Archive for March 23rd, 2012

Friday, March 23, 2012

Self-Censorship Training with Weibo

Radio Australia has one, too: a Sina Weibo account. Of course, they will have to watch their tongue, if I understand the rules more correctly than Deutsche Welle did. Weibo may, however, provide some good self-censorship training for foreign organizations, and that might be worth the trouble.

Many Happy Reincarnatons: Net Nanny, the Dismembered Internet Jingcha, and the Sliced Weibo account

Many Happy Reincarnatons: Net Nanny, the Dismembered Internet Jingcha, and the Sliced Weibo account

A Weibo account may be a good tool for an international broadcaster to promote its home country as a travel destination, and to “reach out” to “fans” in China (Radio Australia has more than 19,096, currently). But to me, Weibo is merely an account to listen, not to micro-blog myself. Once I’d have to reincarnate (转世), all previous activity would turn out to be wasted time.

Besides, once real-name registration is enforced – if that is going to happen -, it wouldn’t be JR’s platform anymore, anyway.

Or am I getting it all wrong?

Friday, March 23, 2012

“Only the Self-Confident will be Successful”

Excerpts from Joachim Gauck‘s speech after the inauguration ceremony – rough translation.

Every day, every encounter with the media creates new fears and worries. Some devise escape routes, distrust the future, and fear the present tense. Many ask themselves: what kind of life, what kind of freedom is that? My life’s central issue, “freedom”, to them is no promise, but uncertainty.

Even though I understand this reaction, I do not want to abet it. Fear lowers our courage and self-confidence, at times that crucially so that we may lose both – until we may consider cowardice a virtue, and flight a legitimate attitude in the area of politics.

Instead, I want to use my memory as an energy to teach and to motivate myself and ourselves.


What should this country look like, that our children and grandchildren shall call “our country”? It shall be “our country” by combining social justice, participation, and opportunities of advancement. The path leading there is no paternalistic welfare policy, but a social state which provides and empowers.


In “our country”, all those who live hear shall be at home. By now, we live in a state where religions like Islam have added themselves to the understood German and Christian traditions, as well as other languages and traditions. Here, the state becomes ever less defined by its citizens’ national belonging, but by their belonging to a political and ethical community of values,  [in a state] where not merely a common destiny determines the polity, but where, increasingly, the pursuit by diverse [people] for what we have in common: this state in Europe, where we want to live in freedom, peace, and solidarity.


Not only here, but in Europe and beyond, representative democracy is the only system suitable to balance group interests and the common good.


Different from the Weimar democracy, there are sufficiently many democrats who resist the demons of fanatics, terrorists, and killers. Their testimonies are based on various political or religious reasons: we won’t allow anyone to take our democracy away; we stand by our country – not because it would be perfect, but because we have never had a better one. And we tell the right-extremist spurners of our democracy in particular: your hatred is our incentive. We won’t let our country down. We won’t give you our fears as a gift. You will be past, and our democracy will live.


Gandhi said that only people with self-confidence will forge ahead and be successful. This is true for individuals and for a country. We can’t tell if we will bequeath our children and grandchildren possessions. But we have shown*) that we can choose courage, rather than following fears.

Thanks to God and to the people, this is what they will inherit.



*) A reference to West Germany’s emergence in/after 1949, and East Germany’s in 1989, apparently.


Friday, March 23, 2012

Links to Tibet: German Sycophants, few Secular Books, no Indian Friends

Huanqiu Shibao on Tibet Action Day

On March 10, some 1,150 (if not more than 1,200) cities, counties, and communes  in Germany took part in a Tibet Action Day which includes flying a flag from administrative buildings, usually the town hall. Huanqiu Shibao‘s count was that more than one-thousand German cities and towns had raised the Tibetan independence flag, remembering the so-called Tibet revolt (纪念所谓西藏起义):

According to “Berliner Morgenpost” on March 12, more than 1,000 German cities and towns flew the Tibetan “freedom” and “justice” flags in front of their city government houses to remember the so-called Tibetan revolt’s 53rd anniversary.

However, Huanqiu Shibao’s correspondent in Germany did some research on official German websites and found that many of these activities were mostly carried out at small communes and towns, and that in other cases, only single departments had participated. All the same, Huanqiu (apparently) quotes an expert – Lian Xiangmin (廉湘民) of the China Tibetology Research Center (中国藏学中心) -, history has proved that Germany holding such supportive actions of the Dalai Clique created harm for Chinese-German relations.

The report was filed under Huanqiu’s military category.

Tibetan Flag, Berlin, March 10, 2012

How afraid should Germany be?

Either way, there is constructive advice in the commenter thread (where the soothing effect of Huanqiu’s investigative journalism appears to remain rather limited):

if Germans love that dreg of society (the Dalai Lama) so much, they should cut some German territory and hand it over to the Dalai. Or, chancellor Angela Merkel should hand political authority to the Dalai, given that her subjects (子民) had sworn allegiance to him anyway, because they had capitulated, by hoisting the Dalai’s independence flag on German soil, and by kneeling under his feet as his sycophants.

The Epic of King Gesar – Cultured without Buddhism

Tibetan history has often swung between centralized and stateless poles, and the epic of Gesar reflects the tensions between central authority, as embodied in religious orthodoxy, and the wild, nomadic forces of the autarkic periphery. There are versions that adopt Gesar as a lama showing him as a tamer of the wild, but, in so far as his epic retains his old lineaments as a maverick master of shamanic powers, he represents the stateless, anarchic dimension of Tibet’s margins, and is rather a tamer of corrupt monastic clerics and, thus, it is not coincidental that the epic flourished on the outlying regions of Kham and Amdo.

According to Mountain Phoenix, the story of Ling Gesar Gyalpo is one of rather few not-so-religious Tibetan books,  or a story of indigenously Tibetan, heathen origins – one that her father had kept reading through all his lifetime.

Few years ago at a Tibetan gathering, I heard the Dalai Lama talk about the importance of the Tibetan language and he gave tips to youngsters on how to work on their Tibetan. He said: “If you want to improve your Tibetan, you should read Peja (Buddhist scriptures)”.

We can all imagine the youngsters jumping for joy on the inside exclaiming: “Yeah, Peja! Finally! So exciting”!

Her father never touched a Peja in all his life, but

Still I conclude from comments his surviving peers make that his Tibetan didn’t pale in comparison to some of the erudite clerics who used to live in our vicinity. Astonishing for a Tibetan of his generation, that he somehow managed to become “cultured” without cosing up to Buddhism.

Indian-Tibetan Relations

Woeser quotes Tibetan voices from India – nothing representative, she cautions, and collected through social media, but with an eye-catcher among the statements:

Lobsang Wangdu, for instance, says that only in recent years did he see some civil society groups supporting Tibet appearing in India and after having lived in India for over 10 years, he has never had a single Indian friend, many Tibetans are like that. I asked him whether this may be because India is too big, has too many people, too many different religions and cultures? He said that this could be one reason, but also thought that Tibetans had not made enough effort; at the same time, however, he also felt that it is difficult to come into contact with Indians.

The debate described by Woeser also involves the Karmapa incident, apparently referring to Indian allegations that the Karmapa Lama were a man of many connections into China, i. e. a Chinese spy, and in violation of India’s Foreign Exchange Regulation Act. The Lama was reportedly cleared of the forex allegations soon after.

Kabir Bedi, an Indian television and film actor whose mother converted to Tibetan Buddhism, urged the authorities to show the Karmapa Lama more respect:

The Karmapa’s office applied for, and received, permission to bank the money under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act. Inexplicably, this permission was withdrawn after the first $1,00,000 was received. And the Karmapa’s re-application has been pending, and pending, since 2002. What can a monk do with a growing pile of donations that can’t be banked, except to keep it in cash and use it for expenses?

And [h]ow would we look if he – the Karmapa Lama – sought asylum in a friendlier country?

To look at clerics as useless moneybags is a tradition that goes far beyond China, India, or Tibet. But while Mountain Phoenix may prefer secular literature, Chinese politics has proven that Tibetan Buddhism is actually much more scientific than she might think.

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