Archive for ‘Germany’

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)

 

Saturday, September 5, 2020

China-Germany Friendship Association: “A Rise in unpredictable Factors”

If “people-to-people” organizations are crucial for Beijing’s diplomacy (it didn’t look like that in recent years), former Chinese ambassador to Germany, Shi Mingde, could be facing a rather challenging partial-retirement duty as the new head of the “China-Germany Friendship Association”. As far as the quotes in the following report provide clues, Shi seems to strike a mainly positive note on Sino-German relations, but less so than the overall “Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries'” president Lin Songtian, once “China’s most outspoken ambassador in Africa”.

This was in early August, before foreign minister Wang Yi started his European tour, but Shi, even if using the lot of sugarcoating that we had been used to prior to Xi Jinping‘s Major-Country Diplomacy with Chinese Characteristics, also alluded to some deficits in German-Chinese relations.

The following is a translation of the report on the China-Germany Friendship Association’s conference of August 6 local time. Links added during translation.

china.com.cn (China Net, 中国网) is an online news portal under the Chinese state council’s (i. e. government’s) administration.

China Net photo, click main link underneath for article

Main Link:
Former Chinese ambassador to Germany, Shi Mingde, elected chairman of China-Germany Friendship Association.

China Net, August 7 news (reporter Wang Ran). On August 6, the China-Germany Friendship Association conference was held in Beijing. Senior diplomat and former ambassador to Germany Shi Mingde was elected as the China-Germany Friendship Association’s new president. The conference also elected a deputy president and a secretary-general, passed a sixty-names’ directorate list and a China-Germany Friendship Association statute.

中国网8月日讯 (记者 王冉)8月6日,中国德国友好协会(以下简称:中德友协)换届大会在京举行。中国资深外交官、前驻德大使史明德当选新一届中德友协会长。大会还选出副会长、秘书长,通过了新一届理事60人名单和中德友协章程。

Ambassador Shi Mingde said in his address that ever since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Germany 48 years ago, the two countries’ relations of friendly cooperation had reached unprecedented development. The two sides’ joint interests had always outweighed division and contradictions. The two countries’ political relations were well, and economic and trade cooperation had provided substantial mutually beneficial results. But at the same time, German public opinion about China hadn’t seen fundamental improvement, and the foundations of public opinion in the two countries needed further consolidation (两国民意基础有待进一步夯实). German chancellor Angela Merkel would end her political career next year, after 16 years in office. This could lead to a rise in unpredictable factors.

史明德大使在致辞中称,中德建交48年来,两国友好合作关系得到前所未有的发展,双方共同利益始终大于分歧和矛盾。两国政治关系良好,经贸互利合作成果丰硕。但与此同时,德国对华舆论环境没有根本改善,两国民意基础有待进一步夯实。明年德国总理默克尔将结束执政16年的政治生涯,中德关系未来的不可预测因素可能上升。

Shi Mingde said that the China-Germany Friendship Association, in its coming years, would play a leading role in people-to-people [or non-governmental] exchanges with Germany and create a great platform for people-to-people exchange with Germany. [It would] speak out actively and let more German masses understand a real and objective China. It would promote Sino-German regional exchanges and serve regional economic development. He hoped that the China-German Friendship Association could, under the guidance and with the support of the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, continuously promote the friendly exchange and mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries’ peoples, and the rise of Sino-German friendly cooperation to the next level.

史明德表示,新一届中德友协要在对德民间交往中发挥引领作用,打造对德民间交流大平台;积极对外发声,让更多德国民众了解一个真实、客观的中国;促进中德地方交流,服务地方经济发展。他希望中德友协能在中国人民对外友好协会的指导和支持下,不断推进两国民间友好交流与互利合作,促进中德友好合作更上一层楼。

Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries’ president Lin Songtian said at the conference that China and Germany were both firm supporters of globalization and multilateralism, with common interests and similar positions concerning the protection of world peace and justice. Currently, there were 99 partnerships between Chinese and German provinces, federal states and cities, and 1.5 million visits in either direction per year. He believed that under the new president’s leadership, the China-German Friendship Association would attract broader masses to participation and exchange, promote the mutual understanding between the two countries’ peoples, learning from each other and setting examples for each other, promote closer attachment and connectedness, to contribute more people-to-people wisdom and strengths to the deepening of the Sino-German comprehensive [『 全方位』, not just『全面』 ] strategic partnership.

中国人民对外友好协会会长林松添在换届大会上表示,中德都是全球化和多边主义的坚定支持者,在维护世界和平与正义、促进全球合作与发展繁荣等方面拥有广泛的共同利益和相近立场。目前,中德友好省州和城市有99对,每年有150余万人次互访。他相信,中德友协在新任会长领导下能吸引两国更广泛民众参与交流,促进两国人民相互了解、互学互鉴,实现民相亲、心相通,为深化中德全方位战略伙伴关系贡献更多民间智慧和力量,更好造福两国人民。

After the conference, Shi Mingde gave China Net an interview. He said that on July 1, Germany had taken the European Union’s rotating chairmanship for the current half-year term. This year was a critical period for Sino-European relations, and as the chairing country of the EU, Germany picked up an important role. “I hope for the EU’s and Germany’s joint efforts, to send a positive signal of support for multilateralism and against unilateralism, [a positive signal] of cooperation and mutual profits.”

史明德在会后就中德双边关系接受了中国网采访。他说,7月1日,德国接任欧盟轮值主席国,开启为期半年的任期。今年是中欧关系的关键时期,作为欧盟轮值主席国的德国起着至关重要的作用。“我希望与欧盟和德国一起共同努力,向世界发出坚持多边主义,反对单边主义,合作共赢的积极信号。”

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Related

“It’s not going well,” Washington Post, Sept 2, 2020

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Sunday, August 9, 2020

Wolf Warrior Diplomacy on Vacation, while Party expects Returns on Investment

Twitter can be fun, but would be a waste of time if all the information you can get passes by without some reflection on it. Learning by repetition. Here goes.

China’s recent diplomacy has been referred to as wolf warrior diplomacy (戰狼外交) in recent months – or in fact for years (as Sweden can tell) -, but it has become a much more frequently used term with the COVID-19 crisis.

As Washington and Beijing traded accusations and conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 origins during the first half of 2020, Beijing’s propaganda machine continuously switched gears between angry statements and more or less funny cartoons on “social media” platforms like Twitter, depicting Trump administration officials as dorks or hypocrites. Chinese foreign ministry (FMPRC) spokesman and communications director Zhao Lijian as well as Chinese media outlets like CCTV-English, People’s Daily in English, Xinhua news agency etc. took leading roles in “anti-American” (反美) enunciations.

But wolf warrior diplomacy apparently didn’t lead to results that would have satisfied Beijing after all. On Tuesday (August 4), China’s ambassador to the US, Cui Tiankai, told an NBC anchor and a wider online public that

The normalization of relations between our two countries and the growth of this relationship over the decades has served the interests of both countries and the world very well. It’s quite clear to all of us are still enjoying the positive outcome, the benefit of this growth of relationship. Nobody can really deny this.

Societal differences should provide opportunities for mutual learning, Cui suggested.

Cui himself didn’t have to make a u-turn to emphasize the “positive outcomes” of Sino-US relations – he had never been a wolf warrior diplomat anyway, and Washington wouldn’t have been the place to test these fruits of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era / Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy anyway. And when he made the essential swipe – there needs to be one in every Chinese representation to Americans these days, to show that the speaker is not afraid of his audience -, he smiled as if he wanted to apologize for what he was saying.

Click picture for video

His boss, foreign minister Wang Yi, didn’t have to turn everything upside down either. But to show that Xi has always been a great supporter of dialogue, he inaugurated a Research Center for the Guiding Role of Xi Jinping’s diplomatic Thought at the FMPRC on July 20.

According to “Radio Free Asia” (apparently not safely verified), fifty-centers have been told to switch their messages from “anti-American” to “double-win” (click picture for details)

Thusly illuminated, foreign minister Wang addressed an online forum of American and Chinese think tanks (including Henry Kissinger and Kevin Rudd, apparently) on July 9, Germany’s foreign minister Heiko Maas in a video conference on July 24 (not without informing his colleague in Berlin that the problems in Chinese-American relations are all created by America), and, most recently, the readers of Communist Party organ “People’s Daily”.

Chances are that US secretary of state Pompeo and his network have struck the right note in communication with Beijing during the past months, and distancing from China could become a bipartisan American policy. However, the Trump administration may not be able to take traditional allies as far along in their cause as they would like to.

Australian foreign minister Marise Payne told a press conference with US secretary of state Michael Pompeo that “we make our own decisions and we use our own language”, and that “the relationship with China is important and we have no intention of injuring it”.

Sydney Morning Herald correspondents wrote on August 1 that Joe Biden, the US Democrats’ presidential nominee, was

expected to be closer to what Australia is trying to do: transition to a multipolar region where Beijing is accommodated but counterbalanced by regional powers including Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Vietnam and the US.

At times, Trump and Pompeo’s approach seems to be an attempt to maintain the US as regional hegemon – something Canberra quietly gave up on a few years ago.

[Lowy Institute executive director] Fullilove says in some ways a Biden administration would be tougher on China and may make requests of Australia which are harder to refuse.

The correspondents also pointed out that both Japan and New Zealand, while basically following the US / Australia lines, had kept a rather low profile, thus protecting their trade interests with China.

Germany wasn’t exactly the first country either to throw a gauntlet at Beijing, or to publicly take note of China’s internment policies in East Turkestan, or its breach of international law by imposing its “national security law” on Hong Kong. Berlin’s position was further complicated as Germany’s leadership currently chairs the EU in a rotational arrangement, having to find as much common ground among Beijing-leaning EU member states and more resilient members.

Only when Hong Kong’s government announced a “postponement” of Legislative Council elections by a year, ostensibly because of the special administrative region’s COVID-19 crisis, Germany joined other countries and suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong. On August 3, French foreign ministry sharply criticized Beijing’s “national security law”, and halted ratification of its extradition treaty with Hong Kong, which had been in process since 2017.

A few days earlier, and five days after his conversation with Germany’s foreign minister, Wang Yi had been on the phone with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian,

Austrian public radio ORF‘s China correspondent Josef Dollinger arguably provided one of the more succinct summaries of European policies. Asked on July 29, the morning when the EU governments presented their agreed reaction to Beijing’s Hong Kong policy, if Washington’s chances of isolating Beijing could be successful, he said that conflicts with China could not be painless, and that while

you can ride a tiger gone wild without getting bucked off – difficult as that may be -, you shouldn’t keep shouting “I’ve got him, I’ve got him.”

Man kann zwar auf einem wild gewordenen Tiger reiten, ohne abgeworfen zu werden – auch wenn’s schwierig ist -, aber man sollte dabei nicht ständig rufen, “ich hab’ ihn, ich hab’ ihn”.

In the EU, disappointment about stalling talks on a comprehensive investment treaty with China have likely added to a hardening position.

And while America’s allies have resisted Pompeo’s calls to join them on the warpath, it does appear that China underestimated the impact of its Hong Kong policies, at least in democratic countries.

All the more, Wang Yi himself, too, tries to stick to a script that would paint China as the natural and predetermined victor to emerge from the beginning struggle. Among some double-win promises, he also threatened America with history’s pillar of shame (恥辱柱).

No matter how much, or little, pressure China may feel as a whole, Beijing’s diplomats are having a tough time of it. It is one thing to open a Xi-Jinping shrine at the FMPRC. To deliver on hard issues is another. The leadership and its personality core have significantly raised investment in diplomacy. They will expect more than just damage control in return.

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Friday, July 24, 2020

“Pragmatic Cooperation”: German and Chinese foreign ministers hold videoconference

The following are three off-the-cuff translations of the news articles published by the FMPRC and the German foreign office earlier today, after a videoconference between the two countries’ foreign ministers. These translations are by no means authoritative and may contain errors – in case of the doubt, look at the originals. If either of them is a comprehensive description of the conference is, of course, impossible to tell.

Wang Yi also presented the Chinese version of his country’s conflict with the US, but this was published in an extra article by the FMPRC – please refer to the third translation.

“Positive and constructive attitude”

Links within blockquotes added during translation.

The following is a translation of the news article published by China’s foreign ministry.

On July 24, 2020, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi held a video conference with German foreign minister Heiko Maas.

2020年7月24日,国务委员兼外长王毅同德国外长马斯举行视频会晤。

Wang Yi said that since the outbreak of the epidemic, China and Germany had both upheld close communication through telephone, video and other means, to plan for the next step in the development of Chinese-German and Chinese-European relations. We must actively  implement the political consensus reached by the two countries’ leaders, ensure the sound and stable development of Chinese-German relations, advocate multilateralism together, reject unilateral behavior, and provide more stability and correct energy for the world:

王毅表示,疫情发生以来,中德两国领导人通过通话、视频等方式保持密切沟通,为下一步中德、中欧关系发展作出规划。我们要积极落实两国领导人达成的政治共识,确保中德关系健康稳定发展,共同倡导多边主义,抵制单边行径,为世界提供更多稳定性和正能量:

Firstly, to newly start Chinese-German dialog on all levels and in all fields, actively plan and carry out dialog and consultation mechanisms in a flexible way, with the two foreign ministries taking a role in the resumption of exchanges.

一是要让中德各层级、各领域对话重新启动起来,以灵活方式积极规划实施好各种对话磋商机制,两国外交部可在恢复交往方面发挥作用。

Secondly, to let Chinese-German pragmatic cooperation resume as soon as possible, to jointly maintain international supply chains and their stability. The two countries have already taken the lead in the implementation of “fast-lane travels”, with the need to create better conditions by strengthening prevention and expanding bilateral staff contacts and increasing the numbers of flights.

二是要让中德务实合作尽快恢复起来,共同维护国际产业链、供应链稳定。两国已率先实行“快捷通道”,要通过加强联防联控,为扩大双方人员往来和增加航班创造更好条件。

Thirdly, to let Chinese-German interaction and coordination on multilateral matters, strengthen cooperation on United Nations matters, implement the G20 summit countries’ consensus and promotion of international epidemic prevention, including help for African and other less-developed regions in fighting the epidemic, and strengthen vaccine research and development and sharing.

三是要让中德在多边事务中的互动与协调活络起来,加强在联合国事务中的合作,落实好二十国集团峰会共识,推动国际抗疫合作,包括帮助非洲等欠发达地区抗击疫情,加强疫苗研发合作和分享。

Wang Yi emphasized that China has always looked at the EU and Chinese-EU relations with a positive and constructive attitude, always supported the European integration process, supported the EU’s growth and expansion, and happily watched the EU’s development of a greater international role. To develop Chinese-European relations well, comprehensive, objective and accurate knowledge of each other is the key. Wang Yi reiterated that Chinese-European consensus was much greater than their divisions, and cooperation much greater than competition. The two sides’ contacts should be positive and win-win, not a you-lose-I-win zero-sum game. China and Europe are cooperation partners, not systemic rivals. China expects the term of Germany’s rotating EU presidency to promote the realization of still bigger upgradings of Chinese-European relations and is willing to work with Europe to plan and prepare the next stages of the Chinese-European political agenda, to deepen cooperation on climate change, and to send a positive signal that China and Europe join hands to cooperate in safeguarding multilateralism and improving global governance.

王毅强调,中国始终以积极、建设性心态看待欧盟和中欧关系,始终支持欧洲一体化进程,支持欧盟发展壮大,乐见欧盟在国际上发展更大作用。发展好中欧关系,全面、客观、准确的相互认知是关键。王毅重申,中欧共识远大于分歧,合作远大于竞争。双方的交往应当是互利共赢的良性互动,而不是你输我赢的零和博弈。中欧是合作伙伴,而不是制度性对手。中方期待德国担任欧盟轮值主席国期间推动中欧关系实现更大提升,愿同欧方一道,筹划好下阶段中欧重大政治议程,深化气候变化国际合作,对外释放中欧携手合作,维护多边主义、完善全球治理的积极信号。

Maas first expressed sympathy to the Chinese people suffering the flood disaster. Maas said that Germany places great attention on German-Chinese relations. Close German-Chinese communication, dialog and cooperation in the face of the epidemic challenge had led to good results. Germany highly appreciated China’s pledge to  turn a successfully developed vaccine into an international product after successful development. [Germany] wanted to strengthen cooperation with China in vaccine R & D, and in improving accessibility to such a vaccine. Germany firmly supported multilateralism and supported the WHO. It would substantially increase financial support for the WHO. Germany was willing to make ample use of existing dialog and consultation mechanisms, to strengthen strategic dialog and communication, to cooperate on post-epidemic economic recovery, increase the numbers of business and chartered flights while doing a good job at prevention and control, and promote essential contacts. As rotating president of the EU, Germany placed great attention on European-Chinese relations, was willing to plan the next stages of European-Chinese high-level exchanges, to deepen cooperation on climate change, strengthen third-party cooperation in Africa, and contribute efforts to the promotion of European-Chinese relations’ development.

马斯首先向遭受洪涝灾害的中国民众表示慰问。马斯表示,德方高度重视德中关系。面对全球疫情挑战,德中保持密切沟通,对话与合作富有成果。德方高度赞赏中方承诺在疫苗研发成功后将作为国际公共产品,愿同中方加强疫苗研发合作,提高疫苗的可及性。德方坚定支持多边主义,支持世卫组织,将大幅提高对世卫组织的资金支持。德方愿充分利用现有各种对话磋商机制,加强战略对话与沟通,就疫后经济复苏开展合作,在做好防控的同时,增加商业航班和包机数量,促进必要人员往来。作为欧盟轮值主席,德方高度重视欧中关系,愿同中方共同规划好下阶段欧中重要高层交往,深化应对气候变化协作,加强在非洲第三方合作,为促进欧中关系发展贡献力量。

The two sides exchanged opinions about the China-EU investment agreement negotiations, concurred that with the background of unilateralism and protectionism, efforts to meet half-way and to negotiate needed to be increased, so as to strive for the attainment of a comprehensive, balanced and high-class Chinese-European investment agreement at the earliest possible date.

双方就中欧投资协定谈判交换了意见,一致同意在当前单边主义、保护主义抬头背景下,应加快相向而行,加大谈判力度,争取尽早达成一项全面、平衡、高水平的中欧投资协定。

The following is a translation of the news article published by Germany’s foreign ministry.

Since early June, the worst rains ever since the beginning of keeping records have caused massive floods in China. We are aghast of the pictures and reports about the flood disaster. On behalf of the federal government, I have expressed our deepest sympathy and our solidarity with the population affected by the floods.

Seit Anfang Juni sorgen die schlimmsten Regenfälle seit Beginn der Aufzeichnungen für massive Überschwemmungen in China. Wir sind bestürzt über die Bilder und Berichte der Flutkatastrophe. Im Namen der Bundesregierung habe ich der chinesischen Seite unser tiefstes Mitgefühl und unsere Solidarität mit der von den Fluten betroffenen Bevölkerung ausgedrückt.

For us, China is an important partner, but a competitor and systemic rival, too. Maintaining cooperation matters to us. However, it is also crucial that we keep up dialog especially about critical topics.

China ist für uns ein wichtiger Partner, aber auch Wettbewerber und systemischer Rivale. Für uns ist der Erhalt der Zusammenarbeit wichtig. Gleichzeitig ist es aber auch entscheidend, dass wir im Dialog insbesondere auch zu kritischen Themen bleiben.

The most An important topic of my discussion with Wang Yi was the situation in Hong Kong – as has been in my talks with Great Britain this week, and in EU circles last week. I have presented the common European position and reflectins among EU partners, concerning the treatment of the new legal situation, once again. There, too, there is need for action. To us, it is and remains important that, in accordance with international law entered by China, Hong Kong’s autonomy and the liberties guaranteed by the Basic Law, including freedom of opinion, remain guaranteed. That is why we are watching closely now how the law will be applied in practice, also with reference to the Legislative Council elections. If the principle of “one country, two systems” gets eroded by the security law, there will be consequences for our relations with Hong Kong and China. The human rights situation in China was also a topic in our discussion.

Wichtiges Thema meines Gesprächs mit Wang Yi war die Situation in Hongkong – wie im Übrigen auch schon bei meinen Gesprächen mit Großbritannien diese Woche und im EU-Kreis in der vergangenen Woche. Ich habe Wang Yi nochmals die gemeinsame europäische Haltung und die Überlegungen unter den EU-Partnern zum Umgang mit der neuen Rechtslage dargelegt. Denn auch dort gibt es Handlungsbedarf. Für uns ist und bleibt es wichtig, dass gemäß der völkerrechtlichen Verpflichtungen, die China eingegangen ist, die Autonomie Hongkongs und die im Basic Law garantierten Freiheiten, einschließlich der Meinungsfreiheit, gewährleistet bleiben. Deshalb beobachten wir jetzt genau, wie das Gesetz in der Praxis angewandt wird, auch mit Blick auf die Wahlen zum Legislative Council. Wenn das Prinzip „Ein Land, zwei Systeme“ durch das Sicherheitsgesetz ausgehöhlt wird, hat das auch Folgen für unser Verhältnis zu Hongkong und China. Auch die Menschenrechtslage in China war Thema unseres Gesprächs.

As the EU’s presidency, we also still hope that the EU-China summit, originally planned for mid-September, can soon be catched up with. It is important that we finally reach substantial steps in the EU-China investment agreement.

Als EU-Ratspräsidentschaft hoffen wir nach wie vor, dass der ursprünglich für Mitte September geplante EU-China-Gipfel bald nachgeholt werden kann. Es ist wichtig, dass wir endlich substantielle Schritte beim EU-China-Investitionsabkommen erreichen.

G5 network development was a topic in our discussion, too. I explained that strengthening Europe’s digital sovereignty is an important concern for the German EU presidency. We have a strategic interest in our critical infrastructur’s security. To this end, security criteria will be established that all companies have to fulfill if they want to take part in 5G network development.

Auch der 5G-Netzwerkausbau war Thema unseres Gesprächs. Ich habe erläutert, dass die Stärkung der digitalen Souveränität Europas ein wichtiges Anliegen der deutschen EU-Ratspräsidentschaft ist. Wir haben ein strategisches Interesse an der Sicherheit unserer kritischen Infrastruktur. Dafür werden Sicherheitskriterien aufgestellt, die von allen Unternehmen zu erfüllen sind, wenn sie am 5G Netzwerkausbau beteiligt sein wollen.

In the area of climate change, the EU wants to work closely with China. Without China, we will not be able to achieve sustainable results here. Therefore, it was important that here, too, we remain in a close dialog.

Im Bereich Klimaschutz wollen wir als EU den engen Schulterschluss mit China suchen. Ohne China werden wir hier keine nachhaltigen Ergebnisse erzielen können. Deswegen war es wichtig, dass wir auch hierzu im engen Dialog bleiben.

We have also addressed the situation in Libya and Iran. If we want progress, we need China as a responsible actor in international politics. I have once again made a case for more Chinese support about Libya in the UN Security Council, and for constructive cooperation about Iran. Here, it has to be our main goal to preserve the JPCOA.

Wir haben auch die Situation in Libyen und dem Iran angesprochen. Wenn wir Fortschritte erzielen wollen, brauchen wir China als verantwortungsvollen Akteur in der internationalen Politik. Ich habe mich nochmals stark gemacht für eine weitere Unterstützung durch China zu Libyen im Sicherheitsrat der Vereinten Nationen und für eine konstruktive Mitarbeit zum Iran. Hier muss es unser oberstes Ziel bleiben, das JCPoA zu erhalten.

Of course, we also discussed COVID-19. The pandemic appears to be under control in our two countries for now – a success of our cooperation and solidarity. We agreed that this creates the opportunity for gradual development of travel connections between our countries.

Selbstverständlich haben wir auch über COVID-19 gesprochen. Die Pandemie scheint in unseren beiden Ländern vorerst unter Kontrolle zu sein – ein Erfolg unserer Zusammenarbeit und Solidarität. Wir waren uns einig, dass dies die Möglichkeit schafft, gemeinsam am schrittweisen Ausbau von Reiseverbindungen zwischen unseren Ländern zu arbeiten.

However, we must not relent in our efforts in fighting Corona. The pandemic continues to require international solidarity, especially in a globally fair distribution of a future vaccine. However, it is also important in our view that there will be scientific research [or investigation] of the virus’ origins. Therefore, we also discussed an invitation to the WHO, concerning the deployment of an expert commission.

Wir dürfen in unseren Bemühungen im Kampf gegen Corona aber keinesfalls nachlassen. Die Pandemie erfordert nach wie vor internationale Solidarität, gerade auch bei der global gerechten Verteilung eines künftigen Impfstoffes. Wichtig ist aus unserer Sicht allerdings auch eine wissenschaftliche Untersuchung der Herkunft des Virus. Daher haben wir auch über eine Einladung an die WHO über die Entsendung einer Expertenmission gesprochen.

The following is a translation of Wang Yi’s version of China’s conflict with the US.

State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, during a video meeting with German foreign minister Heiko Maas on July 24, 2020, introduced [Maas] to the current [state of] Chinese-American relations on request.

2020年7月24日,国务委员兼外长王毅同德国外长马斯举行视频会晤时,应询介绍了当下的中美关系。

Wang Yi said that the problems in Chinese-American relations are all created by America, their objective is to try to interrupt China’s development progress, by means fair or foul, and even with a lack of any bottom line. Recently, some American anti-China forces also deliberately created ideological antagonism, openly forced other countries to choose the side to stand on, to get into confrontation with China for America’s selfish interest, but no country with an innate sense of right and wrong and an independent spirit would keep that kind of company.

王毅表示,中美关系目前面临的困难完全是美方一手造成的,其目的就是企图彻底打断中国的发展进程,为此可以不择手段,甚至毫无底线。最近美方一些反华势力还蓄意制造意识形态对立,公开胁迫别国选边站队,为了美方的私利与中国对抗,但任何有良知和独立精神的国家都不会与之为伍。

Wang Yi said that China still hopes that non-conflict with America can be reached, without confrontation, with mutual respect, mutually profitable cooperation, but that we will inevitably and resolutely defend national sovereignty and national dignity, resolutely defend our own just development rights, and the principles of international relations. China will not behave like America, but won’t tolerate American trouble-making either.

王毅表示,中国仍希与美国实现不冲突、不对抗、相互尊重、合作共赢,但我们必将坚定维护国家主权和民族尊严,坚定维护自身正当发展权利,坚定维护国际关系基本准则。中国不会随美方起舞,但也绝不容美方胡来。

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Updates / Related

Crunch time, SCMP, July 23, 2020
Subsidies beyond reach, SCMP, July 24

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Thursday, June 4, 2020

June 4 Anniversary and Hong Kong: Broke Horses and Resisting Horses

I think there have been two moments when Chinese people of my age basically told me two things.

a) Yes, they had been among the 1989 protesters, be it in Beijing, be it in other places in China.

b) They had come to understand since how wrong they had been back in 1989, and what a calamity they had all been spared by the crackdown.

In both cases, I listened, nodded, and didn’t argue. I didn’t believe them a word. And I felt I was listening to another chapter from a universal story of human weakness, just as Pasternak’s Dr. Zhivago had, again, many decades earlier, and who had said that “it was like listening to a horse describing how it broke itself in.”

I didn’t argue because I felt that I hadn’t been in their place, that I still wasn’t in their place, and because I knew them beyond their (rather pathetic) political point of view. We were friends, or sort of friends. Hadn’t we known each other personally, and had it been an online encounter, we would probably have had a fierce debate.

Work style – CCTV evening news on July 24, 2013.

This comes to my mind when I read triumphant Chinese news articles about how many signatures had been collected by now, in support of the “security law for Hong Kong”. Obviously, I have no way of knowing if the numbers are real – and I don’t know how many bosses have “nudged” their staff to sign, or else.

People have to survive. There seems to be a rule: a majority of people will only be prepared to fight for their freedoms when they see a chance to succeed at it. That hope is waning in Hong Kong. It is, on the other hand, very much there in Taiwan. The rule that bleak situations break morals isn’t universal, as shown by exceptions. But it is often broad enough to work in favor of those who abuse their powers.

I can’t blame anyone. But I’m critical of a certain kind of “self-broke horse”. That’s the horse that denies the pressures and the threats, that argues that it recognized a necessity, acted accordingly, and that those horses that continue to resist the necessity would be obnoxious or dangerous. That’s a likely pattern of argument once the self-broke horse has “seen the light”, because every horse that remains noticeably free – or resisting – challenges, by its mere existence, not only the people in power, but also the broke horse itself.

A society could be more relaxed if broke horses could admit – even if only to themselves or in private – that they simply don’t want to live a – supposedly too difficult or painful – dissident’s life, or that they want to be happy, and that their happiness requires a certain monthly income, i. e. a favorable career. The problems begin to explode when they try to link their rather personal desires to “something greater”, and when freedom and conscience aren’t the “greater things” of choice, it will most probably be “the motherland”.

China’s rulers understood that, and they fostered such tensions. That’s why they pushed “patriotic education” in mainland China in the 1990s – to fill the void left behind by the crushed hopes of 1989, and to cater to nationalist feelings that had been there anyway – among many 1989 protestors, too.

Here in Germany, I have sometimes heard people vent anger about Wolf Biermann, an East German singer and songwriter who was stripped of his citizenship and exiled by the East German authorities in 1976, while he was on a pre-approved tour of  West Germany.

Biermann had been a vocal critic of East Berlin – a dissident. He hasn’t been much of a critic of Western flaws after 1976. In fact, he embraced all the good and bad things the West had to offer – imperialism included.

One should be aware of that. Biermann is no saint. But he has done more than most of us. He opposed a regime. That may not be enough for a lifetime – but it’s more than what most of us would be prepared to do.

So let’s be grateful for the courageous. Not to hate them for their integrity is a good first step into the right direction. To learn from them – within the realms of our abilities – should be a good second step.

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Updates / Related

365 days, Tsai Ing-wen, June 4, 2020
Sacrificed and gained, Sui Muqing, June 2, 2020

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Sunday, March 1, 2020

Sino-German relations: two Countries, irreconcilable Interpretations, common Ground

The following are excerpts from an article published by Guanchazhe on Friday, written by Huang Ying (黄颖), a researcher with Tongji University’s German Studies Center.

By political turmoil or upheaval, her article refers to the botched attempt of the conservative-liberal parties in Thuringia’s parliament to get to power with support from far-right parliamentarians.

CDU chairperson Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer resigned a few days after she had failed to get her Thuringian partisans back to the federal party line which ruled out cooperation both with the Left Party and the far-right AFD. Huang’s article gives a detailed account of these political events, and then addresses the question about if and how they could affect China’s relations with Germany. The translated paragraphs all deal with this question.

Links within blockquotes added during translation.

Related: “Enhancing and deepening”, German foreign office article, Febr 13, 2020 (click picture for text)

Main Link: Will Germany’s political turmoil affect Sino-German relations? (德国政坛动荡,会不会给中德关系带来不确定性?) – page 2

[…]

A lot of people will ask if Germany’s political turmoil could bring uncertainty to Sino-German relations. The author believes that basically, Germany’s China policy won’t be greatly affected. Although Sino-German economic relations are close, China’s strategic significance for Germany – in political terms – comes only after the European Union and the United States. Germany’s domestic political turmoil won’t change its fundamental political system. No matter to which degree the structure of its political parties may be in upheaval, Germany won’t stop denouncing China’s political system and human rights issues. China’s economic and political rise makes it a challenger in the eyes of Germany’s political and academic circles, not only a challenger of its economy, but also a possible challenger for the Western democratic political system. The fundamental and insurmountable conflict between China and Germany concerning the political systems and values, and the two countries’ different interpretations of freedom, democracy, rule of law, human rights etc. remains irreconcilable, no matter which political party is in power.

不少人会问,德国政坛动荡会不会给中德关系带来不确定性。笔者看来,德国对华政策基本上不太会受到影响。虽然中德经济关系日益紧密,但是从政治角度来看,中国对德国的战略重要性次于欧盟和美国,德国内政的动荡不会改变其基本政治制度。无论德国政党格局怎么动荡,德国不会停止对中国制度和人权问题上的诟病。中国经济和政治崛起被德国政界和学界都视为挑战者,不仅挑战其经济制度,还可能挑战西方的民主政治制度。中德之间存在着根本的不可逾越的政治制度和价值观冲突,两国对自由、民主、法治、人权等方面有着不同的解读,无论德国哪个党派执政,这一冲突都不可调和。

However, recent Sino-German relations have become somewhat easier, which can be seen from two things above all. The first is where the German government stands on the issue of allowing Huawei participation in the building of Germany’s 5G network. At the end of January, the British government had made it clear that Huawei would be allowed to participate in the building of non-central components of Britain’s 5G network, but not in the construction of the sensitive sites, such as nuclear power stations or military bases. This matches two demands: it doesn’t endanger national security and won’t damage relations with important allies (America), and it allows Britain to use new technology and to maintain its competitiveness in the markets.

不过,最近的中德关系有所缓和,这主要表现在两件事上。第一件是备受关注的德国政府对是否允许华为参与德国5G网络建设的表态。一月底,英国明确表态:允许华为参与英国5G网络非核心部分的建设,但不能参与核电站和军事基地等重要网络和敏感地点的建设。这一表态实现了两全:一方面不危及国家安全和不破坏与重要盟友(美国)的关系,另一方面又可以使英国使用新技术和保持市场竞争力。

Soon after that, the European Union also suggested that there was no need to keep Huawei out, and member countries should be allowed to use Huawei equipment, provided that these installations were up to mobile net operation standards and that national security was protected, thus avoiding too much dependence on one supplier. After Britain and the EU had made their positions clear, it was no surprise that Germany’s governing coalition reached a consensus on February 12, saying that Huawei shouldn’t be automatically excluded from the 5G network construction, but that Huawei would have to comply with the highest safety standards. This decision still needs to be negotiated and passed with the social democratic coalition partner1). Before, many social democratic members had opposed Huawei’s participation in Germany’s 5G construction. It can basically be safely said that in 5G network construction, Germany won’t exclude Huawei, and this position will also have a positive influence on other EU member states, and will benefit the stable development of Sino-German relations.

随后,欧盟也建议不要一开始就将华为排除在外,允许成员国采用华为的设备,前提是要收紧对移动网络运营商的安全要求,严格实施保护国家安全的设施,避免对一个供应商产生过分依赖。在继英国和欧盟纷纷表态后,果不出意外,德国联盟党议会党团于2月12日便达成一致,表示不应自动将中国的华为排除再5G网络建设之外,但要求华为必须遵守最高的安全要求。这一决定目前还要与执政伙伴社民党协商通过,此前,有不少社民党成员都反对华为参与德国的5G建设。基本上可以确定,在5G网络建设上,德国不会将华为排斥在外,而且德国的表态还会积极影响欧盟其他国家对华为的态度,这将有利于中德两国关系稳定发展。

What also brought about a turn for the better was that when China raised the nationwide strengths to fight the new-type corona virus, Germany gave China essential support and help. In early February, Germany’s foreign minister Heiko Maas expressed admiration for the Chinese government’s public, transparent and cooperative attitude and vigorous and effective measures against the “epidemic”. The plane that took German compatriots back to Germany had also delivered 5.4 tons of aid supplies to China.

另外,给中德关系带来转机的是,在中国举全国之力抗击抗新冠肺炎的时刻,德国给予了中国必要的支持与帮助。2月初,德国外长海科·马斯(Heiko Maas)对中国政府在抗“疫”过程中采取的公开、透明、合作态度以及有力、有效的措施表示钦佩。借撤侨之机,将5.4吨援助物资运抵中国。

When meeting Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi in Berlin on February 13, Merkel said that Germany highly appreciated the firm and vigorous control measures taken by China to resist the epidemic, and would continue to provide China with support and help. […]

2月13日,默克尔在柏林会见王毅外长时表示,德方高度赞赏中国在对抗疫情时采取的果断有力的防控措施,会继续向中方提供支持和帮助。[…]

While Huang Ying argues that there is common ground, the commentariat (or, maybe, just the comments that remain undeleted) are mixed in their views. On the defensive side, demands for esthetic repairs are made:

The title doesn’t fit, it seems to suggest that China is meddling in Germany’s domestic politics. How about changing it into: How does Germany’s multi-party plight affect China,*)

标题不当,好像中国要干涉德国内政
改一下如何:德国的多党困境,对中国有啥影响

or

Just a trade partner. Germany only looks at China’s wallets. Don’t count on anything else.

一个商业伙伴而已。德国只看中了中国的钱包。其他难指望。

Replying to the reader who worries about the title, another commenter suggests that

I think you are too sensitive, elder brother. […] The ambassador to Germany has kept saying that “no Huawei, no Audi”. Isn’t that interference in German domestic politics?

我倒觉得大兄弟你太敏感了 […] 驻德大使直接放话了,不能搞华为,否则就搞奥迪了。这算不算干涉德国内政?

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Note

*) Don’t know if the title has hence been changed.

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Related

德国政治面临何种变局, 澎湃, Dec 7, 2018

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