Archive for ‘history’

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Political Time Check (Febr 2017): “Synchronized Efforts”

The following is a translation of an article published by the “People’s Daily”, online and in its printed edition, on February 14 this year, by an author named Zhao Zhenyu (赵振宇). Links within blockquotes added during translation.

Main link: “Time Culture – Galloping into the Realms of Dreams”

“A leading cadre’s time of reign is limited, and even more limited is the time he works in the same place. As leading cadres, we must, in the spirit of strife from dawn to dusk, cherish time just the more, make use of this limited time, to do practical and good things for the masses.” During the past few days, when I reviewed secretary general Xi Jinping’s discussion of time, I felt the style of pragmatic and careful work again, and experienced again the time civilization, which is indispensible to the era of pursuing the Chinese dream.

“一个领导干部,在位的时间是有限的,在一个地方工作的时间更有限。我们每一个领导干部都要以‘只争朝夕’的精神,倍加珍惜在位的时间,充分利用这有限的时间,多为群众办实事、办好事。”近日重温习近平总书记关于时间的谈话,再次感受到务实、精细的工作作风,体会到逐梦时代不可或缺的时间文明。

The seasons come and go, untouched by the words that try to describe them. In the beginning, time was an abstract concept, and something hard to grasp. When the forefathers of humankind began to record things by tying knots, measuring time was still something people strived to understand and to master, and became a criterion of civilisational expansion and progress. Of course, in history, people from ancient times formed an awareness of time under the impression of “work from sunrise and to rest after the sunset”, and they developed an attitude that appreciated time, by “attributing little value to a jade ring, but great importance to a single ray of light”. They were careful “not to miss the farming season, so as to reap the harvest in due course”. Time culture, with its connotations of understanding and cherishing time and respecting punctuality, reminds us to scientifically master time, and to effectively use time.

天不言而四时行,时间最初是一个抽象而难以把握的概念。从人类先祖结绳记事开始,定量化的时间才被逐渐认识和掌握,成为文明拓进的一个向度。当然在历史上,古人很早就形成了“日出而作,日入而息”的时间意识,形成了“贱尺璧而重寸阴”的惜时态度,形成了“不违农时,谷不可胜食也”的守时观念。以识时、惜时、守时为内涵的时间文明,提醒我们科学把握时间、有效利用时间。

No blossoming dream can occur without irrigation, and no civilizational advancement can do without the helping hand of time. Time pushes ahead without turning back, and any waste of time amounts to affecting a society’s civilization negatively. Time is the material that forms life, and wasting other peoples’ time means nothing less than scheming murder. In particular, it is the context of “infinite time” and “finiteness of life” that magnifies the value of time and the significance of struggle. That’s why Marx said that all savings ultimately amounted to saving time. As we enter the modern era of milliseconds and microseconds, the architectures-dream value of time becomes yet more apparent. Only by conserving time culture and renovating the notion of time, can we surge forward to enrich human life, and gallop into the realms of dreams.

一切梦想的花开,都离不开时间的浇灌,一切文明的进阶,都离不开时间的助力。时间总是不可逆转地向前推进,对时间的浪费,不啻对社会文明的怠慢甚至贻误。时间是组成生命的材料,浪费别人的时间无异于谋财害命。尤其在“无限的时间”与“有限的生命”的语境下,更凸显出时间的宝贵、奋斗的意义。所以马克思说,一切节约归根到底都是时间的节约。当时代的车轮驶入以毫秒、微秒计时的现代社会,时间的筑梦价值更加显现。涵养时间文明,刷新时间观念,我们才能激荡出彩人生、驰骋梦想国度。

“dit dit dit … Beijing time is x hours.” On December 15, 1970, the National Time Service Center began to broadcast Beijing standard time to the nation on shortwave. From that time on, this familiar timecheck became a reference for peoples’ coming and going. Achieving the goals of the struggles for the Chinese dream and of the “two two-hundreds”, on this brave march forward and the center’s*) strategic dispositons and reform guidelines equally depend on synchronization by Beijing time. All regions, all departments, and all units, in the process of reform and development, are united in action, in unanimous efforts. Connection with the center*) by synchronization and example guarantee that our ideology and our actions serve as rules, and only this enables the entire nation’s chessboard implementation of cooperation, to rise to the cohesive effect of “pearls falling into a jade plate”.

“嘀嘀嘀……北京时间×点整。”1970年12月15日,国家授时中心开始向全国进行短波广播标准的北京时间。从那时起,这个耳熟能详的报时声成为人们出入起居的时间参照。实现中国梦、实现“两个一百年”的奋斗目标,在这条奋进之路上,中央的战略部署和改革方针,同样是我们需要不断对表的北京时间。各地区、各部门、各单位,在改革发展中同中央步调一致、力度一致,一以贯之地与中央对表、看齐,确保我们的思想与行动都以此为准,才能产生“全国上下一盘棋”的落实合力,起到“大珠小珠落玉盘”的聚合效果。

From the venturing cry of “ten thousand years are too long, seize the day, seize the hour” to the firm exploration of “Development is the unyielding argument”, and to the magnificent journey of “reform does not stall, opening up does not stop”, time culture on the national level has amply broken new ground of meaning. We must continue to cultivate this kind of time consciousness. In reality, there is no action of reform and development without a time frame. When it comes to structural reform of production capacities and supply, it is true that resisting forces remain strong, and policies to enable access to pure resources, clean energy etc. comes at high costs, but if we can’t resolutely and decisively implement reform, we may lose the exceptionally favourable opportunity of economic transformation. As for realizing the key issue of moderate prosperity, to seize the opportunity that time provides us with, from an insightful position, is exactly the best attitude to welcome the future.

从“一万年太久,只争朝夕”的创业呐喊,到“发展才是硬道理”的坚定探索,再到“改革不停顿、开放不止步”的壮丽征程,国家层面时间文明充满开拓进取意味。今天,我们仍然需要培育这样的时间意识。现实中,各项改革发展举措,莫不有时间窗口。去产能、去库存等供给侧结构性改革任务固然阻力重重,置备污染净化设备、普及清洁能源等治霾之策固然成本高企,但我们现在如果不能毅然决然地落实改革,就可能丧失经济转型的绝佳时机。对冲刺在实现全面小康关键一程上的中国而言,把握时间给予的机遇,正是眺望前路、迎向未来的最好姿态。

As the times are changing, the dream advances. [Reference to the lunar calendar.] In the new growth ring of the years, our energetic mood shows promise, the struggle forges ahead, and they will certainly carve beautiful memories that won’t drag the mission and the era.

时序更替,梦想前行。农历丁酉年是鸡年,雄鸡司晨昭示时光宝贵,闻鸡起舞激扬勤奋精神。在新的时间年轮里,我们奋发有为、拼搏进取,一定能刻写下不负使命不负时代的美好回忆。

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Note

*) the central committee and/or the central government – probably the central committee in this context

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Related

Strategic inflection point, A. S. Grove, 1996, 1999
Grundrisse (in English), Karl Marx, 1857 – 61

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Saturday, May 6, 2017

KCNA: North Korea “has contributed to protecting China’s peace and security”

North Korean newsagency KCNA published an article on Wednesday evening this week, criticizing Chinese press coverage and commentary. According to China’s state-owned newspaper Huanqiu Shibao, it is the third article in recent days that criticizes Chinese pundits and media on North Korea, but the first to mention China by name.

Rather than criticizing Pyongyang, Beijing should cherish the long-standing alliance with North Korea, which had benefitted China, rather than causing problems, KCNA wrote, and added:

One must clearly understand that the DPRK’s line of access to nukes for the existence and development of the country can neither be changed nor shaken and that the DPRK will never beg for the maintenance of friendship with China, risking its nuclear program which is as precious as its own life, no matter how valuable the friendship is.

The DPRK, which has already become one of the most powerful nuclear weapons state, does not feel the need to think over how many options it has now.

KCNA, who provide news and articles in Korean, English, Chinese, Russian, Spanish and Japanese – but no permalinks – wrote as follows (the name “Kim Chol” should probably not be attributed to the country’s former vice minister, or  Kim Jong-un’s murdered elder brother):

Pyongyang, May 3 (KCNA) — Kim Chol released a commentary on Wednesday, urging Chinese newspapers to refrain from making reckless remarks undermining the DPRK-China relations.  Noting that a string of absurd and reckless remarks are now heard from big neighboring countries, perhaps frightened at the U.S. blackmail and war racket, every day only to render the acute situation of the Korean peninsula more strained, the commentary says: 朝中社平壤5月3日电 金哲3日发表题为《不要再做乱砍朝中关系支柱的贸然言行》的评论。文章摘要如下:
或许是因为被最近美国高调的威胁恐吓与轰隆的战争机械动音吓坏了,临近的大国内部连日传来不谙事理、失去分寸的言论,使日趋尖锐的朝鲜半岛局势更加紧张。
The People’s Daily and the Global Times, widely known as media speaking for the official stand of the Chinese party and government, have recently carried commentaries asserting that the DPRK’s access to nukes poses a threat to the national interests of China. They shifted the blame for the deteriorated relations between the DPRK and China onto the DPRK and raised lame excuses for the base acts of dancing to the tune of the U.S. 被人认为代表中国党和政府正式立场的《人民日报》和《环球时报》最近发表几篇评论声称朝鲜拥核威胁中国的国家利益,把朝中关系恶化的责任完全推给朝鲜,同时极力辩解中国对美国随波逐流的卑鄙做法。
  Those commentaries claimed that the DPRK poses a threat to “the security in the northeastern region of China” by conducting nuclear tests less than 100 km away from its border with China. They even talked rubbish that the DPRK strains the situation in Northeast Asia and “offers the U.S. excuses for deploying more strategic assets” in the region.  评论说,“朝鲜在距离中国边界不到一百公里的地方搞核试验,威胁到中国东北的安全”, “朝鲜刺激东北亚局势,给美国加强在这一地区的战略部署提供了借口”。
 Not content with such paradox, the commentaries asserted that to remain averse to the DPRK’s access to nukes is to preserve interests common to the U.S. and China, calling for slapping harsher sanctions against the DPRK in order to avert a war which would bring danger to China.  甚至诡称反对朝鲜发展核导技术是中美两国的共同利益,就是为避免危及自身的战争也得强化对朝制裁。
 The newspapers, even claiming China holds the initiative in handling the DPRK-China relations, made no scruple of letting out a string of provocative remarks urging the DPRK to choose one among such options if it doesn’t want military confrontation with China–“whether to face protracted isolation or to preserve national security by making a U-turn” and whether to break Sino-DPRK friendship or to dismantle its nukes.  更有甚者,悍然放出“中朝关系的主动权掌握在中国的手中”,如果朝鲜不愿与中国军事对立,就要在“长期孤立和另走一条国家安全道路之间”、中朝友谊和弃核之间作出抉择的极为挑衅的妄言。
 This is just a wanton violation of the independent and legitimate rights, dignity and supreme interests of the DPRK and, furthermore, constitutes an undisguised threat to an honest-minded neighboring country which has a long history and tradition of friendship.  这是对朝鲜自主合法的权利、尊严和最高利益的严重侵害,也是具有悠久的友好历史和传统的善良邻国露骨的威胁。
 China is hyping up “damage caused by the DPRK’s nuclear tests” in its three northeastern provinces. This only reveals the ulterior purpose sought by it, being displeased with the DPRK’s rapid development of nukes.  中国有些人大谈东北三省的“核试灾害”,只能暴露出中国不喜欢朝鲜核武高度化的内心。
 As far as “violation of national interests” oft-repeated by politicians and media persons of China is concerned, it is just the issue that the DPRK should rather talk much about.

It is just the DPRK whose strategic interests have been repeatedly violated due to insincerity and betrayal on the part of its partner, not China at all.

 至于中国政治家和媒体人动辄提到的“侵害国家利益”,反而朝鲜有更多的话要说。由于对方背信弃义的行动,国家战略利益屡遭侵害的不是中国,而是朝鲜。
 Some theorists of China are spouting a load of nonsense that the DPRK’s access to nukes strains the situation in Northeast Asia and offers the U.S. an excuse for beefing up its strategic assets in the region. But the U.S. had activated its strategy for dominating Asia-Pacific long before the DPRK had access to nukes, and its primary target is just China. 中国有人荒唐地主张朝鲜拥核加剧东北亚局势,给美国加强在这一地区的战略部署提供借口,但美国的亚太支配战略早在朝鲜拥核很久以前就开始启动,其主要目标本来就是中国。
China should acknowledge in an honest manner that the DPRK has just contributed to protecting peace and security of China, foiling the U.S. scheme for aggression by waging a hard fight in the frontline of the showdown with the U.S. for more than seven decades, and thank the DPRK for it. 中国倒是应当老实承认长达70多年在反美对抗战的第一线艰苦作战,挫败美国的侵略阴谋,为维护中国大陆的和平与安全做出贡献的到底是谁,先向朝鲜表示感谢才合乎道理。
Some ignorant politicians and media persons of China daringly assert that the traditional relations of the DPRK-China friendship were in line with the interests of each county in the past. They are advised to clearly understand the essence of history before opening their mouth. 悍然胡扯传统的中朝友好关系“当时契合了各国的利益”的愚昧无知的一些中国政治家和媒体人,应首先搞清楚历史的本质后再来理论。
Their call for not only slapping stricter sanctions but also not ruling out a military intervention if the DPRK refuses to abandon its nuclear program is no more than an extremely ego-driven theory based on big-power chauvinism that not only the strategic interests but also the dignity and vital rights of the DPRK should be sacrificed for the interests of China. 只要朝鲜不弃核,不仅加强对朝制裁力度,而且不惜使出军事干涉手段的说法,不过是极为霸道的大国主义逻辑而已,即为了中国的利益,朝鲜的战略利益乃至主权和生存权都要牺牲。
One must clearly understand that the DPRK’s line of access to nukes for the existence and development of the country can neither be changed nor shaken and that the DPRK will never beg for the maintenance of friendship with China, risking its nuclear program which is as precious as its own life, no matter how valuable the friendship is. 必须明白,不管是谁,决不能改变或摇动朝鲜为国家的存在和发展拥核的路线。无论朝中友谊怎样宝贵,朝鲜也不会拿如同生命的核武来交换或乞求。
The DPRK, which has already become one of the most powerful nuclear weapons state, does not feel the need to think over how many options it has now. 毋庸赘述,朝鲜已是最强的核国家,有很多路可以选择。
China should no longer try to test the limits of the DPRK’s patience but make proper strategic option, facing up to the situation. 中国不要再无谓地企图考验朝鲜的忍耐的界限,而应当冷静看待现实并作出正确的战略选择。
China had better ponder over the grave consequences to be entailed by its reckless act of chopping down the pillar of the DPRK-China relations. -0- 中国要深思,现在乱砍朝中关系支柱的危险妄动可能带来的严重后果。(完)

The wordings in English and Chinese aren’t always identical. For example, according to the English version, People’s Daily and Huanqiu Shibao are widely known as media speaking for the official stand of the Chinese party and government, while in KCNA’s Chinese version, the two publications are believed to represent China’s party’s and government’s official position. And while the English version says that [t]he DPRK, which has already become one of the most powerful nuclear weapons state, does not feel the need to think over how many options it has now, the Chinese translation says that with no need to go into unnecessary details, the DPRK is already the strongest nuclear country and can choose from many roads.

Huanqiu Shibao, one of the two Chinese papers mentioned by KCNA, lost no time to react: an article, written by “Shan Renping” (that would be editor Hu Xijin‘s (胡锡进) pen name, according to Feichang Dao),  appeared in Chinese at 8 a.m. the next day – KCNA’s commentary had been published the evening before. At 10:18 a.m., an English version of the same article followed on the “Global Times” website.

Neither Western nor Chinese media may take a great interest in reproducing the case Pyongyang is trying to make: that doesn’t fit in either America’s nor into China’s interests, as KCNA noted in the Wednesday editorial: […] the commentaries asserted that to remain averse to the DPRK’s access to nukes is to preserve interests common to the U.S. and China, calling for slapping harsher sanctions against the DPRK in order to avert a war which would bring danger to China.

From the official North Korean perspective, America, not North Korea, poses problems – and KCNA adds a warning to Beijing (whose politicians have left it to scholars and media so far to voice discontent with Pyongyang):

Some theorists of China are spouting a load of nonsense that the DPRK’s access to nukes strains the situation in Northeast Asia and offers the U.S. an excuse for beefing up its strategic assets in the region. But the U.S. had activated its strategy for dominating Asia-Pacific long before the DPRK had access to nukes, and its primary target is just China.

On Friday, Taiwan’s Liberty Times quoted a South Korean foreign ministry spokesman as saying that sanctions on the North were showing effects, as demonstrated by North Korea’s reaction. According to the Liberty Times report, US secretary of state had previously revealed that Pyongyang had received a warning from Beijing to either refrain from further nuclear tests, or to face sanctions voluntarily imposed by China.

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Related

Big country, small countries, Wikipedia, last edt. March 19, 2017

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Saturday, March 4, 2017

“Overlooked Feats” finally appreciated: Home Match for Ma Ying-jeou at New York University

Former Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou was asked questions by the NYU’s School of Law Professor Jerome A. Cohen, and an audience, on Thursday.

It’s a 78-minutes , and Cohen did nearly everything to make his guest and former student look good, but it’ s also a potentially worthwile piece of Sunday infotainment for people who are interested in Taiwanese history, and  with concern for the threats and opportunities Taiwan faces in the present age.

That said, if you strongly dislike Ma’s presidential record, especially his China policies, it might be a good idea to skip the 28th to 29th minute, where Cohen calls ECFA one of the overlooked international diplomatic feats, and suggests a Nobel Peace Prize nomination.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Tsai Ing-wen’s 2-28 Speech on Tuesday

A China Television (CTV) video on Youtube, a transcript (in Chinese) by Central News Agency (CNA), and an account of the speech in English on CNA’s Focus Taiwan.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

February 28: one Incident, different Interpretations

Links within blockquotes added during translation — JR


1. Chinese State Council “Taiwan Affairs Office”, Febr 22

State Council Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman An Fengshan told a regular press conference on February 22 that the February 28 incident which occured seventy years ago was the Taiwanese compatriots’ resistance against dictatorship, a righteous movement to obtain basic rights, and part of the Chinese peoples’ struggle for liberation. Ever since a long time ago, this incident has been intentionally used by “Taiwan independence” splittist forces on the island who distorted historic facts, incited contradictions in their province of citizenship [Update, Febr 26: or between citizens with different provinces of origin], to tear apart the Taiwanese community, to create antagonism withinn society. Their despicable intention to carry out separatist “Taiwan independence” activities was absolutely despicable.

国务院台办发言人安峰山2月22日在例行新闻发布会上应询表示,发生在70年前的“2.28”事件是台湾同胞反抗专制统治、争取基本权利的正义行动,是中国人民解放斗争的一部分。长期以来,这一事件被岛内的“台独”分裂势力别有用心地利用,他们歪曲历史事实,挑拨省籍矛盾,撕裂台湾族群,制造社会对立,为进行“台独”分裂活动张目,其用心是十分卑劣的。


2. Chinanet, Febr 8, 2017 (Excerpts)

The Taiwan Affairs Office holds a regular press conference on the 8th of February (Wednesday) at 10 in the morning, at the Taiwan Affairs Office press conference room (6-1, Guang’anmen South Road, Guang’an Building). There will be a live broadcast online, please follow it closely.

国务院台湾事务办公室定于2月8日(周三)上午10:00在国台办新闻发布厅(广安门南街6-1号广安大厦中门四层)举办例行新闻发布会。中国网现场直播,敬请关注!

[photographic records / 图片实录]

Transcript / 文字实录

[…]

Xinhua reporter: Two questions. First question, this year is the seventieth anniversary of the 2-2-8 incident, may I ask if there will be related mainland activities? Second question, the “Taiwan Solidarity Uion” is currently announcing that they plan to invite “Xinjiang independence” element Rebiya Kadeer to visit Taiwan and hope to effect a meeting between her and Tsai Ing-wen. I would like to ask how the spokesman has [spokesman being addressed in the third person] comments on this?

新华社记者:
两个问题。第一,今年是“2·28”事件七十周年,请问大陆方面会否举行相关的纪念活动?第二,“台联党”日前宣布,计划于3月份邀请“疆独”分子热比亚访台,并希望促成她与蔡英文会面,想请问发言人对此有何评论?
2017-02-08 10:45:21

An Fengshan: Concerning your first question, it is understood that the relevant mainland departments are going to hold a number of commemorative activities at the scheduled time. Concerning your second question, as is well known, Rebiya Kadeer is a ethnic group splittist element, a leading figure of the “East Turkestan” separatist force. We are firmly opposed to an arrival of Rebiya Kadeer at Taiwanese activities in any form.  “Taiwanese independence” forces inviting such a person to visit Taiwan, intending to manufacture disturbances, is bound to harm cross-strait relations.

安峰山:
您的第一个问题。据了解,大陆有关部门届时会举办系列纪念活动。
第二个问题,众所周知,热比亚是一个民族分裂分子,是“东突”分裂势力的头面人物。我们坚决反对热比亚以任何形式到台湾活动。“台独”势力邀请这样一个人物到台湾访问,意图制造事端,势必会损害两岸关系。
2017-02-08 10:45:38

[…]

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Related

Massacring the Truth, Taipei Times, Febr 25, 2017
Rebiya Kadeer cancels Taiwan visit, UAA, Febr 14, 2017
Jiang attends Xinhai Commemoration, Oct 9, 2011

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Saturday, January 28, 2017

China’s rising Aggression against Taiwan – is there anything we can do to counter it?

Nigeria told Taiwan earlier this month to move its de-facto embassy from the capital Abuja to Lagos, the country’s biggest city and its capital until 1976, and seat of the federal government until 1991. According to the Chinese foreign ministry,

Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama told journalists after reaffirming the One-China Policy at a joint press conference with visiting Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, that Taiwan will now have to function in Lagos with a skeletal staff.

One could condemn the decision of the Nigerian government, who have reportedly been promised $40 bn Chinese investment in the country’s infrastructure, and the Taiwanese foreign ministry did just that.

But there will always be governments who are too weak to be principled – and most governments worldwide, and especially those of “developed” and powerful countries, have long played along with Beijing’s “one-China policy”. Big or small countries’ decisions are based on “national interest” (whichever way national interest may be defined).

Still, what Nigeria is doing to Taiwan shows a new quality in harming the island nation. A Reuters report on January 12 didn’t try to “prove” Beijing’s driving force behind the Nigerian decision, but quotes a Taiwanese perception that would suggest this, writing that Taiwan sees the “request” to move its representative office from the capital as more pressure by China to isolate it.

Reuters also wrote that

[w]hile economic ties between the mainland and Taiwan have grown considerably in recent years, their relations have worsened since Tsai Ing-wen, who heads a pro-independence party, was elected president of the island last year.
Beijing has been stepping up pressure on her to concede to its “one China” principle.

In fact, this isn’t just a move to make Taiwan “lose face”, or to re-emphasize the – in Beijing’s view – inofficial nature of Taiwanese statehood and sovereignty. This is an attempt on Taiwan’s lifelines, even if only a small one – for now. If Taiwan has to reduce staff at one of its embassies, simply because Beijing wants the host country to bully Taiwan, this affects Taiwanese trade. And this means that Beijing is making fun of a World Trade Organization member’s legitimate interests.

Looking at it under less formal aspects, this move via Nigeria is also an aggression against Taiwan’s democracy.

The Tsai administration’s position during the past eight months hadn’t even been “provocative”. All they can be blamed for is that they didn’t bow before Beijing’s hatpole, an alleged “1992 consensus” between the Chinese Communist Party and the Taiwanese National Party (KMT). In her inaugural speech in May, President Tsai Ing-wen still acknowledged the fact that there had been KMT-CCP talks that year, and the role the talks had had in building better cross-strait relations. But  she pointed out that among the foundations of interactions and negotiations across the Strait, there was the democratic principle and prevalent will of the people of Taiwan.

It seems that this position – legitimate and reasonable – was too much for Beijing. This should be food for thought for everyone in the world who wants the will of the people to prevail.

J. Michael Cole, a blogger from Taiwan, wrote in September last year that China’s leadership

behaves very much like a 12-year-old: pouting and bullying when it doesn’t get what it wants. To be perfectly honest, it’s rather embarrassing and hardly warrants the space and scare quotes it gets in the world’s media. […]

Why the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has kept at it for so long is because we, the international community, have allowed it to do so. From the hallowed halls of academia to the media, government agencies to the public sphere, we have allowed fear to regulate how we interact with China, with ourselves, and with the rest of the world.

His conclusion: we – and I assume that by “we”, he refers to all freedom-loving people who cherish democracy – need collectively stiffer spines, ; the times when we let the authoritarian-child determine what’s in our best interest should come to an end, not just in the political sphere but in other areas, including the embattled field of free expression, where the 12-year-old has been making a mockery of our proud traditions in journalism and academia.

I wasn’t sure if I agreed when I read this, months ago. Yes, it is true that China’s dollars are corrupting. But aren’t all dollars corrupting, if you are corrupt? Who forces us to take them? I’m wondering if South Africa in the 1980s would have faced sanctions if their white government and elites had had to offer then what Beijing has to offer now. And in that regard, I believe we should see clearly that Western countries frequently put their positions on sale easily, when they are offered the right price.

That was  a main factor in America’s motivation, in the 1970s, to acknowledge Beijing’s “one-China policy”. That’s why the EU is nearly spineless when it comes to interaction with Beijing. And that’s why Taiwan’s own elites are frequently eager to do business with China, even if this limits the island republic’s political scope further.

All the same, China’s measures against democracy are uniquely aggressive in some ways. Above all, they are completely shameless. If they serve their country, Chinese people may advocate them without the least disguise – because it serves China. When an American politician – Donald Trump – does a similar thing by ostensibly “putting America first”, he faces a bewildered global public who can’t believe their own ears. And yes, censorship and records where only the victor writes the history books and declares the defeated parties villains is part of hallowed Chinese tradition. There were Chinese people who were openly critical of that tradition during the 1980s or the 1990s. As far as I can see, there aren’t too many of them any more. (I’m not sure there are any left.)

Chinese “public opinion” may debate measures to optimize business, or CCP rule. But there are no competing visions in China. There is no public opinion. There is only guidance toward totalitarianism.

Can governments play a role in controlling China’s aggression against democracy? Not in the short or medium term, anyway. Any such movement has to start from the grassroots. And it won’t be a terribly big one, let alone a “collective” one, as Cole appears to hope.

But every right move is a new beginning, and a contribution to a better world. We can’t boycott China, and if we could, it might amount to a tragedy.

But we can make new, small, decisions every day: is this really the right time to arrange a students exchange with China? Why not with Taiwan? Is an impending deal with China really in one’s best interest? Could an alternative partner make better sense in the long run, even if the opportunity cost looks somewhat higher right now?

The CCP’s propaganda, during the past ten or twenty years, has been that you have no choice but to do business with China under its rule, no matter if you like the dictatorship and its increasing global reach, or not. The purpose of this propaganda has been to demobilize any sense of resistance, of decency, or of hope.

We need to take a fresh look at China.

As things stand, this doesn’t only mean a fresh look at the CCP, but at China as a country, too. During the past ten years, the CCP has managed to rally many Chinese people behind itself, and to discourage dissenters, apparently a minority anyway, from voicing dissent.

A new personal and – if it comes to that – collective fresh look at China requires a sense of proportion, not big statements or claims. It doesn’t require feelings of hatred or antagonism against China, either. We should remain interested in China, and continue to appreciate what is right with it.

What is called for is not a answer that would always be true, but a question, that we should ask ourselves at any moment when a choice appears to be coming up.

As an ordinary individual, don’t ask how you can “profit” from China’s “rise” (which has, in fact, been a long and steady collapse into possibly stable, but certainly immoral hopelessness).

Ask yourself what you can do for Taiwan.

Happy new year!

Monday, November 28, 2016

A few Thoughts about Castro

Fidel Castro, in the course of about half a century, became an icon for people who would have liked to challenge America’s leading global role. And he was hated by many Americans. When I asked an otherwise friendly American friend (by letter, back then) in the early 1990s why the embargo was still in place, I got a long and angry answer, as if I had I had trespassed. And when I made some not-too-critical, but not really reverent remarks about Castro the other day, I got an angry answer, too. What you get in a conversation about Castro really depends on your interlocutor (and, of course, on your diplomatic skills).

What is frequently ignored however, is the Cuban people. It is true that fear, intimidation and human rights violations has helped to keep the Cuban Communist Party in power. so have state and party propaganda. Decades of getting the same stories told over and over and over again, in school, the media, and  arguably by Grandpa at home, won’t fail to leave  traces on most human harddisks.

Few political leaders of the 20th and – so far – 21st century trigger as strong emotions as Fidel Castro does. Castro is idolized, and demonized. And more frequently than not, peoples’ reactions to his memory depend on where they belong, or who they side with: America, China, or Russia, for example.

It would take biographic research to judge Castro and his rule. It would require reading one or two biographies, at least. The information that daily mass media offer won’t provide insights into how Cuba has endured, or profitted from, Castro rule since early 1959.

But you wouldn’t run into too many people without clear-cut opinions about Castro.

That’s why countries and civilizations can be surprising to outsiders (and even to insiders). Things happen, and they may appear to be unlogical or bizarre. But they happen for reasons – good or bad -, and the driving forces behind them aren’t necessarily idiocy.

To understand Castro’s rise to power, and the reasons as to why the Cuban Communist Party has been able to cement its dictatorship to this days, we would need to walk the Cuban streets of the 1940s and 1950s, not those of the 2010s.

Research – scientific or journalistic – needs to take us there.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Obituary: Ryu Mi-yong, 1921 – 2016

Ryu Mi-yong, chairwoman of the North Korean “Chondoist Chongu Party”, died of lung cancer on Wednesday, November 23, aged 95, according to North Korean newsagency KCNA (no permalink).

Thanks to the profound trust and love of the great leaders she could make a dramatic U turn in her life and enjoyed a worthwhile life after permanently settling in the DPRK together with her husband Choe Tok Sin,

writes KCNA, referring to the couple’s defection from South to North Korea in 1986. Reportedly, they had moved to the United States, or fled there, ten years prior to their defection. Her husband, late Choe Duck-shin (or Choe Deok-sin, or Choi Duk Shin), had been the Park regime’s foreign minister from 1961 to 1963. From 1963 to 1967, he served as South Korea’s Ambassador to West Germany.

And if KCNA portrays her correctly, like many converts, Ryu Mi-yong was tougher than the rest:

She revered Marshal Kim Jong Un as God of the nation and the sun of salvation of the world and the people and worked heart and soul to bring earlier a new day of unity of all Koreans and country’s reunification till the last moments of her life.

直到生命的最后一刻,敬仰金正恩元帅为民族的上天、救世济民的太阳,为早日迎来全民族的团结和统一的未来献出了一切。

The “party” she chaired apparently draws on a Korean religious movement called Cheondoism.

According to Yonhap Newsagency, South Korea’s reunification ministry, on November 19 granted Ryu’s second son a travel permit to the North, for humanitarian reasons, given that his mother had been terminally ill.

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Updates/Related

“Chondoism, translated into reality”, Pyongyang Times, Sept 29, 2016

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