Posts tagged ‘accountability’

Friday, December 2, 2016

Is the Truth losing in Today’s World? (And if Yes: How so?)

That’s what Richard Stengel, currently undersecretary for public diplomacy at the State Department, believes, according to a Washington Post article:

“We like to think that truth has to battle itself out in the marketplace of ideas. Well, it may be losing in that marketplace today,” Stengel warned in an interview. “Simply having fact-based messaging is not sufficient to win the information war.”

And, adds the author of the WaPo article, David Ignatius:

How do we protect the essential resource of democracy — the truth — from the toxin of lies that surrounds it? It’s like a virus or food poisoning. It needs to be controlled. But how?

Fascinating stuff – fascinating, because it feels like a déjà vu to me (and I’m wondering for how many others who have a memory of some decades).

The Genius leads the spectators: engineering of consent in its early stages in applauding his works.

The Genius leads the spectators: engineering of consent in its early stages.

When I studied and worked in a fairly rural place in China, I had a number of encounters with – probably mainstream – Chinese worldviews. That was around the turn of the century, and these were probably the most antagonistic, and exciting, debates I ever had, as the only foreigner among some Chinese friends. Discussions sometimes ended with the two, three or four of us angrily staring at each other, switching to a less controversial topic, and bidding each other a frosty good-bye.

But there was a mutual interest in other peoples’ weird ideas. That’s why our discussions continued for a number of weekends. At at least one point, I felt that I had argued with overwhelming logic, but my Chinese interlocutor was unimpressed. I blamed Chinese propaganda for his insusceptibility, but apparently, propaganda was exactly his point: “If propaganda helps to keep my country safe, I have nothing against propaganda,” he replied.

I found that gross. The idea that propaganda should just be another tool, something you might volunteer to use and to believe in, so as to keep your country and society stable, was more alien to me than any Chinese custom I had gotten to know.

The idea that truth is, or that facts are, the essential resource of a (working, successful) democracy looks correct to me. Democracy can’t work without an informed public. But when it comes to German mainstream media, I have come to the conclusion that they aren’t trustworthy.

I agree with the WaPo article / Richard Stengel that the US government can’t be a verifier of last resort. No government can play this kind of role. The Chinese party and state have usurped that role, but China is known to be a low-trust society – that doesn’t suggest that they have played a successful role as official verifiers. While many Chinese people do apparently think of their government as the ultimate guardian of national sovereignty and individual safety from imperialist encroachment, they don’t seem to trust these domestic public security powers as their immediate neighbors.

And the ability of any Western government to be a verifier ends as soon as an issue involves state interests, government interests, or governing parties’ interests.

The US government as a verifier of last resort concerning the Syria war? That idea isn’t even funny.

The German government as a verifier of last resort when it comes to foreign-trade issues (within the European Union, or beyond)? Bullshit.

But what about the American media? I don’t have a very clear picture of how they work, but it would seem to me that US television stations usually address the issues that earn them most of the public’s attention. If that is so, it should be no wonder that Donald Trump profited more from media attention, than Hillary Clinton.

But if tweets, rather than platforms, become the really big issues, the media must have abandoned the role that has traditionally been ascribed to them.

German (frequently public-law) media are strongly influenced by political parties, and apparently by business-driven foundations, too.

I don’t know if something similar can be said about American media, but even if only for their attention-seeking coverage, they can’t count as well-performing media either.

What about “social” media? According to Stengel, as quoted by the Washington Post, they give everyone the opportunity to construct their own narrative of reality.

Stengel mentions Islamic State (in 2014) and Russian propaganda campaigns as examples. In the latter’s case, he points to the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and other political organizations during the elections in particular.

I believe that Stengel / Ignatius may have half a point. Russia – provided that they were indeed behind the leaks – only targeted Clinton’s campaign, not Donald Trump’s.

But then, wouldn’t it have been the task of the US media to unearth either campaign’s dirty secrets? Russian propaganda performed, even if only selectively, where US media had failed. It exposed practice in the Democratic Party leadership that was hostile to democracy, but acting under the guise of defending it.

How should citizens who want a fact-based world combat this assault on truth, Ignatius finally asks, and quotes Stengel once again, and addressing the role of “social media”:

The best hope may be the global companies that have created the social-media platforms. “They see this information war as an existential threat,” says Stengel. The tech companies have made a start: He says Twitter has removed more than 400,000 accounts, and YouTube daily deletes extremist videos.

Now, I’m no advocate of free broadcasts for ISIS videos. But if the best hope is the removal of accounts and videos by the commercial providers, it would seem that there isn’t much hope in human power of judgment, after all – and in that case, there wouldn’t be much hope for democracy as a model of government.

Ignatius:

The real challenge for global tech giants is to restore the currency of truth. Perhaps “machine learning” can identify falsehoods and expose every argument that uses them. Perhaps someday, a human-machine process will create what Stengel describes as a “global ombudsman for information.”

Wtf? Human-machine processes? Has the “Global Times” hacked the WaPo?

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Related

Why Wikileaks can’t work, Dec 1, 2010

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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

KMT’s Communication: one Party, two Interpretations

It’s nothing unusual that Beijing bemoans a lack of pro-China “patriotism” among members or supporters of the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in Taiwan, but on Wednesday (Oct 26), on a regular press conference, a “Taiwan Affairs Office” (TAO) spokesman commented on a debate within the oppositional Kuomintang (KMT), a party with a Chinese history, according to Taiwanese news agency CNA. Former president Ma Ying-jeou, in office from 2008 to May this year, had worked to promote both closer economic ties to China, and some kind of political understanding. The “1992 consensus” always featured prominently in Ma’s China talk, but not so in president Tsai Ing-wen‘s. Now, the question within the KMT appears tobe  if one China, two interpretations (the traditional KMT view of the “consensus”), or one China, one interpretation should be a position to aspire to.

The TAO spokesman, apparently commenting on controversy within the KMT, also reiterated the “1992 consensus”. He mentioned neither two, nor one interpretation, probably because Beijing has never done that anyway.

Previously, the TAO had commented on the issue a fortnight ago. Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), Taiwan’s vice president from 2012 to 2016 (serving during president Ma Ying-jeou’s second term in office), had criticized current KMT chairperson Hung Hsiu-chu‘s (洪秀柱) cross-straits policies. In reaction to Wu’s criticism, KMT cultural and communications commission director Chow Chi-wai (周志偉) had quoted Hung Hsiu-chu as saying that the established KMT formular, “one China, two interpretations”; had not been cancelled, and that the KMT’s central committee would work to continuously strengthen communication further.

The English-language China Times pointed out in a report on October 16 that Hung had advocated moving towards a “one China, one interpretation” status during her presidential campaign in 2015. Hung, in a meeting with KMT legislators, had affirmed that to advocate the “different interpretation” version in a scheduled meeting with Chinese party and state chairman Xi Jinping was her “responsibility”.

However, she also said that the lawmakers probably did not understand the meaning of the “1992 Consensus” and how it had been reached.

Hung’s communication style could be described as erratic. Even people who might want to trust her, may not be in a position to do so when it comes to national security issues.

Apart from that, anything like “one China, one interpretation” is a reliable killer of any hope the KMT may have to win national elections.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Pope’s Meeting with Suzhou Bishop Raises Questions

Central News Agency (CNA), via Radio Taiwan International (RTI), →quotes Taiwan’s foreign ministry as saying that the diplomats were closely following developments after Pope Francis had held the first public reception for a mainland Chinese pilgrimage group, led by Suzhou bishop Xu Honggen (徐宏根), on October 5. According to the report, the foreign ministry added that the Vatican, as a non-secular state, remained “absolutely concerned” about the treatment of mainland Chinese underground church members.

RTI CNA refers to a Chinese-language report by the Catholic Asian News network (UCAN), →here  in English, on October 13. According to UCA, the event met a mixed reception among the open and underground Catholic communities in China due to ongoing talks between the Vatican and China’s ruling Communist Party that have divided the faithful.

The public reception (including a souvenir photo with the Pope in Saint Peter’s Square) was seen as an indication that the relationship between mainland China and the Vatican were developing further.

Apparently quoting the Taiwanese foreign ministry again, the RTI report points out that there was an alliance between the Republic of China (i. e. Taiwan) regarding religious freedom, democracy, human rights, and humanitarian help, and that in September, → Taiwanese vice president Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) had visited the Vatican on invitation, to take part in the → canonization of Mother Teresa.

→ The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that there has been a long-standing friendship between the Republic of China and the Vatican, that the bilateral friendship was stable and strong, with close exchanges, and frequent high-ranking bilateral meetings between the two sides.

外交部表示,中華民國與教廷邦誼源遠流長,雙邊邦誼穩固、交流密切,多年來雙方高層及重要官員互訪頻繁。

According to the → “state administration for religious affairs of P.R.C” (SARA, 国家宗教事务局) website,

In the morning of April 20 [2006], Father Xu Honggen of the Catholic Suzhou parish was ordained bishop in the → Yangjiaqiao Catholic Church. The → Bishops Conference of the Catholic Church in China Vice Chairman and Bishop of Linyi diocese in Shandong province, Fang Xingyao, Jiangsu Province Nanjing diocese Bishop Lu Xinping, Shandong Qingdao diocese Bishop Li Mingshu, Shandong Zhoucun diocese Bishop Ma Xuesheng and Shandong Jinan diocese Bishop assistant Bishop Zhang Xianwang conducted the ceremony. More than fourty priests from Suzhou diocese and other provincial cities were also on the platform, with nearly 3,000 Catholics attending. — → Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association and the Bishops Conference of the Catholic Church in China Chairman Bishop Fu Tieshan and others sent congratulatory messages.  Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association Secretary General Liu Yuanlong, Deputy Secretary General Chen Shujie, were present to congratulate. The ordination was conducted in accordance with the Bishop Conference of the Catholic Church in China’s “Regulations Concerning the Choice of Bishops” and the “Holy Order of Ordination of Bishops”, with the Bishops Conference of the Catholic Church in China’s document of approval being read out. The newly ordained Bishop Xu Honggen swore that he would conscientiously carry out his duties as Bishop, lead all the priests, monks, nuns and church members in the diocese, comply with the state constitution, protect national unity, social stability and unity, and contribute to comprehensively build a moderately prosperous society and to the building of a socialist, harmonious society. The ordainment ceremony was dignified and solemn, warm-hearted and peaceful.

祝圣仪式由中国天主教主教团副主席、山东省临沂教区主教房兴耀主礼,江苏省南京教区陆新平主教、山东省青岛教区李明述主教、山东省周村教区马学圣主教和山东省济南教区张宪旺助理主教襄礼。苏州教区和有关省市40多位神甫同台共祭,近3000名天主教徒参加了祝圣典礼。中国天主教爱国会主席、中国天主教主教团代主席傅铁山主教等致贺电,中国天主教爱国会秘书长刘元龙、中国天主教爱国会副秘书长陈书杰神甫到场祝贺。主教祝圣仪式按照中国天主教主教团《关于选圣主教的规定》和《主教圣秩授予典礼》有关程序进行,宣读了中国天主教主教团批准书。新任主教徐宏根宣誓要善尽主教的职责,带领本教区全体神甫、修士、修女和教友,遵守国家宪法,维护国家的统一和社会安定团结,为全面建设小康社会和构建社会主义和谐社会贡献力量。祝圣典礼庄严隆重、热烈祥和。

Xu Honggen, born in April 1962, graduated from → Shanghai Sheshan Monestary in 1990. He was ordained by former Suzhou diocesan Bishop Ma Longyao as a priest the same year. From 1994 to 1999, he went to America to study at → St. Joseph’s Seminary and Church in New York and the 联合神学院 in Chicago. He earned theological and classical master’s degrees and is currently [i. e. 2006] the Jiangsu Catholic educational administration’s deputy director.

徐宏根主教生于1962年4月,1990年毕业于上海佘山修院,同年由原苏州教区马龙麟主教祝圣为神甫。徐宏根主教1994年至1999年赴美国纽约若瑟修院、芝加哥联合神学院学习,先后获神学硕士、圣经学硕士学位,现任江苏省天主教教务委员会副主任。

According to Vatican Radio‘s German-language → website at the time (April 2006), Xu Honggen’s ordination was approved both by the Vatican, and the Chinese government. Oddly, Radio Vatican spotted the diocese in Hong Kong.

The BBC Mandarin service quotes UCAN as writing that this public meeting with Xu Honggen and the pilgrims was considered neglicance of the underground church. Members of the underground church had said the event confirmed that even though they were loyal to the Vatican, they got very little support.

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Related

→ Inexhaustible Wisdom, Febr 17, 2016
→ Unachieved Dream, Mar 13, 2013
→ Hao Jinli, 1916 – 2011, Mar 28, 2011

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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Tsai Ing-wen’s First Double-Ten Speech as President

Tsai Ing-wen delivered her first double-ten speech as Taiwan’s president on Tuesday.

Focus Taiwan, the English-language website operated by the Central News Agency (CNA), published the → full text of President Tsai Ing-wen’s Tuesday speech as an English translation.

KMT chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu stayed away from the national day celebrations. However, Ma Ying-jeou, former KMT chairman, and Tsai Ing-wen’s predecessor  as Taiwan’s president,  and other pan-blue politicians, did attend.

According to a Radio Taiwan International (RTI) report, U.S. assistant secretary of state Daniel Russel for Asia-Pacific affairs said on Wednesday that America had carefully read Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s speech on the island’s national holiday, Tuesday, October 10 (or Double-Ten). Washington supported and appreciated Tsai’s call for the two sides of the Taiwan Strait to hold a dialogue. Russel was also quoted as saying that the U.S. welcomed all constructive steps the two sides of the Taiwan Strait would take to lower tensions.

→ Russel made the remarks at a Washington Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) forum that discussed related Asia-Pacific affairs, in response to a question from a Taiwanese journalist.

羅素上午在華府智庫戰略暨國際研究中心(CSIS)參加有關亞洲發展的一場座談,會中回答台灣媒體記者提問時,做上述表示。

Asked how he judged President Tsai’s Double-Ten speech, Russel pointed out that he didn’t want to express his personal views. However, he also said that America had carefully read President Tsai’s double-ten speech, and that America supported and appreciated her call and support for cross-strait dialogue.

對於如何評價蔡總統的雙十國慶談話?羅素先指出,他不想對蔡總統的雙十談話表達個人意見;但他也表示,當然,美方很仔細了解蔡總統的雙十談話,美方支持、也欣賞她呼籲並支持兩岸要對話的說法。

Russel reiterated that America took a profound interest in the stability of cross-strait relations and welcomed any steps the two sides [i. e. Beijing and Taipei] would take to lower tensions, any constructive steps the two sides might take to lower tensions. Leeway remained to show flexibility and creativity, and to remain patient.

羅素重申,美國在兩岸關係的穩定上有深遠利益,美國歡迎兩岸雙方採取所有降低緊張、改善關係的建設性步驟,這其中仍有展現彈性與創意的空間,並且保持耐心。

Would America maintain the previous pattern of meeting with [James Soong] the representative of Taiwan’s leader at the coming APEC conference? Russel pointed out that he wasn’t aware of secretary of state Kerry’s itinerary, but that he believed the U.S. and Taiwan’s bilateral talks during previous APEC conferences had been very fruitful, with efficient and substantial content, and that this kind of  bilateral discussions. These  kinds of bilateral discussions on economic topics between America and Taiwan could always take place, and there would also be opportunities to discuss trade issues.

對於接下來的亞太經濟合作會議(APEC),美方是否會照過去模式,與台灣的領袖代表會面?對此,羅素先指出,他不清楚國務卿凱瑞的行程安排,但他認為,美方和台灣過去在APEC期間的雙邊會談,非常富有成效且有實質內容,這樣的雙邊會談讓美台間的經濟議題能夠有所討論,另外像是貿易議題也有機會溝通。

Concerning the issue of America discussing a wide range of economic issues, and even geopolitics, one should take an attitude of wait-and-see.

至於這次APEC期間,美國會有針對哪些廣泛的經濟議題討論、甚至是地緣政治上的相關議題,他則說可以拭目以待。

There have been a number of occasions in the past where America held bilateral talks [with Taiwan] during APEC forums. In 2012, former KMT chairman Lien Chan, as then Taiwanese leader’s [that was then president Ma Ying-jeou], had a meeting with then U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton. Another representative of then Taiwanese leader, former Vice President Vincent Siew had bilateral meetings with U.S. secretary of state Kerry in 2013 and 2014.

美台在APEC期間召開雙邊會談有多次經驗,2012年,時任領袖代表的前國民黨主席連戰參與APEC,就曾與當時國務卿希拉蕊於會議期間舉行雙邊會談,之後的領袖代表、前副總統蕭萬長更兩度於2013年及2014年與國務卿凱瑞舉行雙邊會面。

Apart from that, last year, then Taiwanese leader’s representative Vincent Siew, during U.S. assistant of state → Antony J. Blinken‘s APEC attenance, even interacted with U.S. President Barack Obama and mainland State Chairman Xi Jinping during a dinner. This was a rare case where Taiwan’s, America’s and China’s Siew, Obama and Xi had met.

國務院去年則是由副國務卿布林肯出席APEC,時任領袖代表的蕭萬長除與布林肯舉行雙邊會晤,他更與美國總統歐巴馬及大陸國家主席習近平在晚宴時互動,出現少見的台、美、中三方的「蕭歐習」會。

Associated Press (AP) quotes Russel as saying that

→ the U.S. has a “deep and abiding interest” in stability across the Taiwan Strait, and welcomes constructive steps by both sides to improve relations. He called for flexibility, creativity and patience.

AP also writes that

China says it won’t resume talks until Tsai endorses Beijing’s position that China and Taiwan are part of a single Chinese nation. The previous Taiwanese government accepted that formulation.

Previous President Ma Ying-jeou‘s KMT government had actually acknowledged a → “1992 Consensus” which – in the KMT’s view – allowed “different interpretations” by both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

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Related

→ One RoC, two Interpretations, Oct 10, 2011

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Lu Wei “name-dropped” by State-Owned Newspaper(s)

(Former) State Internet Information Office director
Lu Wei and federal interior minister
de Maizière, photo op, July 2, 2015.
Click photo for more info.

Lu Wei (鲁炜) made his first public reappearance today after his resignation as CAC (Cyberspace Administration of China) director. He didn’t appear in person, but was mentioned in a news article as a participant in meeting of a Central Committee special working group for the prevention of juvenile deliquency. The article was published this morning by state-owned Legal Daily (法制日报 / 法制网), reports the Financial Times. Lu’s resignation in June reportedly came as a surprise. While giving way to Xu Lin (徐麟) as CAC director, Lu maintained his position as the CCP’s deputy propaganda director.

According to its “About” page, Legal Daily’s website is under direct guidance from the party’s central propaganda department and the CAC. It is published by the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission of the Communist Party of China.

People’s Daily also published the article (or rather, its first seven paragraphs), but mentioned China Youth Daily as the original source.

Given the topic, this appears to make sense – however, China Youth online’s article, just as People’s Daily’s, is shorter than Legal Daily’s.

Anyway – who cares. The CCP, and only the CCP, is the author of those articles.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Dalai Lama: there’s a Chinese Constitution

Whereever I go, I do not wish to create trouble for politicians in charge. No worries. Actually, the purpose of my visits isn’t to meet politicians in charge, but to meet the public, or people. I have nothing to tell to the officials. I prefer to talk about happiness.

Should I stay or shoud I go?

Why, surely you aren’t here to stirr trouble?

That’s how French daily Le Monde quoted the Dalai Lama, on September 10. Tibet’s spiritual leader did, however, have something to say to the Chinese leadership:

We don’t seek independence, we demand all the rights that are written down in the Chinese constitution.

It’s funny to be reminded that there is actually such a thing in China – a constitution.

According to Voice of Tibet (VoT), a Norway-based radio station and website, the custodians of the Chinese constitution were kept busy by the Dalai Lama’s visit to France, from September 12 to 18:

His Holiness’, the Dalai Lama’s visit to France received close attention from China. A joint photo with hotel staff and the Dalai Lama, posted by a Hyatt Group Hotel, immediately met with resistance from Chinese netizens who demanded that the hotel remove the online post. Also, students at Sciences Po protested against the recent cancellation of a speech by his Holiness and emphasized “the need to respect free speech”.

达赖喇嘛尊者访法行程受到中方密切关注,凯悦集团旗下饭店在网上刊出员工与尊者的合影后,立即有中国网友提出抗议,要求饭店删除该则贴文。另外,巴黎高政学生则对校方日前取消尊者演讲而表达抗议,强调“言论自由”应受到遵守。

Official receptions for the Dalai Lama on overseas trips from his exile in India have increasingly vexed the Chinese government, writes Radio France Internationale (RFI English service). But that is hardly accurate – efforts to isolate Tibet’s paramount monk have been part of Beijing’s policy ever since the beginning of his exile in India. And depending on China’s clout overseas, such efforts are sometimes highly successful.

The Dalai Lama didn’t get a visa to visit South Africa in 2009. A few weeks later, South African foreign minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said that the Dalai Lama could visit South Africa anytime he wanted.

Anytime, except October 2014, of course. (Maite Nkoana-Mashabane was still South Africa’s foreign minister.)

As for the protests against the Hyatt hotel welcome for the Dalai Lama in Paris, VoT writes:

There were Chinese netizens unaware of the facts, who used propaganda content that had been directed against the Dalai Lama by the Chinese Communist Party for decades. They demanded that the removal of the online photo and said that if Hyatt wanted to continue business in China, they should not actively be in touch with this “splittist element”.

有不明真相的中国网友在该则贴文下,使用中共数十年来对西藏议题与达赖喇嘛尊者的不实宣传内容,向饭店表达抗议并要求删除这张照片,更表示:若凯悦集团希望在中国继续经营下去,就不该去主动接触这位“分裂份子”。

Today, on September 17, [the hotel] removed the text and photo from its Facebook page.

今天17日巴黎旺多姆帕悦酒店已从官方脸书上撤下该则贴文和照片。

Apparently, the Collège des Bernadins wasn’t quite that afraid of Beijing. On September 14, they hosted a meeting on inter-religious dialogue with the Dalai Lama.

(Maybe they’ve got a nice auberge for him, too, next time he visits France. He could be in need of one.)

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Updates / Related

» China threats after EU Parliament visit, Reuters, Sep 19, 2016
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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Tsai Ing-wen: in a State of Overall Mobilization

Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) held a press conference – or a “tea reception” for reporters – at → Taipei Guest House on Saturday afternoon local time.

The following are excerpts from her introductory statement, translated into English. Links within blockquotes added during translation.

Main link: → Presidential website

I’m very glad to meet with all the friends from the press here today. Apart from being happy to speak to the reporters ahead of schedule, I would also like to take the opportunity of this tea reception to report to all our compatriots about the efforts we have made for this country since the new government came into office.
I believe that all reporters present here, and many compatriots too, will know that a few days ago, the dispute concerning the national highway toll station dispute has been resolved.

很高興能跟現場所有的記者朋友們見面。除了提早向各位說聲記者節快樂之外,藉著今天與各位見面茶敘的機會,我也要向全體國人同胞報告,新政府上任以來,我們為這個國家所做的努力。
相信在場的記者朋友,以及許多國人同胞都知道,幾天前,歷時兩年多的國道收費員爭議,已經得到解決。

Although some different views and opinions remain, concerning the solution to this dispute, I believe that, when watching on television how everyone smiled while the curtain fell on the dispute, many people, just like me, felt happy for them and their families.

儘管,有一些人對於解決這個爭議,仍然有些不同的意見與看法。不過,當大家從電視上看到他們在抗爭落幕之後所展現的笑容,我相信很多人的心中,都跟我一樣,替他們,以及他們的家庭,感到開心。

To some people, this solution only means to give in to a group of people protesting in the streets. However, I want to look at the entire issue from a different perspective. As far as we are concerned, the point is that now that the curtain has fallen on this struggle, this society and above all some families can get back to their daily lives.

對一些人而言,這個問題的解決,只是讓這個社會少掉一群人在街頭抗議。不過,我願意從另一個角度來看這整件事情。對我們來說,這個事情的意義在於,抗爭落幕之後,這個社會,又多了一些家庭,重新展開他們的人生。

This is what governments are for. Some people →say that this [approach] is called giving out sweets to those who quarrel. But as far as this government is concerned, the real issue here isn’t the noise. The issue is if the noise is justified, and if the government listens. My expectation to myself and to my team, during the past three months, has been that we are prepared to listen, to communicate, and to find a solution.

這就是政府存在的目的。有人說,這叫做會吵的人就有糖吃。不過,對一個政府而言,吵不是重點,吵得有沒有道理,政府有沒有在聽才是重點。願意傾聽,願意溝通,願意解決,這就是過去三個月來,我對自己與團隊的期許。

I know that the friends from the press are curious about what I have done since May 20 [inauguration day], on a daily basis. In fact, after becoming president, my life and work have seen changes, and although the issues now are different, they have changed in a rather simple way, as mentioned in my inaugural speech: they are about solving problems.

我知道,現場的記者朋友們,都很好奇,從520到現在,我每天都在做什麼。其實,當了總統之後,我的人生以及工作有一些變化,事情雖然變多了,但從另一個角度來看,也變得比較簡單,就是我就職演說中所提到的那四個字:解決問題。

Many problems have accumulated for a long time, and the previous government wanted to solve some of them, but wasn’t successful. There have also been some problems the past government neither wanted to solve, nor had the strength to solve.

很多的問題是長期累積的,有些問題,過去政府曾經想解決,沒有成功。也有些問題,是過去政府無心也無力去解決的。

The people who elected us want the new government to address and solve issues in a pragmatic and courageous way. The people do not want the new government to shift responsibilities altogether to the past. Therefore, I tell myself every day, and my governing team, too, that the people expects to see a different government.

人民選擇我們,是希望新政府能夠務實而勇敢地面對問題、解決問題。人民也不會希望,新政府將責任全部推給過去。所以,我每天都這樣告訴自己,我也用一樣的話告訴民進黨所有執政團隊,人民希望看到不一樣的政府。

In the decisionmaking process, I have to admit that we haven’t considered things sufficiently, and that we haven’t dealt with them sufficiently. When that happens, we will adapt, honestly face this, and that we will change. We won’t harden, we won’t weaken. During the Democratic Progressive Party government, and no half-minute incident.

在解決問題的過程中,我也承認,有些事情,我們考慮得不夠周全,做得不夠好。當這樣的情況發生時,我們會調整,會誠實面對,我們會改變。我們不會硬凹,民進黨執政期間,更不會有半分鐘事件。

For the past three months, the new government’s main four areas of attention have been as follows.

(1): Aborigines, Industrial Relations

The first one has been about solving longstanding problems in Taiwanese society. On August 1, I apologized to the aborigine nation on behalf of the government. For several hundred years, the aborigine people have suffered unfair treatment, that can’t be changed by a simple apology. But this society needs a starting point. I want to make the first step. Although the form of my apology sparked some controversy, we can take a successive approach and honestly face the problems that have accumulated during the past few hundred years.

過去這三個月來,新政府的施政大致上可以分為以下四個領域:
第一個,我們試圖解決臺灣社會長久累積的問題。八月一號,我代表政府向原住民族道歉。幾百年來原住民所遭受的不公平待遇,不會因為一句道歉而改變。不過,這個社會需要一個開始。我願意跨出第一步。儘管,道歉的形式引發了一些爭議,但是,我們會用接下來的作為,有誠意地來面對這個幾百年累積的問題。

Industrial relations disputes have long existed in Taiwanese society. In the wake of global economic change as well as economic slowdowns, weak labor rights and protection, have become more and more important issues. As for enterprises, and small and medium-sized enterprises in particular, there have been transformational problems, which has also led to more and more tense industrial relations.

勞資的爭議也是臺灣社會長久以來一直存在的問題。隨著全球經濟情勢的改變,以及經濟成長的趨緩,弱勢勞工的權益與保障,變得越來越重要。而企業、尤其是中小型企業,也面臨轉型的困境,這也造成勞資關係越來越緊張。

The new government has not tried to avoid the issue. We have chosen to handle the problem directly. Of course, we admit that to solve years-old disputes in a short time and to achieve social consensus in a short time is difficult. We want to communicate with society again, especially with labour organizations’ and small and medium-sized enterprises’ views, and we want to listen more carefully. This will be reflected in my future arrangements.

新政府沒有逃避,我們選擇正面去處理這個問題。當然,我們也承認,多年來的爭議很難在很短的時間內,獲得社會一致的共識。我們願意再跟社會溝通,特別是勞工團體與中小企業的意見,我們會更加仔細聆聽。這也會反映在我未來的行程安排上面。

We also need to understand that if the Taiwanese economy doesn’t speed up transformation, labor disputes, even if solved for a while, will continue to trouble labour and industry.

我們也清楚,如果臺灣經濟不加速轉型,勞資爭議縱然一時能夠解決,但仍然會持續地困擾勞工與產業。

(2): “Ill-Gotten Party Assets”, Judicial Yuan Nominations, Pension Reform

The second field of work discussed by President Tsai is recently-passed legislation on “ill-gotten party assets”, as described →here by the English-language Taipei Times in July. Tsai, in her address to the press on Saturday, referred to the process as a first step in the handling of rightening the authoritarian period in Taiwan (i. e. the decades of martial law under KMT rule). Tsai Ing-wen conjured a duty on the part of the KMT to share responsibility in the process:

I want to emphasize in particular that this is done to remind all politicians that many things that were considered natural within the authoritarian system, will not be allowed to happen again in today’s democratic society. What matters more is that, to create a more fair political environment in Taiwan, is our common responsibility.

我要特別強調,做這件事情,是為了提醒所有政治人物,過去在威權體制中,許多被視為理所當然的事,在今天的民主社會中,是不容許再發生的。更重要的是,為臺灣創造一個更公平的政治環境,是我們共同的責任。

In that “second field of work”, Tsai also mentioned a controversy concerning judicial yuan nominations – both nominees chosen by Tsai Ing-wen herself – which resulted with the nominees →bowing out:

I admit that the previous judicial yuan nomination sparked controversy in society. In the end, both nominees decided to decline with thanks, and I want to thank the two nominees for granting me a chance to think again. Of course, this was my responsibility. I will remember this experience carefully. The new government will communicate more carefully with the masses in future.

我承認,前一陣子司法院正副院長的提名人選引發了社會上的爭議。最終,造成兩位被提名人決定懇辭,我要感激這兩位被提名人給我一個重新思考的機會。當然,這裡面有我的責任。我會記取這個經驗。新政府未來會用更謹慎的態度來跟社會大眾溝通。

Another major issue addressed as part of the second field of work is pension reform.

(3): Taiwan’s New Economic Development Model

The third field of work for the new government is the new model for Taiwan’s economic development. During the past three months, our ministries and commissions in charge have actively worked on this matter. National construction programs made by think-tanks during our time in opposition have been turned into policies by the government offices. From here, the budgets of the offices in charge will be devised.

新政府施政的第三個領域是臺灣經濟發展新模式。過去三個月,我們的相關部會,積極在做一件事情。就是把以前在野時期,智庫所規劃的國家建設方案,轉變成行政部門的政策規劃。再從行政部門的政策規劃,具體轉化成行政院的預算編列。

Concerning involvement in economic construction, and the promotional economic development plan concerning the five big innovative industries and the acceleration of technological innovation etc., our budgets for the coming year will grow correspondingly. This stands for our goal to build the new economic model round innovation.

在經濟建設的投入上,對於五大創新產業與加速科技創新等促進經濟發展的計畫,我們明年度的預算都相當幅度的成長,這代表我們要建構,以創新為主導的新經濟模式。

As for a safe internet, for our social housing policies, and for the expansion of community care, raising the quality of long-term care, treatment and prevention, etc., we are also increasing the budgets.

在社會安全網上,我們的社會住宅政策,以及擴大社區照顧、提升長照品質,醫療與防疫等,我們也都增列了預算。

[…]

Involvement in overall economic development will not limit itself to government budgeting. We will also encourage publicly-owned institutions to invest in new kinds of industries, lending impetus to non-governmental enterprises, especially the upgrading transformation of small and medium-sized enterprises.

整體經濟發展相關的投入,不會僅限於政府預算的投入,我們也會鼓勵國公營事業來投資新型產業,共同帶動民間企業、尤其是中小企業的產業升級與轉型。

The budgeting is only the beginning, and the real test is to do things well. In fact, the cabinet is in a state of overall mobilization. During the past three months, under the → executive yuan president‘s leadership and the coordination of the government affairs committee as well as the efforts of the heads of ministries and commissions, the new government hasn’t been lax. I have lists from every governmental commission concerning their issues and their progress, and can explain each of them. I believe that these lists can also be found on the executive yuan’s website.

預算編列只是一個開始,真正的考驗是把事情做好。事實上,內閣已經是總動員。在過去的三個月,在院長的帶領,政務委員的協調,以及部會首長的努力下,新政府沒有懈怠。我手邊有一份各政委列管的事項清單以及進度,可以說明這些。我相信這些清單在行政院的網站也可以找到。

I do not hope that people will use the first one-hundred days to judge my successes and failures, and I’m not going to judge the cabinet members’ performances based on the first one-hundred days.

我不希望別人用一百天來評斷我個人執政的成敗;同樣的,我也不會只用一百天的時間來評論內閣閣員的表現。

Reform takes time. I’m not going to shrink back in the light of lacking short-term results or because of difficulties in promoting reform. When something goes wrong, it will be corrected, and what goes well, will be advanced boldly. I believe that this is what the Taiwanese people expect from government at this stage.

改革需要時間,我不會因為短期內看不到成效,或者因為推動改革很困難,就輕易退縮。錯了就改,對的事情就勇往直前,我相信,這才是現階段臺灣人民對政府的期待。

(4): Cross Strait Relations, Remembering Wang Tuoh

Fourthly, we will maintain the necessary communication with the relevant countries to maintain regional peace and stability, and to handle external relations. In particular, after the outcome of the arbitrational →decision concerning the South China Sea has been issued, we will, together with all countries, maintain the stability of the South China Sea situation. The people want the government to do more regarding sovereignty in the South China Sea, and we understand and acknowledge that.

第四,在維持區域的和平穩定,以及對外關係的處理上,我們持續與相關的國家保持必要的溝通。尤其是在南海仲裁結果出爐後,我們也跟各國共同維持南海情勢的穩定。人民希望政府在南海主權議題能多做一些,我們了解也認同。

As for the cross-strait relations [with China], I re-emphasize the importance of “maintaining the status quo”. Our goal is to build consistent, calculable and sustainable cross-strait relations under the current constitutional systems.

對於兩岸關係,我再一次強調「維持現狀」的重要性。我們的目標,就是在當前的憲政體制下,建立一個具有一致性、可預測性、可維持性的兩岸關係。

We will soon announce the staffing issues at the Strait Exchange Foundation. At the current stage, we have a choice among several candidates, and are at the final stage of consultations and assessments. Apart form the Strait Exchange Foundation, we will fill the remaining vacancies in government staff as soon as possible.

海基會的人事,我們會在近期之內公布。現階段我們有幾位人選,正在做最後的諮詢與評估。
除了海基會之外,政府部門尚未完成布局的人事,我們會儘速補上。

Some move quickly on the road of reform, and some move slowly, but as long as there is a common direction, we should support and encourage each other. There may be bumps on the government’s path in the coming days, but we will continue to make efforts forward.

改革的路上有人走得快,有人走得慢,但只要方向一致,就應該相互扶持、彼此鼓勵。也許這段日子以來,新政府走得有些顛簸,但我們一直努力在往前走。

Some say that solving the highway toll station staff issue is something “the previous government didn’t succeed to do”. As far as I am concerned, this is the greatest encouragement for our new government. To do what the previous government didn’t succeed at is what change of government is about.

有人說,解決國道收費員的問題,「這是以前政府做不到的事」。這句話,對我來說,是對我們新政府最大的鼓勵。要做以前政府做不到的事,這才是政黨輪替的意義。

There is one more thing. I want to mention a very particular man. When I took the office of Democratic Progressive Party chairpersonship in 2008, the party’s secretary general was → Mr. Wang Tuoh. Not long ago, he also left us. On his sickbed, he still showed concern for me. I will always remember how, when I wasn’t viewed favorably by the outside world, when the Democratic Progressive Party’s morale was at its lowest point, he bravely stepped forward, and together with me, he helped the Democratic Progressive Party to climb out from that lowest point.

最後,我要特別提一個人。我2008年擔任民進黨主席時的秘書長­­–王拓先生。不久前,他離開我們。在病榻上,他依然很關心我。我會永遠記得,當外界都不看好我,民進黨士氣最低落的時候,他挺身而出,跟我一起帶領民進黨從谷底爬起。

In those difficult days, he often encouraged me, and he reminded me that when the thing you are doing is right, you must stick to it. I’m really sad that he can’t be in this world to see, with us, the changes of Taiwan.

在那段困難的日子,他常常鼓勵我,也提醒我,只要是對的事情,一定要堅持下去。我很遺憾,他不能在人世間跟我一起看到臺灣的改變。

But I will always remember what he said during his last days, he said “our way of governing must be different from the past, it must be successful.” I want to use these words to wind up my address. Everyone in the government team, put up the ante.

不過,我會永遠記得他在生命的最後幾天告訴我的話,他說,「我們的執政一定要跟以前不一樣,要做得成功」。我就用這一句話,來作為今天的結尾。所有執政團隊的同仁,大家加油。

Monday, May 30, 2016

From the Parallel Universe: “I don’t know, has it been reported?”

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ReVideos are a medium that need to be taken with a grain of salt. But somehow, this one of Intercept reporter Lee Fang trying to get an answer from Hillary Clinton as to how much Lloyd Blankfein had invested in her son-in-law’s hedge fund looks to me like a symbol of Mrs. Clinton’s election campaign. It has all the makings of an icon.

The contact between the campaign trail and the real world comes across as if a space ship was struck by a sudden bit of earth. What Lee inquires about – and what others will hopefully to continue inquiring about, too – isn’t exactly news – it has even been part of the hedge fund’s marketing, according to The Intercept. But the timing of this topic could be fatal for Clinton’s campaign.

If you had to choose between Cinton and Trump, what would you do? I don’t know who I’d vote for, if I were an eligible American citizen. But I do know that I wouldn’t vote for either of the two.

search results: Hillary Clinton's emails

True danger signs

Having said this, maybe it’s me who’s living in the parallel universe. Money doesn’t bring a campaign down. Emails do.

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Updates / Related

Bigger Liabilities than Email, DW, May 27, 2016

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