Archive for June, 2013

Thursday, June 13, 2013

CCTV’s Xinwen Lianbo: Edward Snowden coverage

Edward Snowden‘s statement that NSA spied on computers and networks in Hong Kong and mainland China is among the headlines mentioned at the beginning of CCTV‘s main daily newscast, Xinwen Lianbo, and gets an almost two-minutes’ slot towards the end of the program. CCTV quotes from a one-hour interview conducted by the South China Morning Post (SCMP).

Edward Snowden - is she surprised? Xinwen Lianbo co-anchor Li Ruiying

Is this presenter surprised? Xinwen Lianbo co-anchor Li Ruiying.

The headlines’ ranking lists usually depend on how high in Chinese protocol people “making” the news are – starting with party and state chairman Xi Jinping, even if the actual weight of his event is rather small. That’s why news like Snowden’s descriptions of NSA activity wouldn’t appear further up in the program.

Snowden’s comments may be a sweet-sour surprise for Beijing – sweet for supporting China’s claim that China, too, is a victim of hacking activities (which has been Beijing’s reply to U.S. criticism of alleged Chinese hacking attacks in the past), and sour, as Snowden’s stay in Hong Kong may strain relations with Washington – a relationship which are meant to become a new type of relations between big powers.

One outcome would appear hardly conceivable to me, though: that Snowden would be extradited – unless a court in Hong Kong makes such a decision. I’m not sure if the central government has a say in this (given its role in Hong Kong when it comes to diplomacy and defense issues), or if this will be for the Hong Kong courts alone to decide.

But if the decision is a homework for Beijing, extraditing Snowden would be hard to sell to the Chinese audience.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Essence of Big-Power Relations: the Chinese Definition in short

The BBC‘s monitoring service has a Chinese press review on the summit between U.S. president Barack Obama and Chinese party and state chairman Xi Jinping.

The Xinhua review linked by the BBC review actually goes somewhat further than the BBC’s account of it: the summit had designed (or drafted) a roadmap for a new era of Sino-American relations (为新时期中美关系的发展规划了蓝图). That said, two sentences further down, the Xinhua review kind of counterbalances this with a much more vague notion that a consensus between the two leaders on making joint efforts to build a new type of relations between big powers, to show mutual respect, and to cooperate in a mutually beneficial way, thus benefitting the people of their two countries and the people of the world. China and America, facing rapid economic globalization and the objective requirements of countries being in the same boat, should be able to take a road different from the history of great powers – a new road without clashes and antagonism. The Xinhua review the notion that China is the biggest developing country, and America is the biggest developed country. Facts had shown that cooperaton was mutually beneficial. Even if the political systems and development patterns were different, countries could set a good example of  peaceful coexistence and harmonious relations. All the same,

it cannot be denied that differences in terms of societal system, development stage, history, culture and tradition do exist between China and America, which make the relationship between the two countries exceptionally complex. This is exactly why chairman Xi Jinping says that the establishment of a a new type of relations between big powers is unprecedented and for generations to come [this should be the correct translation if 后起来者 is meant – I’m not sure about the actually used term 后启来者].


The talk about unprecedented (tasks) preceded the summit – Chinese ambassador Cui Tiankai was quoted with quite the same wording ahead of the summit.

The People’s Daily editorials or commentaries linked by the BBC can’t be loaded at the moment. However, there seem to bee different opinions among People’s Daily’s editorialists – one suggesting that this was the beginning of a new era, and one (in the overseas edition) suggesting that building a normal relationship among major powers wouldn’t be easy, and one without distrust would be impossible (unless the U.S. changed their ways, that is).

Chinese coverage – before and after the summit – seems to suggest that the summit was a stage in a Chinese initiative to win America over to a constructive role in building a more harmonious world. Obviously, this would mean that a “failed” summit would be a loss of face for Xi Jinping – although there would have been ways to sell this to the Chinese public reasonably successfully, as a failure of the usual American suspects.

What seems to support the perception of the summit as the result of Chinese efforts is that the Chinese side came with a “vision” – Obama came with issues, such as cyber attacks. Chinese core interests (such as Taiwan or the South China Sea) don’t feature prominently. But there would be no American-Chinese summit without such issues – that they aren’t in the headlines for the sake of “atmosphere” does not mean that they were absent in the talks. But at least to the public, they were communicated rather low-key on this occasion.

Hong Kong’s Phoenix/Ifeng television and media company quotes the Beijing News (新京报) as saying that Xi addressed the Senkaku Islands (Diaoyutai) and the South China Sea issues as well as the “Taiwan issue”, cyber security and the Korean nuclear issue. There are excerpts from a press conference (or briefing, 吹风会), too, held by former Chinese foreign minister (until March this year) and current secretary of the Foreign Affairs Leading Small Group of the Communist Party of China Yang Jiechi (Yang apparently made his statements the Hyatt Hotel, where the Chinese side stayed during the summit):

Q: What’s at the core of the new type of big-power relations between China and America?


A: Yang Jiechi said that the two leaders agree to making joint efforts to build big-power relations of a new type between China and America, with mutual respect and mutually beneficial cooperation. This is an important consensus reached by both sides, with their minds set on the international situation and the future development of Sino-American relations. This represents [the fact that] the two countries don’t take the road of history, with clashes and antagonism, but initiate a new model of big-power relatoins, a historic undertaking of  political wisdom.


Yang Jiechi said that as chairman Xi pointed out, China and America are the world’s most influential countries, and should therefore set an example of how to handle big-power relations. President Obama said that America welcomes China as a great power that continues peaceful development, and that a peaceful, stable and prosperous China isn’t only beneficial for China, but also for America, and for the world. America hopes to maintain strong cooperational relations with China, in an equal partnership.


Yang Jiechi said that three lines by chairman Xi during the summit provided an incisive summary:


1. No clashes, no confrontation. Treat each other’s strategic intentions objectively and reasonably, maintain partnership, not rivalry, handle contradictions and differences by dialog and cooperation, and not by clashes and confrontation.


2. Mutual respect. That’s to respect each other’s chosen societal system and development path, each other’s core interests and major concerns, to seek common ground while reserving differences, show tolerance and learn from each other, and make progress together.


3. Mutually beneficial cooperation. That’s to abandon zero-sum concepts, take the other’s benefit into account while seeking your own benefit, advance common development while pursuing your own development, and keep deepening the beneficial integrational pattern.


Yang Jiechi said that concerning the implementation of the spirit of the new type of big-power relations, chairman Xi had advanced a four-point proposal:


1. To raise the level of dialog and mutual trust, multilateral forums such as the G-20 meetings and APEC and all the other more than ninety inter-governmental forums should be used skillfully.


2. New fields of cooperation should be initiated. America should take active measures to ease restrictions on high-tech exports to China, to promote the structures of trade and investment between the two countries into a more balanced direction of development.


3. To establish a new methodology of interaction between big powers, the two sides should maintain close coordination and cooperation on issues like the situation on the Korean peninsula, Afghanistan and other international and regional hotspot issues, and strengthen cooperation in combating sea piracy, transnational crime, peacekeeping, disaster relief and prevention, cybersecurity, climate change, space security and other fields of cooperaton.


4. Explore new ways of managing and controlling differences, and actively build a new military relationship that corresponds with the new type of big-power relations. President Obama responded positively and said that America attaches great importance to American-Chinese relations, and that America wants to build a new pattern of cooperation between countries on the foundation of mutual benefit and mutual respect, and to jointly respond to global challenges.


Yang Jiechi said that in short, China hopes that China and America will make joint efforts to firmly and unwervingly advance the building of a new type of big-power relations, along the lines designated by the two countries’ leaders.


Monday, June 10, 2013

Radiodifusión Argentina al Exterior adds Chinese Programs

Radiodifusión Argentina al Exterior (RAE) added programs in Chinese to its broadcasts on shortwave, on May 13, Mondays through Fridays:

10:00 – 11:00 UTC (18:00 – 19:00 Beijing time) on 6,060 and 15,345 kHz and
04:00 – 05:00 UTC (12:00 – 13:00 Beijing time) on 11,710 kHz.

The programs at 10:00 UTC are live broadcasts, and those at 04:00 UTC are pre-recorded. The live broadcast’s target area is China / Far East; that of the recorded broadcast is the Americas.

Radio Argentina al Exterior (RAE) QSL card, 1980s

Radio Argentina al Exterior (RAE) QSL card, 1980s.

This brings the number of Argentina’s foreign broadcaster’s program languages up to eight, in addition to Spanish, German, French, English, Italian, Portuguese, and Japanese.

Chinese ambassador Yin Hengmin (殷恒民) was quoted with a congratulatory message on RAE:

Dear listeners, I’m very pleased that the national broadcaster [i. e. RAE / Radio Nacional] has added a Chinese channel, and I express my warmest congratulations. We at the Chinese embassy will support the national broadcaster’s Chinese channel and assist the national broadcaster in getting establishing professional contacts with China Radio International. We also sincerely hope that the national broadcaster’s Chinese programs will get better and better!

各位听众 我非常高兴国家广播电台能够增加中文频道,我对中文频道的开播表示热烈的祝贺,我们中国大使馆将支持国家广播电台的中文频道,并帮助国家广播电台跟中国国际广播电台建立业务联系,并真诚的希望国家广播电台的中文节目越办越好!

» Soundtrack here.

According to China Daily on May 9, [g]rowing trade and investment ties between Beijing and Buenos Aires have resulted in more Chinese enterprises dipping their toes in the water in Argentina, and China has become Argentina’s third largest source of investment, following the United States and Spain, and its second largest trading partner. The two countries’ economies were complementary, China Daily wrote. During a visit by Chinese vice state chairman Li Yuanchao (李源潮), also in May this year, Argentine vice president and senate speaker Amado Boudou expressed appreciation for China’s support to Argentina’s claim for the sovereignty of the Malvinas Islands. Argentina would firmly uphold the One-China policy, explore practical cooperation with China in infrastructure, agriculture and other fields, and seek a comprehensive development of the bilateral strategic partnership.

Taipei DXer notes that

although reception of Argetina’s Chinese broadcasts on shortwave is not easy, but if you want to learn more about this distant South American country, you can now rather easily read on their website.


China Radio International (CRI) reportedly started a one-hour program (Monday through Saturday) in Chinese and Spanish in Argentina some three years earlier, on March 7, 2009. The program was or is aired on medium wave, as a cooperation between CRI and some Argentine entrepreneurs and broadcasting people, according to CRI.



» Entrevista, OrientarTV, May 14, 2013
» RAE’s Siempre Argentina, Jan 4, 2013
» Public Relations Challenges, Jan 9, 2011

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Seasons: Gaokaos and Translator Tests

Saturday was gaokao day in China again, the nation-wide national higher education entrance examinations. More than nine million Chinese teenagers sat down and took a test that would determine much of their future lives.

But there’s an alternative, according to the GuardianBritish qualification tests can be taken at Chinese schools, too. (Not sure if that’s true for all Chinese schools.)

It would seem however that this is mainly providing kids with rather wealthy backgrounds with an alternative to the usual procedure.

About two weeks earlier, exams on a smaller scale took place: the China Accreditation Test for Translators and Interpreters [全国翻译专业资格(水平)考试]. The accreditation test website also contains some information in English.


Not so xiandai anymore: JR’s dictionaries

That one was also conducted on a weekend, of course, on May 25 and 26. On all other days of the week, people have to study. In Beijing, the tests included spoken translation on Saturday, and written translation on Sunday Saturdays.

The test material is published by the Foreign Languages Press.H/t to this post by Huolong (who is somewhat critical of the material).

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Unharmonious First Lady?

Michelle Obama‘s absence from the American-Chinese summit in California was a diplomatic misstep, Daniel W. Drezner, a professor of international politics at  the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, argued on Foreign Policy  (behind a registration wall, possibly). Her absence was an own-goal, Drezner believes, because this was one of the rather few occasions where she could really have  mattered in the world of politics. Too many Chinese might be disappointed that America’s first lady didn’t meet up with China’s first lady, Peng Liyuan.

Reportedly, Mrs Obama wanted to stay in Washington, to celebrate the birthday of one of her daughters.

Isaac Stone Fish disagreed with Drezner’s criticism. He referred to the songs Peng used to sing in full PLA gear, and especially this song, where she pretended to be Tibetan, lauding the PLA for “liberating” Tibet.



» Domestic Responsibilities, SMH, June 7, 2013
» The only Disharmony, May 27, 2013

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Taiwan fades from the Shortwave Map – under Chinese Pressure?

» Updates concerning this post , Feb 12, 2014

The Voice of Pujiang (浦江之声) in Shanghai has abandoned shortwave on May 2, 2013, according to an email sent by the station’s Victor Qian quoted here. The station’s target area was Taiwan.

Radio Taiwan International QSL card, showing the shortwave broadcasting site in Tainan

Broadcasting to China and to the world: Radio Taiwan International Tainan Shortwave Broadcasting Site (RTI QSL card)

Apparently more controversially, shortwave broadcasts from Taiwan for Chinese audiences are also scrapped. The following is a Radio Free Asia‘s (RFA) article by  Lee Tung (李潼), on April 25, 2013, and it uses the term CBS (Central Broadcasting System) rather synonymously with that of Radio Taiwan International (RTI), the foreign-broadcasting section of CBS:

“Sound of Hope”, a privately-run radio station with Falun-Gong background, commissioned Taiwan’s Central Broadcasting System (CBS) with broadcasting its programs to mainland China. But under high-level adjustments of policies within CBS, it appears that in future, shortwave activities will be phased out.


During the years of the cold war last century, with financial and technical assistance from the U.S., CBS built a huge broadcasting network. The shortwave signals covered the entire mainland Chinese territory. These callsigns are probably no strangers to the older members of the mainland Chinese public who were used to listening to “CBS” and the “Voice of Free China”.


After the end of the cold war, CBS started carrying clients’ broadcasts on shortwave.  In 2004, “The Sound of Hope” started broadcasting through CBS. During the time of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in government, this cooperation rapidly rose from two hours a day to twenty hours daily. Sound of Hope became the biggest client of CBS.


But news has recently emerged that reforms of the CBS transmission site could soon end this cooperation. Sound of Hope president Zeng Yong went to Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan on Thursday [i. e. on April 25, apparently] to petition the DPP’s legislator Liu Jianguo.


In an interview with this station [i. e. Radio Free Asia], Zeng Yong explained the value of shortwave broadcasts to the Chinese public. He said that people in totalitarian countries were the most obvious listeners to shortwave broadcasts, because when they distrusted information provided by the government, they could only rely on shortwave broadcasts. June-4 was an excellent example for this. At that time [1989], the impression was that the entire country listened to the “Voice of America”.


Zeng Yong said that when the KMT returned to power [in Taiwan] in 2008, there was no way for Sound of Hope to increase their airtime further, and instead, they were asked to cut their airtime by half. Only mobilization of public opinion and great efforts narrowly kept up the status quo. But this year, an intentional division of branch transmitters and equipment was gradually phasing the shortwave broadcasts out. Once this point was reached, all broadcasts – those of CBS and its clients alike – would all come to an end.


The authority in charge of CBS is the ministry of culture. Minister of culture Lung Ying-tai explained the CBS policies on broadcasts to mainland China to the Legislative Yuan during question time on Thursday [again, this should be April 25]. She said that there was no intention to halt broadcasts to mainland China, and on the contrary, communicatons with mainland China should be strengthened.


But reporters continued to ask if the current amount of airtime and client airtime was or wasn’t being reduced. Lung Ying-tai replied that this issue was part of “technical issues”,  and therefore part of the planning carried out by CBS itself. The ministry of culture’s only concern was the policy, and the policy was that broadcasts to China should only be increased, not reduced.


Lung Ying-tai’s argument of only taking care of the policy and not asking for details can hardly put the minds at Sound of Hope at ease. Sound of Hope says that there was news that reducing Sound of Hope’s airtime was a request from Beijing, made in meetings between high-level CCP and KMT officials. There was evidence: during the frequency-changing period [i. e. usually every year, late in March and October], CBS had asked to abandon frequencies one by one, and every time, precisely those frequencies were taken by Beijing.


Lung Ying-tai said that in her opinion, there was a lot of “blockage” of traditional broadcasting methods. CBS should therefore develop new media, as this would broaden contacts and reduce the effects of being blocked.


Zeng Yong disagrees. He says that the internet’s digital signals can be shut, while this is can’t be effectively done when it comes to shortwave. The penetration power of shortwave is very strong. The support for and protection of shortwave should be part of Taiwan’s own security policies.


Opinions on the importance of shortwave differ. There is no evidence that shutting the Voice of Pujiang’s shortwave transmissions down is in any way connected to the (apparent) Taiwanese moves, concerning shortwave. But it should be an educated guess that Sound of Hope has more listeners in China, than Voice of Pujiang ever had in Taiwan.

It is also obvious that Beijing takes Sound of Hope‘s (希望之声) broadcasts very serious. On most days, you would find a frequency where Sound of Hope can be listened to in Europe – but once in a while, the signals get completely drowned in Chinese music – a rather tuneful way of jamming. Example here:

You can hear the jamming station’s output rise after 35 seconds into the recording, and the “alternative” program, Chinese folk music known as “Firedrake” (火龙干扰) sets in after one minute. (Recorded in northern Germany in June, 2011.)

And while the short-range effects of jamming are often more limited than across long distances, Beijing appears to believe that jamming justifies quite a budget.

According to reports by the Epoch Times, reportedly a Falun-Gong-affiliated paper, Sound of Hope received a notice that dismantling of one of CBS / Radio Taiwan International’s shortwave transmitter sites, Huwei substation in Yunlin County, would begin ahead of schedule, on June 1. Sound of Hope broadcasts from there would therefore be discontinued at the end of May. Tianma substation (天馬台) in Tainan (台南) would be dismantled a few months later. Also according to the Epoch Times, it was RTI high-level executives (be it in addition to or instead of the high-level KMT members mentioned in the above RFA report) whose visit to mainland China was – supposedly – linked with the decision to phase out shortwave.

Radio Taiwan International (RTI, the foreign broadcasting section of CBS) usually uses relay transmitters in Britain and France for its broadcasts to Europe. However, once in a while – once a year or less -, European listeners get the opportunity to listen to broadcasts directly from Tainan, on 9955 kHz. RTI’s German service apparently told its listeners on a club gathering in Gaggenau-Ottenau in May this year that saving measures were due at RTI. Replying to a request from a listener in Hamburg that there would be another direct broadcast this year, one of the hosts told the audience in a mailbag show on Friday night that RTI’s German service might broadcast directly from Tainan later this year, as had frequently been done in previous years. However, this wasn’t yet certain, and if there should be another direct shortwave transmission from Taiwan this year, it would be the last time.

There was no mention of possible cross-strait influence on RTI’s use of shortwave.

In the same program, plans to scrap the relay broadcasts to Europe (and to rely on the internet in future) were also mentioned, however, those were portrayed as comparatively remote considerations.



» Resignations at RTI, Oct 3, 2008


Friday, June 7, 2013

Xi Jinping arrives in California: “an unprecedented common cause”

Xinhua, via Enorth (Tianjin), June 7, 2013

The following blockquotes are excerpts from the Chinese press. Links within blockquotes added during translation.
Xinhua, viao Enorth (Tianjin), June 7, 2013

Chinese state chairman Xi Jinping arrived in the U.S. state of California on June 6, for talks with American president Barack Obama from June 7 to June 8.


This Sino-American summit will be held in the Annenberg Estate in California. Xi Jinping is going to have broad and deep communications with Obama on strategic issues of mutual concern to deepen understanding, to enhance mutual strategic trust, practical cooperation, to make guiding suggestions for building mutual respect, mutually beneficial cooperation and partnership, and  structures for a new type of relations between big powers.


This is the first meeting between the two top leaders after the changes of governments, and highly meaningful for strengthening strategic communication, mutual strategic trust, deepening mutually beneficial cooperation, building effective management of disagreements, promoting the development of a Sino-American partnership of cooperative relations, and  structures for a new type of relations between big powers.


Xi Jinping travelled to California on a special plane after winding up state visits to Trinidad and Tobago, Costa Rica, and Mexico.


Huanqiu Shibao quotes China People’s Broadcasting Service (CPBS):

[…] Chinese ambassador to the U.S., Cui Tiankai, has previously said in Washington D.C. that this is the first summit meeting between the two heads of state [Obama and Xi] after the changes of governments, a strategic and historic summit.

[…..] 中国驻美国大使崔天凯此前在华盛顿表示,这是两国政府换届后中美元首首次面对面接触,是一次战略性和历史性会晤。

Cui Tiankai said: “Along the main line of building a new type of relations between big powers, deep discussions about matters concerning the big issues in the future development of relations will be held.


Cui Tiankai pointed out that the foundations of Sino-American relations have become more solid, and the support from the people of the two nations has also become broader. While the two sides focus on mutual benefit, there can also be effective control and management of differences (管控和处理分歧). China and America should take the road that corresponds with the development requirements of the times to develop their big-powers relations.


Cui Tiankai said: “This is a common cause for the two countries, unprecedented and for generations to come [this should be the correct translation if 后起来者 is meant – I’m not sure about the actually used term 后启来者]. It will lead Sino-American relations to enter a new development stage, and it will also open a new chapter in international relations.”


Cui Tiankai (崔天凯), a man who knows how to drive a tractor, had been vice minister of foreign affairs from 2009 to 2013, and assumed office as ambassador to the U.S. in April, 2013. He is the Chinese diplomat with perhaps the deepest knowledge of the United States, Jane Perlez wrote in the New York Times, on Thursday. The idea that Xi and Obama should meet outside either Washington or Beijing has been attributed to Cui.



» Cui Tiankai on South China Sea, June 24, 2011
» Vivid Microcosms, Jan 21, 2011
» Three Eight Hundreds, Apr 19, 2009

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Obituary: Chen Xitong, 1930 – 2013

Chen Xitong

Former Beijing mayor Chen Xitong (陈希同) died on Sunday. HK China News Agency (HKCNA, a branch of mainland Chinese China News Service) broke the news on Tuesday, reportedly in a rather scant bulletin.

Chen was born in Sichuan Province, in 1930, and died aged 82, 83, or 84, depending on how you count the years. He was seen as a staunch supporter of the Tian’anmen massacre of June 4, 1989. In 1992, he became a member of the central committee’s politburo, and party secretary in Beijing. In turn, he ended his mayorship after some ten years in office.

His career ended in 1995, when he faced corruption charges. In 1998, he was sentenced to sixteen years in jail, but was released on medical parole in 2006.

According to sources beyond HKCNA – quoted by the Voice of America -, Chen Xitong’s relatives released a bulletin of their own, too. Chen Xitong’s son, Chen Xiaotong (陈小同),  thanked those who had helped the family during the illness of his father. Chen Xitong reportedly died from cancer.

Yao Jianfu (姚监复), a former researcher at the state council’s rural development research center, met Chen Xitong several times after Chen’s release in 2006. In June 2012, he had his accounts of their discussions, Conversations with Chen Xitong, published in Hong Kong.

Chen is said to have contested the notion that his role in the Tian’anmen massacre had been crucial. Deng Xiaoping had had his own sources to make his decision (i. e. didn’t depend on information from the Beijing mayor).

In June 2012, on the occasion of the publication of the Conversations, the Washington Post quoted Chen Xitong as having referred to the 1989 demonstrations as an American-backed conspiracy orchestrated by a “tiny handful of people”  at the time of the movement, 24 years ago. Chen, in his rather recent conversations with Yao Jianfu, is also quoted as comparing his political fate (concerning the corruption charges in 1995) to that of Bo Xilai.

Some allegations against Chen Xitong, regarding his role in 1989, are based on the alleged diary by then chief state councillor Li Peng. But some allegations appear likely, such as Chen having been in charge of the headquarters that oversaw the crackdown. Either way, he certainly played his role well enough to get promoted to the politburo.

Candellight Vigil in Hong Kong

Tens of thousands of Hong Kongers attended a candellight vigil in Victoria Park on Tuesday night. William Chan, a Youtube user, wrote:

Hong Kong made me proud today. A big crowd braved heavy rain to attend. This was the moment when we all put down our umbrellas to raise our candles. The chants at the end are “Vindicate June 4th!” and “Never give up!”

The erhu music performed is called 江河水 [River Water].



» Ma Ying-jeou’s June-4 remarks, Taiwan Today, June 5, 2013


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