Archive for December, 2012

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Oh Come All Ye Faithful: Mao Zedong’s 119th Birthday

In Shaoshan, countless people sang “The East is Red” together to mark Comrade Mao Zedong‘s 119th birthday, notes People’s Daily online. Another activity on December 25 was a fitness marathon, in reply to Mao’s call to “develop sports to strengthen the people’s physical shape”. Nearly ten-thousand people from provincial departments colleges and universities, and from all over the province (i. e. Hunan Province) reportedly participated.

Follow the star over Shaoshan town.

Follow the star over Shaoshan town.

Another lot of countless people probably didn’t care, unless they absolutely had to. And the article in question was written by a fairly productive (judging by search results) trainee, or an intern.  To her glory, the short article is carried by many mainstream websites, too.

How can a party that claims have been the faithful inheritor and advocate of the outstanding traditional Chinese culture from the day of its establishment celebrate a barbarian mass killer?

There may be many reasons, but two seem to come to my mind. For one, they have to celebrate him. To admit that he had been a liability through most of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s would call the party’s legitimacy into question. After all, they enabled him.

And secondly, because maybe, Mao isn’t that much of a liability when it comes to party rule. Under the Great Helmsman’s correct leadership, 70-percent-correct leadership or whatever kind of leadership, the Communists showed the people what they were capable of. No, I’m not thinking about literacy statistics here, but about shock and awe. When a younger generation became somewhat forgetful, only twelve or thirteen years after Mao’s death, they got another – comparatively small – reminder of what the CCP can do for them.

And many people inside and outside China keep saying that the Tian-An-Men massacre in 1989 was a “necessity”.

But these two reasons alone basically seem to guarantee that China can’t develop genuine “soft power”. There may be soft power over some of our elites in Europe, for example, especially when they are tired of the cumbersome business of democracy – especially elections.

But no “ordinary people” in their right minds can subscribe to concepts like those.

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Related

» Convivial Diplomacy (2009), Febr 20, 2012
» Message to a Barbarian, June 26, 2011

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Monday, December 24, 2012

The Life of Xi Jinping: how they cried

Shenzhen Special Economic Zone Daily (深圳特区报) recently – possibly today – carried a long story about Xi Jinping – republished today by Enorth (Tianjin). The main ideological content of the article is nothing new – rather, it emphasizes continuity (and how Xi has been instrumental in bringing the current ideological status about, but it also points out Xi Jinping’s particularly “cordial ways”. All that along with a number of photos to underline the latter point. The following are excerpts from the article.

Main Link: “Xi Jinping chose the name Mingze for his daugher”

Xi Jinping has always regarded the people’s dream as his own dream. 43 years ago, he was sent to a village in northern Shaanxi as part of the educated youth sent to the countryside, being involved there for seven years. His first “official title” was that of a secretary of a “party cell” in a rural brigade. In 2007, experienced and toughened by many years of grassroots work and local work, he became a permanent member of the standing committee of the politburo, in charge of the Secretariat of the Central Committee, and also director of the party school. Soon afterwards, he became the vice chairman of the People’s Republic of China, and deputy chairman of the Central Military Commission. During the past five years, he has been part of the decisionmaking of the party and the state, and the decisionmaking, organizing and implementation of major policies.

习近平始终把人民的梦想作为自己的梦想。43年前,他曾作为知青到陕北农村插队,一干就是7年,他的第一个“官衔”,是构成中共组织体系“细胞”的大队 (行政村)党支部书记。2007年,经过多年基层和地方工作历练的习近平,当选中共中央政治局常委,担任中央书记处书记,兼任中央党校校长。他随后担任了 中华人民共和国副主席和中央军委副主席。5年来,他直接参与党和国家大政方针的研究制定,参与中央重大决策部署的组织实施。

[…]

He repeatedly emphasized that the party must manage the party, and rule it strictly. On November 17, on the first study meeting of the 18th Politburo, he profoundly pointed out that “things must not get rotten to get infested by worms. A multitude of facts are telling us: if corruption becomes more and more intense, it will, in the end, make the party and the country perhish! We must be vigilant!

他反复强调要坚持党要管党、从严治党。11月17日,他在十八届中共中央政治局第一次集体学习时深刻指出,“‘物必先腐,而后虫生。’大量事实告诉我们:腐败问题越演越烈,最终必然会亡党亡国!我们要警醒啊!”

[…]

There is an indissoluble bond between Xi Jinping and the troops. Early on, he worked at the General Office of the Central Military Commission for three years, and feelings between him and the troops remained deep afterwards. When he served [as a cadre, party secretary etc.] in the regions [and provinces], he served as the country armed forces first political commissar, municipal (regional) military committee first party secretary, the Provincial artillery Reserve Division first commissar, the Party committee of province military region first secretary and and the military region’s Military national defense mobilization committee, and he therefore fully understands the situation of the troops. He supports the army [literally: holds it in his arms], loves the military, and actively helps the troops to solve many practical problems. Having served as the deputy Central Military Commission’s chairman, he actively participated in the leadership work of building the military. At the 18th plenary session of the CCP’s Central Committee, he assumed the chairmanship of the CCP Central Military Commission.

习近平和军队有着不解之缘。早年他曾在中央军委办公厅工作过3年,与军队结下了深厚感情;在地方任职时,他先后担任过县人民武装部第一政委、市(地)军分 区党委第一书记、省高炮预备役师第一政委、省军区党委第一书记和大军区国防动员委员会领导等军队职务,十分熟悉军队情况。他拥军、爱军,积极帮助军队解决 了许多实际困难。出任中央军委副主席后,他积极参与国防和军队建设的领导工作。在中共十八届一中全会上,他接任中共中央军委主席。

"The People's Liberation Army is the School of the Mao Zedong Thought", cultural revolution poster. Fair-use Wikimedia Commons, click link for description.

“The People’s Liberation Army is the School of the Mao Zedong Thought”, cultural revolution poster. Fair-use Wikimedia Commons, click link for description.

Xi Jinping is tied to Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Aomen. Seventeen years of working experience in Fujian Province have led him to deeply understand Taiwan and cross-strait relations. Under his watch, Xiamen built the first mainland [literally: hinterland, 内地] Taiwan trading guild hall, Fuzhou built the first industrial village with mainly Taiwan-invested companies. He did great things in removing worries and problems of Taiwanese compatriots, and many Taiwanese compatriots regard him as a good friend.

习近平心系台港澳。17年的福建工作经历,使他深入了解了台湾及两岸关系。在他任上,厦门设立了内地首家台商会馆,福州建立了第一个以台资企业为主的工业村。他为台湾同胞做了大量排忧解难的事情,许多台湾同胞都把他视为好朋友。

Besides linking Xi to every ideological decision of the past decades, the article also tries to emphasize roles he played in most or every major event of the past decades, including the Olympic Games in Beijing, farming, or biogas promotion.

And, as has to be the case with any model soldier or cadre, villagers accompanied their educated-youth champion when he left the countryside in 1975, after his six rural years, with “very many of them in tears” (很多人不舍地哭了). Xi had been recommended to Tsinghua University to study there.

That’s only from the first page of the article, and by no means a full translation or account of it. The article reads as if a third person had written Xi’s cv and an application letter to the people, for Xi to assume the top posts in the party and the state. And of course, Shenzhen Special Economic Zone Daily has an additional reason to sing Xi Jinping’s praise. After all, his first inspection tour in his new capacity as the CCP’s general secretary took him to Shenzhen.

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Related

» The Latest about Xi Jinping Pingping, Dec 14, 2012
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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Norddeutscher Rundfunk: One Night on Shortwave

Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR, Northern German Radio), a public broadcaster, airs its traditional Christmas Eve program for sailors on FM, digital radio, and on shortwave. Gruß an Bord (aka weeping Olympics / Tränenolympiade) will be broadcast from 1900 to 2100 GMT (part 1), and from 2100 to 2300 GMT (part 2).

Shortwave transmission site Wertachtal, Bavaria

Shortwave transmission site Wertachtal, Bavaria. Click picture for larger version and for source (Wikimedia Commons).

Target areas are the northern Atlantic on 9850 kHz (part 1) and 7335 kHz (part 2), the Atlantic and West Africa on 13780 kHz  (part 1) and 11655 kHz (part 2), the southern Atlantic on 11840 kHz (part 1) and 9490 kHz (part 2), the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean (South Africa) on 11720 kHz (part 1) and 9735 kHz (part 2), the western Indian Ocean on 11840 (part 1) and 9490 kHz (part 2), and the eastern Indian Ocean on 11965 kHz (part 1) and 9650 kHz (part 2).

The Christmas Eve broadcasts started in the 1950s. It’s for the first time in years that the once-a-year program returns to shortwave.

NDR recorded this year’s programs in Leer and in Hamburg, on December 9 and December 16 respectively. The content that will probably matter most to the listeners are greetings from family members to the sailors.

Leer is Germany’s second-largest merchant shipping city – second only to Hamburg.

swldx Bulgaria provides information about the frequencies and transmitters used for the program.  WER stands for Wertachtal (traditionally a site for Deutsche Welle broadcasts on shortwave), NAU for Nauen, the world’s oldest transmitter site.

“Gruß an Bord” was also transmitted by Deutsche Welle in the past, but was terminated there several years before the station ended all its shortwave programs in German, too.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Message to “People with Different Political Views”, part 2

Human Rights Watch (HRW) announced the Helman/Hammet awards for 2012 on Thursday. I wasn’t aware that this prize  existed, but learned about it from the Chinese press.

Some context: a People’s Daily editorial (on a different issue, the International Communications Union conference in Dubai) was published on a number of popular Chinese websites on Thursday, without direct mention of this specific award. Huanqiu Shibao, a nationalist newspaper (and nominally, not necessarily by content, a sister paper to the English-language “Global Times”) addresses the prize issue head-on, in a way that may be tailor-made for its (angry, by trend) readership.

Links within blockquotes added during translation.

On the American “Human Rights Watch” list of the 2012 Hellman/Hammett Award winners, 12 out of 41 are Chinese, and there are seven people from China’s Uighur, Mongolian, Tibetan etc. national minorities among them. Nearly all of them have been in prison or are currently in prison. When looking at the organization’s name, and looking at which people are the prize winners, and what this prize is used for, one can expect that the Chinese people can make their guess, too.

美国“人权观察”组织近日宣布2012年“赫尔曼·哈米特奖”获奖者名单,一共41人,竟有12名是中国人,并有7人是中国的维、蒙、藏等少数民族,他们几乎都坐过牢或目前正在狱中。看看发奖的组织名称,再看看获奖者都是哪些人,这个奖是用来干什么的,大概不说中国人也能猜个八九不离十。

During these two years, there have been more and more extreme Chinese dissidents who won “human rights prizes” in the West, and [those dissident’s] reputation is going lower and lower. What once bewildered Chinese society has become routine. We all know that there are a few people in this country who oppose the political system and that the West supports them. This has become an established pattern in the game between China and the West.

这两年中国在西方获各种“人权奖”的极端异见人士越来越多,获奖者的名气则不断走低。中国社会如今早已见怪不怪,我们都知道这个国家有一些对抗政治制度的人,西方支持他们,这已经是中西之间博弈的定式之一。

With China’s great scale of development, interaction between Chinese and Western people has also reached an amazing dimension, and the share of these Sino-Western frictions within the interaction is shrinking, and so is the influence of extreme dissidents in China. Frequently, they don’t get as much attention as lawful [or rightful] criticism on the internet does.

由于中国发展的总量很大,中国同西方交往的主体内容也有了惊人规模,中西这种摩擦在双方关系中的占比相对萎缩,极端异见人士在中国的影响萎缩得更快。他们往往还不如互联网上的合法批判者更受关注。

In exact words, extreme dissidents in China have become completely marginalized, and the way the West continues to use them to provoke China is lacking innovation. In fact, the voice of the entire Western discourse has become ever smaller in China, as they are losing to the excitement of the Chinese microblogs.

确切说,极端异见人士在中国已完全边缘化了,西方继续利用他们刺激中国是缺少创新的表现。事实上整个西方舆论的声音也在中国越来越小,它们在输给中国微博上的热闹。

The highest individual amount of prize money of the Hermann Hammett Awards doesn’t reach 10,000 US dollars, and one of its purposes is said to be giving “politically prosecuted” people in different countries some “living allowance”. But maybe they don’t know that this bit of money is pitifully small, [unsafe translation: for lawful critics in China]. China has become “tall and hefty”, and that bit of money and the hopes from the West are just a drop in the bucket.

“赫尔曼·哈米特奖”的最高个人奖金额不到1万美元,它的宗旨之一据说是要给受到各国政府“迫害”的人一些“生活补贴”。但他们或许不知道,这点钱对今天中国的合法批判者们是小得可怜的数目。中国已是“大块头”,西方花的那点钱和他们的愿望相比实在是杯水车薪。

What China and the West are struggling about concerning human rights is not clear. The two sides don’t understand each others words at all. Which is alright. Inside China, you have as many human rights critics in China as you want already, and although they are at times extreme, they are also comparatively specific. Society can thoroughly make sense of their context. Human rights prizes awarded by the West often come with abrupt choices, choosing strange people, and we don’t need to spend too much thought on that.

中国同西方在人权问题上争不清楚,双方相互根本听不懂对方说的话。那就算了。中国国内的人权批评如今已经要多少有多少,它们虽有时偏激,但都比较具体,社会能搞明白来龙去脉。西方发人权奖往往找了突兀的缘由,选了奇怪的人,我们对此不必费太大心思琢磨。

Of course, Western criticism of China’s human rights isn’t completely meaningless. They did move things in Chinese society. Sometimes,confrontation is also a means of interaction. However, objectively speaking, much of Western criticism goes beyond China’s realities, thus causing suspicions among Chinese people about intentions behind Western methods. All this has seriously harmed strategic mutual trust between China and the West, and its negative impact on the 21rst century gretly exceeds its benefits.

西方批评中国人权当然不是毫无正面意义,它们毕竟对中国社会带来过触动。有时对抗也是相互影响的一种方式。然而客观地说,西方的很多批评都超越了中国现实,从而引发了中国人对西方这样做背后用心的高度怀疑。这一切严重破坏了中西之间的战略互信,它带给21世纪的负面损害远远高于正面收益。

Extreme dissidents played an offbeat role of their own in China’s reform and opening, but when their role will be assessed from the distant future, they will definitely not be seen as a mainstream force in advancing China’s progress. If the focus of these Western awards isn’t a prank, it must be caused by a failed analysis of China’s power.

极端异见人士在中国改革开放中扮演了很另类的角色,但即使很久以后回过头再做评价,他们也决不会被看成推动中国前进的主流力量。西方给这些人如此集中地发奖,如果不是西方的恶作剧,就是他们对中国的力量分析发生了本末倒置的偏差。

Pluralization in Chinese society has subtly built changes in the way the country progressed. When the government issued a call in the past, society responded in its multitude. Now it leads to a debate. It has become unlikely that the country makes another grave mistake [This and the previous line seem to allude to the excesses of Maoism], but at the same time, societal efficiency is also declining. China is in the process of finding a new point of balance in these changes. If extreme dissidents who break through the legal system of these social changes and explorations, they create destructive mishap, and will be investigated in accordance with the law.

中国社会的多元化造成了国家前进方式的微妙改变。过去政府发出号召,社会一呼百应。现在争论发生了。国家再犯重大错误的几率小了,但同时社会的运行效率也在降低。中国正在这些变化中寻找新的平衡点。极端异见人士突破了社会变化和探索的合法系统,他们制造出破坏性,对他们的依法追究决非这个时代的意外。

Western support for Chinese extreme dissidents seems to become ever closer, but times when this kind of thing found its way into the limelight are gone. They have become as tasteless as chicken ribs, but the West seems to be reluctant to throw them away. Nowadays, Western organizations doing these things look more like astute public-relations industries. Assuming an air of importance. To make themselves look good, they are seeking gimmicks close to China’s rise.

西方对中国极端异见人士的支持看似越来越密,但这种事最出风头的高潮实际已经过去,它对西方渐成食之无味、弃之可惜的鸡肋。如今做这些事的西方组织更像搞商业公关,它们装腔作势,傍着中国崛起找噱头炒作自己。那些所谓的“人权奖”都是绞尽脑汁吸引公众关注的游戏。

Much of the commenting underneath seems to be about unrelated everyday issues (Maybe there are relations which I can’t see, though). One of them which would seem to show some of the desired effects, and also one of the more extensive ones suggests that

Patriotic people don’t need to listen to American and other Western countries’ forces’ anti-China rumors, or be furious about them. Westerners people nowadays lose in the political and economic field and know perfectly well that their own institutions have problems, but won’t change, believing it’s the mother of all systems. Therefore, they will blame anyone except themselves, […] this is the common fault of Western people, seeing in exasperation how China becomes stronger by the day, moving heaven and earth and racking their wits about how to obstruct China’s development, but to no avail. Instead, China develops even faster. Now they only have the human-rights and democracy card left […]

爱国之人不要听美国等西方反华势力的谣言,而恼怒,西方人如今政治经济完全失败,明知自己的体制出现问题,可是就是不改,认为自己是体制的老大,而怨天尤人,[气人有笑人无,] 这是西方人的通病,看着中国日益强大而气急败坏,想方设法,绞尽脑汁的妨碍中国的发展,但是都无济于事,反倒使中国发展更快。现在就只有民主这张牌 […]

It is also one of the comments – if not the comment – in the thread which got the most “support” votes – 267 by 11:00 UTC. The average “support” among the latest thirty-three comments got twenty “support votes” or less.

The People’s Daily editorial – published two days before Huanqiu Shibao’s, and in a different context (the International Telecommunications Union resolution) – could be summed down as follows:

  • Those who oppose censorship are a minority (if not outsiders, which is deemed an unfortunate position in a Chinese context)
  • America and other (barely mentioned) countries that didn’t agree to the International Telecommunications Union resolution are in a minority
  • A free internet is war on vulnerable nations
  • China is at the center of the family of nations
  • dissidents are isolated.

The message People’s Daily’s and Huanqiu Shibao’s editorials  have in common is that the country grows stronger, and that “Western” standards would be an exception, rather than the norm. In some ways, Huanqiu Shibao’s approach is more subtle than People’s Daily, though. Even “radical minorities” played a certain role, according to its description – and it suggests that there were “lawful” ways to bring about change.  When it comes to banging the drums of nationalism however, there is no room for subtlety in Huanqiu’s case. While People’s Daily merely uses ITU voting results to point out China’s strong position, Huanqiu counts the prize money from Human Rights Watch and provides an assessment (“pitiful”).

The biggest commonality between the two editorials seems to be the message to (“extreme”) dissidents: you are marginalized.

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Related

» Ambassadors Abroad, May 25, 2012
» A Trivial Matter for the Country, Jan 23, 2012
» Party Media Control Capability “Weakening”, Aug 12, 2011
» The “Internet Information Office”, May 6, 2011

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Press Review: A Message to “People with Different Political Views”

Main Link: “Most countries support strengthened internet supervision and control”

People’s Net “quotes foreign media” and delegates to last week’s International Telecommunication Union’s meeting in Dubai: “Most countries support strengthened internet supervision and control – strengthening the legal construction of the internet, building a civilized and healthy internet environment – America’s refusal to sign International Telecommunication Union treaty comes with ulterior motives.”

´外媒:多数国家支持加强互联网监管
加强网络法制建设 构建文明健康网络环境
美国拒签国际电信条约别有用心

In one of the subtitles, People’s Net quotes the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) as saying that this was America’s greatest defeat in the digital field. As usual in “foreign press reviews”, People’s Daily picks the message it deems suitable for its domestic readers. The WSJ’s, i. e. columnist L. Gordon Crovitzactual opinion can be found here.

People’s Daily:

More and more countries are worried about internet-based warfare, international cyber-crime and dissidents [“people holding different political opinions”, 不同政见] at home who use “Twitter” and “Facebook” and other services which aren’t controlled by domestic authorities. Many countries hope that the International Communications Union is going to prove by facts that it can solve these problems by defining standards or, at least, be a forum for exchanging views.
越来越多的国家担心基于互联网的战争、国际网络犯罪以及国内持不同政见者利用“推特”和“脸谱”等不受国内电信部门控制的服务。许多国家希望事实证明国际电信联盟是为解决这些问题制定标准或至少是交流看法的合适论坛。

People’s Daily describes the place of everything concerning the internet in the resolution draft as “在所有提到互联网的内容都被放到一份次要决议中” – words I can’t translate. In the words of the New York Times on December 13, “.. under a compromise, [Russia] agreed this week to withdraw that proposal and settle for the lesser measure”.  Even though America “basically got what it wanted”, it refused to sign and “angrily left”.

People’s Daily does mention the numbers: 89 governments signed the resolution, 24 clearly stated that they wouldn’t sign, and the remaining countries out of a total of 144 which were eligible to vote hadn’t made a decision yet.

But the desired message is that China is part of a crowd, and that the countries siding with the American position were sort of isolated. By having the article republished by websites which are more likely accessed by Chinese citizens than People’s Daily’s website itself – such as sina.com, regional pages like hangzhou.com, or Enorth (see main link at the top of this blogpost), the propaganda department makes sure that the message reaches the netizens.

This kind of propaganda is part of a continuous trickle-down of messages suggesting that censorship would be normal, rather than an exception. It also appeals to a (supposed) desire of the reader not to be an exception himself, or herself.

Trust in the party was an essential in the Chinese nation’s great rejuvenation, Huanqiu Shibao argued in March this year, after the Wang Lijun affair:

There is no contradiction between emancipation of mind and trust in the party’s central committee. It is exactly for the diversity, for having several options, that we truly discover that trusting the party’s central committee, implementing the party’s road map, is more reliable than any other method other people may teach us, and more able to create the conditions that make the country and the individual develop.

Huanqiu Shibao apparently hasn’t published the People’s Daily piece, at least not yet. If they are going to do that, they will probably spare themselves a commenter section, and the weeding work it would require – Huanqiu Shibao’s readership isn’t only rather nationalist, but also quick to anger.

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Related

» Netizens should tolerate censorship, March 26, 2011

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Got a Problem? Have it Banned!

There were 52,447 deliberate and 23,237 accidental non-fatal gunshot injuries in the United States during 2000, notes Wikipedia. The majority of gun-related deaths in the United States are suicides, it says.

In 2008, 12,000 Americans were killed with guns, according to Business Insider, and according to a Violence Policy Center which was apparently published in 2011, more than 30,000 Americans die in gun suicides, homicides, and unintentional shootings.

In 2010, 3,648 human lives were lost in Germany – then the lowest number to date in a year (at least since 1953, the yearof the first statistic). No, people here weren’t shot by guns. They were road-traffic casualties. There are efforts to bring these numbers down further. But as long as these efforts don’t succeed, one has to conclude that more than 3,000 deaths in traffic accidents are apparently deemed an acceptable number.

Stop laughing. Driving a tractor is serious business.

Stop laughing. Driving a tractor is serious business.

One of my classmates died in a car-related accident. One childhood friend died in a car crash years after leaving school.

I’m not suggesting that America shouldn’t have tighter gun control. I have no clear-cut opinion about gun control in America – it’s not my business. But I can relate to both sides of the argument – to those who want tighter legislation (especially if they lost loved ones), and to those who oppose such changes.

What I dislike is the finger-pointing here in Germany: look at those ludicrous Americans! A right to bear arms! They are completely nuts!

It may depend on what matters to you. Most Germans find a life without a car inconceivable, and especially when they live outside the public-transport networks, they have a number of practical reasons for that. But even within Bremen, most people I know own or co-own a car.

Frequently, I have reason to fear cars – I’m going by bicycle, whenever I can. But don’t want to see cars banned, or car-related taxes be increased. Rather, I’d sometimes wish that car drivers were more considerate. Obviously, that’s mostly a matter of attitude, not of legislation.

I dislike bans and restrictions. We have too many of them already, and they always seem to come with “convincing” reasons. When people place more hope on politics for achieving restrictions, than for achieving a freer society, something seems to be wrong with our concept of politics.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The BoZhu Interviews: Germany’s and Japan’s post-war image –

Tai De about war crimes, popular narratives, foreignness, and soft power

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« Previous Interview: MKL, July 13, 2012

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The following is a spontaneous, unplanned BoZhu interview with Tai De, a civil servant from Verden. It’s actually the second interview with him, after a more general one about his blog, about a year ago.

Tai De studied history. His pattern of thought is that of a historian – but he wants me to write a word of warning in advance: he is no particular “expert” on Japan or on the Far East.

Our interview – originally rather a discussion – came up this afternoon after I listened to the memories of William Shawcross, son of the British chief prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials, on Radio Australia‘s shortwave service this afternoon.


Q: When listening to Anglo-American media, I’m getting the impression that we (Germans) get away with a much more positive image despite the Nazi crimes and WW2, than them (the Japanese). What’s your impression?

A: Quite so.

Q: Do you have an explanation for that?

A: I don’t think there’s that one explanation which can say it all.

Q: To start with something: do the Americans or British see Germans as part of the family? Sort of distant relatives? Like: “Yes, they committed heinous crimes, but …”

A: The outset after the war was the same after VE day and VA day, in terms of geostrategic interest – America needed West Germany, and America needed Japan. Britain didn’t mind an anti-Soviet bulwark in central or Europe either. I can’t generalize Anglo-American perceptions of either Germans or Japanese people. But as far as my favourite trash history novelist is concerned, …

Q: … Alexander Kent, …

A: … you can sense his attitude towards the Japanese – I think I can, anyway. I may be wrong, of course.

Q: German gentleman criminals, Japanese low-class criminals?

A: Oh, he definitely doesn’t get trapped in that kind of concept. But there’s that Japanese foreignness. And there’s that incredible Japanese brutality against allied prisoners of war – and the brutality of their warfare.

Q: German crimes were no smaller, were they?

A: No, they weren’t smaller. The German war was a war of extermination.  The industrialized annihilation of millions of people. But when it comes to our international image, a lot of that brutal German energy was directed against Germans, not Americans or British people.  The annihilation of Jews in particular, but other minorities, too. And communists, social democrats, also very blanketly.  As far as Alexander Kent is concerned, you also see a clear division of roles, in Germany’s case. The basically good – and very brave – Wehrmacht or navy officer on the one hand, and the coward, brutal, lower-class Gestapo policeman or SS man on the other. You don’t have that difference when it comes to the depiction of Japan. There’s no “Samurai”, no gentleman warrior. And if there was a “Samurai” depiction, it would have to be the kind of perpetrator who’d behead American or British POW from the platform of a truck, just by holding his sword out while passing rows of POWs on their death march.
Mind you, that’s not necessarily an accurate depiction of a Japanese soldier – but it’s become a picture of symbolic power. There were British and American pilots murdered by Germans, too, but not that systematically. And not that – how can I put this? – the war in Europe didn’t become that personal. Not between unoccupied countries and Germans, anyway.

Q: Were Allied prisoners of war traumatized? Did they face more brutality than what they would have expected from the Japanese?

A: Maybe not before the first atrocities – against non-Asians, I should add – became known. But initially, yes. I can’t tell how familiar they were with the way the Japanese forces treated Asians – but they probably didn’t expect that their service people would be treated similarly – that civilians with their forces would be forced into prostitution, for example.

Q: Japanese brutality spelled foreignness?

A: That’s one side of it, I think. And the other is the decades after the war. I mentioned the Samurai. But there was no such positive Japanese symbol, at least not in the Western narrative. Very different from the way Germany was depicted. And that’s a matter of symbolic gestures. Maybe Japan did make gestures, but not of the kind America, Australia, or Britain would easily understand. Emperor Hirohito looks quite good in some of their narratives, as a man who assumes “responsibility” for Japan’s crimes. But that was immediately after the end of the hostilities. The Japanese were under huge objective pressure then. But later on, after the pressure had eased, they never managed to do something highly symbolic – not in a Western sense, anyway.

Q: Like Willy Brandt dropping to his knees before the Warsaw Ghetto Monument?

A: Exactly. I’m not saying that Willy Brandt changed everything – but he had a huge effect on our national image abroad. For one, he hadn’t been involved – he had actually been underground in Norway during the war. But he was a German. “A symbol for a different Germany”, as they say.
He didn’t do because of his personal record. I don’t know what exactly made him kneel – all I know is that he made an allusion later, when reacting to criticism from the BILD-Zeitung, stuff like “one must only kneel before God”. He only reacted in private, and one of his ministers recalled it in 1992, after Brandt’s death. Brandt said that those journalists had no idea before whom he had kneeled.
But when it comes to Japan…  if there was resistance among the Japanese during the war – and I suppose there was – we may never know about these people.

Talking about Willy Brandt – there was his Neue Ostpolitik, too, for the obvious reason that Germany was divided. The Ostpolitik was a symbol of hope – not only for Germans, by the way, but for all of Europe – and it was really powerful. With really honest intentions – and skills – the social democrats and the liberals in Germany made the best of it. They turned our calamities into moral strength. You write a lot about soft power, don’t you? That was soft power. Brandt was about soft power. Olof Palme, too, in his own way, from Sweden. German partition was a price Germany had to pay – that division of our country. Territorial losses, too. In Asia, it was – and still is – Korea who has to live with partition. Not Japan. That could matter, too.

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Related

» Nanking Massacre, Wikipedia, acc. Dec 14, 2012
» Lev Kopelev: No Easy Solution, April 11, 2009
» All BoZhu Interviews

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Friday, December 14, 2012

Intelligence: the Latest about Xi Jinping Pingping


Xi Jinping is working hard, the (Sina Weibo) Learning from Xi Fan Club informed this morning local time.

hard_working_weibo

The grassroot fans may know everything about Xi’s southern-inspection itinerary (before Xinhua does).

But that hasn’t made JR’s Intelligence Unit obsolete. Look at this underwater picture of the supernatural-power whalefish secretary general, splashing the waves near the Senkaku Islands at four this morning (December 14, local time):

pingping_rules_da_waves

Xi Jinping Pingping – so together with the people!

The Qianlong Emperor’s Southern Inspection Tour, Scroll Twelve (detail): Return to the Palace

The Qianlong Emperor’s Southern Inspection Tour, Scroll Twelve (detail): Return to the Palace (Wikimedia / Palace Museum, Beijing – click on the picture for source)

OK. More together than that, anyway.

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Note

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Related

» 习近平新南巡和挺习“粉丝团”, BBC News, Dec 13, 2012

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