Archive for ‘Taiwan’

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Tendencies: Germany’s next China Policy

China didn’t feature prominently in Germany’s 2021 federal election campaign – at least not at the surface.
Somewhat underneath, and not really overreported in the German media, are donations and sponsorships that benefitted the political parties – or one or two of them – in the run-up to the Bundestag elections on September 26.
The picture, according to statista.de (quoting Germany’s federal parliament administration and only recording donations of more than 50,000 Euros):

CDU/CSU (center-right): 3,340,860 Euros
FDP (neoliberal): 2,055,454 Euros
Greens (ecological): 1,790,548 Euros
AFD (right-wing, neoliberal): 100,000 Euros
SPD (social democrats): 50,000 Euros

This is not the full picture, of course. Donations from 10,000 to 50,000 Euros will probably only appear in the political parties’ annual accounts, likely to be published around a year and a half after they happen.
Also, [Update, Oct 8: committed event] “sponsoring” [of party congresses, for example] amounts don’t need to be published in detail – there is no way of knowing who donated, and which amounts.
Still, the above-50,000 statistics give us an idea: the social democrats were considered dead in the water. That, at least, was a general belief into August this year, and that’s as far as the statistics go. Some corporations and lobby organizations may have tried to make up for their negligence when the SPD began to soar in the opinion polls.
Before we get to the China issues, let’s take a look at the 50,000-plus donations in relation to the actual votes for the parties.

Blue: donations >50,000
Red: actual votes
(relations, no numbers)

This doesn’t mean that the SPD wouldn’t like to get donations, and grassroot donations can make a difference too, but it is obvious that the industry didn’t bet on the social democrats and the left party.

China issues in the campaign

Hong Kong’s political activist Ray Wong, now living in German exile, German sinologist David Missal and other activists and human rights groups put a “China elections check” online for those who were interested in the party’s positions concerning China.
They asked each political party represented in Germany’s incumbent federal parliament, the Bundestag, eight questions, and according to the organizers, only the AFD didn’t respond.
That said, the CDU/CSU were “neutral” on seven out of the eight statements.
All eight statements can be considered a demand Missal, Wong and the organizations supporting the project would subscribe to.

The parties’ positions in detail

Statement 1


Statement 2


Statement 3


Statement 4


Statement 5


Statement 6


Statement 7


Statement 8


Political parties by rates of agreement, neutrality or disagreement with / towards the statements, in descending order (respectively)

Party / party group agrees with the statements (pro)

The Greens 6
SPD 4
FDP 3
The Left 3
CDU/CSU 0

Party neither agrees nor disagrees with the statements (neutral)

CDU/CSU 7
FDP 5
SPD 1
The Left 0
The Greens 0

Party / group doesn’t agree with the statements (opposed)

The Left 5
SPD 3
FDP 0*)
The Greens 2
CDU/CSU 1
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*) corrected (Oct 8), down from 3

Outlook

At least for now, the CDU/CSU’s chances of heading (or even just joining) a government coalition have deminished, as both the FDP and the Greens are currently moving closer to the SPD, with some unfriendly noise especially from the CSU, the CDU’s Bavarian sister party.
This would mean that exactly the three parties that find most common ground with the Wong/Missal statements would be in government.
The picture would become much friendlier for pro-China lobbyists if the tide turned again,in favor of the CDU/CSU.
The proof of the pudding is the eating, and the industry will almost certainly become more generous with its donations to the Social Democrats, but for those who want to see a government with clear-cut positions on Chinese crimes against human rights, the trend isn’t looking bad.
The CDU/CSU didn’t really care, and documented that publicly.
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Related

Germany after the federal elections, Sept 27, 2021
Guanchazhe flatters Austrian Supernova, April 7, 2018
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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.

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.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Trans-Pacific Press Review (TPPR), April 14

Happy reading …

Date Item
April 1 Argentina has sought Chinese support in its negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Argentina started with reaching an agreement with the IMF. China is one of Argentina’s biggest trade and investment partners. According to a report by Argentina’s embassy to China, Argentina’s ambassador to China, Sabino Vaca Narvaja, has had meetings with high-level Chinese officials. The purpose was to ask China to support Argentina in its talks to have deadlines extended and interest on debt lowered.
April 9 Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh and a master of innocuous small talk, died last Friday.
April 9 Also on Friday, the world’s biggest Mazu pilgrimage started in Dajia District, Taichung, Taiwan.
April 9 Still on Friday, China’s ambassador to Canada had reassuring news for Michael Spavor‘s and Michael Kovrig‘s fellow citizens: the “vast majority” should not worry about being kidnapped by the police, he reportedly told a Zoom audience Memorial University of St. John’s.
(I suppose his wording was a bit different from kidnapped by the police, rather something like “people engage in those criminal activities, whether it’s Canadians or other nationalities”.)
April 12 Gao Fu (高福), head of the Chinese Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, has been quoted as saying that China’s current vaccines  “don’t have very high rates of protection”, but later referred to this statement as a “complete misunderstanding”.
April 14 US climate envoy John Kerry is in China, and two authors on Foreign Policy have some advice for him.
April 14 Also, a US delegation is in Taiwan at President Joe Biden‘s request. President Tsai Ing-wen will reportedly meet with the delegation on Thursday morning.

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Related

Universal topics, Mar 22, 2018
RAE adds Chinese programs, Jun 10, 2013

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Before you define your next China policy, learn from Lu Xun

Chinese nationalism has had its share of wishful thinking. But in recent decades, the West has fallen into similar traps, although its humiliations – the 2008 financial crisis and the flat-footed reaction of most Western countries to the Covid-19 pandemic – have been comparatively minor humiliations.

True story

But humiliations they have been, and nothing shows this more clearly than the way some of the West’s governments have reacted to China’s handling of the pandemic. To quote one of the more civil criticisms  – by Iain Duncan Smith, a former leader of the United Kingdom’s Conservative Party -, “the world would have had more time to prepare for the pandemic if Chinese leaders had been more forthcoming”. No worries, though, he switched into another gear right away:

For too long, nations have lamely kowtowed to China in the desperate hope of winning trade deals. Once we get clear of this terrible pandemic it is imperative that we all rethink that relationship,” he said.

Politics, that much is true, must never let a crisis go waste, and there are reasons to “rethink” the West’s, and possibly the world’s, relationship with China.

But China only bears a limited share of responsibility for this global crisis. If people in the West don’t understand that, they don’t understand their own political class.

We don’t need to reconsider our relationship with China because its role in the pandemic was questionable.

We must reconsider our relationship with China because we must not tolerate the way Chinese authorities treat Chinese citizens. Human rights violations often hit “national minorities” like Tibetans or Uyghurs hardest, but the political malpractice doesn’t stop there.

We must reconsider our relationship with China because in Hong Kong, Beijing has shown complete disregard for the rule of law, within Hong Kong’s autonomy (that’s nothing new, China has never understood the concept of autonomy anyway), and complete disregard of international law.

We must reconsider our relationship with China because in the South China Sea and other international waters, China has adopted a policy of annexation.

And we must reconsider our relationship with China, because with his “Resist America, Aid Korea” speech in October, Chinese CPC secretary general and state chairman Xi Jinping has made China’s disregard for international law official, by suggesting that Maoist China’s war against the United Nations had been a “war against imperialism”.

There may be some reason to believe that many within the CPC believe that the speech has been a non-starter, because they haven’t dwelled too much on it in the media since, and because the faces of many of the leaders during Xi’s speech appeared to speak volumes. But there is no reason to believe that Xi’s speech wasn’t an honest attempt at rewriting history, at the expense of truth. This attempt must be taken seriously.

All that said, when reconsidering our relationship with China, we must not walk into the Ah-Q trap. This is something we might learn from China indeed: the way Chinese intellectuals used to be self-critical was part of China’s more recent successes, just as China’s more recent pompousness and triumphalism may earn it serious setbacks.

The same is true for us, and especially for those who consider themselves our “elites”. For decades, China has been described as an opportunity too big to miss, and to justify throwing valuable Western-made technology at it. To make this foreign-trade salad more palatable to the general public (and arguably also to the propagandists themselves), China-trade advocates added that trade and engagement with China would lead to improvements in the country’s human rights practice, or its economic and social system.

“The party is over,” a long-forgotten “expert” crowed in the 1990s, in a huge, long-forgotten book. Others suggested that the CPC might become a “social-democratic” party. But nobody seemed to ask the CPC people if they had any such intentions, at least not seriously. And if they did, they only heard the answers they wanted to hear.

There was never a doubt that China’s political system is a dictatorship. And when that dictatorship began to succeed economically and technogically, quite a number of Western intellectuals, and especially business people, began to admire that dictatorship:

I have fantasized–don’t get me wrong–but that what if we could just be China for a day? I mean, just, just, just one day. You know, I mean, where we could actually, you know, authorize the right solutions, and I do think there is a sense of that, on, on everything from the economy to environment. I don’t want to be China for a second, OK, I want my democracy to work with the same authority, focus and stick-to-itiveness. But right now we have a system that can only produce suboptimal solutions.

Don’t get me wrong either. I don’t think Thomas Friedman argued in favor of the introduction of authoritarianism, let alone totalitarianism. But he didn’t apply any logic – and he’s no exception among Western intellectuals. He’s full of ideas and without a plan when it comes to these issues.

Because if we could be China for one day, we could be China every day. And then we would be the kind of society that we now want to reconsider our relationship with. (OK, maybe not Friedman.)

But the worst thing is to think of ourselves as Santa. The guys who only want the best for China, etc.. I’m pretty sure that half of my fellow Germans, in as far as they have misgivings about China, don’t worry about China’s human rights record. They worry about its economic clout, and the preparedness of a lot of Chinese people to work harder, for less income, then we would.

That’s legitimate self-interest, but nobody should confuse this interest with something like international solidarity. To do that, to suggest that “we are nice, we are generous, we’ve done everything for them, and they are bloody ingrats” is typical Ah-Q thought.

No, guys. Our bosses threw our technology at China, technology developed with support of public institutions we paid our taxes for. That’s what our bosses usually do. Sometimes at the Chinese, sometimes at other promising markets. But as our bosses’ greed for profits from China knew no limits, they fooled themselves, too. Occasionally, they complained once it went wrong. But this wasn’t “Chinese” greed – they only picked up what was thrown at them. And even if they never told us that they would make good use of it, with or against the law, daily practice could have shown us in a year that this transactional model wouldn’t work – at least not for the West.

China – not just the CPC, but most of the Chinese people – have always told us that their rightful global place was at the pole position.

They have always told us that they would “re-take” Taiwan, once they had the power to do so.

Every bloke in the street told us that Hong Kong was no stuff to negotiate about – it had been taken by the imperialists, and had to be retaken by China. Besides, those Hong Kongers shouldn’t think of themselves as “special”. Yadayada.

We played along, one year after another. We still do. I’m afraid we’ll continue to do so. Our governments, for example, keep participating in the diplomatic charade to this day that, for some incomprehensible reasons (depending on what individual Western nation’s memoranda with Beijing have made up out of thin air), Taiwan wouldn’t be quite a sovereign country.

In short: it was hard to get China wrong, but we managed anyway. And if we don’t stop suggesting that our intentions in this relationship had always been honest, we won’t get our next China policy right either.

To reshape our relationship with China, let’s learn from Lu Xun first.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Xi Jinping’s “Resisting U.S. speech”: a few remarks

Curt publication

What strikes me while translating Xi Jinping’s October 23 speech, commemorating the Korean War, is Beijing’s departure from seeking truth in the facts. Contrary to what Xi tells in his “majestic epic that scared heaven and earth and made supernatural beings cry” (驚天地、泣鬼神的雄壯史詩), China was involved in North Korea’s and Russia’s war preparations, although probably rather passively and not enthusiastically. China supported an enabled an aggression, rather than defending itself against one. Xi, in his speech, emphasized the need to be “brave to be innovative” so as to “advance further”, and to be “good at creating” so as to be “victorious” (勇于創新者進,善于創造者勝). And if being inventive enough seventy years later to win the Korean War after all (or at least make it useful), so be it, seems to be Xi’s line of thought.

But what is the use of it? The next batches of translation may turn out to be self-explanatory, though there is probably always room for different interpretations. In Xi’s view, China is in dire need of an army that will not only defend the country or to quash uprisings, but that will also be able to invade, for example, Taiwan.

To arouse a “spirit” that defies death, Xi rewrites history. Doing that has a long imperial tradition in China, but to lie as fundamentally as Xi did on October 23 marks a revival of faking the records that hasn’t been seen for decades.

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Related / Updates

Xi speech (1)
Xi speech (2)
Xi speech (3)

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Thursday, September 10, 2020

Radio Taiwan International suspends 1098 kHz Transmissions for ~ 2 Months

Radio Taiwan International‘s Mandarin programs on the usual 1098 kHz frequency from 21:00 to 01:05 Taipei time (13:00 – 17:05 UTC) will be suspended, because of antenna maintenance work from September 21 to November 20.

据RTI消息,由於中央廣播電臺自9月21日至11月20日止進行天線更新維護工程,原1098千赫頻率21:00~01:05播出之「國語」節目暫停播出。

Radio Taiwan International QSL, 2015

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Related tag:

Radio Taiwan International

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Saturday, August 1, 2020

Lee Teng-hui, 1923 – 2020

Lee Teng-hui and Nelson Mandela met twice: in 1993, when Mandela visited Taiwan, and in 1994, when Lee attended his inauguration as South Africa’s first democratically-elected president.

台湾的主张, 台湾,1999,p. 103

They were two 20th-century giants of democracy, and there were a number of experiences they had in common – struggles for emancipation, more or less intensive tries at Communism, and a crucial role in the democratization of their countries, respectively. But while Mandela led a long open struggle, spending many decades of it in jail, Lee rose through the ranks of the nationalist KMT, supported and promoted by Chiang Ching-kuo during the 1970s and 1980s.

Lee probably owed much of his career to Chiang’s intention to co-opt native Taiwanese citizens into the KMT – a party which Lee actually (and secretly) hated. In the end, he owed his presidency to Chiang, to those in the KMT who threw their weight behind him after Chiang’s death in January 1988, and his own skills as a politician and a technocrat.

Lee’s career came full circle after his presidency had ended in 2000. The KMT revoked his membership in 2001, citing violation of party rules, not least their former president’s and chairman’s close contacts with the Taiwan Solidarity Union.

The KMT had been a vehicle on which Lee pushed forward Taiwan’s democratization, and the re-emergence of Taiwan’s own identity. This rediscovery is still an ongoing process.

While Mandela’s successes and limits in democratizing South Africa were a matter of wide global concern, attention and respect, Lee’s achievements and setbacks mostly took place in the shadows. The likeliest situations that would make the global public look towards the island was when it was threatened by China, with words or military exercises.

Delivering a lecture to an audience at his American alma mater, Cornell University, in 1995, Lee described Taiwan’s situation this way:

When a president carefully listens to his people, the hardest things to bear are the unfulfilled yearnings he hears. Taiwan has peacefully transformed itself into a de­mocracy. At the same time, its international economic ac­tivities have exerted a significant influence on its relations with nations with which it has no diplomatic ties. These are no minor accomplishments for any nation, yet, the Repub­lic of China on Taiwan does not enjoy the diplomatic rec­ognition that is due from the international community. This has caused many to underestimate the international dimen­sion of the Taiwan Experience.

When Lee retired, he essentially moved from the “pan-blue” (KMT-dominated) political camp into the “pan-green” (DPP-dominated) one. He supported both President Chen Shui-bian, and then current President Tsai Ing-wen. And he was prosecuted by the KMT after Ma Ying-jeou had taken office as president in 2008. Lee apparently wasn’t accused of unjustified enrichment, but of “diverting funds and money-laundering”. In November 2013, he was acquitted.

While Lee was known as a technocrat, especially with a record in agriculture, he also sought for new “spiritual” foundations for Taiwan’s emancipation from the Republic of China, i. E. the Chiang Dynasty’s China, imposed on Taiwan during the 1940s’ second half.

My active advocacy, he wrote in the late 1990s,

for  the “reform of heart and soul” in recent years is based on my hope to make society leave the old framework, applying new thought, face a new era, stir new vigor, from a transformation of peoples’ hearts. This goes deeper than political reform, and it is a more difficult transformation project, but we are confident that we will, based on the existing foundations of freedom and openness, achieve the building of a new Central Plain.

近年来,我积极倡导“心灵改革”,就是希望从人心的改造做起,让我们的社会走出旧有的框架,用新的思维,面对新的时代,并激发出新的活力。这是一个比政治 改革更加深入、也更为艰巨的改造工程,但是我们有信心,可以在社会自由开放的既有基础上,完成建立“文化新中原”的目标。

Zhongyuan (中原, the central plains) is a term charged with a Chinese sense of mission and civilization – in that context, it may appear surprising that Lee, a “splittist element”, would use the term at all. The way Henan party secretary Xu Guangchun (徐光春) referred to the central plains may give you an idea: The history of Henan Province constitutes half of the Chinese history. Two years earlier, Xu had apparently given a talk in Hong Kong, with a similar message. But this wasn’t necessarily what Lee had on mind, in 1996.
From “Taiwanisation – Its Origin and Politics”, George Tsai Woei, Peter Yu Kien-hong, Singapore, 2001, page 19 – 20 (footnotes omitted):

Another anecdote should also be mentioned here. In 1996, Lee Teng-hui declared his ambition to “manage the great Taiwan, and to construct a new Central Plain”. As is known, Central Plain (zhong-yuan) was, and still is, a term usually reserved to describe cultural China. To “manage the big Taiwan” is something easily understood, but to construct a new “Central Plain” is very controversial, to say the least. Some argued that Lee’s aim was to help rebuild China as a “new” central plain, but with his foot firmly on Taiwan. But others rebutted that what really was in Lee’s minds was to build Taiwan as a new Central Plain so that there was no need to unify, or have connections, with the “old” central plain, China.

But while the Taiwan experience hasn’t become as much part of human heritage as South Africa’s has, Lee power to shape his country’s development was probably much greater than Mandela’s to shape South Africa’s.

Lee had become president in extraordinary times. Opposition groups, and “illegally” founded political parties among them, had demanded the lifting of the decades-old martial law for a long time. And when Lee began his second term as president in 1990, after the two remaining years of what had originally been Chiang Ching-kuo’s term, students occupied what is now Taipei’s Liberty Square. Once Lee had been sworn in again, he received a fifty-students delegation and promised Taiwan’s democratization, less than a year after the Tian An Men massacre in China.

When a man follows the leader, he actually follows the mass, the majority group that the leader so perfectly represents,

Jacques Ellul wrote in the 1960s*), and added:

The leader loses all power when he is separated from his group; no propaganda can emanate from a solitary leader.

Lee understood that. Maybe Chiang Ching-kuo understood it, too. But when he made Lee Vice President in 1984, and therefore his heir-apparent, he probably did not know at all how far the “group” – Taiwan’s complex mixture of “ordinary people”, Taiwanese and Chinese nationalists, and, all among them, the islands Indigenous people – would make Lee Teng-hui go.

Taiwan Presidential Office Spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka remembers Lee Teng-hui – click photo for Tweet

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*) Jacques Ellul: Propaganda, the Formation of Men’s Attitudes, Paris 1962, 2008, New York 1965, S. 97

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