Archive for ‘Germany’

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Tendencies: Germany’s next China Policy

China didn’t feature prominently in Germany’s 2021 federal election campaign – at least not at the surface.
Somewhat underneath, and not really overreported in the German media, are donations and sponsorships that benefitted the political parties – or one or two of them – in the run-up to the Bundestag elections on September 26.
The picture, according to statista.de (quoting Germany’s federal parliament administration and only recording donations of more than 50,000 Euros):

CDU/CSU (center-right): 3,340,860 Euros
FDP (neoliberal): 2,055,454 Euros
Greens (ecological): 1,790,548 Euros
AFD (right-wing, neoliberal): 100,000 Euros
SPD (social democrats): 50,000 Euros

This is not the full picture, of course. Donations from 10,000 to 50,000 Euros will probably only appear in the political parties’ annual accounts, likely to be published around a year and a half after they happen.
Also, [Update, Oct 8: committed event] “sponsoring” [of party congresses, for example] amounts don’t need to be published in detail – there is no way of knowing who donated, and which amounts.
Still, the above-50,000 statistics give us an idea: the social democrats were considered dead in the water. That, at least, was a general belief into August this year, and that’s as far as the statistics go. Some corporations and lobby organizations may have tried to make up for their negligence when the SPD began to soar in the opinion polls.
Before we get to the China issues, let’s take a look at the 50,000-plus donations in relation to the actual votes for the parties.

Blue: donations >50,000
Red: actual votes
(relations, no numbers)

This doesn’t mean that the SPD wouldn’t like to get donations, and grassroot donations can make a difference too, but it is obvious that the industry didn’t bet on the social democrats and the left party.

China issues in the campaign

Hong Kong’s political activist Ray Wong, now living in German exile, German sinologist David Missal and other activists and human rights groups put a “China elections check” online for those who were interested in the party’s positions concerning China.
They asked each political party represented in Germany’s incumbent federal parliament, the Bundestag, eight questions, and according to the organizers, only the AFD didn’t respond.
That said, the CDU/CSU were “neutral” on seven out of the eight statements.
All eight statements can be considered a demand Missal, Wong and the organizations supporting the project would subscribe to.

The parties’ positions in detail

Statement 1


Statement 2


Statement 3


Statement 4


Statement 5


Statement 6


Statement 7


Statement 8


Political parties by rates of agreement, neutrality or disagreement with / towards the statements, in descending order (respectively)

Party / party group agrees with the statements (pro)

The Greens 6
SPD 4
FDP 3
The Left 3
CDU/CSU 0

Party neither agrees nor disagrees with the statements (neutral)

CDU/CSU 7
FDP 5
SPD 1
The Left 0
The Greens 0

Party / group doesn’t agree with the statements (opposed)

The Left 5
SPD 3
FDP 0*)
The Greens 2
CDU/CSU 1
________
*) corrected (Oct 8), down from 3

Outlook

At least for now, the CDU/CSU’s chances of heading (or even just joining) a government coalition have deminished, as both the FDP and the Greens are currently moving closer to the SPD, with some unfriendly noise especially from the CSU, the CDU’s Bavarian sister party.
This would mean that exactly the three parties that find most common ground with the Wong/Missal statements would be in government.
The picture would become much friendlier for pro-China lobbyists if the tide turned again,in favor of the CDU/CSU.
The proof of the pudding is the eating, and the industry will almost certainly become more generous with its donations to the Social Democrats, but for those who want to see a government with clear-cut positions on Chinese crimes against human rights, the trend isn’t looking bad.
The CDU/CSU didn’t really care, and documented that publicly.
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Related

Germany after the federal elections, Sept 27, 2021
Guanchazhe flatters Austrian Supernova, April 7, 2018
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Monday, September 27, 2021

Germany after the Federal Elections – Arithmetics of Power

Even though the German “Liberals” (the FDP) supported a coalition with the Christian Democrats and their Bavarian sister party, they would join an SPD-led “traffic-lights” coalition if the SPD should win the September 26 federal elections, Dr. Zhu Yufang, a researcher at Tongji University’s German Studies Institute wrote on Sunday morning Beijing time, in an assessment for the Shanghai online newsportal “Guanchazhe” (Observer).

Now the Social Democrats appear to have won the elections, and Dr. Zhu’s expectations can perform miracles – if they can. And that’s a big “if”.

gains_and_losses

Gains and losses, according to ARD Television / infratest-dimap projection at 21:36 UTC

Germany’s investors immediately went into the process of telling the Greens where to go. In the words of “Wirtschaftswoche”, a German weekly published in the neighborhood of Armin Laschet, the Christian Democrats’ and Bavarian Christian Socials’ (CDU/CSU) candidate for chancellor, the Greens’ path towards Laschet’s party is shorter than the FDP’s path towards the Social Democrats (SPD) and their candidate, Olaf Scholz.

If you go by German ARD television’s / infratest dimap projection published at 21:36 UTC, the CDU/CSU got 24.1 percent of the vote, narrowly beaten by the SPD with 25.8 percent. The far-right AFD would get 10.5 percent, the “Liberals” or FDP are at 11.5 percent, and the Left Party appears to remain under the 5-percent threshold that would bar it from re-entering the Bundestag, but three directly-won mandates (or more) will secure their re-entry with whatever percentage, even with less than 5 percent of the overall vote, they may get.

Basically, any coalition among the parties that obtains a majority of the seats in the Bundestag is conceivable, with the likely exception of the far-right AFD (“Alternative für Deutschland”).

20210926_2136_utc_mandatsverteilung

Infratest dimap / ARD Radio and Television, Sept 26, 21:36 UTC projection

This means that the SPD, the Greens and the Left combined would fall short of a majority by five seats, and this would have been the only safe SPD-led government coalition. The SPD and the Greens alone are – all according to the 21:36 UTC projection – 45 seats short of an overall majority.

The likelihood that the FDP will fill this gap – as expected by Dr. Zhu – is rather small, and the likelihood that the Greens will extract concessions from the CDU/CSU that may enable them to sell a coalition to their grassroots is fairly high. The CDU/CSU will want to remain in government at nearly all costs.

On the other hand, the FDP may try to extract concessions from the SPD which the Social Democrats are unlikely to accept.

Dr. Zhu’s expectation that Laschet will only be a transitional successor of incumbent chancellor Angela Merkel may not hold water either. When Merkel became chancellor in 2005, she looked like the actual loser of the federal elections that still brought her to power. Helmut Kohl, who became chancellor in 1982, was a joke – that didn’t keep him from becoming the longest-serving federal chancellor to date.

If Laschet should indeed be an “transitional” chancellor, it won’t be because of him in the first place, but because of the CDU/CSU. The Christian Democrats’ and their Bavarian sister party didn’t only offer the public the weakest candidate. Their platform is nothing to write home about either. After sixteen consecutive years at the helm of the federal government – all led by Merkel – they are out of ideas and of personnel.

But that has never kept them from running the country in the past.

(OK. Obviously, I hope that I’m wrong, but had to get this out of my system before going to work.)

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Special two-hour transmissions by Radio Taiwan International in German

As custom at Radio Taiwan international‘s (RTI) German service, there will be a number shortwave broadcasts directly from Taiwan this summer, as announced here.

qsl_card_2019_national_radio_museum_minxiong_taiwan

Weekday Dates
Friday July 30, August 6, August 13, August 20.
Saturday July 31, August 7, August 14, August 21.
Sunday August 1, August 8, August 15, August 22.

On each of the above days, there will be a broadcast on 11705 kHz from 17:00 to 18:00 hours UTC and one on 9545 kHz from 18:00 to 19:00 hours UTC.

We can probably expect one hour of different program items per day, at 17:00, repeated at 18:00 UTC. RTI’s German program output per day is about sixty minutes, but routinely, only half of it is aired on shortwave, as regular broadcasts via the Kostinbrod relay in Bulgaria are only 30 minutes long. The remaining half is provided online.

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Radio Taiwan International Shortwave Test Transmissions 2021 to Europe (updated)


Radio Taiwan International‘s (RTI) German service has announced test transmissions from Tamsui transmitter site, northwestern Taiwan, targeting central Europe on July 17 (UTC).

Time (UTC) Frequency
from to
17:00 17:10 11995 kHz
17:15 17:25 11705 kHz
18:00 18:10 9545 kHz
18:15 18:25 7250 kHz
RTI QSL: Shennong Street, Tainan

RTI QSL: Shennong Street, Tainan
中央廣播電臺 QSL卡: 台南 神農街

According to RTI, the two frequencies that do best during the tests will be chosen for one-hour transmissions that start later this month, and continue into August, apparently every week from Friday through Sunday. It sounds like a pretty ambitious schedule, and if lucky, we will get to listen to programs that are usually only available online as those broadcasts will be 60 minutes each.

Normally, Radio Taiwan International’s German service only broadcasts one half-hour program a day on shortwave, but its actual program output (shortwave and online) is about 60 minutes per day.
RTI welcomes reception reports.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Huanqiu Shibao: G7 London Meeting, small-circled cliques and factions

As he said before, it’s you, not us

The following is a translation of an article by Huanqiu Shibao online, published on Tuesday (May 4). Huanqiu’s translations from English do not necessarily reflect what the persons quoted there actually said.

The Reuters article referred to by Huanqiu Shibao can be found here.

Main Link: Evoking the China-Russia threat once again? (又渲染中俄威胁)

Bian Zihao, Huanqiu Online reporter — Hyping another Chinese-Russian threat? The G7 foreign ministers’ meeting in Britain’s capital London opened on May 3. According to Reuters, Britain will seek decisive action from the G7 member states to respond to global threats. Reuters says that these so-called “global threats” include China and Russia.

【环球网报道 记者 边子豪】又炒作中俄威胁?七国集团外长会3日在英国首都伦敦开幕,据路透社报道,英国4日将寻求与G7成员国采取果断行动以应对全球威胁。路透社称,上述所谓“全球威胁”包括中国和俄罗斯。

As it holds the G7’s rotating chairmanship this year, Britain also invited Australia’s, India ‘s , South Africa ‘s and South Korea ‘s foreign ministers this week. Reuters says that this is the first time in two years that G7 representatives talk face-to-face and that this is seen as an opportunity to “strengthening support for the international rules-based system.

作为今年七国集团轮值主席国,除了G7成员国外,英国本周还邀请了澳大利亚、印度、南非和韩国等国外长。路透社说,本次会谈是近两年来七国集团代表首次举行面对面会议,被英方视为“加强支持基于规则的国际体系的机会”。

Reuters also quoted Britain’s wording, an evocation of the so-called “China-Russia threat”, saying that China’s economic influence and Russia’s “evil activities” could break that system.

此外,路透社还引述英方说法,渲染所谓“中俄威胁”说,中国的经济影响力和俄罗斯的“恶意活动”可能会破坏上述体系。

The report also mentioned that on May 3 local time, U.S. secretary of state Blinken, after meeting British forign secretary Raab, called for the building of an international alliance. He claimed that although there was no intention to “contain China”, there was a need to make sure that China “acted in accordance with the rules”. In a program broadcast by Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), Blinken explained his position similarly. He said there, “our goal isn’t to contain China, not to block China, not to inhibit China. (But) it is the protection of order-based rules to which China currently raises challenges …”

报道还提到,当地时间5月3日,在与英国外交大臣拉布会面后,美国国务卿布林肯呼吁组建一个全球联盟,他宣称尽管不想“遏制中国”,但要确保中国“按规则行事”。 而在5月2日哥伦比亚广播公司(CBS)播出的一档节目中,布林肯也曾有过相似表态。当时他说:“我们的目的不是遏制中国,不是阻止中国,不是压制中国。(而)是为了维护基于秩序的规则,(但)中国正在对(这些规则)提出挑战……”

The foreign ministers’ meeting is seen as a warm-up for the G7 summit in June. The G7 consists of Britain, America, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan. Russia joined as the eighth country in 1997. In 2014, after the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis, Russia was excluded.

本次外长会被视为将于6月在英国举行的七国集团峰会的预热。七国集团由英国、美国、法国、德国、意大利、加拿大和日本组成,俄罗斯1997年加入后成为八国集团。2014年乌克兰危机爆发以后,俄罗斯被排除在外。

In reality, concerning talk about the so-called “China threat”, FMPRC spokesman Zao Lijian has previously emphasized that China adheres unswervingly to the road of peaceful development, we have never provoked a war on our own accord, and never violated an inch of another country’s territory, nor have we ever constituted a threat to any country. Facts have repeatedly proven that China has always been a builder of world peace, a contributor to global development, a protector of international order, and that China’s development is an opportunity for the world.

事实上,关于所谓“中国威胁论”,中国外交部发言人赵立坚此前曾强调,中国坚定不移走和平发展道路,我们从来没有主动挑起过一场战争,也从来没有侵犯过别国一寸领土,不对任何国家构成威胁。事实一再证明中国始终是世界和平的建设者、全球发展的贡献者、国际秩序的维护者,中国的发展是世界的机遇。

Zhao Lijian said that China’s development spells the growth of global peace, that it is the woeld’s opportunity and not a challenge. China has always firmly upheld the international system with the United Nations at the core, based on international law. But that isn’t an international order defined by individual countries to protect their own interests. In the age of globalization, the destruction of international order [happens] for real when lines are drawn along ideology and when countries form small-circled cliques and factions. In the end, this is what really doesn’t enjoy popular support and what doesn’t provide a way out.

赵立坚说,中国的发展是世界和平力量的增长,是世界的机遇而非挑战。中方始终坚定维护的是以联合国为核心的国际体系和以国际法为基础的国际秩序,而不是个别国家为维护自身霸权所定义的国际秩序。在全球化时代,以意识形态划线,拉帮结派,搞针对特定国家的小圈子才是对国际秩序的破坏。这终究是不得人心的,也是没有出路的。

____________

Related

Wolf Warrior Diplomacy on Vacation, Aug 9, 2020
An unprecedented common cause, June 7, 2013
____________

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Genocide – an adequate Term?

Evidence without much psychological effect?
Click picture for source

In 2018, Adrian Zenz, a Senior Fellow in China Studies at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation in Washington D.C., published evidence that Chinese authorities “re-education camps” in East Turkestan. Under the weight of evidence, including leaked documents from within China’s authorities, Beijing doesn’t deny the existence of such camps. Instead, members of China’s political class refer to them as “vocational schools”.

In a show that it takes Zenz’s publications seriously, Beijing included him in a blacklist of ten European scholars and lawmakers, in March 2021.

Zenz and many critics of China’s repression of ethnic minorities say that the policy on Uighurs and other Muslim minorities constitutes genocide. But there’s a catch, at least in Zenz’s case. In an interview with Switzerland’s Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Zenz said that for exiled Uyghurs, genocide was

… the only word that expresses adequately what they are going through as a people. For what is happening there, there is no adequate category. It doesn’t fit well into existing pigeonholes. Merely in accordance with the UN Convention it is difficult to talk about genocide, because one would have to prove that China intends to annihilate a significant share of the Uyghur population. There is only scant evidence for that.

… das einzige Wort, das richtig ausdrückt, was sie als Volk durchmachen. Für das, was da geschieht, gibt es keine richtige Kategorie. Es passt nicht gut in bestehende Fächer. Rein nach der Uno-Konvention ist es schwierig, von Genozid zu sprechen. Denn man müsste nachweisen können, dass China die Absicht hat, einen bedeutenden Teil der uigurischen Bevölkerung zu vernichten. Da ist die Beweislage jedoch sehr dünn.

Still, Zenz advocates the use of the term “genocide”, because of its “strong psychological effect”.

It is tempting to do so. As Zenz says himself, this could lead to change for the oppressed. But it misleads those under this effect.

China’s “Communist” Party claims to base its policies on science. That’s clearly not the case. But there is also reason to doubt that the West’s worldview is still based on its heritage of Enlightenment. You don’t brainwash people by claiming genocide where it doesn’t exist. But you manipulate them.

As urgent as change for the Uyghurs is, you don’t bring about sustainable change by calling a deer a horse. You don’t bring about change when you leave political decisions to corporations- like Volkswagen’s choice to run a car plant in East Turkestan. You don’t bring about change without informing the public accurately, teaching your children some basic values, and without trying to be truthful. And you don’t bring about change if corporations determine politics, rather than the other way round.

Trying to achieve psychological effects is nothing new. There is no lack of guides and advice about how to “engineer consent”. But doing so has adverse effects on a free society, without helping the oppressed. People are oddly aware when you  cheat them, even if they can’t tell how it is happening.

Such an approach isn’t only ethically questionable, but unpractical, too. Even the best intentions can create low-trust societies. At home, that is – not where the crimes are happening.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Before you define your next China policy, learn from Lu Xun

Chinese nationalism has had its share of wishful thinking. But in recent decades, the West has fallen into similar traps, although its humiliations – the 2008 financial crisis and the flat-footed reaction of most Western countries to the Covid-19 pandemic – have been comparatively minor humiliations.

True story

But humiliations they have been, and nothing shows this more clearly than the way some of the West’s governments have reacted to China’s handling of the pandemic. To quote one of the more civil criticisms  – by Iain Duncan Smith, a former leader of the United Kingdom’s Conservative Party -, “the world would have had more time to prepare for the pandemic if Chinese leaders had been more forthcoming”. No worries, though, he switched into another gear right away:

For too long, nations have lamely kowtowed to China in the desperate hope of winning trade deals. Once we get clear of this terrible pandemic it is imperative that we all rethink that relationship,” he said.

Politics, that much is true, must never let a crisis go waste, and there are reasons to “rethink” the West’s, and possibly the world’s, relationship with China.

But China only bears a limited share of responsibility for this global crisis. If people in the West don’t understand that, they don’t understand their own political class.

We don’t need to reconsider our relationship with China because its role in the pandemic was questionable.

We must reconsider our relationship with China because we must not tolerate the way Chinese authorities treat Chinese citizens. Human rights violations often hit “national minorities” like Tibetans or Uyghurs hardest, but the political malpractice doesn’t stop there.

We must reconsider our relationship with China because in Hong Kong, Beijing has shown complete disregard for the rule of law, within Hong Kong’s autonomy (that’s nothing new, China has never understood the concept of autonomy anyway), and complete disregard of international law.

We must reconsider our relationship with China because in the South China Sea and other international waters, China has adopted a policy of annexation.

And we must reconsider our relationship with China, because with his “Resist America, Aid Korea” speech in October, Chinese CPC secretary general and state chairman Xi Jinping has made China’s disregard for international law official, by suggesting that Maoist China’s war against the United Nations had been a “war against imperialism”.

There may be some reason to believe that many within the CPC believe that the speech has been a non-starter, because they haven’t dwelled too much on it in the media since, and because the faces of many of the leaders during Xi’s speech appeared to speak volumes. But there is no reason to believe that Xi’s speech wasn’t an honest attempt at rewriting history, at the expense of truth. This attempt must be taken seriously.

All that said, when reconsidering our relationship with China, we must not walk into the Ah-Q trap. This is something we might learn from China indeed: the way Chinese intellectuals used to be self-critical was part of China’s more recent successes, just as China’s more recent pompousness and triumphalism may earn it serious setbacks.

The same is true for us, and especially for those who consider themselves our “elites”. For decades, China has been described as an opportunity too big to miss, and to justify throwing valuable Western-made technology at it. To make this foreign-trade salad more palatable to the general public (and arguably also to the propagandists themselves), China-trade advocates added that trade and engagement with China would lead to improvements in the country’s human rights practice, or its economic and social system.

“The party is over,” a long-forgotten “expert” crowed in the 1990s, in a huge, long-forgotten book. Others suggested that the CPC might become a “social-democratic” party. But nobody seemed to ask the CPC people if they had any such intentions, at least not seriously. And if they did, they only heard the answers they wanted to hear.

There was never a doubt that China’s political system is a dictatorship. And when that dictatorship began to succeed economically and technogically, quite a number of Western intellectuals, and especially business people, began to admire that dictatorship:

I have fantasized–don’t get me wrong–but that what if we could just be China for a day? I mean, just, just, just one day. You know, I mean, where we could actually, you know, authorize the right solutions, and I do think there is a sense of that, on, on everything from the economy to environment. I don’t want to be China for a second, OK, I want my democracy to work with the same authority, focus and stick-to-itiveness. But right now we have a system that can only produce suboptimal solutions.

Don’t get me wrong either. I don’t think Thomas Friedman argued in favor of the introduction of authoritarianism, let alone totalitarianism. But he didn’t apply any logic – and he’s no exception among Western intellectuals. He’s full of ideas and without a plan when it comes to these issues.

Because if we could be China for one day, we could be China every day. And then we would be the kind of society that we now want to reconsider our relationship with. (OK, maybe not Friedman.)

But the worst thing is to think of ourselves as Santa. The guys who only want the best for China, etc.. I’m pretty sure that half of my fellow Germans, in as far as they have misgivings about China, don’t worry about China’s human rights record. They worry about its economic clout, and the preparedness of a lot of Chinese people to work harder, for less income, then we would.

That’s legitimate self-interest, but nobody should confuse this interest with something like international solidarity. To do that, to suggest that “we are nice, we are generous, we’ve done everything for them, and they are bloody ingrats” is typical Ah-Q thought.

No, guys. Our bosses threw our technology at China, technology developed with support of public institutions we paid our taxes for. That’s what our bosses usually do. Sometimes at the Chinese, sometimes at other promising markets. But as our bosses’ greed for profits from China knew no limits, they fooled themselves, too. Occasionally, they complained once it went wrong. But this wasn’t “Chinese” greed – they only picked up what was thrown at them. And even if they never told us that they would make good use of it, with or against the law, daily practice could have shown us in a year that this transactional model wouldn’t work – at least not for the West.

China – not just the CPC, but most of the Chinese people – have always told us that their rightful global place was at the pole position.

They have always told us that they would “re-take” Taiwan, once they had the power to do so.

Every bloke in the street told us that Hong Kong was no stuff to negotiate about – it had been taken by the imperialists, and had to be retaken by China. Besides, those Hong Kongers shouldn’t think of themselves as “special”. Yadayada.

We played along, one year after another. We still do. I’m afraid we’ll continue to do so. Our governments, for example, keep participating in the diplomatic charade to this day that, for some incomprehensible reasons (depending on what individual Western nation’s memoranda with Beijing have made up out of thin air), Taiwan wouldn’t be quite a sovereign country.

In short: it was hard to get China wrong, but we managed anyway. And if we don’t stop suggesting that our intentions in this relationship had always been honest, we won’t get our next China policy right either.

To reshape our relationship with China, let’s learn from Lu Xun first.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Happy New Year

railway vision (archive)

 

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