Archive for ‘media’

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Weekend Links: Western Linguistic Manipulation, Destabilizing Russian Propaganda

Bicycles in Bremen-Sebaldsbrück, August 2015

“The world is upside down”,
said the wrong-way driver

1. China wants an Apology from the Japanese Emperor

That’s what Xinhua demanded on Tuesday, anyway: “Injustice has a source, a loan has a lender” (冤有头,债有主).

2. China wants North Korea to shut up

That’s because North Korea wanted South Korean loudspeakers to shut up. That has now happened, but on Monday, the loudspeaker crisis wasn’t yet resolved, and that was terrible, because South Korean president Park Geun-hye considered to stay at home in Seoul, due to the bad political weather on the Korean peninsula, rather than attending the PLA military parade on September 3.

Korean tensions won’t take China hostage, announced the “Global Times”, the quasi-Chinese parallel universe for foreigners who don’t understand Chinese, suspecting that certain forces in Pyongyang, Seoul, or outside the peninsula are gambling on this. Sino-NK compares the article in English and its – somewhat different – Chinese original.

The anger was actually understandable, as sino-narcissistic as it may have been. After all, Park’s attendance – now (re)confirmed – lends a lot of face to the parade of an army which actually had comparatively little to do with the defeat of Japanese imperialism, as Taiwanese president (and former KMT chairman) Ma Ying-jeou pointed out last month.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon can hardly be considered one of the certain forces in Pyongyang, Seoul, or outside the peninsula anyway. According to Reuters, citing Xinhua, he has defended his trip to Beijing next week to watch a military parade marking the end of World War Two following concern from Japan. Ban is scheduled to attend the sublime distortion of history, too.

Ban defended his planned attendance in Beijing next week after Japan’s foreign ministry had sent a message to the United Nations, saying that the events draw attention to the past for no purpose and that the United Nations should remain neutral, and a senior ministry official expressed strong dissatisfaction with Ban’s plan to observe the military parade in Tiananmen Square.

Tokyo’s top diplomats apparently felt an urgent need to prove that you don’t need to be Xinhua to talk like a wide-mouth frog.

3. China wants to cast off Western Linguistic Manipulation

This is what Huanqiu Shibao, translated and quoted by Fei Chang Dao, actually meant in its editorial on Thursday: a need to cast off Western linguistic manipulations and steer clear of the linguistic traps that they set when it comes to democratic concepts. CCP democratic practice proves that most “lingustic traps” are digital these days.

4. India is a Victim of such Manipulation

No, Mao Siwei, a former consul-general to Kolkata, doesn’t say that. He only suggests that India’s political system has (or leads to) problems, with all important legislation stalled in parliament. And he doesn’t even say that. He only quotes a Times of India editorial that says so.

5. How Marco Rubio would “deal with China”

On the basis of strength and example, of course, like any presidential candidate, prior to entering the White House and inheriting his predecessors desk (and files). Marco Rubio‘s first goal – repeat: first goal – would be to restore America’s strategic advantage in the Pacific. How so? By restoring the Pentagon’s budget to its appropriate level, of course:

This will allow us to neutralize China’s rapidly growing capabilities in every strategic realm, including air, sea, ground, cyber space and even outer space.

And

I will also promote collaboration among our allies, as America cannot and need not bear the full burden of counterbalancing China’s power.

Well, some of them will be in Beijing on Thursday, saying Hello to the victorious “People’s Liberation Army”. Maybe Rubio should first ask America’s quasi-allies in East Asia what they are going to spend on their countries’ military. Hegemony is unsustainable. Partnership might work.

6. Contested Economist Obituary of Tashi Tsering

The Economist published an obituary on Tashi on December 20 last year, and Woeser, who apparently furnished the news magazine with a photo taken by her husband Wang Lixiong ten years earlier, took issue with several points of the article. A few days after the Economist’s publication, she had recorded her objections. High Peaks Pure Earth offers an English translation. (Btw, Woeser also unveils the identity of the author of the Economist’s obituary – as a rule, authors remain anonymous there. The Economist explains why.)

7. Women can’t keep a Secret secret

Hilary Clinton can’t, Woeser can’t (see previous note, re the Economist’s Tashi Tsering obituary and its now uncovered author), and nor can Ambassador Caroline Kennedy.

Anyway, who cares. In the digital age, secrets are rapidly going out of fashion.

8. No “Russia Today” Rep Office in Latvia

According to Delfi, a Baltic online publication quoted by Euromaidan Press, the Latvian Registry of Enterprises denied permission to RT, saying that “the documents submitted by Russia Today contradict the Constitution of Latvia as well as several other laws”. Seconding the decision, the National Council of Electronic Media in Latvia reportedly alleged that the goal of the Russia Today Russian state news agency is to spread biased information in the information space to support the interests of Russia’s foreign policy.

A People’s Daily article in April suggested that the European Union was on the defensive in a “propaganda war” with Russia.

A rapid-response team to counter the destabilizing influence of Russian propaganda is now being established by the European Service of Foreign Affairs, writes Euromaidan Press.

Friday, August 28, 2015

“People’s Daily” on Russian-Western Propaganda Competition (April 2015)

The following is “old news”, a People’s Daily online article from April this year, but I think it will continue to matter. Hence the following translation. Links within blockquotes added during translation.

I have some thoughts of my onw about what is being said in the article – and I can’t confirm the accuracy of what its authors wrote. It’s a mere translation, for reference, and maybe for later use — JR

Main Link: International Viewpoint: Europe, America and Russia measuring their Strengths in the International Public Opinion Arena

Source: April 10, 2015, People’s Daily / People’s Daily online. European correspondent Ren Yan, U.S. correspondent Chen Lidan, Russia correspondent Lin Xuedan, People’s Daily / People’s Daily online, April 10, 2015

Picture: “Russia Today” international news agency organizing a video link concerning the Ukraine crisis – photo by our correspondent Lin Xudan

“今日俄罗斯”国际新闻通讯社日前就乌克兰危机问题进行视频连线。 本报记者 林雪丹摄

The European Union has decided to formulate a plan for the dissemination of information on their Riga summit in May, including mainly the preparation of a Russian-language television station or radio station and similar Russian-language media, to counter the growing Russian influence in international public opinion. Not long ago, American foreign secretary John Kerry acknowledged in a sub-committee session of the Senate that Russia had been successful in international communications. There are Russian scholars who believe that Russian media are in advantage in their response to the Ukraine crisis, making European countries feel uneasy, with the pattern of international public opinion undergoing new changes.

欧盟决定在5月举行的里加峰会上拟定一项信息传播计划,主要内容包括筹建俄语电视台或广播电台等俄文媒体,以应对俄罗斯在国际舆论场上日益增强的影响力。不久前,美国国务卿约翰·克里在参议院的一个小组委员会上也公开承认,俄罗斯在对外传播上取得了成功。有俄罗斯学者认为,在应对乌克兰危机的媒体报道中,俄罗斯占明显优势,令欧洲国家感到不安,国际舆论格局正在发生新的变化。

The EU – Launching a “counterpropaganda war'” against Russia

欧盟——向俄罗斯发起“反宣传战”

A European External Action Service official recently confirmed to this reporter that the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, is heading a team which is wildly beating gongs and drums to devise an action plan specifically targeted at Russia. The plan is scheduled to be finished before the end of June. The plan includes preparations for a Russian-language television station or radio station, transmitting to citizens of former Soviet republics, people of Soviet-republic ancestry, and to Russia.

欧盟对外行动署一名官员近日向本报记者证实,欧盟外交与安全政策高级代表莫盖里尼带领一个团队,正在紧锣密鼓地制定一份专门针对俄罗斯进行宣传的行动计划,要在6月前完成。该计划包括筹建俄语电视台和电台,对原苏联加盟共和国的俄罗斯裔民众和俄罗斯民众进行定向传播等内容。

At the beginning of this year, several European countries, including Britain, Denmark, Latvia, and Estonia, called for the establishment of a Russian-language television or radio station to launch a “counterpropaganda war” at Russia. Danish foreign minister Martin Lidegaard said that Russia was actively conducting propaganda and [successfully] managed public opinion, but the EU had sufficiently reacted to this threat. He believed in a need for a long-term response mechanism [may be, but doesn’t have to be the term actually used or meant by the former foreign minister or the reporting journalist, but my take of 应对机制 during translation – JR], i. e. the establishment of a Russian-language television station and other mass media, and broadcasting news in Russian very frequently. Russian deputy foreign minister Aleksey Meshkov  believes that this activity by a number of European countries and their advocacy of the concept of free speech are counterproductive. He says that Russia has respected the principle of freedom of speech all the way, however, Europe is doing the exact opposite.

今年年初,包括英国、丹麦、拉脱维亚和爱沙尼亚在内的欧洲多国呼吁欧盟建立俄语电视台向俄罗斯发起“反宣传战”。丹麦外交大臣利泽高表示,俄积极利用媒体就乌克兰问题“宣传造势”“操控舆论”,但欧盟方面对这种威胁并没有进行足够的回应。他认为有必要建立长期的应对机制,即建立俄语电视台等大众媒体,高频度地用俄语播发新闻。对此,俄外交部副部长梅什科夫认为,欧洲多国的这一举动与其所倡导的言论自由理念相悖。他表示,俄罗斯始终积极遵循言论自由的原则,但欧洲却反其道而行之。

An article published by a mainstream website, “European Developments” [“欧洲动态”], believes that thirty years ago, Russia had been on the defensive in the propaganda war with the EU. At the time, the EU had strong propaganda organs, such as Radio Free Europe, Deutsche Welle, and other media, incessantly broadcasting to Russian listeners in their language. Afterwards, the EU gradually cut down its spending on the propaganda war, and by now, Russia has won the advantage. Two EU diplomats who gave interviews [or an interview] to that website [i. e. 欧洲动态] dispiritedly said that the EU was losing in the propaganda war with Russia and that now, the unfavorable situation needed to be turned around as quickly as possible.

欧盟主流媒体之一“欧洲动态”网站载文认为,30年前,俄罗斯在与欧盟的宣传战中处于守势,那时的欧盟拥有强大的宣传机器,如自由欧洲电台、德国之声等媒体,不间断地对俄罗斯听众进行俄语广播。后来欧盟逐渐削减了对俄宣传战的投入,到现在俄罗斯反而在宣传战中占了上风。欧盟两位外交官在接受该网站采访时沮丧地表示,欧盟在宣传战中输给了俄罗斯,现在必须要尽快扭转这种不利局面。

America – Doubts in the U.S. International Broadcasting Reform Bill

美国——国际传播改革法案受质疑

The US Broadcasting Board of Governors members include the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe / Free Asia and other broadcasters. The media under its flag are broadcasting to 125 countries and regions in 65 languages. A questionnaire survery of thirty senior US diplomacy officials and experts showed that America is currently losing out to Russia’s propaganda war. They believed that the key problem was insufficient government funding, with the amount spent being only one tenth of what Russia was spending. The way the Voice of America developed was indicative of the overall trend among America’s foreign broadcasting media. In 2008, the Voice of America’s Russian broadcasts, with a history of sixty years, were terminated and transferred to the internet, but the Voice of America was apparently unable to get into step with the rhythm of the internet, and a lot of old news has been found on their [Russian-language] website. On social media, no matter if the number of fans or sharing is the issue, the numbers are far behind the U.S. Department of State, a non-news organization. Many former journalists and employees of the Voice of America believe that the Broadcasting Board of Governors as the mainly responsible body [for running VoA] must assume considerable responsibility for its bad work.

美国广播理事会成员包括美国之音、自由电台等,它旗下的媒体用65种语言向世界125个国家和地区进行广播。该机构3月下旬对30多名美国外交领域资深官员和专家的问卷调查显示,美国正在输掉对俄罗斯的宣传战,认为关键问题是官方拨款不足,数额要比俄罗斯用于宣传的经费少十倍。美国之音的发展代表了美国对外媒体的整体趋势。2008年,有60多年历史的美国之音俄语广播停播转向互联网,但美国之音似乎未能跟上互联网的节奏,其网站上曾被发现充斥着旧闻。在社交媒体上,无论是粉丝数,还是转发数都远远落后于非新闻机构的美国国务院。不少原供职于美国之音的记者、管理人员认为,主管机构广播理事会的不良运作需要承担相当大的责任。

During the past ten years, the Broadcasting Board of Governors’ mission has been doubted. In 2014, US House of Representatives foreign relations  committee chairman Ed Royce submitted the United States International Communications Reform Act, which was adopted. The bill positioned the Voice of America as an important tool for American public diplomacy, demanding that the focus of coverage be on propagandizing [or promoting] American foreign policies, and planning for the replacement of the Broadcasting Board of Governors by a United States International Communications Agency.

过去10年来,美国广播理事会的使命备受质疑。2014年,美国众议院外交事务委员会主席爱德华·罗伊斯向众议院提交了《美国国际传播改革法案》并获得通过。该法案把美国之音定位为美国公共外交的重要工具,要求其报道焦点放在美国外交政策的宣传上,并计划成立美国国际传播署取代广播理事会。

Currently, the bill remains at the stage of discussion within the US Congress, but the road of propaganda designed by the bill has already drawn criticism within America. The “Washington Post” worried in an editorial that this kind of reform could weaken the credibility of the Voice of America’s coverage. And the renowned “Foreign Affairs” magazine said that if this bill was passed and implemented, America’s foreign broadcasting organ would completely lose its independent character and become a White House mouthpiece.

目前该法案仍停留在美国国会内部商议阶段,但该法案所设计的政府宣传之路已经在美国国内引起非议。《华盛顿邮报》在一篇社论中就担心,如此改革将会削弱美国之音报道的可信度。美国著名的《外交》杂志称,如果通过并实施,美国对外广播机构将完全丧失独立性,成为白宫的传声筒。

Russia – in the process of building a strong “media aircraft carrier”

俄罗斯——正在构建强大“媒体航母”

In the Ukraine crisis, Russian media, represented by “Russia Today”, have caught a lot of attention. “Russia Today’s” first editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan says that the goal of “Russia Today” is “to present an unbiased image of Russia” and to provide coverage of world news from a Russian point of view. According to some analysts, it isn’t only “Russia Today”, but all of Russia’s media circles who are participating in the efforts of building a strong “media aircraft carrier”.

乌克兰危机中,以“今日俄罗斯”为代表的俄罗斯媒体引人注目。“今日俄罗斯”首任总编辑西蒙尼扬表示,创办“今日俄罗斯”的目的是为了向世界呈现一个“没有偏见的俄罗斯国家形象”,用俄罗斯的观点报道全球新闻。有分析认为,不仅仅是“今日俄罗斯”,整个俄罗斯媒体界都参与到构建强大“媒体航母”的努力中。

“Russia Today”, established in 2005, currently operates channels in English, Russian, Spanish and Arabic, and has opened French and German websites. Among these, the English broadcasts have established two separate channels, including “Russia Today International” and “Russia Today America”. More than 100 English-speaking reporters provide reports on a global scale. High-quality, ingenious reports have led to 700 million viewers in more than 100 countries, not only earning “Russia Today” gains in viewing rates, but also recognition from peers in the international [broadcasting] industry. In 2012, “Russia Today’s” “Occupy Wall Street” program won the 美国国际电视包装设计大奖 [this apparently refers to a a bronze Promax/BDA Global Excellence award], in 2013, “Russia Today” defeated CNN News network, Sky News, and Al Jazeera, winning the Monte Carlo Television Festival award.

成立于2005年的“今日俄罗斯”现有英语、俄语、西班牙语和阿拉伯语频道,并开设了法语和德语网站。其中,英语播报单独分设了两个频道,包括“今日俄罗 斯”国际和“今日俄罗斯”美国。有超过100名英语记者在全球范围提供报道。高质量兼具独创性的报道令“今日俄罗斯”在全球100多个国家拥有7亿观众, 不仅为“今日俄罗斯”赢得了收视率,还获得了国际同行的高度认可。2012年,“今日俄罗斯”的“占领华尔街”节目获得美国国际电视包装设计大 奖;2013年,“今日俄罗斯”击败美国有线电视新闻网、天空新闻和半岛电视台,获得“蒙特卡洛电视节大奖”。

To capitalize on “Russia Today’s” experiences of success, the Russian government decided to integrate the state media, to increase the effectiveness of foreign broadcasting. At the end of 2013, the Russian government invested huge amounts to reorganize RIA Novosti newsagency and the “Voice of Russia” into the “Russia Today” international news agency [aka Rossiya Segodnya -this means “Russia Today”, but the “Russia Today” television station described in the translated article so far is a separate organization. I’ll translate the news agency’s name as Rossiya Segodnya from here, to avoid confusion]. Rossiya Segodnya news agency’s deputy editor-in-chief, Pavel Andreyev, explained to this reporter that the agency combined the two state-owned media’s correspondent offices abroad, and is using streamlined resources to gradually increase the number of reporting bureaus, and embarked on creating twelve news gathering centers all over the world.

借鉴“今日俄罗斯”成功的经验,俄政府决定整合国有媒体,提升对外传播的有效性。2013年底,俄政府斥巨资将俄新社、“俄罗斯之声”广播电台两大媒体重 组为“今日俄罗斯”国际新闻通讯社。该通讯社副总编辑安德烈耶夫向本报记者介绍,在布局上,新通讯社合并了两家媒体原有的国外记者站,并利用精简的资源进 一步扩充了记者站数量,还着手在全球组建12个新闻采编中心。在内容上,通讯社开通了15条新闻专线,网站新闻供应量显著增加,实现了对全球新闻的无时差 报道。同时,在原有基础上增设近20个语种的广播。

Gusev, a researcher from the Russian Institute of Sciences’ Institute of Europe, said in an interview with this reporter that in the media information war concerning the Ukraine crisis, Russia had significant advantages, making European countries feel uneasy, with the pattern of international public opinion undergoing new changes.

俄罗斯科学院欧洲研究所研究员古谢夫在接受本报记者采访时表示,在有关乌克兰危机的媒体信息战中,俄罗斯占显著优势,令欧洲国家感到不安,国际舆论格局正在发生新的变化。

(People’s Daily online Brussels, Washington DC, Moscow reports)

(人民网布鲁塞尔、华盛顿、莫斯科4月9日电)

“People’s Daily” (April 10, 2015, page 21)

《 人民日报 》( 2015年04月10日 21 版)

____________

Related

» EU launches operation, EurActiv, Mar 20, 2015
» Mythbusters, Newsweek, Mar 20, 2015
» EU set to fight back, BBC, Mar 18, 2015
» Not attractive enough, ECFR, Jan 20, 2015
» Mindless competition, Jan 6, 2015
» The Russians do propaganda, Nov 25, 2014

____________

Friday, August 28, 2015

Investigations at “People’s Daily” Online: two Executives, Leading Editors “taken away”

China’s supreme procurate’s website reported on Friday that Henan procurate has opened investigations (立案侦查) concerning People’s Daily Online director and former chief editor  Liao Hong (廖玒), and board member and deputy director Chen Zhixia (陈智霞), reports the BBC Mandarin service online.

The online service should not be confused with the paper edition of People’s Daily.

According to the South China Morning Post (SCMP), quoting a public profile, Liao was a founding member of the People’s Daily website. He had worked for the paper and its digital department for 19 years after graduating from the Beijing University of Technology. Both he and Chen had been taken away for investigation, the SCMP wrote on Thursday. The Hong Konger paper also writes that Liao had been under a lot of pressure after lending support to the publication of  “Under the Dome”, a documentary about air pollution in China, on the website.

According to the BBC, official confirmation of the investigations came after Caixin Online (财新网) and Southern Weekend (南方周末) had already quoted numerous sources saying that Kiao and Chen had been taken away for investigations.

The BBC also quotes news people who saw links between these two investigations and the case of Xu Hui (徐辉), then deputy editor in chief at People’s Daily online. Xu was put under investigation in May this year, and was reportedly accused or suspected of blackmail, and of taking bribes from people who had become subject to supervision by public opinion (舆论监督). The accusations might come across as an accusation similar to one made against former Central Military Commission vice chairman Guo Boxiong, who had been accused of 用职务便利, i. e. taking “advantage of his job”, or office. In the context of supervision by public opinion, it would refer to advantages from the job of an influential journalist. Concerning Xu Hui, Radio Free Asia (RFA) was rather specific about what accusations like these could mean, citing allegations that Xu had approached various companies and threatened to publish negative news stories about them if they didn’t buy advertising on the site.

All that said and written, the “investigations” may just as likely be mere tools in an inofficial-official campaign against critical journalism, be it in the context of the “Under the Dome” documentary, or in any other context.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Some of this Week’s Links: Heroes and Ultra-Vulgar Butchers

1. “All of them are Heroes” – a Soundbyte and its Story

A Hong Kong television station had a small scoop of sorts, or so it seems to feel to both the station, and to Xinhua. They [update: the HK tv station, that is] conducted an apparent surprise interview with Chinese chief state councillor Li Keqiang. This is how Xinhua reported the encounter, apparently on the same day.

According to the Weibo channel of Xinhua newsagency’s Xinhua Viewpoint program, chief state councillor Li Keqiang, on a visit to the injured at Tianjin Taida Hospital, was abruptly approached by a Hong Kong journalist who, using his cell-phone camera, asked minute questions about “unlisted firefighters”. The chief state councillor interrupted his walk and said that the active-service and non-active-service rescuers had all received training, were all fully aware that the fireground was dangerous, but had all left the danger to themselves. Their sacrifices are saddening us. All of them are heroes, and there are no “unlisted” heroes!

据新华社“新华视点”微博报道,李克强总理16日在天津泰达医院看望伤者时,一名香港记者突然冲过来用手机拍摄并追问“编外消防员”问题。总理停下脚步说,参加施救的现役和非现役消防人员都受过培训,他们明知火场有危险,但把危险留给自己。他们的牺牲让我们痛心。他们都是英雄,英雄没有“编外”!

Unlisted apparently refers to contract firefighters.

The Nanfang also gave a description of the interview, and linked to the tv station’s video (edited or not, can’t judge that) of it. There seems to be nothing extraordinary about the interview by international standards, and the crucial soundbyte – that all of them are heroes, and there are no unlisted heroscomes at 1′ 14”. Li Keqiang also thanked the reporter “for asking this question and showing your concern for the injured”.

2. “Drawing Profits from selling Ranks and Titles (in Zhongmou)

Some estimates say that the number of rights lawyers has grown from just a handful to […] over a thousand, Yaxue Cao and Yaqiu Wang write in a China Change post published on Wednesday. Going through a July-19 article by China News Service (CNS, 中国新闻社), linked to from the China Change article, you might get the impressoin that corruption charges may not only be politically motivated when brought against party flies or tigers, but they are also weapons in efforts to smear dissidents’ reputation. That may look pretty obvious anyway, but I’ve only become aware of it when reading

For the foreign, language-learning reader, the profitable thing about official lampoons like the one from CNS is that they usually come with some proverbs or classical references. It makes an – otherwise possibly unpleasant – treatise catchy, and helps to create the impression that the propaganda were handed out by trustworthy people.

A short taster from the CNS article:

According to police information, Zhou Shifeng, Wang Yu and other persons formed criminal gangs with Fengrui Law Office as a platform. Since July 2012, they have plotted in more than forty cases and incidents, waving sensational flags about “rights”, “the public good”, etc., seizing the opportunity of becoming famous and of drawing profits from Zhongmou.

根据警方的通报,以北京市锋锐律师事务所为平台,周世锋、王宇等人组成的犯罪团伙,自2012年7月以来,先后组织策划40余起案事件,打着“维权”“公益”等旗号炒作,借机出名,从中牟取利益。

Liu Sixin, administrative assistant at said law office, explains that Zhou Sifeng usually likes to recruit three kinds of people: those who dare to speak out, those who dare to act, and those who dare to hype issues, like “ultra-vulgar butcher” Wu Gan and Zhou himself. The second kind is people who hail from the petitional system and from the media, such as Huang Liqun, Xie Yuandong, etc.. And then there are so-called “die-hard” lawyers like Wang Yu, Wang Quanzhang who like to be defenders in sensitive incidents.

该所行政助理刘四新介绍,周世锋一般喜欢招揽3种人,第一种是敢说、敢干、敢炒作的,像“超级低俗屠夫”吴淦和他;第二种是原来在司法、信访系统以及媒体干过的人,像黄力群、谢远东等;还有就是像王宇、王全璋这种所谓的“死磕”律师,喜欢代理一些敏感事件。

The China Change post lists forteen rights lawyers and their stories.

3. Farting Snakes

And to end on a super-vulgar note today: did you know that a snake has an ass?

Now you know. Happy weekend.
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Updates/Related

» Crackdown intensifies, CS Monitor, July 13, 2015

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Economist: CCP is “Plundering History to justify its Present-Day Ambitions”

Granted, this may become the first time after World War 2 that China commemorates the occasion with a big military parade, rather than with a solemn remembrance ceremony. But did it really take this upcoming September event to make The Economist aware that the Communist Party is plundering history to justify its present-day ambitions? That the Xi leadership is showing a blatant disregard for the fact that it was not the Chinese communists who bore the brunt of the fighting against Japan, but their sworn enemies, the nationalists (or Kuomintang) under Chiang Kai-shek? This is by far the most serious criticism of Beijing that I have seen in the Economist ever since I started reading about a decade ago. And it has been overdue.

To be clear: the Economist has been critical in the past, too. When China (apparently) slowed exports of rare-earth minerals to Japan after the arrest of a Chinese crawler crew by the Japanese coastguard, the paper referred to that as an especially nefarious turn. But that was at a time of open crisis. The real problem isn’t that there are occasional outbursts of Chinese wrath against once criminal or now obstinate neighbors. The problem is the daily mass indoctrination in Chinese schools and media.

The German press also appears to have become more critical. Random choice: “Doubtful of China”, a Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung headline a week ago, on August 12. The short leader on page one suggested that

for years, the Chinese government has marketed itself that successfully that one almost believed it could walk on water. Whatever unpleasant things it would do in terms of human rights, the economy worked out, and that was/is the real bottom line for many abroad. For a few weeks now, the high-gloss storefront is getting scratches. Another rather big one has been added by the Chinese central bank now. It has devalued the national currency as much as never in two decades, which is being analyzed on page 15.

In short, the paper quotes “observers” who doubt that the devaluation is a step towards liberalizing the exchange-rate regime, and hence a concession to IMF demands.

The quarrels about Beijing distorting economic competition isn’t new. But how the CCP is distorting history have hardly been a regular issue in the mainstream press. All the same, such views, publicized in no uncertain terms, should be welcomed and encouraged by all people who believe that truthfulness about history is important.

Truthfulness also requires self-criticism. Yes, Beijing is pretty good at selling itself and its record, as noted by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. But most of the successful propaganda work abroad hasn’t been done by Chinese propagandists or “public diplomats”. It has been done by the international press. And if China’s economy should become the big economic attraction again, be it for an unlikely return to double-digit growth rates or for any other reasons, expect the foreign adulation of the incredible strategists to resume.

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Related

» Do markets determine …, M. Pettis, Aug 18, 2015
» CCP should face history honestly, July 7, 2015
» China Cultural Year 2012, March 1, 2012
» Message to a Barbarian, June 26, 2011
» Fragility of Truth, Economist, Oct 8, 2009
» Covert business lobby, Project Censored, 1996/2010

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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Former leading Tianjin Cadre: Beijing won’t cover up Causes of Disaster, because there isn’t much to Lose

Asked by the BBC‘s Mandarin service if he believes that a former member of the politburo standing committee had been a patron for Ruihai Logistics, the company on whose premises the Tianjin explosions occurred last week, Dr. Zhang Wei (张炜), an economics lecturer at Cambridge University, said that this couldn’t be ruled out, but that the lawlessness that had led to the disaster could just as well be the fault of low-ranking local “snakes” (地头蛇). Both explanations were equally likely, he suggested.

Nextmedia, a magazine published in Hong Kong and Taiwan, had allegged in an online article on Saturday that a major shareholder of Ruihai Logistics were a nephew of former permanent politburo member Li Ruihuan (李瑞環) – this name, however, wasn’t repeated or quoted in the coverage mentioned in this post. Links to any former politburo heavyweights could be touchy information, given that citizens in Tianjin are demanding answers from the authorities as to why cargo of this accident level had been stored less than one kilometer from residential areas, and in apparently illegal quantities. Laying out a possible lawless structure that would be in line with the “local” theories, Time (online) quotes Chinese magazine Caijing as suggesting that one of the Ruihai stakeholders, Dong Mengmeng (董蒙蒙) had been the son of Dong Peijun (董培军) former public security director, an allegation also addressed by Zhang Wei, as quoted by the BBC.

But even if investigations should find traces to a former member of the politburo’s standing committee, Zhang thinks it unlikely that the current central leadership in Beijing would try to cover up the truth. A former member, rather than an incumbent, wouldn’t be of great use to the current government any more, and there would be no reason to halt the investigations.

According to the BBC, Zhang once served as secretary of Tianjin’s municipal Communist Youth League committee (共青团天津市委书记), as director of Tianjin Economic-Technological Development Area, as director for external economic matters at Tianjin municipal government, and in other functions. Zhang’s view of Chinese economic reform in the 1980s – and the slowdown or even reversal in reform during the 1990s – also influenced Huang Yasheng as he wrote Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics.

The explosions and the authorities’ difficulties in handling communication with the public didn’t reflect a public relations crisis (公关危机), the BBC quotes Zhang, but rather a problem rooted in the CCP’s belief in propaganda. Local officials and media in Tianjin had no powers to disclose information to the local public, but had to wait until Xinhua issued an integrated story. This seriously impaired or blocked flows of information.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Guessing Games: “Don’t wait for Beidaihe”

— Note: the following is old news: it’s about articles that appeared during the past two weeks and a half. —

Big sensation? Or was the Xinhua article, published on August 5, making fun of the international press in general, or the South China Morning Post (SCMP) in particular? The headline read Liao Wang Think Tank: Don’t wait for it, Beidaihe won’t happen, and it seemed to refer to an article in Hong Kong’s English-language paper, published on July 30.  The headline, of course, doesn’t necessarily mean that the near-tradtitional gathering of China’s top leaders has been cancelled. But it does suggest that Beidaihe is no longer the place where the big decisions are made: after all, Chinese politics had gradually become more transparent and “regular”, especially after the 18th National Congress of the CCP (i. e. the election of the current leadership) and the Eight Provisions (or Eight Rules). Hadn’t the politburo met on July 20 and 30? One could well expect that issues like the 13th 5-year plan, economic policies, striking the tigers (打老虎, put into quotation marks in the article, and referring to the ostensible fight against corruption among leading cadres) had been discussed there time and again – so what would be the use to go to Beidaihe? “Is it necessary? Is it likely [to happen]?”

Obviously, Beidaihe doesn’t need to be the place where big decisions are made. But it may still be the place. While the CCP is indeed fairly transparent when it comes to the publication of its final decisions, the decision-making process remains as murky as ever.

Maybe that’s why the Xinhua/Liaowang author found speculation about the time and agenda of the Beidaihe meetings so funny. The Economist also got a mention for suggesting that [n]ormally the meetings start in the second week of August and run for seven days or so. This year they started a week early […]. However, the Xinhua article didn’t mention that the Economist referred to reports in overseas Chinese media.

And, as usual, the sources weren’t specifically mentioned, either, let alone linked to, its sources, even though both the SCMP and the Economist article were available online. Maybe they were running counter to the Liaowang author’s message to his readers that Chinese politics had become “more transparent”.

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」。

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