Posts tagged ‘Africa’

Saturday, September 5, 2020

China-Germany Friendship Association: “A Rise in unpredictable Factors”

If “people-to-people” organizations are crucial for Beijing’s diplomacy (it didn’t look like that in recent years), former Chinese ambassador to Germany, Shi Mingde, could be facing a rather challenging partial-retirement duty as the new head of the “China-Germany Friendship Association”. As far as the quotes in the following report provide clues, Shi seems to strike a mainly positive note on Sino-German relations, but less so than the overall “Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries'” president Lin Songtian, once “China’s most outspoken ambassador in Africa”.

This was in early August, before foreign minister Wang Yi started his European tour, but Shi, even if using the lot of sugarcoating that we had been used to prior to Xi Jinping‘s Major-Country Diplomacy with Chinese Characteristics, also alluded to some deficits in German-Chinese relations.

The following is a translation of the report on the China-Germany Friendship Association’s conference of August 6 local time. Links added during translation.

china.com.cn (China Net, 中国网) is an online news portal under the Chinese state council’s (i. e. government’s) administration.

China Net photo, click main link underneath for article

Main Link:
Former Chinese ambassador to Germany, Shi Mingde, elected chairman of China-Germany Friendship Association.

China Net, August 7 news (reporter Wang Ran). On August 6, the China-Germany Friendship Association conference was held in Beijing. Senior diplomat and former ambassador to Germany Shi Mingde was elected as the China-Germany Friendship Association’s new president. The conference also elected a deputy president and a secretary-general, passed a sixty-names’ directorate list and a China-Germany Friendship Association statute.

中国网8月日讯 (记者 王冉)8月6日,中国德国友好协会(以下简称:中德友协)换届大会在京举行。中国资深外交官、前驻德大使史明德当选新一届中德友协会长。大会还选出副会长、秘书长,通过了新一届理事60人名单和中德友协章程。

Ambassador Shi Mingde said in his address that ever since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Germany 48 years ago, the two countries’ relations of friendly cooperation had reached unprecedented development. The two sides’ joint interests had always outweighed division and contradictions. The two countries’ political relations were well, and economic and trade cooperation had provided substantial mutually beneficial results. But at the same time, German public opinion about China hadn’t seen fundamental improvement, and the foundations of public opinion in the two countries needed further consolidation (两国民意基础有待进一步夯实). German chancellor Angela Merkel would end her political career next year, after 16 years in office. This could lead to a rise in unpredictable factors.

史明德大使在致辞中称,中德建交48年来,两国友好合作关系得到前所未有的发展,双方共同利益始终大于分歧和矛盾。两国政治关系良好,经贸互利合作成果丰硕。但与此同时,德国对华舆论环境没有根本改善,两国民意基础有待进一步夯实。明年德国总理默克尔将结束执政16年的政治生涯,中德关系未来的不可预测因素可能上升。

Shi Mingde said that the China-Germany Friendship Association, in its coming years, would play a leading role in people-to-people [or non-governmental] exchanges with Germany and create a great platform for people-to-people exchange with Germany. [It would] speak out actively and let more German masses understand a real and objective China. It would promote Sino-German regional exchanges and serve regional economic development. He hoped that the China-German Friendship Association could, under the guidance and with the support of the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, continuously promote the friendly exchange and mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries’ peoples, and the rise of Sino-German friendly cooperation to the next level.

史明德表示,新一届中德友协要在对德民间交往中发挥引领作用,打造对德民间交流大平台;积极对外发声,让更多德国民众了解一个真实、客观的中国;促进中德地方交流,服务地方经济发展。他希望中德友协能在中国人民对外友好协会的指导和支持下,不断推进两国民间友好交流与互利合作,促进中德友好合作更上一层楼。

Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries’ president Lin Songtian said at the conference that China and Germany were both firm supporters of globalization and multilateralism, with common interests and similar positions concerning the protection of world peace and justice. Currently, there were 99 partnerships between Chinese and German provinces, federal states and cities, and 1.5 million visits in either direction per year. He believed that under the new president’s leadership, the China-German Friendship Association would attract broader masses to participation and exchange, promote the mutual understanding between the two countries’ peoples, learning from each other and setting examples for each other, promote closer attachment and connectedness, to contribute more people-to-people wisdom and strengths to the deepening of the Sino-German comprehensive [『 全方位』, not just『全面』 ] strategic partnership.

中国人民对外友好协会会长林松添在换届大会上表示,中德都是全球化和多边主义的坚定支持者,在维护世界和平与正义、促进全球合作与发展繁荣等方面拥有广泛的共同利益和相近立场。目前,中德友好省州和城市有99对,每年有150余万人次互访。他相信,中德友协在新任会长领导下能吸引两国更广泛民众参与交流,促进两国人民相互了解、互学互鉴,实现民相亲、心相通,为深化中德全方位战略伙伴关系贡献更多民间智慧和力量,更好造福两国人民。

After the conference, Shi Mingde gave China Net an interview. He said that on July 1, Germany had taken the European Union’s rotating chairmanship for the current half-year term. This year was a critical period for Sino-European relations, and as the chairing country of the EU, Germany picked up an important role. “I hope for the EU’s and Germany’s joint efforts, to send a positive signal of support for multilateralism and against unilateralism, [a positive signal] of cooperation and mutual profits.”

史明德在会后就中德双边关系接受了中国网采访。他说,7月1日,德国接任欧盟轮值主席国,开启为期半年的任期。今年是中欧关系的关键时期,作为欧盟轮值主席国的德国起着至关重要的作用。“我希望与欧盟和德国一起共同努力,向世界发出坚持多边主义,反对单边主义,合作共赢的积极信号。”

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Related

“It’s not going well,” Washington Post, Sept 2, 2020

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Monday, May 4, 2020

Guangdong Province: Implementing “Equal Treatment and no Discrimination” measures

China News Service (CNS, 中新网) with an article on Guangdong Provincial party committee’s and government’s open letter to nationals and foreigners of April 17, and a package of rules based on that open letter, obliging nine trades to treating nationals and foreigners equally and without discrimination.

The CNS article was published on Saturday, and a thread of tweets (by a Xinhua employee in Brussels) provides a translation. No warranty for accuracy.

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Related

Hearts and Minds, Febr 13, 2009
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Monday, April 13, 2020

Have a Guess why WHO Director-General Tedros thinks he’s right

First off, I want you to know that I have signed this petition, and that I would like to encourage you to sign it, too. My main reason to ask for Dr. Tedros’ resignation is that he supports a policy of locking more than 20 million Taiwanese people out of the World Health Organization (WHO). That scandal didn’t start with his tenure, and has been WHO policy for a long time, but it is now exacting a price in terms of global health. Taiwan could share its eperience in a so far successful fight against COVID-19. Taiwan could also contribute financially. Taiwan seems to have warned the WHO on December 31, in an email query to the organization. And the WHO leadership appears to be unwilling to take this into account and make a wiser decision than in the past.

I don’t feel a personal dislike for Tedros, and I think that many “social media” remarks about him are inappropriate, and actually false assertions.

But every public official must be accountable to the people he serves, or claims to serve. That’s why I believe that the WHO’s director general should clear the way for a successor with a more inclusive policy than his.

It doesn’t help when people insult each other. Above all, character assassination blinds for the more likely facts and factors in political processes. Both sides are wrong when accusing each other of “politicizing” issues. WHO is inevitably about politics, because it depends on the funding of governments with very different interests, and different economic capabilities to contribute to the WHO’s work. The demands of the world’s poorest, as elementary and obvious as they may be, are also political. And China’s cover-up approach is political, too. Everything is politics – that’s no suitable swearword to use for either WHO officials, or their critics.

It is true however that when you look at the mere numbers – in million US-$ -, China’s influence on the WHO doesn’t seem to make sense:

member state fees1) voluntary2)   total
USA 57.9 401.1 459.0
China 28.7 16.9 45.6
Japan 20.5 46.7 67.2
Germany 14.6 89.9 104.5
United Kingdom 10.9 163.7 174.6

Then why the WHO’s understatement when China covered up their SARS-2 cases, why the blind eyes to Taiwan’s warning query in December 31 (not to mention the WHO’s discrimination of Taiwan in general), and why the WHO director-general’s generally meek interaction with Beijing?

  • Trump is toying with the idea of reducing America’s contributions. Any WHO director general has to plan ahead, especially when the organizations main stakeholder becomes unreliable.
  • Tedros is probably convinced that he is doing the right thing by chumming up to China. Losing people to disease is unacceptable for him, and that much is credible. There is no way that WHO can enforce transparency on the ground – be it in China, be it in any other countries, though smaller countries may be more susceptible to pressure. And conceited leaders (like China’s) are more susceptible to flattery. (That, of course, doesn’t make it right to help them downplay a crisis, neither knowingly nor unknowingly. But it may become a more understandable approach, when you keep in mind that understanding something isn’t the same thing as condoning it.)
  • Then there is a – supposed – trend. While Taiwan would probably contribute as much today as does China, it could be different in future. That’s what most in the global political class expect to happen. They may have to think again – China is regularly overestimated. While questionable statistics have often help its image among foreigners, forgery will backfire when it does damage to the faithful foreigners’ home countries. (Never mind a million “extremist” inmates in Chinese internment camps – that’s far, far away.)

It makes no sense to demonize Tedros. He isn’t much different from most national or business leaders when it comes to dealing with China. The difference of course is that national leaders are usually held accountable, sometimes more, sometimes less, but more so than heads of international institutions. That’s why African politicians do criticize China for the way Africans have been treated in Guangzhou, while Tedros, who had shortly before tried to mobilize African public opinion in his favor and against “Taiwanese racism” remains oddly silent now.

But of course, it makes no sense to defend Tedros’ policies, either.

I would still prefer some civility in the effort to make him go. One doesn’t need to hate or disdain a man who oppose him. Rather, you can oppose him more effectively when you try to understand him and his supporters.
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Notes

1) Source for obligatory contributions
2) Source for voluntary contributions
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Friday, April 3, 2020

Flying high and low: Radio Taiwan International’s French and Spanish Services return to Shortwave

The transmission site is important,
but a welcoming set of wires won’t hurt either,
especially if you want to listen to the programs
for Latin America from Europe

Radio Taiwan International (RTI) is putting its French and Spanish services back on the air, after an absence of two years. The French programs are broadcast every night at 19:00 to 19:30 UTC on 6005 kHz via Kostinbrod (Bulgaria), for northern Africa and Europe. There are news bulletins at the beginning of every transmission (except, possibly, on Saturdays and Sundays when those first ten minutes may be used for cultural or other programs).

RTI’s Spanish service will be back on air on April 6, i. e. this coming Monday, with transmissions for South America from 01:00 to 01:30 UTC on 5800 kHz, for Central America and Cuba from 02:00 to 02:30 UTC on 5010 kHz, and for Europe from 22:00 to 23:00 UTC on 7780 kHz. (Time UTC means Sunday night, April 5, local time in Latin America.)

The Spanish test transmissions were apparently all carried out by Radio WRMI (Radio Miami International) in Okeechobee, Florida, so that should be the case with the regular transmissions starting on April 6, too.

The decision to make more use of shortwave again was reportedly taken by a new director general at RTI , a man named Chang Cheng (張正) who has apparently been at the helm of Taiwan’s international broadcaster since some time in summer, 2019.

Chang appears to be enthusiastic about shortwave. This isn’t the first time that he is involved with broadcasting, he wrote in November last year, but while he used to think of broadcasting as a rather simple affair – “you speak, you record it, your voice goes on the air, and that’s that” (在錄音室錄完就大功告成,聲音就出去了), he has since learned that this had been a rather low-key description:

Once the recording is done, there’s post-production, once that is done, your voice has to go on air. How can it be transmitted? At RTI, for example, the recording, made at RTI’s main building in Taipei, has to be transmitted from the iron tower on the Taipei building’s roof on microwave, to the microwave station on the top of Yuanshan mountain, and, flying high and low, across buildings and mountain ranges, exit the Taipei Basin, to reach another microwave station there. Several relays later, it arrives at the targeted substation.*)

錄音結束,還要後製,後製完成,還要把聲音送出去。怎麼送?以央廣為例,在台北總台錄製的節目,必須透過屋頂的發射鐵塔,以微波打向高據圓山山頭的微波站,再居高臨下地越過高樓大廈、越過層層山巒,送到台北盆地之外的微波站。經過幾個微波站的接力,抵達各地分台。

The real task awaits us here: by the substation’s high-performance transmitters and all sorts of rigged antennas, the signal is carried out of Taiwan, on shortwave.

然後才是最難的部份:透過分台的高功率發射機與高聳的各式天線電塔,以短波的形式傳送到台灣境外。

Why the fuss? You say that in the internet age, you just have to put your voice on the internet and that will do? Not necessarily (pointing west without comment). Therefore, this sort of flying-pigeon message, the historic long-distance radio wave, reflected by the ionosphere, comes in handy.

幹嘛這麼費事?你說,網路時代,把聲音放上網路不就成了?這可不一定。你知道的,有些地方網路到不了(伸出食指默默指向西邊)。於是「短波」(Short Wave)這種有如飛鴿傳書、將無線電波藉由電離層反射的古老遠距傳輸技藝,就派上用場了。

Chang acknowledges that China jams such signals, but points out that jamming isn’t as watertight as the “great firewall” is.

That of course doesn’t explain why Africa, Europe, and Latin America have now become target areas for shortwave again. But the French department’s mailbag program, on February 15, quoted the management as saying that RTI needed to use all means of communications available to raise Taiwan’s profile, including shortwave.

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Notes

*) substation refers to the actual transmitter sites, such as Tamsui, or, in the past, Tianma substations.
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Monday, February 17, 2020

Raising Taiwan’s Profile: RTI’s French Programs return to Shortwave

Radio Taiwan International (RTI) has – at least partly – reversed a decision announced early in 2018, which had cut the French department’s shortwave programs. To prepare the French programs’ return to the airwaves, test transmissions will be carried out on several days this month, and on March 1 – details there.

Radio Taiwan International QSL, 2018

The transmitter site used by RTI will be Kostinbrod, Bulgaria, which already airs RTI programs in German and in Russian. The transmissions in French will target both western Europe and northern Africa, according to the French service’s mailbag program of February 15. They quote the new management of RTI as stating that the station needs to use all means of communications available to raise Taiwan’s profile. Spanish was also mentioned as a candidate to return to shortwave, but I couldn’t make out if this referred to a firm decision (my French isn’t very good).

As far as the new management is concerned, RTI published some information in 2019, and so did other Taiwanese media.

According to Focus Taiwan (CNA English), the new director-general*) is Chang Cheng (張正), a media worker and broadcasting host, and founder of “4-way news”, an online and once-a-month paper publication with a focus on Taiwan’s migrant communities. He was voted in for RTI during the first half of 2019, after “a public selection process,” conducted by the external broadcaster”for the first time.” According to them, they sort of called for bids:

Radio Taiwan International’s previous director-general Shao Li-chung left office on January 31 [2019], and RTI carried out a public bidding and formed an assessment and selection team, including former government information office chief Su Cheng-ping, professor Hu Yuan-hui and Lo Shi-hung of National Chung Cheng University, assistant professor Wang Yae-wei of Chengchi University’s College of Communication, Upstream-Downstream webpage founder Feng Hsiao-fei, Taiwan Alliance for Advancement of Youth Rights and Welfare secretary-general Yeh Ta-hua, RTI board of directors’ chairman, as well as seven experts who were members of the board of directors.

中央廣播電台前總台長邵立中於今年1月31日卸任總台長,央廣第一次採取公開徵選,並組成總台長審薦小組,成員組成包括:前新聞局長蘇正平、中正大學傳播學系教授胡元輝與羅世宏、政大廣電系助理教授王亞維、上下游網站創辦人馮小非、台少盟秘書長葉大華,以及央廣董事長路平等7位具備央廣董事身分的專家學者組成。

RTI made the decision public on June 11, but at the time, the decision was still awaiting approval from the board of directors and the Executive Yuan (i. e. Taiwan’s government).

I find it confusing that there would still be a director-general at all, plus a board of directors, because about a year and a half ago, plans for RTI (plus CNA and Public TV) seemed to point into a different direction.

But what matters most to listeners like me is the opportunity to switch on the radio and to listen.

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Notes

*) Also referred to as “president” in English

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Monday, February 18, 2019

Sony ICF 2001 – Early Days of Global Digitalization

Among the large variety of receivers currently available, the Sony ICF 2001 is unique. […] suggests the Sony is probably the first portable shortwave receiver designed to overcome the general public reluctance to tune to shortwave and international broadcasts. With the Sony ICF 2001, nearly anyone can call up a distant station, if the frequency is known.

This is how then South African foreign broadcaster Radio RSA reviewed the Sony ICF 2001 at the time.

Sony would certainly agree, as can be seen from the early 1980s artwork on the box: that wasn’t a receiver, it was a technological sunrise, with a glorious new millennium booming into your face.

Sony ICF 2001 packing

Proclamation of a new Era: Sony ICF 2001 packing

While reviewers at Radio RSA apparently admired the receiver’s sophistication, they did see a potential problem:

The convenience of the ICF 2001 is obviously unique, but for the established shortwave hobbyist, the lack of a conventional tuning knob can be a drawback.”

And battery consumption was deemed “a little high” – average battery lifetime was estimated at around ten hours.

Great points in its favor, as seen by the reviewers, was excellent sensitivity, selectivity, automatic gain control, and just the right bandwith (as long as users wouldn’t want to bother about choosing the right bandwith).

A shortwave listener in South Bend, Indiana, listened to the Radio RSA review on March 14, 1982, and recorded it. About 35.5 years later, he posted it online.

It’s a fascinating document to listen to. The review contains a short original soundtrack of the ICF 2001’s performance, and a bit of (feigned, I suppose) political innocence:

But let’s try medium wave and let’s try Channel 702, broadcasting from Bophuthatswana.

Summing up, the reviewers pointed out that the ICF 2001

has several features not found on other portables, namely the six-channel memory.

OK – that was in 1982.

A shortwave radio blogger who bought a Sony ICF 2001 in 2015 highlights the built-in antenna trimmer – a great feature indeed, and one the Sony ICF 2001 D (the Sony ICF 2010’s edition for the German market) was lacking.

Obviously, when the year of 2001 really arrived, the internet had been there for years, and even the world’s most incredible shortwave receiver wouldn’t lure a dog from behind the stove, as a German saying goes.

That said, it might still work on dogs older than forty.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Pete Myers, 1939 – 1998

December 15, this coming weekend, marks the 20th death anniversary of Pete Myers, probably the past century’s greatest radio personality without a Wikipedia entry of his own.

Here is an excerpt from one of his programs, broadcast on October 11, 1992, an official day of mourning in the Netherlands, one week after the Bijlmer disaster.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Trusty Brothers and Sea Cucumbers melting away

The following is an excerpt from an article published by Daily Economic News (每日经济新闻) online (每经网), from Shanghai. Before and after the translated paragraphs, it addresses more global aspects of the current heatwave.

Links within blockquotes added during translation.

[…]

It is said that the trusty brothers from the Northeast are packing to leave for the South, to avoid the heat …

据说东北的老铁们已经开始收拾去南方避暑的衣服了…..

In Shenyang, the maximum temperature has recently reached 37.6 degrees C., which is the second-highest temperature ever recorded in Shenyang ever since weather recording began. A Liaoning Satellite TV reporter took a thermometer onto a bus without air condition and actually measured 46 degrees C.!

在沈阳,近日气温最高已达到37.6℃,这是有气象记录以来沈阳第二高的温度。辽宁卫视的一位记者拿着温度计到一台没有安装空调的公交车上测了一下,结果发现竟有46℃!

As a result, there aren’t enough air condition installers in the Northeast! Gomei‘s official Weibo channel says that only during the last week of July, sales of air conditioners in the Northeast’s three provinces rose by 1,726 percent, and even by 3,545.4 percent in the Shenyang area, compared with the same period last year, with several tens of thousands of air conditioners waiting to be installed.

结果,东北的空调安装师傅不够用了!国美官方微博显示,仅7月最后一周,东北三省空调销量就同比增长1726%,沈阳地区更是同比增长3545.4%,数万套空调处于待安装状态。

And it’s not only the people who can’t stand it, it’s the sea cucumbers, too!

不光是人受不了,海参也受不了了!

According to Securities Times, Mr. Wang, with a cultivation experience of over ten years of working 240 mu of sea cucumbers on the Jinzhou coast, found in a first assessment that the losses this year are at least 2 million. Mr. Wang told a reporter that the maximum water temperature for sea cucumbers is 32 degrees C., and that once this limit is reached, they won’t last for more than 48 hours. After 48 hours, they will melt, and the high temperatures of this year have already lasted for nearly a week.

根据证券时报的报道,有十多年养殖经验的王先生今年在锦州沿海养了240亩左右的海参,据其初步评估,此次的损失至少得两百多万。王先生告诉记者,海参的水温极限就是32℃,达到32℃不能超过48小时,超过48小时就会自己融化了,而今年的高温已经持续了近一个星期。

Reading this, condescending smiles may appear on the faces of the little Southern companions: Coming to the South to escape the heat? Isn’t it obvious that calorization is normal here?

看到这,南方的小伙伴可能要轻蔑一笑:来南方避暑?难道你们不知道南方的人可都是要热化了吗?

According to Central Meteorological Station statistics, Chongqing, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi, Anhui, Zhejiang and the central western areas have seen ten to eighteen days of temperatures of more than 35 degrees C. since July 10.

根据中央气象台统计,从7月10日以来,重庆、湖北、湖南、江西、安徽、浙江中西部等地35℃以上高温日数已达10~18天。

Since the beginning of this year, the number of high-temperature days has exceeded twenty days in parts of Jiangnan and Huanan, with western Huanghai, central Chongqing, eastern Hunan, southern Jiangxi, southern Fujian, eastern Guangdong among the areas where there were the number of high-temperature days exceeded those in other years by ten days.

今年以来,江南、华南部分地区高温日数超过20天,其中黄淮西部、重庆中部、湖南东部、江西南部、福建南部、广东东部等地高温日较常年同期偏多10天以上。

Even an African friend says unreservedly that “China is too hot, I’m going back to Africa to get away from the heat.”

连非洲友人都直言:“中国太热了,我要回非洲避暑。”

According to China Youth Daily, young Sami from Ethiopia who is working in Chongqing took a twenty-day holiday from his company in early July because of the heat and returned to Africa. But on his return to Chongqing, it was still “brutally hot”, making him thinking about a second return home, as in his home town, temperatures were only twenty degrees after all, while it was over 40 degrees in Chongqing …

据中国青年报报道,在重庆工作的埃塞俄比亚的小伙Sami,在今年7月初,因为天气太热,曾向公司请了20多天的高温假,回非洲避暑。但当他再次回到重庆,还是直呼“热哭了”,想再次请假回家,毕竟家乡只有20多度,而重庆已经40多度了……

Xiao Bian, as a Northerner who once worked in Africa, tells everyone here that the East African high plains are really cool, and he would therefore persuade the trusty Northeastern brothers that as the South isn’t welcoming, the East African high plains are a bit more understanding …

小编作为曾经在非洲工作过的北方人,在这里告诉大家,东非高原真的很凉快,所以劝一句东北的老铁们,南方是别来了,东非高原了解一下…..

In fact, it isn’t only China which is being roasted, but the entire northern hemisphere.

其实不光是国内,整个北半球都在经受高温“烤”验。

[…]

The article turns to more serious aspects of the heat from there – global warming – but not without noting that some time in future, the legend of the Mongolian Navy could become true.

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