Archive for December, 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christian Wulff and his Small-Minded Fans

Christmas is the time when you have to be nice to others. So I’ll need to hurry up, to get all the dirty chores done ahead of the season of love and understanding.

Federal President Christian Wulff has a problem – sort of a money problem. It’s not that he’d be cash-strapped – he seems to be extremely creditworthy, in fact. His actual problem is described here (including some links about the story’s beginnings).

That doesn’t make Wulff a dishonorable man. But in my view, it makes him a bad president. Then again, I’m biased. I believe that Joachim Gauck would have been the right choice, last year.

That’s why I’m not making a big fuss of the story here. Besides, this is a China blog.

But while I’m at it, this is what Migazin, an online magazine about migration in Germany, wants the press and the public “to leave our president alone”.

Politicians had to resign before, because of similar issues, writes the author. But, he argues, crimes with xenophobe backgrounds had been investigated much less resolutely.

This is a stupid paragraph:

Nothing is known that would amount to lies or deceit. Investigate if Christian Wulff, as Lower Saxony’s president, was in breach of the law. But leave our president alone! Like noone before him, Christian Wulff has managed to add weight to this office. A president who, for the first time, is one for all of us and not only – small-mindedly – these or those. Or is it this which disturbs “us”? The office’s prestige is stronger than ever – especially now -, thanks to Wulff.

Yes, Wulff said that Islam belongs in Germany. That was a good speech. Given that a federal president exercises little political power, good speeches are an important standard to judge a federal president.

But it doesn’t seem to dawn on the author how small-minded his own article is, just as he accuses “others” of the very offense. A federal president, just like any other public servant, needs to be accountable. A good speech in the past, no matter how much you may have liked it, changes nothing about that. To start reckoning – they looked the other way when xenophobic crimes were committed – is small-minded, too. When the president’s conduct is the issue, the president’s conduct is the issue. When xenophobic crimes are the issue, xenophobic crimes are the issue. That’s nothing to kick into one kettle altogether and to keep stirring until it has become  brown gravy.

Besides, the article reveals how short-lived memory is. In 1995, Roman Herzog, one of Wulff’s predecessors, lauded Annemarie Schimmel, an orientalist who was criticized for belittling crimes committed in the name of Islam. That criticism had little substance. It became a big brawl all the same. Herzog spoke up for her, and praised her achievements in helping Germans to understand Islamic culture. That took courage, and Herzog did it anyway.

But Migazin doesn’t seem to remember him. Yeah – Christian Wulff has managed to add weight to this office, like nobody before, huh?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

“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


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Three Major External Pressures, as seen by “Economic Reference”: Decreasing Demand, Outflow of Capital, Protectionism

As the Eurozone worries keep deepening, and other developed foreign economies’ recovery remains weak, the emerging economies, too, are feeling the pressure, writes Economic Reference (经济参考报), a paper unter Xinhua management, republished by China National Radio (CNR) on Thursday.

[Main Link:]

2012 no easy ride?

2012 no easy ride?

In such an external environment full of risks, China was to face many risks and challenges in 2012. Global economic recovery was slowing, risks on the financial markets kept accumulating, and protectionism was deepening. Foreign demand would decrease, and so would capital flow away from China, and [trade] frictions.  These were the three major challenges for China, in 2012, suggests the article.

Economic Reference quotes a paper by People’s University (or Renmin University), China Macro-Economic Analysis and Forecast, 2011 – 2012, as referring to the European debt crisis as turning into a medium-term crisis. If it deteriorated or not would be one of the great global economic challenges and uncertainties. It didn’t just have the potential of changing the pattern and structure of global finance, but could also alter the path of global economic recovery. A researcher with the ministry of commerce, Liang Yanfen (员梁艳芬)  is quoted, as she points out that the debt crisis – spreading from Greece as a peripheral European state to Italy and Spain (i. e. more central European countries), weakening market confidence given the close interconnectivity of European countries’ debts and their close economic ties – had become a burden on banks, and on the real economy’s recovery.

The European and American markets had been China’s most important export markets. That China’s export business trends had been declining had become increasingly evident. From rising by 23.6 per cent from January until August on average, it had dropped to 15.9 per cent in October, and to 13.8 per cent in  November. Orders from America and Europe had contracted by 24 and 19 per cent respectively, writes Economic Reference.

On newly-emerging markets, the global slowdown also curbed efforts by Chinese enterprises to tap new markets. For example, Brazil’s import growth had fallen by 19.7 percentage points during the first nine months of this year.

The ministry of commerce predicts that the trend of growing Chinese exports will continue in 2012, but probably at slower rates than in 2011, and the main reasons for this lies in the growingly conplicated external environment. There is hope that imports would grow faster than exports, and that the trade balance will continuously improve.


The global financial markets were in a state of trepidation and anxiety (恐慌不安), the article continues on its second page. Once again, since April this year, increased market volatility and liquidity risks had emerged, the article quotes a blue book by the Academy of Science on 2012. Here, poor macro-economic performance, developed countries’ debt crises and inter-banking problems are given as reasons. There were no reasons to expect short-term changes, and the financial markets would therefore remain unstable.

A ministry of commerce situation report (形势报告) with similar assessments is then quoted, but adding a mention of the risk of an outflow of capital from emerging economies. China’s central bank’s data showed that in October and November, China’s funds outstanding for foreign exchange*) showed negative growth.

Sang Baichuan (桑百川), director of the Institute of International Economy at University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, told Economic Reference [reminder: the paper which originally published the article translated here] that he saw capital outflows as the greatest risk China would be facing from the external environment, in 2012. Analysis showed that if foreign investors withdrew ten per cent of their investment from a market, this would lead to 4.7 million employees being laid off, to a fall in exports by more than 86 billion US dollars (i. e. export growth would only be somewhere above 7 per cent), and the country would lose an annual total of 160 billion Yuan RMB in national tax revenues.

That said, others held different views, write Economic Reference. Wang Jinbin (王晋斌), professor at People’s University’s School of Economics, had told the paper that there was no great risk of such a scenario next year, because the economy as a whole was under control. Another source, apparently a paper from this company,  is quoted as saying that compared to capital outflows in other Asian countries, the impact on China would be small. Foreign banks weren’t strongly engaged in China, and gaps that might emerge all the same could well be filled by domestic banks.

Another economist expresses belief in more active ECB intervention.

Remains protectionism as a factor. Relevant reports by international organizations showed that after the G-20 summit, from December 2010 to May 2011, global trade had been affected by protectionism, with an effect of 0.6 per cent on global trade, or an increase by 61 per cent, when compared with the preceding period – June to November 2010, writes Economic Reference.

Many of the descriptions that follow don’t seem to be too different from previous Chinese articles concerning protectionism I’ve translated in the past, but adds a batch of emerging economies which, too, had taken restrictive measures during the first nine months of 2011, i. e. Brazil, Turkey, Indonesia, Argentina, and India, with eighteen investigations, which meant that they accounted for 36 per cent of all investigations worldwide, carried out on Chinese trade.  This was likely to aggravate, the article quotes from the earlier-mentioned  China Macro-Economic Analysis and Forecast, 2011 – 2012 by People’s University – the coming year would see a period of global economic slowdown and rebalancing, frictions about exchange rates, trade frictions, and  intensified domestic structural restructuring in a number  of countries. Protectionism could go beyond traditional fields of contention.



*) Funds outstanding for foreign exchange are explained as a result of the RMB’s inconvertibility. These funds are the amount of foreign currency bought by the Chinese central bank, and offset the capital inflow in foreign currency, as Xinhua (republished by the Global Times, explained in April. A foreign investor will invest globally convertible currency, but much of it will typically be invested in assets, machinery, and operating costs paid in RMB.



» China’s Options as Exports Dwindle, Oct 12, 2011
» More Scientific and Fairer Rules, Sept 19, 2011


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

VoA Mandarin Programs: Still on Shortwave?

Voice of America (VoA) frequency schedules suggest that for now, the broadcaster continues its shortwave broadcasts in Mandarin, according to Radio Taiwan International (RTI), despite the original plan to cut the broadcasts on September 30 this year – which marked the end of the past fiscal year. The RTI notice carries no date, and may be outdated, but the VoA website carries a frequency schedule (which has been in effect since November 1, 2011, and which still includes Mandarin broadcasts.

RadioBras QSL, 1987

Particularly Progressive: RadioBrás (Brazil) closed its German department in 1999 (QSL card, 1987)

The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), responsible for all federal-funded non-military broadcasts, seems to be at odds with supporters of the shortwave programs in Chinese on Capitol Hill, if this article by BBG Watch is correct. It reports that things aren’t going smoothly between the Voice of America’s employees (and fans) on the one hand, and the BBG on the other. The reported tensions weren’t only concerning broadcasting issues, but industrial relations, too. One of the board’s eight governors, Victor Ashe, a Republican and former ambassador to Poland, reached out to the staff, not least the VoA’s Chinese department’s, in recent days. Ashe has started to meet with rank-and-file employees and is asking uncomfortable questions in open meetings about the mismanagement of the agency by the executive staff, according to a BBG Watch report on Sunday.

I’m not sure if the bill passed by the U.S. Senate a few days ago has changed the situation, but according to BBG Watch, the VoA [Mandarin] programs were saved (which may or may not include the shortwave broadcasts in Chinese).

No time to listen to the radio at the moment, and I can’t therefore tell if the current VoA frequency and language schedule reflects reality, but I’ll probably give the frequencies a try during Christmas.



» Keep Shortwave, for Now, July 24, 2011
» Terrible Shifts, Unbalanced Reporting, Taipei Times, February 19, 2011


Monday, December 19, 2011

Chinese coverage on Kim Jong-il’s Death

A cobbler should stick to his last, they say. This blog may be no shining example for this motto, but Kim Jong-il‘s death, plus speculation, is extensively reported everywhere, and I don’t believe that I can add a lot of meaningful information here.

But to commemorate the old gangsta, who reportedly presided over the death of some two million people soon after succeeding his holy father in 1994 (due to ill-judged economic reforms and poor harvests), here is a historical icon:

Another boring Day at the Supreme Commander's Office

Another boring Day at the Supreme Commander’s Office

Let’s hope that he won’t soon be missed for his, umm, restraint.

From Sichuan Province, China, Adam Cathcart is logging Chinese coverage on Kim’s death, plus updates, in this (probably only initial) blogpost.

The tag to follow there should be North Korea.

For some more folksy reactions in China, there’s a random collection on Sinostand.



» Voice of Korea, JR’s Soundfiles, recorded Dec 19, 2011
[Update, Dec 23, 2012: soundfile now removed. Please contact me by email or comment if you are interested in the soundfile – JR
Former link:]


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Obituary: Vaclav Havel, 1936 – 2011

Vaclav Havel,  the playwright, essayist, dissident and politician, died in the night on Sunday, reportedly in his sleep, and tended to by his wife Dagmar, reports Radio Prague.  In another article, Radio Prague describes Havel’s career as a playwright – despite having been barred from formal college humanities education by the Communist regime -, and as a dissident. In the 1990s, he served as Czechoslovakia’s last, and as the Czech Republic’s first president.

Chinese media are only slowly reacting, possibly given the time of day when news about Havel’s death broke, but IFeng (Phoenix, Hong Kong) provides a historical photo timeline, and republished IFeng’s piece, also today. (As is custom in Chinese, his age is stated as 76 there, counting his day of birth as his first birthday.) There was nothing to be found online on Xinhua Net in Chinese by 15:30 GMT , but Xinhua’s English outlet carries a short news article.

Another short note was available on CNTV, but has apparently since been removed or relocated.

China’s media didn’t seem to have a pre-prepared obituary in store for Havel – and to describe his life is probably a challenge in China. Not only was Havel a dissident – he kept practicing solidarity with dissidents elsewhere, after Czechoslovakia became a free society. In his last public appearance, early last week, he met with the Dalai Lama, who reportedly asked him to live at least another ten years.

Woeser learned about Havel’s death from Twitter, and wrote about her feelings on her blog. From her message to the Czech Republic’s embassy in Beijing [links within added during translation]:

I’m deeply saddened to learn about Mr. Havel’s passing.


I’m Tibetan, an independent author, and have always seen Mr. Havel as a spiritual guide, feeling uplifted from reading his works.


As a Tibetan, I’m deeply grateful for Mr. Havel’s attention for the Tibetan issue and Tibet’s predicament. I remember him saying that only after visiting Tibet and Taiwan, he would visit Beijing. This meaningful line is something we won’t forget.


Eight days ago, on “World Human Rights Day”, His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, arrived in the Czech Republic, on Havel’s invitation. I saw several photos of His Holiness and Mr. Havel on the internet, and I felt deeply moved.


On one of the photos, I saw His Holiness express his deep respect for Mr. Havel,  on a second photo, I saw the deep friendship between the two great men, and seeing the walking stick on the third photo, I felt astonished – I had never thought of him as an old man, or even about his health…


Following Tibetan tradition, I have lighted a memorial candle for Mr. Havel, in front of my household’s Buddhist shrine, and I sincerely pray that he will be born again – this world needs him!


Thank you!

唯色(Tsering Woeser)

Beijing, December 18, 2011

I never read Havel’s works, but I did read some of his essays. In the 1980s, probably in a book published by Freimut Duve, I found this essay – in German, that is:

One legacy of that original “correct” understanding is a third peculiarity that makes our systems different from other modern dictatorships: it commands an incomparably more precise, logically structured, generally comprehensible and, in essence, extremely flexible ideology that, in its elaborateness and completeness, is almost a secularized religion. […]  To wandering humankind it offers an immediately available home: all one has to do is accept it, and suddenly everything becomes clear once more, life takes on new meaning, and all mysteries, unanswered questions, anxiety, and loneliness vanish. Of course, one pays dearly for this low-rent home: the price is abdication of one’ s own reason, conscience, and responsibility, for an essential aspect of this ideology is the consignment of reason and conscience to a higher authority.

I read this when I was a teenager, and it came to my mind right away when I heard of Vaclav Havel’s death, earlier today. I don’t feel in a position to juge if he was one of “Europe’s  great thinkers”, but it doesn’t matter to me anyway. Reading his essay had a profound impact on me. Havel discussed what we might call “abstract” issues in a way even an adolescent like me, lucky enough to live west of the iron curtain back then, would bear in mind, and gradually understand, almost without re-reading.



Dauernde Vergewaltigung der Gesellschaft, Vaclav Havel, January 1980


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Changes at Deutsche Welle’s Chinese Department: JR turns to Science

Song Luzheng (宋鲁郑), a journalist who runs a blog at IFeng (Phoenix, Hong Kong), revisited the labor disputes at Deutsche Welle (Voice of Germany) with a blog post on November 10 this year. The dispute became public early this year when at least two of four journalists with the station’s Chinese department (referred to as “the four” further down in this post) took their cases to the labor courts – an unnamed journalist who had contributed to the department’s programs as a freelancer and whose case was heard and turned down in Bonn’s labor court in March this year, and Wang Fengbo (王凤波).

Wang seems to be quoted more extensively by Song, than I’ve seen him quoted elsewhere – except for an open letter the four published at the Neue Rheinische Zeitung in April this year.

But Song’s blogpost doesn’t leave the impression on me that people are necessarily quoted correctly – for one, all four journalists whose contracts were severed this year are described as members of the Deutsche Welle’s Chinese department, no matter if they were once freelancers or regular employees. Also, Song makes a reference to German law, writing that labor law wasn’t the only law that had counted in Wang Fengbo’s case, and that even German judges found that hard to explain1). This was the situation when it came to radio stations and similar organizations, but not in most other industries. (但根据德国相关法律,广播电台这种机构有权自由挑选所需要的工作人员。而这一条规定,就是德国的法官也表示难以理解,因为这是超越劳动法的权力!在其他行业是绝不可能发生的。)

What strikes me most is that Song’s post may have the desired effect on readers who want the Deutsche Welle to be more “China-friendly” (whatever that would mean), but that it contradicts the case the four journalists Song seems to defend have made in their open letter themselves. There is nothing that would suggest that Song could speak for Wang, or any of the four former Deutsche Welle employees or contributors. From Song’s post:

It should first be noted that no media must challenge or deny Western values, let alone the system – that’s the red line. All media must exercise strict self-discipline here. Only because Zhang Danhong reported and commented about China on the right side (她发表了许多正面报道中国的新闻和评论), she was removed. (Eastern and Western values are different, and to acknowledge Eastern values would amount to denying Western values.)


This blogger, cold-war minded as he may be (and no lawyer, to be clear), saw no fault with anything he had ever heard or read from Zhang Danhong’s Chinese department, prior to her removal, and as far as their  coverage at Deutsche Welle was concerned – not because she “reported on the right side”, but because she voiced her more controversial views only  outside Deutsche Welle2) – as far as I can see. The Chinese programs were boring, but whenever I listened or read (which, granted, wasn’t too frequently), they never left the impression on me that they were negating what Song refers to as “Western values” – values which are in fact not Western, but universal, and which the United Nations, after all, have agreed to.

The case Song makes would probably not be Wang Fengbo’s own case. This is how Huanqiu Shibao, a Chinese nationalist-leaning paper, quoted the Open Letter of the four, in May this year:

Outsiders could get the impression that in the case of Zhang Danhong, political issues and human rights had been the heart of the matter, Huanqiu Shibao quoted them. However, there had never been differences between the Chinese department’s editorial staff and the leadership of the Voice of Germany [or its Chinese department heads, rather – JR], 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.

The Open Letter’s German version, as published by Neue Rheinische Zeitung, seems to confirm this quote:

For outsiders, who aren’t familiar with the formation of the “China debate” and the campaign against Mrs. Zhang which came with it, the impression may be left that this was a clash between two different concepts of political values and human rights. That, however, is definitely not the case, as all journalists involved, of Chinese origin, stand on the ground of the free democratic basic order and stand for the principles of human rights and democracy.  Concerning the validity of human rights, and criticism when they are violated, there have never been different views between the sanctioned colleagues and the new editorial management.

Für außenstehende Beobachter, die mit der Entwicklung nach der “China-Debatte” und der damit verbundenen Kampagne gegen Frau Danhong Zhang nicht vertraut sind, könnte der ganze Sachverhalt zunächst den Eindruck erwecken, dass es sich hier um einen Zusammenprall von zwei unterschiedlichen Auffassungen von politischen Werten und Menschenrechtsverständnissen handelt. Dies ist aber mit Sicherheit nicht der Fall, da alle beteiligten Journalisten chinesischer Herkunft auf dem Boden der freiheitlich-demokratischen Grundordnung stehen und für die Prinzipen der Menschenrechte und Demokratie einstehen. In Bezug auf die Geltung der Menschenrechte und Kritik an ihrer Verletzung gab es zwischen den sanktionierten Mitabeitern der DW und der neuen Redaktionsleitung zu keinem Zeitpunkt unterschiedliche Auffassungen.

More details from the Open Letter can be found here – much of Song’s blogpost in November, inasfar as it described the labor dispute, also drew on those details.

Song’s post soon went far beyond Europe, to North America, and to Israel, and to Palestine. It seems to be a feelgood post for fenqings – “They-do-it-too!” stuff, basically.  I can’t expect to draw genuine information from it, even though IFeng is a Hong Kong broadcaster and media company, not under the guidance of the CCP’s propaganda department. That said, Song himself is a mainlander, and lives in Paris as a member of the overseas Chinese community, as the Paris Culture Salon’s (巴黎文化沙龙) secretary-general, and as the executive-director of the Shandong Provincial Overseas Exchange Council  (山东省海外交流协会). He contributes to IFeng, but also to People’s Daily, and Qiu-Shi (《求是》杂志), a bi-monthly political theory paper published by the Central Party School and the Central Committee.

Neither the “Zhang Danhong incident” in 2008, nor the case of the four journalists who wrote the Open Letter this year, are as transparent as I’d like them to be. Especially in Zhang’s case – she still works at Deutsche Welle, but not at the Chinese department -, the station may have to observe certain duties to protect her from unduly ample coverage. After all, a journalist working for a radio station is no politician. And in the other four cases, there may still be civil lawsuits in the pipeline which keep both sides from talking openly.

But a curious mind like me would wish that all the facts were on the table. My working hypothesis for now is that Deutsche Welle – from its employees and contributors – has demanded a stronger emphasis on human rights, during the past three years, than had been the case previously. Indeed, both my impression of the station’s Chinese programs, and statements by Deutsche Welle itself, would suggest that.

There had been discussions about the Welle’s self-conception in the past. There were (and are, I’m sure) observers who saw the station as just another broadcaster, where journalists basically did the same job as those at domestic broadcasters, with a journalistic approach. There were others who suggested that the Welle was part of Germany’s public diplomacy, or otherwise involved in foreign policy, in its wider or narrower sense.

When the Voice of America (VoA) was technically refurbished, and ideologically rearranged by the Reagan administration in the first half of the 1980s,  the Financial Times, as quoted by Der Spiegel, found that the “VoA Editorial”, then newly introduced in the Voice’s programs, should scare diplomats who thought highly of themselves (my German-to-English translation; the FT’s original wording might be different). And Roy Medvedev, a dissident historian at the time, and also quoted by Der Spiegel, observed that VoA broadcasts had become quite blistering – which would annoy most Russian listeners, as it “insulted their patriotism”. Before, the American Voice had been more contained, but also more effective.

So far, I’ve written about Deutsche Welle as a listener, and reader only, who is trying to make sense of what is going on. But I’ve started reading my way through some concepts of public diplomacy, with at least one of them focusing on Deutsche Welle. Input, especially when it comes to this aspect, is welcome. Neither German, nor Chinese coverage on the recent three years at Deutsche Welle seems to be terribly enlightening.  Hence, JR is now turning to science, to spot some stars of insight there.

A Star of Insight?

A Star of Insight?

Merry Christmas.



1) I doubt that a judge or lawyer finds this hard to explain – a layperson may find it hard to understand, though. In an earlier commenter thread, I tried to make sense of the matter. The heart of the matter would to be that the state exercises legal oversight at Deutsche Welle, which would be about procedure, rather than content. This, however, is strictly laymanspeak, i. e. my personal interpretation.

2) That’s not to say that she made no mistakes in her comments. In an interview with Germany’s domestic broadcaster Deutschlandfunk, she reportedly compared Chinese internet censorship with censorship of right-wing extremist websites in Germany – and censorship of child pornography. To call such a comparison unfortunate would be very mild criticism. And in the wake of the brawl, she reportedly had an intern act as an interviewer and had the intern ask her questions Zhang herself had previously devised herself. The self-interview‘s topic had been differences between Zhang and He Qinglian (何清涟), a U.S.-based Chinese economist and dissident.



» Press Release, Deutsche Welle, May 18, 2011
» Initial Post: Unharmonious Days, Nov 14, 2008

Related Tag:

» Deutsche Welle


Friday, December 16, 2011

The Siege of Wukan: If you can’t govern a village, how can you govern what is Under Heaven?

Wukan (乌坎) may best be translated as “Black Ridge”, and it is a fishing village in the vicinity and administrative area of Lufeng City (陆丰市), a county-level city in the Shanwei municipal region (汕尾), Guangdong Province. After months of tensions about land requisitions, protests starting in September this year led to the Communist cadres and administration fleeing Wukan.

The village was then stormed by riot police, according to the Daily Telegraph, after which the officials switched from stick to carrot, asking the villagers to appoint 13 representatives with whom they could negotiate – only to seize and arrest five of them on December 9. On December 12, news broke that Xue Jinbo (薛锦波), one of the five arrested, had died in police custody. His body reportedly showed signs of torture. Since December 11, the village has been under siege, without food, water, and electricity, after police had made an unsuccessful attempt early in the morning to recapture the village.

Radio Taiwan International (RTI) quotes from an Oriental Daily News (東方日報, Hong Kong) article of Friday (today) which gives an account of the events from September until now.  At the beginning, the “Wukan incident” had been just another matter of corruption, according to the article, where proper handling by the authorities could have won the villagers’ hearts and minds back. But nothing had been done about the corrupt officials, and instead, foreign hostile forces (境外敌对势力介入) were used as an excuse to explain why the situation deteriorated and finally went out of control. This had triggered the wrath of Heaven and the resentment of men (天怒人怨 – i. e. strong resentment). RTI quotes Oriental Daily as asking if the authorities, the current Wukan incident, are focusing on serving the people, or on serving corrupt officials – and with a question which would be damning even in a European country, but particularly in the celestial kingdom:

When it comes to Wang Yang (汪洋, Guangdong Province’s party secretary), “if it is difficult to rule a village, how can you rule over what’s under heaven?” (“一村尚且难治,又何以治天下?”)

RTI’s article is written in simplified characters, for the benefit of potential Chinese readers (if they can get over the firewall). In turn,‘s Taiwanese website informed its Taiwanese readers on Thursday that according to the BBC, China had started to block microblog information on Wu Kan, which had led to internet users writing “WK” instead of the Chinese characters for Wukan.

Update [September 6, 2012]: the Sina article linked above has since been removed. See the two screenshots below for the original article:

online article, 1

online article, 1

online article, part 2

online article, 2

The siege of Wukan includes the villages fleet of fishing boats, according to the BBC report quoted by (Taiwan). The BBC in turn is quoted as quoting a Daily Telegraph reporter [Malcom Moore, apparently – see Daily-Telegraph link in this post’s second paragraph] who had visited the village, and who had said that twenty-thousand people in Wukan were in open resistance, and that the authorities were completely out of control. (Taiwan) also quotes China News Service (中新社), China’s second-largest news agency. China News Service quotes Shanwei’s acting mayor, as saying that the legitimate demands of the people had already been resolved, or were in the process of being resolved.

It remains to be seen if this means that the people of Wukan will be starved into submission, and a crackdown will start right away, beginning with the surviving twelve village negotiators who once dared to stick their necks out, or if the authorities will choose to serve the people (as the Oriental Daily puts it), rather than avenging their official’s humiliation. (They may also choose to take the earlier approach first, and the second approach later, once national and international attention has abated.)



» Scalpel gives Way to Hatchet, Sinostand, Dec 16, 2011
» Blocked List, Things You Don’t Know, Dec 14, 2011


Updates / Related

» The Foreign-Devils Pact, Malcolm Moore, Dec 15, 2011


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