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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.



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.



» Three Eight-Hundreds, April 19, 2009


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.

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.

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.

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).

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.

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.


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.

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.

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.



*) 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.



» Social Management, Febr 21, 2011


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?”*)

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.



*) 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.


» 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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”.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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].

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.



*) 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.



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


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)



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


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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