Archive for ‘international’

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Once upon a time in America

We pride ourselves on our friendly relations and open borders with our two North American neighbors.

Ronald Reagan, US president, November 9, 1985

Saturday, June 1, 2019

“Trade War”: Doing their Worst, doing their Best

Probably, there would be a (not inevitable yet) moment when nearly everyone realized that the trade conflict between America and China has turned into an economic war. The moment isn’t easy to define in advance. Maybe it’s when China halts its rare-earth exports. But that war would be the first war that might benefit school children’s education as they are running out of smartphones. Can war be war when it makes people smarter?

The Economist, not quite the Great Friend of the Chinese People more recently, tried to sound some more understanding notes than usual last month. Addressing accusations that China had ‘reneged’ on commitments made earlier during the talks, the paper points out that “complicating matters, negotiations have been conducted in English, with the draft agreement […] also in English. As it is translated into Chinese and circulated among more officials, changes are inevitable.”

And Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia’s prime minister and no Great Friend of the Chinese People either, claims that he doesn’t really care about who’s spying on him or his country: “We have no secrets,” and …

“… let them do their worst.”

Not sure if Malaysian techies would agree. But if they really have no secrets, Mahathir may be right, and Malaysia has nothing to lose, because it has nothing.

For people who still use their 1990-something mobile, Digital Trends offers an instructive overview of what is at stake for Huawei, and the company’s American trade partners and customers.

Not so different from Mahathir, but from a more neutral position,  Singapore’s prime minister Lee Hsien Loong advocates openness, as this approach has benefitted Singapore since ancient times – no, he didn’t really say that.

But he has a clear message to both sides in the conflict, and an explanation as to why Washington’s unilateral approach is no option for Singapore:

Singapore cannot afford to adopt the same point of view. Being small, we are naturally disadvantaged in bilateral negotiations. We need to reform and strengthen multilateral institutions, not cripple or block them. More fundamentally, confining ourselves to a bilateral approach means forgoing win-win opportunities which come from countries working together with more partners. We need to build a broader regional and international architecture of cooperation. When groups of countries deepen their economic cooperation, they will enhance not just their shared prosperity but also their collective security. With more stake in one another’s success, they will have greater incentive to uphold a conducive and peaceful international order. This will benefit many countries big and small.

Huanqiu Shibao comes up with what they see as their country’s head of delegation‘s role at the summit:

After Lee Hsien-Loong had concluded his speech, He Lei asked the first question in the plenum, a two-fold one: firstly, how can China and America set out from the big picture of maintaining regional and global peace, from the great trend of peaceful development, thus properly settling the current contradictions and problems? And the other question: Singapore’s leader advocates that small countries should not take sides while the big countries’ relations are experiencing contradictions. How can, under the current conditions, a constructive conduct be achieved, and taking sides be avoided? Lee Hsien-Long replied to the first question that China and America needed to talk frankly, at the top levels, about the most fundamental problem, i. e. China’s current development, and the outside world’s need to adapt to China’s development. China and other countries all needed to adjust and adapt to this fact. Under this prerequisite, one by one and by discussing the issues as they stand, we will solve problems. Lee Hsien-Loong believes that in this process, China and America would gradually strengthen trust and make progress. As for the second question, Lee Hsien-Loong replied that “we do our best to be friends with both sides, maintaining relations on all fields, but will actively avoid to choose sides and join teams.”
After the banquet, He Lei’s assessment was that Lee Hien-Loong’s speech had been relatively peaceful and reasonable, and he was satisfied with Lee Hsien-Loong’s answers. He Lei said that Sino-Singapore relations had continuously improved in recent years, with continuous high-level exchange, which had established a good basis for a speech as given by Lee Hsien-Loong that evening. This was also a result of China’s continuous expansion of influence. He Lei, who has attended all of the three most recent Shangri-la meetings, has a profound feel for this.
李显龙演讲结束后,针对李显龙的发言,何雷在全场率先提问,包括两个问题:第一个是中美两国在当前如何能够从维护地区和世界和平的大局出发,能够从和平发展的大趋势出发,妥善解决当前存在的矛盾和问题?另一个问题是,在当前大国关系存在矛盾和问题的时候,新加坡领导主张小国不选边站。在当前这种局势下,如何做到积极作为、避免选边站队?对于第一个问题,李显龙表示,中美两国需要在最高层面开放坦率地接触,讨论两国之间最基本的问题,即中国正在发展,而外界需要适应中国的发展。中国和其他国家都需要调整并适应这一事实。在这一前提下,再逐个地、就事论事地讨论并解决问题。李显龙认为,在这一过程中,中美双方能够逐渐增进信任,取得进展。对于第二个问题,李显龙答道,“我们尽自己所能和两边都做朋友,发展并保持各个领域的关系,但主动地避免选边站队。”

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Related

Surveillance tycoons, Bloomberg, May 22, 2019
America must strike a balance, Nov 7, 2009

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Saturday, May 11, 2019

EU Reports on Hong Kong, Macau: Pointing Fingers, Drawing Feet

Main LinkForeign Ministry: Opposing the EU’s Publication of a so-called Report concerning Hong Kong and Macau (外交部:反对欧盟发表所谓涉港澳报告)

Xinhua Beijing, May 9 (Ma Zhuoyan reporting)  In the light of the European Union’s publication of a so-called report concerning Hong Kong and Macau, the foreign ministry said on May 9 that China expresses strong dissatisfaction1), and resolutely opposes this, demanding the EU side to stop this wrong approach.

新华社北京5月9日电(记者 马卓言)针对欧盟近日发布所谓涉港澳报告,外交部发言人耿爽9日说,中方对此表示强烈不满和坚决反对,要求欧方停止这一错误做法。

The EU reportedly published the “2018 Annual Report on Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the “2018 Annual Report on Macau Special Administrative Region”, commenting on Hong Kong and Macau affairs.

据报道,欧盟8日发表了《2018年香港特区年度报告》和《2018年澳门特区年度报告》,对港澳事务进行评论。

Geng Shuang said at May 9th regular press conference that since the return of Hong Kong and Macau, “one country, two systems” has been successfully implemented, Hong Kong and Macau have maintained prosperity and stability, Hong Kong and Macau residents enjoy unprecedented democratic rights and freedom of speech, information, association etc. in accordance with the law, and this is an undeniable fact.

耿爽在9日例行记者会上说,港澳回归以来,“一国两制”成功落实,港澳保持繁荣稳定,港澳居民依法享有前所未有的民主权利和言论、新闻、结社等各项自由,这一事实不容否认。

Geng Shuang said, the EU report was waving around and making indiscreet remarks2) with its report on so-called human rights, unscrupulously putting blame on “one country, two systems” in Hong Kong and Macau, absolutely denying the facts. This is interference with China’s internal affairs and the special administrative regions’ affairs, to which China expresses strong dissatisfaction1) and resolute opposition. “We have repeatedly expounded and opposed our position concerning the EU’s so-called Hong Kong and Macau reports, and demand that the EU stop this wrong approach.

耿爽说,欧盟的报告以所谓人权、自由等为幌子对港澳事务妄加评论、指手画脚,对“一国两制”在港澳的落实横加指责,完全是罔顾事实,是对中国内政和特区事务的粗暴干涉,中方对此表示强烈不满和坚决反对。“我们已多次阐明反对欧盟方面发表所谓涉港澳报告的立场,我们要求欧方停止这一错误做法。”

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Footnotes

1) May also be translated as “intense resentment”
2) literally: pointing fingers and drawing feet

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Related

Hong Kong SAR Annual Report 2018, May 8, 2019
Macau SAR Annual Report 2018, May 8, 2019

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Thursday, April 11, 2019

Taiwan’s Representative to Czech Republic: Relations not affected

The following is a translation of a CNA (Central News Agency) article from Taiwan, with some details of an interview Taiwan’s semi-offical ambassador Wang Chung-I (汪忠一, officially his country’s diplomatic “representative”), gave to a Czech newspaper on Tuesday. Links within blockquotes added during translation.

Main Link (CNA): Dispute around Taiwan’s Representative having to leave his seat won’t affect relations between the two Countries (被迫離席風波 駐捷克代表:不影響兩國關係)

Central News Agency CNA reporter Lin Yuli, Berlin, April 10 – Taiwan’s Representative to the Czech Republic, Wang Chung-I, who took part in a conference hosted by the Czech ministry of trade and industry, and was removed under Chinese pressure. Czech media published interviews with him, and Wang Chung-I believes that this diplomatic dispute will not lead to bad effects on the two countries’ relationship.

(中央社記者林育立柏林10日專電)駐捷克代表汪忠一上月參加捷克貿易工業部主辦的會議,因中國施壓被迫離席。捷克媒體刊登他的專訪,汪忠一相信這起外交風波不至於影響兩國的關係。

The case of the Taiwanese representative having been forced to leave the venue had led to great controversy in Czech political circles. Forty senators across party lines have sent a joint letter to Prime Minister Andrej Babis in recent days, demanding that trade and industry minister Marta Novakova should assume political responsibility, and the House of Deputies‘ foreign  affairs committee also met to discuss this diplomatic dispute.

台灣代表被迫離場事件,最近在捷克政壇引起軒然大波。40名跨黨派的參議員日前聯名致函總理巴比什(Andrej Babis)要求貿易工業部長諾娃科娃(Marta Novakova)負起政治責任,眾議院外交委員會也開會討論這起外交風波。

Major Czech paper “Economic Daily” (Hospodarske Noviny) published an entire page of an interview with Wang Chung-I on April 9. Wang Chung-I said that after the incident, the representative office [i. e. Taiwan’s semi-official embassy in Prague] received support from all walks of life in Czechia, also e-mails of encouragement from members of the general public, which made him feel pleasantly surprised.

捷克大報「經濟日報」(Hospodarske Noviny)9日用一整版的篇幅刊出汪忠一的專訪。汪忠一表示,事件發生後,代表處收到捷克各界的聲援,還有民眾寫電子郵件來鼓勵,讓他感到驚喜。

He pointed out that during the past 19 years, Taiwan had always received invitations from the trade and industry ministry, and had always sent someone to take part in the conferences. He knew that the trade and industry ministry was under great Chinese pressure, and had therefore issued no protest to the ministry, and rather held talks with Czech diplomats to make mutually sure that this incident woudl not affect bilateral relations.

他指出,過去19年台灣每年都收到貿工部的邀請,也都派人出席這場會議。他知道貿工部受到中國的強大壓力,因此事後沒有向貿工部抗議,但與捷克外交官員進行了會談,互相保證這件事不至於影響雙邊關係。

Wang Chung-I emphasized that in the past, similar incidents had occured in Czechia, and usually it was the Chinese ambassador opposing the Taiwanese representative being in the place. If the organizing unit maintained its right to invite whom it wanted to invite, the Chinese ambassador would leave his seat, this was his first time to have to leave the place because of Chinese pressure.

汪忠一強調,捷克過去也曾發生過類似的事件,一般而言是中國大使反對台灣代表在場。如果主辦單位堅持有權決定想邀請的人,中國大使會離席,這是他第一次因中國施壓而被迫離場。

In the interview, Wang Chung-I also quoted former Czech president Vaclav Havel, a man with friendly feelings towards Taiwan, as describing in a book why Czech and Taiwanese people had similar lines of thought.

汪忠一在這篇專訪中,還引述了對台灣友好的捷克前總統哈維爾(Vaclav Havel)的話,他在一本書中曾描述捷克人和台灣人為何有相同的思維方式。

Wang Chung-I pointed out that both Czechia and Taiwan were rather small countries, both with experience in resisting powerful neighboring countries, and common values of respect for human rights, freedom and democracy.

汪忠一指出,捷克與台灣都是比較小的國家,一樣有與超強鄰國對抗的經驗,而且共享尊重人權和自由民主的價值觀。

Czechia is a major tourist destination in Europe, with its capital Prague attracting particularly many Taiwanese tourists. Prague’s mayor Zdenek Hrib mentioned in a meeting with Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen late last month that he hoped to establish direct flights with Taipei.

捷克是歐洲的觀光重鎮,尤其首都布拉格吸引許多台灣觀光客,布拉格市長賀吉普(Zdenek Hrib)上月底訪問台灣會見蔡英文總統時才提到,希望與台北建立直航。

Wang Chung-I said that last year’s number of Taiwanese tourists visiting Czechia reached up to 190,000, an annual rise by ten percent, and for tourism and commercial exchange between the two countries, he hoped that a direct flight connection between Prague and Taipei would soon materialize. (Editor’s name) Number

汪忠一表示,去年台灣旅客造訪捷克的人數高達19萬,年成長率10%,為了兩國的觀光和商務往來,他也期盼布拉格與台北的直航能早日實現。(編輯:高照芬)1080411

Friday, April 5, 2019

Prague Castle*) incident: “The Minister should have known what to do”

*) Correction, April 11, 2019: not at the Castle, but at the trade ministry in Prague.

Update, April 11, 2019: Reportedly, trade minister Marta Nováková will be replaced, along with transport minister Dan Ťok, in a cabinet reshuffle.

Britain’s Daily Mail quotes a “series of missteps”, the way she dealt with the Chinese ambassador’s “request” to remove Taiwan’s representative from a meeting at the trade ministry among them, but mainly her comments on Czech mobile data prices.

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The top levels of Czech politics may be confused, but civil society stands up to blackmail. While it is true that the world’s leading democracies are falling over themselves to do business with China, the Czech Republic’s tradition is different from that of the London School of Economics.

Beijing doesn’t appear to advertise its ambassador’s implementation of its one-belt-one-road project in Prague, but Zdeněk Hřib, Prague’s mayor and one of the critics of Beijing’s most recent attempt to sideline Taiwan, isn’t an unknown in China anyway. A blogger named Warfare Bureau stationed with Taiwan Special Task Force member no. 666, publishing on a Guanchazhe platform, shows rightful indignation about Hřib’s current visit to Taiwan:

Actually, this mayor of the Czech Republic capital who has just taken office has often before raised his unfriendly voice against China. Early this year, he voiced doubt about the “one-China clause” in the sister city agreement between Prague and Beijing, asserting that he “could not see the need to retain it,” and demanding renegotiation.

其实,这位才上任不久的捷克首都新市长曾经多次发表对华不友好的声音,今年初贺瑞卜在受访时就公然对与北京缔结姐妹城市关系时协定中的“一中条款”表示质疑,他声称,“实在看不出保留的必要性”,要求重新协商。

According to the blog, Hřib said in an interview with Czech media that if the Prague city council demanded to repeal the article from the agreement, he would negotiate with Beijing, and if negotiations failed, Prague would have to withdraw from the agreement.*)

Even worse, the guy, reacting to Beijing’s plans to send a Panda to Prague, had said in 2016, in an interview with Taiwan’s Liberty Times (自由時報), that “human rights are much more important than Panda’s”. (What a shameless lie.)

It might be worth mentioning that Hřib is a member of the Czech Pirate party. A lot of politicians talk about “values”, but some actually have the nerve to practice them.

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Related

Rising Aggression, Jan 28, 2017

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Notes / Updates

*) Prague’s city council decided on January 21 that the article about the “one-China policy” should either be removed, or the partnership with Beijing be terminated, according to Radio Prague‘s German service on that day.

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Sunday, March 31, 2019

A Comment, instead of a Comment: Europe and China

Hi Jixiang,

blogspot.com sucks. I have tried posting a comment on your blog for ten minutes, until clicking fire hydrants, buses and traffic lights (to prove that I’m no robot) had sent me into a state of trance.

Anyway, here goes. This would have been my comment.

… and it would be most effective if the EU as a whole would draw them.

I agree, but believe that EU countries won’t react to the challenges in the same speed. In many ways, it’s the commerical base that shapes the policies, because there is no primacy of politics in Europe.

Countries like Germany, Sweden or the Netherlands are more likely to draw comparatively “early lines”, because they and China are the most immediate competitors, on similar markets, and all of them post trade surpluses.

It would be great if human rights and fundamental rights counted in Europe, but I don’t think they do.

P.S.: Yes, Jixiang, and Foarp, too: blogspot.com sucks. Try wordpress.com.

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Related

RAE, CRI, Universal Topics, March 22, 2018
AIB maintains RTI membership, July 7, 2017

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Monday, February 18, 2019

Sony ICF 2001 – Early Days of Global Digitalization

Among the large variety of receivers currently available, the Sony ICF 2001 is unique. […] suggests the Sony is probably the first portable shortwave receiver designed to overcome the general public reluctance to tune to shortwave and international broadcasts. With the Sony ICF 2001, nearly anyone can call up a distant station, if the frequency is known.

This is how then South African foreign broadcaster Radio RSA reviewed the Sony ICF 2001 at the time.

Sony would certainly agree, as can be seen from the early 1980s artwork on the box: that wasn’t a receiver, it was a technological sunrise, with a glorious new millennium booming into your face.

Sony ICF 2001 packing

Proclamation of a new Era: Sony ICF 2001 packing

While reviewers at Radio RSA apparently admired the receiver’s sophistication, they did see a potential problem:

The convenience of the ICF 2001 is obviously unique, but for the established shortwave hobbyist, the lack of a conventional tuning knob can be a drawback.”

And battery consumption was deemed “a little high” – average battery lifetime was estimated at around ten hours.

Great points in its favor, as seen by the reviewers, was excellent sensitivity, selectivity, automatic gain control, and just the right bandwith (as long as users wouldn’t want to bother about choosing the right bandwith).

A shortwave listener in South Bend, Indiana, listened to the Radio RSA review on March 14, 1982, and recorded it. About 35.5 years later, he posted it online.

It’s a fascinating document to listen to. The review contains a short original soundtrack of the ICF 2001’s performance, and a bit of (feigned, I suppose) political innocence:

But let’s try medium wave and let’s try Channel 702, broadcasting from Bophuthatswana.

Summing up, the reviewers pointed out that the ICF 2001

has several features not found on other portables, namely the six-channel memory.

OK – that was in 1982.

A shortwave radio blogger who bought a Sony ICF 2001 in 2015 highlights the built-in antenna trimmer – a great feature indeed, and one the Sony ICF 2001 D (the Sony ICF 2010’s edition for the German market) was lacking.

Obviously, when the year of 2001 really arrived, the internet had been there for years, and even the world’s most incredible shortwave receiver wouldn’t lure a dog from behind the stove, as a German saying goes.

That said, it might still work on dogs older than forty.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Tsai Ing-wen: Beijing’s Threats do Harm beyond Taiwan

When China threatens war, media do become interested in Taiwan (even though the threat is nothing new), Klaus Bardenhagen, a German correspondent in Taipei, wrote on January 6. His post links to an English translation of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen‘s new year’s address on January 1, to a summary of Chinese CCP secretary general and State Chairman Xi Jinping‘s “Taiwan message anniversary” speech (January 2), and to Tsai Ing-wen’s reaction to that speech (also on January 2).

Bardenhagen points out that the main newsworthy content in Xi’s speech was an equation of the “1992 consensus” with “one country, one systems” formula.

His post also reports President Tsai’s international press conference (or reception) on January 5 (see above video, statement in English).

Bardenhagen asked her what Taiwan would wish countries like Germany to do in this situation. Apparently, she didn’t reply with a specific demand to Germany, but to Taiwan’s general role in the community of other democracies:

When such a country faces difficulties and threats, we hope that the international community will watch this closely, speak on our behalf, and support us.

當這樣的國家面臨困難, 面臨威脅的時候,我們希望國際社會能夠重視,而且能夠替我們發聲、來協助我們

Because if a country like this one – that practices democracy and these internationally held values – is threatened and infringed upon, I believe that this harms democracy and many values. If Taiwan faces this situation and there is no international assistance to Taiwan rasing its voice, if Taiwan isn’t supported internationally, we have to ask which country will be next.

因為如果一個實踐民主,實踐這個國際共同的價值這麼努力的國家受到威脅,受到侵害,我相信,對民主,對很多的價值也是一種傷害。如果今天台灣面臨這樣的情況,國際不替台灣發聲,國際不為台灣來協助的話,我們要問下一個就是哪一個國家。

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Related

Press Reception, ROC President, Jan 5, 2019
“We uphold our Principles,” Jan 2, 2019

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