Monday, April 13, 2015

A Look at the Rumors about China Radio International

There has been some talk about plans among China’s leaders to close down a number of foreign-language services – the German-language department among them -, at China Radio International (CRI), China’s international broadcaster. Keith Perron, a radio producer in Taiwan, claimed inside knowledge and suggested that, according to this quote by Glenn Hauser‘s World of Radio, March 26:

At last month’s meeting of the committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference in Beijing, one of the subcommittees, headed by Zhang Dejiang, who is also chairman of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, will form a twelve-member board to look into the effectiveness of shortwave as a [unreadable] platform for China Radio International. Members include leaders from various former ministries, including the [unreadable], culture, propaganda, SARFT, and the central committee.They may be looking at shortwave cuts made in Australia, Canada, Russia, UK, and the US. Last year the Chinese government spent over 600 mega Yuan on the shortwave, that’s about 100 mega dollars US. It includes not only CRI, but China National Radio [aka Chinese People’s Broadcasting Station, CPBS — JR]. They will be looking at staff reductions. CRI currently has a staff of 8,500. They are looking at reducing some 40 percent, closing several of their overseas bureaus, closing CRI Television, some CRI language services. Looked at for axing are: Tagalog, Polish, Greek, Italian, German, Esperanto, Kroatian, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Icelandic, Finnish, Bulgarian, and Danish. But English would be expanded, as would Chinese.

What struck me on December 31 last year – but it wouldn’t lead me to dramatic conclusions, of course – was that party secretary general and state chairman Xi Jinping had dropped CRI from his new-year’s address. The broadcaster was mentioned along with CPBS and CCTV by Xinhua’s introductory text, but not by Xi himself. Both Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin had made it a tradition to mention CRI, CPBS, and CCTV in their new year’s addresses – and CRI was always mentioned first.

To put the rumors about CRI into some perspective, though, Perron had been a critic of “waste” at CRI for some time, and understatment isn’t onw of his greatest hobbies. The Voice of America (VoA), for example, is a terminally ill patient, which might lead to the question who’s more dead – the American or the Chinese foreign broadcaster.

And Bernd Seiser, chairman of the Radio Taiwan International Ottenau Listeners’ Club, said in his April 10 club bulletin he had been told by CRI staff that

I can confirm that CRI will not terminate its German-language programs on shortwave.

However, listeners who wanted information on shortwave frequencies would need to enquire with the German department, rather than receive frequency notifications automatically by email, said Seiser.

So, how much truth is there in the rumors about closing the departments mentioned by Perron? That’s hard to tell.  For one, it appears unlikely to me that CPPCC committee activities would go completely unreported inside China (which appears to be the case – I’ve seen no such report in the Chinese media). However, it wouldn’t appear exactly unlikely that China’s top cadres want CRI to become more effective. Three years ago, CRI German still ran a program dedicated to listeners’ letters and emails, but the feedback, as a rule, appeared to be embarrassingly low. Regular broadcasts of telephone interviews with German listeners weren’t a terribly reviving factor either. By now, feedback from the audience is interspersed into CRI Panorama, a magazine with a variety of topics, rather than featured in a dedicated program. An editorial staff of 31, according to CRI German’s website anyway, might be expected to draw a bigger crowed on the other side of the radio, too. (That said, there’s no information concerning their working hours.)

What seems highly unlikely to me is a closure of the German department. For the time being, Germany is an important “partner” for the Chinese leadership, in technological and partly in political terms. For one, both China and Germany try to defend their inveterately high trade surpluses against a growing international chorus of criticism. Even a small congregation of “early Christians” is probably worth being nurtured, from the CCP’s point of view.

Will shortwave be reduced? Maybe, but not necessarily. If the early Christians want shortwave, maybe their prayers will be heard. And jamming of foreign broadcasters like VoA, BBC, or All India Radio, will remain in place anyway. To avoid making it unnecessarily obvious, domestic CPBS stations at least will continue to be used as informal jammers in future, too, along with the “Firedrake”.

Does CRI make a big difference in Germany? Hardly so. What does make a big difference is Chinese financial and economic engagement in Germany, and Chinese interest in German products: sponsoring professorships, taking a stake in a new (and not yet used-to-capacity) German seaport, buying Volkswagen cars, etc.. China’s money has great leverage in Germany, even in German politics.

China’s public diplomacy remains a seedling here – but that’s probably no reason to dump CRI German.

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Related/Updates

» 杨尚昆, 通过中国国际广播电台, Jan 1, 1993
»
CRI 历史, CRI, undated
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Saturday, April 11, 2015

Argentine Foreign Radio: Online and on Shortwave

In addition, of course, we broadcast on shortwave as we have been doing since 1968, and will keep on doing, because the shortwave is part of RAE’s soul.

Radio Argentina al Exterior (RAE) announcement during The English Connection, the station’s early morning shortwave broadcast on April 9 UTC, after announcing its new website, www.rae.com.ar, which includes a (functioning, actually) livestream.

Radio Argentina al Exterior (RAE) QSL card, 1980s

Radio Argentina al Exterior (RAE) QSL card, 1980s. The station is still active on shortwave in a number of languages – Spanish, Portuguese, English, German, French, Italian, Japanese, and Chinese.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Japan: Recent Decisions Reflected in Japanese and Chinese Media

New textbooks for Japan’s junior high schools will sharply increase references to Japanese territory, reflecting the government’s view of the sovereignty over the Senkaku and Takeshima islands,

reports Radio Japan, adding that revised instruction manuals for the compilation of textbooks require textbooks to clearly affirm that the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea and Takeshima Islands in the Sea of Japan are Japan’s inherent territory. Junior high schools in Japan include 7th, 8th, and 9th graders, i. e., usually, the age group of 13- to 15-year-olds, according to the Tokyo International Communication Committee’s website. The changes are reportedly scheduled to take effect by April 1 next year.  Radio Japan explains:

Japan controls the Senkaku islands. The Japanese government maintains the islands are part of Japan’s territory. China and Taiwan claim them. As for the Takeshima islands, South Korea controls the islands. Japan claims them.

The NHK website also carries the news.

While NHK also mentions new entries in the textbooks referring to the 2011 tsunami disaster in northeastern Japan, China’s Huanqiu Shibao expands the topic further:

Japan’s ministry of education, on April 6, published the results of redesigning middle school textbooks. The redesigned textbooks refer to the Diaoyutai Islands [China’s name for the Senkaku Islands] and Dokdo Islands (named Takeshima Islands by Japan) as “Japan’s inherent territory”, and also changed the description of the Nanjing Massacre. Deputy director of the China Academy of Social Sciences’ Japan Research Institute diplomatic research room, Lü Yaodong, told Huanqiu Shibao journalists that Japan has ignored condemnation within the international public opinion and persisted in wilfully and arbitrarily “invading” the textbooks, and it could be seen that historical revisionism had now turned from an ideological trend into real action.

日本文部省6日公布了日本中学生教科书的审定结果。这次通过审定的教科书将钓鱼岛和独岛(日本称竹岛)都称为是“日本固有领土”,并更改了对南京大屠杀的表述。中国社科院日本研究所外交研究室副主任吕耀东6日对《环球时报》记者表示,日本未听取国际舆论的谴责,一意孤行,这次又在教科书中“去侵略化”,可以看出历史修正主义在日本社会已从思潮变为实际行动。

It had also been reported that some textbooks had also changed the way in which they described the Nanjing Massacre, writes Huanqiu Shibao.

That the Japanese army had “killed numerous captives and residents” was changed into “among the affected [or involved] captives and residents, numerous were killed”.

另据报道,一些教科书还修改了对南京大屠杀的表述方式。把日军“杀害了众多俘虏和居民”修改为“波及俘虏和居民,出现了众多死伤者”。

Before describing the Murayama apology of 1995, [the?] textbooks also added the position of Japan’s government, according to which all compensation issues between the coutnries involved had been resolved. (According to the Japan Times, the note on compensation issues follows the description of Murayama’s statement. The Japan Times article also includes some statistics on textbook content, both of those currently in use and of those planned to come into use next year. According to the statistics, out of 58 textbooks that included descriptions of the 2011 tsunami disaster, 35 textbooks also discussed the nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 power plant.

In another news item, Radio Japan reports that

senior foreign and defense officials from Japan and South Korea plan to meet in Seoul next week to hold their first security dialogue in more than 5 years,

as agreed by Japanese and South Korean foreign ministers Fumio Kishida and Yun Byung-se during a meeting. This apparently refers to a meeting between the foreign ministers of South Korea, China and Japan, in Seoul, on March 21 this year.

In another article, featuring less prominently than the one about the textbooks, but also a headline within international news, Huanqiu writes that Japan’s self-defense forces required its members to prepare posthumous notes or letters to their families, for the case of their death in missions abroad. There had been complaints from within the ranks, writes Huanqiu, but the higher echeolons had confirmed the need for preparing posthumous letters, stating that these constituted a good preparation for death in action. The article apparently refers to the Japanese cabinet’s collective self-defense decision of July last year.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Monthly Summary: March 2015 – Death of a China Expert

Bremen, East of Central Station, March 26, 2015

Bremen, East of Central Station, March 26, 2015

1. How’s your Weibo going?

Mainland regulators say people will be able to have nicknames – they will just have to register them with website administrators first,

the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported in January.

The rule apparently took effect on March 1, but yours truly, himself running a Sina Weibo profile, hasn’t been contacted yet.(Having said that, it’s a very low profile – I’m reading there, but I’ve never posted anything myself.)

Either way, it’s »not »the »first try by the authorities to control or to intimidate the microbloggers, and time will show how serious they are this time.

Either way, ways appear to have been found to spoil much of the interest in microblogging.

2. Rectifying Political Ideology at Universities

That blog by Fei Chang Dao was posted on February 25, but it’s probably as important in March and in future. Even if you read no other China blog, make sure you read Fei Chang Dao, and China Copyright and Media, for that matter. What they cover matters much more than the not-really-uncertain fate of Zhou Yongkang – if you want to understaaaaand China.

3. Kailash Calling

Travelling Tibet can be an easy affair, or it can be cumbersome. It might depend on who you are, and where you come from. Here’s an account of scuffproof cheerfulness and patience.

4. “Two Meetings”

The annual tale of two meetings has come to its serene conclusion again this year, with China’s new normal. Just to have mentioned that, too.

5. Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)

The Economist suggested in November that

China will use the new bank to expand its influence at the expense of America and Japan, Asia’s established powers. China’s decision to fund a new multilateral bank rather than give more to existing ones reflects its exasperation with the glacial pace of global economic governance reform. The same motivation lies behind the New Development Bank established by the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). Although China is the biggest economy in Asia, the ADB is dominated by Japan; Japan’s voting share is more than twice China’s and the bank’s president has always been Japanese. Reforms to give China a little more say at the International Monetary Fund have been delayed for years, and even if they go through America will still retain far more power. China is, understandably, impatient for change. It is therefore taking matters into its own hands.

The “People’s Daily” suggests that the AIIB is intended to be complementary to top dogs like the World Bank or the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Britain, France, Germany and Italy are European countries that want to be founding members of the AIIB, the British move (which came first in Europe, it seems) angered Washington, a so far reluctant Japanese government may still be persuaded to join the Beijing-led project, and Huanqiu Shibao quotes Russian foreign multimedia platform Sputnik as quoting an analyst as saying that America, too, might still join, so as to hamper China’s influence that way.

6. In Defense of the Constitution: Are you mad?

Taiwan’s president Ma Ying-jeou appeared to question the mental faculties of a Fulbright exchange academic who had asked if the KMT couldn’t drop its claims in the South China Sea.

“Are you mad?”, asked the president – reportedly -, then adding that abandoning those claims would be unconstitutional. He’s also said to have reacted somewhat wooden in another exchange with Fulbright scholars, on the same occasion, March 19.

7. Lee Kuan Yew, 1923 – 2015

Ma’s prayers for Lee Kuan Yew‘s early recovery weren’t terribly successful either; Singapore’s elder statesman died from pneumonia after weeks in hospital. Lee had his admirers both in China and Taiwan, especially for very low levels of corruption in Singapore, and apparently, he had a admirer at the American top, too. Probably no great surprise for John McCain or the tea partisans.

According to “People’s Daily”, Lee was a China expert and a West expert. According to other sources, he appeared to be a democracy expert, too (but he denied that claim).

In an apparently rather terse statement, Benjamin Pwee (方月光), secretary general of the Democratic Progressive Party of Singapore (one of several opposition parties, but neither of them influential in Singapore’s flawed democracy) said that

all great leaders are still people, and inevitably, one can find words of praise and of contempt. But at this time of national grief, let’s remember the contributions he made for the people of Singapore, and affirm his contributions.

“所有伟大的领导人毕竟都是人,难免可褒可贬。但在这个举国哀悼之际,让我们记得他为国人做所的贡献,肯定他的贡献。”

Singapore’s authorities closed the “Speakers Corner” at Hong Lim Park on Monday, for an undefined period. Reportedly, truly “free speech” never really ruled there, anyway.

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Related

想要更多政治空間和言論自由, CNA, March 23, 2015

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Friday, March 13, 2015

“One Country Two Systems” Logic: Elections are Infiltration

Fanny Law (羅范椒芬), Hong Kong Executive Councillor and a delegate to the ” National People’s Congress”, in an interview with a mainland news website, quoted by Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) on Saturday (Friday UTC).

Law certainly has reasons to dislike free elections – her chances to win any would appear rather dim.

Friday, March 6, 2015

NPC and CPPCC sessions: The Phrasemongering Season has begun

People's Daily online resources for learning cadres

On the Road of Learning
from the Great Helmsman –
click picture for source

China’s ongoing two annual political sessions have once again hit major headlines, as the world is anticipating the country’s new measures to cope with its growth slowdown to a state of “new normal”,

according to a Xinhua report republished by Beijing Review, an English-language propaganda paper for exactly that waiting world. And also according to Beijing Review, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and other leaders on Wednesday vowed to fully implement the “Four Comprehensives” strategic layout in order to realize economic and social development targets.

The Four Comprehensives can make clearer what the road to the Chinese dream is about, believes Central Party School professor and doctoral supervisor Xin Ming.

And that’s badly needed stuff, if we go by what the BBC said in February:

Mr Xi denounced political jargon as “empty words” during a speech five years ago.
However, he launched his leadership in 2013 with the idea of the “Chinese dream”, a concept many say is still ill-defined.

So, just how does the “dream” concept become clearer, according to Xin?

The professor believes that the “Chinese dream” is “a strategic layout in the historical process of the realization of the greatest dream of the Chinese nation.”

He considers the “four comprehensives” – the goal of comprehensively building a moderately prosperous society, coprehensive deepening of reform, comprehensive promotion of government by law, and strictly governing the party – constitute three strategic measures (apparently, Xin combines the rule by law and the demand of strictly governing the party).

He believes that, iguratively speaking, one goal and three measures may also count as „three legs of a tripod“ on which the goal is set up. “One body, three feet” are structuring the blueprint of China’s happy future.

他认为,一个目标、三大战略举措,用个形象的说法,就好比是“三足鼎立”,上面架起了目标,“一体三足”构建起了中国未来美好的蓝图。

[…]

“To really comprehensively understand the ‚four comprehensives‘, I’m afraid we need to move one step further, i. e. to understand that besides the one-body-three-feet structure, we must understand which kind of consciousness it highlights.” Xin Ming believes that „behind the four comprehensives, there are contemporary communists,or three strong kinds of consciousness in current Chinese society.

“要想真正全面地理解‘四个全面’,恐怕还要再往前讲,就是仅仅明白了一体三足的战略建构之外,还要明白这一体三足的战略建构凸显了什么样的意识。”辛鸣认为,“四个全面”背后是当代中国共产党人,或者今日中国社会三种意识的强烈凸显。

Xin states “a sense of mission”, “problem awareness”, and a “sense of responsibility” as these “strong kinds of consciousness”. As for the latter,

Chinese Communists‘ have such a noble mission, but at the same time, we clearly encounter problems in the process of completing the mission. How can we deal with the problems? We shy away from them, turn a blind eye to them, or we confront them head-on, crack them, smooth them out, solve them. What does it take to do this job? It takes acceptance of responsibility. Without acceptance of responsibility, there won’t be this kind of strategic vision, there won’t be this sense of responsibility. Maybe we could still pick up what can be done well, what can be done easily, and with immediate effect, but we can’t make a big fanfare over „comprehensiveness“.

中国共产党人有这样一种崇高的使命,同时,我们也很清楚在完成这个使命的过程中会遇到什么样的问题。遇到这些问题怎么办?我们是绕着走、视而不见,还是迎 头而上,去破解问题、化解问题、解决问题。做这些工作要什么?需要一种担当。没有这种担当意识,我们做不出这样一种战略构想,没有这样一种担当意识,也许 我们就会捡好的做,捡容易的做,捡能马上见效的做,而不会在“全面”上大做文章。

All this, written in the run-up to the sessions of the NPC and the CPPCC, may come across as empty words, as observed by the BBC or by unnamed critics quoted by the BBC: Critics say the Communist elite’s obsession with jargon alienates them from plain-speaking Chinese citizens.

That may be so – among an unknown share of the Chinese population. But it would be particularly true for Chinese people who are in constant contact with foreigners, and who may actually feel somewhat embarrassed when their foreign colleagues or friends pick up some of the more colorful blossoms of CCP phrasemongering. But despite all the embarrassment (or fun) it may create, this custom – which isn’t merely “communist” – has been criticized for a century or longer, and it hasn’t gone away. To another unknown share of the Chinese population, the slogans are realities.

Or, as Jacques Ellul wrote in 1962, about a much more obvious and obtrusive kind of CCP propaganda than of our days:

When one reads this once, one smiles. If one reads it a thousand times, and no longer reads anything else, one must undergo a change. And we must reflect on the transformation of perspective already suffered by a whole society in which texts like this (published by the thousands) can be dsitributed and taken seriously not only by the authorities but by the intellectuals.*)

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Note

*) Jacques Ellul, “Propaganda”, New York 1965 (a more recent reprint of it), p. 14

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Related

» Reference Book, Beijing Review, Mar 6, 2015
» Unobtrusive and imperceptible, Jan 7, 2012

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Monday, March 2, 2015

Good News for Deutsche Welle, but “some used the Discussion about DW Financing to raise their own Profiles”

The German ministry of finance and federal government commissioner for Culture and the Media Monika Grütters have agreed to increase the Deutsche Welle (DW) budget by twelve million Euros, from 2016 on. The Generalanzeiger, a paper from Bonn, and therefore from one of the two cities hosting DW services, describes the agreement – reportedly reached on February 22 – as a mark set by the two against DW director general Peter Limbourg‘s plans to close ten out of the thirty language services run by DW.

Employee committee member Daniel Scheschkewitz had referred to the director general’s plans as hostage-taking, according to the eco-liberal daily taz in December last year. In the same article however, taz also quoted DW spokesman Christoph Jumpelt as saying that Limbourg had pointed out consequences that  budget squeezes on DW could lead to.

But neither the Generalanzeiger, nor taz, come across as convinced. Nor does Tabea Rössner, media spokesperson for the Greens in German federal parliament. In a speech on a demonstration of some 300 DW employees in Bonn on February 23,  she quoted DW general employee committee Ayse Tekin as saying that if the director general wanted an English-language news channel, the budget needed to be increased, and that the news channel should not come at the cost of DW’s regional language services. And she didn’t forget to mention how enduringly she, Rössner, had advocated this position in the federal parliament, in the press, in interviews, and in discussions.

Indeed, Rössner has made DW, and the strategic choice it is facing, publicly noticeable (if anyone has). And she caught the ire of the DW bosses when, a few days ahead of the DW staff protests in Bonn, she allegedly referred to their plans as the organization’s transformation into an English-language news channel. This echoed the two opposing December narratives, about an either reckless or concerned director general. DW spokesman Jumpelt reacted with a press release, on February 20, criticizing Rössner’s representation of the plans – or warnings, depending on whose side of the story you side with – as unobjective. There were “some” who used the discussion about DW financing to raise their own profiles.

If that, too, was targeted at Rössner, it may not be completely off the mark. But every politician who makes DW a topic of public debate – beyond government – is doing the public foreign broadcaster a favor.

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Related

Leaving Rwanda, Febr 12, 2015
Mindless Competition, Jan 6, 2015
Aha, the Russians, Nov 25, 2014
Cooperating with CCTV, Oct 4, 2014

Related tag: Deutsche Welle

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Friday, February 27, 2015

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman: “One Country, two Systems” a “Great Success” in Hong Kong

Q: The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office issued the 36th Six-Monthly Report on Hong Kong on February 26. What is China’s comment?

A: Since the return of Hong Kong, “one country, two systems” has been proved to be a great success, and is recognized by the world. The Central Government of China will continue to implement the “one country, two systems” policy and the Basic Law, resolutely support Hong Kong’s democratic development in accordance with the law, and safeguard Hong Kong’s long-term prosperity and stability.

I would like to stress again that the Central Government of China resumed its sovereignty over Hong Kong on July 1, 1997. Since then, Hong Kong has been a special administrative region of China. The so-called “responsibility” that the British side claimed to have over Hong Kong simply does not exist. Hong Kong affairs are completely China’s domestic affairs. No foreign country has any right to interfere.

FMPRC (English), Febr. 27

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问:26日,英国外交部发表第36份《香港问题半年报告》。中方对此有何评论?

答:香港回归以来,“一国两制”的实践取得巨大成就,举世公认。中国中央政府将继续坚定不移贯彻“一国两制”方针和基本法,坚定不移支持香港依法推进民主发展,坚定不移维护香港长期繁荣稳定。

同时,我要再次强调,1997年7月1日,中国中央政府恢复对香港行使主权,香港成为中国的特别行政区,英方对香港的所谓“责任”是不存在的。香港事务纯属中国内政,任何外国无权干预。

FMPRC (Chinese), Febr. 27

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via Radio Taiwan International, Febr. 27, 2015

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