Archive for ‘Britain’

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Donald Trump’s Quiztalks

When Donald Trump speaks without a script, it sounds like BBC Radio 4 entertainment – the I’m-sorry-I-haven’t-a-clue style, where people are supposed to talk without repeating a single word, or without mentioning a specific world. Something like …

Host: Mr. President, you are supposed to speak about clocks for sixty seconds, and you must use the word “clock” only once.
Trump: I don’t mind clocks. I like those things. I actually love them. We have a great relationship. The only problem with clocks is …
Detector: BUZZ!!!


Anyway. Why is the president supposed to participate in a game where winning is not important? That’s preposterous.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Taiwan cuts Shortwave Broadcasts in French and Spanish – here is why it shouldn’t

Cutting Shortwave broadcasts in French and Spanish

The French and the Spanish programs of Radio Taiwan International (RTI) are no longer broadcast on shortwave. On March 5, Radio Berlin-Brandenburg‘s (RBB) Radio Eins media magazine reported that RTI would terminate its broadcasts in German on March 25, i. e. the day when the current international shortwave frequency plan (A-18) came into effect1).

A notice was added by the Radio Eins editors a few days later, saying that RTI’s German service kept denying this information. However, Radio Eins did not name the source or sources of their information, citing rather general “trade circles” (Branchenkreise).

On March 9, in a regular mailbag program, RTI’s German service reacted to listeners’ questions concerning the shortwave issue, and stated that while the Spanish and French departments were indeed to exit shortwave with effect from March 26, the German service’s shortwave broadcasts would continue.

Seventeen days later, the German service’s denial proved correct – its broadcasts have been continued, now on their traditional summer frequency of 6185 kHz, as predicted on March 9.

In its report, Radio Eins also pointed out that Radio France Internationale (RFI) had terminated its shortwave broadcasts for Asia years ago, and that this had also put an end to Radio Taiwan International’s once lower-cost access to transmissions from France (with transmitters located at Issoudun, central France). The two international broadcasters appear to have exchanged airtime in the past.

On its website, RTI hardly (if at all) communicates the decision to terminate the shortwave broadcasts in Spanish and French. However, a month before Radio Eins wrote about RTI’s shortwave closures, shortwave-watching website swling.com had quoted from an RTI email saying that the station’s French and Spanish services would “unfortunately stop broadcasting on shortwave”. There appears to have been no mention of the German programs at the time.

Following a Trend …

RTI is following a trend among foreign radio services from industrialized countries2). As noted by Radio Eins, Radio France Internationale ended its shortwave broadcasts to Asia years ago. German foreign Radio, Deutsche Welle (DW), terminated its shortwave broadcasts in Chinese with effect from January 1, 2012. Three months earlier, DW had ended its shortwave broadcasts in German.

Earlier in 2011, the BBC and the Voice of America (VoA) had announced their Chinese programs’ withdrawals from shortwave (the VoA later reversed the decision, but BBC Mandarin kept to their exit).

One of the more contested decisions to abandon shortwave was Radio Australia‘s. It took effect by the end of January, 2017. The station made a – not terribly successful, it seems – effort to communicate the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s (ABC) decision.

Radio Australia’s (now abandoned) role in informing Pacific islanders about emergency situations via shortwave was deemed essential by some critics, and Radio New Zealand (RNZ), Radio Australia’s only existing competitor on shortwave in the Pacific region, leapt at the gap left by the Australians.

But funding public diplomacy is hardly popular in most free societies. Slashed budgets may irritate or infuriate the trade or the immediate users of an abandoned service, but they will hardly become known to a wider public. After all, the (noticeable) remonstrators are usually just some listeners abroad, and apart from that, they are no voters.
In RTI’s case, the question – from the audience perspective – seems to be how prepared the target areas are for the termination of shortwave broadcasts. As for France and Spain, the answer seems to be easy: industrialized, reasonably good internet connections, and with only a few people (probably) who would still listen on shortwave anyway.
But there are drawbacks. In general – this goes for countries with a highly developed internet infrastructure and Latin America or North Africa alike – it is much harder to gain new listeners, than to retain existing ones.
RTI’s management (or the lords of their budgets) may have drawn inspiration from reports like ECLAC’s 3), discussing sharply increasing internet use and access in Latin American countries, and the Caribbean.

But the ECLAC, while optimistic about the development and prospects of the internet in Latin America, also notes that no country in the region has at least 5% of its connections with speeds of more than 15Mbps, compared to 50% in advanced countries, and there is a difference of 41 percentage points in Internet penetration between urban and rural areas in the country that has the greatest gap in the region.And a report (apparently published online in December 2016) by Statista, a Hamburg-based market research company, saw the region’s average monthly internet usage at 18.6 hours in 2016. When you leave Brazil – the leading country in terms of monthly internet usage – out of the calculation, the rate will be even lower.

If the trends indicated by the two papers continue, there may be a time when switching off shortwave makes sense (at least when considering the costs, and the pressures from the broadcasters’ funders). But the data suggests that RTI’s decision to do so came too early.

… but neglecting the Facts

One of the reasons that international broadcasters stop using shortwave frequencies is that radio is a medium used by the poor, rather than by the affluent and influential. That’s not how they communicate their decision (if there is communication at all), but the trade’s high-flown jargon suggests just that.

In a press release of May 18, 2011, less than a year before abandoning shortwave broadcasts in Chinese, German (its native language) and Hindi, Deutsche Welle wrote that by focusing on the internet in many regions of the world, “info seekers” would be reached more effectively,

… especially those who are or will be influential in their countries’ public opinion, and people who actively campaign for democracy, civil liberties and progress in authoritarian states, thus strengthening civil society.

… insbesondere insbesondere jene, die Einfluss auf die öffentliche Meinung eines Landes haben oder zukünftig haben werden, sowie Menschen, die sich in autoritären Staaten aktiv für Demokratie, Freiheitsrechte und Fortschritt einsetzen und so die Zivilgesellschaft stärken.

But nobody knows who will call the shots in a target area, ten or twenty years from now. In Venezuela, it’s an ex bus driver now. Brazil’s president from 2003 to 2011, Lula da Silva, reportedly only learned to read at the age of ten, and worked as a peanut seller and shoe shine boy as a child. Bolivia’s president, Evo Morales, was born to a subsistence farming family and started his political career as a rural labor unionist.

If they had been born ten or fifteen years ago, none of them would be a likely regular internet user.

Shortwave radio may not matter as a medium, when it comes to commercial viability, as the owner of a North American shortwave radio station admitted in 1991. In that light, Facebook could be a more or less “real” alternative to shortwave radio.

But on “social media”, a foreign radio station is just one “friend” among many. There may be no studies available, but if there were some, they would probably show that shortwave listeners are a much more dedicated audience than internet users.

In short: shortwave radio remains a crucial medium, especially for Taiwan. The country will almost inevitably lose all or most of its remaining “diplomatic allies” in Latin America, as it has lost official diplomatic ties with nearly every country worldwide already. If shortwave remains crucial in Taiwan’s communications with European countries may be debatable, but to maintain Taiwan’s visibility in Latin America, there can be no doubt that shortwave would be worth the (quite manageable) costs.
____________

Note

1) While KBS World’s German service via Woofferton, England, is announced under the broadcasting station’s name (Korean Broadcasting Station), Radio Taiwan International’s name is ommitted. Instead, the HFCC states the operator’s company name (Babcock Communications) there. The KBS frequency is also operated by Babcock, and also from Woofferton.
2) Japan may be the only exception.
3) The UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. The report linked to is dated September 12, 2016.

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Related

Inclusive Internet Index, Economist Group, 2018
Abandoning Shortwave & Opportunities, Oct 3, 2014
A bottomless pit of waste, PCJ, around 2014

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Friday, March 16, 2018

OPCW: the Place to Investigate a Nerve Agent sample

One can only wish Sergei Skripal and his daughter a good and complete recovery. Skripal once helped a good cause, and suffered for it in the past. He deserves gratitude, and all former agents living under similar circumstances as he does (or did, until March 4), deserve protection. One thing is for sure: Russia’s political culture encourages lawlessness in the name of “patriotism” – suspicions as aired by Britain’s foreign minister Boris Johnson*) aren’t made up out of thin air. But a plausible narrative is still just a narrative, and even thick air is still only air.

In situations like these, anger and “highly likely” accusations are useless at best, and highly likely, they are damaging for all parties involved.

If Jan von Aken‘s comments in a Deutschlandfunk interview on Thursday are something to go by, there would be no need for the escalation that is under way – at least not yet. The established procedure would be to turn to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), to get their assistance in clarifying any situation which may be considered ambiguous or which gives rise to a concern about the possible non-compliance of another State Party with the chemical weapons convention. In the Skripal case, Russia would have to answer to the OPCW’s executive committee “as soon as possible, but in any case not later than 10 days after the receipt of the request” to clarify.

What Theresa May said on Wednesday is anything but evidence:

Mr Speaker, on Monday I set out that Mr Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a Novichok: a military grade nerve agent developed by Russia. Based on this capability, combined with their record of conducting state sponsored assassinations – including against former intelligence officers whom they regard as legitimate targets – the UK Government concluded it was highly likely that Russia was responsible for this reckless and despicable act. And there were only two plausible explanations. Either this was a direct act by the Russian State against our country. Or conceivably, the Russian government could have lost control of a military-grade nerve agent and allowed it to get into the hands of others.

In a conflict, the two immediate parties are rarely the best candidates to sort things out – not, when there is a history of conflict, or when, as the Economist has put it, Britain’s relationship with Russia is poisoned already.

Britain’s ultimatum for an explanation from Moscow had been contemptuously ignored,

writes the Economist. That may be so. Many Russian citizens have their rights ignored, too. But on a day-to-day basis, few people in the West would care. And if I were a Russian, I would probably find the British ultimatum just as comtemptuous – no matter if pro-Putin, anti-Putin or either.

After a first round of escalations, London now seems to be doing the right thing: they have sent (or will send) a sample of the Novichok nerve agent to the OPCW. That looks like a promising first step. The OPCW should also take care of further procedures, if there should be a chance to come to real conclusions.

Van Aken believes that both the British prime minister and the Russian president may have an interest in the current escalation. But May’s chances to rise to the “challenge” don’t look great, and Putin is going to “win the elections” anyway.

Rather, both of them appear to have concluded that they must serve their constituencies with instant certainties.

____________

Note

*) “The message is clear: We will find you, we will catch you, we will kill you – and though we will deny it with lip-curling scorn, the world will know beyond doubt that Russia did it.”

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Huanqiu Shibao Editorial: No Need for Lessons from London, re North Korea

British prime minister Theresa May gave Japan’s NHK television an interview on Friday.  NHK doesn’t appear to share its interviews on youtube (one with then U.S. president Barack Obama wasn’t available either, last year), but this video provides some excerpts:

Update, Sept 27, 2017:
The video appears to have been removed.
Soundtrack may be available on request.

The interview provoked “Global Times” articles that did their best to come across as condescending, both towards Britain and Japan. The “Global Times'” Chinese-language sister paper, Huanqiu Shibao, also criticized May’s interview, as follows.

Main Link: Editorial – No Need for Lessons from London, concerning North Korea
社评:北京不需要伦敦教如何对待朝鲜

British prime minister Theresa May set a firecracker on her way to Japan. Apart from criticizing North Korea, she also said, “Chinese pressure to block its illegal behavior plays a very important role.” She said, “we want to encourage China to do its utmost to exert pressure on North Korea”, this would be “the best way” to influence North Korea.”

英国首相特雷莎·梅在前往日本访问的途中就朝核问题放了一炮,除了批评朝鲜,她还说,“中国在对朝鲜施加压力阻止其非法行为这方面起着非常关键的作用。”她表示,“我们要激励中国尽其所能向朝鲜施压”,这是影响平壤的“最佳方式”。

Prime minister May probably doesn’t know much about the Korean peninsula. Her way of expressing her views sounded pretty much like rehashing the old lessons learned in Washington. Washington’s strategy to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue is slanted, the antagonism between the U.S. and North Korea keeps rising, and Washington just tries to push  the responsibility for the impasse to China, proclaiming that China had the ability to “control” North Korea. may is the first leader of a major European country to openly go along with this kind of preposterous reasoning.

梅首相大概对朝鲜半岛事务了解不多,她的此番言论听上去很像是对华盛顿说辞的复读和学舌。美国解决朝核问题的策略偏了,美朝对立不断升级,华盛顿就把突破僵局的责任推给中国,宣扬中国有能力“管住”朝鲜。梅首相如今成了欧洲大国中第一个公开附和这种歪理的领导人。

When Britain mentioned China recently, there was some blame game as well. The British foreign and defense secretaries suddenly said that Britain’s recently constructed aircraft carrier would go to the South China Sea to pledge “freedom of navigation”. London’s sudden enthusiasm for getting involved in East Asian affairs mystified the Chinese people.

英国这一段时间谈及中国时一直有些怪怪的,不久前英国外交大臣和国防大臣突然表示,英国新建造的航母将会赴南海宣示“航行自由”,伦敦这种对东亚事务突如其来的介入热情令中国人颇感莫名其妙。

As British power has withdrawn from East Asia long ago, it is without its bases here now, and there isn’t any of its military left. If the British government really wants to protect  its trade and investment interests in this region, it should choose its words carefully, and proceed carefully, respect the regional countries own ability and wisdom to create peace, rather than to point fingers and speaking irrelevant words.

大不列颠的力量早就退出了东亚,这里如今既没有它的基地,也不剩它的一兵一卒,如果英国现政府真想维护它在这个地区的商业和投资利益,就应当谨言慎行,尊重地区国家缔造自身和平的智慧和能力,而不是指指点点,说些不着边际的话。

The May government shouts out a slogan about “Global Britain”, apparently harboring aspirations to restore Britain’s worldwide influence. But is its way of exerting influence about “crashing cars to commit insurance fraud”? The previous British government said that Sino-British relations were entering a “golden age”. Prime minister May and her colleagues are now constantly using needling language towards China. Are they reversing Sino-British relations by 180 degrees? One has to say that testimony from the May government helps to brush off British attention.*)

梅政府喊出“全球英国”的口号,似乎心怀在世界范围内恢复英国影响之志。然而英国发挥影响的方式就是要与中国这样的大国“碰瓷”吗?上一届英国政府称中英关系进入“黄金时代”,梅首相和她的同僚如今不断发表对华绵里藏针的话,他们是要对中英关系做180度的反转吗?不能不说,梅政府高官们的舌头已经在帮英国刷注意力了。

Both the South China Sea issue and the North Korean nuclear issue are highly sensitive and complicated. If the May team’s talk becomes faster than their brains, there will be more funny shows to be watched.

南海问题和朝核问题都高度敏感复杂,如果梅团队的舌头转得比脑子还快,那就真会有越来越多的好戏看了。

Along with the increasingly provocative situation on the peninsula, the impact of North Korea’s development of nulear missiles does actually grow greater, and participation from outside ought to contribute to the easing of the situation, and to solving the problems – a role some of the currently involved countries appear to have difficulty in playing. This kind of futile dawdling on a hot spot partisanship will only aggravate the deadlocked situation.

随着半岛局势激化,朝鲜发展核导所产生的影响的确越来越大,外界的参与应当有助于缓和局势,解决问题,起目前一些当事国难以发挥的作用。那种蹭热点、站队帮腔的卷入只会加剧局势的僵持。

China is a neighboring country of North Korea, and Beijing has every reason to firmly oppose North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons and its development of missiles. Beijing didn’t only join the sanctions against North Korea, but is the main bearer of these sanctions. To demand that China assume the bigger part of the remaining responsibilities Washington’s and its north-east Asian allies’ selfish manifestation, and when prime minister May joins them on that selfish platform, it is reckless and of no benefit.

中国是朝鲜的邻国,北京没有任何理由不坚决反对朝鲜拥核和发展导弹。北京不仅加入了对朝制裁,而且是这一制裁的主要承担者。要求中国承担起余下的绝大部分责任,是华盛顿和其东北亚盟友自私的表现,梅首相为它们的自私站台,是轻率而无益的。

The real difficulty in the current situation lies in the absence of effective communication. America and North Korea fiiercely fight each other with every word they say, piling up explosives. If London really wants to make a bit of a contribution, it should take a constructive approach that helps to removes blockages, rather than making window speeches. Prime minister May’s current position may not even get president Trump’s attention, because she doesn’t provide any practical problem-solving ability. Contrary to what one may expect, Tokyo may find her words pleasing, but Tokyo, weary of deadlock with Beijing, may be delighted by any mockery about China.

局势的真正困难在于形成不了有效沟通,美朝各说各话,相互斗狠,堆积起越来越多的爆炸性。伦敦如果真想给东亚和平做点贡献,它就应为打通相互对立的立场有创造性、别开生面的表现。梅首相这样表态,大概连特朗普总统都未必瞧得上,因为她没有提供任何实际解决力。倒是东京可能听着顺耳,但东京是因为与北京僵持得有些累,谁揶揄中国一句,它都会兴高采烈。

As the Conservative Party has lost many seats, May has become a weak prime minister. When people are weak, they often look for opportunities to show their “strength”. One would hope that what the May government is now shoging isn’t this kind of “cliché”.

梅所在的保守党丢了很多议席,她成了一个弱势首相。人在弱势时,往往愿意找机会显示一下自己的“强势”,希望梅政府所展现的并非这种“俗套”。

The May government is constantly “skirting the line” around China, and postures unduly about hong Kong, but all this won’t turn into real strength. Spittled statements don’t make Britain strong. Britain needs real economic growth, but Britain is moving further and further away from China, one of the most important economic partners.

梅政府不断围绕着中国打“擦边球”,它在香港问题上尤其比前任政府更爱端不该端的架势,但是这一切换不来英国的真正强大。英国的强大不是声明纸沾着唾沫就能糊出来的,英国需要真正的经济增长,而梅政府正在一步步远离中国这个最重要的经济伙伴之一。

Notes

*) Not sure about my transation of this line — JR

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When May’s predecessor at 10 Downing Street declared a “golden age” in Britain’s relations with China, a German sinologist, Sebastian Heilmann, was quoted as saying that London had assumed the leading role in relations with China. And an article by German newsagency dpa worried that Xi, during his 2015 visit to the United Kingdomwas probably happy to see the human-rights topic basically dropped under the table in London, and the Europeans being split.

Now, Huanqiu Shibao appears to worry that there could be a 180-degree reversal (see blockquotes above) in London’s China policy.

But suggesting that China could do more, concerning North Korea, can hardly be read as a a turnaround in Britain’s China policy – even if no other European leader has chimed in with this criticism. Only Chinese hypersensitivities can consider a American-British commonality of this kind lèse-majesté. Huanqiu Shibao’s reaction may, however, show that Beijing can easily be needled these days, once North Korea is the issue.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Hong Kong’s public broadcaster replaces BBC World Service with Mainland Relay

A QDaily article, republished by Fenghuang (Hong Kong) main link – on August 14, 2017. QDaily (好奇心日报) is a news website from Beijing, focusing on commerical news. Links within blockquotes added during translation.

CPBS may be better known as “China National Radio” these days. However, the Chinese name of the station has never changed. CPBS remains the accurate translation of 中央人民广播电台.

Original title: Central People’s Broadcasting Station’s Voice of Hong Kong to replace BBC’S 24-hours broadcast

原标题:中央人民广播电台香港之声,将取代BBC24小时转播

RTHK (Radio Television Hong Kong) published a notice on its official website on August 11, saying that “on September 3 at 24:00 hours, the digital audio broadcasting (DAB) service will be officially terminated. There will also be new program arrangements, including the BBC World Service being broadcast  on RTHK’s Radio 4 channel every night, from 11 p.m. to seven a.m., and Central People’s Broadcasting station’s Voice of Hong Kong being broadcast on RTHK’s Radio 61) channel.

8月11日,香港电台(Radio Television Hong Kong,缩写RTHK)在官网发布通知,表示“将于9 月3 日午夜12 时正式终止数码声音广播服务”,并会有节目新安排,其中英国广播公司国际频道将于每晚11 时至早上7 时,在港台第四台转播;中央人民广播电台香港之声将于港台第六台转播。

This adjustment has attracted broad attention within Hong Kong society, because this means that Hong Kong’s Radio 6 channel which used to relay the BBC World Service 24 hours a day will be decidated to China People’s Broadcasting Station from early morning on September 4, beginning at 00:00 hours midnight. Besides, the newly-designed airtime will be when most Hong Kongers enter the land of dreams.

这一调整在香港社会引起广泛关注,因为它意味着,原先全日24 小时转播英国广播公司国际频道(BBC World Service)的香港电台第六台,将从今年9 月4 日凌晨零时开始,专属于中央人民广播电台香港之声;同时,更换到港台第四台转播后,BBC World Service 的转播时长将被压缩到8 小时,且新设定的转播时段,是在大多数香港人进入梦乡之时。

This is another step in RTHK’s response to the Hong Kong government’s March 28 notice of “ending digital audio broadcasting”.

这则通知,是香港电台对今年3 月28 日香港政府发布的“本港终止数码声音广播”,做出的进一步回应。

At the time, Hong Kong’s Commerce and Economic Development Bureau pointed out that within a short period, three commercial organizations – Fenghuang Uradio, Digital Broadcasting Corporation and Metro Broadcast Corporation – had withdrawn from the market, stating operation problems and insufficient audience numbers as reasons for their withdrawals, showing that the market had lost interest in digital audio broadcasting, leaving RTHK (Hong Kong’s only public broadcaster, and a subordinate agency under the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau) as the only provider of digital audio broadcasting services. This meant “a lack of commercial organizations’ participation”, and “no feasibility”. RTHK was therefore required to terminate relevant operations.

当时,香港商务及经济发展局指出,2011年获发数码声音广播的三家商营机构(凤凰优悦、DBC 数码电台及新城电台),“短时间内均以经营困难和没有足够听众群为由退出市场,反映市场对数码声音广播失去兴趣”,而仅剩香港电台(下属商务及经济发展局,香港唯一的公共广播机构)独自提供数码声音广播服务,“缺乏商营机构参与”,“并不切实可行”。因而要求香港电台在六个月内终止相关的服务。

RTHK DAB was officially launched on September 17, 2012. This broadcasting method means “use of digital compression technology for the transmission of various radio program signals, transformed into strings of digital signals.” The advantages [of this procedure] is that a single signal path can cover all of Hong Kong, avoiding interference, improving sound quality, and provide text information service, etc.. In an area like Hong Kong, where up to 70 percent of the territory are mountainous, and high-rise building standing closely to each other, this way of broadcasting is a good choice.

香港电台的数码声音广播在2012年9月17日正式启动,采用数码方式广播电台节目,具体的操作方法是“利用数码压缩技术,把音乐、访问和不同类型的电台节目等信息,转化为一系列数字信号发送”,其优点在于通过单一信道,即可覆盖全香港、避免受到干扰、改善音质、提供文字信息服务等。在山地面积达70% 且高层楼房密集林立的香港,这种广播方式,是一个不错的选择。

To this end, RTHK established dedicated digital channels and five new frequencies, among them Digital-32, broadcasting China People’s Broadcasting Station’s Voice of Hong Kong all day, and Digital-34, broadcasting RTHK’s Channel 6 content, namely the BBC World Service.

香港电台为此专门设立了香港电台数码台,并开发了5个新频道,其中数码32 台全日转播中央人民广播电台香港之声,而数码34 台全日转播香港电台第六台的内容,即BBC World Service。

Voice of Hong Kong is the Central People’s Broadcasting Station’s 14th program. It uses standard Chinese and Mandarin broadcasting news, arts and cultral programs, financial news and life services, whereas the BBC World Service has been relayed on RTHK’s Radio 6 since December 3, 1989, and before it was relayed from five in the afternoon until early next morning, on RTHK’s Radio 5 (stablished in 1978).2)

香港之声是中央人民广播电台的第十四套节目,使用普通话、广东话全日24小时播放新闻、文化艺术、财经、生活服务等内容;而BBC World Service,在1989年12月3日于香港电台第六台开始转播之前,均在每日下午5点至翌日清晨,在香港电台第五台(1978年创立)转播。

Closing RTHK’s digital radio spells the need to newly adjust the content of the originally five channels. The results of this readjustment has been described at the beginning of this article.

关停香港电台数码台,意味着原先5个频道的内容要做新的调整。调整的结果,在本文开头已指出。

RTHK’s communications director Amen Ng Man-yee believes that to maintain Central People’s Broadcasting Station’s Voice of Hong Kong is essential: “this channel was tailor-made at the time of RTHK’s DAB launch, and it can strengthen the cultural exchange between mainland China and Hong Kong.”

香港电台机构传讯总监伍曼仪认为,保留中央广播电台香港之声是必要的:“该频道是为香港电台推出数码广播时度身打造,而且可以加强大陆与香港间的文化交流。”

She also said that the compression of the BBC World Service relay broadcasts to eight hours had been made because listeners could listen directly to the BBC’s website for releveant content. As for the choice of the airtime [from eleven p.m. to seven a.m.], her answer was that because of the time difference, there would be more news updates during the night [by relaying the BBC programs at that time].

她还表示,将BBC World Service 压缩到每日8小时,是因为听众可以直接在BBC 网站收听到相关的内容;至于播放时段的选择,她的回应是,由于时差缘故,在香港深夜时会有较多的新闻资讯更新。

The BBC’s high-ranking publicity commissioner Helen Deller said in an interview with the “Guardian” that they were disappointed about the adjustments, and encouraged listeners to continue listening to the BBC programs through the internet.

BBC 的高级宣传专员Helen Deller 在接受《卫报》采访时表示,他们对这一调整感到失望,并鼓励听众通过互联网服务继续收听BBC 的节目。

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Notes

1) Radio 6 refers to the 675 kHz medium wave transmission (reportedly at 1 kilowatt) which can be heard all over Hong Kong (and in parts of Guangdong province, particularly at nighttime).
2) This seems to deviate from RTHK’s statement which says that [t]he BBC World Service has been broadcast live on RTHK’s Radio 6 on AM675 since 1978.

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Related

Highly symbolic, The Guardian, Aug 13, 2017
DAB no longer realistic, SCMP, March 28, 2017
RTHK Radio and TV, Wikipedia, acc Aug 26, 2017
DAB, Wikipedia, acc Aug 26, 2017

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Monday, August 21, 2017

In the News & Blogs (Aug 1 – 21): Beijing’s Little Helpers abroad

“China Quarterly” cooperates with China censors / Taiwan hosts 2017 Summer Universiade / Kim spoils Fun for Chinese Guam Visitors / Red-noticed police / The First “Five Marvellous Years” / Want to be Chinese?

Doing Beijing’s Dirty Work (1): Academic Institutions

Update: Cambridge University Press restores articles, Washington Post, Aug 21, 2017

China Quarterly apparently cooperates with Beijing by blocking access to articles and e-books on their website.

Can we expect them to do better? I have my doubts. Their topic is China – and if they don’t cooperate, others will, and might replace the renowned magazine. That’s no excuse, of course, and they could still display character rather than opportunism, but one has to admit that they are facing a tough choice. If they decided otherwise, there would be no academic solidarity – alternative opportunists would chum up to Beijing.

What is therefore needed is a political answer. British legislators will need to make censorship cooperation of this kind illegal, and legislators in other free societies will need to do likewise.

You can’t do Beijing’s dirty work yourself, and remain democratic, liberal, or free.

The public needs to push a political decision. People who care about human rights (those of others, and of their own), should consider to join or support relevant pressure groups, rather than political parties.

If Chinese readers can be blocked from servers in free countries, there is no good reason why we, people who live in (still) relatively free societies, should keep access to them, when Beijing demands otherwise.

This scenario may appear far-fetched now – but what happens at Cambridge now would have been unfathomable two or three decades ago, too.

Besides, no man or woman in a free country should vote for political parties who are prepared to tolerate this kind of practice. Totalitarian challenges must be met with political answers.

Taiwan’s Twelve Days of International Fame

The 2017 Summer Universiade started in Taipei, on Saturday.

Chinese Holidaymakers: Kim spoils the Fun

Huanqiu Shibao (the Global Times‘ Chinese-language sister paper) worried about unwelcome side effects of the US-North Korean war of words during the first half of the month: More than 26,000 Chinese tourists had travelled to Guam in 2016, the paper noted in an article published online on August 11 – an increase by 11 percent compared to 2015. Huanqiu numbers reportedly provided by the Guam Visitors Bureau‘s China Representative Room, an organization that runs offices in mainland China and in Hong Kong.

Guam is an island in the western Pacific. It is U.S. territory, reportedly within reach of North Korean missiles (provided that the missiles are lucky), it hosts a naval base, an air base, a religious shortwave broadcasting station, and thousands of tourists annually.

The Huanqiu Shibao article also quotes from “Sina Weibo” exchanges between Chinese netizens and the Guam Visitors Bureau, where Bureau staff reportedly posted reassuring replies to questions like “will you soon be hit by missiles?”

Probably given the incomplete state of North Korea’s striking force (God knows where the missiles would actually go if the army tried to fire them into Guam’s adjacent waters), or Donald Trump‘s notoriety as a bigmouth with little consistency, no travel warning appears to have been issued by Chinese authorities. According to the BY article, the China Youth Travel Agency told reporters that

the company hadn’t received a political-risks warning notice to suspend departures to Guam until then, and reminded journalists to monitor the China National Tourism Administration’s travel risk reminders.

….. 公司还没有接到因政治风险暂停前往关岛的旅游团的通知,他提醒记者应及时关注国家旅游局的旅游风险提示。

According to statistics quoted by the article, most tourists visiting Guam are from Japan and South Korea, with rapidly rising numbers from mainland China.

Doing Beijing’s Dirty Work (2): Red-noticed Police

The arrest of a German citizen of Turkish origin, Dogan Akhanli, made it into German news during the weekend. According to GfbV, a German organization that keeps track of cases where authoritarian regimes use Interpol to harrass critics abroad, Akhanli was arrested by Spanish police in the city of Granada. Reportedly, Turkey had requested Interpol  to issue a read notice to Spain. The dust appears to settle now, and Akhanli is free again, but the organization calls for reforming Interpol and to make sure that it doesn’t become (or remain) a tool for silencing regime critics abroad.

In the same press release, GfbV notes that Dolkun Isa, secretary general of the World Uyghur Congress, had been arrested in Rome, on July 26 this year. Isa was on his way into the Italian senate when he was arrested. According to GfbV, Chinese authorities are now using Interpol’s “red notice” mechanism systematically, to restrict movement of the regime’s critics abroad, and thus creating a de-facto occupational ban against them (Chinas Behörden nutzen die „Red Notice“ inzwischen systematisch, um die Bewegungsfreiheit von im Ausland lebenden Menschenrechtlern einzuschränken und de facto ein Berufsverbot gegen sie zu verhängen).

It certainly wasn’t the first time that Isa had been arrested. In 2009, South Korea arrested him, apparently on arrival at the airport, and refused him entry into the country. Previously, he had been arrested by the UN security service when visiting the Human Rights Commission in Geneva.

The First Five “Marvellous Years”

China’s state television (CCTV) website reminds the public of CCP secretary general Xi Jinping‘s feats during his first five marvellous years (不平凡五年) in office. On August 14, the media organization published statistics of Xi’s speeches on foreign policy.

So: Want to be Chinese?

Given that under the secretary general’s correct leadership, China is becoming the marvel of the world (an unscientific condensed international press review by JR with no further sources), it should be no surprise that Daniel Bell wants better international access to Chinese citizenship, for meritorious citizens of the world who would like to share in that glory.

Ji Xiang posted some thoughts on that, early this month.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Taiwanese Media Reports: Association of International Broadcasters maintains Radio Taiwan International’s Membership, despite Chinese Motion to replace it

Making Taiwan appear “inofficial” has become easy business for Beijing, when it comes to politicians. The row about the country’s inoffical embassy in Nigeria may be one of the recent cases in point.

But influencing journalists doesn’t appear to be quite that easy. A spokeswoman for the foreign ministry in Taipei is quoted as saying that

At this year’s first meeting of AIB’s executive board, the possibility of ejecting RTI to make room for China Central Television [CCTV] was discussed, but RTI vice president Travis Sun’s (孫文魁) proactive handling of the matter has dealt with the situation.

AIB stands for the Association of International Broadcasting, an organization headquartered in Britain, and RTI stands for Radio Taiwan International, Taiwan’s foreign broadcasting service. According to the Taipei Times –  quoting weekly Taiwanese magazine The Journalist – the Chinese motion was rejected after RTI’s protests won the support of British, German, French and Russian committee members.

According to the AIB website, RTI vice president Travis Sun is among the six members of the organization’s executive committee.

According to “The Journalist”,   Travis Sun had been voted into the committee with the highest number of votes. Also according to “The Journalist”, CCTV and other Chinese media had previously been invited to join the AIB, but had declined, because of RTI’s membership. Following China’s motion this month, the AIB secretariat drafted three resolutions for discussion by the executive committtee. One suggested that the Chinese media could enter with an inofficial membership. The second suggested inoffical membership or termination of membership for RTI, and the third suggested to abandon the idea of Chinese media obtaining membership.

It appears that Sun appealed to AIB’S journalistic values to defend RTI’s membership, and successfully so, and all that, apparently, on the phone. According to the Taipei Times, RTI didn’t send personnel to participate in the AIB’s annual meeting in London due to “internal reasons,” instead being represented by personnel from the Taipei Representative Office in the UK. Also according to the Taipei Times, during a June 20 teleconference, Sun had been confronted with the secretariat motions.

Reportedly, Britain, France, Germany (that would be Deutsche Welle‘s committee member), and Russia (i. e. the delegate for RT) decided in RTI’s favor.

The Russian committee member, Alexey Nikolov, is currently serving as the executive committee’s chairman, according to “The Journalist”. The article mentions the “Voice of Russia” as the media organization he represents. That would now be Sputnik News Agency and Radio. According to AIB and RT, Nikolov is RT‘s managing editor, or managing director.

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Related

AIB members

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Updates/Related

Taiwan not abandoned, Sentinel, June 30, 2017

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Monday, March 27, 2017

Populism in China (1): The Downfall of Bo Xilai

There is no Weltinnenpolitik yet, but there are cross-civilizational trends.

The City of Red Songs

There would be no second chance. Gerhard Schröder, former chancellor of Germany, was in a hurry in June 2011, on the sidelines of a forum in southwestern China’s metropolis of Chongqing. He was therefore lacking the time to attend one of the red-song nights that were customary there. But he still pleased his interlocutors with a German proverb: Where people sing, you can settle down – wicked people sing no songs.

In full, the red-songs custom advocated by Chongqing’s party chief Bo Xilai was Singing revolutionary songs, Reading classic books, telling stories and spreading mottos. There would be nine more months of that before Bo Xilai was toppled by his CCP comrades.

A Hudong article explained the activity at the time. It was a mass concept, started in Chongqing in 2008, which was greeted with enthusiasm there, and elsewhere in China. The concept wasn’t outdated, because

if a country and a nation have no correct thought and advanced culture, it will lose its backbone. The current deep changes of the economic system, the structure of society, and the profound adjustment of interest patterns must be reflected in the ideological field. There is diversity in peoples’ minds, and although the mainstream is positive and healthy, while some peoples’ material life conditions have improved, spiritual life is somewhat empty. To change that condition, and to ensure a safe passing of the torch in the cause of the party and the country, the red flag must be righteously upheld, the ideology of Marxism must be consolidated in its guiding position within the ideological field, and the attractiveness and the cohesive power of socialist ideology must be strengthened.

一个国家和民族没有正确的思想、先进的文化,就会失掉主心骨。当前,经济体制深刻变革、社会结构深刻变动、利益格局深刻调整,必然反映到意识形态领域。人们的思想日趋多元多变多样,虽然主流积极健康向上,但一些人物质生活改善了,精神生活却有些空虚。为了彻底改变这种状况,保证党和国家的事业薪火相传,必须理直气壮地举红旗,不断巩固马克思主义在意识形态领域的指导地位,增强社会主义意识形态的吸引力和凝聚力。[Links within these lines omitted.]

According to the HuDong article, CCP politbureau member and Chongqing party secretary Bo Xilai (薄熙来) had deplored the phenomenon of young people who sang decadent songs (唱 .. 靡靡之音, chàng mímí zhī yīn), who were reading “fast-food” kinds of literature (读 .. 快餐文化, dú kuàicān wénhuà), told “low and vulgar stories” (讲 .. 低俗故事, jiǎng dīsú gùshì), and “spread pornographic or dull scripts/pieces” (传 .. 黄段子、灰段子, chuán huáng duànzi, huī duànzi).

So, apparently, there were dirty songs, too. Maybe things weren’t as simple as Schröder had believed. At least one  reader and forum commenter of China’s Huanqiu Shibao didn’t trust Schröder’s expertise and wrote:

OK, listen [to the red songs], you won’t comprehend them anyway. It will be as if you were listening to folk songs.

听吧,反正听不懂,就当听民歌了

The “Chongqing Model” was controversial, at least in the perceivable medial public of China. The party elite wasn’t entirely in love with Bo’s pretentious neo-Maoism. A vice president of Law School at China University of Political Science and Law was quoted by the English-language party mouthpiece “Global Times”:

There have been 104,000 “Red Song Concerts” in Chongqing, with 80 million participants. It cost 1,500 yuan ($231) per person for onsite renting and costume expenses, 210 million yuan in total. Adding in the offwork compensation and transportation the final cost is 270 billion [sic – probably means million – JR] yuan. Why don’t they use the money for health insurance?

Bo Xilai’s “Populism”, 2007 – 2012

At the grassroots, however, Bo’s leadership style appears to have worked (maybe it still does). The Chongqing Model wasn’t just about folklore, red or otherwise.

Chongqing (Sichuan province) residents set off firecrackers today, celebrating the execution of the provincial-level city’s former chief justice Wen Qiang (文强), cqnews.net reported in July 2010. The Wall Street Journal explained:

Wen Qiang was put to death following the rejection in May by China’s Supreme Court of an appeal of his conviction on charges including bribery, shielding criminal gangs, rape and inability to account for millions of dollars in cash and assets, according to Xinhua news agency. Xinhua didn’t say how Mr. Wen was executed.

Punching black crime and uprooting vice (拳打黑除恶) was the name of the campaign that cost Wen his life – according to the historical records as Bo would have it, he and his police chief Wang Lijun not only battled against gangs, but infiltrated cadres, too.

The now defunct website Chinageeks published an English translation of Zhang Wen, a former chief editor of the Xinhua magazine Globe:

Bo Xilai and the “northeast tiger” Wang Lijun entered Chongqing and started a war and began a “battling corruption and evil” movement that has gradually begun to spread nationwide and worldwide. This action is in line with the people’s wishes, and at the same time, also in line with what central authorities wish.

At first, the public opinion was very one-sided; no one could find any fault with Bo. The controversy and difference of opinions came with the case of Li Zhuang. Proponents of the democratic rule of law questioned and criticized the legality of Chongqing [court] proceedings, but Bo Xilai’s supporters hold that punishing lawyers who defend “bad people” is appropriate.

Bo Xilai’s wife Gu Kailai is a high-level lawyer who has been working for many years. The two have been together for many years and Bo himself was once the head of the Ministry of Commerce, and thus often negotiated international legal issues with foreign opponents. Because of this, Bo Xilai should have a solid conception and knowledge of the law.

But in the end, in the Li Zhuang case, the organs of justice in Chongqing left a bad impression that they might violate legal procedures. Precisely because of this, some people’s opinions on Bo Xilai changed dramatically. I myself once wrote an essay expressing pity that Bo Xilai hadn’t turned out to be the sort of high-quality modern politician [we had hoped].

Chongqing was a small pond for a big fish – Bo Xilai appeared to have hoped for a permanent seat in the CCP’s central politburo, but landed the job as party secretary of Chongqing instead. Chongqing wasn’t an insignificant city, but it was far from where central Chinese power was. Only an alernate politburo membership linked him to Beijing. From 2008, his Maoist song events raised nationwide attention, and even beyond China – Henry Kissinger apparently leapt at the chance Schröder had missed.

In 2011, Bo Xilai started his second campaign for a permanent seat at the CCP’s top table. While the Economist found Bo’s style refreshing, it noted nervously that

The region’s party chief, Bo Xilai, is campaigning for a place on the Politburo Standing Committee in next year’s leadership shuffle. He looks likely to succeed. Like every other Chinese politician since 1949, he avoids stating his ambitions openly, but his courting of the media and his attempts to woo the public leave no one in any doubt. Mr Bo’s upfront style is a radical departure from the backroom politicking that has long been the hallmark of Communist rule and would seem like a refreshing change, were it not that some  of his supporters see him as the Vladimir Putin of China. Mr Bo is a populist with an iron fist. He has waged the biggest crackdown on mafia-style gangs in his country in recent years. He has also been trying to foster a mini-cult of Mao, perhaps in an effort to appeal to those who are disillusioned with China’s cut-throat capitalism.

Bo didn’t appear to aim for the top job as secretary general, the Economist noted, as that position appeared to have been reserved for Xi Jinping. Indeed, Xi succeeded Hu Jintao as party secretary general in autumn 2012, and as state chairman in March 2013.

Bo Xilai’s plans didn’t work that smoothly. In November 2011, a British citizen, Neil Heywood, died in a hotel in Chongqing. Given that Chinese courts don’t work independently from the party, the circumstances of his death can’t be considered resolved. A Chinese court found Gu Kailai, Bo Xilai’s wife, guilty of killing Heywood, and after only one day in court, she got a suspended death sentence.

The BBC‘s China editor Carrie Gracie tried to shed light on the circumstances of Bo Xilai’s rise and fall, and the role Heywood’s death played in the latter, but didn’t find too many interlocutors. Instead, she presented a Rocky Horror Picture Show of elite power struggles with Chinese characteristics. Bo Xilai as the avenger of the common man, a crashing, media-savvy scourge of organized crime, who addressed the public directly, without party media filtering. That hadn’t happened since Mao’s days – “think Donald Trump”.

With support from local police chief Wang Lijun, who fancied leading roles in martial-arts television, too, Bo had exercised a regime that labeled opponents as mafiosi and not only jailed them, but expropriated them too, in favor of Chongqing’s budgets.

It isn’t contested that Bo Xilai and Wang Lijun prosecuted the real or supposed gangsters’ advocates, too, with questionable means. Gracie quotes one of these advocates, Li Zhuang (see above, Zhang Wen’s criticism of Bo Xilai), as Li describes how he was arrested by Wang Lijun personally:

The scene was so over-the-top, loads of police cars surrounding the plane, riot police in helmets and camouflage, armed with submachine guns. I asked, “Why the big show? Is it Obama’s state visit or are you capturing Osama Bin Laden?”

We were surrounded by a huge scrum of reporters. He wanted to show his authority on camera. He was in a trench coat, hands in his pockets. He said: “Li Zhuang, we meet again.”

There were admirers of Bo and Wang, there were critics and enemies, and there were people who detested the two. But at the grassroots, the fans appeared to be numerous. According to Gracie, there are still many.

Making inconvenient lawyers disappear was no unique feature of Bo Xilai, however. The party leadership with Xi Jinping at the core has been proving for years that to them, the rule of law is a theroretical nicety they may or may not care about.

Gracie reduces the causes of conflict between the noisy polit-soloist Bo Xilai and the basically “collectivist” leadership in Beijing on a personal rivalry between princeling Bo and princeling Xi.

Certainly, top politicians’ egos can hardly be overestimated, and when they are Chinese, ostentatious modesty shouldn’t fool anyone.

But Xi alone wouldn’t have gotten Bo under control. Neither with the sudden Neil-Heywood scandal – that became known as the Wang-Lijun incident in China after the police chief fled into the next US consulate and being passed on to the central authorities from there (but only after having spilled the beans). Nor otherwise.

The question suggests itself if Bo Xilai’s career wasn’t finished in summer 2011 anyway, given wide-spread disapproval among the party elite, of his egotistic leadership style in Chongqing.

“Unity is strength” was one of the “red songs” Bo Xilai had them sing in Chongqing (above: October 8, 2009). But it wasn’t only the Xi faction that saw a lack of just that on Bo’s part. Bo was putting himself forward, and that had been a taboo during all the post-Mao years.

He didn’t denigrate his leading comrades – appearances like that of Donald Trump as a campaigner, cursing fellow members of his political class, would have been inconceivable. But putting himself into the limelight (and casting it away from others) amounted to the same thing, by Chinese standards. Besides, given his anti-corruption renown, sanctimonious as it may have been, could have threatened his “comrades”. A tribun within their ranks – that couldn’t work.

Xi Jinping and his predecessor Hu Jintao are said to be rivals. But within the Hu camp, Bo’s populism didn’t seem to resonate either. On the contrary: Wen Jiabao, chief state councillor (aka “prime minister”) during the Hu Jintao era, had been a tireless, even if unsuccessful, advocate of political reform, way beyond economics or technology.

At a press conference in March 2012, after the closing ceremony of the annual “parliament” plenary sessions, Wen warned that China wasn’t immune against another cultural revolution. That John Garnaut, an Australian correspondent in Beijing, got the opportunity to talk with Hu Dehua, one of Hu Yaobang’s sons, may also count as an indication that the comparatively liberal factions in the party leadership were at least as sick of Bo Xilai’s revolutionary operas, as were the Xi supporters.

Garnaut, two weeks after Wen’s press conference, in an indirect account of his conversation with Hu Dehua*):

Hu Dehua told his father how pessimistic he felt about his country’s future. Hu Yaobang agreed that the methods and ideologies of the 1987 anti-liberalization movement came straight from the Cultural Revolution. But he told his son to gain some historical perspective, and reminded him that Chinese people were not joining in the elite power games as they had 20 years before. He called the anti-liberalization campaign a “medium-sized cultural revolution” and warned that a small cultural revolution would no doubt follow, Hu Dehua told me. As society developed, Hu Yaobang told his son, the middle and little cultural revolutions would gradually fade from history’s stage.

From there, everything went fast. Still in March, Bo was dismissed as Chongqing’s party chief. He also lost his alternate membership in the politburo. In summer 2012, his wife Gu Kailai got her commuted death sentence, and in September 2013, Bo was sentenced to life in prison – based on the usual charges for unrigged politicians: corruption.

Is there a Chongqing Heritage?

At first glance, Bo Xilai’s “populism” or “Maoism” is finished. But Bo counted as a champion of many Chinese from the political left. A comment in German weekly Die Zeit, in September 2013, saw the verdict against Bo as a signal from the top that resistance against economic reform was futile.

To assess Bo Xilai’s political heritage objectively. The CCP may be beyond the era when beaten opponents were airbrushed from all photos and records. But the question about how publicly or privately-owned China’s economy should be might impose itself with any questions about Bo Xilai, and the now seven-member standing committee of the politburo can’t use such questions.

A political scientist of Beijing University, He Weifang (贺卫方), hinted at problems in assessing the Chongqing Model’s performance, from 2007 to 2012:

It is generally believed that the so-called “Chongqing Model” is mainly shaped by three aspects: “red culture” on the political level, “targeted actions against dark and evil forces in Chongqing“, and the reduction of the income gaps between the poor and the rich. The most criticized aspects are the former two, although there is support for the two of them in Chongqing and elsewhere. The third aspect isn’t that controversial. However, all data published concerning the efficiency of the measures taken to narrow the income gap are actually issued by the Chongqing authorities, and therefore lacking neutral assessment. Also, we can see that the whole process is strongly government-led, whose focus isn’t on creating a market logic of equal opportunities. If this approach will or will not lead to mistakes in financial policies, including the rural land policies‘ impartiality, is also questionable. And then there are concerns about life today being lead on future earnings, short-term inputs being made to curry favor with the public, which may come at high future costs.

答:一般认为,所谓的重庆模式主要由三方面内容构成:政治层面上的红色文化,执法层面上的“打黑除恶”以及民生方面的缩小贫富差距。最受诟病的是前两者,虽然在重庆和其他地方,似乎也有一些人人对于“唱红”和“打黑”表达支持。第三方面内容相对较少争议。不过,那些举措究竟对于缩小贫富差距产生了怎样的效果,目前得到的信息都是由重庆当局发布的,缺少中立的评估。另外,我们可以看到整个过程是在政府强势主导下进行的,其重点并非创造机会均等的市场逻辑。这种做法是否会带来财政决策中的失误,包括重庆所推行的农村土地政策的公正性,都是大可怀疑的。还有寅吃卯粮的隐忧,短期内的高投入讨好了民众,但是却需要未来付出巨大的代价。

If Bo Xilai was a populist, one of Donald Trump’s kind, or Putin’s, or Neil Farage’s, or whoever, one has to ask oneself how much influence he has maintained over Chinese politics to this day. After all, populists like Geert Wilders aren’t ineffective, merely because they can’t lay their hands on the imperial regalia.

When looking at European populism – that’s only a snapshot, of course -, one can get the impression that populists may not be elected, but they do leave marks on politics, from Merkel’s Willkommenskultur back to the traditional Christian Democrats’ policies, and Britain’s Brexit, implemented not by its original proponents, but by Theresa May, who had used to be a lukewarm supporter of Britain’s EU membership.

Populism is hardly ever the common peoples’ business, but that of the elites. The battles are fought within the political class, as observed by Hu Yaobang in the late 1980s. That is about as true in Europe. However, these battles within the superstructure may create or intensify certain trends in the public mood – and once policies have moved sufficiently into the “populist” direction, the support for these parties wanes, and the electorate turns back to the long-established parties. After all, Joe Blow doesn’t want to look like an extremist.

When Xi Jinping announced China’s new role as a guardian of free trade at the Davos forum in January, German Handelsblatt China correspondent Stephan Scheuer hailed the party and state leader’s “dressing-down for populists”. In Davos, Xi had become “a pioneer of fair-minded globalization”.

What could be beginning to show in China is a comparatively strong Maoist component in propaganda, as long as this doesn’t come at the cost of China’s privileged, and as long as this doesn’t require substantial reallocation of means or wealth to poor classes of population, or laggard regions. But whenever the name “Bo Xilai” should appear in any token event, the exorcists will be just around the corner.

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