Archive for ‘media’

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

China’s Hate for the Free Flow of Information: Fascism is the absolute Principle

More than fourty years ago, China started policies of reform and opening up. The latter part is often overlooked, but the Chinese authorities had to find new ways to deal with a greater flow of free information, or, as Deng Xiaoping put it, “when you open the window, you can’t stop the flies and mosquitos from coming in, too”.

Despite the ostentatious nonchalance, the party made great efforts to keep the flies out anyway. Really inquisitive international press was only available in international hotels or airports, and shortwave broadcasts from the outside world remained heavily jammed. And to this day, “Uncle Policeman” will take care of the rest of the flies.


Uncensored info, hence harmful

Shut up, we don’t care

What the CPC may not have hoped to achieve though was a fairly successful immunization program against flies. They achieved it anyway. This vaccine’s effect is that it makes most Chinese people ignorant – or nearly ignorant – of information deemed undesirable by the party. Around 2008, “Anti-CNN” propaganda rose – at least partly, it seems – from the Chinese grassroots. On the eve of the Beijing Olympic Games, Chinese people appeared to be simply fed up with bad news about Tibet or Xinjiang, no matter if true or not, and any lapse in any overseas picture editorial room was gladly taken as proof that news about uprisings in China’s Tibetan or Turkic colonies were fake news.

But the real sources for the willful ignorance lie deeper. For one, there’s a natural desire of people to be proud of their country, even if there is little reason for that, and that seems to be a particularly strong desire in some East Asian countries.

Then there was an actual source of pride: China’s rising economic and political power, and a series of economic crises in the West. In the minds of many, might made right if only it led to even more might for the motherland.

Not all Chinese nationalists deny that Tibetans or Turkics are going through hell. Rather, they believe that they deserve no better, and that “those guys” had been pampered by their Han rulers for too long.

Obviously, that kind of news isn’t fit to print or be broadcast by China’s “Global Times”, or CCTV. It is enough that people know that their party’s “toughness” on “terrorism” knows no limits, and that resistance is futile.
The latter bit is immportant, too, because Han people, too, have grievances. They must not even dream of getting a verdict in their favor, when the party says “no”. The brutal message from the top is targeting “national minorities” for now, but as Rebiya Kadeer said in 2018, “Uighurs’ today is the Han Chinese peoples’ tomorrow”.

For the more general public inside China – the news has to be more subtle.
While the faces of many of the cadres “interviewed” by CCTV about their “ethnic work” speak volumes, the message itself is that the loving care of the party for the masses earns itself enthusiastic reactions.
The essence of these domestic news: resistance is futile, but then, there’s no reason for resistance, anyway, is there? Our cultural massacres are a beautiful garden.

And for audiences outside China, plain denial is the only possible answer – if that turns out unsuccessful, you can still try to sell the camps in East Turkestan as “vocational schools”.

Shut up and join us – you are part of the United Front

What strikes me most is the wide-spread preparedness among overseas Chinese people to take part in Beijing’s disinformation work.
A desire to be proud of the motherland may be one motivation for that, just as it has been among Chinese at home and abroad since 2008.
Intimidation may be another. As Joanna Chiu noted in a recent article for the “Toronto Star”,

Beijing leaders truly feel anyone of Chinese descent is fair game and they have a right to curtail their freedom of speech years or even generations after they settled abroad.

What Joanna Chiu wouldn’t write either, but what has to be said, is that “socialism with Chinese characteristics” isn’t socialism. It’s full-blown fascism.
Let me apply some of Matthew Lyons definition (the link will take you to more paragraphs):

Fascism is a form of extreme right-wing ideology that celebrates the nation or the race as an organic community transcending all other loyalties. It emphasizes a myth of national or racial rebirth after a period of decline or destruction. To this end, fascism calls for a “spiritual revolution” against signs of moral decay such as individualism and materialism, and seeks to purge “alien” forces and groups that threaten the organic community. Fascism tends to celebrate masculinity, youth, mystical unity, and the regenerative power of violence. Often, but not always, it promotes racial superiority doctrines, ethnic persecution, imperialist expansion, and genocide. At the same time, fascists may embrace a form of internationalism based on either racial or ideological solidarity across national boundaries. Usually fascism espouses open male supremacy, though sometimes it may also promote female solidarity and new opportunities for women of the privileged nation or race.

When you encounter people on Twitter who dedicate many hours of their days to support Beijing’s disinformation work, they won’t necessarily be paid by Beijing. To think that to be the only explanation underestimates Beijing’s success in immunizing its underlings against unwelcome information. You aren’t necessarily dealing with troll factory products. You may be dealing with real-life fascists.

Shut up – you are doing it, too

To enter discussions beyond a few tweets with them may or may not be worth the trouble. In my view, it can be instructive to debate with them when you are aware that “your” side – the West, Japan, India or what have you – are no foreigners to disinformation either. But you won’t get much out of debates with fascists when you can’t stand justified criticism of racism, injustice or other deficits of the society you belong to (or feel you belong to).

On the other hand, you shouldn’t feel discouraged by such expedient “criticism”. When a reported million of Uyghurs is or was in internment camps, some individual stories that emerge internationally may indeed be fake news. China is “re-educating” its nationalities – Han included – on a massive scale, so obviously, some editor will pick the wrong photo or the wrong person.
What you should be aware of is Beijing’s nihilistic script. “You do it too, so even if we did commit atrocities (which we don’t, it’s all fake news), it would be nothing worth to be reported.”
It’s not the West that is running a massive brainwashing program against its own people, it is China that does so. It isn’t the West that is threatening war on its neighbors; it is China.

And while there are places in the West and elsewhere in the world that are rife with racism and bigotry, those aren’t usually run by the state as they are in China. Even most of the “pro-China” guys you meet on Twitter, whitewashing China’s crimes against human rights, would choose a life as a black person in the U.S., rather than an Uyghur’s life in East Turkestan, if they had to choose.

But they can’t admit that. After “a century of humiliation”, they feel that it is time for some fun. After all, they are consumers, too, and “me, me, me & now” is the absolute principle.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Ethnic Work, enthusiastic Reactions (3)

As reported by China Central Television’s (CCTV) main evening news on August 29, CPC secretary-general Xi Jinping’s speech on ethnic work at the Central Ethnic Work Conference in late August has met with an enthusiastic echo from the masses and cadres of all national ethnicities. The following are translations of some of that enthusiastic echo. Every quote is linked to the news program’s online video.

This is part 3 of my translation. Part two is there.

Link 1, 07′ 05”, Li Lin, deputy county secretary of nationwide-ethnic-unity-and-progress-model-collective Jiangyong County in Yongzhou City, Hunan Province:

History and practice have amply proven that the key for doing ethnic work well lies with the party. Our next steps will be to continue the promotion of the deployment and implementation of the “twelve musts”, pointed out by General Secretary Xi Jinping. into refined measures. Promoting the rejuvenation of Yaoxiang Village and accelerating the momentum in the realization of common prosperity, we will let the ordinary people live even happier and better lives.
全国民族团结进步模范集体 湖南永州市江永县委副书记李林
历史和实践充分证明做好民族工作关键在党。接下来我们将对习总书记指出的「十二个必须」一细化量化持续推动党中央决策部署落到实处。在推动瑶乡乡村振兴,加快实现共同富裕等方面持续发力,让老百姓过上更加幸福美好的生活。

Link 2, 07′ 29”, Zhang Jianming, Yidi poverty alleviation community village first secretary, Guizhou Province, Wangmo County:

Most people living in our neighborhood are ethnic minority masses [who are part of the] poverty alleviation and relocation [program]. Specifically, we have established volunteer teams for ethnic minorities service teams to develop industries of characteristic ethnic customs, so as to put the masses of relocated people into a position to develop in a stable manner and to continuously improve the masses’ sense of happiness and security.
贵州省望谟县易地扶贫搬迁小区住村第一书记 张建明
我们所在的这个社区居住的大多数是少数民族易地扶贫搬迁群众。我们专门成立少数民族群众志愿服务队,发展民俗特色产业,让广大搬迁群众稳得住能发展,不断提高群众的幸福感和安全感。

Link 3, 07′ 48”, Yun Guosheng, Inner Mongolia “autonomous region” ethnic affairs committee deputy director:

Inner Mongolia autonomous region is the first etnic autonomous region established under the party’s leadership, and it has a glorious tradition of ethnic unity. The next stop will continue to be an example of promoting ethnic unity, walk the new path of high-quality development with a priority for the ecology and green development as points of reference. We will promote the common prosperoous development of all ethnicities.
内蒙古自治区民族事务委员会副主任云国盛
内蒙古自治区是党领导下成立的第一个民族自治区,具有民族团结的光荣传统。下一步我们将继续在促进民族团结方面做好表率,走好以生态优先,绿色发展为导向的高质量发展新路子,努力促进各民族共同繁荣发展。

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Ethnic Work, enthusiastic Reactions (1)

As reported by China Central Television’s (CCTV) main evening news on August 29, CPC secretary-general Xi Jinping’s speech on ethnic work at the Central Ethnic Work Conference in late August has met with an enthusiastic echo from the masses and cadres of all national ethnicities. The following are translations of some of that enthusiastic echo. Every quote is linked to the news program’s online video.


Link 1, 03′ 28”, Wang Yanzhong (王延中), head of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences’ Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology:

Secretary General’s important speech is a concentrated and innovative, summarized and purified expression of our ethnic work in the new era. Even more so, we continue to promote the construction of socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era. It is especially the promotion of new strategic deployment in the building of ethnic affairs management systems and management abilities.
中国社科院民族学与人类学研究所所长王延中:
总书记的重要讲话是我们新时代民族工作在实践中创新,总结,提炼的一个集中表达,更是我们继续推进新时代中国特色社会主义现代化建设。尤其是在民族工作领域推进民族事务治理体系和治理能力建设的新的战略部署。



Link 2, 03′ 50”, Zhang Mou (张谋), head of the National Affairs Commission’s research department:

We will thoroughly study Xi Jinping’s thoughts concerning the strengthening and improvement of ethnic work, profoundly grasp the work rules shown in the “twelve musts”, firmly seize the distinct central theme of a sense of community among China’s ethnicities, and promote the new era party’s high-quality development of ethnic work.
我们将深入学习总书记关于加强和改进民族工作的重要思想,深刻领会「十二个必须」所揭示的工作规律,牢牢把握铸牢中华民族共同体意识这条鲜明主线,推动新时代党的民族工作高质量发展。



Link 3, 04′ 10”, Maulati Yibulayin [phonetic spelling], a vice director of Xinjiang Uighur “autonomous region’s” Ethnic Affairs Commission:

As ethnic workers, we must profoundly understand the spirit of the Secretary-General’s important speech, and, with the forging of a sense of community among China’s ethnicities as the central theme, guide the continuous improvement of the ethnicities’ recognition of the great motherland, the great Chinese nation, Chinese culture, the Communist Party of China and socialism with Chinese characteristics.
新疆维吾尔自治区民族事务委员会副主任地力毛拉提‧依布拉音
作为民族工作者,我们要深刻领会总书记的重要讲话精神,以铸牢中华民族共同体意识为主线引导各族群众不断增强,对伟大祖国,中华民族,中华文化,中国共产党,中国特色社会主义的认同。

____________
Part 2 is there.
____________

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Guizhou Donkey: Make Yourself at Home

You can serve lousy food, provided that your guests aren’t used to anything better, or because you are their boss and they can’t choose. In either case, it will help when you serve that stuff in a cozy environment. Your guests can make themselves at home – mum cooks as badly as ever.

The same is true for “Huanqiu Shibao, the Chinese sister paper of the English-language “Global Times”. On July 21, they missed (probably sarcastically) a more innovative Western propaganda approach.

huanqiu_headline

“America draws allies into political manipulation”,
Huanqiu Shibao, July 21

Several academics, the paper said, had stated in interviews that the U.S. and their allies, after failed campaigns concerning Hong Kong, Taiwan, or human rights, had now come up with accusations that China was behind cyber attacks. That was the Guizhou donkey’s weak trick.

Here’s the story in English, according to the Chinese online encyclopedia “Baike Baidu”.

Once upon a time, there were no donkeys in Guizhou. Nobody knew what a donkey was. Some day, a man took a donkey to Guizhou. He left it at the foot of a mountain. A tiger in the mountains saw the donkey from afar, heard it braying, and thought: “where does this monster come from? It looks awesome, and I’ll better keep a distance1

Some time passed during which the tiger saw the donkey walk to and fro and bray once in a while. Now the tiger thought: “pretty big pet, I don’t know what it can do, but let me see!”

The tiger approached the donkey unnoticed and touched it. The donkey became angry: “why the hell do you touch me?” Then he kicked with his hooves and missed the tiger two or three times. That’s how the tiger realized: “this donkey*) can’t do anything but kick, he can’t do anything!”

So he opened his mouth to eat the donkey, but the terrified donkey shouted: “don’t get any closer, I can kick you!”

“Kicking people is all you can do,” laughed the tiger, “but I can eat people!” No sooner said than done.

That was turned into a proverb, describing how people manage with makeshift methods that aren’t special. In short: “the donkey’s skills are poor”!

In Chinese, that writes 黔驢技窮 (黔驴技穷, qiánlǘjìqióng), and qián, another word for Guizhou (maybe not exactly the same territory as what it is now), can also be found in a more classical version of the story (Chinese and English there).

So why does “Huanqiu Shibao” use this proverb?
a) “Huanqiu Shibao” skills are poor – they can’t do any better.
b) You mustn’t try to say anything better when it can be said in four characters.
c) It’s cozy (see introduction). No matter how stupid the message is, readers will remember Granny’s bedtime stories and find it trustworthy. They may even feel sort of tiger.


Not the way Granny told it – click picture for video

____________

Notes

*) That’s what the Baike story says – maybe the tiger has gotten to know the donkey’s name, because he’ll only eat what he knows
____________

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Special two-hour transmissions by Radio Taiwan International in German

As custom at Radio Taiwan international‘s (RTI) German service, there will be a number shortwave broadcasts directly from Taiwan this summer, as announced here.

qsl_card_2019_national_radio_museum_minxiong_taiwan

Weekday Dates
Friday July 30, August 6, August 13, August 20.
Saturday July 31, August 7, August 14, August 21.
Sunday August 1, August 8, August 15, August 22.

On each of the above days, there will be a broadcast on 11705 kHz from 17:00 to 18:00 hours UTC and one on 9545 kHz from 18:00 to 19:00 hours UTC.

We can probably expect one hour of different program items per day, at 17:00, repeated at 18:00 UTC. RTI’s German program output per day is about sixty minutes, but routinely, only half of it is aired on shortwave, as regular broadcasts via the Kostinbrod relay in Bulgaria are only 30 minutes long. The remaining half is provided online.

Monday, July 19, 2021

Center for China and Globalization develops “new narrative system”

The following is my translation of an excerpt from a book review by a Chinese think tank named Center for China and Globalization (全球化智库), (re)published by a number of Chinese online media. The book is probably CCG’s own work. The review and the content related there should not be too easily thought of as a possible new trend in Chinese public diplomacy unless it is echoed elsewhere in Chinese politics. An article published by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute contains some information about the think tank’s work abroad and its background.

My translation may contain mistakes. Corrections are welcome.

Links within blockquotes added during translation.

[…]

Based on CCG’s practice of track-II diplomacy, this book summarizes the ten experiences CCG went through while developing a new narrative system. Specifically, CCG, in new international narrative exchanges, CCG emphasizes the following aspects.

基于CCG二轨外交的实践,本书总结了CCG打造新叙事体系的十条经验:具体来说,CCG国际交流新叙事注重以下几个方面:

1. Look at China’s topics from a global perspective, talk more about common values and emphasize universality. Let China’s voice in globalization be heard.

第一,全球化视野思考中国问题,多说共同价值,多讲普遍性,向世界发出中国的全球化声音;

2. Less conceptional advocacy1), and more objective and reasonable ways of expression. Use facts and figures. Talk more about China’s contributions to globalization, and tell China’s story from a multilateralist point of view.

第二,少理念倡导,多客观理性表达,用事实与数据说话。多讲中国对全球化的贡献,从多边角度讲中国故事;

3. Be modest but self-confident, tolerant but not without a position of your own. Practice mutual respect and an interlocutory attitude, without an aim of defeating your counterpart, communicate your own ideas and communicate effectively.

第三,谦和而自信,包容而有立场,相互尊重,对话姿态,不以博倒对方为目的,传递自身理念,做有效沟通;

4. Innovate the popularized narrative discourse system, all-embracing, narrating your case multi-levelled and multi-angledly, from the perspectives of politics, diplomacy, trade, human affairs, and individual experience. Above all, analyze the logic of China’s development with inside information about concrete details of Chinese culture.

第四,创新民间化叙事话语体系,兼容并包,从政治、外交、商业、人文、个体经验多层次多角度讲述个案。尤其通过讲述中国文化底蕴分析中国现实发展逻辑;

5. Take interviews from international mainstream media and make yourself heard on international social media.

第五,接受国际主流媒体访问,通过国际社交媒体发声;第六,走出去主动参与国际主流轮坛平台,积极发言交流;

6. Go out and participate in international mainstream forum platforms, speak out actively and communicate socially.

第六,走出去主动参与国际主流轮坛平台,积极发言交流;

7. Actively set an agenda and expand the topic’s impact on international mainstream platforms.

第七,主动设置议题,在国际主流平台扩大议题影响力;

8. Be creative in building new types of international exchange platforms. Constructively initiate new types of multilateral international organizations.

第八,创造性搭建新型国际交流平台,建设性发起新型多边国际组织。

9. Take the courage to face different opinions, make contact with a multitude of interlocutors. Establish wide-ranged exchange and dialogue in Chinese and foreign political, business, academic and research circles. Promote track-II diplomacy.

第九,勇于直面不同意见,接触多元交流对象,在中外政商学研界建立广泛交流与对话,促进民间二轨外交。

10. Keep up with international and domestic points of strong [public] interest, be flexible in strengthening the think tank’s2) influence through a multitude of channels and methods.

第十,及时紧跟国际国内热点,灵活通过多渠道多方式传播增强智库影响力。

[…]

____________

Notes

 1  conceptual advocacy is just my guess for the Chinese term for 理念倡导 – to argue in favor of a topic, approach, or perspective. It may as well be translated as <em>idea advocacy</em>.
  2   the think tank in question here should be CCG.
Saturday, July 3, 2021

Radio Taiwan International Shortwave Test Transmissions 2021 to Europe (updated)


Radio Taiwan International‘s (RTI) German service has announced test transmissions from Tamsui transmitter site, northwestern Taiwan, targeting central Europe on July 17 (UTC).

Time (UTC) Frequency
from to
17:00 17:10 11995 kHz
17:15 17:25 11705 kHz
18:00 18:10 9545 kHz
18:15 18:25 7250 kHz
RTI QSL: Shennong Street, Tainan

RTI QSL: Shennong Street, Tainan
中央廣播電臺 QSL卡: 台南 神農街

According to RTI, the two frequencies that do best during the tests will be chosen for one-hour transmissions that start later this month, and continue into August, apparently every week from Friday through Sunday. It sounds like a pretty ambitious schedule, and if lucky, we will get to listen to programs that are usually only available online as those broadcasts will be 60 minutes each.

Normally, Radio Taiwan International’s German service only broadcasts one half-hour program a day on shortwave, but its actual program output (shortwave and online) is about 60 minutes per day.
RTI welcomes reception reports.

Sunday, June 6, 2021

External Propaganda: Cai Mingzhao’s then, Xi Jinping’s now?

30th_politburo_study_session

Politburo’s 30th study session, Xinwen Lianbo, June 1, 2021

English-speaking Chinese media translate 传播 (chuánbō) as “communication” – as in this English-language rendition of a Xi speech on May 31, to the “30th collective study session of the CPC politburo. I don’t quite trust the translation, because there is a Chinese habit of making Chinese terms more palatable to a foreign audience by using not-quite-the-closest possible translation.

As a shortwave user, the most familiar translation to me would be propagation, which may stand for a process of information flow, “transmissions of impulses (or triggers) to influence the behavior of others” (传播就是某个人传递刺激以影响另一些人行为的过程), or “social information flows and the information of social information systems” (郭庆光定义传播是社会資訊的流动和社会資訊系统的运行). All that, and more, plus propaganda, I suppose.

So, the official Chinese translation for chuánbō would be communication. But China Copyright and Media, in an October 2013 translation of an article by Cai Mingzhao, director of the State Council Information Office’s Foreign Propaganda Office at the time, referred to chuánbō as dissemination. It’s a translation that leaves room for a lot of interpretation.

What strikes me when reading the China Copyright and Media translation of nearly eight years ago is its similarity with Xi’s speech of May 31. Back then, Cai Mingzhao, the State Council of Information Office’s external propaganda bureau at the time, discussed the future priorities in public diplomacy work in the light of Xi Jinping’s recent speech at the National Propaganda and Ideology Work Conference.

While Xi’s national propaganda conference speech in August 2013 had contained some referals to external propaganda, too, most of it had been about propaganda in general, and ideological work within China. In fact, I’m under the impression that in his May 31 speech, which focused exclusively on external propaganda, Xi borrowed heavily from Cai Mingzhao’s 2013 article.

You can contrast these two English renditions: one by China Daily on June 2, i. e. four days ago, reflecting Xi’s speech, and one by China Copyright and Media, in October 2013, translating Cai Mingzhao’s article.

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