Archive for July, 2012

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

“Smart Public”

The public is very smart if you give it a chance. If people think their voice actually matters, they’ll do the hard work, really study their briefing books, ask the experts smart questions and then make tough decisions. When they hear the experts disagreeing, they’re forced to think for themselves. About 70% change their minds in the process.

Thus spoke James Fishkin, a developer and researcher of  deliberative democracy (审议民主), a concept that has been practiced in countries as different as America, China, and Greece. And no, it didn’t get Greece into the current mess – it was only used on a local level there. Same in China (of course).

Everything can be hyped, and I’m sure that’s true when it comes to Fishkin’s concept, too. But the good thing about it is that it is almost two decades old.

The polls that result from deliberation can be used in two different ways. They may replace actual votes (i. e. replace the general public with a more informed public), or they may become a possibly weighty referential force in debates after the deliberative poll, and before the general public votes. Chinese politicians – as far as they like the concept at all – are probably more likely to prefer deliberative polls as replacements for real public votes. The main advantage would seem to be that the deliberators will take their task of making a decision even more seriously, if they have the last word on it. The problem: what’s a statistically representative sample of a community?

But either way, there’s probably no small chance that there’s more to it than there is to, umm …, say, Twitter.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Cheng Tianquan: Citizen Participation in Foreign Affairs

The following is the second half of an article by Cheng Tianquan (程天权), professor and party secretary at Renmin University (or People’s University). The article was first published by Jiefang Daily, and then by the CCP’s website, on Tuesday.

Cheng was born in Shanghai, on March 28, 1946, according to People’s University’s website, and is a specialist in Chinese legal history. From 1986 to 1991, he was the director of Fudan University’s propaganda department. He became professor in 1995, apparently while at Fudan University, and has been Renmin University’s party secretary and administrative affairs’ (or university council) director since February 2001.

[…]

It needs to be pointed out that the building and handling of international relations isn’t only a matter for the national government, but also for the citizens. In this interlinked world, where everyone may widely disseminate news, it becomes important to talk about how citizens can be helped and be guided in their participation in international affairs, and how harmonious “people-to-people” relations can be developed in this global village. Although the government clearly guides public opinion, the so-called “will of the people” has at times kidnapped1) the government’s diplomatic policy-making. It would be promising if influential researchers and think tanks in the field of international issues would make it their task to guide citizens to look at international affairs rationally.

需要指出的是,国际关系的构建与处理不仅仅是国家政府的事情,也是公民的事情。当今天网络世界里,在人人都可以成为有广泛传播力的新闻人的情况下,如何帮助和疏导公民参与国际事务的探讨,构建地球村里和谐地发展的“人与人”关系,显得十分重要。虽然,政府对公民的引导是显而易见的,但是所谓“民意”绑架政府外交决策的事情也时有发生。而在引导公民理性看待国际事务方面,中国国际问题研究智库和相关学者有着影响引导公众的责任,这方面应大有可为。

The appropriate road for international strategic research should also be on various levels. First of all, fundamental research, on the historical as well as the philosophical range, should be deepened.This is important work there are specialists who apparently have nothing to do with international relations, but who in fact have a lot to do with it. After all, language, expression and ideological habits may all constitute obstacles in the field of knowledge and assessment in a broader sense. Just as with obvious cultural differences between the West and China, there are also dissimilarities within the oriental cultural system, on various levels.

国际战略研究的合理路径也应有多个层次。首先,加强基础研究,即从历史的、哲学的层面上深化研究。这是一项非常重要的工作,有些专业好像跟国际关系没有直接关系,但是实际上非常有关联。因为,语言表述、思维习惯、意识形态,还有更广义上的文化差别,都会构成国际关系领域认识研判上的障碍。如文化差别方面,除了西方和中国的明显相异性外,就是在东方文化体系里也是多层次的。

Secondly, the applicability of international-relations theory research, mainly generally used international-relations theory research, at the same time includes the expansion and innovation of these theories.

其次,应用性国际关系理论研究,主要是对通行国际关系理论的研究,同时也包括这些理论的拓展创新。第三是当下应对的即时性对策研究,在智库互动中要有交流,最后要有评估,这样积累起来就形成丰富的案例资源,对以后国家在处理国际事务时会有积极的参考价值。
As a third point, concerning real-time countermeasures, there needs to be exchange between thinktanks and final appraisals. This can build rich resources and case-study material with a lot of reference value for the handling of international affairs. And finally, thinktanks should be encouraged to participate in people-to-people diplomacy2). International experience tells us that an important way to create smooth conditions for a country in the international community is to use people-to-people diplomacy to actively communicate [within the international community], by individual behavior, trade activities, cultural interaction, thinktank exhanges and other diversified means, to enrich the understanding of ones own country among a foreign public, among foreign organizations and foreign media. In this regard, the role of thinktanks is irreplaceable.

最后,要提倡智库参与民间外交。国际经验告诉我们,一个国家要在国际社会上行走比较顺畅,很重要的途径是通过民间外交展开积极沟通,如通过个人行为、商务活动、文化互动、智库交流等多样化手段,丰富海外公众、机构和媒体对本国文化和国家形象的认知。这方面,智库的作用是不可替代的。

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Note

1) Cheng’s “kidnapping” remark won’t refer exclusively to the Chinese government’s “management” of public opinion after the arrest of Chinese fishermen by a Russian FSB patrol boat earlier this month. However, the issue of public anger concerning foreign affairs probably led to the  explicit mention of “policy kidnapping” by the public in Cheng’s article.
2) 民间外交 (minjian waijiao) usually stands for what may be translated as people-to-people diplomacy, while 公共外交 would amount to public diplomacy. Please see footnote 1 under that post.

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Related

» Jiang Zemin: Importance of Philosophy, Xinhua, April 28, 2002

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

ROC Flag removed from Regent Street

Originally among the world’s national flags hanging above Regent Street, the Republic of China’s flag (i. e. Taiwan’s flag) has been removed, the BBC’s Mandarin website reports. The BBC’s Chinese department contacted the Regent Street Association to ask for the reason, but were asked to contact the London Olympic organizers instead.

The BBC Mandarin website was then told by a press officer at the  London organizing committee that this issue was outside the London Olympics’ jurisdiction.

Taiwan takes part in a number of international events, including the Olympic Games, under the name of “Chinese Taipei” (中华台北 or chunghua taipei), a carefully crafted label to appease Beijing.

The London Olympic Games are scheduled to begin on Friday.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

One Year after the Wenzhou Train Crash: an Editorial by People’s Daily

The accident is something we want to forget. If a local government were to plan a ceremony, that would bring shame on the Ministry of Railways. You surely understand that, don’t you?

A senior Wenzhou official talking to Asahi Shimbun, according to the Telegraph.

Meantime, Google search results suggest that visiting the Hong Kong Journalists Association‘s (HKJA) website may harm your computer.

According to the Telegraph, the first anniversary of the crash has been completely blackened out.

But that’s not to say that technology can’t be discussed.

A People’s Daily Review of Chinese Development since the 16th 16th National Congress of the Communist Party of China – a Decade of Innovation and Chinese Wisdom (十六大以来中国发展历程述评 – 十年创新 中国智慧), lists achievements in science and technology, citing, among others, the Qinghai-Tibet railway line, opened on July 1, 2006;

Liu Xingzhou‘s Himalayan Olympic torch project on May 8, 2008;

and the Jiaolong submarine’s 7,000-meter-dive, among other achievements.

The Communist Party, i. e. People’s Daily – in an editorial republished on more innocent websites like Enorth (Tianjin), too, sighs with emotion:

A decade of innovation and Chinese wisdom  […] – an appraisal of Chinese reform and development since the 16th National Party Congress

Good news reverberates in the ears: Shenzhou-9 docking to Tiangong, creating Chinese precision, in the first manned space flight with a successful meeting in space.

[…]

During the past ten years, numerous scientists bravely scaled heights, devoted themselves to fundamental research […] Chinese wisdom made great contributions to development and improvement, to improve the people’s livelihood, and won dignity for the Chinese nation.

10年来,广大科技人员奋勇攀登、潜心攻关,在基础研究、前沿技术研究和应用技术研发上取得累累硕果,中国智慧为支撑发展、改善民生作出了突出贡献,为中华民族赢得了尊严。

My skin is fairly thick, but for this one, I have to agree with a recent comment: to translate certain things would amount to masochism – and it’s a pretty long editorial.

I guess you’ll get the picture from the above, anyway.

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Related

» Wide-spread Sense of Depression, July 31, 2012
» Only two Words, July 28, 2012

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Monday, July 23, 2012

Radio Netherlands Worldwide: Activism replaces Nice Cups of Tea

The Dutch government simply decided it didn’t need an international broadcaster anymore.

Andy Sennitt, formerly Radio Netherlands Worldwide, quoted by Shortwave America. Radio Netherlands’ broadcasts in English and Indonesian ended on June 29.

Radio Netherlands 1987 QSL

Prince Claus of the Netherlands pushes the button: inaugurating a new transmitter park (probably for the Flevoland transmitter park), on May 19, 1987. Flevo replaced the Lopik site, Radio Netherlands’ transmission site from 1947 to 1985. (Click picture for info about Lopik in Dutch.)

Once RNW’s English web stream ended on June 29, there would be no more daily reviews of the Dutch papers, coverage of Dutch news stories and listening guides, the Jakarta Post quoted Radio Netherlands’ website in a report on June 24.

According to a statement posted on Radio Netherlands’ website on June 26, RNW will

concern itself solely with making information available in countries where free speech is suppressed or threatened, where “free speech”, according to the vision of chief editor Rik Rensen, should encapsulate Dutch values.

The statement quotes chief editor Rik Rensen as saying that this

[..] means RNW should produce ground-breaking stories about freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to freedom of sexual orientation and women’s rights. Actually, these issues are already under RNW’s spotlight, but they’ll be even more accentuated in the future.

My (personal) view of the “changes”

I believe that to make information available where it’s otherwise suppressed might be  a great idea. However, if that can’t be done in practice – i. e. by exemplary day-to-day journalism -, RNW is running a risk of coming across as increasingly bigoted and divisive. That’s what I expect to happen, not because the values RNW intends to promote wouldn’t be important – it’s because these issues will, according to the chief editor, be even more accentuated than in past broadcasts. To be fair, one should  acknowledge that even if Radio Netherlands had kept a budget that would allowed it to keep operating on shortwave, and on the internet, it would have lost many of its audience – the media world provides readers and listeners with a range of choices which make that almost inevitable.

But the truth is that the programs had become so full of “Dutch values” even more than a decade ago, and so void of the former cheerfulness from programs like the “Happy Station”, that I could smell the influence of politics across the miles. I have rarely listened to RNW for years, and I’m therefore not going to miss their programs.

But many listeners probably will. The political class – not only in the Netherlands, but in Germany, too – seems to be so convinced of particular projects close to their hearts that they are prepared to give away thousands of dedicated listeners or online readers, just to intensify their own message. Bluntly said: if people aren’t aware of “our” values, let’s yell them  into their ears until they start cherishing them. Good luck with that approach.

Even in totalitarian countries, there are propagandists who doubt the effect of campaigns on foreign audiences. No matter if a message tries to sell suppression as “humane”, or if it actually stands for human rights, this assessment of Chinese soft-power explorers, recorded in 2009, is likely to cut both ways:

If the significance of propaganda becomes too strong, it can easily evoke the other side’s suspicions and resentment.

I hope that practice at RNW will prove itself to be better than what the (former) station’s recent announcements seem to suggest.

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Related

Keith Perron runs the revived Happy Station Show. It used to be among Radio Netherlands’ most popular programs, broadcast every Sunday, until it was terminated there in the 1990s. It’s now produced in Taipei, and a special edition on June 29 was a tribute to Radio Netherlands –

» part 1
» part 2

PCJMedia, the producing company, has a website, but without permalinks, it seems. Tom Meyer (Meijer) was a Happy Station host at Radio Netherlands, and he unmistakably has some influence on the choice of music played on Perron’s show, too.

The program on June 29 started with “A Nice Cup of Tea” – a signature tune when Meyer’s predecessor, Edward Startz, hosted the show.

» Free Speech, Dutch Values, June 10, 2011

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Updates / Related

» Canada Signs Off, Garth Mullins, July 6, 2012

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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Obituary: Ding Guangen, 1929 – 2012

Ding Guangen (丁关根) was born in Wuxi, Jiangsu Province, in September 1929, according to Xinhua newsagency’s – more or less – standardized – obituary:

An outstanding member of the Communist Party, a soldier of communism of enduring loyalty, an outstanding leader at our party’s ideological and cultural battlefront, the CCP’s 13th alternate politbureau member, secretary of the CCP central committee’s secretariat, member of the 14th and 15th politbureau and central committees’ secretariat secretary, Comrade Ding Guangen, died in Beijing on July 22, 2012, at 6.20 a.m., aged 83, after medical treatment had been unsuccessful.
中国共产党的优秀党员,久经考验的忠诚的共产主义战士,我党宣传思想文化战线的卓越领导人,中国共产党第十三届中央政治局候补委员、中央书记处书记,第十四届、十五届中央政治局委员、中央书记处书记丁关根同志,因病医治无效,于2012年7月22日6时20分在北京逝世,享年83岁。

Ding’s death wasn’t in the headlines of CCTV‘s main evening news (Xinwen Lianbo, 19:00 local time) on Sunday, but probably will be on Monday or Tuesday. The obituary was read out during the broadcast’s second half.

新闻联播, July 22, 2012

新闻联播, July 22, 2012 – click picture for video.

Ding graduated from Jiaotong University, Shanghai (上海交通大学), in 1951, and worked for the ministry of railways for more than 30 years, as an engineer, from 1958 onwards.

He was demoted from the ministry of railways during the “Cultural Revolution”, according to the Xinhua obituary. From 1969 to 1972, when he was sent to a “May-7 Cadre School” (五七干校) – another link here. From 1972 to 1975, he worked at Beifang Jiaotong University’s (北方交通大学) overseas students office.

For the final three years at the ministry, Ding held the office of minister of railways, and resigned in 1988, after a series of train crashes that killed scores of people, writes the Washington Post. He held the post of CCP party group (or cell) secretary at the ministry, too – a task in China that frequently comes along with the leadership at an organization.

Ding’s resignation 24 years ago wasn’t the end of his career. Still in 1988,  he became head of the “Taiwan Affairs Office” at the State Council, and director of the central united-front work department from 1990 to 1992.

In December 1992, he became head of the CCP’s propaganda department, a post he kept until his retirement in 2002. His successor there, Liu Yunshan (刘云山), is still in office.

Anne-Marie Brady wrote in 2008 that Jiang Zemin, party and state chairman in 2002 1992,

[…] was a long time political cadre with a nose for ideological work and its importance. This meeting [Update (July 23, 2012): the first meeting of the politbureau’s standing committee / 4th plenum of the 13th CCP central committee on June 1989 – more info here] marked the beginning of a new era in propaganda and political thought work in China. As a direct result of the events of April – June 1989, the Central Propaganda Department was given more resources and power, including the power to go in to the propaganda-related work units and cleanse the ranks of those who had been supportive of the democracy movement.1)

The task for Jiang’s leadership – and therefore Ding’s task, too – was to

[…] both successfully revitalize the Chinese economy and [to] re-emphasize political thought work and control of China’s propaganda system. […] With the strong support of Jiang Zemin and Deng Xiaoping, from June 1989 onward the Central Propaganda Department and the propaganda system once again began to have a prominent, guiding role in Chinese society.

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Note

1) Anne-Marie Brady, Marketing Dictatorship: Propaganda and Thought Work in Contemporary China, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., pp 44 – 45.

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Related

» Open House, May 25, 2012
» The Weeks before June 4, April 17, 2012» June 9 speech to martial-law units, tsquare, accessed July 22, 2012
» The Weeks before June 4, April 17, 2012

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Updates/Related

» Bad Deal with Ding’s Son, SMH, Aug 30, 2005

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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sino-Russian Fishery Incident: An FMPRC Statement and its (apparent) Story

China News Service (CNS, 中新网) / Enorth, July 22, 2012, 07:04 Beijing time —

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said on Saturday evening that the incident of a Russian patrol boat that shelled Chinese trawlers was an isolated case, and expressed the belief that the case could be solved by the two sides in the spirit of Sino-Russian friendship. It was hoped that the people of the two countries would look at the incident objectively and with cool heads.

中国外交部发言人洪磊21日晚就俄罗斯边防巡逻艇炮击中国渔船事件表示,上述事件是突发的、孤立的事件,相信双方能本着中俄友好的精神加以解决。希望两国民众能客观、冷静地看待这一事件。

A reporter asked: A few days ago, a Russian patrol boat fired at Chinese trawlers which [had]  crossed the border into Russia’s exclusive maritime zone, and a collision with a Chinese trawler occured in the process, which resulted in the missing of one Chinese seaman. The Russian Northeastern Federal Security Service border patrol says that the Russian side the pursuit and capture of the Chinese trawlers in Russian maritime territory, that to open fire  was legal, and that a request for prosecution had been made to the Chinese Fishing Ministry. What is the Chinese side’s comment?

有记者问:日前,俄罗斯边防巡逻艇在俄专属经济区向越界捕捞的中国渔船开炮,并在追赶渔船过程中与中方渔船发生碰撞,造成中方1名船员失踪。俄联邦安全局东北边防局称,俄方在俄海域追缉中国渔船时对其开火属合法行为,并已就非法捕捞事对中国渔船船长提起刑事诉讼,中方对此有何评论?

Hong Lei said that China had made representations to the Russian side, concerning one Chinese fisherman going missing in Russian border security authorities’ arrest of Chinese fishermen fishing in the Russian exclusive maritime zone.

洪磊说,俄边防部门抓捕进入俄专属经济区作业的中国渔船造成1名中国船员失踪,中方已就俄边防巡逻艇执法失当向俄方提出交涉。

Hong Lei said that in the next steps, the Chinese side will continue to maintain close communication with the Russian side, and make effots to handle the issue as quickly as possible, and appropriately. The aforementioned incident was an isolated one, and it was believed that the two sides would be able to solve the issue in the spirit of Sino-Russian friendship. It was hoped that the people of the two countries would look at the incident objectively and with cool heads. China was now exploring consultations to establish an emergency and early-warning mechanism with Russia to avoid the occurrence of similar incidents in the future, to avoid [them] affecting the overall picture of friendly relations between the two countries.

洪磊表示,下一步,中方将继续同俄方保持密切沟通,力争尽快妥善处理此事。上述事件是突发的、孤立的事件,相信双方能本着中俄友好的精神加以解决。希望两国民众能客观、冷静地看待这一事件。中方正在研究同俄方协商建立应急预警和合作机制,防止类似事件再次发生,以免影响两国友好关系大局。

The foreign ministry published the same CNS article last night.

So did Huanqiu Shibao; without an opportunity for its readers to comment. On an emoticon board, at the time of writing this post, 58 votes express amazement or shock, 1,402 express anger, 74 express sadness, 21 express joy, and 229 feel that the news is ridiculous.

Two days earlier, on Friday, Huanqiu Shibao had reported that China was dissatisfied (不满) about the shelling, and demanded the release of the fishermen. Chinese vice foreign minister Cheng Guoping (程国平) had expressed this dissatisfaction in an emergency meeting with Russia’s chargé d’affaires in China [apparently Alexander Kozlov]. Russian violent law enforcement (粗暴执法) and use of military force had led to the Chinese crewman going missing.  Chen had demanded that the Russian side should investigate thoroughly, communicate the results to the Chinese side immediately, guarantee the safety of the arrested crews, and treat them in accordance with their legal rights and humanitarian standards. The crews should be released as quickly as possible, and every effort be made to find the missing crewman (合法权益和人道主义待遇,尽快放船放人,全力搜救失踪人员).

Under that article, the commenting function was enabled.

China’s foreign policies are too weak. Even small countries like Vietnam and the Philippines dare to challenge. Of course, Russia doesn’t need to care about China – 中国在对外政策上太过软弱,连越南 菲律宾 这等小国也敢挑衅,俄国当然不会把中国放在眼里,

wrote one commenter, and

Russians are like polar bears – they have no bit of humanity. When interacting with Russia, one shouldn’t regard them as people – 俄罗斯像北极熊,没有一点人性。与俄罗斯打交道,不能把它当作人看待,

suggested another.

But there were efforts to maintain the spirit of friendly relations with Russia, too. Apparently, there had been traitors among the crew who had been bought by America or Japan – […] 很明显,那些越界捕捞的渔民有被美、日收买利用的嫌疑,或许是被美、日收买利用故意破坏中、朝关系,中、俄关系的特务、汉奸,同时敬请中国渔民自律、自爱,自觉以国家利益为上!不要贪图个人利益而损害国家利  explained a Hidden Star Dragon (伏星龙) who states his birthplace as “Hsinchu, Taiwan Province”.

Huanqiu Shibao is a state-owned paper with a readership which appears to be particularly quick to (nationalist) anger, but Beijing appears to searching for a middle way between the need to maintain friendly reations (or a strategic partnership) with Russia, and to satisfy a nationalist audience at the same time, according to the South China Morning Post (SCMP, Hong Kong).

A rather soft statement from the Chinese consulate in Khabarovsk had been posted on the consulate’s website, which basically reflected the Russian side of the story. The consulate also initially stated that noone was reported injured. The Chinese foreign minister confirmed a day later that one fisherman was actually missing, according to the SCMP. This led to vice foreign minister Chen Guoping summoning “a senior Russian diplomat” (apparently Kozlov, see above) on Thursday. FMPRC spokesman Hong Lei’s statement on Saturday evening was only the latest step in the process, and once again a try to de-escalate the issue.

According to Xinhua, the two trawlers hail from Weihai, Shandong Province.

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Related

» Beijing criticizes FSB action, Ria Novosti, July 20, 2012
» China “strongly dissatisfied”, Maritime Connector, July 20, 2012
» Unacceptable, China Daily, July 18, 2012
» Greater Japanese Awareness (including a Huanqiu poll), July 15, 2012
» Hit and Tow, June 10, 2011
» FSB sinks Chinese freighter, Febr 19, 2009

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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Is this (German) Soft Power?

Maybe. Sort of.

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Related

» Not so Spy, March 5, 2011

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