Archive for May 1st, 2013

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Deutsche Welle: Limbourg succeeds Bettermann

Deutsche Welle director Erik Bettermann will retire on September 30 this year. His successor will be Peter Limbourg, currently working in a leading position for German private mass media company ProSiebenSat.1 Media AG. DW broadcasting board chairman Valentin Schmidt announced the decision on March 15; the DW press release was written by the broadcaster’s spokesman Johannes Hoffmann. A press release in English is also available.

14 of the 17 board members voted “Yes”; one voted “No”, and two abstained, according to the German release.

Limbourg might count himself lucky, even if his job at Deutsche Welle, under growing budgetary constraints, won’t be an easy one. He is currently Senior Vice President for news and political information at ProSiebenSat 1, which sounds pompous, the Tagesspiegel (Berlin) wrote on March 15, but the hard truth was that information counted very little at his current employer. Information, the Tagesspiegel continues, counts all the more at Deutsche Welle.

On March 14, the Frankfurter Rundschau wrote that only four weeks earlier, Valentin Schmidt had still ruled out an early decision – that would have to wait until June. The search for candidates to succeed Bettermann hadn’t been completed, and the broadcasting board also wanted to wait and see how the candidates to date presented themselves. Applicants from within Deutsche Welle, among them Gerda Meuer, head of the DW academy (and once working for the German service of Radio Japan) weren’t even invited. By the end of February, only Limbourg had delivered a convincing presentation, and Limbourg it was.

In one respect, however, a trend described by Frankfurter Rundschau on February 17 made it into the vote: Limbourg was a journalist, rather than a politician. A complaint of unconstitutionality was pending at Germany’s federal constitutional court, critical of the oversized influence of political parties in the boards and commissions of German broadcasters, and apparently, the DW broadcasting board didn’t want to risk criticism in line with that complaint. The more, however, representatives of the churches were emerging. Valentin Schmidt, a 72-year-old evangelic Christian, is likely to be succeeded by a catholic prelate, Karl Jüsten, at the end of this year, wrote Frankfurter Rundschau. Both Limbourg and one of his most likely competitors (Stephan-Andreas Casdorff, who withdrew his candidacy before March 15) are catholic.

German chancellor Angela Merkel probably liked the emerging constellation, the Focus (Munich) speculated one day after Limbourg was chosen. Soon, the director and three out of his five sub-directors would be on a ticket of the Christian Democrats (the incumbent director, Erik Bettermann is a social democrat), and Karl Jüsten, the probable next chairman of the broadcasting board, was catholic and therefore close to Merkel’s Christian Democrats anyway.

Limbourg will be the first director at a public broadcaster who previously worked for privately-owned television.

Guanchazhe (Observer), a Shanghai-based website, quotes a scholar from Berlin as saying that the high-sounding election of the new DW director, as well as a low-key restoration of Feng Haiyin (apparently von Hein, a German) as head of Deutsche Welle’s Chinese department could bring about a new atmosphere, with some more objective reporting and less ideology in China-related reports (柏林的一名学者18日对记者表 示,“德国之音”选出新台长和冯海音重新担任中文部主任,可能会给该台涉华报道带来新风气,多-些客观报道,少一些意识形态).

Those who had suggested that Feng Haiyin was “close to the CCP” had apparently never listened to the DW broadcasts, scoffs Dream Tramp, a commenter in the thread. All his scripts were full of vicious attacks (说冯海音“亲共”,显然是没听过德国之声广播。他写的每一篇稿子都充满着对土共的恶毒攻击。). German media are more anti-communist than British or American media, suggests another.
Correct, replies Dream Tramp. And [the German media were] stupid at that. I’ve frequently heard them recklessly rushing at rumors – their professional level is far behind Britain’s and America’s.



» Interview with Wang Fengbo, Jan 26, 2012
» Negotiations with Politics, Dec 26, 2011


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

No “Troublemaker”: Ma meets Búcaro, advocates Conflict Resolution

Leonel Búcaro, president of the Central American Parliament (Parlacen), met with Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou on Tuesday. Radio Taiwan International (RTI) quotes Ma as saying that he had always advocated peaceful resolution of international conflicts, no matter if cross-strait relations (i. e. relations with China), or a fisheries agreement with Japan, was the issue. He would continue to promote international peace and cooperation under the the premise of putting aside disagreements and creating mutual benefit (擱置爭議、共創雙贏).  It had been this attitude which had turned the Taiwan Strait, once a point of conflict, into a road of peace and prosperity, and a place very different from the Korean peninsula’s current status, Ma said.

President Ma also referred to a proposal he said he had issued last year in August, suggesting that mainland China, Japan and Taiwan could have separate bilateral consultations to lower tensions and promote common development of resources in the East China Sea. Ma cited the Japanese-Taiwanese fisheries agreement of earlier this month as an example of how to make sure that fishing vessels from both sides wouldn’t interfere with each other, without affacting either side’s sovereignty.

He also expressed great gratitude and admiration (非常感佩) for the Central American Parliament’s support for his East China Sea initiative (a resolution passed in February), and support for Taiwanese participation in the International Civil Aviation Organization (a resolution passed in March), in activities of the UN United Nations Framework Convention on Climate, and Taiwanese participation in international affairs in general.

Búcaro and his delegation arrived in Taiwan on April 28 for a six-day visit, according to Taiwan’s state newsagency CNA. He is a member of El Salvadors left-wing FMLN party and was elected last October for a one-year term. The Central American Parliament was established in Guatemala-City in 1991. According to Parlacen, its twenty direct representatives are directly elected from Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Panama and the Dominican Republic, and the former presidents and vice presidents of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and the Dominican Republic are also members. It is yet to achieve the goals it would take to make it a real parliament; its objective is to realize the integration of the Central American countries. […] The parliamentary groups reflect the ideological lines of the members of the Central American Parliament and are organized according to the political orientation of their parties.

Búcaro’s delegation includes members from all six Parlacen member states. They were also scheduled to meet Taiwanese foreign ministry officials including deputy foreign minister Simon Ko (柯森耀), legislative-yuan speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), environmental protection officials, and other officials.

El Salvador is one of currently 22 UN member states (plus the Vatican state) who maintain official diplomatic relations with Taiwan. Taiwan, along with Mexico, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico, is an observation state to Parlacen.

Taiwan’s military academy (Republic of China Military Academy, ROCMA) trains military from diplomatic allies. In 2010, this included trainees from El SalvadorSuch exchange programs play a contributing role in cementing diplomatic ties with our allies, Taiwan Today, a ministry of foreign affairs magazine, quoted then ROCMA superintendent Chuan Tzu-jui (全子瑞) in October 2010. Michael E. Allison, a researcher of Central American affairs, didn’t come across much about the Salvadorian-Taiwanese military relationship at the time, but noticed that [i]t doesn’t appear that El Salvador’s relationship with Taiwan (rather than China) has caused any trouble within the FMLN (i. e. Búcaro’s party), which has been in government in El Salvador since 2009.

Not much can be found online about Taiwan’s role in El Salvador’s civil war either, but if Taipei clearly took sides at the time (which doesn’t seem unlikely),  even at home, the incumbent president reportedly disavowed any plans to judge his party’s enemies from the country’s civil war. Either way, political allegiance at home doesn’t seem to define dedication to foreign allies. When Ma Ying-jeou visited El Salvador in summer 2009 to attend the FMLN president-elect Mauricio Funes‘ inauguration, he also met with outgoing president Antonio Saca who is a member of the ARENA party, a party founded by a death-squad leader, Roberto d’Aubuisson. Saca was reportedly late for his meeting with Ma, and cut the scheduled meeting short. According to the Taipei Times, Saca had been close to former president Chen Shui-bian.

On Monday, president Ma, at an event to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the “Wang-Koo summit”, vowed [..] that his government would not seek or promote independence from the mainland, according to the South China Morning Post (SCMP).

“We will not push for ‘two Chinas, one China, one Taiwan’, or Taiwan’s independence, within or outside” Taiwan, he said at an event in Taipei marking the 20th anniversary of the “Wang-Koo summit”.

In an interview with the BBC‘s Rachel Harvey, in 2011, Ma said that we do not want to be a troublemaker. We want to be an enabler of peace. It seems that this has remained his constant tune in meetings with foreigners, officials or not.


» Advocate medical parole for Chen Shui-bian, Carribean News Now, April 30, 2013
» 萨尔瓦多外交部竟三次称“台湾共和国”, Huanqiu Shibao, June 2, 2009


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