Archive for November, 2013

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Shortwave Log, Northern Germany, November 2013 (2)

1. Radio Botswana

Another log that takes a look at African radio, after these notes on Voice of Nigeria in September. Radio Botswana is owned by the government of the southern African country where the diamonds are forever. Radio Botswana broadcasts in English and Setswana, and appears to have done so since about 1966, formerly as Radio Bechuanaland. (Yes, KT, the station is online, too, and at least one out of the country’s two million citizens is a musician.)

Obviously, China Radio International (CRI) or, more precisely, a company with a name that amounts to Global Field Media company (环球广域传媒公司), has opened a studio there, but only recently. The Chinese ministry of foreign affairs reported on July 16 this year that on July 15, CRI’s director Wang Gengnian (王庚年), Chinese ambassador to Botswana Zheng Zhuqiang (郑竹强), a deputy secretary from the Botswanean presidential office of public administration as well as delegates from the a/m Global Field Media company, Radio Botswana and from Chinese and overseas Chinese circles had been present at an opening ceremony of a CRI Gabarone program studio (中国国际广播电台哈博罗内节目制作室). CRI is scheduled to contribute material to the programs produced there, as is Radio Botswana.

Three days later, according to Xinhua, Wang Gengnian and the Global Field Media company were in Zambia, for the inauguration of an Overseas Chinese Weekly (华侨周报) there. China’s ambassador to Zambia, Zhou Yuxiao (周欲晓) also attended the ceremony.

Radio Botswana QSL, 1986

Radio Botswana QSL, 1986

The Voice of America (VoA) operates from Moepeng Hill, Botswana, some twenty kilometers from Selebi-Phikwe. According to the British DX Club’s Africa on Shortwave, Radio Botswana was last heard on shortwave in early 2004 (In Britain, anyway). That said, the station is a domestic broadcaster, with no ambitions to be heard worldwide.

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2. Recent Logs

International Telecommunication Union letter codes used in the table underneath:
ARG – Argentina; BOT – Botswana;  CUB – Cuba; IRL – Ireland; NZL – New Zealand; THA – Thailand; TIB – Tibet.

Languages (“L.”):
C – Chinese; E – English; F – French.

Signal Quality
S (strength) / I (interferences) / O (overall merit)
5 = excellent; 3 = fair; 1 = barely audible.

kHz

Station

Ctry

L.

Day

GMT

S I O
 4920 PBS Tibet TIB E Nov 2 16:00 2 4 2
 4905 PBS Tibet TIB E Nov 2 16:00 1 2 1
 5505 Shannon
Volmet
IRL E Nov 2 17:55 5 5 5
 4930 VoA*) BOT E Nov 2 17:58 4 3 3
 5040 RHC Cuba CUB E Nov 3 05:45 4 5 4
 5040 RHC Cuba CUB E Nov 3 06:45 5 5 5
 5040 RHC Cuba CUB E Nov 3 07:00 5 5 5
 9965 Radio
Thailand
THA E Nov 9 19:00 4 5 4
11710 RAE
Buenos Aires
ARG F Nov 22 03:00 4 5 4
11710 RAE
Buenos Aires
ARG C Nov 22 04:30 4 4 4
11710 RAE
Buenos Aires
ARG C Nov 22 04:40 3 3 3
15720 Radio New
Zealand
NZL E Nov 27 12:30 4 5 4
11725 Radio New
Zealand
NZL E Nov 30 07:00 5 5 4

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Notes

*) See 1) Radio Botswana.

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Related

Previous shortwave logs »

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Friday, November 15, 2013

Central Committee 3rd Plenary Session Communiqué: a State Security Bureaucracy

Main Link: The Fifth Big State Institution – 第五大国家机构, Enorth/CPBS, November 13, 2013

While the 18th central committee’s third plenum’s communiqué doesn’t appear to reveal a lot about future economic or social reforms in general (I haven’t read it myself), a fifth big state institution (第五大国家机构, or party institution for that matter), in addition to  the CCP central committee, the state council, the “National People’s Congress” and the “The Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference” may be taking shape – but to suggest that, Chinese media apparently need to quote foreign media or observers. An article by Enorth (Tianjin) is apparently based on China’s domestic radio (Central People’s Broadcasting Station, CPBS, or CNR) in its coverage – possibly because not everyone has the right to quote foreign sources anymore.

The fifth big state institution would be a state security committee. Analysts are quoted as saying that a double role of dealing with basic domestic and external challenges could be discerned.

Plans for a state security committee had been made or demanded since 1997, but were only now taking shape, says the article. And many other countries had similar institutions: America’s national security council (since 1947), France (since 2008), Brazil, Chile, South Africa, Turkey, Thailand, and Malaysia, for example. In Japan, the establishment of a national security council was underway, too.

A security committee needed to be a permanent institution, experts are quoted. And Ruan Zongze, once a secretary in China’s embassy in Britain and now vice director at the China Institute of International Studies, reportedly suggests that building a state security committee was an important and innovative measure, and indicating the growing dynamics of Chinese foreign policy.

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Updates/Related

» Terrorists will be nervous, CRI, Nov 14, 2013

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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Third Plenary Session: Preparing the Local Levels, Trimming the Ostrich

The following is an account of (including some quotes from) a Xinhua article, republished by Enorth (Tianjin).

“Local government reform is an issue of our revolution that involves a broad range of interests in their depths.” Chief state councillor Li Keqiang said in a video and telephone conference on local government functional transformation and institutional reform held the other day that if the reform of central government is part one, the reform of local government is part two. It needed to be considered with all things taken into consideration, and thought about with thorough knowledge, so as to write a good complete chapter of government reform.

“地方政府改革是一场自我革命,涉及面广、触及利益深。”国务院总理李克强在日前召开的地方政府职能转变和机构改革工作电视电话会议上指出,如果说中央政府改革是上篇,地方政府改革就是下篇,需要整体构思、通盘考虑、上下贯通,把政府改革的整篇文章做好。

Experts have pointed out that in previous cases of government functional transformation and institutional reform, there had been “a lot of action at the top, but many discounts [on the promises] further down”.  The new round of streamlining administration and delegating powers to the lower levels (简政放权) has now entered its key phase of comprehensive deepening, and if good policies [or guidelines] can be truly implemented will prove in the difficulties and focal points of government functional transformation and institutional reform.

专家指出,过去几次政府职能转变和机构改革都出现过“上面动作大,下面打折扣”的情况。新一轮简政放权已经进入全面深化的关键时期,好政策能否真正落到实处,难点重点都在地方政府职能转变。

Li is also quoted as saying that government reform was meant to facilitate government-market relations, government-society relations and relations between the center and localities to bring the market more fully into play. Overcoming the challenges of deepening reform from within government at the local levels would constitute the last mile of streamlining administration and delegating powers to the lower levels, and provide the dividends of reform (改革红利) all the more effectively.

The article also quotes a Development Research Center of the State Council researcher, Zhang Liqun (张立群), as saying that streamlining administration and delegating powers to the lower levels – a move for decentralisation, reduction of administrative examination and approval, and stimulation of the private sector’s vitality – was showing initial effects.

The state council had decentralized more than 300 items of administrative examination and approval, the article says, and during that time, the number of company registrations had risen by 25 percent. Among these, the number of private-enterprise (民营企业) and individual-enterprise (个体企业) registrations had risen by 37 percent. These had grown more rapidly than the rate of government investment.

Li Keqiang seems to put the onus of success flatly on the local or regional governments, describing the devolution of of responsibilities as the fulfilled task of the central government. He was seconded by Wang Yukai, a Chinese Academy of Governance professor, who repeated Li’s point that the local levels needed to take responsibility, adding that the central and local government needed to be consistent (上下一贯), and that they needed to guarantee that government decrees went unimpeded (政令畅通).

Both the calamities [or vicious cycles] of “easing once, chaos comes” and “administering once, death comes” needed to be avoided, Li told the conference – his wording suggests that it wouldn’t be the first time that a balance of easing without losing control (疏而不漏) could be lost.

The conference is portrayed as a concert, with Li and the Academics taking turns in plowing through local conscience, reminding the object of their speeches that more than nintety percent of civil servants and 85 percent of government finance (or public economy?) were, in the end, local.

Only the second-last paragraph contains the remarks of a local official – but he does have the last word in the article. Ma Wenda (马文达), head of a health supervision bureau in Guyuan, Ningxia, told the conference that in his place, 48 people had to supervise 1,264 food-and-catering-related companies, 560 public places, 91 medical facilities and 176 schools. Supervising all these scattered places was not easy.

Li Keqiang has the final word: Some authorities had become rather big on the surface, but small further down, like ostriches. Everywhere, efforts needed to be made to strengthen what needed to be strengthened, weaken what needed to be weakened, and above all strengthen the grassroots.  Upper levels needed to trim fat, and grassroot levels needed to be strengthened.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Press Review: the “Magic” of Third Plenary Sessions

The Chinese Communist Party’s 18th Central Committee’s third plenary session is scheduled to begin on Saturday, and to close on Tuesday. The Economist is full of joy and great expectations:

When colleagues complain that meetings achieve nothing, silence them with eight leaden words: “third plenary session of the 11th central committee”. This five-day Communist Party gathering in December 1978 utterly changed China.

Why should Xi Jinping be in a position to repeat a similar plenum tomorrow, 35 years after the 1th Central Committee? Because Xi, and chief state councillor Li Keqiang, have assembled an impressive bunch of market-oriented advisers, and because Xi himself appears to have more authority than any leader since Deng. And he had done nothing downplay expecations.

press review

The outland expects nothing short of a (counter) revolution.

The Economist’s editorial mentions two fields on which the central committee – in its view – should focus: state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and the countryside. The magazine has been banging on about the latter issue since March 2006 – if not earlier. In its March 25, 2006 edition, it suggested land reform (“how to make China even richer”), and it saw some of its expectations met in winter 2008, but the third plenum that Xi’s predecessor Hu Jintao chaired in October 2008 proved an anticlimax.

If the next days should not produce spectacular decisions, neither the Economist nor the Financial Times appear to be too worried: bloated phrasing, the FT suggests, has not been an obstacle to far-reaching economic policy changes in China over the past 35 years. The FT also agrees with the Economist’s 2008 finding that

for Hu Jintao, Mr Xi’s predecessor, the 2003 third plenum became a marker of his administration’s shortcomings. Mr Hu vowed at the plenum to tackle China’s unbalanced growth, but a decade later left office with the economy even more reliant on investment.

But contrary to the Economist, the FT doesn’t seem to believe that the input from the market-oriented advisers, assembled by Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang, will translate into results quite as dramatic as the think-tank papers. Incremental change would prevail.

One of the ideas – certainly not shared by all Chinese leaders alike – behind the right to farmers to sell their land is that the money earned from sales would enable them to start new lives in the cities or in urbanized areas. This would, apparently, require loosening or abandoning the household-registration system, even if some more conservative models of trading land-related rights rather seem to encourage rural citizens to stay where they are.

This should make sense – maybe not everywhere, but in many places. After all, Hu Jintao’s and Wen Jiabao’s caution wasn’t unfounded. The history of Chinese agriculture seems to have been about making farmers owners of their land – with concepts of ownership which most probably differ from our days -, even if for different goals. The idea then was to make agriculture work, not to make urbanization work. And time and again, land concentrated, back into the hands of small elites, Erling von Mende, a sinologist, suggested in a contribution for a popular-science illustrated book published by Roger Goepper, in 1988.*)

If a peasant in Gansu province sells his few mu of land – to a local developer, for example – and heads to a big city, one may doubt that his small capital would get him very far. He might return to his home province as a poorer man than ever before. It’s unlikely that the center would loosen all the brakes at once.

The most striking thing to me about recent foreign coverage of the plenary session aren’t the technicalities, however. It is the way China is being looked at as just another kind of political system. The potential of big business seems to have squashed ethical issues.

That’s not soft power, but it is Beijing power. A number of former foreign officials, among them Mexico’s former president Ernesto Zedillo and former British prime minister Gordon Brown, pilgrimaged to the Chinese capital to attend a conference of the 21st Century Council, a global think tank (apparently formed by them). They got an invitation for tea met with Xi Jinping, too, who informed them that China would not fall into the middle-income trap.

There is no reason to believe that elites who worship abusive power abroad will show more respect for human rights at home.

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Note

*) Roger Goepper (Hrsg.): “Das Alte China”, München, Gütersloh, 1988, pp. 164 – 166

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Related

» Is China misunderstood, Oct 24, 2012
» Middle-income trap, Wikipedia, acc. 20131108

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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Shortwave Log, Northern Germany, November 2013 (1)

It wouldn’t make much sense to write about the months of September and October, as many shortwave schedules have changed on October 27, with the beginning of the winter season. But local (domestic) or regional (foreign) radio stations with a probably unintended trans-continental reach usually keep their frequencies unchanged, especially in the tropical bands. Hence, here is a handful of stations that have recently been clearly audible here, near Bremen, and who don’t seem to care much about broadcasting seasons.

International Telecommunication Union letter codes used in the table underneath:
ARG – Argentina; CUB – Cuba; IRL – Ireland; TIB – Tibet.

Languages (“L.”):
E – English; S – Spanish.

kHz

Station

Ctry

L.

From
GMT

to
GMT

S I O
11710 RAE
Buenos Aires
ARG E 02:00 03:00 4 5 4
 4765 Radio
Progreso
CUB S 00:30 04:00 3 4 3
5025 Radio
Rebelde
CUB S 00:30 04:00 4 4 4
 6000 RHC Habana CUB E 01:00 05:00 5 5 5
5505 Shannon
Volmet
IRL E 00:00? 24:00? 5 5 5
4905 PBS Tibet TIB E 16:00 17:00 4 4 4

PBS Tibet’s English programs (also known as “Holy Tibet”) announces a mailbox which doesn’t appear to work or which may be full. The same seems to be true for an address offered for reception reports to Cuba’s Radio Progreso.

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Related

» Previous log, August/September 2013

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