Posts tagged ‘Africa’

Monday, April 10, 2017

This Blog is turning Nine

I wouldn’t have been aware of it, but the WordPress stats informed me that I wrote my first blogpost nine years ago. Nine years of decline, if you go by the statistics.

No, not quite. 2011 was the maximum years in terms of clicks (they didn’t count visitors back then), and 2012 was a close second. In 2013, clicks halved, and since then, there has been a gentle descent.

And it’s a sad fact that in all these years, there hasn’t been a single reader from Greenland, from a number of African countries, and from Svalbard. Not according to these statistics, anyway.

Top-five countries: America, Australia, Germany, United Kingdom, and Taiwan.

Top-five posts: China: authoritarian or totalitarian? / China – a nation state? / Reality check: is Taiwan a province of China? / The BBC Globescan poll champion / How ugly sex and dogs can be.

WordPress is a great platform. Hopefully, it will remain the place for many good bloggers and blogs for the years to come.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

China’s rising Aggression against Taiwan – is there anything we can do to counter it?

Nigeria told Taiwan earlier this month to move its de-facto embassy from the capital Abuja to Lagos, the country’s biggest city and its capital until 1976, and seat of the federal government until 1991. According to the Chinese foreign ministry,

Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama told journalists after reaffirming the One-China Policy at a joint press conference with visiting Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, that Taiwan will now have to function in Lagos with a skeletal staff.

One could condemn the decision of the Nigerian government, who have reportedly been promised $40 bn Chinese investment in the country’s infrastructure, and the Taiwanese foreign ministry did just that.

But there will always be governments who are too weak to be principled – and most governments worldwide, and especially those of “developed” and powerful countries, have long played along with Beijing’s “one-China policy”. Big or small countries’ decisions are based on “national interest” (whichever way national interest may be defined).

Still, what Nigeria is doing to Taiwan shows a new quality in harming the island nation. A Reuters report on January 12 didn’t try to “prove” Beijing’s driving force behind the Nigerian decision, but quotes a Taiwanese perception that would suggest this, writing that Taiwan sees the “request” to move its representative office from the capital as more pressure by China to isolate it.

Reuters also wrote that

[w]hile economic ties between the mainland and Taiwan have grown considerably in recent years, their relations have worsened since Tsai Ing-wen, who heads a pro-independence party, was elected president of the island last year.
Beijing has been stepping up pressure on her to concede to its “one China” principle.

In fact, this isn’t just a move to make Taiwan “lose face”, or to re-emphasize the – in Beijing’s view – inofficial nature of Taiwanese statehood and sovereignty. This is an attempt on Taiwan’s lifelines, even if only a small one – for now. If Taiwan has to reduce staff at one of its embassies, simply because Beijing wants the host country to bully Taiwan, this affects Taiwanese trade. And this means that Beijing is making fun of a World Trade Organization member’s legitimate interests.

Looking at it under less formal aspects, this move via Nigeria is also an aggression against Taiwan’s democracy.

The Tsai administration’s position during the past eight months hadn’t even been “provocative”. All they can be blamed for is that they didn’t bow before Beijing’s hatpole, an alleged “1992 consensus” between the Chinese Communist Party and the Taiwanese National Party (KMT). In her inaugural speech in May, President Tsai Ing-wen still acknowledged the fact that there had been KMT-CCP talks that year, and the role the talks had had in building better cross-strait relations. But  she pointed out that among the foundations of interactions and negotiations across the Strait, there was the democratic principle and prevalent will of the people of Taiwan.

It seems that this position – legitimate and reasonable – was too much for Beijing. This should be food for thought for everyone in the world who wants the will of the people to prevail.

J. Michael Cole, a blogger from Taiwan, wrote in September last year that China’s leadership

behaves very much like a 12-year-old: pouting and bullying when it doesn’t get what it wants. To be perfectly honest, it’s rather embarrassing and hardly warrants the space and scare quotes it gets in the world’s media. […]

Why the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has kept at it for so long is because we, the international community, have allowed it to do so. From the hallowed halls of academia to the media, government agencies to the public sphere, we have allowed fear to regulate how we interact with China, with ourselves, and with the rest of the world.

His conclusion: we – and I assume that by “we”, he refers to all freedom-loving people who cherish democracy – need collectively stiffer spines, ; the times when we let the authoritarian-child determine what’s in our best interest should come to an end, not just in the political sphere but in other areas, including the embattled field of free expression, where the 12-year-old has been making a mockery of our proud traditions in journalism and academia.

I wasn’t sure if I agreed when I read this, months ago. Yes, it is true that China’s dollars are corrupting. But aren’t all dollars corrupting, if you are corrupt? Who forces us to take them? I’m wondering if South Africa in the 1980s would have faced sanctions if their white government and elites had had to offer then what Beijing has to offer now. And in that regard, I believe we should see clearly that Western countries frequently put their positions on sale easily, when they are offered the right price.

That was  a main factor in America’s motivation, in the 1970s, to acknowledge Beijing’s “one-China policy”. That’s why the EU is nearly spineless when it comes to interaction with Beijing. And that’s why Taiwan’s own elites are frequently eager to do business with China, even if this limits the island republic’s political scope further.

All the same, China’s measures against democracy are uniquely aggressive in some ways. Above all, they are completely shameless. If they serve their country, Chinese people may advocate them without the least disguise – because it serves China. When an American politician – Donald Trump – does a similar thing by ostensibly “putting America first”, he faces a bewildered global public who can’t believe their own ears. And yes, censorship and records where only the victor writes the history books and declares the defeated parties villains is part of hallowed Chinese tradition. There were Chinese people who were openly critical of that tradition during the 1980s or the 1990s. As far as I can see, there aren’t too many of them any more. (I’m not sure there are any left.)

Chinese “public opinion” may debate measures to optimize business, or CCP rule. But there are no competing visions in China. There is no public opinion. There is only guidance toward totalitarianism.

Can governments play a role in controlling China’s aggression against democracy? Not in the short or medium term, anyway. Any such movement has to start from the grassroots. And it won’t be a terribly big one, let alone a “collective” one, as Cole appears to hope.

But every right move is a new beginning, and a contribution to a better world. We can’t boycott China, and if we could, it might amount to a tragedy.

But we can make new, small, decisions every day: is this really the right time to arrange a students exchange with China? Why not with Taiwan? Is an impending deal with China really in one’s best interest? Could an alternative partner make better sense in the long run, even if the opportunity cost looks somewhat higher right now?

The CCP’s propaganda, during the past ten or twenty years, has been that you have no choice but to do business with China under its rule, no matter if you like the dictatorship and its increasing global reach, or not. The purpose of this propaganda has been to demobilize any sense of resistance, of decency, or of hope.

We need to take a fresh look at China.

As things stand, this doesn’t only mean a fresh look at the CCP, but at China as a country, too. During the past ten years, the CCP has managed to rally many Chinese people behind itself, and to discourage dissenters, apparently a minority anyway, from voicing dissent.

A new personal and – if it comes to that – collective fresh look at China requires a sense of proportion, not big statements or claims. It doesn’t require feelings of hatred or antagonism against China, either. We should remain interested in China, and continue to appreciate what is right with it.

What is called for is not a answer that would always be true, but a question, that we should ask ourselves at any moment when a choice appears to be coming up.

As an ordinary individual, don’t ask how you can “profit” from China’s “rise” (which has, in fact, been a long and steady collapse into possibly stable, but certainly immoral hopelessness).

Ask yourself what you can do for Taiwan.

Happy new year!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

An Election Observation by the Way

6080 kHz would be a great frequency to listen to the Voice of America‘s (VoA’s) election coverage – if the Voice of Turkey wouldn’t start to interfere with their English program, at 04:00 a.m. UTC. That drowns VoA completely.

4960 kHz, also from the VoA’s Sao Tome and Principe relay, offers an acceptable alternative, provided that you live in the countryside and have some outdoor wire in the air.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Old Friends: No you Can’t, Yes we Can

1. You can’t invite that (alleged) War Criminal, can you?

Granted, there were a number of good reasons to stay away from the CCP’s military parade, and the falsification of history that marched among the ranks – after all, it was the Republic of the two Chinas that won the war -, was one of them. But then, Japan, too, cooks history books, and that would deserve more attention, too – I haven’t heard of any Western leader recently who’d cancel a meeting with Japanese prime ministers because of such issues. Maybe it is because history as a science isn’t considered to push economic growth, and therefore deemed useless. But then, history probably wasn’t a main driver of disharmony anyway.

Rather, what seems to have bugged a number of world leaders was Beijing’s guest list, which included Omar Hassan al-Bashir, Sudan’s president. A scandal?

Not if you ask Hua Chunying (华春莹), spokeswoman at China’s foreign ministry. Some Q&A from the ministry’s regular press conference on Tuesday:

Q: Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir will attend the September 3 activities. President Xi Jinping will also meet with him. Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes. Is there a contradiction that China invites him to attend activities marking the victory of World War II?

问:苏丹总统巴希尔将来华出席9·3纪念活动,习近平主席将与他会见。巴希尔因战争罪受到国际刑事法院通缉。中方邀请他来华出席二战胜利70周年纪念活动是否矛盾?

A: African people, including Sudanese people, made important contributions to the victory of the World Anti-Fascist War. It is reasonable and justified for China to invite President Bashir to attend the commemorative activities. China will accord him with due treatment during his stay in China.

答:包括苏丹人民在内的非洲人民为世界反法西斯战争胜利作出了重要贡献。中方邀请巴希尔总统来华出席纪念活动合情合理。巴希尔总统来华期间,中方将给予他应有待遇。

Being not a signatory to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, China will deal with relevant issue on the basis of the basic principles of international law.

中国不是《国际刑事法院罗马规约》的缔约国,将在国际法基本原则的基础上处理相关问题。

Now, one might ask why China is no signatory to the Rome Statue of the International Criminal Court. That would go to the heart of the matter, while the spokesperson’s statement remains at the surface. The underlying answer may well be that to Beijing, Omar al-Bashir is primarily the president of Sudan, and only secondly, Beijing’s son of a bitch old friend. That al-Bashir’s immunity is, to Beijing, a matter of state sovereignty, not of personal responsibility or guilt. That aside, the attitude is best compatible with China’s interests in Africa – and maybe, there’s still a bit of a fear among China’s elites that they could, in a worst-case scenario, become targets of the ICC.

In a case like al-Bashir’s, Beijing’s critics are wrong, and Beijing is near-absolutely right. There can be no justice if leaders of small countries can be taken to court, and leaders of great powers remain immune. Peace may be “a journey” and “a never-ending process”, because dialogue is a voluntary choice. But when it comes to justice, tougher standards need to be applied. Unequal justice is an oxymoron.

Hua Chunying’s reference to the Rome Statute is also an elegant swipe against U.S. critics in particular: Washington has signed the Statute, but never ratified it.

2. You can’t Invite Shen Lyushun, can you?

Yes, we can, says Washington D.C., and so it happened on Wednesday. Taiwan’s English-language paper,  The China Post:

In a highly symbolic move, Taiwan’s representative to the United States attended an event in Washington D.C. Wednesday to commemorate the Allied Forces victory in the Pacific and the end of World War II.

Shen Lyushun’s (沈呂巡) attendance was the first time Taiwan’s top diplomat had been invited to attend similar events in the United States.

Now, guess what – Beijing reportedly didn’t like the guest list:

China’s ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai did not attend the event even though he had been invited. Chinese officials have protested the inclusion of Taiwan’s presence at the event.

Which is fine. Dialogue remains a voluntary choice.

____________

Related

» Failure to Arrest, The Guardian, June 24, 2015
» CIA & Hundesöhne, Tagesanzeiger, Feb 7, 2013
» Not a party to treaty, John Bolton, May 6, 2002

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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Deutsche Welle: Withdrawal from the Land of a Thousand Hills

Deutsche Welle (DW) is going to close Kigali relay station in Kigali, Rwanda, the last shortwave station in its ownership, on March 29, according to Tabea Rößner, media spokesperson for the Green members of Germany’s federal lower house, the Bundestag. Rößner published the information on February 4, and voices regret:

In our motion of December 2014 we, Bündnis 90/Die Grünen demanded to keep the station operating and to secure transmissions of Deutsche Welle radio programs on shortwave. We want the station to be maintained because we believe that interference-resistant supply of information such as shoretwave need to be kept. This is the more important as geopolitical and foreign-policy constellations can change anytime. Independent coverage needs to be independent from infrastructural issues.

In unserem Antrag vom Dezember 2014 haben wir von BÜNDNIS 90/DIE GRÜNEN gefordert, die Station aufrecht zu erhalten und die Übertragung von Radioprogrammen der Deutschen Welle via Kurzwelle zu sichern. Die Station wollen wir aufrecht erhalten, weil wir der Meinung sind, dass störunanfällige Informationsangebote wie die Kurzwelle unbedingt aufrechterhalten werden müssen. Dies ist umso wichtiger, da geo- und außenpolitische Konstellationen sich jederzeit ändern können. Unabhängige Berichterstattung aber muss von Infrastrukturfragen unabhängig sein.

Indeed, on December 18 last year, when the Bundestag debated, among others, Deutsche Welle’s task plan and budget, had argued that rather than entering a mindless competition with English-language foreign broadcasters, DW, the Greens argued, should strengthen its core competences, maintain shortwave in general, and the Kigali relay station in particular.

Deutsche Welle QSL card confirming reception of Kigali relay station, on September 6, 2014, at 04:00 UTC.

Deutsche Welle QSL card confirming a report on Kigali relay transmissions, September 2014

Adventist World Radio (AWR), a station that broadcasts via stations of its own (Guam among them) and via rented airtime (Nauen in Germany and Trincomalee in Sri Lanka among them), appears to have rented a lot of airtime from Kigali since October last year, according to a report by Radio Berlin-Brandenburg‘s (RBB) media magazine on February 8, who quote Jose Jacob, an Indian ham radio operator, as an unverified source.

A week earlier, the magazine had reported that Kigali relay station would be dismantled.

It won’t be DW’s first withdrawal from the land of a thousand hills. In April 1994, seven German DW staff and four relatives were evacuated from the transmitter site by Belgian paratroopers, while Rwanda was descending into genocide. Most of the Rwandan staff, some eighty out of 120 Rwandan nationals, are believed to have been killed in the 1994 massacres, according to DW.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Quick Review: Princess Cheng, the Dalai Lama, and the Motherpapers

Stay away from blogging for a fortnight, and you will miss out on a lot of news. Here are some that caught my attention during the past two weeks, without time to blog about them, let alone making a real translation of it.

1. This Land is my Land: Princess Wencheng, from Tang China to Tibet

Wang Lixiong, a Chinese tibetologist, described his take on the Tang Dynasty’s motives to get Princess Wencheng married to then Tibetan King King Songtsän Gampo.

Wang’s take is that the mere fact that you marry one of your princesses to the ruler of a distant land still doesn’t make that ruler’s land your land. If and how far his view may differ from the narratives Chinese propaganda has spread abroad successfully, would take a good translation of the entire blogpost, as published by Tsering Woeser, on October 23.

2. That Land is China’s Land: no Entry into South Africa for Dalai Lama

I’m wondering if the Dalai Lama expects to see the country of South Africa in his lifetime. Chinafile collected some links and reactions to this most recent – apparent – refusal from Pretoria to grant Tibet’s spiritual leader a visa.

Pretoria reportedly also blocked a Dalai Lama visit in March 2009. Less than two month later, then South African minister for International Relations Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said that the Dalai Lama could now visit South Africa any time he wanted.

Anyway. So far, it hasn’t happened.

one_hundred_fake_euros

3. What shall we do with the Motherpapers?

Nothing, says China Media Project (CMP), Hong Kong, a website observing the mainland Chinese media scene.

Not if it is about People’s Daily, the mother of all motherpapers, anyway. Motherpapers, writes CMP, usually get their budgets right from the Chinese Communist Party, and may also be supported by their child papers (which are more commercial, carry more advertising, and may have more interested readers). Because you can’t discuss the real challenges in China.

Personal note: I’m sometimes criticized by Chinese people for reading People’s Daily or other orthodox stuff, and for watching Xinwen Lianbo, the main CCTV news broadcast. There are so many more interesting media, they say.

Which is true. But as the CCP never invites me to their schooling sessions, not even on village level, motherpapers and CCTV is all I can get for my better information about how the party is ticking.

There’s still more stuff I (just as superficially) read during the second half of October, but I might still get round to them in some more detail.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Shortwave Log, Northern Germany, April 2014: Radio Japan

1. Radio Japan

A radio equipped to receive domestic shortwave radio service does not have a wide enough shortwave band (usually between 3.9 MHz to 12 MHz) and is not adequate to receive RADIO JAPAN,

according to the how-to-listen page on the NHK World (Radio Japan Online) website.

It depends, though. Radio Japan’s broadcasts in Chinese on 9,540 kHz (9.54 MHz), daily at 15:30 UTC have, arrived in moderate or good quality recently. They certainly did every time I listened in April – on nine different days, that is. It’s a signal that travels across seven time zones, on a shortwave band that counts as the most heavily used one.

"Winter in Kenrokuen Park, Kanazawa" - Radio Japan QSL, re December 1985

“Winter in Kenrokuen Park, Kanazawa” – Radio Japan QSL, re December 1985

Reception of the station’s signals directly from Japan was much more difficult in the 1980s, and maybe the remarks about the inadequacy of bands around and below above 25 meters were made back then, and copied into the website later on. In the 1980s, the Cold War was still alive on shortwave. The overkill was never applied in nuclear terms, but it was exercised on shortwave. Monster transmitters of 1,000 kW were most probably first introduced in the USSR, and the Soviet network of “normal” shortwave transmitters, too, was globally unrivaled. The gaps Radio Moscow did leave on shortwave were filled by the Voice of America (VoA), the BBC World Service, Radio Peking (the former name of what is now China Radio International / CRI), and with Germany’s Deutsche Welle “only faintly beeping in a few places” on the radio dial, as Der Spiegel put it in 1984.

Radio Japan wouldn’t even faintly beep in northern or central Europe – or when they did, that would be a very, very special day. Unless when the signal came from Moyabi, Gabon, where the Japanese broadcaster began using a relay transmitter in 1982 or 1983.

Soviet radio megalomania wasn’t the only thing to blame for the rarity of a noticeable direct signal from Japan to Europe.  There were home-made difficulties, too. The shortwave transmission sites were run by KDD (nor merged into KDDI), rather than by NHK or Radio Japan itself, and the  telecommunications corporation’s decisions were chronically ill-founded, according to German journalist and shortwave listener Hermann Jäger (1921 – 1993), who noted in 1987 that the station’s morning broadcasts in German had been fairly audible in the late 1970s, but not after that, and that with few exceptions, the evening broadcasts had been inaudible for many years. Jäger blamed incomprehensible frequency choices:

When a broadcaster in Japan, with 100 or maybe 200 kW at best, chooses a frequency on or right next to Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty‘s from Munich, it won’t work. The [Soviet] jamming stations alone will “make sure” about that.

6070 kHz for another broadcast in German was no good try either: Radio Sofia from Bulgaria blew everything away.

Hermann Jäger wrote his article in 1987, on the 50th anniversary of Radio Japan’s German service*). Another issue he raised was that only earlier that year, in 1987, transmitters of more than 100 or 200 kW had been taken into operation. Until then, Radio Japan had continued working as if the bands were as “empty” as in 1937, 1955 1950, or maybe in 1955.

That has changed. The bands have emptied a lot during the past twenty years. In fact, Japan appears to be one of the rather few OECD countries which haven’t abandoned shortwave as a means of propaganda, public diplomacy, or information. Radio Japan broadcasts on much “emptier” shortwave bands these days, powered with up to 300 kW from Japan, and 500 kW from a French relay station.

Since March 30, Radio Japan has also added broadcasts in Japanese to eastern Europe, on shortwave frequencies, from relay stations in the UK, the UAE, and directly from Japan – see Japan/UAE/U.K. Additional broadcasts of Radio Japan here. The broadcasts have apparently been added for Japanese citizens in eastern Europe.

_____

*) According to Wikipedia (zh) and Chinese online encyclopedia baike.com, Radio Japan started broadcasts in Chinese in 1937, too. According to zh.wikipedia.org, it was August 23, 1937. On NHK’s website, I didn’t find a specific date. The Chinese programs are mentioned on NHK’s English website, as a caption to a picture of program schedules in 1940 – third photo from top.

2. Recent Logs (from/after March 29)

[Update/correction: two sentences deleted – part of March 2014 log]

International Telecommunication Union letter codes used in the table underneath:
AFS – South AFrica; ARG – Argentina; CLN – Sri Lanka; D – Germany; IND – India; IRN – Iran; J – Japan; OMA – Oman; SNG – Singapore.

Languages (“L.”):
Be – Bengali; C – Chinese; Ca – Cambodian; E – English; G – German; Pa – Pashto.

kHz

Station

Ctry

L.

Day

GMT

S I O
15140 Radio
Oman
 OMA E Apr
3
14:47 4 5 4
  9540 Radio
Japan
 J C Apr
3
15:30 4 5 4
  9540 Radio
Australia
 SNG E Apr
3
16:00 4 5 4
15235 Channel
Africa
 AFS E Apr
4
17:00 4 5 4
  4880 SW1)
Africa
 AFS E Apr
4
17:30 3 4 3
  9780 VoA/
Deewa
 CLN Pa Apr
5
18:04 4 5 3
  9485 MV Baltic
Radio2)
 D G Apr
6
09:00 5 5 5
  7550 AIR
Delhi
 IND E Apr
73)
18:27 5 5 4
15235 Channel
Africa
 AFS E Apr
83)
17:00 5 5 5
15345 RAE
Buenos
Aires
 ARG G Apr
8
21:00 3 3 3
11710 RAE
Buenos
Aires
 ARG E Apr
11
02:08 2 5 3
  3995 HCJB
Weener-
moor
 D G Apr
12
09:00 4 4 3
  7365 HCJB
Weener-
moor
 D G Apr
12
09:17 3 3 3
17820 IRIB
Tehran
 IRN E Apr
12
10:23 4 5 4
17860 Vo Khmer
M’Chas
Srok
 4) Ca Apr
12
11:30 4 5 4
15345 RAE
Buenos
Aires
 ARG G Apr
18
21:07 4 2 2
11710 RAE
Buenos
Aires
 ARG E Apr
25
02:55 5 5 5
  5980 Channel
Africa
 AFS E Apr
25
03:05 5 5 5
  9540 BBC
World
Service
 SNG Be Apr
28
16:30 5 5 4

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Footnotes

1) A Zimbabwean opposition broadcaster, via Meyerton, South Africa
2) Some delay at the beginning of broadcast
3) Receiver used: Silver XF-900 Spacemaster, built-in antenna. Sony ICF-2001D when not otherwise noted.
4) short-wave.info says that the transmitter’s location is Tajikistan. The organization airing the broadcasts opposes Cambodia’s Hun Sen government and what it views as Vietnamese attempts to create an Indochina Federation, with Cambodia and Laos under Hanoi’s rule.

____________

Related

» NHK International BC history, NHK
» NHK国际广播发展历程, NHK
» 日本国际广播电台, baike.com
» Gelebte Zeitgeschichte, book review, 2004
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Friday, December 6, 2013

Nelson Mandela, 1918 – 2013

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