Posts tagged ‘Ai Weiwei’

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Human Rights: Do Cases like Ge Xun’s “Backfire” on China?

One of the most frequently used buzzword about China is “face” – to “have” face, to “save” face, to “give” face, to “lose” face. But “face” doesn’t always matter, and it seems to me that there has been less talk about it in recent years anyway, even among foreigners.

I believe that cases like Ge Xun‘s do indeed backfire on China, but only in terms of image and soft power, and I don’t believe that this is where the CCP top-level’s priorities are. Chinese officials who still care about these effects, and semi-officials or academics from their vicinity who might have cared, too, remain silent (probably glad about the limited attention this latest case involving a foreign citizen of Chinese ancestry got after all), and probably, in the eyes of many, this has actually added to the CCP’s hard power: the CCP, in its dealings with foreigners, too, can do what it wants with impunity.

That the CCP invests heavily in its foreign propaganda – compared to Western trends, for example – is no real contradiction. Ample funding for CRI, CCTV-9, its international Mandarin services etc, as well as events like the current “China Cultural Year” in Germany, may not convince a foreign majority, but they will entertain a kind of early Christians, or rather early harmonists, who feel good with the semblance of normality and public life these outlets and activities are conveying. Besides, these activities don’t cost as much as other CCP projects, and the more globally-minded faction needs to be kept happy with a few budgets, too.

Many things that are said and done about China are based on wishful thinking. If the CCP can achieve its kind of stability at the current opportunity costs (as far as they can be assessed), they apparently believe it comes at a justifiable price. (If that will really spell stability at home in the end, or if it won’t, would be a different question, but they obviously believe it does.) Among foreign elites, anyway, the damage done by state security transgressions will be hardly noticeable, and on many [more “ordinary people”], it may actually have an intimidating effect.

The debate about Ge Xun is just another one that refuses to look at the CCP’s own resolutions, even though they are publicly available. The central committee’s Culture Document does include soft-power aspects, but only as one among many.

Quote from the document’s first chapter:

Ever since the day of its establishment, the Chinese Communist Party has been the faithful inheritor and advocate of the outstanding traditional Chinese culture, and the active  initiator and developer of China’s advanced culture.

Fact, baby. Once you have come to understand this reality, you may address some of those – minor, aren’t they? – issues, but only in an appropriate fashion.

And that’s exactly what Beijing’s partners of choice are doing. The Bertelsmann Foundation (one of the Bertelsmann AG’s main shareholders) , the Körber Foundation (the foundation is the Körber AG’s sole shareholder), and the Robert-Bosch Foundation – all of them are saving Germany’s “face” in the “China Cultural Year 2012”, by funding a “dialog” series added to the culture-year event which is otherwise funded by the CCP.

This doesn’t look like an event that would reach the grassroots. It isn’t even top-down – it’s top-top.

To come full circle, regarding Ge Xun and similar cases: I believe that the state security’s next step will be to tackle foreigners with no roots in China whose activities – or simply tweets – they dislike, too.

Expect no great controversy in that case, either. Harald Jürgs, a German entrepreneur who was barred from leaving China in a business dispute in 2010 – on apparently rather questionable grounds – , never made it beyond the German embassy’s reception when he was seeking help there. He was, however, served with a list of solicitors.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

China Cultural Year in Germany: Prepared to Die for Ai Weiwei?

1) Excerpts from an article on the Chinese Cultural Year 2012 in Germany, by green-leaning tageszeitung (taz), published on February 2


About 1,500 artists from the People’s Republic will introduce themselves all over the Federal Republic in 2012, to provide Germans with opportunities to experience China’s culture, “in a modern and updated way”, as the organizers say.

Rund 1.500 Künstler aus der Volksrepublik werden sich 2012 bundesweit präsentieren. Sie sollen den Deutschen die Gelegenheit geben, Chinas Kultur zu erleben, “modern und aktuell”, wie die Organisatoren erklären.

“More than 500 events” have been announced by Wu Hongbo, China’s ambassador in Berlin. Their motto is “Chinah”, a combination of “China” and “nearby”, under the auspices of Chinese state and party chairman Hu Jintao and federal president Christian Wulff, and partly paid by the Chinese ministry of culture.

“Über 500 Veranstaltungen” kündigte der chinesische Botschafter in Berlin, Wu Hongbo, an. Sie stehen unter dem Motto: “Chinah” – eine Kombination aus “China” und “nah“. Schirmherren sind Chinas Staats- und Parteichef Hu Jintao und Bundespräsident Christian Wulff. Sie wird teilweise vom Pekinger Kulturministerium bezahlt.


This has led to criticism already. “Culture needs freedom”, members of Amnesty International and Tibet activists shouted during a demonstration in Berlin. The cultural year must not become a propaganda event “behind whose facade, the freedom of culture and freedom of opinion are impassively suppressed”, as had been in Liu Xiaobo’s case, who had been sentenced to eleven years in prison, or in the case of the Tibetan documentary filmer Dhondup Wangchen.

Deshalb wurde schon jetzt Kritik laut. “Kultur braucht Freiheit!”, riefen Angehörige von Amnesty International und Tibetaktivisten bei einer Demonstration in Berlin. Das Kulturjahr dürfe keine Propagandaveranstaltung sein, “hinter deren Fassade ungerührt die Freiheit der Kultur und die freie Meinungsäußerung unterdrückt werden”, wie bei Liu Xiaobo, der zu 11 Jahren Gefängnis verurteilt wurde, oder beim inhaftierten tibetischen Dokfilmer Dhondup Wangchen.

Peking artist and dissident Ai Weiwei isn’t likely to be there either. Fan Dian, the Peking art museum’s director, defends this: Ai Weiwei was known in Germany anyway. Now, it was tried to “give other artists an opportunity”.

Nicht dabei sein wird wohl auch der Pekinger Künstler und Regimekritiker Ai Weiwei. Der Direktor der Pekinger Kunstmuseums, Fan Dian, verteidigt dies: Ai Weiwei sei ohnehin in Deutschland bekannt. Nun versuche man, “anderen Künstlern eine Chance” zu geben.

Michael Kahn-Ackermann, once head of the Goethe Institute in Peking, and advisor to the Chinese culture ministry now, counts on “dialog”. He hoped that “people listen and look closely first, before stating firm opinions”, he says. It would be wrong “to bedevil every Chinese artist with questions about his political views – and if he’s prepared to die for Ai Weiwei”.

Michael Kahn-Ackermann, früher Leiter des Goethe-Instituts in Peking und nun Berater des chinesischen Kulturministeriums, setzt auf einen “Dialog”. Er wünsche sich, dass “die Leute erst einmal richtig zuhören und zugucken, bevor sie ihre festen Meinungen äußern”, sagt er. Es wäre falsch, “jeden chinesischen Künstler mit der Frage nach seiner politischen Gesinnung zu belasten – und ob er bereit ist, für Ai Weiwei zu sterben”.


Peking has invested millions into Confucius Institutes and Chinese television broadcasters to influence China’s image abroad positively. But experts and artists see that as futile, as long as the government also tries to suppress sensitive topics through censorship and intimidation.

Millionen hat Peking in der ganzen Welt bereits in Konfuzius-Institute und chinesische TV-Sender investiert, um das Bild Chinas im Ausland positiv zu prägen. Doch Fachleute und Künstler halten dies für völlig sinnlos, solange die Regierung zugleich versucht, durch Zensur und Einschüchterung heikle Themen zu unterdrücken.

On the other side of high politics, Germans and Chinese have cooperated for years. Hundreds of artists from both countries experience everyday life in each others’ countries [states]. In German galleries, contemporary Chinese painters’ paintings can be found, dancers attend ballets, and students call on master classes.

Abseits der hohen Politik arbeiten Deutsche und Chinesen schon seit Jahren miteinander. Hunderte Künstler beider Länder erleben den Alltag des jeweils anderen Staates. In deutschen Galerien hängen Gemälde zeitgenössischer chinesischer Maler, Tänzer hospitieren in den Balletten, Studenten besuchen Meisterklassen.

Peking sculptor Wang Shugang, who lived in Germany for ten years, doesn’t believe in the “Chinese Cultural Year 2012”. That was “a mere waste of money”, the 51-year-old says. “If people in Germany want to know something about Chinese culture, he can inform himself anyway. That takes no events that are organized from the top”.

Der Pekinger Bildhauer Wang Shugang, der zehn Jahre in Deutschland gelebt hat, hält wenig vom “Chinesischen Kulturjahr 2012”: Das sei “reine Geldverschwendung”, so der 51-Jährige. “Wer in Deutschland etwas über die Kultur Chinas wissen will”, sagt er, “kann sich auch so informieren. Dafür brauchen wir keine von oben organisierten Veranstaltungen.”

2) First two paragraphs rom a notice by (Travel Magazine), Hamburg, January 1

The change of the year is upon us, and that is a very special year for Germany and China. 2012 is marked by the German-Chinese Cultural Year, which promotes new approaches and initiatives to bring the two cultures yet closer to one another.

Der Jahreswechsel steht kurz bevor und mit ihm ein ganz besonderes Jahr für Deutschland und China. 2012 steht ganz im Zeichen des deutsch-chinesischen Kulturjahres, das viele neue Ansätze und Initiativen fördert, um beide Kulturen einander noch ein Stück näher zu bringen.

Mang Chen, CAISSA chief executive officer, offers journalists and all those interested in China cooperation concerning the German-Chinese Cultural Year. He has headed this conglomerate, which offers not only classical trips from and to China, but other interesting fields of business, too, for twenty years. […]

Mang Chen, Vorstandsvorsitzender von CAISSA Touristic, bietet Journalisten und allen Chinainteressierten eine Zusammenarbeit hinsichtlich des deutsch-chinesischen Kulturjahres 2012 an. Seit 20 Jahren leitet er die Unternehmensgruppe, die neben klassischen Reiseangeboten von und nach China über weitere interessante Unternehmenszweige verfügt. […]



» … and the “Cavemen”, January 13, 2012
» Chinesisches Kulturjahr 2012 (in Chinese/German)


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Ai Weiwei freed on Bail, Hu Jia to be freed on Sunday

Ai Weiwei (艾未未) has been freed on bail, reports Xinhua, quoted by‘s finance news website (新浪财经). Investigations to date had revealed that Ai Weiwei’s company (北京发课文化发展有限公司) had evaded huge amounts of tax payments and intentionally destroyed vouchers. Ai Weiwei had shown “a good attitude” in that he had pleaded guilty, and given that he was suffering from chronic disease, and demonstrated willingness to actively settle the outstanding tax bills, he had, in accordance with the law, been released on bail.

Taiwan’s newsagency CNA quotes Ai’s older sister Gao Ge (高阁) as saying that Ai had returned to his home in Beijing, and that his health was not too bad, although he had lost some weight. Chinese authorities had hinted that Ai had evaded taxes on a massive scale (中國當局暗示他涉及逃漏鉅額稅款).

Ai said in a telephone converstation with the BBC on Wednesday that he was now at his home in Beijing – “I can’t talk to media but I am well, thanks for all the media attention”.

Amnesty International, also in a statement on Wednesday, said that

Ai Weiwei’s release on bail by the Chinese government must not ease the international outcry about other activists detained during this year’s ‘Jasmine’ crackdown.

Ai’s release is said to be coinciding with visits by China’s chief state councillor Wen Jiabao to Britain and Germany, and Catherine Baber, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Asia Pacific, is quoted by AI’s website as saying that the human rights campaigner’s release could be seen

as a tokenistic move by the government to deflect mounting criticism. […] “It is vital that the international outcry over Ai Weiwei be extended to those activists still languishing in secret detention or charged with inciting subversion.”

Meantime, AIDS campaigner Zeng Jinyan (曾金燕) visited her husband Hu Jia (胡佳) at Beijing Municipal Prison on Monday, she told Associated Press (AP) in an online conversation, as her mobile phone was apparently switched off.

Hu’s three-and-a-half-year jail term is due to end on Sunday, but other dissidents released from jail recently have been kept under house arrest, according to AP, as quoted by the Guardian.

Zeng wasn’t prepared to give interviews, possibly for fear that speaking to the foreign media might jeopardise Hu’s release, writes AP.


» Comments – Zeng returns to Beijing, June 2011

Updates / Related
» The Crackdown continues (“tax issues”), Nov 16, 2010

Related Tags
» Ai Weiwei
» Hu Jia

Friday, May 13, 2011

2008 Earthquake, almost Remembered

[Update: the original on the Southern Metropolis Daily is apparently available again.]

Rising from dust and to dust returning, there is one responsibility we cannot forsake. This is to commemorate them. It is about the schools commemorating their students, about the hills commemorating the farmers, about clay sculptures [commemorating] the witnesses [[CMP] NOTE: This is a reference, apparently, to a set of sculptures erected at Buwa Village in Weizhou, the seat of Wenchuan County at the epicenter], about families commemorating those who were lost, about fresh flowers commemorating the graves, about life commemorating life. We will never forget. We will ever gaze off to the distance in their direction. They are a part of our lives. We do not live for ourselves alone. The river of time brings us together here, so let us reunite, just as though we never suffered this loss.

起于尘土而又归于尘土,可有一种责任无法推卸。这就是我们对他们的纪念,是校园对学生的纪念,山野对农夫的纪念,黄泥雕群对凝视者的纪念,是家庭对逝者的 纪念,是鲜花对坟墓的纪念,是生命对生命的纪念。我们始终不忘,始终向着他们的方向眺望。我们的生活里有他们,我们不只是为自己过活。时间的河流联系彼 此,让我们重聚在一起,就像是真的没有失去过。

From a – now removed – Southern Metropolis Daily editorial, which had appeared on Thursday. The China Media Project (CMP) provides a full translation, the Chinese original, and offers explanations as to why the editorial may have been removed from the paper’s website.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Interview with an Expert: the too-friendly Maikefeng*)

The too-friendly Maikefeng

The too-friendly Maikefeng

Wolfgang Kubin, a sinologist of Bonn university, a professor, translator and a lyricist, was interviewed by German weekly Die Zeit, apparently this week.  The interview was published on Tuesday. Asked if the current German show at the National Museum of China in Beijing – The Art of Enlightenment – should have been scheduled in China at all by the Germans, given the case of Ai Weiwei, Kubin replied that this wasn’t the age of the Cold War:

“we need to work with each other. We must keep holding conversations, no matter if we like our counterparts and arguments, or if we don’t. Every severance of talks will only lead to even bigger, unnecessary complications. Relations between Germany and China are traditionally very good, and we should make the most of them (Die Beziehungen zwischen Deutschland und China sind sehr gut, das ist ein Pfund, mit dem man wuchern kann).

Kubin suggested that Chinese state security were “a state within the state”, which “does what it wants to do”, and which “can’t be controlled”. Ai Weiwei’s arrest had in fact been a loss of face [apparently a loss of face inflicted on the CCP leadership by the state security, in Kubin’s view – JR]  – and “completely unnecessary. One could have solved things differently. If he really evaded taxation, one needs to question him, but one must not make him disappear.”

Die Zeit: For 2012, China plans a China Cultural Year  in Germany. Should we allow for that, given the public opinion which is taking shape in China? (Für 2012 plant China ein Kulturjahr in Deutschland. Sollen wir das zulassen, gerade in Anbetracht der öffentlichen Meinung, die sich derzeit in China bildet?)

Kubin: After all, it isn’t as if political censorship existed only in China – it exists over here, too. It’s just that we don’t talk about it, or it is presented in a different way. The ways of thinking in terms of black-and-white must end. ( Es ist ja nicht so, als gäbe es die politische Zensur nur in China – die gibt es bei uns ja auch so. Nur reden wir nicht darüber oder sie wird anders verpackt. Das Schwarz-Weiß-Denken, das hier in der Presse und auch in Diskussionen immer mehr um sich greift, muss ein Ende haben.)

The Die Zeit reporter didn’t follow up here, which is something I don’t understand. Whichever way you look at it, this doesn’t make the paper look good. If Kubin had explained in more detail as to how censorship exists in Germany, it would help to understand that China isn’t “that bad” after all, and it would address a genuine grievance in Germany. It would be useful to two ends at least. And if he had been unable to offer a convincing explanation, readers would have learned something, too. Did Die Zeit  know which kind of censorship Kubin was referring to, and therefore avoided the topic? Or didn’t they dig deeper out of respect for the professor? Either way – they avoided an issue which many readers would have liked to have answered, as the commenter thread following the article shows. Some commenters speculate, but noone claims to know the answer.

When it comes to China itself, rather than to German views on it, the core of Kubin’s message seems to be one about fear, envy, and loyalty.

Die Zeit: Is it for fear that the intellectuals don’t speak out, or doesn’t it matter to them?

Kubin: I know what you would like to hear: for fear. But the matter is more complex. There is a certain negligence, a certain disinterest, a lack of preparedness to get involved when it comes to people who aren’t doing that fine. Chinese history and cultural history isn’t taken into consideration sufficiently. There is hardly any Chinese intellectual, artist, writer who would say something positive about a Chinese colleague. There is a long tradition of that.


Die Zeit: All the same, this Chinese intelligentsia lives under an authoritarian regime.

Kubin: There aren’t only Chinese people in China, but in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and America, too. Why is there no press which would be similar to ours? Why no manifestations of protest? Nobody would get punished there. The reason is simple: because Chinese people, basically, identify themselves with the state, with the nation – and especially when they draw material benefits from that. The other side, intellectual liberties, don’t seem to matter as much there, as they do here. Apparently, people are willing to make sacrifices. That is hardly understandable for us. But it seems to be a fact which is rarely reflected upon here.

Kubin doesn’t deny that fear may play a role in many Chinese intellectuals’ behavior – see the second line of his first answer within the above quote -, but he is leaving fear as a factor completely out in his actual answer. If people don’t protest in Hong Kong, or Taiwan, or America, why then should the Chinese government use repressive tools at all? Is he unfamiliar with the Taiwanese press? Again, no follow-up questions from the interviewer.

While Kubin agrees that Ai Weiwei’s detention is illegal, he questions the German mainstream press, too:

How can we be sure that Ai hasn’t evaded taxation? In Germany, it is blindly believed that the accusations brought forward by the state must be 100 per cent wrong, and only constitute a pretense for his arrest.

And how will we ever know? Does Kubin expect that, once specifically accused, Ai can still expect an acquittal when in court, even if not guilty? Again – no follow-up question by Die Zeit.

A sinologist who defends the way China is ruled is no surprise to me – although there are sinologists who are much more critical than Kubin. But I’d expect Die Zeit to be more professional when asking questions – or at least to explain as to why the interview had been so meek.

After all, maybe Kubin simply filled in a questionnaire, and faxed it back to the paper’s central editorial department. But that would be something  readers need to know, to understand the interview’s background.


*) What’s a maikefeng? Look it up here.

» Der Übersetzer “in Klammern”, Deutsch-Chinesisches Kulturnetz, April/September 2009
» Hermit: Kinakännaren, November 3, 2009

Updates / Notes
I added Deutsche Welle as a tag, as it has become a topic within the commenting thread. On another note, while I highlight changes to the wording of an already published post, I have a habit of changing tags or categories without extra notice. Links may change, too, if old links become dead links.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Wen Jiabao’s Endgame: neither Law, nor Order

Wen Jiabao at the World Economic Forum in Davos, 2008 (Wikicommons, click on this picture for source)

Wen Jiabao at the World Economic Forum in Davos, 2008 (Wikicommons, click on this picture for source)

The State Council outlined the main areas of the economic system’s reform for 2011, on a regular meeting on April 20th, chaired by chief state councillor Wen Jiabao. Besides the usual buzzwords – stability, scientific development, and improving the economic system’s ability to react to economic challenges, capital movement and forms of investment (including private investment or 民间投资) were high on the agenda, too, according to Xinhua, as quoted by China National Radio (CNR).

Another prominent issue, though more familiar than capital issues, was the people’s livelihood (民生), in terms of income distribution and social insurance, both in urban and rural areas, and the establishment of an affordable housing system (住房保障体系). All that and more, plus basic public services – a concept that has been mentioned more and more frequently during the past months, mostly in connection with the concept of “social management”.

It may be tempting to focus on the issue of human rights violations alone. After all, such violations can most easily – and justifiably – be seen in simple terms. The CCP’s and its propganda agents’ attempts to sell it as something more “complicated” can be easily – and correctly -, be condemned. But sometimes, the question is asked if the current political stagnation will continue beyond the expected change in leadership in 2012 / 2013. To go beyond the obvious – that the CCP’s human rights violations are reasons to worry about our interactions with China -, and to “try to predict the future”, we have to go far beyond statements about how we feel. The past six or seven months have been decisive and should be looked at closely, and frequently.

One should bear in mind if there was anyone among China’s leaders who ever came (remotely) close to being a standard bearer of individual rights as the essential prerequisite for a functioning economy and a stable society, it would be Wen Jiabao – for a month, that is, from September to October 2010. But Wu Bangguo, the National People’s Congress’ (NPC) chairman and party secretary, trashed practically every idea of political reform, in favor of “social management” (see second part of this March 13 blogpost), in his work report to the 4th session of the 11th NPC. A Central Committee session in October 2010 – see next paragraph – had shown him (and Wen) the way.

Wen Jiabao is nearing the end of his second term as chief councillor, and party secretary of the State Council – he will probably step down in March 2013, along with the entire “fourth generation” of top leaders, including Hu Jintao (in his capacity as state chairman. As party chairman, Hu is likely to step down in November 2012). Only a month after Wen Jiabao had mentioned a need for reforms of our political system, People’s Daily hit back, in October last year: the Fifth Plenary Session of the Seventeenth Central Committee had decided to adhere

to the road of socialism with Chinese characteristics, upholding the party’s leadership, the role of the people as the masters of their country, the organic unity of government work and the rule of law, the active and prudent promotion of political restructuring, and the continuous advancement of the socialist political system, self-improvement, and development (党的十七届五中全会强调:“坚持中国特色社会主义政治发展道路,坚持党的领导、人民当家作主、依法治国有机统一,积极稳妥推进政治体制改革,不断推进社 会主义政治制度自我完善和发展”).

The editorial citing these central committee findings then interpreted them as an uncompromising adherence to “a hard-earned and efficient political system”. Given that People’s Daily is part of the CCP apparatus, this is exactly the way the central committee (more specifically: the politbureau) does view China’s political system. Wu Bangguo’s work report reflected the Central Committee’s endorsement for the political status quo.

Wen, who had pointed out in September 2010 that

if economic reform doesn’t get the protection that comes from reforming the political system, it won’t be fully successful, and even the achievements made so far could still be lost again,

will spend the remaining twenty-two months of his term as chief councillor on tinkering with the “economic system” alone. That the political system will become an issue once again within less than two years is highly unlikely – the times may be changing fast, but experience tells that CCP’s policies do not. In the light of the months preceding the numerous arrests of dissidents and other shitlisted Chinese citizens – Ai Weiwei is, after all, only one out of many -, one can quite safely predict that there may be more surprises from the CCP’s operational activities and reactions to changing times, but that there will be no more long-term strategic changes.

Bereft of all options to improve political protection for his economic reforms, Wen’s task starts looking depressing. Alright – Tingyi, a major food manufacturer, won’t increase the price for its instant noodles, China’s migrant workers’ most common lunch, writes Felix Lee, in a report for German weekly Die Zeit. This piece of good news about price stability, at least on one item of daily use, is meant to be a signal from the government that there are measures against inflation after all, writes Lee. “Our vigilance” – re inflation – “must never falter”, Wen is quoted by Lee. And to reduce liquidity, and therefore “hot capital” within the market, banks are told to recommend the purchase of gold to its customers, as gold absorbs liquidity without the effects that speculation on property (housing) or food would have.

That’s as much as Wen’s State Council can do for now. “The economic system’s ability to react to economic challenges” will mostly remain a theory, probably even beyond Wen’s last battle.

His most likely successor is Li Keqiang (Hu Jintao reportedly wanted him to become his successor as party and state chairman, but wasn’t able to get him accepted by the collective leadership, and Hu Jintao himself will be succeeded by Xi Jinping, who hails from Jiang Zemin’s political school.


Human Rights: throw them a Bone, April 16, 2011
China Developers Could Resist Cheap Housing Push, WSJ, April 11, 2011
Seasonal Considerations: Safeguarding “4.9”, February 19, 2011
Inflation: the Emperor’s new Thermometer, February 16, 2011

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Human Rights: Throw them a Bone

I’m aware that many foreigners who work within China’s propaganda system in one or another way don’t wish China’s dissidents evil. But a recent blogpost on the Peking Duck (TPD) and many  reactions to it seems to depict the relationship between the Chinese and the foreign sides within Chinese propaganda in quite a remarkable way – fundamental misunderstandings included. The foreign side (by no means only TPD) appears to be quite mortified by recent developments.

TPD quotes from a Global Times commentary (English version, dated April 6), telling its readers that the experience of Ai Weiwei and other mavericks cannot be placed on the same scale as China’s human rights development and progress.

A disturbing and nauseating article, finds TPD. Besides, the Global Times’ staff appears to have been assigned to a big, collective fifty-cent-partisan job.

Richard Burger, that’s the TPD blogger, is described by James Fallows of  The Atlantic as

an American with long experience inside China — and working with Chinese authorities to more effectively “tell their story” to the outside world.

Back to the TPD blogpost itself, quoting from a discussion between Burger and an urbane, sophisticated, educated, talented and a truly wonderful person who happens to work for the Global Times:

“Why not throw the West a bone and let him go, declare an amnesty and then explain why he was detained in the first place.”

Foreign propaganda experts – James Fallows, too – appear to be stunned while watching how all the good “development aid” to China is evaporating  – and some of their reactions come across as if that loss hurts them more than the actual human rights violations the Global Times is trying to justify.

And their reactions seem to suggest that there would be more efficient ways than the Global Times’ current approach to do just that. Should I be curious? Should the Global Times be curious?



This post marks a break from my break from blogging, for the sake of  spontaneity.


China is no Puppet, it’s Complicated, April 8, 2011


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