a naval base near the Gawdar port.

“China and Pakistan are friendly neighbors. Regarding the specific China-Pakistan cooperative project that you raised, I have not heard of it,” Jiang Yu, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman told a regular news conference in Beijing.


» Taliban Naval (aviation) Base Attack explained, Huffington Post / Reuters, May 24, 2011
» Hermit: America’s Dirty Helping Hand, August 12, 2010

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Almost Unnoticed: Bremen’s Elections

Election poster, Bremen Bürgerschaft elections: you can say you to me

Election poster, Bremen Bürgerschaft elections: you can say you to me

This friendly gentleman’s (picture) name is Jan Timke. HE (Timke, not the LORD) fights for YOU (ER kämpft für EUCH, says the election poster. There are two forms of “you” in German, “Sie” (with “s” as a capital letter) when you speak to people you haven’t met before, or with whom you aren’t really close, and “du” (plural: ihr / euch) for family people, friends, etc..

But then, a good politician is just like a good friend, right? HE carries some strange stuff on his back. It’s no bag full of christmas gifts. Could be mittens.

Timke re-ran for “Citizens in Anger” (Bürger in Wut, BIW) today and had been a member of Bremen’s parliament, the Bürgerschaft-Landtag, since 2007. His party says that they are undogmatic and conservative in a value-based way (or concerned with traditional value).

I’m not sure how many people visited the angry citizens’ website to see for themselves, but quite a number of people were angry and voted for them. 3.5 per cent all over the federal state, and although the threshold to get into the Bürgerschaft would be 5 per cent, they will be represented in the Bürgerschaft-Landtag, according to the Andere Parteien website, as they got more than 5 per cent in the northern city of Bremerhaven. Radio Bremen reports that Timke will be the only member of parliament for his party. The Angry Citizen’s original goal had been six per cent all over Bremen, as stated in April this year.

The big news is that the Greens are ahead of chancellor Angela Merkel‘s Christian Democrats (CDU) now – in Bremen, that is:

Results by 20:04 CEST
Social Democrats (SPD) 38%
Christian Democrats (CDU) 20%
Greens 22.5%
“The Left” 6%
Free Democrats (FDP) 3%

Bremen Town Hall (housing the executive branch of government)

Bremen Town Hall (housing the executive branch of government)

Federal states’ elections affect national politics only marginally, and in Bremen, the CDU has traditionally played second fiddle to the social democrats anyway, but today’s showing may be food for thought for christian democrats in Berlin, too. The SPD and the Greens have been in a governing coalition since 2007, and are likely to continue their coalition, now with something like a sixty-percent majority in the Bürgerschaft. The SPD has been the main ruling party in Bremen for 65 years now, and it is said that as a Bremer, you are either born with the party’s  membership book, or you get one as a present on your first birthday.

“The Left” is somewhat disappointed (they had hoped for a two-digit result), and the FDP is not surprised (with less than five per cent, there will be no members of parliament from the FDP).

The “National Democrats” are said to have gotten some two per cent, according to projections cited by Andere Parteien.

If Bremerhaven should be angrier than Bremen itself (see para 4 of this post) is a somewhat complicated question. This week’s Economist offers some indirect explanations as to why Bremerhaveners may be angrier than Bremers, and some hints as to why they might become even angrier during the coming four years.

Voter turnout was at a historic low on Sunday, as only some 53 per cent of Bremen federal state’s eligible citizens actually casted their vote (also according to a projection). Turnout was 57.6 per cent in 2007.

A delegation from Afghanistan was in town during the weekend to watch the elections. If they encountered problems similar to Ghana’s Kofi Owusu‘s who observed elections in three German states in 2009, they haven’t yet been reported.

The preliminary official result isn’t expected before midnight. Given that every citizen had five votes to cast, the vote counters’ job has become no easier.

%d bloggers like this: