Archive for ‘advice’

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Huanqiu Shibao on “Ulterior Motives” in Southern Weekly Conflict

Main Link: Global Times: Lay Off Supporting Southern Weekend, Or Else

There’s a blog – kind of a bridge blog, if you like – which deserves a lot more attention. In November 2011, China Copyright and Media translated the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party’s Decision on Deepening Cultural Structural Reform (I could have saved myself a lot of time if I had come across their translation earlier).

Fortunately, I did save myself the time to translate a Huanqiu Shibao editorial on the Southern Weekly / Southern Weekend standoffs with the local propaganda department. They’ve got a translation or rendition of that, too – been online since January 8 this year – including the original commentary in Chinese.  China Copyright and Media  includes posts about Chinese legislation, as well, but obviously, I can’t judge their quality. It’s not my department.

Not the full picture, but an instructive glimpse.

Soft power: the land where the Bananas bloom

So, if you want translations from the real Chinese press – beyond the English-language mouthpieces from China Daily to the “Global Times” which are stuff from a parallel universe, made by the CCP propaganda department for foreigners -, read JR’s China Blog, for example.

But read there, too. There are updates every few days, and sometimes several times a day.

The translator finds a lot of rotten points in the Huanqiu article. But this may not be what matters to Huanqiu, to the China-Daily Group, or to the propaganda department. They can’t overlook many domestic online comments in their threads which are highly critical of their approach.

Song Luzheng, an overseas Chinese journalist or official in Paris, follows the same line as does Huanqiu Shibao, in many of his articles, particularly about the freedom of the press. Some of the readers he – probably – hopes to reach are Chinese readers who are disillusioned former admirerers of “Western” values. There seems to have been a trend since 2008, the botched “Sacred-torch” ralleye in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics which has changed the atmosphere in favor of Song Luzheng, Huanqiu Shibao, et al.



» Readers’ Reactions: I will Endure, May 3, 2012
» Oh Rule of Law, April 11, 2012


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Quality Assurance: How to Cover China?

When David Barboza, a correspondent for the New York Times in China, reported on the Wen Jiabao clan’s wealth, he did what a good reporter needs to do. Beijing seems to think otherwise.  Now, Chris Buckley, one of Barboza’s NYT colleagues, has visa problems.

According to the Guardian, Buckley has reported from China for twelve years. Those who complain that most media send correspondents without great Chinese language skills to China should think again: does it make sense to send correspondents to China who invested heavily into their China-related skills? It may occasionally make sense, but not as a rule. And once a correspondent with a lot of “China background” gets tricked out of the country by “sensitive” authorities, a paper or broadcaster who wants to make sure that their coverage on China isn’t influenced by the CCP should provide such a correspondent with a follow-up stint in Hong Kong, Singapore, or Taiwan. There’s too little coverage from Taiwan anyway.

A correspondent won’t necessarily allow the CCP to intimidate him or her anyway. But it’s not only for the correspondents to make sure about that – it’s a task for their employers (i. e. the media), too.

In short: the media should do their share to make sure that their correspondents can’t be tacitly or openly blackmailed by the Chinese “authorities”.

Those who can’t put their correspondents into a sufficiently independent position shouldn’t have permanent correspondents in China at all – and they should state this publicly, to their readers. Quality assurance and building trust is the issue here.

It may be a double-edged sword for correspondents to speak out about the conditions under which they report from China. But their employers – and their readers –  should encourage them to be transparent about the forms of harrassment they encounter.



» An Increasing Number, China Law & Policy, July 16, 2012
» Self Censorship, many forms, FEER, April 2007


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Cheng Tianquan: Citizen Participation in Foreign Affairs

The following is the second half of an article by Cheng Tianquan (程天权), professor and party secretary at Renmin University (or People’s University). The article was first published by Jiefang Daily, and then by the CCP’s website, on Tuesday.

Cheng was born in Shanghai, on March 28, 1946, according to People’s University’s website, and is a specialist in Chinese legal history. From 1986 to 1991, he was the director of Fudan University’s propaganda department. He became professor in 1995, apparently while at Fudan University, and has been Renmin University’s party secretary and administrative affairs’ (or university council) director since February 2001.


It needs to be pointed out that the building and handling of international relations isn’t only a matter for the national government, but also for the citizens. In this interlinked world, where everyone may widely disseminate news, it becomes important to talk about how citizens can be helped and be guided in their participation in international affairs, and how harmonious “people-to-people” relations can be developed in this global village. Although the government clearly guides public opinion, the so-called “will of the people” has at times kidnapped1) the government’s diplomatic policy-making. It would be promising if influential researchers and think tanks in the field of international issues would make it their task to guide citizens to look at international affairs rationally.


The appropriate road for international strategic research should also be on various levels. First of all, fundamental research, on the historical as well as the philosophical range, should be deepened.This is important work there are specialists who apparently have nothing to do with international relations, but who in fact have a lot to do with it. After all, language, expression and ideological habits may all constitute obstacles in the field of knowledge and assessment in a broader sense. Just as with obvious cultural differences between the West and China, there are also dissimilarities within the oriental cultural system, on various levels.


Secondly, the applicability of international-relations theory research, mainly generally used international-relations theory research, at the same time includes the expansion and innovation of these theories.

As a third point, concerning real-time countermeasures, there needs to be exchange between thinktanks and final appraisals. This can build rich resources and case-study material with a lot of reference value for the handling of international affairs. And finally, thinktanks should be encouraged to participate in people-to-people diplomacy2). International experience tells us that an important way to create smooth conditions for a country in the international community is to use people-to-people diplomacy to actively communicate [within the international community], by individual behavior, trade activities, cultural interaction, thinktank exhanges and other diversified means, to enrich the understanding of ones own country among a foreign public, among foreign organizations and foreign media. In this regard, the role of thinktanks is irreplaceable.




1) Cheng’s “kidnapping” remark won’t refer exclusively to the Chinese government’s “management” of public opinion after the arrest of Chinese fishermen by a Russian FSB patrol boat earlier this month. However, the issue of public anger concerning foreign affairs probably led to the  explicit mention of “policy kidnapping” by the public in Cheng’s article.
2) 民间外交 (minjian waijiao) usually stands for what may be translated as people-to-people diplomacy, while 公共外交 would amount to public diplomacy. Please see footnote 1 under that post.



» Jiang Zemin: Importance of Philosophy, Xinhua, April 28, 2002


Friday, July 13, 2012

China doesn’t object to Hegemonism – America Should

A signed People’s Daily editorial suggested  on Thursday that America should play a more constructive role in Asia, and that America was in no position to grade Asian countries. The editorialist didn’t need to invent his advice to Washington. Evan A. Feigenbaum and Robert A. Manning, a short Council of Foreign Relations overview suggests, apparently offered similar advice to the Obama administration, in 2009:

The Obama administration has an opportunity to help define new roles for the United States in this changing Asia. But to sustain its position in the region, Washington will need to move beyond its traditional “hub and spokes” approach to Asia–with the United States as the hub, bilateral alliances as the spokes, and multilateral institutions largely at the margins of U.S. policy. Otherwise, the United States will pay increasing costs to its interests, credibility, and influence.

US Navy visit Hong Kong (archive)

A lot of purchasing power – U.S. Navy visit Hong Kong (archive)

Apart from advocating multi-lateralism, the report advised that Washington should avoid intractable security issues and focus instead on topics ripe for cooperation. If it is true that there were differences between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in 2010 – that’s what this Los Angeles Times article suggests -, Clinton’s “ideas and worldview” have certainly had an impact on U.S. foreign policy in Asia.

That’s basically a good thing. The Philippines, Singapore, and Vietnam certainly don’t mind a situation where they can pit one hegemon against the other, depending on the situation. In that way, the U.S. helps to ensure exactly the “democracy among nations” Beijing is calling for – Chinese foreign minister Yang Jiechi (杨洁篪) came back to the topic less than a week ago, on an ostensibly “non-official” World Peace Forum in Beijing, where he deplored an existing “zero-sum mentality”, and pointed out the need for a strengthened democratization of international relations (国际关系民主化有待加强).

But then, democracy needs limits – and the CCP is the only referee to define such limits. That’s a feature Chinese dissidents at home are familiar with. And besides concepts of sovereignty and equality among states, there is an – imagined – concept of “Asianness” at play in Beijing’s worldview, just as well. Within that Asianness, i. e. close to home, the rules of inter-state democracy doesn’t seem to count quite as much as further away from home. Or, as the same Yang Jiechi as the one who waxed poetic about democratic international relations just recently, reportedly told then Singaporean foreign minister George Yeo (杨荣文) in July 2010 in Hanoi, China is a big country and other countries are small countries, and that’s just a fact.

What is rarely looked at is what the small states make of the situation. It is obvious that even Vietnam, a “socialist country”, welcomes a strong U.S. presence near its coastline, despite an extremely brutal American war on the country which only ended four decades ago. So long as the Americans don’t come ashore, things appear to be fine.

Vietnamese Dignitaries visit USS George Washington

Vietnamese Dignitaries visit USS George Washington, summer 2010 – click picture for US Pacific Fleet video.

As for Singapore, the city-state’s mega-elder himself, Lee Kuan Yew (李光耀), urged Washington in 2009 to strike a balanceAmerica risked losing its global leadership if it didn’t stay engaged not just in China, but in the whole of East Asia and India.

If a totalitarian (Vietnam) and an authoritarian state (Singapore) want a strong U.S. role in Asia, this is hardly based on a desire for democracy or human rights. Clinton’s talk to that end isn’t empty – and the role America is currently playing might also help to make these two concepts more attractive in Asia -, but clearly, neither poor human-rights records nor undemocratic political systems are criteria for exclusion, in Washington’s choice of allies.

That’s why U.S. politicians should spell out – to the American people – what they expect to get out of these informal alliances. If this is about freedom of navigation – and it is understandable if people don’t simply want to rely on Beijing’s assurances -, this should be as much in the interest of China’s neighbors, as in the American interest. In other words, Asian countries, too, need to contribute to a sustainable defense of these rights.

The key issue for the U.S. should be to transform the current relationship with Asian countries from a hegemonic one into a real partnership. As far as that is concerned, both the People’s Daily editorial and other proponents of such an approach have a point. The U.S. should also try to include China in such a security partnership, wherever feasible.

But if China keeps criticizing American hegemonism, without abandoning its own hegemonism, chances are that smaller states will appreciate a choice between at least two hegemons.

As long as the U.S. can afford the defense budget a hegemonic role requires, anyway.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

People’s Daily editorial: Human-Rights Advocacy will Marginalize America

America needed to stop playing the role of a democracy preacher, a People’s Daily (人民日报) editorialist named Zhong Sheng (钟声 – this name or pen name also translates tolling of the bells) wrote on Thursday. It would be much more worthwile to think about how America could join the Asian development process in better ways, how it could play a a constructive role in Asian stability and development. However, if Washington wanted to come up with better solutions, it needed to control itself, and put restraint on its impulse to be a “preacher of democracy”.


You can ring my Belle

“Hello Asia – you can ring my Belle.” (Click this picture for five questions to a hegemon).

Zhong’s signed editorial refers to statements by U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton during her Asian tour that “Asian countries needed to expand the scope of human rights”, and “commended” certain countries to obliquely hint at China (还借“表扬”某些国家来影射中国), thus acting as a “human rights preacher” once again.


The Financial Times had referred to Clinton’s speech as part of an increasingly intense geo-political debate about Asia’s future, writes Zhong Sheng. However, this wasn’t only a debate, nor had America set out on which side of the debate it wanted to stand. Essentially, holding the great banners of democracy and human rights high was a major matter in America’s strategy of “returning to Asia”.


Who gave Americans the right to arrogantly assessing the democracy status of Asian countries, asks Zhong Sheng. Americans themselves possibly shunned to answer the question, or believed that there was no need for an answer. Exactly the problem’s deceptiveness could create could lead to a failure of the “return-to-Asia” strategy to reach its standards.


Some of America’s recent measures, from military exercises and increased military deployment, demonstrated how America did its utmost to demonstrate the adequacy of its role in Asia. To hold the banners of “democracy” and “human rights” only served to safeguard its so-called guiding moral status.


However, the more America failed to restrain itself from such policies, the more people would ask themselves what America actually feared to lose. There were two points which Washington didn’t understand: the cause for America’s estrangement with Asia and its need to “return” had been caused by the reduction in its involvement on the one hand, and on the other hand, because of major changes in the Asia region’s political and economic structures, American status was changing as a result.

但是,美国越是迫不及待地这么做,就越是会让人产生美国是在担心会在亚洲失去什么的感觉。有两点华盛顿没有弄明白:美国之所以会感到与亚洲疏远并需要“重 返”,一方面是因为对这一地区的投入相对减少,而另一方面,则是因为这一地区的政治、经济结构已经发生了重大变化,美国的地位将因此而不同。

The editorial cites factors such as a comparatively successful Asian handling of the international financial crisis – it attributes the crisis exclusively to Western countries -, to flourishing regional cooperation, and to mutually beneficial cooperation between Asian countries which had at the same time been exploring successful development paths, in accordance with their national conditions.


The development of Asian countries shows that Asians are able of solving problems on their own, on their path of development, and to find a road different from the West’s in building political systems, in accordance with their national conditions.


America was in no position to grade Asian countries, or countries worldwide, in terms of democracy and human rights. No size fitted all models. Practice had shown that it was exactly some countries that had drawn a tiger with a cat as a model (照猫画虎) and copied American-style democracy which had led to serious “acclimatization problems” leading to development lags, with some even unrevived to date.


America’s actual diplomatic considerations and abusive use of democracy issues had already incurred criticism from all sides. America’s Time magazine had pointed out in an article that America’s Middle-East policy was showing double standards, and that a country’s democratic status didn’t define if America worked with it – American interest did.


As a Pacific nation, America and Asian countries had inextricable links. America hoped to have a share in the fruits of Asian development, which was a matter of course. Nobody wanted to squeeze America out of Asia. However, Asian countries commonly expected that America would become more actively engaged in Asian development and cooperation. But it seemed that Washington had difficulty in looking at regional participants as equal players.


If America turns against the general trend of Asian development and cooperation, and play the role flag-waving preachers, and gesticulate at Asian democracy from commanding positions, and even, by this approach, build “contingents” to check and balance China, America may well end up marginalizing itself.




» Clinton warns on West PHL Sea Dispute, GMA, July 12, 2012
» After 2 million tons of bombs, Telegraph, July 12, 2012
» 人民日报7月12日评论, BBC, July 12, 2012
» Clinton Praises Mongolian System, WSJ, July 9, 2012
» Diplomat in Chief, LA Times, July 8, 2012


Friday, June 22, 2012

Soft Power: Go and Buy a Hat

After so much advice has been given to China’s dictators so far this year, as to how they could boost their (or their country’s, which is basically the same thing in their view) soft power1), JR does not intend to keep his expertise to himself either.

If soft power matters to them, China’s leaders should wear bigger hats. Or, rather, they should start wearing hats at all.

Now, I know that this is problematic, given that people who were “beaten down” (i. e. humiliated, pushed around, killed, etc.) during the Mao era had to wear big paper hats. Bamboo hats may not be deemed desirable for other reasons. But how about Bao Zheng‘s hat, for starters?

The idea came to my mind as a preliminary remedy to China’s (alleged, anyway) soft-power woes when drawing knowledge from the wisdom of my commenter threads.

In September last year, King Tubby had this to say about the Pope and his speech to German parliament:

[I]f Ratzinger wants to make pronouncements to parliaments, he should turn up in a business suit like any other advocate. Put someone in a few colourful vestments and they acquire some sort of undeserved mystique and their words take on a false gravitas plus a whiff of insence.

Iconography designed for the credulous.

The hat the Pope wore in the Bundestag – that and the papal white robe was King Tubby’s point of criticism here – was actually small, but even then, Angela Merkel visibly envied him. Imagine her facial expression if the Pontiff had chosen a miter or a spiked helmet instead.

Some time after 1976, the Chinese ruling class has chosen to wear suits and ties on formal occasions – you know, the ones the English imposed on us, as Marcel Pagnol wrote much earlier2).

Talking about les Anglais, the Queen wears hats, too. Even when of comparatively moderate size, and even among lots of other people with hats, a hat of your own adds to your conspicuity.

a small hat makes a big difference

Even a small hat makes a helluva difference

Manmohan Singh wears something like a hat, too. If you are asked who of the G-20 guys is the one from India, you’ll probably guess him correctly, even if you never cared before.

You won’t see Hu Jintao smile happily too often, but he’s radiant in his Sun-Yat-Sen suit. Add a Bao Zheng hat (see above) or a spiked helmet (Germany invented the Sun-Yat-Sen suit), and Hu will smile Barack Obama (who doesn’t wear hats either) off the global stage anyday.

Hu & Cie would thus improve their standing, and even do away with the habit of slavishly aping the West at one go.

P.S.: It is quite true that hats of whatever size didn’t work terribly well in that case. But then, what can you expect when your country has mainly barter trade to offer, and little else? If you want to avoid a cold war, you have to be in a position to appeal to the greed of the free world, by bluff or substance.

For similar reasons, soft power is also unlikely to take off in that guy’s place.

Lastly, let me get back to King Tubby’s advice to the Pope (see above, para 5). King Tubby referred to the timeless papal style as iconography designed for the credulous.

But that’s the point, isn’t it?


1) Peking Duck, Rectified Name, The Atlantic, and many comments here.
2) “Le spectateur de théâtre porte un col et une cravate, et ce costume anonyme que les Anglais nous ont imposé.” (La Gloire de mon Pere, 1957)



» Gonna Buy a Hat, Chris Rea, 1987


Friday, May 11, 2012

Experts: How to Win Friends Abroad, and to Lose them at Home

Huanqiu Shibao quotes the gist of what ten academics said in a Central Party School discussion on May 5. This post contains translations from four of the quotes, and a few comments from the Huanqiu readership.

Wang Fan (王帆, Professor, Director of the Institute of International Relations, and Assistant President, China Foreign Affairs University):

In terms of power and politics in Asia, the cold-war mentality won’t go away. China should reduce the negative effects of cold-war mentality, manage crises, and take preventive measures against crises. In the framework of the maintained status quo, a consensus with America should be worked out. On the one hand, multilateral security cooperation should be strengthened, on the other, untraditional security cooperation should be strengthened, and the East Asia Kyousei Forum (东亚共生) model be used, to solve issues of balanced development in East Asia.

Zhang Yansheng (张燕生, the Institute for International Economics Research of the National Development and Reform Commission’s academic-commission secretary):

In the next few years, according to the current pace of development, the size of China’s economy will overtake America’s. During this process, there will be competition between China and America, and China  [correction, May 12: America] will do everything in its power to hold China back. This is a critical stage for China as a country. To respond to these unfavorable prospects, China needs to change its development pattern and establish a pattern which lends support to a order and to a legal system. From an export-oriented economy, it must internationalize [in terms of] talent, markets, industry, capital etc., strategically and structurally link China with the international systems, and structural transformation is the core here.

Shao Feng, (邵峰, CASS Global Economics and Politcs Research Institute’s Strategy Office director):

A country’s overall level of development is the actual embodiment of its soft power. Four international strategic issues urgently need research and solutions:

  • the issue of strategic timing, how China should seize its opportunities and solve issues inherited from history
  • the issue of China having too few friends internationally, of how to win more friends through the establishment of common values and common benefit
  • the issue of raising China’s international image, and
  • the issue of building the national economy and society.


Wang Hongxu (王红续, Central Party School International Strategic Research and Chinese Diplomacy Research Office director):

In the definition of international strategies [an international strategy], the domestic environment and the international environment are equally important. China’s current unbalanced development and cultural soft power stays far behind its economic development, and its position in international public opinion and  discourse dominance [also: the right to speak – 话语权] is weak. In view of that, China still needs to practise, on the global stage, the basic strategy defined in the 1980s. Obviously, there need to be adjustments in accordance with new situations and new characteristics. China hasn’t yet achieved an international cultural strategy, and that has to change.

Comments from the Huanqiu Shibao readership:

It only takes very small numbers of troops to regain ones territories and territorial waters! Why all the pondering? In the War to Resist America and to Aid Korea, and the self-defense strike against Vietnam, it took very few troops! These so-called experts are apparently all women! — There is no masculine disposition here! This becomes especially apparent in the ideological methods. Take these [experts] and put them next to Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping to compare their ideological methods would do too much honor [to these experts].
收复自己的领土领海而动用非常少量的军队!用得着这样思前想后的吗?和在抗美援朝战场及对越反自卫击战投入的兵力比 真的只需动用非常少量的军队!这几位所谓的专家应该都是女性!—没有男子汉的气质与胆量!特别是体现在思维方式上更是如如此 当然啦 拿这几位和毛泽东,邓小平去比较思维方式确实是太高看其人了.
— 21 minutes ago

This bunch of traitors is misleading the citizens! Stomp [them]!
— 26 minutes ago

In reply to the previous comment:
Correct. 正确
— 13 minutes ago.

[A rather sophisticated comment – and too sophisticated for JR to grasp its first line (谁想打仗让谁上好了)]:

[…] A bunch of screaming and chattering lunatics. Do you know the cruelty of war?
— one hour ago

I can’t translate the replies to the latter comment, but neither of them appears to be friendly, but one of the three (possibly all the same person) writes:

In the past, territory was given away in exchange for peace, but in the end, there was still war. Cruelty? I would rather die than live without dignity, sovereignty is fought for, it’s not resistance with each passing day.
— one hour ago.



» First School Lesson: Patriotic Essays, Sept 1, 2009
» Concerning Traitors, Aug 25, 2009


» Orgasm is Easy, Rectified.Name, May 12, 2012


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Huanqiu Shibao on Chen Guangcheng: “The Rise of China is the World’s Rich and Colorful Stage”

In an article of May 3, 10:22 local time, Shan Renping (单仁平) of Huanqiu Shibao (“Global Times”) describes Chen Guangcheng as a man who seemed to like his “policial super-role” (超级角色) very much. “Some Western forces” had taken “unusual ways of interfering, and Western public opinion and “some Chinese activists on the internet” had turned Chen into a human-rights brand. In fact, however, ordinary people had to cooperate with the big political powers who made their [own] arrangements.

Chen’s supporters had had a much clearer picture of that than Chen himself, and had hyped his case from an individual grassroot issue into a “microcosm” [literally: miniature, 缩影] of China as a country.

Some Western forces and their supporters in China will always need tools to struggle with China’s current political system, and “luck” and “disaster” become the matter of those who serve as tools. Everything can be distorted and labeled. Such a tool will not be lonely and may enjoy other benefits, too. Of course, if they go too far, they will pay the price.

Chen was just a very small case on Chinese society’s road ahead, and wouldn’t hurt stability in China, or the Chinese cause of human rights to develop further in a normal way. If they should experience “such a matter” again, China’s officials could be absolutely somewhat more at ease (以后遇到这样的事,中国官方完全可以更坦然些). “Some groups on the microblogs” who “warmed themselves at the fire” were on the fringe and did not represent the attitude of Chinese society.

Western public opinion was often looking for a crop in China, to inflate and exaggerate things. Chen Guangcheng and his supporters on the one hand, and Western public opinion, had benefitted each other this time, to blacken China’s ways.

Shan Renping advises the U.S. embassy to work “in accordance with its functions”, to distance itself from inappropriate activities, and to focus on garnering positive feelings among Chinese mainstream society, rather than act as a support for Chinese extremists.

Can the Chen Guangcheng case subside now? Hopefully. But there are some people inside and outside China who don’t want that. In that case, we will see some more quixotic pipedreams. The rise of China is also the world’s rich and colorful stage.



» None of my Business – Readers’ comments, May 3, 2012



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