Archive for May, 2012

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Confucius Institute: State Department Directive “an Untimely End to Chinese Classes”

Main Link: Huanqiu Shibao, May 24, 2012, 03:29.

Translated off the reel, and posted right away. A link to the State-Department directive can be found under footnote 2. Links within blockquote added during translation.
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A notice issued by U.S. State Department officials on May 17, to all Confucius Institutes in America, has caused great controversy. The new notice requires existing Confucius Institutes to apply for American “certification”, to become part of regular courses, and bans Chinese teachers and volunteers to teach in middle and elementary schools. A Hanban responsible, on May 23, expressed “shock” to a Huanqiu Shibao reporter, as no consultations had preceded this notice. Insiders told this reporter that to date, American officials hadn’t explained to whom the Confucius Institutes should turn for certification. U.S. “Higher Education News”1) wrote on May 21 that the notice would disrupt Confucius Institute teaching activities. “People don’t undersstand the State Department’s sudden notice. Actually, Confucius Institutes have been on American campuses for almost ten years.” An insider told the Global Times reporter on May 23 that currently, Confucius Institutes were highly successful and influential in America, that many Americans learned Chinese, and that America was somewhat worried about this. In addition, it was election year in America, and political consideration could be behind the measures taken.
美国国务院官员签发的一项公告5月17日发往全美孔子学院,引起巨大争议。新公告规定现有孔子学院必须申请美国“认证”,成为正式课程的一部分,且禁止中方教师和志愿者在美国中小学的孔子学堂教学。国家汉办负责人23日向《环球时报》记者表示,对美方在事先没有任何协商的情况下发出这样的公告感到“震惊”。有知情者告诉《环球时报》记者,孔子学院不计学分,不授学位,不具认证的前提,美国官方迄今也从未说明孔子学院应该向谁认证。美国“高等教育新闻”网站21日载文称,国务院这一公告将打乱孔子学院的教学活动。“人们不明白美国国务院为何突然出台此项公告,毕竟,孔子学院在美国校园内已有近十年时间”。一名了解内幕的人士23日向《环球时报》记者介绍,目前孔子学院在美国搞得很成功,影响很大,美国学习汉语的人很多,美方对此有所担心。再加上今年又是美国的大选年,美国出台这些措施可能有政治方面的考量。

The notice was reportedly issued by Robin Lerner, the State Department Deputy Secretary in charge of Educatonal and Cultural Matters and private-sector exchange. The notice says that while Confucius Institutes may be beneficial to promoting cultural exchange, its activities “need to be in accordance with the standards of exchange, and respect the relevant law and regulations”. “Professors, researchers, short-term visiting scholars or institutes, as well as students, were not allowed to teach in primary schools2). […] The notice also says that “to ensure that the Confucius Institute education corresponds with and maintains suitable regulations and standards, the Institutes must apply for American certification”, “on initial examination, it isn’t clear if the Confucius Institutes will get American certification”. The State Department allows currently teaching Confucius Institute teachers with J-1 visa to continue teaching until the end of the school year in June, but won’t renew their visas. If they wish, they can return to China to apply for appropriate exchange project visas.
据悉,签发这一公告的是美国国务院负责教育和文化事务局私营部门交流的副助理秘书长罗宾•勒纳。公告称,尽管孔子学院可能有益于促进文化交流,但其所从事的活动“必须符合正确的交流规范,遵循相关法规”。“教授、研究学者、短期访问学者或学院、大学学生不允许在公立和私立小、中学教学,否则便与有关交流访问项目法规相违。 […..] ”公告还称,“为确保孔子学院的教育符合和保持适合的规定标准,孔子学院必须申请美国认证”,“美国国务院的初步审视并不清楚这些孔子学院是否得到美国认证”。美国务院允许目前持有J-1签证的孔子学院教师继续留至2012年6月本学年结束,但不会为他们续签签证。如果他们愿意,可回中国再申办一种合适的交流项目签证。

There are Confucius Institutes at 81 American universities. The notice has caused wide-spread shock, confusion, and incomprehension. Confucius Institutes in all places said that the notice was “surprising” or “unusual”, and there were discussions everywhere as to how to deal [with the situation]. Huanqiu Shibao has learned that J-1 visas are a kind of non-immigration visas, issued to foreigners who participate in “exchange and visitor programs approved by the State Department”. An official survey concerning J-1 visa holders was carried out early this year.
81所美国大学内设有孔子学院。这一公告已引起广泛的震惊、困惑和不解,各地孔子学院均表示此项公告“令人吃惊”、“很不寻常”,都在讨论如何应对。《环球时报》记者了解到,J-1签证是一种非移民签证,签发给来美国参加美国国务院批准的“交流访问者计划”的各类外籍人士。今年年初,美国官方曾对持有J-1签证人员情况进行过调查。

A lady who had taught for Confucius Institutes in America told Huanqiu Shibao on May 23 that teachers sent by China to teach abroad were mainly government-sponsored, or volunteers. They all held visitor J-1 visas. She had been a volunteer, and a visa had been rather easy to obtain.
一名曾在美国孔子学院授课的女士23日向《环球时报》记者介绍,中方派驻国外孔子学院的授课老师主要有公派教师和志愿者两种,他们所持的都是访问学者J-1签证。她当时就是作为志愿者授课的,获得签证比较容易。

What people find most incomprehensible is that American officialdom requires Confucius Institutes to carry out so-called “certification”. Huanqiu Shibao has learned that to date, the State Department has not said where Confucius Institutes should turn for certification. By comparison, nothing has been heard of German Goethe Institutes, French Institutes or other cultural exchange bodies in America having received American certification. People in charge at the first Confucius Institutes established in the U.S., University of Maryland Confucius Institute and George Mason University Confucius Institute, express confusion, and say that the “certification” issue is currently being discussed. The person in charge at the George Mason University Confucius Institute hopes that the notification came without political considerations. After all, Obama’s initiative to have 100,000 students study in China was about encouraging American students to study Chinese.
令人最为不解的是美国官方要求对孔子学院进行所谓“认证”。据《环球时报》记者了解,美国官方迄今从未说明孔子学院应该向谁认证。横向比较一下,从未听说德国的歌德学院、法国的法语联盟等在美文化交流机构须得到美国认证。在接受本报记者采访时,美国第一家孔子学院———马里兰大学孔子学院及乔治•梅森大学孔子学院负责人均表示,对这一公告感到困惑,校方均在就“认证”一事进行讨论与沟通。乔治•梅森大学孔子学院负责人说,希望国务院出台的公告没有政治方面的考虑,毕竟奥巴马推动美国10万学生赴华留学项目也是鼓励美国学生学习中文。

According to explanations by a Hanban person in charge, made to Huanqiu Shibao, Hanban has sent a letter to university presidents, to carry out negotiations. The letter says that Confucius Institutes in America were established at American requests, and run in cooperation with Hanban and Chinese institutions of higher education. The Chinese side fully respected the esteemed universities’ powers to make their own decisions (自主权)3), and there had never been special instructions concerning the teaching and cultural-exchange activities carried out by the Institutes. The central office provided help, such as support in that it sent volunteers, as requested by the American side. The letter also says that the Chinese side respects American governmental law and regulations, but that in this process, we do not wish to see that volunteer projects get disrupted, as this would lead to many quickly-developing Chinese-language classes coming to an untimely end, resulting in losses for the schools and students.
据国家汉办负责人23日向《环球时报》记者介绍,该机构已致信下设孔子课堂的美国大学校长,就此事进行交涉。信中表示,美国孔子学院是由美方自愿申请,并与汉办和中方高校合作举办的。中方充分尊重贵校的办学自主权,对孔子学院开设课程和开展文化交流活动及下设孔子课堂,从未有过专门指令。总部向孔子学院提供的包括派遣志愿者在内的所有帮助,均系美方所要求。信中还表示,中方尊重美国政府的法律和规定,但在此过程中,我们不愿意看到因此而造成中断志愿者项目的后果,否则将会导致很多学校蒸蒸日上的中文课程由于教师缺失而被迫夭折,致使这些学校和学生蒙受损失。

The person in charge also said that before volunteers head for America, they get an invitation from the American schools, in accordance with the Sino-American school agreements, and apply for and obtain a visa. From 2005 on, China had developed Chinese language education to help America, and had sent more than 2,100 teachers. The project had always worked smoothly. It had been believed that once teachers received an American invitation, the application would lead to a visa, and that there would be no problems. No consultations had preceded the State Department’s May-17 notice, and this was felt to be very sudden and surprising by those in charge at the Confucius Institutes.
这位负责人还表示,志愿者赴美前,是按照中美双方学校的协议,接受美方学校的邀请,申请并获准签证的。从2005年起,中方为帮助美国发展汉语教学,已派出2100多名教师,项目执行一直很顺利。原以为教师接受美方邀请,申请并获准了赴美签证,就不会产生问题。在事先没有任何协商的情况下,美国国务院5月17日发布公告,作为主管孔子学院的负责人,他感到很突然、很吃惊。

Many presidents [of universities with Confucius Institutes] were disgusted by the State Department notice, and had many objections, as they believed it interfered with their universities’ autonomy3). They currently contacted the State Department and negotiated. Huanqiu Shibao also learned that to address the doubts, a State-Department official was to be sent to Maryland University to have direct talks with people in charge at the university and the Confucius Institute.
美国多所设有孔子学院的大学校长对美国这一公告非常反感,很有意见,认为它干涉了学校的办学自主权,目前正与美国国务院进行联系和交涉。《环球时报》记者还了解到,面对质疑,美国国务院官员23日将赴马里兰大学,与马里兰大学校方、孔子学院负责人一起进行面对面的沟通与交流。

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Notes

1) This is my translation of 美国“高等教育新闻”网站 – the website’s real name may be different.

2) Quote:

Teaching positions in primary and secondary schools (K-12) are only authorized under the “Teacher” category set forth at 22 CFR 62.24. Teaching primary and secondary school students in public school systems or private schools is not permitted by professors, research scholars, short-term scholars, or college/university students.

(Guidance Directive 2012-06 Exchange Visitor Program – Confucius Institutes)

3) 自主权, which may be translated either as the right to make decisions of one’s own, or autonomy. The term for provincial or territorial autonomy in China, for places like Tibet, would be 自治区 (autonomous regions), and is therefore not exactly the same term.

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Related

» Three Eight-Hundreds, April 19, 2009

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Monday, May 21, 2012

Yang Rui and Soft Power

You probably can’t blog about soft power and ignore the weibo message Yang Rui (杨锐), a CCTV-9 presenter, reportedly wrote. But during this busy first half of the week, there are other things to do. Besides, while this is certainly relevant information to be processed, I’m wondering why the response from many foreigner is so heated. True – the message in question is – to put it carefully – running counter to anything like “soft power”, but to me, the only explanation for the angry foreign replies to it seems to be that they expected Yang to do better. I don’t even know Yang as a television personality. I can’t remember that I ever watched the channel. All I know is that CCTV-9 is state-owned, and broadcasts in English, mainly for a foreign audience.

Maybe what Yang wrote about Melissa Chan, the al-Jazeera correspondent who had to leave the country, is actually a semi-official answer to questions foreign-ministry spokesman Hong Lei had previously been asked – questions to which there hasn’t been a really telling answer. Yang’s would be a nasty and strange answer (and maybe that’s  why Hong wouldn’t want to provide it), but basically not a surprising one. The only remaining question for now would be if Yang wrote the message on his own behalf or on behalf of the CCP.

That’s all I can think of – and speculate about – at the moment, and how I should connect this to the topic of soft power, I don’t know yet. Maybe I’ll know on Thursday or Friday.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Chen Guangcheng leaves China

Chen Guangcheng, his wife Yuan Weijing, and their two children are on a plane to the United States, reports Die Zeit.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Zhou Yongkang Awards Heroic Police Collectives and Expresses Four Hopes

Main Link: People’s Daily / Enorth, May 19, 2012. Translated off the reel, and posted right away.

The General Meeting for the National Police Collective Heroic Model Award was held in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People on Friday. Before the meeting, CCP Central Committee General Secretary, State Chairman and Central Military Commission Chairman Hu Jintao expressed his heart-felt congratulations to the National Police Collective Heroic Model Award collectives and his sincere greetings to all the police and military police who stand at the front line and fight bravely to protect national security and social stability.
全国公安系统英雄模范立功集体表彰大会18日上午在北京人民大会堂举行。会前,中共中央总书记、国家主席、中央军委主席胡锦涛亲切会见全体与会代表,向受到表彰的全国公安系统英雄模范和立功集体表示热烈的祝贺,向奋战在维护国家安全和社会稳定第一线的广大公安民警、武警官兵表示诚挚的问候。

Permanent Politbureau member and State Council Chief Councillor Wen Jiabao, Permanent Member of the Standing Committee of the Politbureau, Deputy State Chairman and Deputy Central Military Commission Chairman Xi Jinping attended. Permanent Politbureau Member and CCP Political and Legislative Affairs Committee Secretary Zhou Yongkang attended the meeting and spoke at the award ceremony.
中共中央政治局常委、国务院总理温家宝,中共中央政治局常委、国家副主席、中央军委副主席习近平参加会见。中共中央政治局常委、中央政法委书记周永康参加会见并在表彰大会上讲话。

At about 9.30 a.m., Hu Jintao and the other central leading comrades entered the Great Hall of the People’s North Hall, came to the middle of the delegates, the entire audience sounded an enthusiastic applause. Hu Jintao et al happily and warmly shook hands with delegates, and had a keepsake photo taken with them.
上午9时30分许,胡锦涛等中央领导同志走进人民大会堂北大厅,来到代表们中间,全场响起热烈掌声。胡锦涛等高兴地同代表们热情握手,并与大家合影留念。

A souvenir photo with Comrade Yongkang

A souvenir photo with Comrade Yongkang (CCTV 新闻联播, main evening news, May 18, 2012). Click picture – video should be online for at least a few days.

Zhou Yongkang said in his speech that under the correct leadership of Hu Jintao as Secretary General, police work had centered around the goal of comprehensively building of a modest-prosperity society, firmly mastering and protecting the general requirements of important times of strategic opportunities. They solidified the leading ruling position of the party, protected the country’s lasting stability and peace, safeguarded the lives and work of the people in peace and contentment, and  served economic and social development, thus making outstanding contributions. A large number of heroic models and advanced collectives had emerged, who completed major security tasks, took part in natural disaster relief, carried out specialized actions, and broad ranks of police didn’t shrink from life-and-death situations, never gave up in the face of numerous difficulties and dangers, and dedicated blood, life, and sweat to write a great song of heroism that shook heaven and earth (感天动地).
周永康在大会上讲话,他说,党的十七大以来,在以胡锦涛同志为总书记的党中央正确领导下,全国公安机关紧紧围绕全面建设小康社会的总目标,牢牢把握维护重要战略机遇期社会稳定的总要求,为巩固党的执政地位、维护国家长治久安、保障人民安居乐业、服务经济社会发展作出了突出贡献。特别是在完成一系列重大安保任务、处置一系列重大突发事件、参与一系列重特大自然灾害抢险救援、开展一系列专项打击整治行动中,广大公安民警生死面前不退缩,千难万险不放弃,用鲜血、生命和汗水谱写了一曲曲感天动地的英雄赞歌,涌现出一大批英雄模范和先进集体。实践证明,公安队伍是一支忠诚可靠、能打硬仗的队伍,是一支正气浩荡、英雄辈出的队伍,不愧为坚强的共和国之盾。

Zhou Yongkang emphasized that this year is especially meaningful for our country’s development in that our Party will hold its 18th National Congress. Creating a harmonious and stable environment for this a victorious event was the public security organs’ primary task. Public security organs on all levels needed to clearly understand the complicated nature of the current international and domestic situation and the particular importance of maintaining stability this year, and with the meeting with Secretary General Hu Jintao and other central comrade-leaders as a collectively motivating force, they should improve their abilities to combat crime, to serve the people, and to protect national security and social stability. To accelerate the building of a country under socialist rule by law, to actively build a socialist and harmonious society, and to ensure the timely and comprehensive building of a modest-prosperity society, new contributions needed to be made.
周永康强调,今年是我国发展进程中具有特殊重要意义的一年,我们党将召开十八大。为十八大胜利召开创造和谐稳定的社会环境,是公安机关的首要政治任务。各级公安机关和广大公安民警要清醒认识当前国际国内形势的复杂性,清醒认识做好今年维护稳定工作的特殊重要性,以胡锦涛总书记等中央领导同志接见公安英模和立功集体为动力,进一步提高打击犯罪、服务人民、维护国家安全和社会稳定的能力水平,为加快建设社会主义法治国家、积极构建社会主义和谐社会、确保如期全面建成小康社会作出新贡献。

Zhou Yongkang expressed for hopes to the public security authorities and the police:

  1. That they be steadfast in their ideals and beliefs, and forever preserve their political qualities, deepen the development of political and legal core values in their actions and activities, adhere to the road of socialism with Chinese characteristics, maintain the theoretical system of socialism with Chinese characteristics, maintain the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics, firmly establish a concept of socialist rule by law, that they be  unswerving builders and defenders of the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics.
  2. [more practical, work-related aspects, plus being close friends of the masses … .] That they sing and sound (唱响) the People’s Police for the People theme, give their best in working practically for the people, solve problems, do good things, and deepen interaction on good terms.
  3. That they [keep holding] the Three Assessment Activities (“三访三评” 活动), deepen their understanding of the problems of the masses, build harmonious police-to-people relations while solving mass difficulties, win the trust and support of the masses in the process of safeguarding their rights and interests, and that they continuously improve public credibility and the masses’ degree of satisfaction.
  4. That they  maintain their determination for reform and innovation, constantly promote the development and progress of public security work. That they firmly establish a people-oriented (以人为本) concept that puts service first that carries out action and prevention in a coordinated manner and that puts prevention first. That they consolidate the foundations, focus on long-term concepts, progressively improve and perfect work mechanisms, that they guide police work in accordance with the will of the people, guarantee police work by systematic standards, by effective prevention and control, precise action, scientific management and modern technology improve police work, and that they constantly improve the scientification of police work.

周永康向公安机关和公安民警提出4点希望:一要坚定理想信念,永葆政治本色。深入开展政法干警核心价值观教育实践活动,坚持中国特色社会主义道路,坚持中国特色社会主义理论体系,坚持中国特色社会主义制度,牢固树立社会主义法治理念,坚定不移地做中国特色社会主义事业的建设者、捍卫者。二要增强大局意识,忠实履行各项法定职责。主动服务第一要务,认真落实第一责任,依法打击各类违法犯罪活动,切实解决群众反映强烈的突出治安问题,加强和改进人口、治安、交通、消防、出入境等公安行政管理工作,积极探索对流动人口、特殊人群、信息网络、“两新”组织服务管理的新路子,促进经济社会又好又快发展。三要坚持执法为民,永远做人民群众的贴心人。唱响“人民公安为人民”的主旋律,尽心竭力为群众办实事、解难事、做好事,深化大接访、大走访和“三访三评”活动,在体察群众疾苦中加深对人民的感情,在解决群众困难中构建和谐警民关系,在维护群众权益中赢得人民的信任支持,不断提高公安机关的公信力和人民群众的满意度。四要锐意改革创新,不断推动公安工作发展进步。牢固树立以人为本、服务为先的理念,打防结合、预防为主的理念,固本强基、注重长远的理念,进一步改革完善警务工作机制,以民意引导警务,以制度规范保障警务,以有效防控、精确打击、科学管理和现代科技手段提升警务,不断提高公安工作的科学化水平。

Zhou Yongkang demanded that party committees and governments at all levels strengthen their leadership of police work under the new situation, to support the public security organs in their performance in strict accordance with the law, to coordinate solutions of problems and difficulties timely, to conscientiously implement the political building of the police, to administrate police seriously, to manage the police forces well by  taking steps in all fields of preferential treatment of police policies, by building and making good use of the police, and to conscientously shoulder the major policies in the areas of maintaining stability and of safeguarding the peace.
周永康要求各级党委、政府加强对新形势下公安工作的领导,支持公安机关严格依法履行职责,及时协调解决遇到的困难和问题,认真落实政治建警、从严治警、从优待警的各项政策措施,建设好、使用好、管理好公安队伍,切实担负起维护一方稳定、确保一方平安的重大政治责任。

General Office of the CCP director, State Council Secretary and State Councillor Ma Kai attended the meeting.  State Councillor and Minister of Public Security Meng Jianzhu*) attended and presided the meeting.
中共中央书记处书记、中央办公厅主任令计划,国务委员、国务院秘书长马凯参加会见。国务委员、公安部部长孟建柱参加会见并主持大会。

The award decisions were announced, and National Police Collective Heroic Model Awards were given. Hebei Provincial Highway Traffic Police (Baoding Detachment detachment heads Jian Zhuozhou and Gu Huaigang, Hubei Province Wuhan City Public Security Bureau Hanyang Divisional office Zhoutou Street local police station deputy chief Wang Qun, Gansu Province Lanzhou City Public Security Bureau criminal police’s Zhang Jingang and other spoke on behalf of the prize winners [i. e. prize-winning collectives] and took the prizes.
会上宣读了表彰决定,并向受到表彰的全国公安系统英雄模范和立功集体颁奖。河北省公安厅高速公路交警总队保定支队副支队长兼涿州大队大队长古怀岗、湖北省武汉市公安局汉阳分局洲头街派出所副所长王群、甘肃省兰州市公安局刑警支队一大队大队长张金刚等代表获奖者发言。

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Note

*) A number of reports have recently suggested that Meng Jianzhu had effectively taken control of what had previously been Zhou Yongkang‘s central responsibilities. However, it should be noted that Zhou Yongkang’s downfall has been anticipated in the foreign press for many weeks, and the sources seem to be anonymous, for obvious reasons. Without official confirmation, or with obvious shifts in “public-security” policies, I don’t see a lot of evidence for Zhou “falling from power”, but it might be plausible that he wouldn’t involved in investigating the cases of Bo Xilai and Gu Kailai. That alone, if true, would suggest quite a loss of control, and possibly the beginning of the end to his career.

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Related

» Social Management, Febr 21, 2011

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Friday, May 18, 2012

Ma Ying-jeou, Lost in Tradition

Shortly before the beginning of Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou‘s second term in office, his support and satisfaction rates are at new historical lows, between 15 to 22 per cent. More than 60 per cent of the public have no confidence in Ma’s coming four years of administration, reports Singapore’s Morning News (Lianhe Zaobao).

“These opinion polls aren’t like anything during the past four years”, Zaobao quotes the head of Taiwan National University’s Department of Political Science, Wang Yeh-lih (王業立). “Ma Ying-jeou’s biggest problem is that the decision-making circles are too small, that communication between the government and the [KMT] party is poor, and that the relapse in public opinion was underestimated.”

During the past three months since his re-election, efforts to resolve an ongoing beef-imports dispute with the U.S., oil and electricity price hikes and stock exchange taxes, hadn’t been able to please either farmers, nor workers, nor business people, and had left people boiling with resentment (民怨沸腾), writes Zaobao. Hikes in oil and electricity prices had added to living costs, in terms of food, clothing, shelter, transportation, and all kinds of basic necessities, and stealth price increases in all kinds of products.

Ma Ying-jeou’s traditionally wooden communication skills haven’t been helpful during the recent wave of resentment. The Taipei Times people, of course, loves his exchanges with normal people, but not for the reasons Ma thinks they should:

On May 4, during a visit by the president to National Pingtung University of Science and Technology, a student told Ma in reference to a recent increase in retail prices that he does not feel full now after eating one biandang, or lunchbox. The student said typical lunchboxes these days tend to contain less vegetables even though their prices have remained the same. In response, Ma asked: “You don’t feel full? So now you need to eat one more biandang? Or do you endure being hungry?”

To make things worse, the discussion became distorted in that Ma was later quoted as saying that “Just eat another biandang and you’ll be full” (再吃一个便当就饱了), writes Zaobao.

Ma’s idea of a presidency is traditional – he certainly wants to be seen as a leader who understands what is going on in peoples’ daily lives, but his benchmark – former president Chiang Ching-kuo, who certainly was progressive at his times – when compared to his father Chiang Kai-shek -, is outdated. And each of Ma’s attempts to look like a leader of historic scale is happily ridiculed, whenever opportunites arise. They seem to arise often.

From the early 1980s on, Ma had worked for Chiang Ching-kuo, in several functions. In an interview which was part of a Chiang Ching-kuo documentary, Ma remembered one of Chiang’s last public appearances. Chiang was wheelchair-bound by then, he attended a Constitution Commemorative Conference in 1987, and as he was scurried off the stage, probably to spare him the spectacle that accompanied his exit, civil-rights advocates and democracy activists were standing – but not out of respect. They shouted, and waved posters with their demands. It appeared to be an unpleasant scene indeed – and next in the documentary’s picture was modern-day Ma, worry lines and disgust in his face, telling how ungrateful the activists had been:

It was as if [Chiang] was saying, “I have made all these efforts to promote Taiwan’s democratic reforms. How can they do this to me?”*)
好像就聽到,他嘴裡在說,他說我這幾年來,大力推動台灣的民主改革,他們怎麼還會這樣子對我呢?

But to compare Chiang Ching-kuo and Ma would be unjustified for a number of reasons. On the one hand, Ma has never been something like a secret-police director. But on the other, he doesn’t have Chiang’s merits either. What are Ma’s achievements? What should people reciprocate for? Or, in the words in which he reportedly complained to his sister, after getting a lot of stick for his administration’s management after the Morakot typhoon: “good people weren’t rewarded” (好人沒好報).

Nanfang Shuo (南方朔), a moderate critic of Ma Ying-jeou, believes that much of the public’s unease stems from an awareness that Ma is free from pressure as he faces no further elections. Reforms and decisions could therefore be taken arbitrarily (or autocratically – 独断独行).

In fact, even if one only follows Ma Ying-jeou’s presidential fortunes loosely (as JR does), it is easy to see that Ma is rarely in tune with the public in general, or even in individual chats. During the presidential election campaign, his opponent Tsai Ing-wen (herself not necessarily a folksy type of politician either), came across as fairly presidential (an observation by Nanfang Shuo in October last year), and to beat Ma in terms of communication skills was hardly a daunting challenge either.

All the same, Ma was re-elected – and the public now seems to complain that they got exactly the president they had gotten to know during his first term.

It’s not all the president’s fault. Certainly not in a democracy, where people have choices.

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Note

*) I can’t find the documentary online, but I seem to remember that Ma basically used the same words to describe his impressions there, as in this quote.

Related

» The Lame leading the Blind, June 3, 2011
» No Shanzhai Chiang, May 20, 2009

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Long Yongtu and the Smiling Curve: Only a Great Importer is a Great Power

Main Link: Taiwan News / CNA. Links within blockquote added during translation.

CNA reporter Kang Shih-jen (Kang Shih-jen, Ann Chen) in Chongqing, May 17.
Former mainland Chinese former chief negotiator of China’s accession to WTO and deputy foreign trade minister Long Yongtu emphasized today that if the mainland wants to change its international long-term status as a trade-surplus state, it will need to broaden its imports, which will also increase its customs revenues, and meet domestic demand.
(中央社記者康世人重慶17日電)曾任中國大陸入世首席談判代表、外經貿部副部長的龍永圖今天強調,大陸要改變在國際貿易中長期處於順差狀態的形象,就必須擴大進口,且擴大進口還能增加稅收、滿足內需。

Long Yongtu spoke on invitation by the 2012 World Trade Center Association (Chongqing) Development Forum and said that the mainland at a point in time where old concepts needed to change, and imports therefore be expanded.
龍永圖下午應邀在2012世界貿易中心協會(重慶)發展論壇上發表演說,談到大陸到了改變過時守舊觀念的時候,因此必須擴大進口。

He said that in the past, all the talk had been about how to expand exports, but now, Chongqing Development Forum made the topic of expanding imports a topic with new conceptions; at a time when global trade was depressed, every country had a responsibility to explore ways to expand its own imports, as only through that, global trade could be [re]invigorated.
他說,過去談貿易促進時,都談如何擴大出口,但今天重慶的發展論壇以擴大進口作為主題很有新意;在全球貿易處低迷時,每個國家都有責任研究如何擴大自身進口,唯有如此才能使全球貿易活躍。

Long Yongtu stressed that particularly for the mainland’s long-term status as a surplus trader, broadening imports would be beneficial for its image in global trade; by changing the long-term surplus, a positive contribution to global trade could be made.
龍永圖強調,尤其大陸長期處於貿易順差狀態,擴大進口有利改變大陸在全球貿易中的形象;改變長期順差的局面,才能為全球貿易做出積極貢獻。

He believes that to change the mainland’s image, traditional views and conservative, outdated concepts needed to change, and above all, the idea that exports were better than imports.
他認為,要改變大陸形象,得從觀念上改變傳統、守舊過時的看法,首先是改變出口比進口好的傳統觀念。

From the perspective of international theory, Long Yongtu pointed out that importing countries were, from beginning to end, the most benefitting countries: “Whoever controls imports will control the international initiative”.
從國際理論上來說,龍永圖指出,進口國始終是國際貿易中的最大贏家,「誰掌握進口,誰就掌握國際貿易的主動權」。

Long Yongtu said that, based on the example of the mainland and America, that although the mainland was a long-term exporter, its position in international trade wasn’t strong. Why was America “standing out” in international trade? It was because America was the world’s biggest importer. Therefore, if the mainland wanted to move from the position of a big trading nation to a great trading nation, there were only imports, and the need to become the world’s biggest importing country.
龍永圖以大陸和美國為例說,雖然大陸長期出口,但在國際貿易中的地位不強;美國為什麼在全球貿易體制當中「這麼牛」(這麼厲害)?就是因為美國是全球最大進口國,因此如果大陸要「從貿易大國走向貿易強國,只有進口,且必須要成為全球貿易最大進口國」。

Besides, Long Yongtu believes that expanding imports could also promote an increase in mainland industrial upgrading. The mainland exactly needed to switch from dependence on exports to putting domestic demand first, and could, through these means, also meet domestic demand.
此外,龍永圖認為,擴大進口也會促進大陸內部產業升級,大陸正從依靠出口轉向內需為主,也要擴大進口滿足內需。

He pointed out that to strengthen imports could also strengthen fiscal income. By reducing tariffs, imports could be stimulated and broadened, and the entry of products would benefit a broader custom and excise foundation, and increase tariff revenues.
他指出,增加進口還可增加政府財政稅收。由於關稅下降,刺激、擴大進口產品的進入,有利稅基擴大,提高關稅收入。

To expand imports was also the best answer to international trade protectionism. If the mainland expanded imports of European and American products, European and American trade barriers and protectionism would greatly be reduced.
龍永圖說,擴大進口也是解決國際貿易保護主義的最佳、最有效辦法。大陸擴大從歐美進口商品,歐美對大陸貿易障礙和貿易保護就大幅降低。

He also emphasized that processing trade [the term “extended workbench” should apply here – JR] wasn’t like normal trade, and that enterprises, great and small, had striven for the old concept of a level of all-inclusive organizational structures*), i. e. to increase their shares of self-made modules. [But in fact,] there was a need to master the global division of labor and procurement, to produce the world’s best products from the world’s best components and modules and thus build the most competitive products. Only this would be beneficial to the mainland’s economic development and make it the world’s marketcenter [purchasing center].
他還強調,要改變加工貿易不如一般貿易、企業發展追求「大而全、小而全」及提高零組件自製比例的舊觀念,要透過全球分工和全球採購,把全球最佳零組件集中形成全球最有競爭力的產品,才有利大陸經濟發展,也讓大陸能成為全球採購中心。

Long Yongtu also praised Chongqing for the creation of a new situation in the information processing industry. This had mainly been for the mainland’s customs rates having been lowered to zero when it entered the WTO. This had stimulated component imports, and the result had been research and development in and production of electronic components. In the end, when calculating the entire smiling curve, the entire assembly line had remained in Chongqing. The “Chongqing Model” had therefore deserved to be studied and to be followed [imitated] by mainland China’s [entire] central and western areas.
龍永圖也稱讚重慶打造一個電子資訊產業加工新型態,這主要是當年大陸加入世界貿易組織(WTO)時,決定讓電子零組件關稅降為零,刺激零組件進口,結果成就現在將研發、零組件製造、終端、結算整個微笑曲線流程全都留在重慶的「重慶模式」,這樣的模式值得研究和大陸中西部仿效。

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Note

*) The 大而全、小而全 slogan is translated, in an online publication of the Central Committee decision of September 1999, as the status of [state-owned, in that context] enterprises that

have an all-inclusive organizational structure, but have failed to establish specialized production and socialized coordination systems and an economy of scale, and lack market competitiveness

– see item IV. there. In short: the share of components bought from suppliers is small, because what would be sub-suppliers’ business elsewhere, is all integrated into a single company’s production under this concept.

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Related

» Low-End Exports, Oct 3, 2011
» More Scientific & Fairer Rules, Sept 19, 2011

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Always Vigilant: the Turkish Countryside

What just three years of determined government propaganda can do: read here.

Things where Ankara and Damascus still agree (left and top right, not bottom right)

Things where Ankara and Damascus still agree (left and top right, NOT bottom right – Syria Online, April 2011)

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Related

» Genocide, simply put, July 11, 2009
» Davos is over for Erdogan, YouTube, 2009

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Anecdotal Evidence: why there can be no Chinese Soft Power – and why Cooperation with Beijing may Corrupt us

Messages from Beijing are in conflict with each other when the Dalai Lama – and the degree to which he may become internationally noticeable – is the issue. On the one hand, the Dalai Lama doesn’t belong in Tibet, from Beijing’s point of view. He therefore doesn’t belong in China either. On the other hand, Beijing reacts angrily when the Dalai Lama “denies his Chinese citizenship”. And the Chinese leadership seems to suggest that it has a say in foreign leaders’ appointment diaries.

The Dalai Lama is quite powerless, but a discussion with him is probably much more enriching than one with Hu Jintao, Jackie Chan, or Zhang Ziyi.

That’s one of the problems with Chinese “soft power”, I guess. Whatever could be a factor in building such power is either in exile, or (mostly) silent.

But above all, it is childish when Chinese authorities condemn meetings with people outside their jurisdiction. And when Chinese editorialists who take their orders from those authorities demand that “hosting Dalai Lama must come at a high price”, there are two obvious objections. For one, David Cameron and Nick Clegg apparently met the Dalai Lama at St. Paul’s Cathedral. Downing Street didn’t host him. But above all, a nexus between economic cooperation with China and “hosting the Dalai Lama”, as advocated by the “Global Times”, shows how shaky the foundations of our economic cooperation with China actually are.

Maybe we should think about our own reasons to limit cooperation with China. Because one day, we might feel that we can’t “afford” certain values and views of our own anymore. Other governments have come to such misguided conclusions already.

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