Archive for October, 2012

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

For whichever Presidential candidate I’d vote, I wouldn’t vote for a Tea Partisan Congressional candidate

A not so disguised “endorsement” for President Obama

In 1994, Germany’s incumbent federal chancellor, Helmut Kohl, was in trouble. General elections loomed, and his challenger, a social democrat, was leading in the polls. East Germany would be blooming, Kohl had promised four years earlier, in the 1990 general elections, the first after German reunification. But in 1994, the five new federal states were anything but blooming. There was some disappointment in West Germany, because it had become clear that the road to a blooming East Germany would be long – and costly for West Germans not least. The East Germans were probably even more disappointed – the 1990 elections had been their first free elections on the national level ever since the Weimar Republic, and these first four years with a all-German parliament had taught them a number of disillusioning lessons about election promises.

On October 16, 1994, the Kohl coalition government won the Bundestag elections by a narrow margin anyway. Compared with the 1990 elections,chancellor Kohl’s christian democrats lost 2.2 percentage points in former West Germany, and 3.3 percentage points in former East Germany. But this still proved a stable majority for another four years.

Many observers had considered Kohl politically dead in 1989. He had been chancellor for seven years by then, and change was in the air. Then came the fall of the Berlin Wall. The way Kohl handled the aftermath, especially reunification talks with America, the USSR, Britain, and France, brought him back. The surprise was that in 1994, after he had been in office for twelve years, people, even if fed up with him, gave him another chance.

Contrary to Americans (and French people, probably), Germans are (sometimes shockingly, maybe) patient when it comes to politics. Four years are considered a short time for things to grow in my country. Many Germans probably agree that to cap a political chief executive’s maximum time in office to eight years would make a lot of sense – but to change the direction of politics every four or eight years wouldn’t necessarily make as much sense – unless a government turns out to be quite a disaster. Even as the going got tough under Helmut Schmidt, in 1976, his social-democrat/liberal coalition was confirmed, even if only narrowly. In 1980, it was confirmed with an even bigger majority – and times had become still tougher in the meantime. Unemployment had risen to unprecedented levels in post-war Germany, but justifiably or not, Germans gave Schmidt’s government credit for what they saw as a still better situation than the one found elsewhere in Europe. In the end, it wasn’t the voters who finished his government – it was the social democrats’ coalition partner, in 1982. Kohl replaced Schmidt, and remained in office for sixteen years, before a majority of German voters decided that his government had become useless. When the shift came, it came swiftly, and with a clear majority for the opposition parties.

In its September 1 issue, The Economist – no friend of “big government” – graded Barack Obama as follows:

Subject Grade
crisis response  A-
 stimulus  B+
 housing  C+
 labor market  C+
 trade   B-
 industrial policy   F
 regulation   D+
 debt/fiscal policy  incomplete

More details here »

The Obama administration’s marks in the field of industrial policy, according to the Economist’s report card, indicate maximum failure. In short, saving Detroit alone isn’t an industrial policy after all. It’s just crisis response. But then, I can’t even imagine Mitt Romney‘s industrial policy. “Buying American” isn’t one, either. However, taking cases to the WTO is still better than branding China, or any other global manufacturing competitor, a “currency manipulator” at a time when it makes less sense than any time previously in more than a decade.

Maybe Obama’s core problem is the messiah-like status he had reached in 2008 – naturally, he wouldn’t live up to that image. Another problem may be that he hasn’t sufficiently “reached out” to the Republicans when it came to Obamacare. But then, Obamacare was pretty much Romneycare. If that couldn’t satisfiy even a single Republican on Capitol Hill, one may wonder how Romney should convince them – chances are that as a president, he would only be able to deal with Congress once there is a Democratic majority, say, after 2012 after 2014.

I don’t know how the American people will decide on November 6. But I do know what I would do. I’d vote for Obama, and for Democratic candidates for Congress. Yes, a president needs to show leadership. But it seems to make no sense to me to build a tea party into any presidential term, be it a Democrat’s or a Republican’s presidency.



» Creative Destruction or…, March 15, 2010
» U.S. fiscal cliff, Wikipedia, acc. 20121031
» So habe auch ich mich getäuscht, Febr 1994

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Deutsche Welle Chinese Department Director informs Listeners

According to Taipei DXer, the Chinese department of Deutsche Welle sent its readers the following letter (or e-mail) last week:

Bonn, October 19, 2012 – Dear listener friend:

today, I have the sad responsibility to inform you that Deutsche Welle’s Chinese program broadcasts will, after 47 years, be terminated on January 1, 2013. As far as I’m concerned, this is a difficult decision. Personally, I’m a broadcasting journalist, that’s how I started my career, and shortwave broadcasting accompanied my professional growth.


The immediate reason for the termination of the broadcasts is that Deutsche Welle needs to save money, and the Chinese editorial department is also hit by this streamlining measure. Also, the rapid development of new media, especially the internet, opens new ways to us to disseminate information.


The Chinese internet advances rapidly these days, with more users than any other country worldwide, which can be seen from the numbers of people who use our Chinese internet website. Even though the DW Chinese website is screened in China, the number of visitors to our website grew by 30 percent this year. This certainly also has to do with the skilled use of the internet, knowing how to break through the the internet blockade.


At a time of financial austerity, Deutsche Welle has made all kinds of tries to take everything it wants to do into account. [The station] had to make a choice, to make concentrated use of the reduced funding. Finally, it chose to take the road of the web as its medium.


I know that among you, there are many people who have been old loyal listener friends for many years. I would like to take the opportunity to sincerely thank you for your support and care, and the many letters you have sent. But the end to shortwave broadcasts doesn’t spell the demolition of the bridge between Germany and you. In future, other forms and channels will form the link between us.


I hope that in the future, you will continue to follow our news and analysis on our website, image collections and video programs, and offer your valuable suggestions and opinions!


Sincerest greetings,

Deutsche Welle, Chinese editorial department
Feng Haiyin*)

德国之声 中文编辑部 冯海音 敬上
2012-10-19 于 波恩

Taipei DXer received the letter on October 24. The letter or e-mail also contained information about Deutsche Welle’s last shortwave broadcasting schedule, coming into effect on Sunday (October 28, 2012):

9610 kHz (31 m); 11600 kHz (25 m); 13700 kHz (22 m).

More details about times, frequencies and broadcasting sites from October 28 to December 31 can be found here.



*) Feng Haiyin is probably the Chinese pronunciation for the Chinese department’s director Matthias von Hein. [20130501]


Related tag: Deutsche Welle (Voice of Germany)


Friday, October 26, 2012

Deutsche Welle Listeners react to termination of Shortwave Broadcasts

It seems to be official – German organizations had reacted to the news previously -, and Chinese listeners to Deutsche Welle (Voice of Germany) are now reacting. At least some of them were apparently informed by emails, as subscribers to mails from the Chinese department. Apparently, Deutsche Welle’s shortwave broadcasts in Chinese will end on December 31 this year.

No time to read more tonight, but will come back to the topic this weekend.

Friday, October 26, 2012

If Free Elections changed Nothing, …

… they would be universally adopted, in every country.

Forms of government (click picture for source and details)

Forms of government (click picture for source and details)

Friday, October 26, 2012

“Online Publicity Work”: State Information Office prepares for CCP’s 18th National Congress

Links within blockquote added during translation – JR

ice layer, first frost of the season 2012/13

Enthuse the masses! Melt the ice away!

Enorth (Tianjin) / Xinhua, Oct 25, 2012 —

The State Internet Information Office held a meeting of all provincial, regional and municipal internet information office directors, all responsibles from the relevant departments and main internet news websites in Beijing on October 24, to further mobilize to deploy the party’s 18th National Congress propaganda management work online.


The vice minister of propaganda, the Central Committee’s external propaganda office director and the State Internet Information Office’s director spoke at the meeting, demanded that departments in charge of regional internet management should make all efforts to make meticulous arrangements, to do the work of the party’s 18th National Congress propaganda online, to create a good public-opinion atmosphere, and to start a surge in propaganda online.


The meeting pointed out that the party’s 18th National Congress was very important, as it was to be held at a key time for creating a moderately prosperous society and deepening reform, at the focus of the country’s expectations and of global attention. It is of great significance that the strengths and characteristics of the internet should be brought into full play, to propagandize the full process of coverage on the grand occasion of the party’s 18th National Congress, the internet needed to be managed in accordance with the law and regulations, to create a good public-opinion atmosphere online for the 18th National Congress, to further inspire, to boost the morale, to achieve unity in thinking, to build consensus, to make the broad cadres and masses thoughts and action unitedly learn and implement the spirit of the 18th Natonal Congress, to make them uniteldly and unswervingly stick to the road of socialism with Chinese characteristics.


The meeting emphasized that news websites and commercial websites needed to further strengthen the sense of responsibility and, under the guidance of the important Deng Xiaoping theories and the “Three Represents”, deepen and implement the concept of scientific development, solidly grasp the correct direction, uphold the encouragement of unity and stability, reform and innovation, the Three Closenesses, to make great efforts to do the work of managing online propaganda about the 18th National Congress, and to implement the responsibilities of local management and websites. Positive propaganda online, coordination between the various kinds of online platforms, by use of all kinds of online methods, timely and accurate coverage on the 18th National Congress, and a surge in propaganda online needed to be put into practice. The focus needed to be on arranging effective guidance of online public opinion, to give full play to microblogs’ and social networks’ active functions, to use internet jargon, types, and data, factual language, to guide public opinion, to react to concerns, to further liberate thoughts online, and to create a strong atmosphere of reform, cohesion, assaults on fortified positions and the coping with difficulties. Internet regulation strengthening needed to be given greet efforts, harmful information be resolutely handled, and a healthy, upward and civilized, regulated internet dissemination order be built, action against political rumors, pornographic and vulgar information etc. be taken, the internet environment be purified, and online information security and website operation security be safeguarded.


The Central Committee’s external propaganda office and those comrades in charge at the State Internet Information Office took part in the meeting, as well as internet information office responsibles from Beijing Municipality and Guangdong Province, People’s Daily Net, Xinhua Net, exchanging information and making speeches. People in charge of internet information content from central and national authorities, from provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities directly under the central government and central-committee news websites also took part in the meeting.




» Obscene Family Wealth, Peking Duck, Oct 26, 2012
» How the Horse Broke itself in, March 22, 2012
» State Information Office, China Daily, May 4, 2011
» Netizens should tolerate Censorship, March 26, 2011

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Gangnam Style in Recent History

Some 40 years ago.

(click picture for video)

The real revolutionary opera is here. It’s become a popular target for all kinds of re-mixes online, even before the gangnam hype.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Press Review: “Adjustments at General Staff Headquarters”

Links within blockquote added during translation – JR.

China News Service (中新网) / Enorth (Tianjin)

According to the Defense Ministry website, the People’s Liberation Army’s General Headquarters have announced major adjustments:

General Staff Department: Fang Fenghui (Senior General) is appointed as People’s Liberation Army General Staff Headquarters commander. On October 25, an update of the defense ministry website’s database, within the General Staff Department section showed that the name for Chief of General Staff was changed to Fang Fenghui (Senior General).


According to the People’s Republic Defense Ministry website’s latest announcement, Wang Guanzhong (Middle General) is appointed as PLA deputy Chief of Staff. On October 25, On October 25, an update of the defense ministry website’s database, within the General Staff Department section showed that Wang Guanzhong (Midle General) has been appointed PLA Deputy Chief of General Staff.


According to the People’s Republic Defense Ministry website’s latest announcement, Qi Jianguo (Middle General) is appointed PLA Deputy Chief of Staff. On October 25, On October 25, an update of the defense ministry website’s database, within the General Staff Department section showed that Qi Jianguo has been appointed PLA Deputy Chief of General Staff.


According to the People’s Republic Defense Ministry website’s latest announcement, Zhang Yang (Senior General) has been appointed PLA General Political Department Director. On October 25, an update of the defense ministry website’s database, within the General Staff Department section showed that the name for PLA General Political Department Director has been changed to Zhang Yang (Senior General).


According to the People’s Republic Defense Ministry website’s latest announcement, PLA Deputy General Political Department Director Du Jincai (Senior General) concurrently serves as the PLA Disciplinary Secretary. On October 25, an update of the defense ministry website’s database, within the General Staff Department section showed that PLA General Political Department Deputy Director Du Jincai (Senior General) concurrently serves as PLA Disciplinary Secretary.


According to the People’s Republic Defense Ministry website’s latest announcement, Yin Fanglong (Middle General) has been appointed PLA General Political Department Deputy Director. On October 25, an update of the defense ministry website’s database, within the General Staff Department section showed that Yin Fanglong (Middle General) has been appointed PLA General Political Department Deputy Director.


According to the People’s Republic Defense Ministry website’s latest announcement, Zhao Keshi (Senior General) has been appointed PLA General Logistics Department Director. On October 25, an update of the defense ministry website’s database, within the General Logistics Department section showed that the name for PLA General Logistics Department Director has been changed to Zhao Keshi (Senior General).


According to the People’s Republic Defense Ministry website’s latest announcement, Zhang Youxia (Senior General) hass been appointed PLA General Equipment Director. On October 25, an update of the defense ministry website’s database, within the General Equipment section, showed that the name of PLA General Equipment Director has been changed to Zhang Youxia (Senior General).



» Long Anticipated, Taiwan News / AP, Oct 25, 2012
» Major Reshuffle, Want China Times, Oct 25, 2012
» Two Political Commissars Promoted, Global Times, Oct 24, 2012
» Photo Clues, The Age, Oct 23, 2012
» Candid and In-Depth, July 11, 2011
» U.S. Overstates China Threat, WSJ, May 19, 2011
» Jiang, Wikipedia, accessed Oct 25, 2012
» PLA General Staff Department, Wikipedia, accessed Oct 25, 2012

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Is China Misunderstood? And if Yes, How?

  • “People in China have as many freedoms as people in Europe, as long as they don’t organize to challenge CCP rule.”

Not really. Frequently, challenging one bureaucrat amounts to challenging the party. What you can and what you can’t do depends on your connections, and even if you are pretty well connected, no independent court will protect you and the liberties you have taken to do things when the party decides that it has a stake in your case.

  • “The Chinese Communist Party has lifted hundreds of millions of Chinese people out of poverty.”

That’s conventional wisdom. But isn’t it the party’s decision to leave more space for  privately-owned business – i. e.  a withdrawal from business administration – which has led to that success?

  • “Authors like Mo Yan show that you are quite free to criticize leadership decisions – even if you are formally part of the system.”

Mo Yan spoke up for Liu Xiaobo (with some disclaimers included in his talk), and that was a good decision – but if he wasn’t part of the system, and right in the limelight, such a public statement might have earned him an invitation for a cup of tea at the next public security office – or worse.

What is true is that China is much more of a mixed economy these days, than thirty years ago. What may also be true is that the cadres, too, have become much more affluent. Some leaders, especially top leaders, have become rich.

And this seems to amount to a strange excuse, frequently offered by CCP apologists: because the Communist leaders – and top leaders not least – are so corrupted, their theories can’t be taken seriously anymore. Or rather: even as a democrat, you don’t need to take their theories seriously anymore.

That’s a nice license to do business with the guys. Unfortunately, it’s a faked license.

It is true that what the CCP cadres do has little to do with their original theories. But that only means that their concept of class relations has changed. Contrary to what coverage frequently suggest,  that’s no bashful change. It’s clearly documented, not least in Jiang Zemin‘s Three Represents which are part of the official party theories. All this hasn’t hasn’t changed the CCP’s view of who should rule the country, and how they want to rule.

The CCP claims the function to decide what Chinese culture is, and what isn’t. They are the “standard bearers” and the “developers” of Chinese culture. They have left cultural organizations and individuals more leeway than during the Maoist days, just as they have left businesses more leeway – see above. But all that is revocable. It is part of the party’s development project. Obviously, people make use of the leeway they have – but given that the party has the last word on what will make it, and what won’t, its claim to be the developer is often taken remarkably lightly.

Above all, however, there is one constant: that while the outside world has certain good things to offer, it is, above all, a threat. The concept that an imagined innocence, “cultural” purity, or general well-being of the Chinese people can only be safeguarded by the CCP’s monopoly to power has never changed since the party came to power. A country that swallows the humiliations that come from this power monopoly and ultimately has to blame the outside world for exactly these humiliations can’t be a terribly friendly country.

The Libyan or the Syrian regimes have never been popular among Americans or Europeans. The Chinese regime isn’t, either. There is a lot of fault-seeking going on. Every incident, every blooper, and every corruption case among more senior officials are highlighted in the Western press, as if corruption was something particularly Chinese, or even something particularly CCP. But that seems to be arrogance, and wannabe virtue, rather than objectivity. Just as there was a preparedness to believe that basically, Libyans or Syrians were prepared to tolerate, if not support, their leaders, there is a preparedness to believe the same thing of China and the CCP.

When taking a benevolent view of Western governments and the Western public perception, they were also prepared to believe that at least the Syrian regime would give way to democracy (or theocracy) peacefully, rather than clinging to power by all means. If we may believe Western governments’ statements these days, they are absolutely shocked that, once having shown signs of vulnerability, such regimes aren’t tolerated by their own people anymore. By the same logic, Western governments are even more shocked to learn that such regimes would go “from house to house” to find and slaughter oppositionals, suspected or proven. By the same logic, Western governments and the Western public are outraged to learn that a regime may actually bomb its own cities, at war with many of its own people.

They would quite probably be just as “shocked” if such events occured in China. And then they would start explaining why they did have reasons to believe that the CCP regime was “responsible” and “accountable” to the people, why they did have reasons to believe that the party would put the people first, and put itself next.

And as long as shit doesn’t happen, they’ll tell you how the status quo in China is still better than any conceivable alternative. (That said, many foreign party apologists aren’t that much more interested in trying to imagining alternatives, than the CCP itself.)

People who are using excuses like the ones quoted at the beginning are most probably those who actually “misunderstand” China most fundamentally. But it’s a wishful misunderstanding. A less friendly word for it would be complicity.

That complicity is no crime. Or, if it is, this blogger, too, is complicit. I accept that our governments and businesses need to find compromises with totalitarian dictators, at least for the time being.  What I don’t accept is the beautification of the regime. Whoever justifies its existence needs to be prepared to accept the same standards in his home country – not necessarily as a ruler, but as a subject to such rule. (One problem among Western decision makers is that they themselves can only think of themselves as rulers, not as subjects.) But if you argue that, because of the “circumstances”, this or that has to be good enough for Chinese citizens, this or that has to be good enough for you, too – provided that the “circumstances” (seem to) demand it.

To be clear: this is no suggestion that Western intelligence services should sponsor underground organizations in China. It is a suggestion that people should stop thinking of China as some kind of “democracy”, or a “democratizing country”, only because it makes it easier for us to justify our business with China. The issue isn’t how Westerners could “westernize”, “democratize” or whatever-ize China. It is to make sure that our own values don’t become blurred in the process of interaction.

A paranoid scenario? Up to you. But take a look at the debate between U.S. president Barack Obama and his challenger Mitt Romney on foreign policy. Not a single mention of China’s political system. Rather: long debates on how to “shape” the Middle East.

And all that – my take of it, that is – to flatter power delusions among the American public.

That’s where the circle closes. Power isn’t irrelevant. But without a conscience – an understanding of what we are doing -, it may be wielded in a pretty CCP way: self-flattering, self-serving, and oblivious.



» Enabling “Democracy in International Relations”, The Peking Duck (guest post), Oct 2, 2012
» Asma Al Assad, the All-Natural Beauty, The Richest People, Febr 23, 2011
» Huang Mengfu: It’s Complicated, Jan 7, 2009



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