Posts tagged ‘accountability’

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Chairman Xi – the Old Normal Cult

“How did one man come to embody China’s destiny?”, asks the BBC‘s China correspondent, Carrie Gracie. Part of the answer lies in the way the BBC designs her article – The Thoughts of Chairman Xi. Opening it, you feel as if you enter that Yan’an “cave” museum yourself. And as this is a global village, the design also resembles CCTV’s doxology.

Editors and designers – click picture above for CCTV webpage

Now, what made Xi Jingping the man who “embody’s China’s destiny”?

I’m forever a son of the yellow earth,

Gracie quotes Xi.

But the real explanation is much more simple. Xi is his father’s son. That’s not just one aspect of the story – it’s the one that really matters. The rest is useful flattery, written by the man’s hand-picked propagandists.

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Related

How yellow was my Hometown, Febr 14, 2015
How safe will he be in 2023, Dec 13, 2014
Towering, March 18, 2013
Cross-legged on the kang, Jan 13, 2013
How they cried, Dec 24, 2012
Outgoing and incoming dictators, Jan 6, 2012

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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Notebook: Tsai’s recent Speeches

Focus Taiwan (CNA newsagency’s English-language website) has President Tsai Ing-wen‘s full  Double-Ten address, (the original script can be found on the presidential website), and on October, she gave a speech in English, to the Yushan Forum, an “Asia Innovation and Progress Dialogue”, including remarks about the “New Southbound Policy”.

Yushan Forum, Oct 2017 – please click picture for video

Tsai Ing-wen’s approval ratings have recently seen a modest surge – or a significant one, when looking at where they have come from, since summer this year.

In July, an L. A. Times correspondent reported the nasty numbers of that month – an approval rating of 33 per cent -, but added that this didn’t necessarily mean that her supporters were abandoning her.

Indeed, it has become a Taiwanese tradition to keep presidents under the opinion-poll waterline most of the time – when Ma Ying-jeou, Tsai’s predecessor, was re-elected early in 2012, four years of submergence lied behind him, with another four years waiting.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Huanqiu Shibao: the Bottomline for maintaining Framework of Sino-NK Relations

The following is my translation of a  Huanqiu Shibao editorial. It is currently not available on the paper’s website, but – main link –  via China News Service (中國新聞網). Links within blockquotes added during translation — JR

Original title: How should China react to North Korea’s latest Nuclear Test?
原標題:社評:中國該如何應對朝鮮新核試

On the afternoon of September 3, following the latest North Korean nuclear test at noon that day, the Chinese foreign ministry said that the Chinese government firmly opposed and strongly condemned the test.

朝鮮於3日中午進行新的核試驗,中國外交部當天下午表示,中國政府對此表示堅決反對並予以強烈譴責。

China’s, South Korea’s and America’s seismic monitoring networks simultaneously measured an earthquake in North Korea’s Punggye-ri area, at 11:30 Beijing time. The magnitude reported by China Earthquake Networks Center was 6.3 on the Richter scale. North Korea announced on the afternoon of September 3 that North Korea’s highest leader, Kim Jong-un, had ordered conducting a hydrogen bomb test, and that the test had been successful.

中國、韓國、美國的地震台網於北京時間3日11時30分同時測定,朝鮮豐溪里一帶發生地震,中國地震台報的震級是里氏6.3級。朝鮮於3日下午宣布,朝最高領導人金正恩下令進行了氫彈試驗,試驗取得成功。

This is another mistake made by North Korea, directed against the UN security council’s and the entire international community’s will. This test will lead to another serious escalation of the tense situation on the Korean peninsula, and to the risk of the East Asian strategy [or strategies] collapsing, increasing the risk of any party misjudging the situation and leading to a situation spinning out of control.

這是平壤逆聯合國安理會和整個國際社會的意志做出了又一次錯誤選擇。這次核試驗將嚴重導致半島緊張局勢新的升級,並有導致東亞戰略出現坍塌的風險,推高各方產生誤判而導致局勢失控的危險。

As for China now, the most important thing is to strengthen monitoring, ensuring that if North Korea’s latest test has produced nuclear leaks, we can detect it at first appearance, timely inform the masses in the Northeastern region, and take all kinds of responsive measures. In fact, analysts have predicted the possiblilty of a new nuclear test by North Korea in recent days, so the [Chinese] government has undoubtedly made emergency preparations in advance, and will launch these mechanisms rapidly.

對中國來說,目前最重要的是加強監測,確保一旦朝鮮這次核爆出現核泄漏,我們能在第一時間發現,及時通報東北地區民眾,並採取各種緊急應對措施。事實上,在這之前分析界對朝鮮可能於近日搞新的核試驗已有預測,政府無疑提前做好了應急準備,而這一機制相信已經迅速啟動。

There were obvious tremors in northeastern regions near North Korea on September 3, with buildings clearly shaking, triggering a great deal of discussion among people. During North Korea’s prior five nuclear tests, there have been no nuclear leakages, and Pyongyang has solemnly vowed that its underground nuclear tests wouldn’t create any such leakage. Pyongyang also said it would be responsible for the North Korean masses. We hope that this isn’t just talk.

3日中午,東北靠近朝鮮的地區多地有明顯震感,建築物搖動明顯,民間出現大量議論。在這之前朝鮮5次核試沒有造成核泄漏,平壤信誓旦旦地宣稱它的地下核試驗不會造成任何泄漏,還表示它會為離核試驗場更近的朝鮮民眾負責。我們希望朝鮮這不僅僅是說一說。

No matter what North Korea says, we believe the Chinese government will be on high alert, and that at this moment, there won’t be the faintest bit of relaxation or taking of chances. “Huanqiu Shibao” has learned that in Baishan (Jilin Province), Mudanjiang (Heilongjiang Province), and other regions. There were wind speeds of 1 from West or Northwest on midday of September 3, blowing from China to outside its borders.

無論朝方如何表示,我們相信中國政府都會提高警惕,在這個時刻不會有一絲一毫的鬆懈和僥倖。據《環球時報》了解,吉林白山、黑龍江牡丹江等地3日中午刮的是1級西風或西北風,風小,且風向是從中國邊境地區向外吹的。

North Korea’s latest nuclear explosion and its recent series of medium- and long-range missile tests have made it clear that Pyongyang, unmoved by force or persuasion, is determined to obtain nuclear strike capability over medium and long ranges. It won’t yield to pressure from outside, and the North Korean nuclear issue is on the brink of becoming intractable.

朝鮮最新核試爆和最近的一系列中遠程導彈試驗顯示,平壤軟硬不吃,它決心獲得中遠程核打擊能力,不會向任何外來壓力屈服,朝核問題幾近成為死結。

Facing this complicated situation, China needs to maintain a high degree of cool-headedness, , take measures based on its national interests, and to limit the risks faced by Chinese society to the greatest possible degree.

中國需面對這一複雜態勢保持高度冷靜,從中國的國家利益出發採取措施,最大限度地減輕中國社會從中面臨的風險。

The safety of China’s Northeast comes first. We need to tell Pyongyang through all kinds of channels that its tests must not contaminate the Northeast of China. China’s strategic and environmental safety is the bottomline for China up to where it will exercise restraint. It has to be hoped that this can be clearly communicated between China and North Korea, and helps North Korea to understand the solemnity and seriousness of China’s approach. If North Korea doesn’t keep to this bottomline, and if its own territory and the involved areas of China’s northeast will suffer contamination, the current framework of Chinese-North Korean relations will no longer exist.

中國東北的安全是第一位的,我們需要通過各種管道明確告訴平壤,它的核試驗不能污染中國東北。中國的戰略安全與環境安全是中國對其採取克制行動的底線。希望中朝之間能夠通過溝通將這一點講清楚,讓朝方充分了解中國這一態度的嚴肅性、嚴重性。如果朝方守不住這條底線,它自己的國土連帶中國東北遭到污染,那麼中朝關係目前的框架將不復存在。

North Korea’s latest test will inevitably lead to new discussions at the [UN] security council, revolving around new sanctions, and adding sanctions will be unavoidable. But we believe that although Chinese society is very angry about this new test, we need to avoid impulsiveness. China must not lightly agree to extreme measures that would be similar to an all-around embargo.

朝鮮的最新核導活動必將導致安理會圍繞對它進行新制裁開展討論,增加制裁將不可避免。但我們認為,儘管中國社會對朝鮮舉行新的核試驗很生氣,我們還是要避免衝動,中國不應輕易同意對朝鮮採取類似全面禁運的極端制裁手段。

In the case that China completely cut off oil supplies to North Korea, and even closed the Chinese-North Korean border, it would remain uncertain if this could block North Koreas’s activities. However, there would be, in all likelihood, open antagonism between China and North Korea. If that happened, the contradictions between China and North Korea would become, at least for some time, the most outstanding contradictions around the Korean peninsula. it would push down and absorb much of the tense energy of the American-North Korean antagonism, Washington and Seoul would achieve their goalof  “outsourcing” the North Korean nuclear issue to China, and this wouldn’t be in line with China’s national interest at all.

一旦中國完全切斷對朝鮮的石油供應,甚至關閉中朝邊界,能否做到阻止朝鮮核導活動尚不確定,但中朝全面、公開的對立將很可能發生。那樣的話,中朝矛盾就將至少成為一段時期內圍繞朝鮮半島最突出的矛盾,中朝對立將壓過美朝對立吸走高度緊張局勢的大部分能量,華盛頓和首爾也就實現了將朝核問題「外包」給中國的目的,這完全不符合中國的國家利益。

Therefore, so long as North Korea’s nuclear activities won’t pollute China’s Northeast, China’s approach to sanctioning North Korea should not avoid the radicalism of America’s or South Korea’s. The origins of the North Korean nuclear issue lie in the military suppression which created Pyongyang’s serious insecurity. Pyongyang erroneously sees the possession of nuclear capability as the only guarantee for government power’s survival, and nuclear striking capability against America’s soil as the key to reaching safety for itself. In this complicated and acute game, China must not run into a position of “charging and breaking through enemy lines”.

所以,在朝鮮核活動沒有污染中國東北的情況下,中國制裁朝鮮的態度應避免像美韓那樣激進。朝核問題的根源是美韓同盟的軍事打壓造成了平壤的嚴重不安全感,平壤錯誤地將擁核看成是政權生存的唯一保障,並且認定獲得對美國本土的核打擊能力是自己安全突圍的關鍵。中國不能在這場複雜、尖銳的博弈中跑到「衝鋒陷陣」的位置上。

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Related

“No Leakage”, Voice of Korea, Sept 4, 2017

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Friday, July 14, 2017

Liu Xiaobo, 1955 – 2017

It won’t be long before Liu Xiaobo‘s first post-mortem biography will be published. But it won’t have the last word. There will be further biographies, and each of them will be contested. That’s because of the man himself, and because of his country. He was a man with a conscience, and his country has been a totalitarian dictatorship for nearly seven decades – if you count the KMT’s martial law in, it’s been a dictatorship for much longer than that.

Liu Xiaobo’s political lifespan lasted for three or four decades. That doesn’t count as long in China. The Communist Party’s propaganda works tirelessly to create and sustain the “People’s Republic’s” population’s imagination of a civilizational history of five or more millenia. And at the same time, the party needs to sustain the notion that the most recent seven decades had been the best in China’s history. Not only the past fourty, after the leadership’s decision to “reform and to open up”, but the past seven decades, including Maoism. CCP propaganda’s aim is to build an image of its rule where the pre- and post-1978 decades are one political unit, without substantial contradictions within.

In all likelihood, Liu Xiaobo had foreseen that trend. Many Chinese dissidents, no matter if opponents of China’s cultural restauration, or opponents of the KMT’s military dictatorship on Taiwan, saw a Chinese complacency at work, considering itself the center of the universe.

Cultural criticism is rarely a rewarding trade, but in China, it can be lethal, as shown in Liu Xiaobo’s case.

Liu’s last camp and prison term, which began in 2009 and ended with his relase on medical parole, with cancer in its final stage, had been based on the accusation that he had “incited subversion of state power”. But the Beijing First Intermediate People’s Court’s verdict – passed on Christmas day of 2009, probably to keep the level of international attention as low as possible –  only reflected the CCP’s fear of Liu, not the likely divide between the dissident and his people. A likely divide only, because in a totalitarian dictatorship, these things are more uncertain than in an open society. Hu Jia, himself a dissident who spent more than three years in prison from 2007 to 2011, noted during Liu’s dying days that only about one out of a hundred Beijingers knew who Liu Xiaobo was. Michael Bristow, the BBC’s China correspondent  in 2011, made a similar observation back then.

The 1980s mostly came across as a period of economic optimism, but accompanied by phenomena that were viewed negatively – particularly corruption, which was one of the factors that propelled the June-4 movement at its beginning.

Liu’s answer to what was frequently seen as China’s ailments was “westernization”. Stays in Western countries seem to have intensified his idea, just as Deng Xiaoping is said to have had his own cultural shock when visiting Singapore, in 1978.

But there lies a difference between the great statesman, and the great dissident. Singapore, a highly developed city state led by a family clan, is a model not only for authoritarian Chinese nationals – Taiwanese law-and-order-minded people tend to prefer Singapore as a holiday destination, rather than “messy” Hong Kong.

Liu Xiaobo’s model of development was Hong Kong of the 1980s. It was also the crown colony that provided the intellectual in his early thirties with some public resonance. In one of the interviews, given by Liu to a magazine named Kaifang at the time, Liu made statements that astonished the interviewer:

Q. Under what circumstances can China carry out a genuine historical transformation?
A. Three hundred years of colonialism.  Hong Kong became like this after one hundred years of colonialism.  China is so much larger, so obviously it will take three hundred years of colonialism.  I am still doubtful whether three hundred years of colonialism will be enough to turn China into Hong Kong today.

Q. This is 100% “treason.”
A. I will cite one sentence from Marx’s Manifesto of the Communist Party: “Workers do not have motherlands.  You cannot take away what they don’t have.”  I care about neither patriotism nor treason.  If you say that I betray my country, I will go along!  I admit that I am an impious son who dug up his ancestors’ graves and I am proud of it.

Both the “insults” and Liu’s expressly stated pessimism probably made for a divide between him and many Chinese (as far as they got to know his story). Or, as Roland Soong, a blogger from Hong Kong, noted next to his translation of the 1988 interview, as of 2010, “I suggest that unless Charter 08 (or any other message) can connect with many people in other social strata, it will remain a mental exercise among ‘public intellectuals.'”

And nothing works in the modern middle kingdom, unless it comes with a festive up-with-people sound. (In that sense, China is globalizing indeed.)

When Soong translated the interview quoted from above, and added his assessment of the Charter 08, the global financial crisis had been wreaking havoc on Western economies for about two years, and at least one of the Charter’s demands had fallen from the tree since: #14 called for

Protection of Private Property. We should establish and protect the right to private property and promote an economic system of free and fair markets. We should do away with government monopolies in commerce and industry and guarantee the freedom to start new enterprises. We should establish a Committee on State-Owned Property, reporting to the national legislature, that will monitor the transfer of state-owned enterprises to private ownership in a fair, competitive, and orderly manner. We should institute a land reform that promotes private ownership of land, guarantees the right to buy and sell land, and allows the true value of private property to be adequately reflected in the market.

There wasn’t necessarily a conflict on this matter, between the party leadership and the authors of the Charter – time will show how the CCP is going to handle the remaining state sector of the economy. But among everyday Chinese people, this demand would hardly strike a chord. Besides, who can imagine a transfer of state-owned enterprises to private ownership “in a fair, competitive, and orderly manner”?

In the Charter’s preface, the authors wrote:

The Chinese people, who have endured human rights disasters and uncountable struggles across these same years, now include many who see clearly that freedom, equality, and human rights are universal values of humankind and that democracy and constitutional government are the fundamental framework for protecting these values.

It was a cautious description of the status quo: Liu and his co-authors understood that only a critical minority would side with them. And indeed, there was more to endure in the pipeline. The educational dictatorship China is now entering encourages anticipatory obedience rather than awareness, and it is likely to succeed. When you keep beating people up long enough – and provide them with a hopeful perspective for the future -, there is little that can help people of conscience to counter the propaganda.

This may be the main difference between Liu and his enemies (and many of his admirers, too): in the eyes of many, only hard power – no matter if you refer to it as “the people’s power” or as the “authorities” -, creates reality. If the realities are good, you don’t need to get involved. If they are evil, you can’t get involved. And when realities come in many shades of grey, you either needn’t or can’t get involved. The power of the powerless is no reality in these peoples’ world – unless they begin to tilt, so that re-orientation appears advisable.

That’s a stabilizing factor, so long as realities remain what they appear to be.  But appearances can be deceiving, often until the very last hour. Who of the Egyptians who ditched their longtime president in 2011, in colossal demonstrations, had known weeks before that he wanted to get rid of him? A mood had capsized. It wasn’t about awareness.

A manipulated and intimidated public tends to be unpredictable, and that can turn factors around that were originally meant to add to “stability”.

China’s leaders feared Liu Xiaobo. They feared him to the extent that they wouldn’t let him leave the country, as long as he could still speak a word. But in all likelihood, they fear China’s widespread, politically tinged, religious sects even more, which have a tradition at least as long as Chinese scholarship. Falun Gong is only one of its latest manifestations.

By suppressing public intellectuals not only before 1978, but after that, too, they provided space for nervous moodiness. The Communists themselves want to “guide” (i. e. control) public awareness, without leaving anything to chance.

But chance is inevitable. Totalitarian routine may be able to cope for some time, but is likely to fail in the long run, with disastrous consequences.

In that light, the CCP missed opportunities to reform and modernize the country. But then, the party’s totalitarian skeleton made sure that they could only see the risks, and no opportunities, in an opening society.

What remains from Charter 08 – for now – is the courage shown by its authors nine years ago, and by the citizens who affirmed it with their signatures.

Each of them paid a price, to varying degrees, and often, their families and loved ones did so, too: like Liu Xia, who had hoped that her husband would not get involved in drafting the Charter, but who would never dissociate herself from him.

Nobody is obligated to show the same degree of courage, unless solidarity or conscience prescribe it. In most cases, making such demands on oneself would be excessive. But those who hate the Lius for their courage – and for lacking this courage themselves – should understand that their hatred is wrong. One may keep still as a citizen – but there is an inevitable human duty to understand the difference between right and wrong. By denying our tolerance toward despotism and by repressing awareness of our own acquiescence, we deny ourselves even the small steps into the right direction, that could be taken without much trouble, or economic hardship.

May Liu Xiaobo never be forgotten – and may Liu Xia find comfort and recovery.

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Updates/Related

再生:致刘晓波, Woeser, July 13, 2017
Rebirth, Woeser/Boyden, July 16, 2017
Wiedergeburt, Woeser/Forster, July 27, 2017
The abuse hasn’t stopped, Wu Gan, July 25, 2017

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Friday, June 23, 2017

Pyongyang: Otto Warmbier “a Victim of Obama’s ‘Strategic Patience’ Policy”

Until yesterday (June 22), North Korean newsagency KCNA carried only one article concerning Otto Warmbier, dated June 15: “U.S. Citizen Released”. A short statement said that

U.S. citizen Otto Frederick Warmbier, who has been in hard labor, was sent back home on June 13, 2017, on humanitarian grounds according to the adjucation made on the same day by the Central Court of the DPRK.

Today, KCNA published a lengthy article, titled DPRK FM Spokesman Accuses U.S. of Slandering Humanitarian Measure. KCNA provides no permalinks. The article was published in English and Chinese, and probably in the other regular KCNA languages, too. The English and Chinese versions aren’t completely identical. Both complain about American misrepresentations of the Warmbier case, the English version referring to that as a “smear campaign”, the Chinese one calling American news coverage “black propaganda”.

The tenor of both of KCNA versions – more at length in English than in Chinese on that aspect – is that Washington hadn’t taken all possible measures that could have helped to free Warmbier, and maintained an uncompromising position instead.

Pyongyang, June 23 (KCNA) — A spokesman for the DPRK Foreign Ministry Friday released the following statement over the fact the U.S. administration authorities are heating up the anti-DPRK smear campaign by abusing the humanitarian measure taken by the DPRK as an inhuman act, concerning the death of Warmbier, an American citizen: 朝中社平壤6月23日电 朝鲜外务省发言人23日发表谈话,对美国政府当局借美国人瓦姆比尔死亡事件把朝鲜的人道主义措施说成非人道主义,热衷于反朝黑色宣传予以谴责。谈话内容如下:
Warmbier is clearly a criminal sentenced to reform through labor in accordance with the DPRK law on March 16, 2016 for the hostile act he committed against the DPRK on an assignment from an anti-DPRK plot-breeding organization of the U.S. 瓦姆比尔是分明因受美国反朝阴谋团体的任务,从事反朝敌对活动,于2016年3月16日被朝鲜依法判刑的罪犯。
As was made public to the world, during the press conference on February 29, 2016, Warmbier confessed in tears that he had committed hostile act against the DPRK, with connivance of the U.S. administration, after he received an assignment from the Z-Society of the Virginia University of the U.S. controlled by the Friendship United Methodist Church, an anti-DPRK plot-breeding organization of the U.S., and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). 众所周知,瓦姆比尔2016年2月29日在记者会上流着泪招认,他接受美国反朝阴谋团体“友爱联合监理教会”和中央情报局操控的弗吉尼亚大学Z协会交给的任务,并在美国政府默认下从事了反朝敌对活动。
CNN and other U.S. media outlets are still broadcasting the video of Warmbier admitting his crime and apologizing for it at the press conference in Pyongyang. 美国有线电视新闻网等美国媒体迄今还在放映瓦姆比尔在平壤举行的记者会上认罪和谢罪的视频。
The DPRK-U.S. relations are in the most hostile and belligerent state, and the U.S. is making every frantic effort to disparage the prestige of the dignified DPRK and stifle it while imposing heinous sanctions and pressure unprecedented in history.
Although we had no reason at all to show mercy to such a criminal of the enemy state, we provided him with medical treatments and care with all sincerity on humanitarian basis until his return to the U.S., considering that his health got worse. 朝鲜没有任何理由对这样一个敌对国家的罪犯大发善心,但考虑他的健康状态不佳,出于人道主义立场提供精心治疗,直到他返回美国为止。
As for the groundless public opinion now circulating in the U.S. that he died of torture and beating during his reform through labor, the American doctors who came to the DPRK for repatriation of Warmbier will have something to say about it. 至于美国国内流传瓦姆比尔死因是他在服刑中受到酷刑和殴打的毫无根据的舆论,曾因他的释放事宜访朝的美国医生倒是应该有话要说。
They examined Warmbier and exchanged medical observations about him with our doctors. They recognized that his health indicators like pulse, temperature, respiration and the examination result of the heart and lung were all normal and that we provided him with medical treatment and brought him back alive whose heart was nearly stopped. 他们检查瓦姆比尔的身体后,与朝方医生交换了医学见解,并对他的脉搏、体温、呼吸、心肺检查结果等生命指标均为正常以及朝鲜治愈几乎停止心脏跳动的瓦姆比尔予以承认。
Now the former officials of the Obama administration publicize as their “achievement” the release of 10 American citizens granted by the humanitarian measures we had taken. They cannot but acknowledge the fact that we treat the detainees in accordance with international laws and standard. 奥巴马前政府时期的美国官员现将朝鲜采取人道主义措施释放10名美国公民粉饰为自己的“成绩”,他们应该不会否认朝鲜按照国际法和国际标准对待囚犯。
The fact that Warmbier died suddenly in less than a week just after his return to the U.S. in his normal state of health indicators is a mystery to us as well. 瓦姆比尔在生命指标正常的情况下返回美国不到一周就突然死亡,对朝鲜也是个不解之谜。
It reminds us of an incident that Hunziker, an American citizen who had illegally crossed the border and entered the DPRK on August 24, 1996, died in less than a month after he returned home in perfect health accompanied by Bill Richardson, the then U.S. Congressman, on November 27 the same year thanks to our humanitarian measure.
At that time, the U.S had totally ignored and not even mentioned a word about his death. The point here is he was also an American citizen, was he not?
Warmbier is a victim of policy of “strategic patience” of Obama who was engrossed in utmost hostility and negation against the DPRK and refused to have dialogue with the DPRK. 奥巴马被对朝鲜的极度敌对感和反感所俘虏,拒绝同朝鲜举行对话,瓦姆比尔是其“战略忍耐”政策的牺牲者。
Why the U.S. government which claims to care about the welfare of its citizens had not even once made an official request for the release of Warmbier on humanitarian basis during the Obama administration? The answer should be given by the U.S. itself. 试问,如此关心美国公民安全的美国政府为何在奥巴马执政时期从未向朝鲜正式提出瓦姆比尔的人道主义释放问题?答案应由美国自己找。
Although Warmbier was a criminal who committed hostile act against the DPRK, we accepted the repeated requests of the present U.S. administration and, in consideration of his bad health, sent him back home on humanitarian grounds according to the adjudication made on June 13, 2017 by the Central Court of the DPRK. 虽然瓦姆比尔是犯下反朝敌对行为的罪犯,但朝鲜接受美国现政府的反复请求并考虑他健康不好,根据2017年6月13日中央法院裁定,出于人道主义立场送瓦姆比尔回国。
However, the U.S. totally distorted this truth and dared to clamor about “retaliation” and “pressure” on the dignified DPRK while deliberately kicking up the smearing campaign against the DPRK. This is a frontal challenge and political plot against us. 全面歪曲这样的事实,成心对朝鲜血口喷人,悍然渲染对神圣的朝鲜“报复”和“施压”,简直是对朝鲜的正面挑战和政治阴谋活动。
To make it clear, we are the biggest victim of this incident and there would be no more foolish judgment than to think we do not know how to calculate gains and losses. 需要明确的是,此次事件的最大受害者是朝鲜。如果以为朝鲜连得失都不会计算,那可是再愚蠢不过的判断。
The smear campaign against DPRK staged in the U.S. compels us to make firm determination that humanitarianism and benevolence for the enemy are a taboo and we should further sharpen the blade of law. 美国上演的反朝黑色宣传攻势令朝鲜坚定这样的决心:对敌人的人道主义和宽容绝对要不得,应更加磨砺好法律的利剑
The U.S. should ponder over the consequences to be entailed from its reckless and rash act. -0- 美国应对其轻举妄动可能招致的后果深思熟虑。(完)

A discussion about (tourist) travels to North Korea can be found on Foarp’s blog. Please comment there.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Deutsche Welle’s “Emotionally Appealing Content”

Emotionally appealing …

The German federal government plans to increase its funding of Deutsche Welle (DW) by 11.2 mn Euros in 2018,  Medienkorrespondenz (MK), a media news magazine from Bonn, reports. That would be a total of 325.6 mn Euros. In addition, DW has earnings from sponsors, according to Deutsche Welle law (article 11). Originally a foreign broadcaster, DW wants to develop into a “digital media corporation”, with a priority on “mobile utilization situations” and “social media”. Apparently, the linear television programs are doomed to become a platform for feature stories and clips that would also be useful for DW’s “Facebook” account, and vice versa.

Some of the quotes from the press release read like a jargon outside the command of their adopters themselves. According to MK, DW wants to increase its audience from currently 135 mn users to a target of 150. On its digital media, DW wants to “put a stronger focus on emotionally appealing content and on DW profile themes” (“einen stärkeren Fokus auf emotional ansprechenden Content und auf DW-Profilthemen setzen”).

MK appears to have had a question, and got a reply:

By “emotionally appealing content”, the broadcaster means topics that can be experienced on an emotional level”, it explained on inquiry. This was about “empathy with protagonists, or a narrative level at eye level.” Deutsche Welle denotes, for example, reports about human rights, freedom of expression, equal rights and democratic values as “profile themes”.

Unter „emotional ansprechendem Content“ versteht der Sender, wie er auf Nachfrage erläuterte, wenn in Beiträgen Themen „auf einer emotionalen Ebene erlebbar“ seien. Es gehe um „Empathie mit Protagonisten oder eine Erzählebene auf Augenhöhe“. Als ihre „Profilthemen“ bezeichnet die Deutsche Welle beispielsweise Berichte über Menschenrechte, freie Meinungsäußerung, Gleichberechtigung und demokratische Werte.

The trend has emerged for some time. And when you are sufficiently emotive, concerning Deutsche Welle “profile themes”, you don’t even have to know who Liu Xiaobo is, as shown in a “news story” named “Beauty Queen and Activist fight for human rights in China” (“Beauty-Queen und Aktivist kämpfen für Menschenrechte in China”). The story initially contained a Liao Yiwu photo, while the caption was referring to Liu Xiaobo. Sounds all alike anyway.

Liao Yiwu, mistaken for Liu Xiaobo

DW caption, February 2016: he’s here, not there

… and better off

After so much emotion, it’s time to meditate on some numbers. DW’s budget was reportedly at about 321 mn Euros in 1998, it decreased considerably in the years after that, and began to rise to new heights after Peter Limbourg, a former news anchor on German commercial television, had become the broadcaster’s new director.

The following numbers are sort of my guesswork, even if based on sources – they may, at times, include special budgets (funding programs targeted at refugees living in Germany, for example, or the Deutsche Welle Akademie), and sometimes they may not. (The drop from 321 mn to 302 mn from 2015 – 2016, for example, doesn’t look logical to me.) The 2016 – 2018 numbers are from the same source – Medienkorrespondenz -, these two reports, covering three fiscal years, follow the same formula and make it easy to compare the three years.

All numbers shown below (rounded) are millions.

Year
Operational
Investment
Total
Source
1998 321  Die Welt
2010 261  BMF
2011
2012  271  Bundestag
2013  296  BT WiWi
2014  311  DW
 2015  321  DW
 2016  285  17  302  MK 16
 2017  299  27  325  MK 16
 2018  305  32  336  MK 17
 2019

DW is a publicly owned broadcaster – it could actually afford to be a showcase for solid, trustworthy journalism. But a goal of this kind doesn’t appear to define the mission. In an interview in November 2014, Limbourg told German television that we obviously have to see to it that the German perspective and German values for which we stand, i. e. democracy, freedom of the press, freedom of opinion, that these are heard in the world.

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Related

Negotiations with Politics, Dec 26, 2011

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Monday, March 27, 2017

Populism in China (1): The Downfall of Bo Xilai

There is no Weltinnenpolitik yet, but there are cross-civilizational trends.

The City of Red Songs

There would be no second chance. Gerhard Schröder, former chancellor of Germany, was in a hurry in June 2011, on the sidelines of a forum in southwestern China’s metropolis of Chongqing. He was therefore lacking the time to attend one of the red-song nights that were customary there. But he still pleased his interlocutors with a German proverb: Where people sing, you can settle down – wicked people sing no songs.

In full, the red-songs custom advocated by Chongqing’s party chief Bo Xilai was Singing revolutionary songs, Reading classic books, telling stories and spreading mottos. There would be nine more months of that before Bo Xilai was toppled by his CCP comrades.

A Hudong article explained the activity at the time. It was a mass concept, started in Chongqing in 2008, which was greeted with enthusiasm there, and elsewhere in China. The concept wasn’t outdated, because

if a country and a nation have no correct thought and advanced culture, it will lose its backbone. The current deep changes of the economic system, the structure of society, and the profound adjustment of interest patterns must be reflected in the ideological field. There is diversity in peoples’ minds, and although the mainstream is positive and healthy, while some peoples’ material life conditions have improved, spiritual life is somewhat empty. To change that condition, and to ensure a safe passing of the torch in the cause of the party and the country, the red flag must be righteously upheld, the ideology of Marxism must be consolidated in its guiding position within the ideological field, and the attractiveness and the cohesive power of socialist ideology must be strengthened.

一个国家和民族没有正确的思想、先进的文化,就会失掉主心骨。当前,经济体制深刻变革、社会结构深刻变动、利益格局深刻调整,必然反映到意识形态领域。人们的思想日趋多元多变多样,虽然主流积极健康向上,但一些人物质生活改善了,精神生活却有些空虚。为了彻底改变这种状况,保证党和国家的事业薪火相传,必须理直气壮地举红旗,不断巩固马克思主义在意识形态领域的指导地位,增强社会主义意识形态的吸引力和凝聚力。[Links within these lines omitted.]

According to the HuDong article, CCP politbureau member and Chongqing party secretary Bo Xilai (薄熙来) had deplored the phenomenon of young people who sang decadent songs (唱 .. 靡靡之音, chàng mímí zhī yīn), who were reading “fast-food” kinds of literature (读 .. 快餐文化, dú kuàicān wénhuà), told “low and vulgar stories” (讲 .. 低俗故事, jiǎng dīsú gùshì), and “spread pornographic or dull scripts/pieces” (传 .. 黄段子、灰段子, chuán huáng duànzi, huī duànzi).

So, apparently, there were dirty songs, too. Maybe things weren’t as simple as Schröder had believed. At least one  reader and forum commenter of China’s Huanqiu Shibao didn’t trust Schröder’s expertise and wrote:

OK, listen [to the red songs], you won’t comprehend them anyway. It will be as if you were listening to folk songs.

听吧,反正听不懂,就当听民歌了

The “Chongqing Model” was controversial, at least in the perceivable medial public of China. The party elite wasn’t entirely in love with Bo’s pretentious neo-Maoism. A vice president of Law School at China University of Political Science and Law was quoted by the English-language party mouthpiece “Global Times”:

There have been 104,000 “Red Song Concerts” in Chongqing, with 80 million participants. It cost 1,500 yuan ($231) per person for onsite renting and costume expenses, 210 million yuan in total. Adding in the offwork compensation and transportation the final cost is 270 billion [sic – probably means million – JR] yuan. Why don’t they use the money for health insurance?

Bo Xilai’s “Populism”, 2007 – 2012

At the grassroots, however, Bo’s leadership style appears to have worked (maybe it still does). The Chongqing Model wasn’t just about folklore, red or otherwise.

Chongqing (Sichuan province) residents set off firecrackers today, celebrating the execution of the provincial-level city’s former chief justice Wen Qiang (文强), cqnews.net reported in July 2010. The Wall Street Journal explained:

Wen Qiang was put to death following the rejection in May by China’s Supreme Court of an appeal of his conviction on charges including bribery, shielding criminal gangs, rape and inability to account for millions of dollars in cash and assets, according to Xinhua news agency. Xinhua didn’t say how Mr. Wen was executed.

Punching black crime and uprooting vice (拳打黑除恶) was the name of the campaign that cost Wen his life – according to the historical records as Bo would have it, he and his police chief Wang Lijun not only battled against gangs, but infiltrated cadres, too.

The now defunct website Chinageeks published an English translation of Zhang Wen, a former chief editor of the Xinhua magazine Globe:

Bo Xilai and the “northeast tiger” Wang Lijun entered Chongqing and started a war and began a “battling corruption and evil” movement that has gradually begun to spread nationwide and worldwide. This action is in line with the people’s wishes, and at the same time, also in line with what central authorities wish.

At first, the public opinion was very one-sided; no one could find any fault with Bo. The controversy and difference of opinions came with the case of Li Zhuang. Proponents of the democratic rule of law questioned and criticized the legality of Chongqing [court] proceedings, but Bo Xilai’s supporters hold that punishing lawyers who defend “bad people” is appropriate.

Bo Xilai’s wife Gu Kailai is a high-level lawyer who has been working for many years. The two have been together for many years and Bo himself was once the head of the Ministry of Commerce, and thus often negotiated international legal issues with foreign opponents. Because of this, Bo Xilai should have a solid conception and knowledge of the law.

But in the end, in the Li Zhuang case, the organs of justice in Chongqing left a bad impression that they might violate legal procedures. Precisely because of this, some people’s opinions on Bo Xilai changed dramatically. I myself once wrote an essay expressing pity that Bo Xilai hadn’t turned out to be the sort of high-quality modern politician [we had hoped].

Chongqing was a small pond for a big fish – Bo Xilai appeared to have hoped for a permanent seat in the CCP’s central politburo, but landed the job as party secretary of Chongqing instead. Chongqing wasn’t an insignificant city, but it was far from where central Chinese power was. Only an alernate politburo membership linked him to Beijing. From 2008, his Maoist song events raised nationwide attention, and even beyond China – Henry Kissinger apparently leapt at the chance Schröder had missed.

In 2011, Bo Xilai started his second campaign for a permanent seat at the CCP’s top table. While the Economist found Bo’s style refreshing, it noted nervously that

The region’s party chief, Bo Xilai, is campaigning for a place on the Politburo Standing Committee in next year’s leadership shuffle. He looks likely to succeed. Like every other Chinese politician since 1949, he avoids stating his ambitions openly, but his courting of the media and his attempts to woo the public leave no one in any doubt. Mr Bo’s upfront style is a radical departure from the backroom politicking that has long been the hallmark of Communist rule and would seem like a refreshing change, were it not that some  of his supporters see him as the Vladimir Putin of China. Mr Bo is a populist with an iron fist. He has waged the biggest crackdown on mafia-style gangs in his country in recent years. He has also been trying to foster a mini-cult of Mao, perhaps in an effort to appeal to those who are disillusioned with China’s cut-throat capitalism.

Bo didn’t appear to aim for the top job as secretary general, the Economist noted, as that position appeared to have been reserved for Xi Jinping. Indeed, Xi succeeded Hu Jintao as party secretary general in autumn 2012, and as state chairman in March 2013.

Bo Xilai’s plans didn’t work that smoothly. In November 2011, a British citizen, Neil Heywood, died in a hotel in Chongqing. Given that Chinese courts don’t work independently from the party, the circumstances of his death can’t be considered resolved. A Chinese court found Gu Kailai, Bo Xilai’s wife, guilty of killing Heywood, and after only one day in court, she got a suspended death sentence.

The BBC‘s China editor Carrie Gracie tried to shed light on the circumstances of Bo Xilai’s rise and fall, and the role Heywood’s death played in the latter, but didn’t find too many interlocutors. Instead, she presented a Rocky Horror Picture Show of elite power struggles with Chinese characteristics. Bo Xilai as the avenger of the common man, a crashing, media-savvy scourge of organized crime, who addressed the public directly, without party media filtering. That hadn’t happened since Mao’s days – “think Donald Trump”.

With support from local police chief Wang Lijun, who fancied leading roles in martial-arts television, too, Bo had exercised a regime that labeled opponents as mafiosi and not only jailed them, but expropriated them too, in favor of Chongqing’s budgets.

It isn’t contested that Bo Xilai and Wang Lijun prosecuted the real or supposed gangsters’ advocates, too, with questionable means. Gracie quotes one of these advocates, Li Zhuang (see above, Zhang Wen’s criticism of Bo Xilai), as Li describes how he was arrested by Wang Lijun personally:

The scene was so over-the-top, loads of police cars surrounding the plane, riot police in helmets and camouflage, armed with submachine guns. I asked, “Why the big show? Is it Obama’s state visit or are you capturing Osama Bin Laden?”

We were surrounded by a huge scrum of reporters. He wanted to show his authority on camera. He was in a trench coat, hands in his pockets. He said: “Li Zhuang, we meet again.”

There were admirers of Bo and Wang, there were critics and enemies, and there were people who detested the two. But at the grassroots, the fans appeared to be numerous. According to Gracie, there are still many.

Making inconvenient lawyers disappear was no unique feature of Bo Xilai, however. The party leadership with Xi Jinping at the core has been proving for years that to them, the rule of law is a theroretical nicety they may or may not care about.

Gracie reduces the causes of conflict between the noisy polit-soloist Bo Xilai and the basically “collectivist” leadership in Beijing on a personal rivalry between princeling Bo and princeling Xi.

Certainly, top politicians’ egos can hardly be overestimated, and when they are Chinese, ostentatious modesty shouldn’t fool anyone.

But Xi alone wouldn’t have gotten Bo under control. Neither with the sudden Neil-Heywood scandal – that became known as the Wang-Lijun incident in China after the police chief fled into the next US consulate and being passed on to the central authorities from there (but only after having spilled the beans). Nor otherwise.

The question suggests itself if Bo Xilai’s career wasn’t finished in summer 2011 anyway, given wide-spread disapproval among the party elite, of his egotistic leadership style in Chongqing.

“Unity is strength” was one of the “red songs” Bo Xilai had them sing in Chongqing (above: October 8, 2009). But it wasn’t only the Xi faction that saw a lack of just that on Bo’s part. Bo was putting himself forward, and that had been a taboo during all the post-Mao years.

He didn’t denigrate his leading comrades – appearances like that of Donald Trump as a campaigner, cursing fellow members of his political class, would have been inconceivable. But putting himself into the limelight (and casting it away from others) amounted to the same thing, by Chinese standards. Besides, given his anti-corruption renown, sanctimonious as it may have been, could have threatened his “comrades”. A tribun within their ranks – that couldn’t work.

Xi Jinping and his predecessor Hu Jintao are said to be rivals. But within the Hu camp, Bo’s populism didn’t seem to resonate either. On the contrary: Wen Jiabao, chief state councillor (aka “prime minister”) during the Hu Jintao era, had been a tireless, even if unsuccessful, advocate of political reform, way beyond economics or technology.

At a press conference in March 2012, after the closing ceremony of the annual “parliament” plenary sessions, Wen warned that China wasn’t immune against another cultural revolution. That John Garnaut, an Australian correspondent in Beijing, got the opportunity to talk with Hu Dehua, one of Hu Yaobang’s sons, may also count as an indication that the comparatively liberal factions in the party leadership were at least as sick of Bo Xilai’s revolutionary operas, as were the Xi supporters.

Garnaut, two weeks after Wen’s press conference, in an indirect account of his conversation with Hu Dehua*):

Hu Dehua told his father how pessimistic he felt about his country’s future. Hu Yaobang agreed that the methods and ideologies of the 1987 anti-liberalization movement came straight from the Cultural Revolution. But he told his son to gain some historical perspective, and reminded him that Chinese people were not joining in the elite power games as they had 20 years before. He called the anti-liberalization campaign a “medium-sized cultural revolution” and warned that a small cultural revolution would no doubt follow, Hu Dehua told me. As society developed, Hu Yaobang told his son, the middle and little cultural revolutions would gradually fade from history’s stage.

From there, everything went fast. Still in March, Bo was dismissed as Chongqing’s party chief. He also lost his alternate membership in the politburo. In summer 2012, his wife Gu Kailai got her commuted death sentence, and in September 2013, Bo was sentenced to life in prison – based on the usual charges for unrigged politicians: corruption.

Is there a Chongqing Heritage?

At first glance, Bo Xilai’s “populism” or “Maoism” is finished. But Bo counted as a champion of many Chinese from the political left. A comment in German weekly Die Zeit, in September 2013, saw the verdict against Bo as a signal from the top that resistance against economic reform was futile.

To assess Bo Xilai’s political heritage objectively. The CCP may be beyond the era when beaten opponents were airbrushed from all photos and records. But the question about how publicly or privately-owned China’s economy should be might impose itself with any questions about Bo Xilai, and the now seven-member standing committee of the politburo can’t use such questions.

A political scientist of Beijing University, He Weifang (贺卫方), hinted at problems in assessing the Chongqing Model’s performance, from 2007 to 2012:

It is generally believed that the so-called “Chongqing Model” is mainly shaped by three aspects: “red culture” on the political level, “targeted actions against dark and evil forces in Chongqing“, and the reduction of the income gaps between the poor and the rich. The most criticized aspects are the former two, although there is support for the two of them in Chongqing and elsewhere. The third aspect isn’t that controversial. However, all data published concerning the efficiency of the measures taken to narrow the income gap are actually issued by the Chongqing authorities, and therefore lacking neutral assessment. Also, we can see that the whole process is strongly government-led, whose focus isn’t on creating a market logic of equal opportunities. If this approach will or will not lead to mistakes in financial policies, including the rural land policies‘ impartiality, is also questionable. And then there are concerns about life today being lead on future earnings, short-term inputs being made to curry favor with the public, which may come at high future costs.

答:一般认为,所谓的重庆模式主要由三方面内容构成:政治层面上的红色文化,执法层面上的“打黑除恶”以及民生方面的缩小贫富差距。最受诟病的是前两者,虽然在重庆和其他地方,似乎也有一些人人对于“唱红”和“打黑”表达支持。第三方面内容相对较少争议。不过,那些举措究竟对于缩小贫富差距产生了怎样的效果,目前得到的信息都是由重庆当局发布的,缺少中立的评估。另外,我们可以看到整个过程是在政府强势主导下进行的,其重点并非创造机会均等的市场逻辑。这种做法是否会带来财政决策中的失误,包括重庆所推行的农村土地政策的公正性,都是大可怀疑的。还有寅吃卯粮的隐忧,短期内的高投入讨好了民众,但是却需要未来付出巨大的代价。

If Bo Xilai was a populist, one of Donald Trump’s kind, or Putin’s, or Neil Farage’s, or whoever, one has to ask oneself how much influence he has maintained over Chinese politics to this day. After all, populists like Geert Wilders aren’t ineffective, merely because they can’t lay their hands on the imperial regalia.

When looking at European populism – that’s only a snapshot, of course -, one can get the impression that populists may not be elected, but they do leave marks on politics, from Merkel’s Willkommenskultur back to the traditional Christian Democrats’ policies, and Britain’s Brexit, implemented not by its original proponents, but by Theresa May, who had used to be a lukewarm supporter of Britain’s EU membership.

Populism is hardly ever the common peoples’ business, but that of the elites. The battles are fought within the political class, as observed by Hu Yaobang in the late 1980s. That is about as true in Europe. However, these battles within the superstructure may create or intensify certain trends in the public mood – and once policies have moved sufficiently into the “populist” direction, the support for these parties wanes, and the electorate turns back to the long-established parties. After all, Joe Blow doesn’t want to look like an extremist.

When Xi Jinping announced China’s new role as a guardian of free trade at the Davos forum in January, German Handelsblatt China correspondent Stephan Scheuer hailed the party and state leader’s “dressing-down for populists”. In Davos, Xi had become “a pioneer of fair-minded globalization”.

What could be beginning to show in China is a comparatively strong Maoist component in propaganda, as long as this doesn’t come at the cost of China’s privileged, and as long as this doesn’t require substantial reallocation of means or wealth to poor classes of population, or laggard regions. But whenever the name “Bo Xilai” should appear in any token event, the exorcists will be just around the corner.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Sun Zhengcai: “Eliminate Bo Xilai’s Poisonous Ideological Legacy”

Main Link: Chongqing Party Chief demands Elimination of Bo Xilai’s and Wang Lijun’s ideological legacy

Links within blockquotes added during translation – JR

Lianhe Zaobao news – Chongqing’s Communist Party municipal committee secretary Sun Zhengcai pointed out publicly yesterday (March 21) that the municipal committee must strictly follow political discipline and political standards. They also needed to strengthen political keenness and political discriminability, “comprehensively and thoroughly eliminate the ideological poison left behind by Bo and Wang (Bo Xilai, Wang Lijun).

(联合早报网讯)中共重庆市委书记孙政才昨天(21日) ,重庆市委必须严格遵守政治纪律和政治规矩,而且要增强政治敏锐性和政治鉴别力,“全面彻底清除薄、王(薄熙来、王立军)思想遗毒”。

According to a report by the “Chongqing Daily”, Sun Zhengcai also said that in recent years, work in Chongqing had “achieved some success”, and the most important, the key point was “to maintain, at all times, a high degree of unanimity with the party central committee and (Communist Party secretary general) Xi Jinping at its core”.

据《重庆日报》报道,孙政才也说,近年来重庆工作“取得的一些成绩”,最重要、最关键的一点,就在于“始终同以(中共总书记)习近平同志为核心的党中央保持高度一致”。

Reportedly, the CCP municipal committee’s standing committee held a “special Democratic Life Meeting” to discuss feedback concerning the rectification and implementation of central committee inspections. Sun Zhengcai made the above remarks on that meeting.

据报道,中共重庆市委常委会21日召开“专题民主生活会”,就整改落实中共中央巡视“回头看”的回馈意见进行讨论。孙政才在会中作上述表示。

Sun Zhengcai said that the municipal committee must “take a clear-cut position in explaining politics”, firmly build “political ideology, awareness of the general situation, core awareness and a preparedness to follow [correct] examples”, and to maintain a high degree of unanimity with the party’s central committee and Xi Jinping at its core”, concerning ideology, politics, and action.

孙政才也说,重庆市委必须“旗帜鲜明讲政治”,牢固树立“政治意识、大局意识、核心意识、看齐意识”,在思想上、政治上、行动上,与“以习近平同志为核心的党中央”保持高度一致。

He said that Chongqing municipal committee must strictly follow political discipline and political standards, resolutely defend the CCP’s central authority and its focused, united leadership, and resolutely and thoroughly implement the party central committee’s dispositions. Awareness needed to be truly increased, political keenness and political discriminability be strengthened, and “the ideological poison left behind by Bo and Wang comprehensively and thoroughly be eliminated”. (Lianhe Zaobao online editor Wang Weiwen)

他说,中共重庆市委须严格遵守政治纪律和政治规矩,坚决维护中共中央权威和集中统一领导,坚决贯彻落实党中央决策部署。要确实提高认识,增强政治敏锐性和政治舰别力,“全面彻底清除薄、王思想遗毒”。(联合早报网编辑:王纬温)

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Related

Der Sturz des Bo Xilai, dFC, March 24, 2017
Murder at the Lucky Holiday Hotel, BBC, March 17, 2017

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