Archive for ‘human rights’

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Ma Ying-jeou: “A Considerable Threat Continues to Exist in the Taiwan Strait”

Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou spoke about cross-strait relations in an interview with the BBC‘s Carrie Gracie this month. There is a three-minutes’ video on youtube, and Radio Taiwan International‘s (RTI) Chinese service has a transcript of the interview.

I have based my following translation – not necessarily accurate – on the RTI transcript. Links with in the following Q & A were inserted during translation.

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[Asked what his feelings are about China being both an important trading partner and a cause of security threats]

A: We are only some 100 nautical miles away from mainland China, and to us, China is a big risk risk, and also a big opportunity. Any leader of the Republic of China should learn to reduce risks and to expand opportunities, and what I have done during the past seven years is exactly that.

總統:我們與大陸只有大概100多海浬左右的距離,中國大陸對我們來說是很大的風險,也是很大的機會。任何中華民國的領導人都應該學習把風險減少、把機會擴大,而我過去7年來做的就是這件事。

Our economic relations with mainland China, (language and culture), coincide in fairly many ways, while the developmental stages of both sides aren’t identical. Over the past decades, our trade volume with mainland China has continuously risen, and our trade surplus has been huge. The goods we sell to mainland China can be processed further there, be sold to Europe and North America, and this stage has been of mutual benefit in the past.

我們與大陸間的經濟關係,(語言文化上)有相當多一致的地方,而雙方的經濟發展階段並不一樣。過去幾十年當中,我們與大陸的貿易量一直增加,我方享有的順差也非常龐大。我們銷往大陸的貨品會再經過他們加工,賣到歐洲及北美,這樣的關係在過去的階段是互利的。

Of course, mainland Chinese threats stem from the military and the political field, and some people believe that deepening trade and investment relations with mainland China leads to excessive dependence on mainland China. To consider and weigh political and military threats, the mode our government adopted has been to find some consensus that is acceptable to both sides, and to shelve differences. In terms of the economy and trade, obviously, Taiwan can’t avoid some dependence on mainland China, but since I took office, dependence on mainland China has actually decreased, because the government has started the work of market diversification, leading to Taiwan’s trade dependence on mainland China not increasing further, but rather slightly decreasing.

大陸對我們的威脅當然還是來自軍事與政治方面,有些人認為,與大陸的貿易和投資加深,會造成對大陸過度依賴。考量政治與軍事的風險,我們政府採取的方式,就是找出雙方都可以接受的一些共識、擱置歧見。在經濟及貿易方面,台灣當然不可避免部分依賴大陸,但從我上任後,對大陸的依賴程度反而減少了,因為政府開始做好分散市場的工作,使得台灣對大陸的貿易依賴沒有再增加,反而有少許的減少。

[Asked if he believes that China is moving towards democratization, in a long-term trend]

問:習近平上任後,全世界都在期待中國大陸是否會往民主的方向發展,您認為未來中國大陸走向民主化是一個長久趨勢嗎?

A: During the past few years, I have constantly reminded the mainland Chinese authorities that if you want to narrow the psychological gap between the Taiwanese and the mainland Chinese people, freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law, these core values of Taiwan, are important factors.  If mainland China were more active concerning these issues, the distance could be narrowed, but also, if there wouldn’t be more positive activity, the distance could also widen. In the past few years, the trends and changes in the psychological gap have also clearly reflected the actual attitude of mainland Chinese authorities in recent years.

總統:在過去幾年中,我不斷提醒大陸當局,想要拉近台灣與大陸人民心理上的差距,很重要的因素就是自由、民主、人權及法治,這些台灣所擁有的核心價值。如果在這些議題,大陸做得更積極,距離就可以拉近,同樣的,如果他沒有更積極的作為,距離就會拉遠。在過去幾年,心理差距的變化趨勢也清楚反映出大陸當局近幾年實際的態度。

On these issues, mainland China has seen good and bad times, sometimes somewhat better, sometimes worsening somewhat, thus remaining in a state of uncertainty.
中國大陸在這些議題上,他們一直是時好時壞,有時候好一點,有時候惡化一點,因此還處於不確定的狀態。

When I was running for re-election four years ago, mainland Chinese people were able to watch our elections on the internet, which was unprecedented. But recently, we have also seen many arrests of human rights activists, making everyone feel worried about mainland China’s human rights situation. Therefore, the feelings their situation causes us are sometimes good, sometimes bad.

在我4年前競選連任時,大陸人民可以透過網路看我們的選舉情況,這是過去都沒有的。但另外我們也看到,最近有很多維權人士被逮捕,使得大家對大陸人權情況惡化感到憂心,所以他們的情況給我的感覺是時好時壞。

[Asked if he feels angry about not having had an opportunity to met Xi Jinping after his efforts to improve relations]

A: Since I assumed office, one can say that cross-strait relations have improved, no matter if we look at economic aspects, cultural aspects, etc.. Therefore, a meeting between the leaders of the two sides would be a natural thing.  During the last two years, we have thought about the APEC summits as an opportunity to meet, but always without success, and of course, that’s a pity. Our current position is to neither rule a meeting out, nor to insist.

從我上任後,兩岸不論在經濟、文化等各方面的關係,都可以說有很大的進展,因此雙方領導人碰面應該是很自然的事情。過去兩年中,我們本來想利用亞太經合會(APEC)的機會碰面,但始終沒有成功,這當然是非常可惜的事情。我們目前的態度還是不排除、但也不會強求。

[Asked if he thinks that not to meet is Xi Jinping’s personal decision, taken from a too arbitrary  (過於獨斷) position]

A: We don’t know their decision-making process, of course, but certainly, the final decision lies with Mr. Xi. Maybe some of our views just differ, because we feel that in the process of developing cross-strait relations, some encounters on international occasions are unavoidable, but mainland Chinese leaders may try their best not to appear with us on international occasions, as they worry this could be against the so-called “One-China policy”. But what I would like to emphasize is that we have said clearly on many occasions that when we reached the “1992 consensus”, it just meant that the two parties both maintain the “One-China principle”, but the meaning we give to it is not identical. Only with this flexibility, the two parties can establish better relations. However, once it comes to international occasions, mainland China remains very unflexible in this regard.

我們當然不知道他們的決策過程如何,但是最後一定是由習先生拍板確定。我們可能跟他採取一些不同的看法,因為我們覺得在兩岸關係的發展過程中,不可避免地會在國際場合碰到,但是中國大陸儘可能避免在國際場合與我們同時出現,因為擔心這樣會違反所謂的「一個中國」原則。不過,我要強調的是,我們在許多場合都曾清楚說明,當初達成「九二共識」就是指雙方都堅持「一個中國」的原則,但是所賦予的涵義並不相同;有此彈性,雙方才能建立更友好的關係。然而一旦到了國際場合,中國大陸在這方面非常僵硬。

[Asked if Xi Jinping’s statement that the cross-strait issue couldn’t be dragged from generation to generation constitutes a threat to Taiwan]

A: I believe that this way of putting it, makes things look as if they had been delayed for a long time. In fact, the two sides having relatively close and friendly relations has only been going on for these seven years. I often say that seven years can’t count as a generation. Patient handling is required. The two sides have been apart for more than sixty years. The atmosphere can’t be changed over night. We believe that cross-strait relations should be promoted patiently and diligently, to let the fruits gradually emerge.

總統:我覺得他這個說法好像我們已經延誤很久了,實際上兩岸之間有比較密切友好的關係也才不過這7年而已,我常說7年不能算是一代,需要耐心來處理,畢竟雙方隔海分治已經60多年了,不可能一個晚上就改變氣氛。我們覺得應該以耐心且很用心地來推動兩岸關係,讓成果逐漸展現。

In fact, the fruits brought about by the cross-strait relations’ development during the past seven years have already surpassed those of the previous fifty years which is very fast, but in the view of the Taiwanese people, they do not wish to move too quickly but to gradually achieve the goal of improved relations.

事實上,在過去7年間,兩岸關係發展所帶來的成果已超過前面的50幾年,這已經算非常快了,但是對台灣民眾而言,他們也不希望走得太快,而是希望逐步達成關係改善的目標。

[Asked if recent mainland Chinese military exercises and their use of the Republic of China’s presidential palace as an imaginary target made him feel uneasy]

A: According to intelligence we’ve collected in the past, they have used mock objects for simulated attacks for a long time. When we conduct military exercises, we also put out defense against such designs. [Mainland Chinese] action of this kind just reminds us that in the Taiwan Strait, in the military field, a considerable threat continues to exist, against which we must prepare.

根據我們過去所蒐集到的情資,他們以台灣做為模擬攻擊的對象已有很長的時間。我方進行軍事演習時,也會針對他們這種設計做出防衛。這個動作只是提醒我們,兩岸之間在軍事領域仍有相當大的威脅存在,我們必須做好防備。

[Asked if the threat against Taiwan doesn’t rise with mainland Chinese military and economic strength]

A: In fact, the balance across the Taiwan Strait, in military terms, has tilted in favor of mainland China, beginning in 2005. Because very year, at a pace of double-digit numbers, and even at a pace of twenty per cent, they increase their national defense budget. It would be difficult for us to engage in an arms race with the mainland in this regard. Therefore, our principle in defense combat is to create a bilateral situation in which any party that wants to use one-sided, non-peaceful means to change the status quo must pay a price it doesn’t want to pay. That’s the only feasible major principle to prevent a cross-strait military conflict. Peace and prosperity have always been the goals of our efforts.

實際上從2005年開始,台灣海峽在軍事方面的均衡是朝大陸傾斜的,因為他們每一年皆以將近兩位數、甚至於將近百分之20的速度在增加國防預算,我們很難在這方面與大陸從事軍備競爭。因此,我方現在所採取的防衛作戰原則就是要造成一種雙邊情勢,使得任何一方要用片面、非和平方式改變現狀時,會付出其不想付的代價,這是唯一能夠阻止兩岸發生軍事衝突的重要原則。和平與繁榮一向都是我們努力的目標。

What I mean is that cross-strait relations exist into all kinds of directions. As for military threats, we must think about ways to reduce them, but in non-military fields, we also want to think about ways to increase them. Therefore, in our dealings with mainland China, we will always see these different directions.

我剛剛的意思是,兩岸之間各種面向的關係都存在,軍事的威脅我們要想辦法減少,而非軍事方面的合作,我們要想辦法增加,所以我們與大陸打交道,永遠有這些不同的面向。

What we prepare for our annual Han Kuang military exercises is just that kind of defense operations, and we have exactly these points in the Han Kuang military exercises. I’m sorry that we can’t disclose these to you. I can’t disclose related details, but we do prepare for conflict scenarios.

而我們每一年漢光演習準備的就是這些防禦作戰,至於我們漢光演習做了哪些科目,很抱歉我們沒有辦法向您透露。我不能透露這些相關細節,但是兩岸之間可能發生衝突的情況,我們要預先做準備。

[Asked if he feels unsatisfied with this.]

A: Of course.

當然。

[Asked if given mainland Chinese military budget increases, and American strategic ambiguity concerning Taiwan, America shouldn’t be more clear about its attitude towards Taiwan, or guarantee support for Taiwan under certain circumstances – and if Obama would be in a position to do this]

A: As for America, the “Taiwan Relations Act” regulations are plain. Of course, we cannot rely on American law and regulations, but on our own preparedness. And our preparations aren’t just about adopting defense measures, but we should, by means of politics and cross-strait relations, eliminate chances for this situation [of military conflict] to occur. Therefore, as for the Taiwanese defense lines against mainland China that I’ve just mentioned, the first line is not about aircraft and artillery, but about reconciliation [or amicable settlement], and thus reducing the risk of conflict erupting, and only this is one of the highest strategies. This is also exactly what Sunzi’s “Art of War” means when saying that  the highest form of generalship is to balk [or counter-attack] the enemy’s plans”.

對美國來講,「台灣關係法」已明文規定。當然我們不能靠美國法律的規定,我們要靠自己的準備,而我們的準備不只是從軍事上做好防禦的措施,更應該從政治上、兩岸關係上,消除這種情況出現的機會,所以我剛提及台灣對大陸的防線,第一道防線不是飛機、大砲,而是兩岸的和解,透過兩岸的和解,使得兩岸發生衝突的機會減少,這才是一個最高的謀略,也就是「孫子兵法」所說的「上兵伐謀」。

[Pressed on whether he would hope for a clear American presidential defense statement in favor of Taiwan if attacked by mainland China]

A: In fact, this problem has always existed during the past sixty years. But during the past seven years, America didn’t need to issue these statements, but could also make the Taiwan Strait maintain peace. The most important key is that this risk is reduced after improving relations with mainland China. The official in charge of cross-strait relations in the U.S. State Department has repeatedly reiterated that stable development of cross-strait relations is an important factor of maintaining constructive relations with Taiwan. In other words, simply relying on America to come to our help to fight this battle. Rather, by lowering this risk to the lowest possible level, by reducing the risk of conflict to a minimum, that’s the highest strategy, and also exactly about “balking the enemy’s plans”.

事實上,在過去60年當中,這個問題一直存在,可是在過去的7年當中,美國已經不需要做這些聲明,但是一樣可以讓台海維持和平,最重要的關鍵是我們與大陸改善關係之後,使得這種風險變少了。美國國務院主管兩岸事務的官員一再重申,兩岸關係的穩定發展,是他們與台灣維持建設性關係的重要因素,換言之,我們不能光靠美國來幫我們打這個仗,而是我們把這種可能的風險降到最低、可能的衝突減少到最少,這才是最高的戰略,也就是「上兵伐謀」。

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, 1950 – 2015

The New York Times carried an article on Tuesday, describing the aftermath of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche‘s (Tibetan: བསྟན་འཛིན་བདེ་ལེགས་; Chinese: 丹增德勒仁波切) death in a prison in Chongqing. Tenzin Delek had been in prison since 2002/2003, and there’s a Wikipedia entry about his background and story. The authorities reportedly turned down a request by Tenzin Delek’s sister to preserve the body for 15 days as demanded by Tibetan Buddhist tradition. An autopsy, or any chance of one, isn’t mentioned in the reports.

Amnesty International published a report on Tenzin Deleg’s case in September 2003, less than a year after his arrest, citing doubts that detention and trial had been up to standard.

According to a Reuters report, on July 16, Sichuan Province’s propaganda department said it was unaware of the case, and an official who picked up the telephone at the provincial police department said she had not heard of the case.

Three days later, on July 19, the BBC‘s Mandarin service quoted Xinhua newsagency as saying that Tenzin Delek had died of a heart attack:

Because Tenzin Delek frequently refused medical treatment or medication, he died from heart disease.

丹增德勒是因为在狱中经常拒绝就医或者吃药,患心脏病而死亡。

The BBC also quoted Tenzin Delek’s sister (Chinese name: Zhuoga or 卓嘎) as saying that the authorities had not given her an explanation about the cause of her brother’s death, which had added to her doubts.

According to Xinhua, as quoted by the BBC, a prison warden had found Tenzin Delek on July 12, and that the prisoner had stopped breathing during an afternoon nap. According to the Xinhua report, he died in an intensive care unit, an hour after having been found.

Reacting to a call from Washington to investigate Tenzin Delek’s death, Huanqiu Shibao reportedly wrote that America should forget about dragging another “criminal” out of prison, and described Washington’s attention to human rights issues as a method to maintain self-confidence while facing China’s rise.

The actual wording of the Huanqiu article can be found here.

The New York Times article mentioned at the beginning of this post also reported that Tenzin Delek’s sister and niece were taken away from a restaurant in Chengdu by police officers on Friday, and hadn’t been seen since (i. e. not by July 21). It doesn’t become clear to me if this is the same sister in both cases. The name of the 52-year-old arrested sister (Dolkar Lhamo) sounds different from the one mentioned earlier in the article.

Tsering Woeser has collected a number of articles concerning Tenzin Delek this month.

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Updates/Related

» 王力雄:丹增德勒求“法”记, Woeser, July 26, 2015

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Friday, July 17, 2015

“Trust is the Foundation of Security”: Chinese National Internet Information Office Director visits Berlin

Phoenix/Ifeng is a media company from Hong Kong. Its Chinese website (simplified characters) is read by a large constituency of mainland Chinese readers who appear to base some trust on the fact that Phoenix is a Hong Kong company.

The CAC (Cyberspace Administration of China), whose director Lu Wei visited Berlin on July 2, only published a photo showing Lu Wei and German interior minister Thomas de Maizière initially, but added a release based on the Phoenix article on July 7.

The following is a translation of the Phoenix/Ifeng article.

“State Internet Information Office” director Lu Wei and federal interior minister de Maizière, photo op, July 2, 2015. Click photo for source.

Main Link: Renew Internet Security policies, Safeguard the State and the People’s Life Security (鲁炜:更新互联网安全政策 确保国家和民众生活安全), Phoenix/Ifeng, July 3, 2015

Chinese National Internet Information Office director Lu Wei arrived in Berlin for a visit on July 2, and met with German federal ministers of the interior and for economic affairs and energy. He also visited the Network Security Center established in Berlin by European companies and said that China would like to strengthen cooperation with international companies and research institutions to jointly administer China’s internet security issues.

中国国家互联网信息办公室主任鲁炜2号到访柏林,先后同德国内政部以及经济能源部官员会面。他还走访欧洲企业在柏林设立的网络安全中心,表示中国愿意同国际企业、研究机构加强合作,共治中国的互联网安全问题。

At the ministry of the interior, interior minister Thomas de Maiziere held talks with Lu Wei. Lu Wei also met with the ministry of economic affairs and energy’s state secretary*) Matthias Machnig on the same day.

在德国内政部,内政部长德梅齐埃同鲁炜举行会谈。鲁炜当天还同德国经济能源部国务秘书马赫尼西会面。

During the talks, the German officials expressed their interest in China’s economic development, and the development of China’s internet industry in particular. and said that Germany actively revised and supervised regulations, making sure that all foreign companies in Germany were treated equally.

在交谈中,德国官员向鲁炜表达了他们对中国经济发展,尤其是中国互联网产业发展的关注,并说德国在积极修订监管法规,确保所有外国企业在德国都被一视同仁。

Lu Wei also went to Nokia’s network security center in Berlin on that day, experienced the latest network security control technology there personally, and listened to experts’ explanations about how prevent malware from intruding into all kinds of trades, as well as to how to create more trustworthy internet security systems, and other topics.

鲁炜当天还前往位于柏林的诺基亚网络安全中心,亲身体验了这里的最新网络安全控制技术,听这里的技术专家介绍如何防范恶意软件对社会各行业的侵扰,以及如何打造更值得信赖的互联网安全系统等话题。

Lu Wei said that the internet isn’t just a techological issue, but also related to social issues of the entire humanity. China had always believed that trust is the foundation of security.

鲁炜说,互联网安全不仅是技术话题,也是关系到全人类的社会话题,中方一直相信,信任是安全的基础。

He used Nokia’s 150 years of development as an example, saying that only socially responsible multinational companies could develop in the long run.

他又以诺基亚150年的发展过程为例,说有社会责任感的跨国企业,才能发展得更久远。

Lu Wei said that China would update its internet security policies, with the core goal to guarantee state security, and security for the life of the people. He also said that China had always paid great attention to policies concerning foreign internet companies’ development in China because this was related to China’s policy of opening up, and China’s attitude of openness had not changed.

鲁炜说,中国还将更新互联网安全政策,核心目标是确保国家的安全,以及民众的生活安全。他还提到,中国对外国互联网企业在华发展的政策一直很重视,因为这关系到中国的开放政策,而中国对外开放的态度是不变的。

Besides meeting important members of the German government, Lu Wei visited a number of companies and research institutes, and spoke at the Third Sino-German Internet Industry Roundtable conference, explaining the development and challenges faced by China’s internet industry.

除了同德国政要会面外,鲁炜在德国访问期间,还会参观多个企业和研究院所,并在3号出席中德互联网产业圆桌会议,致辞介绍中国互联网产业的发展以及所面临的挑战。

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Footnote

*) A state secretary in Germany is one of usually several secretaries next to the minister him- or herself, one rank further down in the bureaucracy.

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Related

» Industrie 4.0 auch mit China, FAZ, July 14, 2015
» Von Festnahmen überschattet, Die Welt, July 14, 2015
» 据凤凰卫视报道, CAC, July 7, 2015
» Deutsche Unternehmen in China, WiWo, June 30, 2015
» Europe targets U.S. Web Firms, WSJ, Nov 27, 2014
» Aneinander vorbei, China Monitor, Oct 18, 2014
» Noch stärker zusammenarbeiten, Bavaria, April 11, 2013

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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

This is a Coup

This is a coup d’état – against democracy in Greece, and against democracy all over Europe.

https://twitter.com/hashtag/thisisacoup

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Refined Propaganda: China’s “National Security Law”, and PLA Exercise in Hong Kong

CCTV coverage, July 4

See what happens? – Xinwen Lianbo, CCTV, July 4.
The exercise didn’t feature
prominently in the broadcast,
and was only shown among a
collection of short news
owards the end of the program.

 

 

“People’s Liberation Army” (PLA) troops stationed in Hong Kong conducted a military exercise at Castle Peak (青山, Green Hill) on Saturday morning, China News Service (CNS, 中国新闻网) reported on the same day. More than 500 Hong Kongers “from all walks of life” were invited as guests, according to the report. An imaginary enemy was occupying twelve successive mountain hills there, according to the screenplay, looking for opportunities to infiltrate the city area and to do damage there (训练场内,依次相连的12个山头被一股假想敌占据。指挥所、迫击炮阵地、地堡工事,假想敌在高地构筑阵地,企图伺机对香港市区实施渗透破坏).  It was the PLA’s task to “annihilate them on the spot”, before they could enter the city (在他们尚未进入市区之前,解放军需要将其就地歼灭).

If the CNS report (whose audience will be mainly mainlanders) reflects what the invited Hong Kongers felt, it was as much a revolutionary opera as an exercise:

In the morning at 10:50, three signal lights rose into the air, and the long-awaited PLA-simulated naval gunfire was opened. At command, the enemy targets were shrouded in smoke.

上午10时50分,三发红色信号弹升空,等待已久的解放军模拟舰炮火力率先开火。一声令下,敌方目标即被硝烟笼罩。

[…]
The turns of firepower attacks didn’t stop. Armed helicopters had just taken off, when mortar bombs arrived at high speed. As the flight speed was too fast, and as the sunlight hampered the eye, the trajectories weren’t clearly visible, but explosions, one to another, could be seen on the opposite hilltop. Six rounds of ten mortars firing, and the enemy targets had suffered heavy destruction.

轮番的火力攻击,并未就此收手。武装直升机刚刚飞离,迫击炮弹急速而来。因飞行速度过快,加之阳光刺眼,现场还没看清弹道,炮弹就已在对面的山头上密集爆炸。10门迫击炮6次齐射,敌方目标遭受猛烈的压制摧毁。

You can probably imagine the rest.

Either the SCMP reporter, the CNS correspondent or this blogger’s translation has got some details wrong though. According to the SCMP, it wasn’t six mortars, but six military helicopters that were mobilised fired on targets set up on the mountain from distances of about 1km.

Either way, the SCMP quotes former Hong Kong security chief Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee (叶刘淑仪) as saying that

I don’t think we need to read too much into the timing. I think the garrison has a duty to assure us that they are well-prepared and ready to defend Hong Kong if there is any threat to our security

Her comments referred to a possible link between the exercise, and a sweeping and controversial national security law, passed by China’s “National People’s Congress” three days earlier.

Apparently, the guests did the propaganda work within Hong Kong, telling the SCMP reporter that the timing of the exercise was unimportant, and that the PLA was merely trying to show Hong Kong that it had the power to protect the city.

Radio Free Asia (RFA), a US broadcaster supervised by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), points out that the exercise on Saturday had been the first time that the PLA troops stationed in Hong Kong had invited media and guests. Two of these, Regina Ip, Ma Dingsheng (马鼎盛, apparently a Fenghuang/Phoenix-affiliated miltary commentator from Hong Kong), are quoted both by the SCMP, and RFA.

The Economist points out that state security is a job for the top, conveying

the remarkable range of Mr Xi’s worries, with potential threats seen to be emanating from sources as diverse as the internet, culture, education and outer space.

While the vagueness of the “national security law passed in Beijing could be followed by detailed regulations later, it was unlikely that its key terms will ever be defined more precisely. To Mr Xi, vagueness is a useful weapon.

There could be a little relief in Hong Kong, however, the Economist adds, given that the bill would not be applied in the territory.

That said, the bill isn’t lacking ambition outside mainland China. Ît obliges not only Hong Kong or Macau, but Taiwan, too, to defend China’s sovereignty, notes the SCMP. Huanqiu Shibao (环球时报, in an article rendered here by Sina), notes that the passing of the “National Security Law” had ccaused shock in Hong Kong and Taiwan (全国人大常委会高票通过新的国家安全法,在香港和台湾引发震撼).

The Huanqiu article suggests – without becoming to specific about this question – that worries in Hong Kong that people seen as daring oppositionals like Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) could be arrested when visiting mainland China were unfounded, as the bill was not applied in Hong Kong for the time being (即使法律暂时不在香港执行).

There were, of course, many people in Hong Kong who welcomed the new state security law, Huanqiu adds. But the article also quotes BBC coverage according to which the government and the public in Taiwan (literally: the court and the commonality, 台湾朝野一致反对大陆新国安法) unanimously opposed the bill.

The propaganda approach is pretty global, and China appears to have learned a lot from the Western political class, in terms of more refined propaganda. Pretty much the way most of Germany’s mainstream media make people believe that Greece’s political class and activists are pampered (and costly, for Germans) idiots, Huanqiu fosters a climate in which mainlanders will no longer ask why the liberties customary in Hong Kong shouldn’t be applied in mainland China, but rather, why there should be “special treatment” for anyone within “Greater China”.

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Related

» One Movement, two Pictures, Nov 27, 2014

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Friday, June 12, 2015

The BoZhu Interviews: If you want to Believe the Best or the Worst about China, it’s easy enough –

Ji Xiang about getting started with China, stereotypes, and finding a balance between Chinese and Western ways of life.

Ji Xiang is a blogger from Europe who lives in China. In his first blog post, in 2008, he explained how he got his Chinese name. And he is probably one of very few foreign China bloggers who started blogging almost right on arrival in the country, and have kept to the habit ever since.

Q: Ji Xiang, you are Chinese by name, but you are actually from Europe, right?

That’s right. My mom’s British, and my dad’s Italian. I grew up in Italy, although I have also lived in Britain. It’s not too obvious unless you look at my blog very carefully though. Interestingly, some of my readers have assumed I was American in the past.

Q: Could that be because your stance comes across as more “pro-Western” than that of most sinologists or Westerners who speak Chinese? It seems to me that both Foarp and you stand out as rather critical of what might be called “cultural relativism”, or a preparedness to find human rights violations tolerable because of a country’s culture, a “situation on the ground”, etc.

Well, I’m not sure if that makes you seem more like an American or not. Foarp is after all British. But to be honest, I think a lot of Westerners who speak Chinese have the same sort of opinions as I do. I don’t think of myself as “pro-Western” really, I am quite aware of all the bad things Western countries have done around the world, and the shortcomings of the “West” (if there really is such a thing as the West. But that’s another debate). But that doesn’t necessarily mean being pro-Chinese.

When it comes to human rights violations, I don’t really buy cultural justifications. I mean, East Asian countries like Japan and South Korea have created systems where basic human rights are respected, so it obviously isn’t only Western countries which can reach that point. The argument that human rights have to be put aside when a country is still poor and developing is more complicated. I think certain basic rights, like the right not to disappear, be tortured or speak your mind without going to jail, should be respected, and I don’t think the right to have a full belly clashes with these other rights.

There might however be a good argument for not holding elections in countries where most of the people are illiterate, or divided along ethnic or tribal lines. Say in Yemen or Burkina Faso. Even in Arab countries, it is clear that elections often bring religious fundamentalists to power.

Q: You went to China as a teacher in 2005, and came back to the country as a student. How did you get interested in China? You’ve spent a number of years there now, haven’t you?

I actually taught in China in 2004, and that was just for a summer. I then went back to China because I got a scholarship to get a master’s degree there. I have spent over six years in China by now.

Q: Was 2008 a good time to start a blog? You might have started one in 2005, the heydays of the (English-language) “Chinese blogosphere”. Was there a key moment where you felt that you should share your experiences, which got your blog started?

Well in 2005 I didn’t live in China, and had only spent a few months there. I had no basis for writing a blog about it. I only discovered recently that that was supposed to be the heyday of the “Chinese blogosphere”. Pity I missed it. I started my blog when I started living in China full-time. In the beginning, it was mainly to share my experiences with my family and friends back home. Now it’s turned more into a blog of commentary about China.

Q: Do the statistics or feedback give you an idea about who your readers are?

A bit. Most of my hits are from the United States, but I think that might be to do with the fact that most of the VPNs people use in China redirect there. Curiously, I also seem to have a lot of readers from Germany, Ukraine and Russia (well, you are one of the ones from Germany). Other than that, my most read posts are the ones with titles which people can come across randomly on Google.

Q: Apart from the blogs your blogroll, are there others – about China or other countries and topics – that you read regularly?

To be honest, not really. I mostly look at those few blogs on China which are on my blogroll (which includes your one). And there is my uncle’s blog, he lives in Israel and blogs about his life there and Israeli topics.

Q: Did family history contribute to your interest in China?

Not really. I don’t have any relatives who have lived or live in China. Having said that, the first time I came to China was with my parents. They are active in the international Esperanto movement, and in 2004 the World Esperanto Congress was in Beijing, so they were going to China to attend it and I went with them. That’s when I first got interested in China. Being able to speak Esperanto helped plug me in to the community of Chinese Esperanto speakers, which has been a nice way to get to know some cool, unusual Chinese people.

Q: Most bloggers will sometimes be surprised by the responses a post of them triggers. Have there been reactions and comments that surprised you during the past seven years?

After visiting Vietnam, I wrote a post on why the Vietnamese dislike China. It got quite a few reactions from Vietnamese readers, most of them proving my original point. One of them actually claimed that Daoism, the I Ching and the idea of Ying/Yang originally came from Vietnam and not from China. Total nonsense as far as I know. Unfortunately unreasonable nationalism is widespread throughout Asia. At its basis lies a wall of mental rigidity and misinformation which is very hard to break through.  Then again, Europe was probably similar up until the Second World War. And Westerners have their own unreasonable prejudices, just look at the persistence of antisemitic tropes among some people, or how so many Europeans will complain that immigrants get more benefits from the state than locals even when it just isn’t true.

Q: It seems that you’ve got most of your Chinese education in the North. Is that so, and do you think it differs from learning Chinese language, ways of interaction, etc., in the South?

You are correct. Although I’ve traveled all over China, I live in Beijing. It’s a stereotype to say that the North is best for learning to speak Mandarin, but actually I think you can learn just as well in most big Southern cities, because nowadays most people speak it there too. I think the Southern Chinese do tend to be a bit more like we imagine the Chinese to be (quiet, indirect, reserved), but in the main I don’t think the cultural difference between Northern and Southern China is that huge. It might not even be as big as the one between Northern and Southern Italy! Whether you live in a small or a big city, and a rich or a poor part of China, probably makes more difference to your experience. But I’ve never lived in Southern China, so I stand to be corrected.

Q: How would you describe your daily life? Is it becoming still more “Chinese”, concerning your choice of food, newspapers, internet sources, or television?

In some ways I am, and in some ways I’m not. I would say that my lifestyle has stopped becoming more Chinese for a while. In fact, after an initial enthusiasm for “going native”, which many foreigners have at first, I think I have found a balance. In a city like Beijing you can find loads of foreign amenities, and it would be silly not to make use of them. On the other hand I wouldn’t want to live in a bubble like some expats do. It really comes down to who you hang out with, and I still hang out with lots of Chinese.

When it comes to food I am pretty Chinese: I like eating Chinese food when it’s properly made, and I even do my best to cook it at home. I have long stopped eating street food or patronizing cheap, hole-in-the-wall type places though, because of concerns about the hygiene and the quality. Many Chinese seem to have come to the same conclusion. Foreigners who pride themselves on being able to eat in such places without minding the consequences are either young foreign-exchange students, or they are pretty dimwitted.

When it comes to media, I still look at Chinese newspapers every now and again to see what they say, but for real news I mostly turn to foreign sources. Of course the language is one issue (it is obviously still much quicker for me to read in English or Italian), but also I think the European media is just superior in terms of giving you a decent picture of what goes on in the world, and, when it comes to sensitive issues, even in China! Same for entertainment: although I sometimes watch Chinese shows and films, in the main I still watch far more foreign ones. I make full use of Chinese internet sites like Baidu or Weibo though.

Q: Do you see changes on Weibo, in terms of real-name requirement, censorship, etc.?

When I got an account in 2011, it still wasn’t necessary to give your ID/passport number. As far as I know now it is, although I have heard you can still get away with giving a false one. In any case, I am sure that if they really want to they can find out who you are.

Q: Generally, when reading your blog, I got an impression overtime that you might think of China as a project, as a country or civilization headed into a rather benign future, compared with Western societies. And on the other hand, your criicism of China, or its political system, sounds pretty much like the general global criticism of it. Is this an accurate impression?

I’m not entirely sure where you got that impression from. I have unquestionably been getting more pessimistic about China, its system and its prospects over the last few years. I think to an extent the current system is geared in such a way that China always gives the impression to outsiders that it’s almost on the cusp of becoming a decent, progressive, modern and confident society, but then it never quite does. I think the political system is good at producing GDP growth, but pretty hopeless at solving the country’s huge social problems. Yes, China has more and more subways and high speed railways, and that’s useful and good for the people, but surely a country like China could do so much better than just that?

I hope China gets better with time, but I don’t think it’s a given that, if you wait 20 or 30 years, it’s all going to be much better. That’s how a lot of Chinese seem to think: just wait a few decades, and everything will solve itself. Unfortunately it’s not that simple.

I think my criticism is also a bit different from that of someone who’s never lived in China, because I am far more aware of aspects like the rise of Chinese nationalism, which many foreign commentators seem blissfully unaware of.

Q: That unawareness seems to be quite a phenomenon. This is what Bruce Anderson (himself not necessarily a human-rights champion) said about Edward Heath, in a BBC radio documentary. Former German chancellor Helmut Schmidt might be another case in point.

Is there something Russia (for example) could learn from China, in terms of soothing external propaganda, or winning influential people over abroad?

Well, Chinese officials certainly are very good at flattering foreign visitors, saying the right things to them, and appearing reasonable and friendly. I don’t have much experience with the Russians, but I doubt they are as good at it. It’s probably not something you can learn either, it’s deep-rooted in the culture.

You have to remember that most Westerners know little about China, and obviously want to be open-minded. The unawareness of the rise of Chinese nationalism probably also lies in the fact that China does tend to leave other countries alone, as long they don’t have any territorial disputes with China of course, and as long as they don’t express any views on what China defines as its “internal affairs”. Of course China’s neighbours are very aware of its nationalistic side, especially the ones which have territorial disputes with it. But people in other parts of the world don’t get to see this side of things. And its not obvious to the casual visitor either.

The European media also focuses too much on the Middle East and almost never talks about Asia’s potentially explosive problems, like the dispute in the South China Sea and the anti-Japanese feeling in China or Korea. The only thing they ever talk about is the issue of Tibet, which has certainly damaged China’s image.

Then again, the real issue is one of projection. Many left-wing Westerners are predisposed to think well of any power which challenges the United States anywhere, regardless of what it really is or does. If you want to believe the best about China (or the worst for that matter), and you don’t live there, it’s easy enough. Right wingers on the other hand may see China’s rise as a vindication of free market economics, or god knows what. Everyone sees what they want to see in China, and no one knows much about it. This has always been the case.

Q: Do you have arguments with Chinese nationalists?

Well, in a sense I do, because I have political arguments with people in China, and most Chinese are nationalists at some level, although the level varies. The level of open-mindedness towards opinions which clash with modern Chinese nationalism, as the schools and media have constructed it, also varies. I know many Mainlanders who are perfectly open minded even about issues like Taiwan, and don’t just toe the line. I think they are a minority however. And by the way, they aren’t necessarily the people with most international exposure. On the other hand if you are talking about dyed-in-the-wool fenqing, rational debate is all but impossible.

Q: You have blogged in English for nearly seven years, and quite recently, you have also started a blog in Italian. What’s next? A blog in Chinese?

My written Chinese is really not good enough to blog in it. I would actually be more likely to start a blog in Esperanto, a language I also speak.

Q: Ji Xiang, thanks a lot for this interview.

The interview was conducted by an exchange of e-mails.

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Related

All BoZhu Interviews

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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Zhou Yongkang gets Life

A pretty fair comment by the BBC’s Carrie Gracie there »,

and a pretty prescient look onto what might be Xi Jinping‘s present tense and future here:

 

The BBC assessment also contains some Weibo utterances – frightening examples for what alcohol, a lack of good sex, and tons of ham-handed propaganda can do to the human brain:

“Tiger Zhou didn’t escape lawful punishment. It should ring a warning bell for others”, “Support justice. Everyone should obey laws!”, “He knows law but breaks law. He deserves to be punished. We’re determined to battle corruption” …

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Related

» How safe will he be in 2023, Dec 13, 2014

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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Twenty Years ago: Island Democracy seeks Recognition

1. A Democracy introduces itself

It had been a long and challenging journey, the president said. But there he was, at the lectern at Cornell University, his alma mater, delivering his Olin lecture.

He represented a country with a per-capita income of USD 12,000, its international trade totalling US$180 billion in 1994, and foreign exchange reserves of over US$99 billion, more than those of any other nation in the world except Japan.

His country had developed from a developing country to an industrialized country, and, in a peaceful transition, into a democracy.

Almost every president of the world may tell this kind of story. But this one, told on June 9, 1995, at Cornell University, was a true story. And the president who told it wasn’t welcomed by his colleague Bill Clinton, but shunned instead.

There were no official diplomatic relations between the visiting president’s country, Taiwan, and the United States. Washington recognized the Chinese government in Beijing, which claimed to represent both China and Taiwan.

That the Taiwanese president in 1995, Lee Teng-hui, had been allowed to visit the US didn’t go without saying. He wasn’t a state guest, but the university’s guest.

But his concern wasn’t that of agricultural economist or an academic – it was a politician’s concern:

I deem this invitation to attend the reunion at Cornell not only a personal honor, but, more significantly, an honor for the 21 million people of the Republic of China on Taiwan. In fact, this invitation constitutes recognition of their remarkable achievements in developing their nation over the past several decades. And it is the people of my nation that I most want to talk about on this occasion.

He only fulfilled this promise by half, if at all. Much of his talk was about himself: how he had listened in America and in Taiwan, and how he had learned. That he spoke on behalf of his people. That he heard the yearning of his people to contribute to the international community, with the Taiwan experience, development and democracy.

2. Lee Teng-hui

Even back then, twenty years ago, Lee was seen as the “father” of Taiwanese democracy, even if the ultimate goal or final success of democratization hadn’t yet been reached.

Like all Taiwanese of his generation (and the generation before), Lee grew up as a subject of the Japanese Emperor. From 1895 to 1945, Taiwan had been a Japanese colony. As a colony, Taiwan’s experience with Japan was less bad than China’s in the Japanese war from 1937 to 1945. And parts of Taiwanese population – especially the elites, and not only those of the upper classes – were co-opted by the Japanese elites. Lee Teng-hui’s family was probably co-opted, too. Lee’s brother, Lee Teng-chin, was killed in the Second World War, as a member of the Japanese military. His name is registered in the internationally controversial Yasukuni Shrine, which also contains the name of 14 A-class war criminals.

Reportedly, Lee also tried Communism, out of hatred against the KMT, Chiang Kai-shek‘s Nationalist Party, that had fled to Taiwan to “recover the Chinese mainland” from there.

After Communism, Lee tried the Christian religion, apparently with lasting success. And finally, he had himself co-opted by the (more or less) hated KMT: in 1971, he joined the one-party dictatorship, became minister of agriculture shortly afterwards, then Taipei mayor in 1978, and vice-president in 1984. Chiang Ching-kuo, son of Chiang Kai-shek and his father’s successor as a Republic-of-China president on Taiwan, supported the careers of “indigenous” Taiwanese like Lee, at the cost of the faction of traditional KMT officials who had fled Taiwan along with the Chiangs.

Chiang Ching-kuo died in 1988. The KMT’s central committee elected Lee Teng-hui as party chairman and made him president of the Republic of China on Taiwan.

Lee had tried a lot of things, and he had achieved a lot. And he had no small plans for his country.

3. The Will of the People, the Chicken, and the Egg

What a people wants, and if it “can want” anything, is up for arguments.

When a man follows the leader, he actually follows the mass, the majority group that the leader so perfectly represents,

Jacques Ellul wrote in the 1960s, and added:

The leader loses all power when he is separated from his group; no propaganda can emanate from a solitary leader.

Basically, it seems that political leaders in democratic mass societies opportunites to shape their countries are limited. But Lee had become president in extraordinary times. Opposition groups, and “illegally” founded political parties among them, had demanded the lifting of the decades-old martial law for a long time. And when Lee began his second term as president in 1990, after the two remaining years of what had originally been Chiang Ching-kuo’s term, students occupied what is now Taipei’s Liberty Square. Once Lee had been sworn in again, he received a fifty-students delegation and promised Taiwan’s democratization, less than a year after the Tian An Men massacre in China.

Democratization was hardly only on the minds of the opposition, or on Lee’s mind. Chiang Ching-kuo might have had similar plans, even if less ambitious, and American influence probably continued to matter, too, even after Washington had switched diplomatic recognition to Beijing, in 1979. But with Chiang Kai-shek in office, a bloodbath in reaction to the 1990 events would have been much more likely than democratic reform.

4. Full Speed, 1995

Lee Teng-hui’s Cornell speech was part of the first presidential election campaign ever since the KMT had seized power in Taiwan. The mass media, still quite under KMT control, made sure that Lee’s visit to the US wouldn’t go unnoticed at home. On June 6, 1995, Taiwan’s domestic media had started coverage, and that culminated on June 10 (local time in Taiwan), with the Olin lecture.

Back then, when Lee approached a convincing election victory in March 1996, there were misgivings within the KMT about Lee’s loyalty to the KMT goal of “unification” of China and Taiwan. In summer 1999, toward the end of his first democratically legitimized presidential term (and his last term), Lee defined Taiwan’s relations with China as state-to-state relations, or at least special state-to-state relations. Not for the first time, Beijing reacted angrily to the “splittist” in Taipei’s presidential palace.

5. The “New Central Plains”

A lot seems to suggest that in 2000, when his presidency ended, Lee helped to bring about a victory of the oppositional Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and their presidential candidate Chen Shui-bian. That spelled completion of the Taiwanese democratization project, but at the cost of Lee’s KMT.

After that, Lee continued his search for ways and visions for Taiwan. In “Taiwan’s Position”, a book published in 1999, Lee focused on his country’s Chinese heritage, but without making clear if he referred to China or Taiwan.

My active advocacy for  the “reform of heart and soul” in recent years is based on my hope to make society leave the old framework, applying new thought, face a new era, stir new vigor, from a transformation of peoples’ hearts. This goes deeper than political reform, and it is a more difficult transformation project, but we are confident that we will, based on the existing foundations of freedom and openness, achieve the building of a new Central Plain.

近年来,我积极倡导“心灵改革”,就是希望从人心的改造做起,让我们的社会走出旧有的框架,用新的思维,面对新的时代,并激发出新的活力。这是一个比政治 改革更加深入、也更为艰巨的改造工程,但是我们有信心,可以在社会自由开放的既有基础上,完成建立“文化新中原”的目标。

Lee had first used the term of “new central plains” in 1996. Scholars kept arguing about what he actually meant with the term. But these were hardly Chiang Kai-shek’s central plains, and, no less likely, Beijing’s.

But obviously, without the KMT, who had expulsed him for his “Taiwanization” business in 2001, and without public office, Lee wasn’t nearly as influential as before. Or, as propaganda expert Jacques Ellul put it in the 1960s, Moses (isolated from the masses) is dead on the propaganda level.

Incumbent Ma Ying-jeou, again a KMT president with rather “Chinese” manners, led a technocratically efficient government, but has been lacking success in terms of propaganda – and in terms of policies that would benefit all classes of society. Now, another “Taiwanese” politician is trying her luck. Tsai Ing-wen concludes her visit to the US today. In March 2016, Taiwan will elect another president. It could be her.

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