Archive for June, 2013

Friday, June 28, 2013

Shortwave Log, Northern Germany, May / June 2013

When the Greek government suspended ERT broadcasts, the shortwave frequencies were an exception. The Voice of Greece kept broadcasting there. As I don’t understand Greek, I can’t tell if the programs were live, or from the archives, i. e. produced prior to closing ERT down.

"Music contest between Apollo and Marsyas", Voice of Greece QSL card, 1985.

“Music contest between Apollo and Marsyas”, Voice of Greece QSL card, 1985.

There may be different possible ways to explain why the shortwave broadcasts up – to me, the most likely one would be that shortwave frequencies are obtained in international negotiations in the framework of the International Telecommunications Union, and given that shortwave frequencies are considered a scarce resource (even though much less scarce today, probably, than during the Cold War), a country may need to use such frequencies with international reach in order to keep them, and not losing them to other interested countries. The same mechanism is at work within countries regulatory processes, as described with Kenya as a case in the news, in 2012.

My log list for May and June is short – it’s the outdoor season.


Recent Logs

International Telecommunication Union letter codes used in the table underneath:
AUS – Australia; ARG – Argentina, CVA – Vatican;  CUB – Cuba; RRW – Rwanda.

Languages (“L.”):
C – Chinese; E – English; G – German; I – Italian.







12045 Deutsche
Welle Kigali
RRW E May 5 04:20 5 5 5
21640 IRIB Tehran IRN E May 5 10:27 5 4 4
 4835 ABC
Alice Springs
AUS E June 3 19:51 4 3 3
17590 Vatican
 I I June 4 12:00 5 5 5
15345 RAE
Buenos Aires
ARG G June 10 21:00 4 5 4
11710 RAE
Buenos Aires
ARG C June 12 04:37 2 2 2
15345 RAE
Buenos Aires
ARG C June 12 10:35 3 3 3
 6000 RHC Habana
CUB E June 24 03:00 4 4 3



1) Recording »here.
2) Recording »here. Details about Chinese service »here.



» Previous Log, April 2013, May 4, 2013


Monday, June 24, 2013

Freedom of Opinion on Workdays

In Zhu Hong‘s (lost) case against Deutsche Welle, there are two factors that may matter most. One would be the difference between conviction or Weltanschauung on the one hand, and differences in opinion on the other. As I understand it, communism, atheism etc. would be Weltanschauungen. Someone employed by a church or a church institution may get fired when he or she declares to be atheist, and that may be legal, as churches are Tendenzbetriebe. Media and publishers, too, are Tendenzbetriebe. However, mere differences of opinion won’t lead to getting sacked that easily, at least not in theory, and employers who give it a try anyway may have a hard time in the labor courts.

The other factor to be reckoned with in Ms Zhu’s case would be her weak position as a quasi-employee (arbeitnehmeränlich beschäftigt). Neither of the four editors at the Chinese department [addition: who lost their jobs or contracts in 2010/11] had a permanent contract. At least one of them, however, was fully employed, but as a temporary employee, not as a permanent employee.

The member of the DW employee committee who basically confirmed the content of the [addition: open letter by] former Chinese-department staff published by Neue Rheinische Zeitung in 2011, was – my interpretation – no temporary employee, let alone only a quasi-employee. He was in a position to differ. Zhu Hong wasn’t.

I was made aware of the two (possible) factors, mentioned in the first paragraph here,  in the commenter thread on my German-language blog, over the weekend. This discussion changed my perception in some ways – the commenter is apparently a lawyer, and was quite prepared to share his views – he noted, however, that it was too early to arrive at final conclusions, as the federal labor court hasn’t published its written opinion yet. The federal labor court argued that Ms Zhu had not been fired for a Weltanschauung. She was no communist. However, if Deutsche Welle wanted more  journalistic distance between itself and the government in Beijing (and the court didn’t try to judge if this was so), even that would be sufficient legal justification to end cooperation with Ms Zhu.

The commenter himself didn’t see the major issue in the concept of Tendenzbetriebe. A labor court case, he wrote, was similar to civil suits in that only the material and arguments brought forward in the proceedings right in court were considered by the judges. That made these proceedings different from administrative courts that may frequently carry out investigations on their own, to get a comprehensive picture.

For an employee with no permanent contract, it won’t be easy to find a point against the (former) employer that would lead a court’s objection to the dismissal of a quasi-employee like Ms Zhu. This is the status of many journalists in Germany. It is a status that makes it easier for papers or other media to fire staff who work on non-permanent contracts, once the deadline is reached, be it for differences or disputes, be it for economic reasons (downsizing). And this, in turn, may lead – an obvious conclusion, in my view -, to a large number of editorial or reporting staff who are afraid of conflicts, with – obvious, I think – drawbacks for freedom of opinion.

In an article not related to the Chinese department in particular, Michael Hirschler of the labor union Deutscher Journalistenverband wrote (undated, but apparently posted early in 2011) that when downsizing is the reason for dismissals, Deutsche Welle has frequently succeeded in getting rid of quasi-employees. The same was true for many other German broadcasters. Hirschler’s advice for freelancers, including quasi-employees, was to join one of the unions – Deutscher Journalistenverband or verdi – to get entitled to the benefits of legal counsel.

Certainly, politicans needed to do their share, too, to keep Deutsche Welle going, wrote Hirschler. In the world of international broadcasting, Deutsche Welle wouldn’t be competitive without sufficient funding. Both freelancers at Deutsche Welle, and permanent employees, should address politicians to this end.

But the next problem may be right there. German federal parliament itself, a place for many lofty speeches condemning questionable avoidance strategies of permanent employment contracts, employed de-facto permanent employees as seemingly self-employed (scheinselbständig), Süddeutsche Zeitung reported earlier this month.

Freedom of opinion and social justice are great topics for Sunday speeches. But they may be very different stories from Monday through Saturday.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Federal Labor Court rejects former Deutsche Welle Journalist’s Case, confirms previous Instances

Zhu Hong‘s case was rejected by the federal labor court in Erfurt on Thursday for not being conclusive. In the court’s view, Zhu hadn’t been discriminated against for her convictions, because it didn’t matter if and where something like a Communist worldview still existed (Es könne dahinstehen, so das BAG, ob und wo heute noch eine “kommunistische Weltanschauung” o.ä. existiert). (In this context, the court apparently confirmed that Zhu had no Communist convictions and was no member of the CCP.)

Even if Deutsche Welle wanted more  journalistic distance between itself and the government in Beijing, and even if this had been the reason for Deutsche Welle to terminate cooperation with Zhu, this did not mean that Zhu had been discriminated against for her convictions.

Also, sympathy for a country didn’t spell sympathy for a party behind a government.



Zhu Hong is one of four former Deutsche Welle journalists or editors who lost their jobs or contracts in 2010 and 2011. At least two of the four, Zhu Hong and Wang Fengbo, went to court. Zhu Hong lost at the first instance at the local labor court in Bonn, in March 2011, and again at the second instance, at the Landesarbeitsgericht (state labor court) in Cologne, early in 2012. Zhu had argued that the termination of her work for Deutsche Welle – after some 23 years – had come in the wake of the Zhang Danhong controversy, which had been lasting since summer 2008. The controversy, with Deutsche Welle, Chinese or Chinese-born dissidents in Germany and overseas, and a group of German authors as substantial participants, had reportedly compelled Deutsche Welle director Bettermann to commission a former television news anchor, Ulrich Wickert, with authoring an opinion.

Wickert’s opinion was never officially released, and only part of it became known in the press. It comprehensively acquitted the Chinese department. But while Wickert’s findings seem to have played a role in the labor dispute and in some or all of the hearings, they remained unpublished.


According to Wang Fengbo, one of Zhu’s former DW colleagues who followed the hearing in Erfurt, chairing judge Friedrich Hauck said that Deutsche Welle had to be seen as a Tendenzbetrieb.

This term needs some explanation – Eurofound provides a definition: “tendential” establishments would be those in which, owing to the nature of its particular purpose, the provisions of the works constitution are only partly applicable. […] The category covers all establishments which serve political, religious, charitable, educational, scientific or artistic aims or engage in news reporting and the expression of opinion.

Church-run kindergartens, for example, are usually Tendenzbetriebe. While other kindergartens – commercially- or state-run – are not allowed to consider the faith of an employee a factor, church-run kindergartens, schools, etc. may do so.

Eurofound addresses the issue of journalism and Tendenzbetriebe more specifically here.

Political parties, labor unions, employer associations, and even printing plans that belong to a newspaper group would be Tendenzbetriebe – not to mention the papers themselves, privately-owned papers included. Co-determination, a German concept of co-management of a company by its employees, is also limited in Tendenzbetriebe.

There was a rather big audience – some thirty people, apparently law students with no partiulcar interest in Zhu’s case, but looking on as part of their studies.


These are some initial impressions. Wang Fengbo described his and his three former colleagues’ story in an interview early last year, and a link collection with related posts can be found here (I realize that the collection could use some updates).

More details may follow.



» Vorwürfe müssen belegt werden, DJV, June 21, 2013
» Ein BAG-Urteil und seine Vorgeschichte, June 20, 2013


Friday, June 21, 2013

The Railroader’s Dream‏

There’s been a lot of talk about the “Chinese dream” ever since Xi Jinping first coined the term. The following individual dream, published in a dream-collection project on the Enorth internet portal in Tianjin, probably isn’t one of those that might alarm Xi and his collective leadership, as the Economist suggested in May this year. It’s the dream of a man who works for one of China’s most detested organizations – the railroad:

Everyone is talking about the Chinese dream, but we, the railroaders, should talk about the dream of the railroad. The railway ministry is no more, but the railroaders need to continue to live, we must dream our dream, because without dreams, there is no future. I will discuss my dream of the railroad, and hope that everyone will take part and discuss their own dreams.


1. Wages must catch up with those of civil servants, because I’m reaching retirement age and wish I could buy a flat from what I saved from my wage.


2. A sense of honor. I want to dare telling outsiders that I’m a railroader without being looked down upon. When our kids go outside, they should be proud of their fathers being railroaders.


3. Tasks must not be allocated according to red, yellow, and white tickets, relations between cadres and masses should be sorted out, and work become more relaxed. Let me do what I want to do, (and pay me for the worth of it). Let everyone make his contribution for the railway’s cause, according to their hearts.


4. No more nightshifts. Retirement at the age of 55. A chance to adjust the biological clock. Give retirees an opportunity to enjoy some more years.


5. After retirement, I will always want to come back and to have a look – I care for the railroad in many ways, it gives me a sense of home [or belonging].


6. To be in a position to buy a Xiali car at about thirty-thousand [Yuan RMB].


7. A free ticket for the whole country, to travel around, to see the motherland’s beautiful and mountains, and to heighten my patriotic enthusiasm.


8. No worries about seeing a doctor and about pension.


9. There should be no need to still take the brunt of the work at the age of fifty-plus, as the physical condition and memory are declining, and things take longer. Hopefully, more young people will fill the frontline, to become the main force at work.


10. Cancel the cadres’ lifetime appointments, base advancement on achievement – everything for work, nothing for selfish ideas.


Posted by the original contributor on May 28, as a comment in the thread underneath his dream, on May 28.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Seasons: Cool May, some Rainy Days in June

This could become a rather wet summer.

This could become a rather wet summer.

Make rain your friend ...

Make rain your friend …

... not your enemy.

… not your enemy.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Snowden Press Review – VoA Chinese: a Super-Charged Stink Bomb / “Global Times”: no Face-Losing Outcome for China

Several hundred Hong Kongers held demonstrations during the weekend, demanding that Edward Snowden should not be extradited, and that the SAR government should protect him, Xinhua reports. (The South China Morning Post, SCMP, reported on Saturday that members of the League of Social Democrats marched from the HSBC headquarters to the U.S. consulate on Friday, and Xinhua’s report may refer to this demonstration.) According to opinion polls quoted by Xinhua (via SCMP), half of Hong Kongers opposed the idea of repatriating (遣返) Snowden, and only 17.6 percent supported the idea. A Ming Pao editorial of June 16 is quoted as calling on America to account to Hong Kong.

The Ming Pao article is behind a paywall, but the teaser refers to Snowden’s interview where he had said that the University of Hong Kong, officials, business people and even students had been targeted. Given that Hong Kong was not considered an enemy of the United States, and that it was no base area for sheltering terrorist elements, the SAR government had good reasons to lodge a protest with the American government and to make solemn representations. The American government must account to Hong Kong’s relevant parties, concerning the intrusions into Hong Kong computers.

Xinhua quotes the Voice of America (VoA) as saying that Snwoden had exploded a super-charged stink bomb (爆炸力超强的臭气弹), tainting Western companies, governments and officials with with a foul smell that would be hard to remove.

The main damage, the actual VoA online article (published on Friday) says, is political – so far, the NSA director, president Barack Obama, and congressional supporters of the existing laws and regulatons from both political parties hadn’t found a convincing response to the critics.

According to Xinhua, sympathy for Snowdon in the American media is declining rapidly – he was being criticized there for harming the national interest, and for having no professional integrity (批评其危害国家利益、没有职业道德的声音激增).

It’s a different story in Hong Kong, writes Xinhua, quoting “a page-spanning” SCMP headline  on Sunday, saying that according to opinion polls, Hong Kongers don’t want to hand Snowden over to America (民调显示,香港人不愿把斯诺登交给美方). 49.9 percent of those polled opposed or strongly opposed the idea. The survey had also found that 33 percent of the polled found that Snowden was a hero. This seems to be an accurate rendition of the actual SCMP article.

Xinhua’s press review is much longer than these excerpts, but at least in its first paragraphs, there seems to be no twist in its account.

The English-language “Global Times”, owned by the China-Daily Group, writes that extraditing Snowden would be a face-losing outcome for both the Hong Kong SAR government and the Chinese Central government. It would also be a disappointment for expectations around the world. The image of Hong Kong would be forever tarnished.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Deutsche Welle Labor Disputes

The case of Zhu Hong (祝红), one of the four journalists who lost her contract with the foreign broadcaster’s Chinese department in 2010/2011, will be heard at Germany’s Federal Labor Court in Erfurt, on Thursday morning (June 20).

The case of her colleague Wang Fengbo (王凤波) is expected to be heard in December this year, also at the Federal Labor Court.


[Update, June 22, 2013: Federal Labor Court rejects former Deutsche Welle Journalist’s Case, confirms previous Instances ]


» When your Employer suspects…, Feb 18, 2012
» Chronological link collection, Feb 3, 2012


Friday, June 14, 2013

Snowden Case Press Review: Paranoia and Repression

China’s domestic radio network quotes from a foreign-minstry press conference of today. (The radio network, Central People’s Broadcasting System, is also known as “China National Radio”, CNR).

Central People’s Broadcasting System (CPBS), June 14 — According to the Foreign Minstry of the People’s Republic of China (FMPRC) website, FMPRC spokesperson Hua Chunying said on a press conference that China is one of the countries suffering most from cyber attacks, and that China firmly opposes all forms of hacking attacks. It was hoped that the relevant parties would take practical measures, strengthen mutual trust and cooperation between all parties, and jointly protect peace and security in cyberspace.

中广网6月14日消息 据外交部网站消息,外交部发言人华春莹今日在记者会上表示,中国是遭受网络攻击最严重的国家之一,中方坚决反对一切形式的黑客攻击。希望有关方面采取切实行动,增进各方互信与合作,共同维护网络空间的和平与安全。

Question: According to media reports, America has, for many years, invaded Chinese networks all along, but accused China of conducting cyber-attacks against America. How does China plan to react?


The indirect rendition of Hua Chunying‘s answer contains the same wording as the CPBS report’s first paragraph, plus three more sentences.

Also within her answer:

We will work with the relevant parties and continue a constructive dialog and cooperation about the issue of cyber security. We affirm the international principles laid down in the framework of the United Nations, and we have put forward specific proposals.


Hua Chunying sums her reply up with a specific remark about relations with America:

In the framework of strategic security dialog, China and America have workgroups concerning the internet, and China will, within this framework, conduct in-depth communicaton with America.


On Thursday, China Media Project (CMP) in Hong Kong published an overview of how Chinese coverage on the Snowden case had developed since June 10. The CMP post suggests that commercial media in China are allowed to cover the case, or that coverage by commercial media is tolerated.

CMP also points out that extensive use of foreign media as sources for their own coverage deviates from restrictions issued by Chinese authorities only in April this year.

Chinese propaganda has made efforts in the past to portray Chinese online censorship as “normal”, and as something that was practised in many other countries, too. In 2010, And in 2010, a report by CPBS’s channel Zhongguo zhi Sheng focused on Australian internet censorship. And in April 2011, Guangming Net informed its readers that in recent years, Japan has continuously strengthened supervision of the internet by means of legislation.

Edward Snowden‘s escape to Hong Kong is probably many times as good for Chinese propaganda to this end (“they do it, too”), than country reports like the two cited above. But the idea that American or Western criticism of Chinese censorship (or hacking attacks, for that matter) were hypocrisy has apparently become a wide-spread view among Chinese citizens long before. The turning point seems to date back some five years. Back then, CCP propaganda, rather than being defensive and bashfully silent about human rights violations or censorship, began to harness nationalism in a more systematic way, integrating parts of the blogosphere and nationalists. Censorship was, at times, actively advocated.

My impression is that many Chinese nationals simply became tired of questioning their own political system, or their culture. If propaganda served them with reasons to make themselves content, they leapt at them (Chinese growth and Western economic crisis being some of these reasons).

But a similar phenomenon appears to be going on in America. The way Snowden is frequently vilified in mainstream media, even by “liberal” columnists and commentariat, seems to suggest that even those who once hoped Obama would rid America of its “security” bureaucracy are resigned – and that they are willing to leap at any alleged inaccuracy in the coverage on Snowden’s NSA leaks.

The motors of progress are spluttering. Paranoia and repression have become acceptable replacements for progress – in Western countries, too.



» Banned from flying to UK, BBC, June 14, 2013
» Ai Weiwei on abuse of power, The Guardian, June 11, 2013


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