Archive for ‘China’

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Weekend Links: Western Linguistic Manipulation, Destabilizing Russian Propaganda

Bicycles in Bremen-Sebaldsbrück, August 2015

“The world is upside down”,
said the wrong-way driver

1. China wants an Apology from the Japanese Emperor

That’s what Xinhua demanded on Tuesday, anyway: “Injustice has a source, a loan has a lender” (冤有头,债有主).

2. China wants North Korea to shut up

That’s because North Korea wanted South Korean loudspeakers to shut up. That has now happened, but on Monday, the loudspeaker crisis wasn’t yet resolved, and that was terrible, because South Korean president Park Geun-hye considered to stay at home in Seoul, due to the bad political weather on the Korean peninsula, rather than attending the PLA military parade on September 3.

Korean tensions won’t take China hostage, announced the “Global Times”, the quasi-Chinese parallel universe for foreigners who don’t understand Chinese, suspecting that certain forces in Pyongyang, Seoul, or outside the peninsula are gambling on this. Sino-NK compares the article in English and its – somewhat different – Chinese original.

The anger was actually understandable, as sino-narcissistic as it may have been. After all, Park’s attendance – now (re)confirmed – lends a lot of face to the parade of an army which actually had comparatively little to do with the defeat of Japanese imperialism, as Taiwanese president (and former KMT chairman) Ma Ying-jeou pointed out last month.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon can hardly be considered one of the certain forces in Pyongyang, Seoul, or outside the peninsula anyway. According to Reuters, citing Xinhua, he has defended his trip to Beijing next week to watch a military parade marking the end of World War Two following concern from Japan. Ban is scheduled to attend the sublime distortion of history, too.

Ban defended his planned attendance in Beijing next week after Japan’s foreign ministry had sent a message to the United Nations, saying that the events draw attention to the past for no purpose and that the United Nations should remain neutral, and a senior ministry official expressed strong dissatisfaction with Ban’s plan to observe the military parade in Tiananmen Square.

Tokyo’s top diplomats apparently felt an urgent need to prove that you don’t need to be Xinhua to talk like a wide-mouth frog.

3. China wants to cast off Western Linguistic Manipulation

This is what Huanqiu Shibao, translated and quoted by Fei Chang Dao, actually meant in its editorial on Thursday: a need to cast off Western linguistic manipulations and steer clear of the linguistic traps that they set when it comes to democratic concepts. CCP democratic practice proves that most “lingustic traps” are digital these days.

4. India is a Victim of such Manipulation

No, Mao Siwei, a former consul-general to Kolkata, doesn’t say that. He only suggests that India’s political system has (or leads to) problems, with all important legislation stalled in parliament. And he doesn’t even say that. He only quotes a Times of India editorial that says so.

5. How Marco Rubio would “deal with China”

On the basis of strength and example, of course, like any presidential candidate, prior to entering the White House and inheriting his predecessors desk (and files). Marco Rubio‘s first goal – repeat: first goal – would be to restore America’s strategic advantage in the Pacific. How so? By restoring the Pentagon’s budget to its appropriate level, of course:

This will allow us to neutralize China’s rapidly growing capabilities in every strategic realm, including air, sea, ground, cyber space and even outer space.

And

I will also promote collaboration among our allies, as America cannot and need not bear the full burden of counterbalancing China’s power.

Well, some of them will be in Beijing on Thursday, saying Hello to the victorious “People’s Liberation Army”. Maybe Rubio should first ask America’s quasi-allies in East Asia what they are going to spend on their countries’ military. Hegemony is unsustainable. Partnership might work.

6. Contested Economist Obituary of Tashi Tsering

The Economist published an obituary on Tashi on December 20 last year, and Woeser, who apparently furnished the news magazine with a photo taken by her husband Wang Lixiong ten years earlier, took issue with several points of the article. A few days after the Economist’s publication, she had recorded her objections. High Peaks Pure Earth offers an English translation. (Btw, Woeser also unveils the identity of the author of the Economist’s obituary – as a rule, authors remain anonymous there. The Economist explains why.)

7. Women can’t keep a Secret secret

Hilary Clinton can’t, Woeser can’t (see previous note, re the Economist’s Tashi Tsering obituary and its now uncovered author), and nor can Ambassador Caroline Kennedy.

Anyway, who cares. In the digital age, secrets are rapidly going out of fashion.

8. No “Russia Today” Rep Office in Latvia

According to Delfi, a Baltic online publication quoted by Euromaidan Press, the Latvian Registry of Enterprises denied permission to RT, saying that “the documents submitted by Russia Today contradict the Constitution of Latvia as well as several other laws”. Seconding the decision, the National Council of Electronic Media in Latvia reportedly alleged that the goal of the Russia Today Russian state news agency is to spread biased information in the information space to support the interests of Russia’s foreign policy.

A People’s Daily article in April suggested that the European Union was on the defensive in a “propaganda war” with Russia.

A rapid-response team to counter the destabilizing influence of Russian propaganda is now being established by the European Service of Foreign Affairs, writes Euromaidan Press.

Friday, August 28, 2015

“People’s Daily” on Russian-Western Propaganda Competition (April 2015)

The following is “old news”, a People’s Daily online article from April this year, but I think it will continue to matter. Hence the following translation. Links within blockquotes added during translation.

I have some thoughts of my onw about what is being said in the article – and I can’t confirm the accuracy of what its authors wrote. It’s a mere translation, for reference, and maybe for later use — JR

Main Link: International Viewpoint: Europe, America and Russia measuring their Strengths in the International Public Opinion Arena

Source: April 10, 2015, People’s Daily / People’s Daily online. European correspondent Ren Yan, U.S. correspondent Chen Lidan, Russia correspondent Lin Xuedan, People’s Daily / People’s Daily online, April 10, 2015

Picture: “Russia Today” international news agency organizing a video link concerning the Ukraine crisis – photo by our correspondent Lin Xudan

“今日俄罗斯”国际新闻通讯社日前就乌克兰危机问题进行视频连线。 本报记者 林雪丹摄

The European Union has decided to formulate a plan for the dissemination of information on their Riga summit in May, including mainly the preparation of a Russian-language television station or radio station and similar Russian-language media, to counter the growing Russian influence in international public opinion. Not long ago, American foreign secretary John Kerry acknowledged in a sub-committee session of the Senate that Russia had been successful in international communications. There are Russian scholars who believe that Russian media are in advantage in their response to the Ukraine crisis, making European countries feel uneasy, with the pattern of international public opinion undergoing new changes.

欧盟决定在5月举行的里加峰会上拟定一项信息传播计划,主要内容包括筹建俄语电视台或广播电台等俄文媒体,以应对俄罗斯在国际舆论场上日益增强的影响力。不久前,美国国务卿约翰·克里在参议院的一个小组委员会上也公开承认,俄罗斯在对外传播上取得了成功。有俄罗斯学者认为,在应对乌克兰危机的媒体报道中,俄罗斯占明显优势,令欧洲国家感到不安,国际舆论格局正在发生新的变化。

The EU – Launching a “counterpropaganda war'” against Russia

欧盟——向俄罗斯发起“反宣传战”

A European External Action Service official recently confirmed to this reporter that the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, is heading a team which is wildly beating gongs and drums to devise an action plan specifically targeted at Russia. The plan is scheduled to be finished before the end of June. The plan includes preparations for a Russian-language television station or radio station, transmitting to citizens of former Soviet republics, people of Soviet-republic ancestry, and to Russia.

欧盟对外行动署一名官员近日向本报记者证实,欧盟外交与安全政策高级代表莫盖里尼带领一个团队,正在紧锣密鼓地制定一份专门针对俄罗斯进行宣传的行动计划,要在6月前完成。该计划包括筹建俄语电视台和电台,对原苏联加盟共和国的俄罗斯裔民众和俄罗斯民众进行定向传播等内容。

At the beginning of this year, several European countries, including Britain, Denmark, Latvia, and Estonia, called for the establishment of a Russian-language television or radio station to launch a “counterpropaganda war” at Russia. Danish foreign minister Martin Lidegaard said that Russia was actively conducting propaganda and [successfully] managed public opinion, but the EU had sufficiently reacted to this threat. He believed in a need for a long-term response mechanism [may be, but doesn’t have to be the term actually used or meant by the former foreign minister or the reporting journalist, but my take of 应对机制 during translation – JR], i. e. the establishment of a Russian-language television station and other mass media, and broadcasting news in Russian very frequently. Russian deputy foreign minister Aleksey Meshkov  believes that this activity by a number of European countries and their advocacy of the concept of free speech are counterproductive. He says that Russia has respected the principle of freedom of speech all the way, however, Europe is doing the exact opposite.

今年年初,包括英国、丹麦、拉脱维亚和爱沙尼亚在内的欧洲多国呼吁欧盟建立俄语电视台向俄罗斯发起“反宣传战”。丹麦外交大臣利泽高表示,俄积极利用媒体就乌克兰问题“宣传造势”“操控舆论”,但欧盟方面对这种威胁并没有进行足够的回应。他认为有必要建立长期的应对机制,即建立俄语电视台等大众媒体,高频度地用俄语播发新闻。对此,俄外交部副部长梅什科夫认为,欧洲多国的这一举动与其所倡导的言论自由理念相悖。他表示,俄罗斯始终积极遵循言论自由的原则,但欧洲却反其道而行之。

An article published by a mainstream website, “European Developments” [“欧洲动态”], believes that thirty years ago, Russia had been on the defensive in the propaganda war with the EU. At the time, the EU had strong propaganda organs, such as Radio Free Europe, Deutsche Welle, and other media, incessantly broadcasting to Russian listeners in their language. Afterwards, the EU gradually cut down its spending on the propaganda war, and by now, Russia has won the advantage. Two EU diplomats who gave interviews [or an interview] to that website [i. e. 欧洲动态] dispiritedly said that the EU was losing in the propaganda war with Russia and that now, the unfavorable situation needed to be turned around as quickly as possible.

欧盟主流媒体之一“欧洲动态”网站载文认为,30年前,俄罗斯在与欧盟的宣传战中处于守势,那时的欧盟拥有强大的宣传机器,如自由欧洲电台、德国之声等媒体,不间断地对俄罗斯听众进行俄语广播。后来欧盟逐渐削减了对俄宣传战的投入,到现在俄罗斯反而在宣传战中占了上风。欧盟两位外交官在接受该网站采访时沮丧地表示,欧盟在宣传战中输给了俄罗斯,现在必须要尽快扭转这种不利局面。

America – Doubts in the U.S. International Broadcasting Reform Bill

美国——国际传播改革法案受质疑

The US Broadcasting Board of Governors members include the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe / Free Asia and other broadcasters. The media under its flag are broadcasting to 125 countries and regions in 65 languages. A questionnaire survery of thirty senior US diplomacy officials and experts showed that America is currently losing out to Russia’s propaganda war. They believed that the key problem was insufficient government funding, with the amount spent being only one tenth of what Russia was spending. The way the Voice of America developed was indicative of the overall trend among America’s foreign broadcasting media. In 2008, the Voice of America’s Russian broadcasts, with a history of sixty years, were terminated and transferred to the internet, but the Voice of America was apparently unable to get into step with the rhythm of the internet, and a lot of old news has been found on their [Russian-language] website. On social media, no matter if the number of fans or sharing is the issue, the numbers are far behind the U.S. Department of State, a non-news organization. Many former journalists and employees of the Voice of America believe that the Broadcasting Board of Governors as the mainly responsible body [for running VoA] must assume considerable responsibility for its bad work.

美国广播理事会成员包括美国之音、自由电台等,它旗下的媒体用65种语言向世界125个国家和地区进行广播。该机构3月下旬对30多名美国外交领域资深官员和专家的问卷调查显示,美国正在输掉对俄罗斯的宣传战,认为关键问题是官方拨款不足,数额要比俄罗斯用于宣传的经费少十倍。美国之音的发展代表了美国对外媒体的整体趋势。2008年,有60多年历史的美国之音俄语广播停播转向互联网,但美国之音似乎未能跟上互联网的节奏,其网站上曾被发现充斥着旧闻。在社交媒体上,无论是粉丝数,还是转发数都远远落后于非新闻机构的美国国务院。不少原供职于美国之音的记者、管理人员认为,主管机构广播理事会的不良运作需要承担相当大的责任。

During the past ten years, the Broadcasting Board of Governors’ mission has been doubted. In 2014, US House of Representatives foreign relations  committee chairman Ed Royce submitted the United States International Communications Reform Act, which was adopted. The bill positioned the Voice of America as an important tool for American public diplomacy, demanding that the focus of coverage be on propagandizing [or promoting] American foreign policies, and planning for the replacement of the Broadcasting Board of Governors by a United States International Communications Agency.

过去10年来,美国广播理事会的使命备受质疑。2014年,美国众议院外交事务委员会主席爱德华·罗伊斯向众议院提交了《美国国际传播改革法案》并获得通过。该法案把美国之音定位为美国公共外交的重要工具,要求其报道焦点放在美国外交政策的宣传上,并计划成立美国国际传播署取代广播理事会。

Currently, the bill remains at the stage of discussion within the US Congress, but the road of propaganda designed by the bill has already drawn criticism within America. The “Washington Post” worried in an editorial that this kind of reform could weaken the credibility of the Voice of America’s coverage. And the renowned “Foreign Affairs” magazine said that if this bill was passed and implemented, America’s foreign broadcasting organ would completely lose its independent character and become a White House mouthpiece.

目前该法案仍停留在美国国会内部商议阶段,但该法案所设计的政府宣传之路已经在美国国内引起非议。《华盛顿邮报》在一篇社论中就担心,如此改革将会削弱美国之音报道的可信度。美国著名的《外交》杂志称,如果通过并实施,美国对外广播机构将完全丧失独立性,成为白宫的传声筒。

Russia – in the process of building a strong “media aircraft carrier”

俄罗斯——正在构建强大“媒体航母”

In the Ukraine crisis, Russian media, represented by “Russia Today”, have caught a lot of attention. “Russia Today’s” first editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan says that the goal of “Russia Today” is “to present an unbiased image of Russia” and to provide coverage of world news from a Russian point of view. According to some analysts, it isn’t only “Russia Today”, but all of Russia’s media circles who are participating in the efforts of building a strong “media aircraft carrier”.

乌克兰危机中,以“今日俄罗斯”为代表的俄罗斯媒体引人注目。“今日俄罗斯”首任总编辑西蒙尼扬表示,创办“今日俄罗斯”的目的是为了向世界呈现一个“没有偏见的俄罗斯国家形象”,用俄罗斯的观点报道全球新闻。有分析认为,不仅仅是“今日俄罗斯”,整个俄罗斯媒体界都参与到构建强大“媒体航母”的努力中。

“Russia Today”, established in 2005, currently operates channels in English, Russian, Spanish and Arabic, and has opened French and German websites. Among these, the English broadcasts have established two separate channels, including “Russia Today International” and “Russia Today America”. More than 100 English-speaking reporters provide reports on a global scale. High-quality, ingenious reports have led to 700 million viewers in more than 100 countries, not only earning “Russia Today” gains in viewing rates, but also recognition from peers in the international [broadcasting] industry. In 2012, “Russia Today’s” “Occupy Wall Street” program won the 美国国际电视包装设计大奖 [this apparently refers to a a bronze Promax/BDA Global Excellence award], in 2013, “Russia Today” defeated CNN News network, Sky News, and Al Jazeera, winning the Monte Carlo Television Festival award.

成立于2005年的“今日俄罗斯”现有英语、俄语、西班牙语和阿拉伯语频道,并开设了法语和德语网站。其中,英语播报单独分设了两个频道,包括“今日俄罗 斯”国际和“今日俄罗斯”美国。有超过100名英语记者在全球范围提供报道。高质量兼具独创性的报道令“今日俄罗斯”在全球100多个国家拥有7亿观众, 不仅为“今日俄罗斯”赢得了收视率,还获得了国际同行的高度认可。2012年,“今日俄罗斯”的“占领华尔街”节目获得美国国际电视包装设计大 奖;2013年,“今日俄罗斯”击败美国有线电视新闻网、天空新闻和半岛电视台,获得“蒙特卡洛电视节大奖”。

To capitalize on “Russia Today’s” experiences of success, the Russian government decided to integrate the state media, to increase the effectiveness of foreign broadcasting. At the end of 2013, the Russian government invested huge amounts to reorganize RIA Novosti newsagency and the “Voice of Russia” into the “Russia Today” international news agency [aka Rossiya Segodnya -this means “Russia Today”, but the “Russia Today” television station described in the translated article so far is a separate organization. I’ll translate the news agency’s name as Rossiya Segodnya from here, to avoid confusion]. Rossiya Segodnya news agency’s deputy editor-in-chief, Pavel Andreyev, explained to this reporter that the agency combined the two state-owned media’s correspondent offices abroad, and is using streamlined resources to gradually increase the number of reporting bureaus, and embarked on creating twelve news gathering centers all over the world.

借鉴“今日俄罗斯”成功的经验,俄政府决定整合国有媒体,提升对外传播的有效性。2013年底,俄政府斥巨资将俄新社、“俄罗斯之声”广播电台两大媒体重 组为“今日俄罗斯”国际新闻通讯社。该通讯社副总编辑安德烈耶夫向本报记者介绍,在布局上,新通讯社合并了两家媒体原有的国外记者站,并利用精简的资源进 一步扩充了记者站数量,还着手在全球组建12个新闻采编中心。在内容上,通讯社开通了15条新闻专线,网站新闻供应量显著增加,实现了对全球新闻的无时差 报道。同时,在原有基础上增设近20个语种的广播。

Gusev, a researcher from the Russian Institute of Sciences’ Institute of Europe, said in an interview with this reporter that in the media information war concerning the Ukraine crisis, Russia had significant advantages, making European countries feel uneasy, with the pattern of international public opinion undergoing new changes.

俄罗斯科学院欧洲研究所研究员古谢夫在接受本报记者采访时表示,在有关乌克兰危机的媒体信息战中,俄罗斯占显著优势,令欧洲国家感到不安,国际舆论格局正在发生新的变化。

(People’s Daily online Brussels, Washington DC, Moscow reports)

(人民网布鲁塞尔、华盛顿、莫斯科4月9日电)

“People’s Daily” (April 10, 2015, page 21)

《 人民日报 》( 2015年04月10日 21 版)

____________

Related

» EU launches operation, EurActiv, Mar 20, 2015
» Mythbusters, Newsweek, Mar 20, 2015
» EU set to fight back, BBC, Mar 18, 2015
» Not attractive enough, ECFR, Jan 20, 2015
» Mindless competition, Jan 6, 2015
» The Russians do propaganda, Nov 25, 2014

____________

Friday, August 28, 2015

Investigations at “People’s Daily” Online: two Executives, Leading Editors “taken away”

China’s supreme procurate’s website reported on Friday that Henan procurate has opened investigations (立案侦查) concerning People’s Daily Online director and former chief editor  Liao Hong (廖玒), and board member and deputy director Chen Zhixia (陈智霞), reports the BBC Mandarin service online.

The online service should not be confused with the paper edition of People’s Daily.

According to the South China Morning Post (SCMP), quoting a public profile, Liao was a founding member of the People’s Daily website. He had worked for the paper and its digital department for 19 years after graduating from the Beijing University of Technology. Both he and Chen had been taken away for investigation, the SCMP wrote on Thursday. The Hong Konger paper also writes that Liao had been under a lot of pressure after lending support to the publication of  “Under the Dome”, a documentary about air pollution in China, on the website.

According to the BBC, official confirmation of the investigations came after Caixin Online (财新网) and Southern Weekend (南方周末) had already quoted numerous sources saying that Kiao and Chen had been taken away for investigations.

The BBC also quotes news people who saw links between these two investigations and the case of Xu Hui (徐辉), then deputy editor in chief at People’s Daily online. Xu was put under investigation in May this year, and was reportedly accused or suspected of blackmail, and of taking bribes from people who had become subject to supervision by public opinion (舆论监督). The accusations might come across as an accusation similar to one made against former Central Military Commission vice chairman Guo Boxiong, who had been accused of 用职务便利, i. e. taking “advantage of his job”, or office. In the context of supervision by public opinion, it would refer to advantages from the job of an influential journalist. Concerning Xu Hui, Radio Free Asia (RFA) was rather specific about what accusations like these could mean, citing allegations that Xu had approached various companies and threatened to publish negative news stories about them if they didn’t buy advertising on the site.

All that said and written, the “investigations” may just as likely be mere tools in an inofficial-official campaign against critical journalism, be it in the context of the “Under the Dome” documentary, or in any other context.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Some of this Week’s Links: Heroes and Ultra-Vulgar Butchers

1. “All of them are Heroes” – a Soundbyte and its Story

A Hong Kong television station had a small scoop of sorts, or so it seems to feel to both the station, and to Xinhua. They [update: the HK tv station, that is] conducted an apparent surprise interview with Chinese chief state councillor Li Keqiang. This is how Xinhua reported the encounter, apparently on the same day.

According to the Weibo channel of Xinhua newsagency’s Xinhua Viewpoint program, chief state councillor Li Keqiang, on a visit to the injured at Tianjin Taida Hospital, was abruptly approached by a Hong Kong journalist who, using his cell-phone camera, asked minute questions about “unlisted firefighters”. The chief state councillor interrupted his walk and said that the active-service and non-active-service rescuers had all received training, were all fully aware that the fireground was dangerous, but had all left the danger to themselves. Their sacrifices are saddening us. All of them are heroes, and there are no “unlisted” heroes!

据新华社“新华视点”微博报道,李克强总理16日在天津泰达医院看望伤者时,一名香港记者突然冲过来用手机拍摄并追问“编外消防员”问题。总理停下脚步说,参加施救的现役和非现役消防人员都受过培训,他们明知火场有危险,但把危险留给自己。他们的牺牲让我们痛心。他们都是英雄,英雄没有“编外”!

Unlisted apparently refers to contract firefighters.

The Nanfang also gave a description of the interview, and linked to the tv station’s video (edited or not, can’t judge that) of it. There seems to be nothing extraordinary about the interview by international standards, and the crucial soundbyte – that all of them are heroes, and there are no unlisted heroscomes at 1′ 14”. Li Keqiang also thanked the reporter “for asking this question and showing your concern for the injured”.

2. “Drawing Profits from selling Ranks and Titles (in Zhongmou)

Some estimates say that the number of rights lawyers has grown from just a handful to […] over a thousand, Yaxue Cao and Yaqiu Wang write in a China Change post published on Wednesday. Going through a July-19 article by China News Service (CNS, 中国新闻社), linked to from the China Change article, you might get the impressoin that corruption charges may not only be politically motivated when brought against party flies or tigers, but they are also weapons in efforts to smear dissidents’ reputation. That may look pretty obvious anyway, but I’ve only become aware of it when reading

For the foreign, language-learning reader, the profitable thing about official lampoons like the one from CNS is that they usually come with some proverbs or classical references. It makes an – otherwise possibly unpleasant – treatise catchy, and helps to create the impression that the propaganda were handed out by trustworthy people.

A short taster from the CNS article:

According to police information, Zhou Shifeng, Wang Yu and other persons formed criminal gangs with Fengrui Law Office as a platform. Since July 2012, they have plotted in more than forty cases and incidents, waving sensational flags about “rights”, “the public good”, etc., seizing the opportunity of becoming famous and of drawing profits from Zhongmou.

根据警方的通报,以北京市锋锐律师事务所为平台,周世锋、王宇等人组成的犯罪团伙,自2012年7月以来,先后组织策划40余起案事件,打着“维权”“公益”等旗号炒作,借机出名,从中牟取利益。

Liu Sixin, administrative assistant at said law office, explains that Zhou Sifeng usually likes to recruit three kinds of people: those who dare to speak out, those who dare to act, and those who dare to hype issues, like “ultra-vulgar butcher” Wu Gan and Zhou himself. The second kind is people who hail from the petitional system and from the media, such as Huang Liqun, Xie Yuandong, etc.. And then there are so-called “die-hard” lawyers like Wang Yu, Wang Quanzhang who like to be defenders in sensitive incidents.

该所行政助理刘四新介绍,周世锋一般喜欢招揽3种人,第一种是敢说、敢干、敢炒作的,像“超级低俗屠夫”吴淦和他;第二种是原来在司法、信访系统以及媒体干过的人,像黄力群、谢远东等;还有就是像王宇、王全璋这种所谓的“死磕”律师,喜欢代理一些敏感事件。

The China Change post lists forteen rights lawyers and their stories.

3. Farting Snakes

And to end on a super-vulgar note today: did you know that a snake has an ass?

Now you know. Happy weekend.
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Updates/Related

» Crackdown intensifies, CS Monitor, July 13, 2015

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Tibetan Society Abroad

Guess where that picture was taken. The landscape might look Tibetan (to untrained eyes like mine, anyway), so does the building, and, obviously, the traditionally-dressed man in front of the building, anyway. But it is a scene from the U.S. state of Minnesota, and the photo is part of a Hampshire College student’s final year project – Tibetan migrants in the USA, and how they maintain their traditional way of life, or aspects of it.

More information about the project there.

Tibetan society and culture is extremely underreported, online and in the printed press. To make things worse, when you want to read Tibetan online sources, Google Translate doesn’t offer translations. Every bit of information in English helps.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Economist: CCP is “Plundering History to justify its Present-Day Ambitions”

Granted, this may become the first time after World War 2 that China commemorates the occasion with a big military parade, rather than with a solemn remembrance ceremony. But did it really take this upcoming September event to make The Economist aware that the Communist Party is plundering history to justify its present-day ambitions? That the Xi leadership is showing a blatant disregard for the fact that it was not the Chinese communists who bore the brunt of the fighting against Japan, but their sworn enemies, the nationalists (or Kuomintang) under Chiang Kai-shek? This is by far the most serious criticism of Beijing that I have seen in the Economist ever since I started reading about a decade ago. And it has been overdue.

To be clear: the Economist has been critical in the past, too. When China (apparently) slowed exports of rare-earth minerals to Japan after the arrest of a Chinese crawler crew by the Japanese coastguard, the paper referred to that as an especially nefarious turn. But that was at a time of open crisis. The real problem isn’t that there are occasional outbursts of Chinese wrath against once criminal or now obstinate neighbors. The problem is the daily mass indoctrination in Chinese schools and media.

The German press also appears to have become more critical. Random choice: “Doubtful of China”, a Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung headline a week ago, on August 12. The short leader on page one suggested that

for years, the Chinese government has marketed itself that successfully that one almost believed it could walk on water. Whatever unpleasant things it would do in terms of human rights, the economy worked out, and that was/is the real bottom line for many abroad. For a few weeks now, the high-gloss storefront is getting scratches. Another rather big one has been added by the Chinese central bank now. It has devalued the national currency as much as never in two decades, which is being analyzed on page 15.

In short, the paper quotes “observers” who doubt that the devaluation is a step towards liberalizing the exchange-rate regime, and hence a concession to IMF demands.

The quarrels about Beijing distorting economic competition isn’t new. But how the CCP is distorting history have hardly been a regular issue in the mainstream press. All the same, such views, publicized in no uncertain terms, should be welcomed and encouraged by all people who believe that truthfulness about history is important.

Truthfulness also requires self-criticism. Yes, Beijing is pretty good at selling itself and its record, as noted by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. But most of the successful propaganda work abroad hasn’t been done by Chinese propagandists or “public diplomats”. It has been done by the international press. And if China’s economy should become the big economic attraction again, be it for an unlikely return to double-digit growth rates or for any other reasons, expect the foreign adulation of the incredible strategists to resume.

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Related

» Do markets determine …, M. Pettis, Aug 18, 2015
» CCP should face history honestly, July 7, 2015
» China Cultural Year 2012, March 1, 2012
» Message to a Barbarian, June 26, 2011
» Fragility of Truth, Economist, Oct 8, 2009
» Covert business lobby, Project Censored, 1996/2010

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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Former leading Tianjin Cadre: Beijing won’t cover up Causes of Disaster, because there isn’t much to Lose

Asked by the BBC‘s Mandarin service if he believes that a former member of the politburo standing committee had been a patron for Ruihai Logistics, the company on whose premises the Tianjin explosions occurred last week, Dr. Zhang Wei (张炜), an economics lecturer at Cambridge University, said that this couldn’t be ruled out, but that the lawlessness that had led to the disaster could just as well be the fault of low-ranking local “snakes” (地头蛇). Both explanations were equally likely, he suggested.

Nextmedia, a magazine published in Hong Kong and Taiwan, had allegged in an online article on Saturday that a major shareholder of Ruihai Logistics were a nephew of former permanent politburo member Li Ruihuan (李瑞環) – this name, however, wasn’t repeated or quoted in the coverage mentioned in this post. Links to any former politburo heavyweights could be touchy information, given that citizens in Tianjin are demanding answers from the authorities as to why cargo of this accident level had been stored less than one kilometer from residential areas, and in apparently illegal quantities. Laying out a possible lawless structure that would be in line with the “local” theories, Time (online) quotes Chinese magazine Caijing as suggesting that one of the Ruihai stakeholders, Dong Mengmeng (董蒙蒙) had been the son of Dong Peijun (董培军) former public security director, an allegation also addressed by Zhang Wei, as quoted by the BBC.

But even if investigations should find traces to a former member of the politburo’s standing committee, Zhang thinks it unlikely that the current central leadership in Beijing would try to cover up the truth. A former member, rather than an incumbent, wouldn’t be of great use to the current government any more, and there would be no reason to halt the investigations.

According to the BBC, Zhang once served as secretary of Tianjin’s municipal Communist Youth League committee (共青团天津市委书记), as director of Tianjin Economic-Technological Development Area, as director for external economic matters at Tianjin municipal government, and in other functions. Zhang’s view of Chinese economic reform in the 1980s – and the slowdown or even reversal in reform during the 1990s – also influenced Huang Yasheng as he wrote Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics.

The explosions and the authorities’ difficulties in handling communication with the public didn’t reflect a public relations crisis (公关危机), the BBC quotes Zhang, but rather a problem rooted in the CCP’s belief in propaganda. Local officials and media in Tianjin had no powers to disclose information to the local public, but had to wait until Xinhua issued an integrated story. This seriously impaired or blocked flows of information.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Propaganda: After the Tianjin Explosions

If there’s a jetset of politicians, press people, propaganda workers etc. who discuss their work-related issues candidly, nation-building propaganda may play a role these days. It’s nothing new, but fashions come and go in waves – these are interesting times. The idea that disaster and death might be successfully used to develop stronger “social cohesion”, stronger and more sustainable nationalism etc. is sometimes noticeable in Radio Ukraine International‘s international broadcasts, and the concept also seems to shine through in Chinese media when it comes to more “ordinary” risks of life, such as the Tianjin explosions, for example. This seems to be nation-building propaganda. Sure, the Ruihai Logistics disaster is a local matter, but it gets national coverage, and Jimmy Lai’s Next Media suggests that a main shareholder of Ruihai were a nephew of former permanent politburo member Li Ruihuan.*) (This should be taken with a pinch of salt however; Nextmedia itself only writes that “there is information” in mainland China that this were so.)

While the CCP appears to be searching for more contemporary (i. e. refined) ways of controlling public opinion, the following is certainly a good sample of the (state) propaganda of choice, while a BBC article describes how less desirable views from the public are removed by the censors.

Xinwen Lianbo on August 13, 
with coverage from Tianjin 
(click picture for video)

Xinwen Lianbo on August 13, (click picture for video)


Main Link: “8-12” Ruihai Company Explosion at Chemical Warehouse at Tianjin Port / Binhai New Area: showing love by searching people, not leaving post Day and Night

Note: Links within blockquotes added during translation.

(Binhai New Area described by Wikipedia.)

Lead: There are two small relocation camps, with two tracing notes on a wall that are particularly eye-catching: “Looking for Pan Ruhua”, and “Feng Guangjie of Yuanda Waiqiang, if he sees this notice, is asked to contact his relatives”. … Behind every notice, there’s a family’s hope. Zhang Yulian is volunteering at the people search. Her job is to help scattered people to reunite with their relatives …

内容提要:在开发区二小安置点,一面贴满了寻人信息的墙格外惹眼,“寻人、潘汝华”“远大外墙的冯广杰,看到信息请及时与亲人联系” ……每一张纸背后是一个家庭的希望,张玉莲是一名“寻人”志愿者,她所作的事情,是帮助失散的人们和亲人团聚……

Tianjin Enorth Net news: In the afternoon of August 14, when Enorth reporter met with 59-year-old Zhang Yulian, she hadn’t been without sleep for one day and one night.

天津北方网讯:8月14日下午,当北方网新媒体记者见到59岁的张玉莲时,她已经一天一夜没合过眼了。

There are two small relocation camps, with two tracing notes on a wall that are particularly eye-catching: “Looking for Pan Ruhua”, and “Feng Guangjie of Yuanda Waiqiang, if he sees this notice, is asked to contact his relatives”. … Behind every notice, there’s a family’s hope. Zhang Yulian is volunteering at the people search. Her job is to help scattered people to reunite with their relatives. “As long as it is needed, we will remain in action,” says Zhang Yulian.

在开发区二小安置点,一面贴满了寻人信息的墙格外惹眼,“寻人、潘汝华”“远大外墙的冯广杰,看到信息请及时与亲人联系” ……每一张纸背后是一个家庭的希望,张玉莲是一名“寻人”志愿者,她所做的事情,是帮助失散的人们和亲人团聚。“只要有需要,我们就行动。”张玉莲说。

From right after the “8-12” Ruihai Company Explosion at Chemical Warehouse at Tianjin Port, Zhang Yulian, who had heard the news on her return from Guangzhou, didn’t hesitate to leave her family in Beichen District and hurried to the two small relocation camps in the development zone. Here, Zhang Yuli, who had done volunteering work in Guangzhou for many years, joined the volunteering ranks [in Binhai New Area].

从天津港危险化学品仓库8.12瑞海公司爆炸事故发生之后,刚刚从广州回到天津的张玉莲刚听到这个消息,没有犹豫就立即从北辰区的家中出发,奔赴开发区二小安置点。在这里,在广州从事很多年志愿服务的张玉莲加入了志愿者的队伍。

I came to the relocation camp on August 13, at noon, and a lot of people are needed for help, as there’s a lot to do.” Zhang Yulian says, “right when I arrived here, I and other volunteers helped conveying supplies and to maintain order.”

“我是13日上午到安置点的,这里需要帮助的人很多,要做的事情也很多。”张玉莲说,“刚来到这里的时候,我和其他的志愿者一起,帮忙搬送物资、维护秩序。”

After a short while, Zhang Yulian found that for many people, after the accident, was to know if their relatives were safe. From the moment Zhang Yulian arrived at the relocation camp, all the time, she could see anxious citizens searching for their relatives. This touched her. I can understand how they feel. After an accident, the most important thing is to know if your family people are well.” Therefore, Zhang Yulian felt that maybe, she could do something more important herself.

没过多久,张玉莲发现,对于很多人来说,发生事故之后,最重要的事情是知道自己的亲人是否平安。从张玉莲到达安置点那一刻开始,几乎每时每刻都能看到焦急寻找亲人的市民,他们的心情让张玉莲感同身受。“我非常能理解他们的心情,事故发现之后,最着急的就是家人是否平安。”于是,张玉莲觉得,或许有更重要的事情要自己来做。

Therefore, beginning at noon on August 13, “people search notes” were collected, and put on a wall at the two relocation camps, it became a place for citizens to post their notices concerning missing people. Dozens of notes were posted here, with the names and  physical descriptions of the missing people, and contact phone numbers. Zhang Yulian firmly stays on her post, she hasn’t slept for one day and one night. To provide convenience to the citizens, Zhang Yulian and other volunteers have paper and pens ready, and every people-search notice is pasted to the wall once written to assist the citizens who pass by, and the volunteers, when getting to other relocation camps, gather information about missing people there, too, register the information, and take it back to the two small relocation camps in the development zone. On every piece of information, the volunteers act on their own initiative, make efforts to spread information through friends circles on We Chat, micro blogs and similar channels, and to mobilize relatives and friends to join the ranks of the volunteers.

于是,从13日中午开始,“寻人信息”开始被搜集,在开发区二小教学楼的一面墙壁上,成为了市民发布“寻人启事”的地方,数十条寻人信息在这里发布,一张张白纸上,写着要寻找的人的姓名、体貌特征和联系人电话。张玉莲就在这里“坚守阵地”,一天一夜没有动过地方。为了给市民提供便利,张玉莲和志愿者们还准备了纸笔,每一条寻人信息都仔细登记后,然后在张贴在墙上,方便来来往往的市民查看,除了有在安置点里的市民前来登记的信息,志愿者们到其他安置点服务的时候,也自发地开始搜集各种寻人信息,然后细心登记核实好,带回到开发区二小安置点中。每收到一条信息,志愿者们就自发行动起来,尽自己最大的努力通过微信朋友圈、微博等渠道将寻人信息传播开来,同时动员身边的亲朋好友一起加入到这个队伍中来。

Since midday on August 13, every message has been retransmitted hundreds of times, and within just a day, this small “people-search wall has helped five families to find lost relatives. Wei Lin is a volunteer at the two relocation camps in the development zone, and by these hand-written notes about missing people, she found her missing mother. That moment  made Zhang Yulian happier than what can be expressed by words. To make information accessible as quickly as possible for citizens coming here, Zhang Yulian hasn’t left her post and doesn’t even move away from it just a bit. Late at night, she would take a nap once in a while. When someone arrives, seeking information, she gets up right away and warmly helps them to write down information, so as to spread the news by all means available.

从13日中午开始,每条寻人信息经过上百次的转发迅速扩散开来,短短的一天时间,这面小小的“寻人墙”已经帮助5个家庭找到了失散的亲人。魏琳是开发区二小的一名志愿者,正是通过这手写的“寻人启事”让她找到了失散的母亲。这一瞬间,张玉莲高兴的心情无法用言语来表达。为了让前来寻找亲人的市民都能最快地了解信息,张玉莲一直守在这里,一步也不敢离开。到了深夜,偶尔才打个盹。一有前来问询的人,她就立即起身,热情地帮助他们登记信息,然后通过各种方式将信息扩散开来。

Among the many search notes, there’s one about a firefighter that particularly worries people: “Hu Yue, male, Tianjin Port Police fire brigade member”. To Zhang Yulian’s sorrow, despite all efforts the volunteers have made to spread information, up to now, no information about this firefighter has been obtained. Firefighters are fighting in the first line of battle, and his family people haven’t been able to contact him. That’s really worrying. It makes me feel particularly anxious, too, because I haven’t been able to help.” Zhang Yulian says that “as a next step, the volunteers are are trying to find broader channels to spread information, hoping to be able to get information about this firefighter as soon as possible.”

在众多的寻人信息中,有一条寻找消防队员的信息格外令人揪心:“胡乐、男、天津港公安局消防大队五支队”,令张玉莲遗憾的是,尽管志愿者们尽了最大力量转发信息,截至目前,还是没有这名消防队员的消息。“消防战士在前线奋战,他的家属一直和他联系不上,非常担心,我也觉得特别着急,觉得自己没帮上忙。”张玉莲说,“接下来,志愿者们正在寻找传播更为广泛的渠道,希望能够早日收到这名消防队员的消息。

Zhang Yulian, who is nearing her mid-fifties [or mid-sixties? – 六旬], isn’t in very good health, hasn’t tired. “I feel motivated, and that keeps me up. I have a responsibility; I have an obligation to do these things,” says Zhang Yulian.

对于年近六旬的张玉莲来说,她的身体状况并不是很好,然而30多个小时的坚守,她并没喊过累,“我觉得有一股动力在支撑着我,我有责任、有义务来做这些事情。”张玉莲说。(北方网新媒体记者晁丹 付文超 董立景 蒲永河)

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Note

*) Hat tip to Gil who mentioned this on his blog earlier today.

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Related

» 只要有1%的希望, Tianjin Daily / Enorth, Aug 14, 2015
» Chemicals not yet determined, Xinhua (English), Aug 14, 2015
» More than 3,500 residents in shelters, BBC, Aug 13, 2015
» At Ease, June 7, 2014

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