Archive for June 10th, 2011

Friday, June 10, 2011

MFA Press Conference: Hit and Tow, Legal Education

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei (洪磊) condemned a “serious infringement on Chinese sovereignty and naval rights (严重侵犯中国的主权和海洋权益), reports the BBC‘s Chinese website. Chinese fishermen had been put into danger by a Vietnamese oil exploration ship in the South China Sea, Hong said on Thursday, in a response to a statement of Vietnam’s ministry of foreign affairs.

Also on Thursday, Vietnam had accused a Chinese fishing trawler of intentionally hitting the Vietnamese vessel. In his Thursday statement, Hong in turn accused Vietnam of illegally trying to expel the Chinese fishing trawler by armed force, while the fishermen were operating legally near the Spratly Islands.

Last Sunday, several hundred protesters held a demonstration against Chinese vessels violating Vietnam’s sovereignty, according to the BBC report.

An AFP report, republished by the Bangkok Post on Thursday, quotes extensively from both sides’ statements.

Also on Thursday, Hong Lei said that there were no missing monks in Tibet.

The spokesman, Hong Lei, said local authorities were “conducting legal education” for the monks to “maintain religious order.” He said there had been “no such thing as enforced disappearance” of the monks from the Kirti monastery in Sichuan Province,

Associated Press reported.

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Related
» Democratic International Relations, June 8, 2011
» Senkaku Islands, the So-Called Video, November 12, 2011

Update/Related
» Parallel Press Conference, Voice of Vietnam, June 10, 2011

Friday, June 10, 2011

“Free Speech, Dutch Values”: Another Shortwave Broadcaster bites the Dust

RNW QSL, 1985

Radio Netherlands QSL, 1985, showing the Flevoland shortwave broadcasting site's location

Radio Netherlands (RNW)  is likely to close down its shortwave broadcasting sites on Bonaire and Madagascar. Shortwave broadcasts from Flevoland, south of the Lake Yssel, were apparently  terminated a few years ago.

If thriftiness is a particularly Dutch virtue, one may indeed refer to the budget reduction, probably from 46 million down to 36 million Euros, with a brand-new  motto, as director general Jan Hoek‘s statement would suggest:

RNW will serve as the journalistic calling card of the Netherlands. The new focus ‘Free speech, Dutch values’, comes ahead of a cabinet decision about budget cuts to public broadcasting.

According to Hoek,

We reach the greater part of our audience via local media organisations which re-broadcast RNW content. In this way, RNW reaches tens of millions of people in their own language, meeting their information needs. External research has confirmed that new technological developments have not made RNW redundant, but rather offer new opportunities to make a difference.

Also part of the RNW package which still needs to be approved by the Dutch cabinet, Dutch-language broadcasts will be slashed altogether.

The anticipatory obedience shown by Hoek, as well as – not too long ago – Deutsche Welle‘s director Erik Bettermann as they face substantial budget cuts might be an indicator as to why their broadcasting stations don’t matter that much any more, anyway. The industry seems to be lacking passion.

When Tom Meyer (Tom Meijer), host and producer of the “Happy Station”, the world’s longest-running show on shortwave, learned in the early 1990s that the show would have come to an end in the foreseeable future, he handed in his notice. The management seemed to believe “that shortwave has had it”, he said in a guest contribution to the programs final episode, in 1995.

Sixteen years later, Meyer was right.

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Related
» Deutsche Welle targets “Opinion Leaders”, May 20, 2011
» “Stuff of the Past”, April 2, 2011
» RNW Chinese website

Friday, June 10, 2011

Independent Candidates: Don’t win again

Yao Lifa (姚立法), a primary school teacher and native of Hubei Province, was elected to his town’s people’s congress in 1998, according to an Economist article of last year. He wasn’t reelected in 2003, while some other independents

did manage to gain seats that year in county and township “people’s congresses”. But in the following elections in 2006 and 2007, the authorities did all they could to stop them winning, from gerrymandering and vote-rigging to intimidation. Mr Yao says he was detained five times [in 2009] to keep him quiet during politically sensitive occasions, including the NPC session [in March that year].

Some window-dressing notwithstanding, the CCP makes sure that important laws or leadership appointments are passed with a minimum of dissent – the Economist described in some detail how the nomenklatura took care of the harmonious goal.

In principle, China’s constitution allows

all adults to run for the largely powerless local People’s Congresses, except those who have been formally stripped of political rights.
However, in practice, the one-party government tilts the vote heavily in favor of its own candidates, mostly officials and party members.
Independent-minded citizens who hope to win a place on these congresses face heavy procedural barriers, though in past years a few have succeeded in winning election and then have used their posts to challenge government officials.
Now Beijing has warned would-be grassroots politicians that they cannot campaign online and on the streets as “independent candidates”,

a Reuters article published by the Taipei Times on Friday says.

In April this year, China Daily reported that China was

gearing up to establish village affairs supervisory committees in rural areas across the country, plugging the last gap in the grassroots democracy. […]

The committees must give priority to supervising events that raise villagers’ concern, said Zhao Hongzhu, Party secretary of Zhejiang province and a key advocate of the committees since their birth.

In February this year, Zhou Yongkang (周永康), the CCP’s Politics and Law Committee’s chairman, and a member of the politbureau’s nine-members standing committee, called for the establishment of

more pluralistic participation (多方参与), a concept of shared governance, the maintenance of party leadership and guidance by the government, and cooperation with all benign forces in society.

Zhou made his speech on a conference on the improvement of “social management”.

The CCP apparently doesn’t think of Yao Lifa as a benign force at all. But as long as provincial party secretaries like Zhao Hongzhu take care of village “supervisory democracy” (and make sure that it doesn’t even arrive at the municipal level), Beijing can put its mind at ease.

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Related
» Learning Chinese with the CCP: Dangwai, January 31, 2011
» NPC Delegates on Survey: Dreams, Drawing Closer, March 1, 2011
» Hermit: Delegates make a Big Difference, March 6, 2009

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