Friday, May 11, 2018

Inside Report: the Singapore Summit

 

A very special moment …

 

and the very last moment …

… for world peace.

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Saturday, May 5, 2018

Trier: the Statue stands and divides, but Marx isn’t the Problem

This is a sad day in Trier, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. The city where Karl Marx was born in 1818 has accepted a Marx statue as a gift from the Chinese state. As news magazine Der Spiegel wrote in March 2017, 42 members of the city parliament supported the idea of taking the statue, seven opposed it, and four abstained. The statue is scheduled to be unveiled this morning.

The BBC quotes Trier’s mayor Wolfram Leibe as saying that “[w]e have accepted it as a gesture of friendship and this statue should encourage people to deal with Karl Marx,” and that “[m]aybe some judgements and prejudices will be revised.”

Katrin Werner, representing the Left Party, argued in 2017 that “Trier should rise to the occasion and “stand by one of its best-known children.”

But this is missing the point. A “present from the PRC” is a present from the regime. A Green deputy put it best, a year ago: “by accepting a gift, you honor the one who makes the present,” he reportedly said. By refusing to take it, Trier could make a case for human rights.

In an interview unrelated to the Trier statue, but about Marx, Gregor Gysi, former head of Germany’s Left Party from 1989 to 1993, and currently president of the Party of the European Left, when asked why Marx’ ideas deserve attention, given that regimes around the world had justified dictatorship and human rights violation with his ideology, suggested that state socialism had abused Marx. What should be striven for was a freedom-based socialism “that picks up the things capitalism does well, that leaves out what capitalism can’t do well, but only with the support of a popular majority”, plus separation of powers.

But while acknowledging that state socialism was a failure, he also pointed out that all (three) attempts to date to establish genuine democratic socialism – the Paris Commune, the Prague Spring, and in Chile – had been struck down by the military.

When it comes to the Greek Chinese gift, even mainstream German media can see some good in Marx: according to Friedrich Engels, he once said that “all I know is that I’m not a Marxist”. After Marx’ death, Engels ascribed this to Marx, in a critical letter to Paul Lafarge, an opponent to reformism.

Leftists may tend to idealizing democratic socialism – as far as I can see, Salvador Allende, one of the democratic socialists cited by Gysi, did not really have a mandate of a majority for “radical” policies.

But many who take gifts from China – even professorships and statues – aren’t terribly interested in Marx anyway – they are interested in Marxists (provided that those are wealthy and generous). In Lower Saxony, the same cabinet that oversaw the delayed award of citizenship to a British-Italian applicant in 2009 (it became a protracted affair, because she was a member of the left party), sounded happy tunes about China’s financing of one-and-a-half professorships at Göttingen University, in 2010.

Marx? God forbid. But money doesn’t stink. And avoiding offense to the CCP spells business for Trier. The feelings of Chinese tourists must not be hurt.

Marx isn’t the problem. But there are still a few problems in his country – his native land, which once forced him into exile.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Inter-Korean Summit: all the Virtuous Circles (around China, please)

CCTV, via Huanqiu Shibao.

Main Link: Historic Day – One Sentence from South-North Korean Summit makes this Continental Plate go Wild (历史性一天:朝韩首脑的一句话 让这个板块涨疯了)

Today, the Korean peninsula has welcomed a historic scene. At 08:30 Beijing time and 09:30 Seoul time, North Korea’s highest leader Kim Jong-un crossed the military demarcation line between the North and the South, to meet and shake hands with South Korean president Kim Jae-in. This was the first time for a highest North Korean leader to set foot on South Korean soil.

今天朝鲜半岛迎来历史性的一幕。北京时间8时30分,首尔时间9时30分,朝鲜最高领导人金正恩越过朝韩军事分界线,与韩国总统文在寅会面握手。这是朝鲜最高领导人首次踏上韩国领土。

After having talks, they signed an agreement and jointly issued the “Panmunjom Declaration”, achieving agreement to a denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Let us look back on this historic moment together.

双方在会谈之后,签署协议并共同发表了《板门店宣言》,就半岛无核化达成协议。一起来回顾一下这一历史性的时刻↓ [sic]

One line (or word) of this summit meeting has driven this continental plate wild!

朝韩首脑会晤上的一句话,让这些领域涨疯了!

Concerning this South-North Korean summit, CCTV Finance Channel’s special correspondent to South Korea, Li Xianghe, and Washington correspondent Wei Xuejiao also compiled the latest reports.

有关此次韩朝首脑会晤,央视财经频道在韩国首尔的特约记者李香和驻美国华盛顿记者魏雪娇也发挥了最新的报道↓

The nearly 12-hours itinerary of the third South-North Korean summit ended concluded perfectly. This afternoon, the South and North Korean leaders signed the “Panmunjom Declaration”, announcing the termination of all hostile behavior towards the other side, a strife for a declaration of the end to the state of war within a year, the two sides confirmed the goal of complete denuclearization of the peninsula by complete abandonment of nuclear weapons, and realizing balanced development and joint prosperity of the national economy. All South Korean media carried out complete and close coverage of today’s meeting. Many among the South Korean masses paid close attention to the historic moment.

将近12个小时的韩朝第三次首脑会晤的日程圆满结束。今天下午,韩朝领导人签署了《板门店宣言》,宣布停止一切针对对方的敌对行为,争取年内宣布结束战争状态,双方确认通过完全弃核实现半岛无核化的共同目标,实现民族经济的均衡发展和共同繁荣等。韩国各大媒体对今天的会晤进行了全程跟踪报道。很多的韩国民众,他们对这一历史性时刻给予了高度的关注。

Also, all South Korean walks of life assess the results of today’s meeting positively. All parties from South Korea, although with varying enthusiasm, affirmed the content of the “Panmunjom Declaration” signed today. Reactions from entrepreneurial circles were more direct and more positive.

另外,韩国各界也积极评价了今天的会晤成果。韩国朝野各党虽然存在一定的“温差”,但是对韩朝双方签署的“板门店宣言”的内容都给予了肯定。企业界的反映则更直接、更积极。

South Korea’s committee of small and medium-sized enterprises said that this meeting could become a relief for the tense situation on the peninsula, a major opportunity for the promotion of peace and prosperity, that they [the SMEs] would actively prepare renewed operation of Kaicheng Industrial Park, and promote South-Northern economic cooperation.

韩国中小企业委员会表示,此次会晤成为缓解朝鲜半岛紧张局势、推进和平繁荣的重要契机,他们将积极准备开城工业园的重启工作,促进南北经济合作。

After some notes on market reactions, the CCTV article continues:

In the informal conversation of this morning, Kim Jong-un praised South Korea’s high-speed railway, while Moon Jae-in said that if the two railway systems could link up to each other, they could be used by everyone. This kind of dialog pushed railway sector stock exchange up, with some exceeding a rise of 13 percent.  This kind of bilateral willingness is also reflected in the two sides’ declarations. Both the South and the North that they will link up the Interkorean Railway and the Gyeongui Line rail and road, promoting cooperation in the field of infrastructure. The North-South Korean summit was constantly and closely watched by the United States.

在今天上午的非正式谈话中,金正恩赞了韩国的高铁,文在寅则说到如果双方铁路能连起来了,大家可以一起用。这样的对话助推了铁路板块股票的上涨,有的涨幅甚至超过了13%。这样的意愿也反映在了双方的宣言上,韩朝双方表示将连接韩朝东海线及京义线铁路和道路,推动基础建设领域的合作。 针对此次朝韩首脑会晤,美国方面一直在对其进行着密切的关注。

White House: At the time of the North-South Korean summit, America hopes for smooth [interaction of] the people in the North and the South. It hopes that the talks will allow the Korean peninsula to forge toward peace and prosperity. At the same time, America also praises its South Korean ally and expresses hopes that President Trump and Kim Jong-un will also meet within a few weeks. At the same time, many American mainstream media provide prominent coverage of this summit. On the whole, the American media really anticipate this historic meeting. Many American media also refer to a “historic meeting”.

白宫:在朝韩首脑会晤之际,美方希望朝韩人民顺利。希望谈判能够让朝鲜半岛向和平、繁荣迈进。同时,美方也赞赏了盟友韩国,对未来几周,特朗普总统和金正恩的会谈表示期待。 与此同时,很多美国主流媒体都突出报道了此次朝韩首脑会晤,整体上来看,美国媒体非常期待这次历史性会谈。很多美国媒体也用“历史性会晤”来形容。

The “Wall Street Journal” [writes] that this time’s results will determine the future direction of relations on the Korean peninsula, and establish a foundation for preparing and holding the summit between North Korea and America.

美国《华尔街日报》本次的结果势将决定朝鲜半岛关系未来走向,并为拟定举行的朝美首脑会晤奠定基础。

“Bloomberg News” said that hopes were rekindled on the Korean peninsula, and that this time’s meeting between the North and the South made people expect that besides putting an end to a meaningless conflict, and that it could at least reduce current threats to global security and the tense situation on the global financial markets.

美国《彭博社》表示,朝鲜半岛再次燃起希望,此次朝韩会晤也令人期待,除了结束毫无意义的冲突之外,至少可以减少目前威胁全球安全和世界金融市场的紧张局势。

The CCTV article then describes US media interest in the two leaders’ dinner menu, abd mentions the release of photos showing newly-appointed US secretary of state Pompeo’s meeting with North Korean leaders a few weeks ago.

In fact, if everything develops smoothly, including this North-South Korean summit, President Trump and Kim Jong-un will hold a leaders meeting in May or June, which would be the first dialog between a sitting US president and a North Korean leader.

实际上,如果一切进展顺利的话,包括此次朝韩首脑会晤,特朗普总统和金正恩将在5月或6月举行美朝领导人会晤,那将是美国现任总统与朝鲜领导人之间的首次对话。

In further news, South Korean media have revealed that the South Korean president may visit America around mid-May, have talks with US President Trump, brief him about the results of his talks with Kim Jong-un, and discuss a specific roadmap for the implementation of the Korean peninsula’s denuclearization.

接下来,韩国媒体已经透露,韩国总统或将于5月中旬访问美国,与美国总统特朗普举行会谈,向他介绍同金正恩的会谈结果,并讨论半岛无核化路线图的具体落实方案。

This meeting was the third one between South and North Korean leaders, eleven year after the most recent one. The “Panmunjom Declaration” confirms the realization of the peninsula’s denuclearization which brings about development space for the two countries, North East Asia and the whole world for economic cooperation.

此次会晤是时隔11年后,韩朝首脑的第三次会谈,《板门店宣言》确认实现半岛无核化,这将为两国、东北亚以及全球范围内的经济合作,带来发展空间。

Experts say that this summit, bringing about the establishment for a long-term peace mechanism, opens the door and paves the way for economic cooperation between the two countries and North East Asia.

专家表示,此次韩朝首脑会晤,带来的长期和平机制的建立,将为打通韩朝两国以及东北亚各方的经济合作,奠定基础。

Chinese Academy of Social Studies Asian and Global Strategy Research Institute’s researcher Pu Jianyi says that China’s, Russia’s and Mongolia’s building of a trilateral economic corridor could include North Korea, if the situation on the Korean peninsula approached a a virtuous circle. Once North Korea was included, South Korea would naturally join, with Japan behind. China, Japan, and South Korea cooperating, plus China integrating them with North Korea and Russia, would spell better prospects for the future.

中国社会科学院亚太与全球战略研究院研究员 朴键一表示,目前在中国、俄罗斯、蒙古三方的经济走廊建设,如果朝鲜半岛形势向着良性循环的方向发展,可以期待中蒙俄经济走廊建设的横向扩展,很快就可以把朝鲜拉进来,有了朝鲜,韩国自然就跟上了,后边日本。中国、日本,韩国的合作,还有就是中国和朝鲜、俄罗斯怎么把它们整合,会有一个比较好的前景。

[…]

Zhang Jianping, director of the Minstry of Commerce’s Research Center for Regional Economic Cooperation, says that North Korea has actually made some preparations during the past few years, establishing more economic development zones. Also, agricultural cooperation had become a matter of vital importance.

商务部研究院区域经济合作研究中心主任 张建平表示,朝鲜其实在前些年已经准备了一些,设立一些更多的一些经济开发区,另外在农业开放合作方面,现在也是当务之急。

Chinese Academy of Social Studies Asian and Global Strategy Research Institute’s researcher Pu Jianyi says that from South Korea through North Korea up to China, infrastructure building such as railways and highways, are now under discussion.  Among these, not only China, but along the Russian coastline, too, there were matters of  building railways and energy pipelines.  This infrastructure construction would entail lots of mutual economic cooperation, for example in the field of minerals, etc..

中国社会科学院亚太与全球战略研究院研究员 朴键一表示,从韩国经过朝鲜到中国来,像铁路、公路基础设施的建设,现在正在讨论。其中不光是到中国来,去俄罗斯的沿海岸线要铺设铁路,还有一个就是能源管道的问题。这样的一些基础设施建设,后边就带上一大堆相应的经济合作,比如矿产品等。

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Related

Chinese Interests won’t be sidelined, March 12, 2018

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Friday, April 27, 2018

Hundert Jahre Wladimir Dudinzew

Confused my two WordPress blogs: the post on Dudintsev is there.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Is Austrian Radio leaving Shortwave?

Austria’s public radio ORF has reduced its airtime on shortwave, from 70 (on weekends) or 80 (Monday through Friday) minutes to only 40 to 50 minutes now. The German-language program, the “Ö-1-Morgenjournal”, was cut short either on Sunday or Monday morning, and every morning since.

The broadcasts are the remains of what was a substantial international radio service until 2003. Until Saturday or Sunday, the remaining broadcast  was still announced as “Radio Österreich International / Radio Austria International / Radio Austria Internacional” at the beginning of the daily transmissions, but there were no programs specifically targeted at foreign listeners. All programs are produced for a domestic, German-speaking audience.

Reportedly, the company operating the shortwave transmission site in Moosbrunn has announced the closure of the site by 2020 “at the latest”.

The transmission site is also used by some foreign broadcasters. Radio Japan (NHK World Network) airs a half-hour program in English for Europe via Moosbrunn, on 5975 kHz, from 05:00 to 05:30 UTC. The BBC World Service also leases airtime from Austria.

If the Moosbrunn transmitters are indeed shut down, Austrian public radio will probably have to look for alternative shortwave broadcasting operators (probably abroad), or simply exit shortwave.

The current behind-schedule transmissions of the Ö-1 programs (only from 05:30 UTC instead of 05:00 UTC) may just be a technical glitch, but reducing  or suspending broadcasts temporarily is no unusual way of measuring an unknown audience. When the number of reactions from an audience is considered meagre, this will usually lead to a termination of broadcasts.

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Update

[April 12, 2018] Austrian Radio’s service department writes that the the current situation would probably continue for about a week, as the transmitter site was waiting for the delivery of a spare part.
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Saturday, April 7, 2018

Win-Win Flattery: Guanchazhe welcomes an Austrian “Supernova”

1. A Historical First (“Guanchazhe” review of Austrian papers)

Main Link: Historical First! Austrian President and Chancellor visiting China same Time in April (奥地利总统总理4月将同时访华)
Links within blockquotes added during translation.

Guanchazhe is a Chinese economic magazine from Shanghai, and Austrian president Alexander Van der Bellen‘s visit to China isn’t its main issue, of course. That would be how Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Adam Smith would look upon China’s economic reform if they were still alive.

But Van der Bellen – or more specifically: chancellor Sebastian Kurz – is among the top stories on Saturday, as a correspondent from Germany asks what Austria is looking for in China.

And on March 21, the Austrian double-visit earned itself an exclamation mark:

A historical first! Austrian president and chancellor going to visit China at the same time in April.

史上首次!奥地利总统总理4月将同时访华

Well then – that should tell us how Van der Bellen and Kurz look upon China’s economic reform.

In an article based on several sources (综合报道, i. e. several Austrian newspapers), the article reads as follows (links within blockquotes added during translation):

In what is “the biggest Austrian state visit in history”, according to Wiener Zeitung, Austrian president Van der Bellen and chancellor Kurz are visiting China in April. Several Austrian media report this unparalleled same-time visit to another country under the headline of “historical visit”.

“奥地利历史上最大的国事访问”,据奥地利《维也纳日报》报道,奥地利总统范德贝伦 (Alexander Van der Bellen) 和总理库尔茨(Sebastian Kurz)4月将一同访问中国。总统和总理同时出访同一个国家,在奥地利历史上尚属首次,多家媒体都以“历史性访问”为题进行报道。

The reports said that the Austrian president and chancellor announced on Monday [March 19] that they were to conduct Austria’s largest-scale state visit in Austria’s history, from April 7 to 12.

报道称,奥地利总统和总理周一宣布, 将进行奥地利史上最大规模的国事访问,与总理库尔茨在4月7日至12日访华。

It is reported that no less than four ministers, including foreign minister Karin Kneissl, environment minister Elisabeth Köstinger, infrastructure minister Norbert Hofer and economic and digitalization minister Margarete Schramböck.

据报道,随同两人访华的不少于4名部长,包括外交部长Karin Kneissl、农林环境与水利部长Elisabeth Köstinger、基础设施部长Norbert Hofer和经济及数字化部长Margarete Schramböck等。

The delegation will also include the chairman of the Austrian Chamber of Commerce, about 170 Austrian entrepreneurs, and dozens of Austrian scientists, cultural workers, and others, some 250 members combined.

此外,代表团还包括奥地利商会主席、约170名奥地利企业家和数十名科学家与文化工作者等,共约250人。

Austrian vice-chancellor Strache will temporarily take care of the government. Austria’s chancellor Kurz said that the vice-chancellor would stand in for him at the weekly cabinet meeting.

由于总统和总理同时访华, 奥地利副总理斯特拉赫(Heinz-Christian Strache)将临时管理政府。奥地利总理库尔茨表示,副总理将代替自己主持每周的部长理事会例会。

According to Austria’s “Kronen-Zeitung”, Van der Bellen said that “we can sign various agreements between Chinese and Austrian companies”, and “the state visit will help to move further in the development of bilateral relations, especially in the areas of economics, science, culture and the environment.”

奥地利《皇冠报》报道称,“我们希望能够签署中奥企业之间的各种协议,”奥地利总统范德贝伦表示,“国事访问将有助于进一步发展双边关系,特别是在经济、科学、文化和环境领域。”

Van der Bellen pointed out that in the fields of environmental protection technology and city planning, Austria had exclusive technologies that could be beneficial for China. “China, too, wants to have clean lakes and rivers.” For example, when hosting the 2022 Winter Olympics, Austrian companies could be of help.

范德贝伦指出,奥地利在环境保护和城市规划方面的专有技术可以使中国受益,“中国也希望拥有干净和湖泊和河流”,比如中国承办2022年冬奥会,奥地利企业可以提供许多帮助。

According to China’s embassy in Austria, a Chinese ministry of commerce delegation visited Austria in April last year, took part in the Chinese-Austrian Economic Comittee’s 26th conference, attended the 22nd international alpine ski equipment exhibition, and discussed Sino-Austrian winter sports cooperation activities.

据中国驻澳大使馆介绍,去年4月,中国商务部代表团曾访问奥地利,参加中奥经贸联委会第26次会议,出席第22届国际阿尔卑斯滑雪用品展开幕式、中奥冬季运动合作研讨会等活动。

Also, “Kronen-Zeitung” reported that Austria hopes to participate in China’s very active research and development, and to have negotiations about economic exchange agreements.

此外,《皇冠报》还称,奥地利希望参与中国非常活跃的发展研究领域,还有关于文化交流的协议也希望能够进行商谈。

Chancellor Kurz, who is only 32 years old, is Europe’s youngest head of government, and considered to be a “supernova” in the European world of politcs. As for this visit to China, Kurz said that “China is a country with a huge potential”, and several hundred Austrian companies were already operating in China.

年仅32岁的奥地利总理库尔茨,是欧洲最年轻的政府首脑,也被认为是欧洲政坛的“超新星”。对于此次访华,库尔茨表示, “中国是一个潜力巨大的国家”,已有九百多家奥地利企业在中国经营。

Kurz said that to put it simply, China had a veto right at the UN, it was a major participant in reacting to climate change and in the North Korean issue, with a GDP growh target of 6.5 percent this year, and also one of the fastest-growing economies. China’s middle class was growing rapidly, and in economic terms, China was “a newly rising superpower.”

库尔茨称,简单地说,中国在联合国拥有否决权,在应对气候变化和朝鲜问题上是主要的国际参与者,中国今年GDP增速目标是6.5%,也是增速最快的经济体之一,中产阶层迅速成长,在经济上是“新兴的超级大国”。

Kurz conceded that apart from mutual win-win, there were also “sensitive issues” between China and Austria. The key was that “the European and Austrian economies must be protected, by defending them against unfair competition and excessive production.”

此外,库尔茨也坦陈,除了互利共赢外,中奥之间也存在“敏感问题”。关键在于,“欧洲和奥地利经济必须受到保护,以防止不公平竞争或过度产能”。

Kurz said that during his visit to China, Austrian participation in China’s “one belt, one road” project would also be discussed. Austria acknowledges China’s “one belt one road” plan, and its government hopes to reach better coordination. In the preparatory process for this visit to China, all departments were actively involved.

库尔茨也表示,访华期间将讨论奥地利参与中国“一带一路”相关项目问题。奥地利认可中国“一带一路”计划,政府希望能做到更好地协调,在此次访华准备过程中,各部门都积极参与。

According to “Wiener Zeitung”, apart from taking part in Beijing events, the Austrian president and chancellor would also take part in the Boao Forum held on Hainan, and visit Chengdu, western China’s metropolis.

2. Counterweight Hopeful (Guanchazhe short bio of Kurz)

MainLink: Austria turns East (奥地利正在向东转)
Links within blockquotes added during translation.

The supernova (i. e. the Austrian chancellor) is explained in more detail in today’s Guanchazhe article by the correspondent in Germany:

This youngest chancellor in Austria’s history, 31-year-old Kurz, is certainly known to everyone, for his [young] age and appearance. But many people may not know his nature: aged 29, during his tenure as foreign minister, Kurz showed outstanding boldness, standing up to pressure from all sides. Braving the risk of an early end to his career by shutting the Balkan Route, lived up to the mission, averted Europe’s crisis, which was exactly what made him the victor in the October 2017 parliamentary elections.

奥地利这位欧洲史上最年轻的31岁总理库尔茨,想必借着他的年龄与外貌,已被大家所了解。但很多人可能还不知道,他的内在甚至还要远超其出众的外在:时年29岁的库尔茨在外交部长任上时,曾在难民危机中表现出非凡的气魄,顶住各方压力,冒着职业生涯终结的危险关闭西巴尔干路线,最终不辱使命,使欧洲转危为安,正是这点使得他能够在2017年10月的国会大选中胜出。

The correspondent also expresses esteem for Kurz’ successor in Austria’s foreign ministry, Karin Kneissl: an extremely noteworthy personality (一个极其值得注意的人物), speaking English, Arabic, Hebrew, French, Spanish, Italian and Hungarian, and author of a book about China.

In her book, “The Change in the World Order” [literally: “On the Way into a Chinese World Order”], Kneissl writes that the process of Austria’s turn to the East actually opened the curtain on [the scene of] the world order entering a “Chinese order”. As for Europe not expressing hopes to take part in the one belt one road plan, this had mainly been the case  because Beijing had not answered to their persistent ideological demands (such as government transparency, human rights and minimum social security issues).

克莱瑟在他的《世界秩序的改变和换岗》一书中写到,奥地利向东转的进程事实上在几年前就已拉开帷幕——世界秩序将要进入一种新的“中国秩序”。而欧盟并未对中国的一带一路的规划表示希望参与,主要是因为北京方面没有回应他们一贯的意识形态要求(如政府透明,人权以及最低社会保障等问题)。

The correspondent then takes aim right at the regional hegemon – Germany. It was Germany that was largely to blame for the loss of contractual reliability among European states, she writes. The country had acted unilaterally in the European debt crisis of 2009 (欧债危机), in the 2015 refugee crisis, thus harming other European partners and third countries, China’s interests among them:

Kneissl writes in her book that “not wanting to acknowledge the methodology of China’s rise will be regarded by future history scholars as ‘a dangerous and silly refusal to adopt realistic action'” – which is exactly the approach of the authorities in Brussels (EU).

克莱瑟在书中说: “不愿承认中国的崛起的做法,恐怕会被将来的历史学家归为‘危险而愚蠢的拒绝接受现实的行为’”——而这却正是布鲁塞尔(欧盟)当局现今的做法。

An important factor in Kurz’ election victory of last year, the correspondent notes, was his opposition against German chancellor Angela Merkel’s refugee policy.

It’s a long article, and if someone is interested in how Germany’s image has recently been shaped by Chinese media, he might want to translate all of it. German-Chinese relations are souring, reflected not least by some remarks by Sigmar Gabriel (Germany’s foreign minister until a few weeks ago) in an interview with newsmagazine Der Spiegel in January:

For years, we’ve been constantly hearing about a multi-speed Europe. It would be great if that were the case, because that would at least mean that we were all moving in the same direction, just at different speeds. The truth is that we have long had a multi-track Europe with very different objectives. The traditional differences between the north and the south in fiscal and economic policy are far less problematic than those that exist between Eastern and Western Europe. In the south and east, China is steadily gaining more influence, such that a few EU member states no longer dare to make decisions that run counter to Chinese interests. You see it everywhere: China is the only country in the world that has a real geopolitical strategy.

See also this blog and press review, subheadlines “Central Europe (1)” and “Central Europe (2)“. A global and a regional hegemon – China and Germany – are competing for influence in the region.

Friday, March 30, 2018

CCTV, CRI, CPBS: by any other (English) Name

Bloomberg appears to have been the first media company outside China to publish the news, and the Financial Times followed with an article about the creation of “a new broadcasting behemoth”, designed to “broaden [China’s] global news footprint and bolster its soft power abroad,” still on March 21.

While the CCP may have the means to feed more than one propaganda monster, the new organization will apparently be the result of a “merger” of China Central Television (CCTV), China Radio International (CRI) and China National Radio (CNR, or, in Chinese, Central People’s Broadcasting Station/CPBS).

But this may not have as far-reaching implications for the three organizations as it first seems.

Call it a deer: Radio Beijing QSL (1990) – the broadcaster’s current name is China Radio International

“Voice of China”, the planned “merged” organization’s future name, isn’t necessarily an imitation of the “Voice of America”, as supposed by the FT author. Central People’s Broadcasting Station’s first channel (there are nine channels altogether) has long been referred to as “Voice of China” (zhongguo zhisheng), but always in Chinese, while the station’s occasional English-language identification announcements have simply referred to the network, as “China National Radio”. In its “about us”, CPBS/CNR, on their website, refer to their first channel as “zhongguo zhisheng” in Chinese, and as “News Radio” in English.

On shortwave, China’s “voice” frequently co-channels undesired broadcasts from abroad – it kills two birds by with one stone, “telling the good China story” and hooting down less desirable stories.

The document announcing the merger of the three media organizations – Deepening Reform of Party and State Institutions – was released by the CCP’s Central Committee, unabridgedly published by Xinhua newsagency on March 21, and republished, among others, by the Chinese State Council’s website.

The naming of China’s media has been somewhat messy for decades – “China National Radio” for a foreign audience and “Central People’s Broadcasting Station” for the Chinese-speaking audience, a lot of tampering with CCTV (China Central Television) or, in its foreign guise, as CCTV News, or as CCTV 9, or as CCTV English), and (perhaps the messiest bit) China Radio International’s (CRI) strategy of “borrowing boats” abroad.

The Central People’s Broadcasting Station/CPBS) was given the English handle of “China National Radio” in 1998, while in Chinese, it has always remained CPBS (zhongyang renmin guangbo diantai).

According to the Deepening Reform of Party and State Institutions document, the Chinese-English double-naming remains the approach of choice. While all three organizations – CCTV, CRI and CPBS (CNR) are going to retain their traditional names at home, they will be referred to as “Voice of China” in English.

If that means that CRI listeners will listen to the “Voice of China”, die “Stimme Chinas”, la “Voix de la Chine” and to “zhongguo zhisheng” (CRI has a Chinese service, too) remains to be seen.

The China Media Project (CMP) at the University of Hong Kong picked up the merger story on March 22, one day after it had first been reported. They provide a full translation of the portions of the Program dealing with media and public opinion. In the leading in to their translation, the CMP points out that

… China Central Television was previously overseen by the General Administration of Press, Publications, Radio, Film and Television (previously just SARFT), a department under the State Council. The super-network will now be situated as a state-sponsored institution, or shiye danwei (事业单位), directly under the State Council, and directly under the supervision of the Central Propaganda Department.

The sections of the document (as translated by CMP) also arrange for a transfer of the General Administration of Press, Publications, Radio, Film and Television’s (SARFT) responsibilities to the Central Propaganda Department.

But for CCTV, CRI and CPBS, the biggest (real) changes don’t appear to be about organization. Shen Haixiong, Wang Gengnian and Yan Xiaoming may well keep their jobs and status, provided that they always make the right ideological adjustments.

Update 1 [April 2, 2018]

CRI online, March 21, 2018, editor: Yang Lei

2018-03-21 | 来源:国际在线 | 编辑:杨磊

CRI online news: In the morning of March 21, Central People’s Broadcasting Station, China Central Television, and China Radio International held a mid-level cadre meeting and announced a decision by the Central Committee to establish to form the Central Radio and Television Station  [in People’s Daily’s English translation: Central Radio and Television Network] and its leadership. Comrade Shen Haixiong is to serve as the Central Radio and Television Station’s director and party secretary.

国际在线消息:3月21日上午,中央人民广播电台、中央电视台、中国国际广播电台召开中层干部大会,宣布中央关于组建中央广播电视总台和领导班子任职的决定。慎海雄同志任中央广播电视总台台长、党组书记。

The organization’s deputy director Zhou Zuyi read out the Central Committee’s decision and delivered a speech. Central propaganda department standing vice minister Wang Xiaohui presided over the meeting and delivered a speech.

中组部副部长周祖翼宣读中央决定并讲话,中宣部常务副部长王晓晖主持会议并讲话。

According to a Beijing Daily article published online on March 28, Yan Xiaoming, who used to head CPBS, will serve as the new organization’s deputy director, while Wang Gengnian, formerly CRI’s director, has retired.

Wang will reportedly be 62 in May this year. Online encyclopedia Baike says that he joined the CCP in May 1986. He was CRI’s director from 2004 until last month. He was also CRI’s party secretary.

Update 2 [April 5, 2018]

This article by the South China Morning Post (SCMP) puts the merger of domestic and foreign radio and television into perspective: upgrading the CCP’s “leading groups” (领导小组) to commissions, [t]he offices in charge of religious and overseas Chinese affairs now .. under the United Front Work Department, responsible for overseas liaison work, merging the Chinese Academy of Governance with the Central Party School, or the creation of a “central education body” over the education ministry for “improving political education in schools and universities”.

In general, the party takes more direct control in several fields, sidestepping the government (as seems to be the case with the “central education body”). In another article of the same day, March 21/22, the SCMP noted that

China is to broaden the scope of a controversial Communist Party department responsible for its overseas liaison work to include ethnic and religious affairs.

The consolidation of the United Front Work Department is part of a restructure of party agencies announced on Wednesday. It will take over the duties of state agencies overseeing ethnic and religious affairs, as well as the overseas Chinese portfolio.

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Notes

If China Copyright and Media (a great resource if you look for the CCP’s/PRC’s bureaucratic output) isn’t faster, I might summarize the document sometime during Easter.

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Updates / Related

十九届三中全会要点, CD, March 1, 2018
Foreign Experts wanted, May 2, 2016

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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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