“But aren’t You an Ally of the Government?”

In June this year, Radio Eins, of Berlin’s and Brandenburg’s domestic public broadcaster RBB, reported on the open letter by Wang Fengbo, Hong Zhu and other former Deutsche Welle (Voice of Germany) journalists.

[If you aren’t aware of the story of April/May this year, please read the post and its links under “Related” at the end of this post – JR.]

Christian Hoppe, member of Deutsche Welle’s employee committee, was quoted as saying that some of the letter’s phrasing had been overboard, but that by and large, the events had been described accurately (die Autoren des „offenen Briefs“ seien „mit einigen Formulierungen über das Ziel hinausgeschossen“, würden jedoch “die Vorgänge in der Redaktion insgesamt korrekt wiedergeben”). Radio Eins based a number of quotes on a report by Evangelischer Pressedienst (EPD, Frankfurt am Main).

Tilman Spengler was quoted with a number of critical remarks. When the sinologist was refused a visa to attend the Art of Enlightenment exhibition‘s opening ceremony in Beijing, in March  this year, a duty editor at Deutsche Welle had  called him on the phone and expressed his surprise – after all, Spengler was “an ally of the government”, wasn’t he (ein Verbündeter der Regierung), the editor suggested, according to Spengler.

Spengler had lauded Liu Xiaobo in a ceremony in Germany, in September last year.

I’m not exactly sure if the duty editor – provided that the quote is correct – thought of Spengler as an ally of the Chinese, or the German government (“But you are an ally of the government. How can this happen?”) According to the EPD report, Spengler was “rather an ally of Deutsche Welle”, as he had defended the Chinese department against the 2008 open letter by the department’s critics.

The original story appeared in the EPD reader’s May edition, as one of their main stories of the month. The temporary head of Deutsche Welle’s Chinese department for some of the time described by Wang Fengbo’s and his three colleagues’ open letter, denied most of the letter’s account, and blamed the climate of fear stated there on the restructuring processes, according to EPD/RBB.



» DW, JR turns to Science, Dec 17, 2011


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