Archive for ‘human rights’

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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Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Hong Kong Security Secretary: “Terrorism breeding in HK, iron fact”

The following is a translation of an RTHK (Radio Television Hong Kong) report on yesterday’s LegCo security panel session. Translated off the cuff. If you find mistakes, please let me know.

Links within blockquote added during translation.

Police have said that from last year to now there have been 14 cases involving explosives, four cases of genuine arms, and 76 arrested, of who 30 had already been prosecuted. Security Bureau secretary John Lee Ka-chiu said that this illustrated that local terrorism was breeding in Hong Kong. He emphasized that counter-terrorism was a responsibility of the entire population, and called on the public to cooperate in law enforcement. The authorities would strike with the strictest laws.

警方說,去年至今出現14宗涉及爆炸品及4宗真槍的案件,共拘捕76人,30人已被檢控。保安局局長李家超說,顯示本土恐怖主義正在香港滋生,強調反恐是全民責任,呼籲公眾配合執法,當局會以最嚴厲的法律打擊。

At the Legislative Council’s Panel on Security meeting, John Lee Ka-chiu said he believed that in various violent [events] there had been financial funding organizations and assistance, such as supplies of helmets, gas masks, weapons and umbrellas, etc., and there had been cases where such material had been provided from ranks behind to the first lines. John Lee Ka-chiu described great numbers of resources, and a lot of related material left behind on the streets after insurrection. He believed that because of the authorities’ recent effective strikes, and maybe because of decreasing funding from abroad, such equipment had been reduced in recent violent incidents.

在立法會保安事務委員會會議上,李家超說,相信在不同暴力中都有資金提供組織及支援,例如提供頭盔、防毒面罩、武器和雨傘等,亦出現將有關物品由後方提供到前方的情況。李家超形容資源很多,而在暴動過後很多有關物品留在街上,他相信由於當局近期有效打擊,又或者是外來資金減少,近期暴力事件中,有關裝備已減少。

Legislative Council member Claudia Mo Man-ching asked the authorities to provide evidence for the cases mentioned, and asked if the authorities had been part of terrorism in the Yuen Long July 21 incident of last year. John Lee Ka-chiu retorted that the other side should not trivialize the violence and added that evidence would be seen in court, describing this as an iron fact.

議會陣線毛孟靜要求當局就提到的案件提供證據,又詢問當局去年元朗7.21事件是否屬本土恐怖主義。李家超反駁對方不要淡化暴力,又說上到法庭就會見到證物,形容是鐵一般的事實。

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Related

Attendance list, June 2, 2020
Background brief, June 2, 2020
For discussion, June 2, 2020

HK officers in Xinjiang, SCMP, Jan 9, 2019

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Updates/Related

“Riding roughshod,” RTHK, Jul 4, 2020

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Friday, May 15, 2020

Uyghur Human Rights Bill passed by U.S. Senate

Click picture for Tweet

The following is a translation of a news article published by the China Times, a Taiwanese pan-blue-leaning newspaper. Links added during translation.

Main link: Senate passes Uyghur Human Rights bill, mentions Xinjiang Party Secretary by Name

The human rights situation of the Uyghurs in China Xinjiang has become one of the major issues of US Congress. The U.S. Senate passed a “2020 Uyghur human rights policy bill on Thursday (May 14), demanding that President Trump exert more pressure on China, concerning Uyghur human rights issues.

中国新疆维吾尔族人权状况成为美国国会关注重点之一,美国参议院周四(14日)通过《2020年维吾尔人权政策法案》,要求总统川普就新疆人权问题,向中国施加更大压力。

The bill, proposed by Republican Senator Marco Rubio, received cross-party support and was unanimously passed by the Senate on Thursday. The bill demands Washington to sanction officials who suppress Uyghurs and Islamic groups, and also mentions Xinjiang Autonomous Region’s party secretary Chen Quanguo by name, accusing him of “serious violations of human rights,” and demanding once again that Washington impose sanctions. The bill also indicates that former Xinjiang Political and Legal Affairs Commission secretary Zhu Hailun must be directly held responsible for the suppression of human rights.

由共和党参议员鲁比欧提出的法案获得跨党派支持,周四在参议院表决中获一致通过。法案要求华府制裁打压维吾尔族和回教团体的官员,更点名指控新疆自治区党委书记陈全国「严重违反人权」,再次要求华府加以制裁。法案又指,新疆前政法委书记朱海仑就新疆人权打压问题需负直接责任。

The bill calls on US companies and individuals with business in Xinjiang to take measures to avoid issues of forced labor in the local supply chains. Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman James Risch and Ranking Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Bob Menendez described the  passage of the bill as “an important step in fighting against China’s totalitarian government’s extensive and atrocious suppression of human rights,” and called on the House of Representatives to pass the bill as soon as possible, to pass it on to Trump for signing it into law.

法案呼吁,在新疆有业务的美国企业或个人应採取措施,避免当地的供应链有强迫劳工问题。共和党参议院外交关系委员会主席里施(James Risch)及委员会首席民主党成员梅南德斯(Bob Menendez)形容,法案获通过是「对抗中国极权政府广泛而可怖地打压人权的重要一步」,呼吁眾议院尽快通过法案,交予特朗普签署成法。

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Related

Uyghurs and Muslim minorities, Aug 19, 2018

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Monday, April 13, 2020

Have a Guess why WHO Director-General Tedros thinks he’s right

First off, I want you to know that I have signed this petition, and that I would like to encourage you to sign it, too. My main reason to ask for Dr. Tedros’ resignation is that he supports a policy of locking more than 20 million Taiwanese people out of the World Health Organization (WHO). That scandal didn’t start with his tenure, and has been WHO policy for a long time, but it is now exacting a price in terms of global health. Taiwan could share its eperience in a so far successful fight against COVID-19. Taiwan could also contribute financially. Taiwan seems to have warned the WHO on December 31, in an email query to the organization. And the WHO leadership appears to be unwilling to take this into account and make a wiser decision than in the past.

I don’t feel a personal dislike for Tedros, and I think that many “social media” remarks about him are inappropriate, and actually false assertions.

But every public official must be accountable to the people he serves, or claims to serve. That’s why I believe that the WHO’s director general should clear the way for a successor with a more inclusive policy than his.

It doesn’t help when people insult each other. Above all, character assassination blinds for the more likely facts and factors in political processes. Both sides are wrong when accusing each other of “politicizing” issues. WHO is inevitably about politics, because it depends on the funding of governments with very different interests, and different economic capabilities to contribute to the WHO’s work. The demands of the world’s poorest, as elementary and obvious as they may be, are also political. And China’s cover-up approach is political, too. Everything is politics – that’s no suitable swearword to use for either WHO officials, or their critics.

It is true however that when you look at the mere numbers – in million US-$ -, China’s influence on the WHO doesn’t seem to make sense:

member state fees1) voluntary2)   total
USA 57.9 401.1 459.0
China 28.7 16.9 45.6
Japan 20.5 46.7 67.2
Germany 14.6 89.9 104.5
United Kingdom 10.9 163.7 174.6

Then why the WHO’s understatement when China covered up their SARS-2 cases, why the blind eyes to Taiwan’s warning query in December 31 (not to mention the WHO’s discrimination of Taiwan in general), and why the WHO director-general’s generally meek interaction with Beijing?

  • Trump is toying with the idea of reducing America’s contributions. Any WHO director general has to plan ahead, especially when the organizations main stakeholder becomes unreliable.
  • Tedros is probably convinced that he is doing the right thing by chumming up to China. Losing people to disease is unacceptable for him, and that much is credible. There is no way that WHO can enforce transparency on the ground – be it in China, be it in any other countries, though smaller countries may be more susceptible to pressure. And conceited leaders (like China’s) are more susceptible to flattery. (That, of course, doesn’t make it right to help them downplay a crisis, neither knowingly nor unknowingly. But it may become a more understandable approach, when you keep in mind that understanding something isn’t the same thing as condoning it.)
  • Then there is a – supposed – trend. While Taiwan would probably contribute as much today as does China, it could be different in future. That’s what most in the global political class expect to happen. They may have to think again – China is regularly overestimated. While questionable statistics have often help its image among foreigners, forgery will backfire when it does damage to the faithful foreigners’ home countries. (Never mind a million “extremist” inmates in Chinese internment camps – that’s far, far away.)

It makes no sense to demonize Tedros. He isn’t much different from most national or business leaders when it comes to dealing with China. The difference of course is that national leaders are usually held accountable, sometimes more, sometimes less, but more so than heads of international institutions. That’s why African politicians do criticize China for the way Africans have been treated in Guangzhou, while Tedros, who had shortly before tried to mobilize African public opinion in his favor and against “Taiwanese racism” remains oddly silent now.

But of course, it makes no sense to defend Tedros’ policies, either.

I would still prefer some civility in the effort to make him go. One doesn’t need to hate or disdain a man who oppose him. Rather, you can oppose him more effectively when you try to understand him and his supporters.
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Notes

1) Source for obligatory contributions
2) Source for voluntary contributions
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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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Thursday, January 23, 2020

Coronavirus: Excitement without Borders

If you follow the news – even in Europe -, the coronavirus infections that reportedly started in Wuhan features prominently.

This can hardly be explained with the dangers it may pose to individuals, at least for now. Then why the excitement, while climate change (probably) continues and poses a much greater threat?

What becomes news depends on what people can relate to. When a royal couple decides to move to Canada (but not quite, only a bit), it’s news, because it suggests that there must be a VIP family conflict.

When murder occurs in a place where overseas tourists go, media are more likely to report the case than if the same thing happens in Gaborone, or in a tranquil Swiss village off the beaten track.

And when shit happens in China, it becomes an online game: because new statistics and measures are announced every hour, the news seems to suggest that the situation becomes ever more grim.

Besides, because the Chinese authorities earned themselves a bad record  during the SARS epidemic early this century, there are suspicions that the worst news may still be covered up.

And as Wuhan closes down public transport (including trains and flights), this comes across as truly dramatic, particularly in countries where such actions, in modern times, are unheard of.

But then, draconic measures are nothing unusual in China (as many victims of arbitrary police and other state organs can tell, if they dare). And besides, if you live in Wuhan and own a car, you can go wherever you like. I haven’t heard of Wuhan citizens being refused a flight once they have reached, say, Nanjing International Airport.

Life goes on: the South Korean government, only on Monday, published plans for individual travels from South to North, and one of the options includes traveling through China (“or other countries”). Yes, you may still plant an apple tree.

When Wuhan adopts measures the way it does now, there are always two ways of interpreting them: one may think that if things are that bad, they are probably even worse.  But then, maybe the authorities simply want to be efficient this time. It depends on how you look at it.

Time for me to hit the road. And I’m sure that I’m much more likely to be killed in a traffic accident, than by a virus from Wuhan.

Monday, December 16, 2019

One Territory, two Statements

Apolitical, too? Erdogan in talks hosted by Xi Jinping, July 2019 (CCTV coverage)

Erdogan said that connected by the ancient Silk Road, Turkish-Chinese friendship had a long history and was now strengthened further. Close Turkish-Chinese relations were significant for regional peace and prosperity. Turkey made efforts for the development of relations with China, and for deepening cooperation. Turkey staunchly persued the one-China policy, the happiness of all Xinjiang nationalities in China’s development was also a fact, and Turkey would never allow anyone to incite disharmony in Turkish-Chinese relations. Turkey resolutely opposed extremism, wanted to enhance mutual trust and strengthen security cooperation. Potential for Turkish-Chinese cooperation was huge, Turkey resolutely upheld the construction of “one belt, one road”, and hoped that the two sides would strengthen cooperation on trade, investment, financial, energy, car building, infrastructure, 5G mobile communication, smart cities, etc., and enhance exchanges in the fields of education, culture, research, etc..

埃尔多安表示,通过千年古丝绸之路连接起来的土中友好源远流长,今天得到进一步加强。密切的土中关系对地区和平繁荣有重要意义。土耳其致力于发展对华关系,深化对华合作。土方坚定奉行一个中国政策,中国新疆地区各民族居民在中国发展繁荣中幸福地生活是个事实,土方不允许任何人挑拨土中关系。土耳其坚定反对极端主义,愿同中方增进政治互信,加强安全合作。土中合作潜力巨大,土方坚定支持“一带一路”建设,希望双方在“一带一路”框架内加强贸易、投资、金融、能源、汽车制造、基础设施、第五代移动通信、智慧城市等领域合作,增进在教育、文化、科研等领域交流。

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan‘s statement in July this year, according to the Chinese government’s website

Mesut Özil‘s statement this month, according to “The Guardian”:

His Instagram message read: “East Turkistan, the bleeding wound of the Ummah, resisting against the persecutors trying to separate them from their religion. They burn their Qurans. They shut down their mosques. They ban their schools. They kill their holy men. The men are forced into camps and their families are forced to live with Chinese men. The women are forced to marry Chinese men.

“But Muslims are silent. They won’t make a noise. They have abandoned them. Don’t they know that giving consent for persecution is persecution itself?”

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Related

Beijing invites fact finding mission, July 9, 2019

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Saturday, December 14, 2019

Stun grenades on Zeman’s Unsinkable Aircraft Carrier: Prague and Taipei establish sister-city relations

The following is Taiwanese coverage of city-sister relations between Prague and Taipei. Links within blockquotes added during translation.

Red star over Radio Prague: a pre-1989 QSL card, confirming reception of a broadcast on December 30, 1985

Red star over Radio Prague: a pre-1989 QSL card,
confirming reception of a broadcast
on December 30, 1985

Radio Taiwan International (RTI), December 12, 2019

The Prague city hall assembly unanimously passed a proposal today (December 12) to conclude a sister city agreement with Taipei. Mayor Zdeněk Hřib is likely to sign the agreement with Taipei mayor Ko Wen-je next month.

布拉格市議會今天(12日)無異議通過與台北市締結為姐妹市的提案,市長賀瑞普(Zdeněk Hřib)預計將在下個月與台北市長柯文哲簽署。

Prague city council discussed the proposal today, and because of a consensus between all governing coalition parties, a vote was taken right after a short explanation by mayor Hřib, with 39 votes in favor of the proposal, zero opposing it, and two abstentions.

布拉格市議會今天討論與台北市締結為姐妹市的提案,由於在聯合政府執政的各黨有共識,市長賀瑞普簡短說明後即直接進行表決,結果以39票贊成、零票反對、2票棄權的壓倒性高票通過。

Hřib had said after a city government meeting last week that he would officially sign a sister city agreement with Taipei mayor Ko Wen-je in January next year, to strengthen Prague’s cooperation and relations with Taipei in economics and trade, culture, tourism, education and in other fields. Besides, Prague’s Zoological Garden was hopeful to get a pangolin as a gift from Taipei.

賀瑞普上週在市政會議後曾表示,將在明年1月與來訪的台北市長柯文哲正式簽署姐妹市協議,加強布拉格與台北在經貿、文化、觀光、教育等領域的合作關係,此外,布拉格動物園可望獲得台北贈送的穿山甲。

Central News Agency (CNA), December 13, 2019

Zdeněk Hřib only took office last year. In January this year he said that he wanted to remove the clause concerning the one-China policy, and Taiwan being an inseparable part of [China’s] territory, from the sister city agreement with Beijing. He also met with Tibetan exile government leader Lobsang Sangay on his own initiative, openly challenging [Czech] president Miloš Zeman’s pro-China policies with a stun grenade at Czech-Chinese relations.

賀瑞普(Zdeněk Hřib)去年底才上任,今年1月即宣布要廢除前任市長與北京締結的姐妹市協議當中有關一個中國政策和台灣是中國不可分割領土的條款,並在市府主動接見西藏流亡政府首長洛桑森格,公然挑戰總統齊曼(Miloš Zeman)的親中政策,為捷克和中國關係投下震撼彈。

According to Hřib, he had done an internship in Taiwan as a student and got a good impression of Taiwan, referring to himself as a “Taiwan fan”. He also visited Taiwan in March, had a meeting with President Tsai Ing-wen, and tested the water for concluding a sister-city status.

按照賀瑞普自己的說法,學生時代曾到台灣實習的他對台灣留下好印象,自稱是「台灣迷」。3月他還親訪台灣,晉見總統蔡英文,為締結姊妹市一事試水溫。

In fact, Hřib’s friendly conduct towards Taiwan also reflects, to a certain degree, dissatisfaction among Czech society with China.

事實上,賀瑞普的友台作為,也一定程度反映了捷克社會近年對中國的不滿。

In 2016, Chinese state chairman Xi Jinping visited Prague for the first time and pledged large-scale investment. [Czech president] Zeman replied that he hoped the Czech Republic, as an unsinkable aircraft carrier, could “help China expand its investment in Europe”, standing out in Europe’s world of politics by its friendship with China.

2016年,中國國家主席習近平首次訪問布拉格,承諾為捷克帶來大筆投資,齊曼還呼應說希望捷克成為「協助中國在歐洲擴張投資永不沉沒的航空母艦」,對中國的友好在歐洲政壇獨樹一幟。

But several years later, many of China’s investment pledges have not materialized, and Ye Jianming, a mysterious businessman and svengali between the two countries, has suddenly disappeared. Hřib’s plan to remove the one-China clause grabbed the opportunity provided by the misgivings among Czech society, concerning China.

然而,幾年過去了,中國的許多投資承諾都沒兌現,在兩國之間牽線的神秘商人葉簡明還突然消失。賀瑞普打算廢除一中條款,正好抓住捷克社會對中國質疑聲四起的時機。

Also, the Czech Republic which overthrew the communist dictatorship thirty years ago, originally attached importance to the values of democracy and human rights. But in recent years, the Czech Republic has suffered a lot from right-wing populist policies. President Miloš Zeman and prime minister Andrej Babiš have no intention of continuing the spiritual heritage left behind by the Velvet Revolution [of 1989], departing from Vaclav Havel‘s line of humanism and pro-Europeanness.

其次,30年前曾推翻共黨獨裁統治的捷克,原本就特別重視民主和人權的價值。不過,近年來,捷克深受右翼民粹政治所苦,總統齊曼和總理巴比斯(Andrej Babiš)都無意延續絲絨革命留下的精神遺產,背離前總統哈維爾(Vaclav Havel)的人道主義和親歐路線。

[…]

As expected, Hřib’s actions were answered with Chinese retaliation. In April this year, at an annual meeting at the Czech trade and industry ministry, Taiwan’s representative to the Czech Republic was, for the first time, forced to leave the venue under pressure from China’s ambassador.

一如預料,賀瑞普的舉動遭到中方報復。今年4月,捷克貿易工業部為外國使節舉辦年度會議,由於中國大使施壓,我國駐捷克代表首度被迫離席。

Following that, Beijing cancelled Czech Philharmonia’s and another three important Czech ensembles tours of China. And Zeman publicly threatened that China could discontinue direct flights between Chinese cities and Prague, and cut financial assistance for soccer club Slavia Praha.

隨後,中國又一連取消布拉格愛樂(Prague Philharmonia)等4個捷克重要表演團隊在中國的巡迴演出行程。齊曼還公開威脅,中國將中斷中國城市和布拉格的直航和切斷布拉格斯拉維亞足球俱樂部(Slavia Praha)的金援。

Interestingly, China’s retaliation proved counterproductive. After having been forced out of the meeting at the Czech trade and industry ministry, [Taiwan’s] representative Wang Chung-I was interviewed by a big newspaper, thus greatly improving Taiwan’s visibility. And cultural minister Lubomir Zaoralek has rarely met with China’s ambassador to the Czech Republic, criticizing China’s unilateral cancellation of Czech ensembles’ performances which had “seriously harmed China’s image”.

有趣的是,中國的報復反而造成反效果。駐捷克代表汪忠一被迫離席後,立刻接受大報專訪,大幅提升台灣能見度。文化部長左拉列克(Lubomir Zaoralek)罕見接見中國駐捷克大使,批評中國片面取消樂團演出「嚴重傷害中國形象」。

[…]

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