Archive for ‘Taiwan’

Saturday, November 24, 2018

“Deep-green,” but not the DPP’s candidate: Taipei’s Mayor wins another term

Taiwan’s municipal elections ended in a mostly blue (KMT) night, with the DPP apparently winning only in six cities or counties, and losing their stronghold in Kaohsiung to the KMT.

And the DPP people may still consider themselves lucky. After all, they had done their best to hand Taipei over to a KMT government, too, by nominating a DPP candidate instead of supporting independent candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) as they had done four years earlier. Taipei’s election result has been extremely narrow. According to Wikipedia (as accessed today), Ke got 580,820 votes, compared with 577,566 for Ting Shou-chung (丁守中), his KMT competitor, and only 244,641 for the DPP contender.

Taiwan’s Central News Agency (CNA) points out that Ting lost to Ko with a difference of only 3,254 votes, i. e. less than 3 per mill, and that in accordance with the law, a sequester of the ballots and a check of the vote-counts accuracy can be requested from a court. (根據台北市選舉委員會的資料,尋求連任的市長柯文哲獲得58萬820票,當選台北市長。丁守中輸柯文哲3254票,差距小於有效票數的千分之3,依法可向法院聲請查封及驗票。)*)

CNA:

After a deadlock of ten hours, Ke Wen-je won with 580,820 votes (41.05%) over Ding Shouzhong’s 577,566 votes (40.82%), with only 3,254 votes separating the two, which made this result the closest ever since the 1994 Taipei mayoral elections.

歷經逾10小時僵持,柯文哲以58萬0820票、41.05%得票率,擊敗丁守中的57萬7566票、40.82%,2人差距僅3254票,為1994年台北市長選舉以來,勝負雙方差距最小一次。

Ke Wen-je arrived at Four-four South Village at 2:35 in the morning, accompanied by Hsieh Ho-hsien‘s song “Taiwan’s Future.”

柯文哲在凌晨2時35分抵達四四南村,在歌手謝和弦「台灣的未來」歌聲下慢慢走到舞台,沿途獲得支持者熱烈歡迎與歡呼,而他的妻子陳佩琪、柯爸柯承發、柯媽何瑞英也在台上陪伴。

Not just Taipei’s, apparently. If the DPP would endorse him (on a national level) is a different question. Ko is still an independent, and – according to a Taiwan-based blog – about as gaffe-prone as Pasuya Yao. But either way, Pasuya Yao, not Ko, was the DPP’s candidate for the Taipei mayoral elections.

Ko’s relationship with the DPP has been somewhat uneasy recently, although “being deep-green is” his background.

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Note

*) According to Radio Taiwan International‘s (RTI) English service, Ting Shou-chung, the KMT candidate, is contesting the election results.

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Related

Tsai steps down as DPP chair, RTI, Nov 24, 2018

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Sunday, October 14, 2018

National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts inaugurated

National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts, or Weiwuying (Military Camp) National Arts and Cultural Center, was inaugurated by President Tsai Ing-wen on Saturday. UDN TV posted a video in February 2015, with explanations given in English, while the building and the park were under construction.

The first three minutes in English – material provided by the Dutch architects – is followed by an interview in Chinese. From the 12th minute, there is some more of the English-language material.

The pipe organ – reportedly the biggest one in Asia – was built by a company from Bonn, Germany. According to its website, it’s also the biggest one the company has built to date.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Seeking “Discourse Power”, Taipei plans to merge Radio Taiwan International, CNA, and Public Television

Note: Links within blockquotes added during translation.

A short article on the website of Public Media Alliance, an international, UK-based association of public broadcasters, reported early this year that Taiwan’s ministry of culture was drafting legislation to integrate the country’s public television services (PTS), the Central News Agency (CNA) and Radio Taiwan International (RTI) “into one independent organisation”.

Radio Taiwan International QSL, 2018

The draft appears to be taking shape now, and rapidly so: CNA reported on Thursday last week that

Since minister of culture Cheng Li-chun‘s appointment, a review of public broadcasting corporations have been conducted, and so far, the ministry of culture has, after communicating, consulting and engaging in dialog with Public Television Service Foundation, Chinese Television System, Central News Agency, Radio Taiwan International‘s boards of directors, labor union representatives, and experts and scholars, reached a consensus, completed a legislative draft, and announced it to the public today.

文化鄭麗君部長上任以來,即啟動公廣集團發展之檢討,自106年7月迄今,文化部已跟公視基金會、華視、中央通訊社、中央廣播電臺的董事會、工會代表及專家學者們召開十幾場諮詢會議,經過不斷地內外溝通、協商、對話後取得共識,完成修法草案並於今天對外公告。

CNA also emphasized that union representatives were “invited to jointly participate in formulating the approach to integration, and actively protect the employees’ rights and interests” (將邀集工會代表共同參與整合辦法的訂定,積極保障員工權益).

This isn’t a particularly clear-cut definition of what union representatives may or may not be entitled do to exert influence in the process, but contary to Taiwan’s private sector, where they are extremely weak, unions do have a role to play in public institutions.

That said, the base for unionised work in those institutions may be much weaker than what mere numbers suggest. For example, the only permanent employee at RTI’s German-language service in 2013 was the head of the department herself, according to the station’s German listeners club, while a number of further members of the department were freelancers.

Taiwan’s Commercial Times (工商時報) reported on Friday that the draft should be sent to the Executive Yuan (basically the cabinet of ministers and chief commissioners) in October, reach the Legislative Yuan by the end of the year, and pass its third reading in June next year.

Overall, about 1,400 employees will be affected, of which 800 work for public television, with revenues of 2,000,000,000 two billion NT dollars for public television, 500 million NT dollars for Central News Agency and Radio Taiwan International combined, and 1.4 billion NT dollars for Chinese Television System. The combined budget was nearly 3.6 billion NT dollars last year.

The Commercial Times:

Cultural minister Cheng Li-chun emphasized that as Taiwan was facing the digital age and market competition, it lacked a cultural propagation strategy on a national level. Also, the existing content was lacking propagation channels, and there was a serious imbalance for incoming and outgoing international culture. Similarly, because of insufficient budgets, legislature and integration, public media were unable to play their propagation role, let alone mastering the power of speech [or discourse power] internationally. Therefore, the ministry of culture wanted to promote the “public media law” for the integration into a public media platform, following NHK’s [Japan’s public radio and television] role as an up-and-coming Asian public broadcaster.

文化部長鄭麗君強調,面對數位匯流時代與市場競爭,台灣缺乏一個國家級的文化傳播戰略,且有內容也缺乏通路,目前國際文化內容輸出入嚴重失衡;同樣在公共媒體方面,因為預算、法制、整合皆不足,也沒有發揮公共傳播的角色,更無法在國際上掌握話語權。所以文化部希望推動《公共媒體法》,讓公媒平台大整合,繼NHK之後成為亞洲新興公共媒體。

Indeed, according to the CNA article on Thursday, the ministry of culture intends to

[…] further promote cultural propagation in the digital age. The public media can provide information domestically, serve different ethnic groups, strengthen cultural affirmation. Internationally, they will not only be able to share Taiwanese culture with the world, but can also become the world’s most trusted newly emerging public media in Asia.

[…..] 進一步推動數位時代的文化傳播。公共媒體對於國內可以提供公共資訊、服務多元族群、強化文化平權;而面對國際,不僅可以與世界分享台灣文化,也能夠成為最受國際信賴的亞洲新興公共媒體。

Apart from the domestic services, NHK also runs Japan’s international media units. Under the name of “NHK World – Japan”, they “intend to establish wider global recognition for the service’s Japanese roots in advance of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games”.

China has taken a similar approach earlier this year, blending domestic broadcasting with international broadcasting.

In its report on Thursday, CNA claims that board members of the media organisations, managers, and union representatives involved had all expressed approval and support 贊同與支持) for the draft at an information meeting on the same day. That could be true: journalists tend to be fans of reflecting ethnic diversity and affirmation, and the ministry of culture also offers more features in its draft that may be convincing. Apart from (apparently) including some kind of labour director in the planned new board, the term of every board member is said to be four years, with appointments*) of half of the body every two years.

If that helps to avoid resignations of the kind reported in October 2008, when the Ma administration took office, that should help to build trust among employees, and the public.

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Notes

*) to be suggested by the executive, and approved by the legislative yuan

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Sunday, September 23, 2018

A long-running Taiwan Blog is closing

Michael Turton announced closure of The View from Taiwan sixteen days ago. The blog had its drawbacks, but it will hopefully remain online, as an archive of pan-green views, information, and dogmatism – and as a rare collection of photos, showing everyday life in Taiwan.

There are too few English-language windows on Taiwan, and it is bad news that The View isn’t posting anymore.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Radio Taiwan International (RTI) Shortwave Transmissions from Tamsui

Radio Taiwan International QSL card, 2016

RTI’s 2016 QSL, showing the broadcasting station’s central building (top left) and two of the Tamsui transmission towers (bottom left)

Radio Taiwan International’s German service announced that test transmissions from Tamsui, NW Taiwan, will be aired this coming Thursday, August 9. According to RTI, there will be two broadcasts with analogue signals, and two with DRM signals. Airtime: about five minutes each – see tables below.

Analogue transmissions

day time (UTC) frequencies
Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018 17:00 – 17:05 11,990 kHz
Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018 18:00 – 18:05   9,700 kHz

DRM transmissions

day time (UTC) frequencies
Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018 17:15 – 17:20 11,990 kHz
Thursday, Aug 9, 2018 18:15 – 18:20   9,700 kHz

Later in August and September, they are planning for twelve one-hour broadcasts – see “Geplante Sendetermine und Frequenzen” on their website – which are subject to change.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Taiwan cuts Shortwave Broadcasts in French and Spanish – here is why it shouldn’t

Cutting Shortwave broadcasts in French and Spanish

The French and the Spanish programs of Radio Taiwan International (RTI) are no longer broadcast on shortwave. On March 5, Radio Berlin-Brandenburg‘s (RBB) Radio Eins media magazine reported that RTI would terminate its broadcasts in German on March 25, i. e. the day when the current international shortwave frequency plan (A-18) came into effect1).

A notice was added by the Radio Eins editors a few days later, saying that RTI’s German service kept denying this information. However, Radio Eins did not name the source or sources of their information, citing rather general “trade circles” (Branchenkreise).

On March 9, in a regular mailbag program, RTI’s German service reacted to listeners’ questions concerning the shortwave issue, and stated that while the Spanish and French departments were indeed to exit shortwave with effect from March 26, the German service’s shortwave broadcasts would continue.

Seventeen days later, the German service’s denial proved correct – its broadcasts have been continued, now on their traditional summer frequency of 6185 kHz, as predicted on March 9.

In its report, Radio Eins also pointed out that Radio France Internationale (RFI) had terminated its shortwave broadcasts for Asia years ago, and that this had also put an end to Radio Taiwan International’s once lower-cost access to transmissions from France (with transmitters located at Issoudun, central France). The two international broadcasters appear to have exchanged airtime in the past.

On its website, RTI hardly (if at all) communicates the decision to terminate the shortwave broadcasts in Spanish and French. However, a month before Radio Eins wrote about RTI’s shortwave closures, shortwave-watching website swling.com had quoted from an RTI email saying that the station’s French and Spanish services would “unfortunately stop broadcasting on shortwave”. There appears to have been no mention of the German programs at the time.

Following a Trend …

RTI is following a trend among foreign radio services from industrialized countries2). As noted by Radio Eins, Radio France Internationale ended its shortwave broadcasts to Asia years ago. German foreign Radio, Deutsche Welle (DW), terminated its shortwave broadcasts in Chinese with effect from January 1, 2012. Three months earlier, DW had ended its shortwave broadcasts in German.

Earlier in 2011, the BBC and the Voice of America (VoA) had announced their Chinese programs’ withdrawals from shortwave (the VoA later reversed the decision, but BBC Mandarin kept to their exit).

One of the more contested decisions to abandon shortwave was Radio Australia‘s. It took effect by the end of January, 2017. The station made a – not terribly successful, it seems – effort to communicate the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s (ABC) decision.

Radio Australia’s (now abandoned) role in informing Pacific islanders about emergency situations via shortwave was deemed essential by some critics, and Radio New Zealand (RNZ), Radio Australia’s only existing competitor on shortwave in the Pacific region, leapt at the gap left by the Australians.

But funding public diplomacy is hardly popular in most free societies. Slashed budgets may irritate or infuriate the trade or the immediate users of an abandoned service, but they will hardly become known to a wider public. After all, the (noticeable) remonstrators are usually just some listeners abroad, and apart from that, they are no voters.
In RTI’s case, the question – from the audience perspective – seems to be how prepared the target areas are for the termination of shortwave broadcasts. As for France and Spain, the answer seems to be easy: industrialized, reasonably good internet connections, and with only a few people (probably) who would still listen on shortwave anyway.
But there are drawbacks. In general – this goes for countries with a highly developed internet infrastructure and Latin America or North Africa alike – it is much harder to gain new listeners, than to retain existing ones.
RTI’s management (or the lords of their budgets) may have drawn inspiration from reports like ECLAC’s 3), discussing sharply increasing internet use and access in Latin American countries, and the Caribbean.

But the ECLAC, while optimistic about the development and prospects of the internet in Latin America, also notes that no country in the region has at least 5% of its connections with speeds of more than 15Mbps, compared to 50% in advanced countries, and there is a difference of 41 percentage points in Internet penetration between urban and rural areas in the country that has the greatest gap in the region.And a report (apparently published online in December 2016) by Statista, a Hamburg-based market research company, saw the region’s average monthly internet usage at 18.6 hours in 2016. When you leave Brazil – the leading country in terms of monthly internet usage – out of the calculation, the rate will be even lower.

If the trends indicated by the two papers continue, there may be a time when switching off shortwave makes sense (at least when considering the costs, and the pressures from the broadcasters’ funders). But the data suggests that RTI’s decision to do so came too early.

… but neglecting the Facts

One of the reasons that international broadcasters stop using shortwave frequencies is that radio is a medium used by the poor, rather than by the affluent and influential. That’s not how they communicate their decision (if there is communication at all), but the trade’s high-flown jargon suggests just that.

In a press release of May 18, 2011, less than a year before abandoning shortwave broadcasts in Chinese, German (its native language) and Hindi, Deutsche Welle wrote that by focusing on the internet in many regions of the world, “info seekers” would be reached more effectively,

… especially those who are or will be influential in their countries’ public opinion, and people who actively campaign for democracy, civil liberties and progress in authoritarian states, thus strengthening civil society.

… insbesondere insbesondere jene, die Einfluss auf die öffentliche Meinung eines Landes haben oder zukünftig haben werden, sowie Menschen, die sich in autoritären Staaten aktiv für Demokratie, Freiheitsrechte und Fortschritt einsetzen und so die Zivilgesellschaft stärken.

But nobody knows who will call the shots in a target area, ten or twenty years from now. In Venezuela, it’s an ex bus driver now. Brazil’s president from 2003 to 2011, Lula da Silva, reportedly only learned to read at the age of ten, and worked as a peanut seller and shoe shine boy as a child. Bolivia’s president, Evo Morales, was born to a subsistence farming family and started his political career as a rural labor unionist.

If they had been born ten or fifteen years ago, none of them would be a likely regular internet user.

Shortwave radio may not matter as a medium, when it comes to commercial viability, as the owner of a North American shortwave radio station admitted in 1991. In that light, Facebook could be a more or less “real” alternative to shortwave radio.

But on “social media”, a foreign radio station is just one “friend” among many. There may be no studies available, but if there were some, they would probably show that shortwave listeners are a much more dedicated audience than internet users.

In short: shortwave radio remains a crucial medium, especially for Taiwan. The country will almost inevitably lose all or most of its remaining “diplomatic allies” in Latin America, as it has lost official diplomatic ties with nearly every country worldwide already. If shortwave remains crucial in Taiwan’s communications with European countries may be debatable, but to maintain Taiwan’s visibility in Latin America, there can be no doubt that shortwave would be worth the (quite manageable) costs.
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Note

1) While KBS World’s German service via Woofferton, England, is announced under the broadcasting station’s name (Korean Broadcasting Station), Radio Taiwan International’s name is ommitted. Instead, the HFCC states the operator’s company name (Babcock Communications) there. The KBS frequency is also operated by Babcock, and also from Woofferton.
2) Japan may be the only exception.
3) The UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. The report linked to is dated September 12, 2016.

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Related

Inclusive Internet Index, Economist Group, 2018
Abandoning Shortwave & Opportunities, Oct 3, 2014
A bottomless pit of waste, PCJ, around 2014

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Saturday, February 10, 2018

Blog and Press Review: Frugal New Year

Warning: the following translation from a classic is just my guesswork – if you copy that for your homework, the mistakes will be your fault, not mine. Links within blockquotes added during translation.

Frugal New Year: the Xi Style

The year of the dog is upon us, and it must be a dog’s life if you are a cadre in the Xi Jinping era. That’s what you might believe, anyway, if you read secretary general Xi Jinping’s spiritual nourishment for comrades. After all, in a totalitarian society, administration, legislation, crackdowns and Something Understood all need to come from the same source.

People’s Daily has published three instalments of Xi Jinping thought. The first: go and visit the poor, and ask about their suffering, find solutions to the problems and dump the worries. The second: have an affectionate reunion with your family, as a good family style promotes virtue.

For the third instalment, the sermon turns to the New Book of Tang:
奢靡之始,危亡之渐 (which means something like “what begins lavishly will move towards danger”, I suppose).

I can only find the Chinese original [no English edition] of the  New Book of Tang online, and there, in chapter 105, Chu Suiliang, an advisor with morals, tells his surprised sovereign the meaning of things that only appear to be innocent at first glance:

帝尝怪:“舜造漆器,禹雕其俎,谏者十馀不止,小物何必尔邪?”遂良曰:“雕琢害力农,纂绣伤女工,奢靡之始,危亡之渐也。漆器不止,必金为之,金又不止,必玉为之,故谏者救其源,不使得开。及夫横流,则无复事矣。”帝咨美之。

The emperor said: “Shun made the lacquer, Yu gave us the embroideries, but the remonstrances never seem to end. How can small things be evil?”
Suiliang said: “ornate artwork harms the peasantry, and embroidery hurts the working women. What begins lavishly, will indeed move towards danger. It doesn’t end at lacquerware, it takes gold, too. It doesn’t end there, but jade will be required, too. Those who remonstrate do not want to see things pass the point of no return.”

If my impression of the Chinese texts is basically correct, Xi seems to present himself as someone who speaks truth to power – which is corny at best, and quite probably populist. The latter, anyway, is a tool lavishly handed around among the Davos jetset more recently, and it probably works fine, especially at the grass-roots level, with people who routinely delude themselves.

Roar back, if you still dare, fly or tiger.

Xi Jinping probably found a lot to copy from Ronald Reagan. His May 4 speech in 2013 resembled Reagan’s endless-opportunities speech in 1984. While frequently considered risk averse when it comes to reform, optimism, a “determination … to educate his audience” and “unobtrusive and imperceptible moral influence” (OK – it depends on how much corniness you’ve grown up with) are features Xi’s propaganda style seems to share with the late US president’s.

Footnote: when it comes to education on the ground, education of the public appears to be anything but imperceptible, as The Capital in the North reported in January.

Central Europe (1): After the “Czech Reversal”

The China Digital Times has an article by a Czech academic, describing Chinese influence in Eastern Europe (although the Czech Republic is hardly “eastern” European), and more particularly about a “China Energy Fund Committee” (CEFC). Czech president Miloš Zeman, who is quoted there with some of his characteristically tasteless remarks (about Chinese eyes, before he changed his mind), has explicit opinions about journalism, too.

Central Europe (2): German Mittelstand’s Main Thing

If the German Mittelstand can’t be found in China, it’s probably because they are investing and selling in the Visegrád countries, and beyond. the Handelsblatt‘s English-language edition has a critical assessment of Mittelstand companies role in Central Europe, quoting an apolitical German trade functionary to prove its point:

Ultimately, politics is not that important for businesspeople. Order books are full: That’s the main thing.

Obviously, German politicians (and journalists, for that matter) aren’t nearly as sanguine, and following US President Trump’s attendence at a Three Seas Initiative summit in July 2017, the Economist even recorded Teutonic tremors:

Germany is already concerned about China’s “16+1” initiative with central and eastern European states, a series of investment projects that the Chinese expect will build influence in the region. The Germans are also putting pressure on the Polish government over its illiberal attacks on independent newspapers, judges and NGOs. And they are fending off Polish criticisms that their proposed “Nord Stream 2” gas pipeline from Russia to Germany will make Europe more dependent on Russia.

But the Mittelstand shows no such unease. In fact, smaller and medium-sized companies often feel easier about countries that are closer to Germany, both regionally and culturally – it takes less time to travel, less time spent abroad, less worries about intercultural competence (or its absence), and less worries about market barriers or technology theft.

Hualien, Taiwan

Most people will have heard and read about the earthquake that caused deaths and injuries, especially in Hualien, on Tuesday.

But the place should be known for its beauty, too. There’s a travel blog about the Taroko Gorge, apparently written by a Singaporean, with some practical advice which  should be quite up to date (based on a visit in November 2016). That, plus some history.

The Spy Radio that anyone can hear

No, that’s not the BBC. They’ve only produced a video about numbers stations.

But what’s the fun in them if anyone can listen? I want some numbers of my own.

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Related

Budapest Guidelines, in Chinese and in English, Nov 2017

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Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year!

Taipei 101 light and fireworks show, published by the Liberty Times online.

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