Archive for April, 2012

Friday, April 27, 2012

Old Friends of the Chinese People in Hanover: Wen’s Wonder Weapon

Angela Merkel and Wen Jiabao opened the Hannover Messe (Hanover Fair) last Sunday (April 22).

Wen Jiabao, Hanover visit

Wen Jiabao and the Three Chancellors, Neue Presse, Hanover

Wen Jiabao would stay at Kastens Hotel Luisenhof, Hanover’s Neue Presse informed its readers on April 21 (Saturday). There, he would also receive former chancellors Helmut Schmidt and Gerhard Schröder. Neither of the two had to travel very far – Schmidt lives in Hamburg, and Hanover is Schröder’s home town.

The way the Neue Presse presented the Dreikanzlertreffen (Merkel, Schröder, Schmidt) could have been designed by the Chinese propaganda department itself – but no worries, the coverage probably wasn’t even driven by business interests in the first place. Just as – I believe – Schmidt and Schröder (Merkel much less so), the German public in general is quite susceptible to flattery. When a foreign guest shows our old chanclellors (and Schmidt in particular) respect, he must be a good guy, basically.

Besides, if there is something like a (well-performing) soft-power Wunderwaffe for the CCP in Germany, it must be Helmut Schmidt. Less than three months before Wen’s Hanover visit, Schmidt had helped to inaugurate a series of “dialogs” about Chinese-German relations, in the framework of the China Cultural Year 2012, and didn’t shrink from any platitude (“the West must learn to understand today’s China” and “you can’t understand it without knowing China’s past”), any detail (Zheng He’s junks sailed under lateens), or any adulation (“China’s capability to conquer other states and to subordinate was there, but it wasn’t used or misused”). He mentioned Chinese problems, too – pretty much the way Wen Jiabao would describe them, too.

The Wen-Schmidt meeting, Xinhua/People’s Daily (English) covererage suggests, appeared to have the characteristics of a meeting between active statesmen.

I’m not too familiar with Edward Heath, and even if a certain Bruce Andersonhimself no credible man in every field – is right, I still wouldn’t put Schmidt into Heath’s league of useful idiocy*) – a term that struck a chord with me when I heard it on the BBC:

I’m afraid Edward Heath had a monstrous bladder of vanity. He liked going to China, because in China, he was treated not barely as a head of government; he was ratcheted as a head of state. He was treated with flattery, [presumptuousness], as if he was still in power, as if he was a great man. And I’m afraid he doesn’t come out well from this episode. All his critical faculties were overwhelmed. As long as they patted his tummy, he was prepared to roll over like a pet Panda.

Even if Chinese public diplomacy doesn’t work too well on the German public yet, Beijing does have a strong asset in place in this country. The Neue Presse frontpage of last week bears testimony to that. Schmidt may not roll over like a pet Panda – but he is doing a great job anyway.



*) John Sweeney, “Useful Idiots”, BBC, first broadcast on August 11, 2010
Downloads here »



» Message to a Barbarian, June 26, 2011
» Industriousness and Wisdom, January 9, 2011


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Bo Xilai planned the Third World War

OK, maybe not. But he (or Wang Lijun, or whoever) wiretapped everyone, up to the collective leader Hu Jintao himself, “nearly half a dozen” (i. e. 5.9, I guess?) CCP officials people with party ties claim, as quoted by the New York Times. And the British government is soooo happy that the rule of law applies in China, and that the Heywood case is re-investigated. OK, not quite that, either – he welcomes Neil Heywood death investigation.

My theory is that Bo Xilai shagged Sarah Palin, conspired with the Nazis on the dark side of the moon, and that they will soon abduct him so that he can’t reveal their schemes.

We will never see Bo Xilai again. That’s almost for sure.

Extraordinary rendition: JR Intelligence Unit spotted Bo in Syria.

Update - Update - Update: JR Intelligence Unit spotted Bo in Syria in what appears to be an extraordinary rendition arrangement between Beijing and Damascus.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Weeks before June 4 – Towards the Sun

Main Link: 八九天安门事件大记 (Major Daily Events, Tiananmen 1989), by Wu Renhua.

« previous post in this series, and an explanation of my approach to regiving Wu Renhua’s document

Monday, April 17, 1989

From the afternoon on, larger-scale activities than before to mourn Hu Yaobang spread from the university campuses to Tian An Men Square. In big and medium-sized cities nationwide, mourning activities are also becoming larger. At about 1 p.m., more than 600 teachers and students from China University of Political Science and Law move towards Tian An Men Square, along the Second Ring Road, led by young teachers like Chen Xiaoping, Xiong Jining, and Wu Renhua. It is the first demonstration by the 1989 popular movement. More details [in Chinese] here.  Some of the participating China University of Political Science and Law students later become a backbone of the students’ movement, like Pu Zhiqiang (浦志强), Xiang Xiaoji 项小吉, head of the Beijing Universities’ Students’ Dialog Delegation), Zhou Yongjun (周勇军, Beijing Students Autonomous Federation chairman), the Students Autonomous Federation’s first secretary Wang Zhixin (王志新, listed by the Ministry of Public Security as one of the 21 student leaders), Wang Zhiqing (王志清, also listed as one of the 21 student leaders by the public security ministry, and unaccounted for ever since the end of the June-4 movement).

At 5 p.m., there are nine wreathes in front of the Monument to the People’s Heroes, signed by a number of students from Beihang University (aka Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics), teachers and students from Beijing University, teachers and students from Beijing Normal University, by all post-graduates from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and by a cadre from the China University of Political Science and Law.

By 7 p.m., some two- to three-thousand people have assembled at the Tian An Men Square monument, and mostly students read out memorial speeches. After midnight, there are still between two- and three-hundred students who don’t want to leave the place.

In Shanghai, more than one-thousand (mostly) Fudan University students have moved to the government buildings and demanded talks with city leaders. They disperse by about 4 a.m. next morning. The authorities, led by Shanghai party secretary Jiang Zemin, issue a notice, stipulating that memorial activities for Hu Yaobang have to be conducted within the respective work units (danwei), to safeguard normal work and studies, stability and unity. The notice also calls for vigilance, concerning bad elements who could seize the opportunity to instigate disturbances. On Monday evening, more than one-thousand students from Tianjin’s Nankai University also leave their campus for a demonstration, singing the Internationale, the national anthem, plus the military anthem of the PLA (我们的队伍向太阳)1), and calling slogans like “Down with dictatorship”, “long live democracy”, and “long live liberty”. Demonstrations are also reported from Hunan Province.

At People’s University (aka Renmin University) in Beijing, the “Some Suggestions from Beijing University, Tsinghua University, People’s University, and Normal University” document emerges, with the following main content:

  • making Tian An Men Square the focus of elegiac couplet and wreaths
  • the establishment of a new, democratic order
  • review of major mistakes that emerged during the ten years of reform, and
  • the removal of those responsible for the mistakes from office.

The Hong Kong Standard, in a news report headlined “Hu Yaobang’s death believed to revive reformist faction”2), writes that

The movement for democracy and human rights is growing by the day, and following the May-Fourth 70th anniversary, its momentum will only expand further […] The students from Beijing’s universities, in their activities to mourn Hu Yaobang, may spontaneously organize activities to make demands for broadening democracy.

Continued here »


1) PLA performing the song on August 1, 2007 (video), lyrics in English (“Facing towards the Sun”, Wikipedia).
2) The Standard (HK) most probably published this report in English – the above is my English translation from the way Wu Renhua quoted the report in Chinese.



» “Our Opportunity had Arrived”, Under the Jaracanda, April 17, 2012
» Hu is Popular, April 17, 2010


Friday, April 20, 2012

Class Struggle from Above: How Well-To-Do is the German Commuter?

A Guest Post by Tai De

car dashboardThomas Straubhaar heads the Hamburgisches Weltwirtschaftsinstitut, or Hamburg Institute of International Economics, a not-for-profit research institute, an enthusiastic buyer of local goods, he says. Clearly, he doesn’t like long-distance rides – and he doesn’t like the commuter tax allowance. It only helped well-to-do sole earners. Families weren’t the real beneficiaries, and society had to bear costs from traffic jams, greater risks of accidents, and urban sprawl. Rather, commuters should pay an additional tax, to compensate the urban population for the harm commuters inflicted on them (“damit könnten Städter für das Leid entschädigt werden, das ihnen Auto fahrende Pendler antun”).

I don’t believe that Straubhaar is really targeting the commuter tax allowance – if any political party supports it his move, it would be the Greens, but the allowance won’t go away. The Free Democrats (FDP) rather favors an increased allowance, to compensate commuters for rising petrol prices. And the two big parties, the Christian Democrats  (CDU/CSU) and the social democrats (SPD) won’t dare to alienate their classical voters – even if Straubhaar doesn’t believe it:

“Wouldn’t a commuter tax go down well with the millions of urban people? Why don’t politicians seize the opportunity?” (Wäre nicht die Pendlersteuer eine Forderung, mit der sich bei Millionen von Stadtmenschen politisch punkten ließe? Wieso nutzen Politiker(innen) diese Chance nicht?)

Who is well-to-do may be a matter of definition – but those targeted may not feel that they were well-to-do (with or without reason). However, it is easy to label your target well-to-do before making unpopular suggestions, and Mr. Straubhaar’s suggestion isn’t popular. Maybe it is because people don’t buy the allegation that the beneficiaries of the allowance are generally well-to-do. Maybe Mr. Straubhaar himself is way too well-to-do to be believed. At any rate, it seems to me that in Mr. Straubhaar’s view, the Hamburg city is too chique to tolerate all those country bumpkins there. After all, the German word for “harm” is “Leid” – and Leid is something a perpetrator inflicts on a victim.

The comments underneath the Welt article with quotes from Straubhaar seem to confirm my impression that politicians who would “seize the opportunity” and scrap the allowance wouldn’t do themselves a favour. There is no real discussion. Straubhaar seems to hate his audience, and his audience hates him back.

Straubhaar may not like it – and the Free Democrats, at odds with him concerning the commuter tax allowance, but not in general – may not like it either, but West Germany’s post-war consensus was built on exactly the allowances and financial transfers (welfare state) which he calls into question.

This comment by “Systemkritiker” (system critic) is indicative of the general mood on the “Die Welt” thread:

Great. New taxes. Then we will get even more big cities because everyone needs to go there, and even more welfare recipients, because people are jobless. That guy is deranged. Just like all politicians. Said it and boarded his fat [Audi ] A8. Blithering idiots give us counsel. (Richtig so. Neue Steuern. Dann haben wir endlich noch mehr Großstädte weil alle hinziehen müssen und noch mehr Hilfsempfänger weil sie keinen Job mehr haben. Der Typ ist doch gestört. Wie alle Politiker auch.
Sprachs und setzte sich in den fetten A8.
Dummschwätzer regieren und beraten uns.)

And that’s still sort of an optimistic interpretation, because Straubhaar is hardly giving “Systemkritiker” advice. He  doesn’t even notice “Systemkritiker”.

It’s a general mood. People everywhere may be chronically angry at those who rule their countries. But Germans don’t occupy Wall Street, or the Frankfurt city. They vote – and as every leftist or rightist member of parliament seems to cause the moderate democrats huge pain, they’d better take the anger seriously.

If property on the Elbchaussee or in Bremen-Schwachhausen should need big fences and alarm equipment in future, this won’t do their value any good.

P.S.: I don’t agree with “Systemkritiker”. I’m almost sure that Mr. Straubhaar goes t work by bike. But the bike needs to be locked away at his working place, because it’s too good to get stolen.


Previously by Tai De:

» No Communists at Deutsche Welle, but… March 11, 2012


Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Blogging Break until Wednesday

I’m taking a break until this coming Wednesday. Latest news and trends have taken a backseat anyway, as I’ve become focused on Wu Renhua‘s June-4 records. In many cases, when I’m reading or translating material from Chinese intellectuals, it’s C. A. Yeung who gets me started. This time is no exception.

Überseemuseum, Bremen (archive)

Überseemuseum, Bremen (archive)

The June-4 document also seems to “distract” me from my soft-power project – but I don’t feel that it does, really, because there seems to be Chinese potential for soft power – at times when people in the country hold hopes that include economic aspirations, without leaving it there.



» Inclusive and Exclusive Concepts, April 17, 2012


Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Weeks before June 4 – a Desire to do Better than in 1987

The following is a rough translation, or a reflection of Wu Renhua’s 2011 document, based on his Tweets in April, May and June 2011. It isn’t complete, and not even a sentence-by-sentence translation, but I’m trying to reflect some of the mood Wu’s document contains.

It is one of many stories about the 1989 Tian An Men movement, and I’m not ruling out that it may at times conflict with other accounts.

All links added underneath were added during translation / reflection.

Main link: 八九天安门事件大记 (Major Daily Events, Tiananmen 1989), by Wu Renhua.


« previous post in this series

Saturday, April 15, 1989

Hu Yaobang dies from a heart attack, at 7:53 in the morning, aged 73. The news spreads in Beijing during the day, before China People’s Broadcasting Service and CCTV broadcast the news in the evening. Chen Xiaoping, also from China University of Political Science and Law, informs his colleague Wu Renhua (i. e. the author of the document reflected here), and they decide to take teachers and students along to Tian An Men to lay down flowers there. This constitutes a demonstration.

Hu Yaobang’s family has turned the visitors’ room into a mourning room. Liu Shaoqi’s widow Wang Guangmei, old brothers in arms like Li Chang arrive, their heads bowed in sorrow. On that day alone, 1,300 visitors sign the condolence books, among them Li Peng, Qiao Shi, Hu Qili, Li Tieying, Wu Xuetian, Rui Xingwen, and Yang Mingfu as party functionaries, or Xia Yan, Zhang Youyu, Zhu Houze, Ping Jiesan, Li Rui, Yu Guangyuan, Hong Xiannü and other people from all walks of life. Hu’s daughter Man Mei (official name: Li Heng), who works at a religious medical center in Seattle at the time and lives in the institution’s monastery, can’t return to Beijing by her own financial means, contacts the San Francisco Chinese General Consulate for help, but is turned down there. The nuns collect money for her trip to Beijing.

By 13:30, demonstrations on Tian An Men Square are in full swing, with banners praising Hu Yaobang (“The memory of Comrade Hu Yaobang will live forever”), or criticizing the authorities with statements like “those who should not die do die; those who should die haven’t died”. After 15:00, six institutions of higher education, among them People’s University (aka Renmin University) and Tsinghua University, one after another, display mourning posters with elegiac couplets.

The those who should not die do die; those who should die haven’t died line which runs through all Chinese universities, and stems from an essay written by famous writer Bing Xin (冰心). It isn’t clear how the line spread, even though the essay hasn’t yet been published. The CCP Central Committee asks the ministry of public security (public security bureau / PSB, 公安部) and the ministry of state security (安全部) to closely watch the situation at Beijing’s universities, and particularly the situation on Tian An Men Square. From the actions on Tian An Men Square to every university, the PSB and the ministry of state security carry out monitoring from all angles and on every issue. University officials, in line with demands from the Beijing municipal CCP committee, try to guide students’ memorial activities so as to prevent people from using the opportunity to incite disturbances.

The intelligentsia is treated poorly at the time, and their thinkings depressed by  anti-liberalization1) and anti-spiritual pollution campaigns.

Intellectuals feel, in 1989, that they might have owed Hu Yaobang more support when he was removed from office in 1987, and try to do better this time. The CCP, in its own ways, learns its lesson from the 1989 demonstrations and buys the intellectuals off, with 1,800,000,000 Yuan RMB allocated to Tsinghua, Beijing University, as teacher subsidies which were spent within three years, Wu Renhua wrote in his 2011 document: “We can see from this why intellectual behavior has become that bad”.

Sunday, April 16, 1989

Seventeen institutions of higher education in Beijing were displaying elegiac couplets, slogans, and posters – some 500 overall. According to official statistics, “of which 80 per cent mourn Hu Yaobang in a normal way, ten per cent express dissatisfaction, and about another ten per cent attack the party and the government and incite disturbances”. By now, the short slogans have evolved into more elaborate  political comment, and political observers feel reminded of the 1976 Tian An Men Incident.

The Tsinghua Chemistry Faculty lays down its wreath at the Monument to the People’s Heroes, at its northern fence. Two People’s University (Renmin University) students put white flowers there, and students from Beifang Jiaotong University (since merged into Beijing Jiaotong University) put a banner in front of the monument, “mourning Hu Yaobang, the Friend of the Young”. Until 3.30 in the afternoon, three wreaths have emerged here, two from students and one in the name of a household. Later, they are removed by the police.

At China University of Political Science and Law, a number of young teachers – Wu Renhua, Fei Anling, Xiong Jining, Liu Bin, Xuan Zengyi, and Zhang Xiaojing – lead two students to make a two-meters wreath. Toward the evening, Wu Renhua and others put the wreath to the front of the university building, where it attracts peoples’ attention. An attached notice says that the wreath will be taken to Tian An Men Square on April 17.

A small bottle of Maotaijiu, casually added to the wreath by Wu Huaren, later becomes a major issue in investigations, Wu noted in his 2011 document.2).

Beijing University had been at the center of the movements, Wu noted. Liu Suli (刘苏里) and other academics from China University of Political Science and Law frequently went to Beijing University for discussions, and Liu and others made a white silk banner, carrying the characters “中国魂” (zhōngguó hún)3).

A memorial service is held at Fudan University’s Room 3108 in Shanghai, with some 400 people attending. From the afternoon of April 15, Fudan takes the lead, and by the evening of April 16, about ten universities in Shanghai have followed up with posters of their own. Wu Renhua’s 2011 document also notes demonstrations in Xi’an, and allegations there that Hu Yaobang had been poisoned with gas (胡耀邦被气死的).

The CCP central committee announces a solemn memorial ceremony in the Great Hall of the People, and to have the flags in all major squares lowered to half-mast, nation-wide. Hu Yaobang’s memorial services are upgraded to pacify popular feelings. All Chinese leaders, incumbent or retired (the latter including Deng Xiaoping) are scheduled to attend.

Continued here »



1) Anti-liberalization refers to the purge which led to Hu Yaobang’s dismissal as the CCP’s Central Committee, and CCP chairman. The way Wu puts it, i. e. the way intellectuals were treated “at the time”, makes sense, as it could otherwise also refer to older campaigns, which might be traced back through all the CCP’s history.
2) 小瓶 (small bottle) is pronounced and stressed in the same way as 小平 (small peace, Deng Xiaoping’s given name). Wu wrote in his 2011 document that no such malicious pun had been intended. Rather, he had wanted to tribute the Maotaijiu to Hu Yaobang’s departed soul. Wu attributed the authorities’ interpretation of his gift to a report by Japan’s Kyodo press agency’s report on June 4, 2009.
3) A possible, but not necessarily the best translation for 中国魂 may be “Soul of China”.



» June-4 series, Under the Jacaranda, first post this year on April 15


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Weeks before June 4: Wu Renhua’s Introduction

« previous June-4 post

The following is a translation from Wu Renhua‘s Major Daily Events, Tian An Men 1989 (八九天安门事件逐日大事记). In a few paragraphs, Wu explains how the document evolved.

From April 15 to June 9, 2011, on Twitter, I reviewed, on a daily basis, the 1989 Tian An Men Incident, and this chronological document has been compiled on the basis of the daily material compiled then.


I began studying classical literature as a major, at Beijing University, in spring 1982,  successively obtained the degrees of a bachelor and a master’s degree, was trained in textual research and editing, bibliography and other relevant professional skills. In 1989, when I was at the China University of Political Science and Law Ancient Legal Books Research Institute, I experienced the Tian An Men Incident myself: the students’ demonstrations, the hungerstriking petitioners, and the whole military clearance process of the square.


In February 1990, I left China, and fled across the sea. In May that year, I wrote a long essay, “Last Scene of the Tian An Men Incident”, to record the complete process of the Tian An Men Square clearing.


Over the years, I kept gathering and researching material concerning the 1989 Tian An Men Incident, published “Inside Stories about the sanguinary Clearance of Tian An Men Square” (天安门血腥清场内幕) in May 2007 and “The Martial-Law Troops in the 6-4 Incident” 六四事件中的戒严部队 in May 2009. Currently, I’m writing on ” The Whole Story of the 1989Tian An Men Incident” (tentative title).


Continued here »



» June-4 series, Under the Jacaranda, first post this year on April 15


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Weeks before June 4, 1989

Wu Renhua (吴仁华) is a former China University of Political Science and Law professor with classical literature as a major. According to a VoA article of May 30, 2010, he belonged to one of the last groups who left Tian An Men Square, in 1989. He first went to Hong Kong during the 6-4 aftermath, and then into American exile. He is the author of two books on the Tian An Men crackdown. From April 15 to June 9, 2011, he kept kind of a “today-in-history” diary  on his Twitter microblog, recording once again the run-up to the massacre on June 4. Later, he turned the single posts into one document.

June 4 isn’t too much of a topic in Western media these days. Obviously, every year when the anniversary approaches, arrives, and passes, there will be some coverage on commemorative sessions planned in mainland China (usually, the state security and censorship make sure that they either don’t happen, or don’t become public), and on events like the annual candellight vigil in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park. But the stories told among Chinese people in their own language, among dissidents, relatives of those killed or injured on June 4, those who take a general interest in the past, and among Chinese people outside mainland China, go beyond Western news articles.

At the same time, the June-4 massacre as remembered on such occasions is only one narrative among many. If there is an official side of the story at all, i. e. one authored by the Chinese Communist Party, it is one mainly for foreigners’ consumption, published by state-controlled media like the English-language “Global Times” edition, or a narrative advocated by Chinese or non-Chinese people who view the massacre as an essential atrocity “to keep China stable”. As C. A. Yeung, a blogger and activist, put it in an interview in October last year:

[T]the so-called pro-democracy faction among overseas Chinese community worldwide has been more or less discredited. The world is now more eager to see a stable China than before the 2008 financial meltdown, to the extent that many world leaders are willing to overlook some rather obvious human rights violations that are happening in China.

Differences with other emerging schools don’t seem to have discouraged June-4 veterans like Wu. According to a Human Rights in China quote from him in 2009, June 4 wasn’t only a major event in Chinese history, but also caused the turn of events in the Soviet Union  and its satellite states, and in all of humankind’s 20th-century history.

If this holds water in a historian’s view isn’t for JR to decide. For sure, the June-4 1989 events preceded similar events in a number of Central and Eastern Europe, later that same year.

Diane Gatterdam has started a series of posts on Under the Jacaranda, about  the weeks leading up to June 4, in 1989. Her posts can be accessed in a row under this tag. I’ll keep reading there and posting here, in a complementary way, to quite an extent, but not necessarily exclusively, translating from Wu Renhua’s recollections.

The approach may not satisfy a historian’s standards, but I am no historian, and one has to start with something. The most important thing is that June 4 and those who hoped until that day, and lost during that night – their hopes, their health, or their lives – are remembered, until historians can freely get to work in China.

Continued here »



» Cultural Revolutions Great and Small, April 1, 2012


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