Archive for ‘press review’

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Emphasizing District-Level Cooperation and Mass Work: Xinhua reviews Xi Jinping’s State Visit

The following is a translation of an article published by Xinhua news agency on Tuesday. Links within blockquotes added during translation.

Chairman Xi Jinping’s first [update/correction: state] visit to America has been successfully concluded. It hasn’t only brought the nervous talk about qualitative changes in Sino-American relations to an end, but it also provided the global economy with positive expectations, successfully managed differences and risks, and to the Asia-Pacific and even to the world’s peace and stability, it has brought positive energy.


This shows once again that the new type of big-power relations between China and America are possible, feasible, and projectable. On the road of building [these relations], some indications can be found:


— From the bottom to the top. America’s elites, particularly its strategic elites, are worried about China, talk negatively about the direction of Sino-American relations, while the the district levels and common people are less affected by ideological and national-security interference, with a positive development for Sino-American relations. As for American diplomacy, Chairman Xi therefore particularly emphasized regional and local cooperation and doing mass work, to explore how the roads of the Chinese dream and the American dream are interlinked.


— Adding to the existing quantities. Bilateral Sino-American trade is at an annual average of six-hundred billion US dollars, and Chinese investment in America is expected to rise to 200 billion US dollars by 2020. American diplomacy constantly digs into the potentials of economic cooperation, [no translation found]. The Sino-American Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) is considered important by both sides.


— Shelving smaller differences from common ground. China and America are the world’s leading powers, and interest conficts are inevitable. What matters is mutual respect, to follow the principles of no clashes and no confrontation [or antagonism], to strive for common ground while setting small aside differences. For example, in the previous stir about internet hacking issues, the theft of trade secrets was a small [legal] case, while the common ground is about rules for an open internet, with great peace and security. Having grasped this trend, through the U.S.-China Internet Industry Forum and other activities, and the promotion of network cooperation, had become a highlight of Chairman Xi Jinping’s visit to America. Arriving at consensus concerning the joint statement on climate change and other issues, and having built a solid foundation for the United Nations Climate Change Conference to be held in Paris at the end of this year, are commended by the world.


[Global order issues / One-Belt-one-Road initiative / U.S. concerns alleviated]

[global governance]

The Chinese and American path of establishing new-type big-power relations is constantly explored further. Chairman Xi Jinping’s visit to America has provided an example for this kind of exploration, directing the focus on the future development of Sino-American relations, and an example for the new-type big-power relations of the 21rst century.




» Safe for democracy, Wikipedia, acc. Oct 6, 2015
» Safe for authoritarianism, FP, June 4, 2015
» No meeting without substance,Oct 2, 2015
» Your sea is our sea, July 16, 2015


Friday, October 2, 2015

Leadership Styles: No Meeting without Substance

The Taipei Times compared Pope Francis‘ and Xi Jinping‘s leadership styles: the Chinese traveller to America was outwardly strong and internally weak, while the Roman-Argentinian was the exact opposite, the paper wrote in an online article on Tuesday. As a man who kept close to the public, was met with large crowds of people wherever he went and held Mass for almost 1 million people, the Pope had been a perfect example of soft power.

That was a bit like lauding a model mineworker for churning out tons of coal every day, and criticizing a goldsmith for not doing likewise – or vice versa.

Soft power abroad? Quite a number of Chinese people – especially Chinese people with some exposure to foreign cultures and hurt feelings – may long for it, and the Economist logically threatened Xi with something worse than criticism: neglect. But the politburo could care less. As long as the results are satisfactory – and as long as people at home can be made believe that Americans (not just at Boeing) could hardly wait for the Chinese visitor, everything is staying the desirable course.

But what are the results?

The two sides reached broad consensus and achieved a number of positive results, Ta Kung Pao (Hong Kong) wrote on Sunday:

According to a list published by the Chinese ministry of commerce on September 26, the major consensus and results reached by the two sides can be counted as 49 points, fitting into five big categories. Obama, on his own initiative, reiterated that America maintained the one-China principle and did not support “Taiwan independence”, “Tibet independence”, “Xinjiang independence”, and that America would not get involved in Hong Kong affairs.*)


According to Xinhua reports, Xi Jinping made important suggestions concerning the next stage of Sino-American relations, emphasizing the need to promote Sino-American relations that would always develop along the correct track. The two sides agreed to continue efforts to build Sino-American great-power relations of a new type. He [Xi] also emphasized that the Chinese nation was highly sensitive about matters concerning China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. He hoped that America would scrupulously abide by the relevant promises, not to support any action aimed at harming China’s unity and stability.


In this regard, Obama, on his own initiative, reiterated that America maintained the one-China principle, scrupulously abided by the principles of the three Sino-US Joint Communiqués, and that this position would not change. America did not support “Taiwan independence”, “Tibetan independence”, and “Xinjiang independence”, and would not get involved in Hong Kong affairs. This is the second time after denying American connection to Hong Kong’s “Occupy Central”, during the APEC summit last year, that Obama stated his position.*)


The 49 projects, results and consensus concern the five great fields of Sino-American great-power relations of a new type, practical bilateral cooperation, Asia-Pacific affairs, international affairs, and global challenges. Among these, nearly twenty negotiation points pertaining to financial and trade cooperation and the Sino-American Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT), awaited by all circles, have made progress. The information published by the Chinese ministry of information pointed out that both the Chinese and American leader had reiterated that to reach a high-level investment agreement was “the most important economic issue between the two countries”, and that both sides had agreed to strongly push the negotiations and to accelerate the work.


The Chinese achievement list unequivocally mentions: “The two countries’ leaders reiterate that to reach a high-level investment agreement is “the most important economic issue between the two countries”, and both sides agree to “strongly push the negotiations and to accelerate the work, so as to reach a mutually beneficial, double-win, high-level investment agreement”.


China Institute of International Studies researcher Yang Xiyu says that this position [held by] the two heads of state was of historical significance, meaning that the world’s biggest developed and the world’s biggest developing country could, as fast as possible, achieve BIT, and that the world’s two biggest economic entities achieving BIT will raise the long-awaited effects, further solidifying the foundations of mutual trust in trade.



Within the list of achievements, several points of consensus have been reached concerning Sino-American network security cooperation, such as China and America agreeing that each country’s government must not engage in, or knowingly support, the stealing of intellectual property rights, including trade secrets, and other classified trade information. China and America committed themselves to jointly define and promote appropriate standards of international society conduct on the internet, and to establish a high-level, joint dialogue system between the two countries, to strike at cyber crime and related issues. A number of American experts said that this was an important outcome of this [Xi] visit, and that strengthening cooperation about network security was a really important field of work in Sino-American relations. Indiana University professor and high-level Council of Foreign Relations network security researcher David P. Fidler believes that the two countries’ having achieved this consensus is “of major significance, and welcome news”.


The two sides will also strengthen anti-corruption cooperation, strengthen high-speed rail cooperation, strengthen cultural exchange cooperation, and reach consensus in reaction to global challenges, broaden practical cooperation on bilateral, regional and global levels, and manage and control differences and sensitive issues in a constructive manner, continuously achieving new positive results.


A benevolent label for these outcomes could be progress, and an accurate one would be unverifiable progress. It’s sort of obvious that Washington and Beijing wouldn’t issue a snafu statement at the end of the talks. What Beijing might consider a real achievement, however, is the prevention of an exchange of sanctions in the wake of the “network security”, i. e. hack-and-spy, controversies. That doesn’t go without saying – news coverage during late summer pointed to a chance that this could happen.

Hong Kong website Fenghuang (or Ifeng), in an article on September 22, attributed much of the success in defusing the conflicts to a visit by a delegation to Washington from September 9 to 12:

China attaches great importance to Sino-American relations and their future development, and does not ignore the concrete problems that occupy America.


From September 9 – 12, politburo member and the central committee’s political and judicial committee secretary Meng Jianfu visited America in his capacity as Xi Jinping’s special envoy, together with [a delegation of] responsibles at offices for public security, the judiciary, network communication, etc.. He had talks with secretary of state John Kerry, homeland security secretary Jeh Johnson, national security adviser Susan Rice, and other central [US] authorities, to exchange views about cyber crime and other outstanding problems, and to achieve important consensus. Meng Jianzhu’s trip broke with old habits. Under Xi Jinping’s leadership, China’s diplomacy has become more direct and more practical.

9月9日至12日,中共中央政治局委员、中央政法委书记孟建柱以 习近平特使身份,率公安、安全、司法、网信等部门有关负责人访问美国,同美国国务卿克里、国土安全部部长约翰逊、总统国家安全事务助理赖斯等核心部门举行 会谈,就共同打击网络犯罪等突出问题深入交换意见,达成重要共识。中央政法委书记作为特使,打破以往惯例,习近平治下的中国外交更加直接务实。

That, and some more soothing soundbytes from Beijing, appeared to have had their effect on Washington, suggests Fenghuang:

On September 16, Obama made remarks about cyber security again, but according to Reuters, America will not impose sanctions on so-called “cyber attacks” before Xi Jinping’s visit, and maybe not afterwards either.


After all, the main goal of the Obama administration had been to put pressure on Beijing, and to address domestic complaints, the Fenghuang article believed.

What looks credible – because it’s said to be long-established practice anyway – is that whatever consensus was indeed there between Washington and Beijing had been reached before Xi Jinping even set foot on American soil.

When he reached the American West Coast from Beijing, he meant business, not soft power – although there’s probably something charming to a 300-aircraft order form, at least among the stakeholders. The traditional microcosms were also conscientiously cultivated, even if Winston Ross of Newsweek was not convinced:

[Xi Jinping’s] handlers, who had corralled me and the reporters from the Associated Press, Bloomberg and the Los Angeles Times for the previous hour in anticipation of this exchange, apparently assumed we all spoke Mandarin. The Times reporter shot me a bewildered look. I shrugged. Xi said something to Oregon Governor Kate Brown that she found hilarious. We asked for a transcript of his remarks. We were not given one.

That occasion, Xi’s first stop – i. e. the meeting with American governors and Chinese provincial governors -, wasn’t (much) about substance, Ross alleged. He could have known better, even without translation: maintaining contacts between many layers of business and politics – not just the top echelons – is both a Chinese move to keep contacts going even if top-level relations between China and another country should deteriorate. Besides, while Confucius Institutes and other means of  indoctrination soft power may face some scrutiny at federal or central governments of democratic countries, regional authorities may lack the resources that such scrutiny would require.

Chinese central leaders waste no time with unsubstantial meetings. They waste no time with soft-power ambitions either. It’s the technology, stupid.



*) VoA has a somewhat different take on this: according to their newsarticle on Wednesday, Obama referred to both the Three Joint Communiqués, and the Taiwan Relations Act, and that had been the only public remarks made about Taiwan during Xi’s state visit in Washington. Ta Kung Pao omitted the mention of the TRA.



» Joint Press Conference, White House, Sept 25, 2015
» Six-point proposal, Xinhua, Sept 25, 2015


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Weekend Links: O2O Business in China

Warning: JR is trying to explain the economy to himself. His word pool and previous knowledge about this topic are shaky, and the following may or may not make sense – you’ll have only have yourselves to blame if you base your homework (or investment decisions) on this post.

Going “Brick-and-Mortar”

Let’s get industrial. O2O is about [people] buying things online, but collecting them from a shop on their side of the computer or smartphone – or having the stuff delivered to their doorstep. But China’s woefully inefficient logistics network .. acts as a brake on e-commerce growth, the Economist wrote in August, and that leads to online retailers seeking “brick-and-mortar” outlets to increase the points of delivery and to make their goods more accessible for their online customers.

Dalian Wanda Group’s (万达集团) and Suning Commerce Group (苏宁云商) are a recent example in the news. Wanda’s property development section (the company’s other major trades would be culture and tourism)  provides department stores or plazas all over the country, and Suning Commerce Group is a retailer with reportedly more than 1600 stores across mainland China, Hong Kong, and Japan. The two have signed a cooperation agreement: Suning will open stores at Wanda Plazas throughout the country, Reuters wrote on September 6.

National Soft Power, too

China News Service (CNS) explained, on September 7:

Suning coming into play is a direct result of an upgrade at Wanda. Wang Jianlin has long indicated that the answer would be revealed on this day.


The adjustments had been watched by many skeptical observers for about half a year, without Wang Jianlin providing much of a response during all the time, according to CNS. But as for Wanda’s department stores, or plazas, CNS has reassuring news:

Are Wanda’s stores really as bad as comments from outside suggest? Not at all. One one occasion, in an internal meeting, Wang Jianlin revealed that nearly half of the Wanda stores were incurring losses, but that the other half of them were profitable. He was in a position to cut the outlets that were incurring heavy losses, optimize the portfolio, and then have a attractive story to tell to the Hong Kong capital markets, with a beautiful financial report.


The CNS article also points out that Wanda became involved in the culture industry in 2012.

Compared with real estate business, the contribution the culture segment could make to [the Wanda group’s] revenues and profits was very low, but it perfectly fitted into the strategic requirements of the national advancement of soft power, and its synergy effects with real estate, tourism, and other trades was obvious. As big onlooking companies  from the real estate began to recognize [Wanda’s approach], they scrambled to emulate it.


CNS also refers to the acquisistion of AMC Theatres (AMC Cinemas), and Infront Sports and Media, and offers an explanation as to why such acquisitions would make sense, and concludes:

There are many more such examples. Every draw in this game of chess was made not from a spur of the moment, but as a move taken after careful consideration, serving the transformation plan for the entire Wanda group. This is also true for the adjustments of the stores, and the introduction of Suning.


The message provided by CCTV’s website for the foreign audience is equally heartwarming:

The Wanda Group, headed by Asia’s richest man Wang Jianlin, seems unstoppable.

Complementary illustration ...

Complementary illustration …

The Financial Times, in an online article published on August 6, isn’t quite that enthusiastic – although, it should be said, their misgivings aren’t about the Wanda-Suning romance which was only made public in September, but about the O2O industry in general. Rising labor costs could hamper the business model, and it is not entirely clear what lasting new business models will emerge.

That said, if O2O is really a lifestyle, as suggested by Chinaskinny, the question might come up, sooner or later, if and how costs play a role in that customer “hobby”, and if the promises it makes to the supplier side are sustainable, For sure, the example of the nail specialists who can make so much more per hour, if based on O2O, is all over the internet, as observed by the FT.



» Baidu Q3 forecast, TechCrunch, July 27, 2015
» Traditional Industries, new Bones, April 17, 2015
» Central Committee Cultural Decision, Oct 28, 2011


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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


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”.


“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.


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


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

《 人民日报 》( 2015年04月10日 21 版)



» 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.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Propaganda: After the Tianjin Explosions

If there’s a jetset of politicians, press people, propaganda workers etc. who discuss their work-related issues candidly, nation-building propaganda may play a role these days. It’s nothing new, but fashions come and go in waves – these are interesting times. The idea that disaster and death might be successfully used to develop stronger “social cohesion”, stronger and more sustainable nationalism etc. is sometimes noticeable in Radio Ukraine International‘s international broadcasts, and the concept also seems to shine through in Chinese media when it comes to more “ordinary” risks of life, such as the Tianjin explosions, for example. This seems to be nation-building propaganda. Sure, the Ruihai Logistics disaster is a local matter, but it gets national coverage, and Jimmy Lai’s Next Media suggests that a main shareholder of Ruihai were a nephew of former permanent politburo member Li Ruihuan.*) (This should be taken with a pinch of salt however; Nextmedia itself only writes that “there is information” in mainland China that this were so.)

While the CCP appears to be searching for more contemporary (i. e. refined) ways of controlling public opinion, the following is certainly a good sample of the (state) propaganda of choice, while a BBC article describes how less desirable views from the public are removed by the censors.

Xinwen Lianbo on August 13, 
with coverage from Tianjin 
(click picture for video)

Xinwen Lianbo on August 13, (click picture for video)

Main Link: “8-12” Ruihai Company Explosion at Chemical Warehouse at Tianjin Port / Binhai New Area: showing love by searching people, not leaving post Day and Night

Note: Links within blockquotes added during translation.

(Binhai New Area described by Wikipedia.)

Lead: There are two small relocation camps, with two tracing notes on a wall that are particularly eye-catching: “Looking for Pan Ruhua”, and “Feng Guangjie of Yuanda Waiqiang, if he sees this notice, is asked to contact his relatives”. … Behind every notice, there’s a family’s hope. Zhang Yulian is volunteering at the people search. Her job is to help scattered people to reunite with their relatives …

内容提要:在开发区二小安置点,一面贴满了寻人信息的墙格外惹眼,“寻人、潘汝华”“远大外墙的冯广杰,看到信息请及时与亲人联系” ……每一张纸背后是一个家庭的希望,张玉莲是一名“寻人”志愿者,她所作的事情,是帮助失散的人们和亲人团聚……

Tianjin Enorth Net news: In the afternoon of August 14, when Enorth reporter met with 59-year-old Zhang Yulian, she hadn’t been without sleep for one day and one night.


There are two small relocation camps, with two tracing notes on a wall that are particularly eye-catching: “Looking for Pan Ruhua”, and “Feng Guangjie of Yuanda Waiqiang, if he sees this notice, is asked to contact his relatives”. … Behind every notice, there’s a family’s hope. Zhang Yulian is volunteering at the people search. Her job is to help scattered people to reunite with their relatives. “As long as it is needed, we will remain in action,” says Zhang Yulian.

在开发区二小安置点,一面贴满了寻人信息的墙格外惹眼,“寻人、潘汝华”“远大外墙的冯广杰,看到信息请及时与亲人联系” ……每一张纸背后是一个家庭的希望,张玉莲是一名“寻人”志愿者,她所做的事情,是帮助失散的人们和亲人团聚。“只要有需要,我们就行动。”张玉莲说。

From right after the “8-12” Ruihai Company Explosion at Chemical Warehouse at Tianjin Port, Zhang Yulian, who had heard the news on her return from Guangzhou, didn’t hesitate to leave her family in Beichen District and hurried to the two small relocation camps in the development zone. Here, Zhang Yuli, who had done volunteering work in Guangzhou for many years, joined the volunteering ranks [in Binhai New Area].


I came to the relocation camp on August 13, at noon, and a lot of people are needed for help, as there’s a lot to do.” Zhang Yulian says, “right when I arrived here, I and other volunteers helped conveying supplies and to maintain order.”


After a short while, Zhang Yulian found that for many people, after the accident, was to know if their relatives were safe. From the moment Zhang Yulian arrived at the relocation camp, all the time, she could see anxious citizens searching for their relatives. This touched her. I can understand how they feel. After an accident, the most important thing is to know if your family people are well.” Therefore, Zhang Yulian felt that maybe, she could do something more important herself.


Therefore, beginning at noon on August 13, “people search notes” were collected, and put on a wall at the two relocation camps, it became a place for citizens to post their notices concerning missing people. Dozens of notes were posted here, with the names and  physical descriptions of the missing people, and contact phone numbers. Zhang Yulian firmly stays on her post, she hasn’t slept for one day and one night. To provide convenience to the citizens, Zhang Yulian and other volunteers have paper and pens ready, and every people-search notice is pasted to the wall once written to assist the citizens who pass by, and the volunteers, when getting to other relocation camps, gather information about missing people there, too, register the information, and take it back to the two small relocation camps in the development zone. On every piece of information, the volunteers act on their own initiative, make efforts to spread information through friends circles on We Chat, micro blogs and similar channels, and to mobilize relatives and friends to join the ranks of the volunteers.


Since midday on August 13, every message has been retransmitted hundreds of times, and within just a day, this small “people-search wall has helped five families to find lost relatives. Wei Lin is a volunteer at the two relocation camps in the development zone, and by these hand-written notes about missing people, she found her missing mother. That moment  made Zhang Yulian happier than what can be expressed by words. To make information accessible as quickly as possible for citizens coming here, Zhang Yulian hasn’t left her post and doesn’t even move away from it just a bit. Late at night, she would take a nap once in a while. When someone arrives, seeking information, she gets up right away and warmly helps them to write down information, so as to spread the news by all means available.


Among the many search notes, there’s one about a firefighter that particularly worries people: “Hu Yue, male, Tianjin Port Police fire brigade member”. To Zhang Yulian’s sorrow, despite all efforts the volunteers have made to spread information, up to now, no information about this firefighter has been obtained. Firefighters are fighting in the first line of battle, and his family people haven’t been able to contact him. That’s really worrying. It makes me feel particularly anxious, too, because I haven’t been able to help.” Zhang Yulian says that “as a next step, the volunteers are are trying to find broader channels to spread information, hoping to be able to get information about this firefighter as soon as possible.”


Zhang Yulian, who is nearing her mid-fifties [or mid-sixties? – 六旬], isn’t in very good health, hasn’t tired. “I feel motivated, and that keeps me up. I have a responsibility; I have an obligation to do these things,” says Zhang Yulian.

对于年近六旬的张玉莲来说,她的身体状况并不是很好,然而30多个小时的坚守,她并没喊过累,“我觉得有一股动力在支撑着我,我有责任、有义务来做这些事情。”张玉莲说。(北方网新媒体记者晁丹 付文超 董立景 蒲永河)



*) Hat tip to Gil who mentioned this on his blog earlier today.



» 只要有1%的希望, Tianjin Daily / Enorth, Aug 14, 2015
» Chemicals not yet determined, Xinhua (English), Aug 14, 2015
» More than 3,500 residents in shelters, BBC, Aug 13, 2015
» At Ease, June 7, 2014


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”.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Politburo after Guo Boxiong’s Expulsion: “the Party and People have always trusted the Troops”

The blockquotes underneath are my translation of a Xinhua article of Thursday, republished by Shijiazhuang News online on Friday. Today is Army Day in China.

Alleged crime problem and indications may sound a bit strange to the reader, but then, the current investigations against former top “People’s Liberation Army” generals may indeed constitute unchartered waters for the party disciplinary structures and the judicial authorities.

Guo Boxiong (郭伯雄) was a “People’s Liberation Army” general, prior to his retirement in 2012, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission between 2002 and 2012, and, according to an article by the South China Morning Post (SCMP) in April this year, the second top officer from former president Hu Jintao’s administration to fall, after General Xu Caihou (徐才厚) who had been under investigation from March 2014 until his death in March 2015.

While the SCMP emphasizes the belonging of the two top military officials to the Hu Jintao era, Bo Zhiyue, of the New Zealand Contemporary China Research Centre, suggests that Guo Boxiong and Xu Caihou had been loyal supporters of former party, state, and CMC chairman Jiang Zemin.

Now no longer a powerful member of the nomenklatura, Guo Boxiong will probably face court-martial, like any military under criminal suspicion. (I’m not quite sure what the article translated below means by to pass his alleged serious bribery crime problems and indications to the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, authorizing it to handle the military prosecution  organs’ legal proceedings in accordance with the law. Maybe I’m just stumbling across my own translation mistake.

Main Link:
Passing on Guo Boxiong’s alleged Crime Problems and indications to the Judicial Authorities / 将郭伯雄涉嫌犯罪问题及线索移送司法机关依法处理


Xinhua Newsagency, Beijing, July 30, 2015 — On July 30, the politburo held a meeting and examined and approved the Central Military Commission’s Commission for Discipline Inspection’s report on the situation of organizing the investigation and suggestions on handling [the issue of] of Guo Boxiong and decided to expell Guo Boxiong from the party as punishment, and to pass his alleged serious bribery crime problems and indications to the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, authorizing it to handle the military prosecution  organs’ legal proceedings in accordance with the law.

新华社北京7月30日电 7月30日,中共中央政治局会议审议并通过中央军委纪律检查委员会《关于对郭伯雄组织调查情况和处理意见的报告》,决定给予郭伯雄开除党籍处分,对其涉嫌严重受贿犯罪问题及线索移送最高人民检察院授权军事检察机关依法处理。

On April 9, the CCP Central Committee decided to arrange an investigation of Guo Boxiong, in line with the party’s disciplinary regulations. According to the investigation, Guo Boxiong took advantage of his job to attain promotion for others, taking bribes directly and through family people, seriously violating party discipline, and allegedly being involved in taking bribes, under serious circumstances and with abominable effects.


The politburo believes that the severe investigation and punishment of Guo Buxiong’s alleged crime problem amply expresses the steadfast political determination of the central committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as its secretary general to strictly govern the party, to strictly govern the military in accordance with the law, and makes it clear that the central committee firmly and unshakably fights against corruption. The entire party and the entire military must fully understand that the struggle of building the party working style and honest government remains in a serious and complicated situation, and firmly and unshakably continue to deepen the struggle of building the party working style and honest government, and the struggle against corruption. Everyone, his powers may be great or small, his position may be high or low, will be severely investigated and punished with no tolerance and with tough hands.


The meeting has emphasized that all party levels must strengthen education, management, supervision especially of cadres, especially senior leaders, that [all party levels] must strengthen the struggle against corruption and advocate the construction of honest government, play a role in the restraining effects of law, regulations and discipline, promote an effective mechanism where corruption isn’t dared, can’t be done, and isn’t wanted, incessantly achieving new results in building the new party working style, honest government, and in the struggle against corruption. All leading cadres must solidly establish the Marxist worldview, philosophy, values, consciously strengthen the party’s cultivation, strictly observe the party’s political discipline and political rules, establish correct concepts of power [and/or justice, 权力观], status, benefit, they must take the lead in fulfilling the three requirements of being strict and real*), take the lead in abiding by the regulations honestly and with self-discipline, take the lead in fighting corruption, consciously go through temptations and tests, and always preserve the progressiveness and purity of the party.


The meeting emphasized that the people’s army has always been trusted by the party and the people. Ever since the beginning of reform and opening up [in December 1978], under the strong leadership of the party’s central committee, striking accomplishments have been achieved in building national defense and the military. The people’s army has made major contributions in the defense of the country’s sovereignty, security, development benefits, and the protection of the people’s peaceful life and in similar fields. All authorities in all localities must continue to support the construction and reform of the military as they have in the past, safeguard and promote the unity between the army and the government and the army and the people, so as to provide guarantees for achieving the goal of a strong military. All levels of the military must deepen and grasp ideological construction and work style construction, conscientiously implement the spirit of the PLA all-army political work meeting, support the leading role of ideology, support troop training and war preparedness, support head-on strictness, serve as living examples of what they teach, continue and further develop the party’s and troops’ glorious traditions and excellent working style, forever preserve the natural political color of the people’s troops, ensure a high degree of stability and centralized unity, incessantly bind together the strong positive energy (正能量) of a strong army.




*) see footnote 2) there »



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