Posts tagged ‘Austria’

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Is Austrian Radio leaving Shortwave?

Austria’s public radio ORF has reduced its airtime on shortwave, from 70 (on weekends) or 80 (Monday through Friday) minutes to only 40 to 50 minutes now. The German-language program, the “Ö-1-Morgenjournal”, was cut short either on Sunday or Monday morning, and every morning since.

The broadcasts are the remains of what was a substantial international radio service until 2003. Until Saturday or Sunday, the remaining broadcast  was still announced as “Radio Österreich International / Radio Austria International / Radio Austria Internacional” at the beginning of the daily transmissions, but there were no programs specifically targeted at foreign listeners. All programs are produced for a domestic, German-speaking audience.

Reportedly, the company operating the shortwave transmission site in Moosbrunn has announced the closure of the site by 2020 “at the latest”.

The transmission site is also used by some foreign broadcasters. Radio Japan (NHK World Network) airs a half-hour program in English for Europe via Moosbrunn, on 5975 kHz, from 05:00 to 05:30 UTC. The BBC World Service also leases airtime from Austria.

If the Moosbrunn transmitters are indeed shut down, Austrian public radio will probably have to look for alternative shortwave broadcasting operators (probably abroad), or simply exit shortwave.

The current behind-schedule transmissions of the Ö-1 programs (only from 05:30 UTC instead of 05:00 UTC) may just be a technical glitch, but reducing  or suspending broadcasts temporarily is no unusual way of measuring an unknown audience. When the number of reactions from an audience is considered meagre, this will usually lead to a termination of broadcasts.

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Update

[April 12, 2018] Austrian Radio’s service department writes that the the current situation would probably continue for about a week, as the transmitter site was waiting for the delivery of a spare part.
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Saturday, April 7, 2018

Win-Win Flattery: Guanchazhe welcomes an Austrian “Supernova”

1. A Historical First (“Guanchazhe” review of Austrian papers)

Main Link: Historical First! Austrian President and Chancellor visiting China same Time in April (奥地利总统总理4月将同时访华)
Links within blockquotes added during translation.

Guanchazhe is a Chinese economic magazine from Shanghai, and Austrian president Alexander Van der Bellen‘s visit to China isn’t its main issue, of course. That would be how Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Adam Smith would look upon China’s economic reform if they were still alive.

But Van der Bellen – or more specifically: chancellor Sebastian Kurz – is among the top stories on Saturday, as a correspondent from Germany asks what Austria is looking for in China.

And on March 21, the Austrian double-visit earned itself an exclamation mark:

A historical first! Austrian president and chancellor going to visit China at the same time in April.

史上首次!奥地利总统总理4月将同时访华

Well then – that should tell us how Van der Bellen and Kurz look upon China’s economic reform.

In an article based on several sources (综合报道, i. e. several Austrian newspapers), the article reads as follows (links within blockquotes added during translation):

In what is “the biggest Austrian state visit in history”, according to Wiener Zeitung, Austrian president Van der Bellen and chancellor Kurz are visiting China in April. Several Austrian media report this unparalleled same-time visit to another country under the headline of “historical visit”.

“奥地利历史上最大的国事访问”,据奥地利《维也纳日报》报道,奥地利总统范德贝伦 (Alexander Van der Bellen) 和总理库尔茨(Sebastian Kurz)4月将一同访问中国。总统和总理同时出访同一个国家,在奥地利历史上尚属首次,多家媒体都以“历史性访问”为题进行报道。

The reports said that the Austrian president and chancellor announced on Monday [March 19] that they were to conduct Austria’s largest-scale state visit in Austria’s history, from April 7 to 12.

报道称,奥地利总统和总理周一宣布, 将进行奥地利史上最大规模的国事访问,与总理库尔茨在4月7日至12日访华。

It is reported that no less than four ministers, including foreign minister Karin Kneissl, environment minister Elisabeth Köstinger, infrastructure minister Norbert Hofer and economic and digitalization minister Margarete Schramböck.

据报道,随同两人访华的不少于4名部长,包括外交部长Karin Kneissl、农林环境与水利部长Elisabeth Köstinger、基础设施部长Norbert Hofer和经济及数字化部长Margarete Schramböck等。

The delegation will also include the chairman of the Austrian Chamber of Commerce, about 170 Austrian entrepreneurs, and dozens of Austrian scientists, cultural workers, and others, some 250 members combined.

此外,代表团还包括奥地利商会主席、约170名奥地利企业家和数十名科学家与文化工作者等,共约250人。

Austrian vice-chancellor Strache will temporarily take care of the government. Austria’s chancellor Kurz said that the vice-chancellor would stand in for him at the weekly cabinet meeting.

由于总统和总理同时访华, 奥地利副总理斯特拉赫(Heinz-Christian Strache)将临时管理政府。奥地利总理库尔茨表示,副总理将代替自己主持每周的部长理事会例会。

According to Austria’s “Kronen-Zeitung”, Van der Bellen said that “we can sign various agreements between Chinese and Austrian companies”, and “the state visit will help to move further in the development of bilateral relations, especially in the areas of economics, science, culture and the environment.”

奥地利《皇冠报》报道称,“我们希望能够签署中奥企业之间的各种协议,”奥地利总统范德贝伦表示,“国事访问将有助于进一步发展双边关系,特别是在经济、科学、文化和环境领域。”

Van der Bellen pointed out that in the fields of environmental protection technology and city planning, Austria had exclusive technologies that could be beneficial for China. “China, too, wants to have clean lakes and rivers.” For example, when hosting the 2022 Winter Olympics, Austrian companies could be of help.

范德贝伦指出,奥地利在环境保护和城市规划方面的专有技术可以使中国受益,“中国也希望拥有干净和湖泊和河流”,比如中国承办2022年冬奥会,奥地利企业可以提供许多帮助。

According to China’s embassy in Austria, a Chinese ministry of commerce delegation visited Austria in April last year, took part in the Chinese-Austrian Economic Comittee’s 26th conference, attended the 22nd international alpine ski equipment exhibition, and discussed Sino-Austrian winter sports cooperation activities.

据中国驻澳大使馆介绍,去年4月,中国商务部代表团曾访问奥地利,参加中奥经贸联委会第26次会议,出席第22届国际阿尔卑斯滑雪用品展开幕式、中奥冬季运动合作研讨会等活动。

Also, “Kronen-Zeitung” reported that Austria hopes to participate in China’s very active research and development, and to have negotiations about economic exchange agreements.

此外,《皇冠报》还称,奥地利希望参与中国非常活跃的发展研究领域,还有关于文化交流的协议也希望能够进行商谈。

Chancellor Kurz, who is only 32 years old, is Europe’s youngest head of government, and considered to be a “supernova” in the European world of politcs. As for this visit to China, Kurz said that “China is a country with a huge potential”, and several hundred Austrian companies were already operating in China.

年仅32岁的奥地利总理库尔茨,是欧洲最年轻的政府首脑,也被认为是欧洲政坛的“超新星”。对于此次访华,库尔茨表示, “中国是一个潜力巨大的国家”,已有九百多家奥地利企业在中国经营。

Kurz said that to put it simply, China had a veto right at the UN, it was a major participant in reacting to climate change and in the North Korean issue, with a GDP growh target of 6.5 percent this year, and also one of the fastest-growing economies. China’s middle class was growing rapidly, and in economic terms, China was “a newly rising superpower.”

库尔茨称,简单地说,中国在联合国拥有否决权,在应对气候变化和朝鲜问题上是主要的国际参与者,中国今年GDP增速目标是6.5%,也是增速最快的经济体之一,中产阶层迅速成长,在经济上是“新兴的超级大国”。

Kurz conceded that apart from mutual win-win, there were also “sensitive issues” between China and Austria. The key was that “the European and Austrian economies must be protected, by defending them against unfair competition and excessive production.”

此外,库尔茨也坦陈,除了互利共赢外,中奥之间也存在“敏感问题”。关键在于,“欧洲和奥地利经济必须受到保护,以防止不公平竞争或过度产能”。

Kurz said that during his visit to China, Austrian participation in China’s “one belt, one road” project would also be discussed. Austria acknowledges China’s “one belt one road” plan, and its government hopes to reach better coordination. In the preparatory process for this visit to China, all departments were actively involved.

库尔茨也表示,访华期间将讨论奥地利参与中国“一带一路”相关项目问题。奥地利认可中国“一带一路”计划,政府希望能做到更好地协调,在此次访华准备过程中,各部门都积极参与。

According to “Wiener Zeitung”, apart from taking part in Beijing events, the Austrian president and chancellor would also take part in the Boao Forum held on Hainan, and visit Chengdu, western China’s metropolis.

2. Counterweight Hopeful (Guanchazhe short bio of Kurz)

MainLink: Austria turns East (奥地利正在向东转)
Links within blockquotes added during translation.

The supernova (i. e. the Austrian chancellor) is explained in more detail in today’s Guanchazhe article by the correspondent in Germany:

This youngest chancellor in Austria’s history, 31-year-old Kurz, is certainly known to everyone, for his [young] age and appearance. But many people may not know his nature: aged 29, during his tenure as foreign minister, Kurz showed outstanding boldness, standing up to pressure from all sides. Braving the risk of an early end to his career by shutting the Balkan Route, lived up to the mission, averted Europe’s crisis, which was exactly what made him the victor in the October 2017 parliamentary elections.

奥地利这位欧洲史上最年轻的31岁总理库尔茨,想必借着他的年龄与外貌,已被大家所了解。但很多人可能还不知道,他的内在甚至还要远超其出众的外在:时年29岁的库尔茨在外交部长任上时,曾在难民危机中表现出非凡的气魄,顶住各方压力,冒着职业生涯终结的危险关闭西巴尔干路线,最终不辱使命,使欧洲转危为安,正是这点使得他能够在2017年10月的国会大选中胜出。

The correspondent also expresses esteem for Kurz’ successor in Austria’s foreign ministry, Karin Kneissl: an extremely noteworthy personality (一个极其值得注意的人物), speaking English, Arabic, Hebrew, French, Spanish, Italian and Hungarian, and author of a book about China.

In her book, “The Change in the World Order” [literally: “On the Way into a Chinese World Order”], Kneissl writes that the process of Austria’s turn to the East actually opened the curtain on [the scene of] the world order entering a “Chinese order”. As for Europe not expressing hopes to take part in the one belt one road plan, this had mainly been the case  because Beijing had not answered to their persistent ideological demands (such as government transparency, human rights and minimum social security issues).

克莱瑟在他的《世界秩序的改变和换岗》一书中写到,奥地利向东转的进程事实上在几年前就已拉开帷幕——世界秩序将要进入一种新的“中国秩序”。而欧盟并未对中国的一带一路的规划表示希望参与,主要是因为北京方面没有回应他们一贯的意识形态要求(如政府透明,人权以及最低社会保障等问题)。

The correspondent then takes aim right at the regional hegemon – Germany. It was Germany that was largely to blame for the loss of contractual reliability among European states, she writes. The country had acted unilaterally in the European debt crisis of 2009 (欧债危机), in the 2015 refugee crisis, thus harming other European partners and third countries, China’s interests among them:

Kneissl writes in her book that “not wanting to acknowledge the methodology of China’s rise will be regarded by future history scholars as ‘a dangerous and silly refusal to adopt realistic action'” – which is exactly the approach of the authorities in Brussels (EU).

克莱瑟在书中说: “不愿承认中国的崛起的做法,恐怕会被将来的历史学家归为‘危险而愚蠢的拒绝接受现实的行为’”——而这却正是布鲁塞尔(欧盟)当局现今的做法。

An important factor in Kurz’ election victory of last year, the correspondent notes, was his opposition against German chancellor Angela Merkel’s refugee policy.

It’s a long article, and if someone is interested in how Germany’s image has recently been shaped by Chinese media, he might want to translate all of it. German-Chinese relations are souring, reflected not least by some remarks by Sigmar Gabriel (Germany’s foreign minister until a few weeks ago) in an interview with newsmagazine Der Spiegel in January:

For years, we’ve been constantly hearing about a multi-speed Europe. It would be great if that were the case, because that would at least mean that we were all moving in the same direction, just at different speeds. The truth is that we have long had a multi-track Europe with very different objectives. The traditional differences between the north and the south in fiscal and economic policy are far less problematic than those that exist between Eastern and Western Europe. In the south and east, China is steadily gaining more influence, such that a few EU member states no longer dare to make decisions that run counter to Chinese interests. You see it everywhere: China is the only country in the world that has a real geopolitical strategy.

See also this blog and press review, subheadlines “Central Europe (1)” and “Central Europe (2)“. A global and a regional hegemon – China and Germany – are competing for influence in the region.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

“Black-Hearted Intentions”: Tillerson’s Replacement may send Signal to Pyongyang

The press keeps raging: the White House is referred to as a “Tollhaus” by Sächsische Zeitung, which criticizes both the way the incumbent secretary of state was fired, and Trumps choice of a successor:

.. a man like Pompeo, who defends Guantanamo and the exercise of torture, doesn’t stand for a moderate style in foreign policy, not to mention diplomacy with reason and a sense of proportions.

“US diplomacy in turmoil”, judges the Independent.

And Süddeutsche Zeitung quotes Rex Tillerson himself: “US leadership starts with diplomacy.”

KBS Seoul‘s German service’s news bulletin of Wednesday mentioned that Tillerson had always called for unconditional talks with North Korea, thus positioning himself against Trump. Tillerson’s successor, Mike Pompeo, was considered a hardliner, the news bulletin said.

The offer from North Korea to have talks with a simultaneous freeze on North Korean nuclear and missile tests, and with no demand for a freeze on US-South Korean military exercises, will have boosted Donald Trump’s ego.

Radio Austria’s (Radio Österreich International / ORF) Washington correspondent, interviewed in the station’s morning magazine on Wednesday, thought it possible that there would be less contradictions between the White House and the State Department in future, and added that according to Trump himself, firing Tillerson and imposing punitive tariffs on steel and aluminium imports had surprised even his closest advisors:

After a bit over a year in office, Trump apparently feels more and more secure, and he seems to manage the White House quite the same way he used to manage his real estate companies in the past.

Nach etwas mehr als einem Jahr im Amt fühlt sich Trump offenbar immer sicherer, und er scheint das Weiße Haus so ähnlich zu führen wie früher seine Immobilienunternehmen.

Success is usually a good thing. It can be the medicine that encourages a public to support good policies. But it can also encourage leaders with a tendency to overestimating themselves.

While President Trump is giving the public the appearance of a man who looks forward to “making a deal” with the North Korean regime, the regime in question still seems to be wondering what the coming months will hold. Or maybe they are wondering which mistake they have made, given that Trump accepted their offer right away.

North Korean KCNA‘s websites – in Korean and English – haven’t updated the “Supreme Leader’s Activities” since March 6 (when Kim Jong-un hosted a dinner for the special South Korean delegation that subsequently relayed his offer to the US), and the “top news” contain no reference to an impending bilateral summit either.

Rather, the US is “Blasted for Ratcheting Up Sanctions and Pressure on DPRK”. When Washington is mentioned at all, it is business as usual in Pyongyang’s propaganda. KCNA quoting Minju Joson:

Pyongyang, March 14 (KCNA) — The U.S. recently announced that it would impose sanctions on 56 designations in total – 27 shipping and trading companies, 28 vessels and 1 individual – of the DPRK and other countries under the pretext of preventing its “attempt to evade the sanctions” and intercepting the illegal means to help the transactions in the open sea.

Commenting on the fact, Minju Joson Wednesday says that it shows how desperately the U.S. is working to ratchet up the sanctions and pressure on the DPRK and suffocate it.

The U.S. recent announcement is not merely a continuation of such anti-DPRK sanction and pressure racket, the paper notes, and goes on:

The U.S. seeks to realize a cynical ploy to bring back the situation to a phase of tension by escalating the sanctions and pressure on the DPRK.

It has so far justified the hegemonic policy towards the Asia-Pacific region under the pretext of mounting tensions on the Korean Peninsula. So, it is seeking to stem the détente on the peninsula, getting the jitters about it.

The U.S. recent announcement of additional sanctions is nothing but a red herring aimed at tarnishing the international image of the DPRK and diverting the attention of the international community welcoming the détente on the peninsula.

It is the U.S. black-hearted intention to create a phase of confrontation on the peninsula by rattling the nerves of the DPRK and plugging more countries into the sanctions racket.

Such sanctions can never be justified as they are illegal and unethical. -0-

With acclaim and great expectations or not, the press appears to expect the Trump-Kim meeting to happen.

But the negotiations have been on and off for decades. Firing Tillerson and appointing Pompeo has sent a signal to Pyongyang, too. Maybe the North Korean leaders have already gotten the jitters.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Blog and Press Review: Frugal New Year

Warning: the following translation from a classic is just my guesswork – if you copy that for your homework, the mistakes will be your fault, not mine. Links within blockquotes added during translation.

Frugal New Year: the Xi Style

The year of the dog is upon us, and it must be a dog’s life if you are a cadre in the Xi Jinping era. That’s what you might believe, anyway, if you read secretary general Xi Jinping’s spiritual nourishment for comrades. After all, in a totalitarian society, administration, legislation, crackdowns and Something Understood all need to come from the same source.

People’s Daily has published three instalments of Xi Jinping thought. The first: go and visit the poor, and ask about their suffering, find solutions to the problems and dump the worries. The second: have an affectionate reunion with your family, as a good family style promotes virtue.

For the third instalment, the sermon turns to the New Book of Tang:
奢靡之始,危亡之渐 (which means something like “what begins lavishly will move towards danger”, I suppose).

I can only find the Chinese original [no English edition] of the  New Book of Tang online, and there, in chapter 105, Chu Suiliang, an advisor with morals, tells his surprised sovereign the meaning of things that only appear to be innocent at first glance:

帝尝怪:“舜造漆器,禹雕其俎,谏者十馀不止,小物何必尔邪?”遂良曰:“雕琢害力农,纂绣伤女工,奢靡之始,危亡之渐也。漆器不止,必金为之,金又不止,必玉为之,故谏者救其源,不使得开。及夫横流,则无复事矣。”帝咨美之。

The emperor said: “Shun made the lacquer, Yu gave us the embroideries, but the remonstrances never seem to end. How can small things be evil?”
Suiliang said: “ornate artwork harms the peasantry, and embroidery hurts the working women. What begins lavishly, will indeed move towards danger. It doesn’t end at lacquerware, it takes gold, too. It doesn’t end there, but jade will be required, too. Those who remonstrate do not want to see things pass the point of no return.”

If my impression of the Chinese texts is basically correct, Xi seems to present himself as someone who speaks truth to power – which is corny at best, and quite probably populist. The latter, anyway, is a tool lavishly handed around among the Davos jetset more recently, and it probably works fine, especially at the grass-roots level, with people who routinely delude themselves.

Roar back, if you still dare, fly or tiger.

Xi Jinping probably found a lot to copy from Ronald Reagan. His May 4 speech in 2013 resembled Reagan’s endless-opportunities speech in 1984. While frequently considered risk averse when it comes to reform, optimism, a “determination … to educate his audience” and “unobtrusive and imperceptible moral influence” (OK – it depends on how much corniness you’ve grown up with) are features Xi’s propaganda style seems to share with the late US president’s.

Footnote: when it comes to education on the ground, education of the public appears to be anything but imperceptible, as The Capital in the North reported in January.

Central Europe (1): After the “Czech Reversal”

The China Digital Times has an article by a Czech academic, describing Chinese influence in Eastern Europe (although the Czech Republic is hardly “eastern” European), and more particularly about a “China Energy Fund Committee” (CEFC). Czech president Miloš Zeman, who is quoted there with some of his characteristically tasteless remarks (about Chinese eyes, before he changed his mind), has explicit opinions about journalism, too.

Central Europe (2): German Mittelstand’s Main Thing

If the German Mittelstand can’t be found in China, it’s probably because they are investing and selling in the Visegrád countries, and beyond. the Handelsblatt‘s English-language edition has a critical assessment of Mittelstand companies role in Central Europe, quoting an apolitical German trade functionary to prove its point:

Ultimately, politics is not that important for businesspeople. Order books are full: That’s the main thing.

Obviously, German politicians (and journalists, for that matter) aren’t nearly as sanguine, and following US President Trump’s attendence at a Three Seas Initiative summit in July 2017, the Economist even recorded Teutonic tremors:

Germany is already concerned about China’s “16+1” initiative with central and eastern European states, a series of investment projects that the Chinese expect will build influence in the region. The Germans are also putting pressure on the Polish government over its illiberal attacks on independent newspapers, judges and NGOs. And they are fending off Polish criticisms that their proposed “Nord Stream 2” gas pipeline from Russia to Germany will make Europe more dependent on Russia.

But the Mittelstand shows no such unease. In fact, smaller and medium-sized companies often feel easier about countries that are closer to Germany, both regionally and culturally – it takes less time to travel, less time spent abroad, less worries about intercultural competence (or its absence), and less worries about market barriers or technology theft.

Hualien, Taiwan

Most people will have heard and read about the earthquake that caused deaths and injuries, especially in Hualien, on Tuesday.

But the place should be known for its beauty, too. There’s a travel blog about the Taroko Gorge, apparently written by a Singaporean, with some practical advice which  should be quite up to date (based on a visit in November 2016). That, plus some history.

The Spy Radio that anyone can hear

No, that’s not the BBC. They’ve only produced a video about numbers stations.

But what’s the fun in them if anyone can listen? I want some numbers of my own.

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Related

Budapest Guidelines, in Chinese and in English, Nov 2017

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Back on Shortwave for one Night (Update)


Updating December 1 post: shortwave bc on December 24, 2013; 19:00 – 21:00 h GMT and 21:00 – 23:00 h GMT

Nauen broadcasting site (Brandenburg), 125 kW

beamed southeast (130 degrees)

19:00 – 21:00 GMT: 9460 kHz

21:00 – 23:00 GMT: 9880 kHz

beamed west (250 degrees)

19:00 – 21:00 GMT: 6125 kHz

21:00 – 23:00 GMT: 6040 kHz

Issoudun broadcasting site (France), 250 kW

beamed southeast (156 degrees)

19:00 – 23:00 GMT: 9925 kHz

beamed south (195 degrees)

19:00 – 21:00 GMT: 11955 kHz

21:00 – 23:00 GMT:  9435 kHz

Austrian Army training transmitter QSL, 1986

Not from Moosbrunn, but from Austria,
too: army training transmitter QSL, 1986

Moosbrunn broadcasting site (Austria), 100 kW

beamed east (115 degrees)

19:00 – 21:00 GMT: 9885 kHz

21:00 – 23:00 GMT: 9625 kHz

Source: Radio Eins, Brandenburg, Dec. 13, 2013

Friday, July 13, 2012

The BoZhu Interviews: So Different, but Sometimes so Alike –

MKL about Taiwanese society, China, domovina, and the European Union

Contrary to many other English-language blogs from Taiwan, MKL‘s isn’t markedly political. Politics does play a role, but usually takes second seat to daily life in Taiwan, and advice to foreign travellers or expats in the early stages of their lives in Taiwan about where to eat out, how to get from one place to another, places to go to on a holiday or on weekends, and about his after-hours obsession – night markets.

MKL started blogging in 2006 – and again in 2008. In February 2009, his monthly output of posts exceeded ten for the first time, and since, another post appeared at least every three or four days.

They were written from a number of places in Asia, and from his native land, Slovenia. For a year and a half now, Taiwan has been his home – it’s where he works, and where he is married.

His blog pages may take a while to load at times, as they usually come with a wide range of photos.

The interview:

Q:  You have been to dozens of countries, in Europe and in Asia. You settled down in Taiwan last year. In a post dedicated to your wife, Lily, you wrote:

Ever since I’ve come here, I tried so hard to make you proud of me. I found work, I complied with the norms of the environment and I’m tirelessly trying hard to survive in the fast-paced reality of Taipei. I feel like I’m caught in a typhoon ever since I’m here. It’s tough, but I will survive, because you’re here with me. You’re the reason I came here, you’re the reason I wanna stay.

How Taiwanese have you become since? And how are your Chinese language skills doing?

A: It might surprise you, but I’m becoming less and less “Taiwanese”, the more I understand Chinese language and the deeper I integrate and immerse myself in the culture. My Chinese level is basic, because my job and the commuting two ways takes about 12-13 hours a day during the week and it’s no piece of cake, it’s very stressful. I’m doing business with European companies and if you know how the traditionally-minded Taiwanese management ticks, you would imagine how big their expectations are. I can order food, drinks and have a simple conversation in Chinese, mostly about some daily matters. Aside from speaking, my hearing or understanding of Chinese improved greatly in the past year. I understand two times more than I can express in Chinese, usually it comes from the context. My whole living and working environment is Mandarin speaking, I have one American colleague who is here for a similar reason, the rest are all Taiwanese. Other foreign friends I have are mostly busy like me. I don’t frequent bars like Brass Monkey, I’m not into drinking and clubbing anymore. I am very Taiwanese in the sense, that I’m caught in this unhealthy system, where the older generation, who could have retired long time ago, run public companies like it’s their private business and where the culture of face and hierarchy often exceeds common sense and innovation. I can see a lot of young Taiwanese as bitter as me, but nobody can (or dares to) do something about it. They hop from company to company hoping to have a job that pays more and enslaves less. But the opposite is mostly the case. Ever since I started to work in Taiwan, I see the whole country in a completely different light.

Q: Your blog is about life in Slovenia, Taiwan, and about travels elsewhere. The difference between the countries where you lived and live – Slovenia and Taiwan – and the countries you visited, does this come down to the difference between family and friends?

A: I always felt a little bit bored in Slovenia. It’s a beautiful country with fairytale like scenery, but it’s small and a lot of things are going backwards in recent years. We used to be a success story in the 1990s, known as the most advanced post communist country in Europe, a role model candidate of all the countries to enter the EU in 2004. And the economic crisis, which started way before 2008 (most young well educated people could not get a good job as early as in the early 2000s), changed the political landscape a lot. People are very split now, much more than in Taiwan. They are divided into liberals (labeled as ex-commies) and conservatives (labeled as ex-nazi collaborators), arguing about who killed more people during WWII and similar nonsense, while young people can’t get jobs, where the social security is steadily disappearing and where a system similar to the one of guanxi enables certain groups to hold power and consume most of the resources. All the positive remains from the communist times such as a sense of community with common goals, solid social welfare, worker’s rights – all that is trampled upon in recent years, big business runs the show in Slovenia and they have good connections to certain parties and politicians. By all means, I’m not a communist and I would never like to have communism back, but not everything was bad during that time. Nevertheless, Slovenia is for me “heimat” (or domovina, as we call it) – and you are right, I do connect it with my family. I miss my mother and sisters every day, I miss the landscape, I miss being home, being one that belongs to somewhere, one that’s not seen as “waiguoren”. I have a very complex relationship with Taiwan, I’m not sure it’s a friend. It can be, but it’s also a friend you don’t fully trust, it’s someone you’re better careful about how much emotions you invest in.

Q: Is Lily blogging, too? And does she play a role in your blogging activities? Or would she rather discourage them?

A: She plays a major role in my way of blogging. If there was a saying that “behind every successful blogger there is a woman”, this would be 100% sure in my case. As you noted, I wasn’t much of a steady and productive blogger in the early stages. I basically put my blog on the map when I moved to Taiwan and started to write more about my experience. Lily introduced me to the Taiwanese way of blogging, which is very deep and informational, with tons of photos showing every detail. I thought: “Wow! This is impressive!” Lily’s style is similar: She would care about a certain quality of her posts and pictures, her articles have a certain order. It’s standardized, yes, but it’s a format, that guarantees a certain quality. I could say the same about your blog: You have structure, you have a theme, a style, a tone and a frame, where you implement all this. And that’s why your readers stick around, that’s why search engine’s will link to you. My philosophy is very similar, just that I have a different style and like to use a lot of pictures. I’m a very visual guy and I like to memorize my life in photos as well as show the reality around me that way. Some are excellent writers, but I can’t only rely on that, well, not in English. And Lily is my prime resource to explain certain cultural particularities in Taiwan and sometimes she wants to take a rest and watch TV, but I’m drafting my blog post and bugging her to explain some Chinese phrases. I always want to know the original meaning of the Chinese character, word or phrase, its cultural connotation and how a Taiwanese person feels about it, what is the context a certain term is commonly used. And my wife, as well as some friends, are my reference for that and I’m very thankful to have them around.

Q: You won Taiwanderful‘s popular online vote for the best overall blog and best travel blog. I was surprised when first reading about it – not because I’d find it an undeserving winner, but rather because it came to my mind that the blogs from and on Taiwan I was mostly reading were much more politics-centered than yours. So, from my personal perception, it seemed to become clear that there is a readership far beyond that. Is the readership of your blog rather diverse, in terms of “blue” (KMT & allies), and “green” (DPP & allies)?

A: My gut feeling tells me, that most of my readers and subscribers are just interested in life in Taiwan, not politics. I’m sure, they have strong opinions about that topic, but it’s not what they want to read on blogs all the time. There are very few Taiwan bloggers, who share so many images about the life in Taiwan like me, as well as about traveling to small towns, food stalls, even night markets. I like to be unique in this way and these things are interesting to blue, green, neutral, and most likely even red-minded readers. I like Taiwan the most, when it’s not related to the daily routine and politics, when i can take off my invisible mask. Despite all the challenges it bears for me, Taiwan is a great place to explore and that’s why I love to promote it as a travel destination.

Q: Are you always using the same camera when taking pictures? Which one(s)?

A: I’m mostly using my wife’s Pentax K-x White, a 2010 model. It has its limitations, but it served us very well so far. She recently bough Tamron AF18-200mm lens, which improved the quality a lot, especially when zooming. But too often a bulky camera has the effect, that you are quickly noticed and make people around you a little bit uncomfortable. So during my daily routine I’m using my iPhone 4 camera with photo processing software to have a retro effect. I like it a lot and it gives me the chance to take unexpected random shots, that turn out great. My wife also has a Canon S100, it’s a smaller pocket camera with great quality, we use it since recently, usually for short trips around Taipei. It’s also less obvious, very good for taking photos in restaurants and malls.

Scooter, New Taipei

There were 14.85 million registered scooters in Taiwan, by 2010 (click picture for source) – photo by MKL

Q: My impression is that most foreign bloggers on Taiwan tend to side with the pan-green camp, rather than the pan-blue one, and often, this political inclination seems to kick in from about the first day they spend in Taiwan. Is that an accurate observation, or are there simply too many blogs that care about politics, but have slipped my attention?

A: You are spot on about that, unless they are dating a Taiwanese girl, that has a blue background and strong opinions on inner politics and cross strait issues (I know some of these cases). But most are green or leaning green from what I perceive. I’m not green nor blue. I had a natural affinity for a certain color, which was related to my home country’s centuries long struggles for independence from Austria and Yugoslavia, but the more I understand how things work in Taiwan, the less I believe, that Taiwan will follow Slovenia’s way. Now I’m mostly apathetic to politics in Taiwan, just like most Taiwanese I know. And I believe there are too many expats blogging about politics and KMT, it’s really not so interesting to read “KMT is bad” in 100 different ways every day – mostly it’s not really “blogging” according to my understanding. If you’re only quoting and commenting on other sources, you’re just a commentator. Blogging for me is about original content, about creativity, surprise, diversity, life and passions.

Q: Has blogging changed your perceptions – on Taiwan, Slovenia, or other places? Possibly even your view of the world? Has life in Taiwan changed your views? Has your marriage changed your views? Has work?

A: Believe it or not, blogging relaxes me. It’s my hobby, it’s my pastime. I have thoughts and ideas, I observe this very foreign and different environment and share it with my readers. It’s basically just expressing myself with words and photos. I’m not a great photographer, but I have a certain style, I know what I want to capture and present. Blogging also helps me to train my brain, to concentrate – maybe it’s similar to those old Taiwanese men, who play mahjong near the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall. By reading other blogs, especially on China and Korea, I learned a lot about these countries, I have to say these bloggers affect my perception of them as well. Most foreign Taiwan bloggers don’t impress me, because I can’t relate to them – I usually see Taiwan and its reality way different from them. Perhaps because I’m of a very different background (a small and young, relatively unknown and underestimated post communist country). I’m not too sure.

Q: Is blogging your preferred way of discussing matters of public interest, or do other ways of expressing yourself – social networking, youtube, Twitter, etc. – matter just as much to you, or more? About a year ago, you seemed to lose interest in “social media” – do you still find it boring? And if so, do you still tweet, facebook, etc., because it helps to promote your blog?

A: Ever since I wrote that post, I’m less and less on social media. I’m there for the sake of being there and in hope, that something interesting will happen – but it mostly doesn’t. My updates are usually just links to my new blog posts, Twitter and Facebook help me to get some new readers. If I don’t find social media enchanting, it doesn’t mean that other’s don’t, too. Recently I am very active on Instagram, taking pictures of my daily life in Taiwan. I simply love it. It’s social, but very simple. You post a photo and if it’s good, people “like” it. No pressure to be “friends” or “follow”. I don’t have time for these complexities – I’m very busy and most of my online activity is consumed by blogging or reading blogs, but I am very selective.

Q: How closely do you follow Taiwan- and non-Taiwan-related blogs respectively? Do you (as a reader) or they (as bloggers) focus on certain, recurring kinds of news and topics? Does China play a role in your reading and blogging habits, too?

A: I follow blogs in Google reader, they are divided in several categories. Usually I check all blogs in my Taiwan, China, Korea, Japan and Slovenia folders. These are the countries, that interest me the most. I also like to read some blogs about gadgets and technology and I like travel blogs a lot, too. I am a big fan of Peking Duck and China Smack, I always eagerly read their articles and comments. China also plays a role on my own blog, I’ve recently written several posts about Chinese vs. Taiwanese, because I find it fascinating, how the two people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait can be so different, but sometimes so alike. I intend to write more about this, but I always try to not focus on the political part, but on the cultural and ideological differences. In the industry I am in, I can see how Chinese companies are beating Taiwanese with lower price and comparable, if not better quality of their products and services. It’s an eye opener. I blame the corporate culture, that I have described in my first answer. Taiwan is on the losing end in this part of the world, it’s losing its competitive edge, innovation is driven in China, Korea and quality is traditionally associated with Japan. If that continues in the next years, I fear Taiwan will start to put “Made in China” labels on their products to raise their image. Perhaps I’m exaggerating, perhaps. But I’ve seen a lot in the recent two years – China’s pace is impressive. Taiwan is not doing bad, but a lot of things are stagnating or regressing here. China is definitely moving forward in great leaps and those foreigners, who live here and don’t want to acknowledge that, are either dreamers or simply ignorant.

Q: You said earlier (#8) that  the more you understand how things work in Taiwan, the less you believe that Taiwan will follow Slovenia’s way (i. e. in terms of internationally recognized independence).  Is this related to the way businesses work and bosses lead – or fail to lead? To their authoritarianism? Or do you see factors beyond business?

A: This is related to two things: First this year’s presidential elections, that were a major blow to the independence movement and secondly, China’s rise to a superpower, which is the most important factor here. Taiwan is surrounded by countries, that have greater economic and political power such as Japan, South Korea and PRC, while USA’s role of an ally and protector is diminishing by the year. How can Taiwan survive in such environment on its own, when the country itself is internally split and intentionally not recognized? Can this status quo continue like this forever? Despite Taiwan’s often cited soft power, I am not too optimistic about that. We had nearly 95% of electors, who were attending the independence referendum of Slovenia in 1990, voting in favor for independence. Compare that to Taiwan of today and with the circumstances I mentioned above. If it was a game of chess, China definitely has the upper hand at this point and Taiwan’s next big move can be lethal. People know that and therefore chose the safe way. Not only that, the business potential for Taiwanese making money in China is becoming a more and more important factor for softening the Cold War attitude and moving towards a closer cooperation (perhaps a kind of a union in a decade or two?). Interestingly, in my industry, almost no Taiwanese supplier has a market in China, even though they try very hard to get the business going by opening branches and investing money. However in reality, they are treated like foreign companies, no brotherly feelings there. I’m not sure what will happen in the end, I’m just an observer and I’m trying to not put too much emotions in this issue, because people might decide something, that I disagree with. Taiwan in itself, in its own bubble, is a very complex matter and when you add China to that, it becomes even more complicated. In the end I only hope that it can keep its unique charm, its advanced civil society, freedom of press, freedom of speech and free elections. To keep all that, it might not be necessary to follow Slovenia’s way.

Q: Have you seen big changes in your own blog or blogs, and in the Chinese, Taiwanese or foreign “China blogosphere” since you started blogging yourself? Or have you seen changes in the mainstream media?

A: I think a lot of green bloggers have become more obsessively green, which I find backwards and a lot of initial China bloggers have either become less critical or have stopped blogging. Maybe less critical is not the right word, I believe they just became older, became more nuanced and sober. The spirit of the young single expat, who thought he can change the world sobered up through the years. A lot of these bloggers either moved back to their home countries or they married a local girl and begun to exchange ideology for pragmatism and nuance. It’s a natural process.

Q: Have you ever stopped reading blogs because you felt they were becoming boring, or because they angered you?

A: Yes I did for both reasons. I don’t want to waste time on reading stuff written by people I don’t respect or find repulsive. There are a few Taiwan bloggers, who fit this category.

Q: Do you regularly watch television or listen to the radio? If so, what are your preferred channels, and why?

A: I watch TV, but movies mostly, however I don’t have a lot of time for it. When I was in Slovenia, I used to watch German TV a lot, from talk shows to entertainment. I was also a big fan of CNN and American news in general, especially during the 2008 election campaign: I watched Obama’s victory speech in Chicago at 2 am on CNN and I teared up. But this is the last memorable moment that I have with television. I shifted to Internet, especially here in Taiwan, where there’s not German nor Slovenian TV. And most American TV stations are showing movies nonstop, such as HBO. TV for me is just on, but I don’t really watch it. I spend more time on my Mac, iPhone and iPad, I’m slowly turning into a geek.

Q: What’s the worst online article or post you have ever read about Taiwan (that you remember)? And what’s the best one?

A: The worst must have been an article by some guy, who came to Taiwan and can’t get girls. He’s only trash talking about everything here, completely obsessed with the notion, that Taiwan is the worst place in the world. But I have the feeling, that the book “Cultural Shock-Taiwan: Cow Mentality, Rubber Slipper Fashion in BinLang Country”  must be topping my first example. As for the best posts, there were several and I’m not sure, if I could point out the best one.

Q: Have you become more aware of what it means – to you – to belong to your country? Or about civil liberties and democracy? There was a paragraph in your post-election gleanings in January this year – you wrote from a business trip that

In Germany, almost nobody cared about the election in Taiwan – there were no reports on TV – nothing. Instead, a sunk ship in Italy was nonstop in the news. Same goes for my home country and probably most Western countries. Nobody gives a rats ass about democracy anymore. We’re bitter and self-absorbed, because we saw how governments change, but everything remains the same. It’s not like we want to have dictatorships back, but the feeling of pure enthusiasm for political convictions are over – cynicism prevails these days.

How do you deal with these feelings yourself? Are they simply your feelings, that are going to be with you unless they change, or are you looking for something more sustainable that might replace the past, pure enthusiasm for political convictions? Has some other feeling replaced the old ones since? Or is some cynicism the almost inevitable concomitant of getting older?

A: I think I’ve become very cynical, but for different reasons than the Europeans I met during my business trip. My problem is I don’t know where I really belong. In Taiwan I’m always going to be “waiguoren” and stick out from the rest, but Slovenia for me is at this point very foreign, too. If I go back too early, I will feel, that I’ve failed at what I set myself to achieve. Europe in general has lost its drive and soul in recent years. Most Taiwanese, with whom I work with, see it as the place, where the economy is constantly deteriorating and the Euro continuously depreciating. The export business of most Taiwanese suppliers suffers a lot and that affects people’s perceptions here. When I see how low the Euro has fallen, I feel sad and somewhat insecure about the whole idea of the EU in general, even though I support the ideals of the Union and I’m proud to be EU citizen. You have to know, that the Euro is one of the few connections I have with my native continent. I could get 48 NTD for a Euro in 2010, when I first came to Taiwan. Today, I only get 36.5 NTD and it keeps falling. Is that a sign, that Europe’s best days are over? I’m not sure, but I’m rather pessimistic at this point. I don’t know, if I will lose my cynicism, perhaps, if I find a way to slow down my fast-paced life, but that’s a very challenging task, if you chose to live in Taipei.

Q: MKL, thanks a lot for this interview.

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The interview was conducted by an exchange of e-mails.

Related

All BoZhu Interviews

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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Concerning China Radio International (CRI)

The following is information provided by China Radio International (CRI) in Chinese, about its English and German programs – the info is probably directed at Chinese-speaking listeners, potential advertisers or sponsors.

About CRI English

The English Global Broadcasting Center (English Worldwide) broadcasts daily on shortwave, medium wave, FM, and the internet, broadcasting all kinds of news and information.

英语环球广播中心(CRI English Worldwide)每天通过短波、中波、调频以及网络向全球广播或发布各类新闻资讯。

Foreign English broadcasts opened on September 11, 1947, and while there were only ten minutes of broadcasting at the beginning, it has now developed into a rich program, rolling out global broadcasts without interruption, day and night, covering about 2.85 billion people. The accumulated daily broadcasting time is more than 150 hours per day. Currently, the English programs also reach more than forty cities worldwide through medium wave and FM (nearly 40 broadcasting hours combined), directly reaching the mainstream communities there. Daily English broadcasts reach 6.5 program hours daily.

对外英语广播开办于1947年9月11日, 虽然开播之初每天播出的节目只有10分钟,现已发展成为节目源丰富、昼夜不间断滚动播出的全球广播,覆盖人口约28.5亿,日累计播出时间达到150个小 时以上。 目前,英语节目还通过国外40余个城市的中波和调频电台落地(日累计播出时间近40个小时),直接进入当地主流社区。英语广播每天首播节目达 6.5小时。

As there are audiences from very different countries, Western developed countries and third-world developing countries alike, with different historical backgrounds, geographical environments, political, economic and social developments and situations, as well as cultural customs, religious beliefs, etc, very different degrees of understanding of China exist. However, what they have in common is that they are all very interested in China’s history and culture, economic development, and social progress. They don’t settle for understanding China from their own countries’ media, but hope to get to know and to understand China by listening to a Chinese station. With the rapid growth of China’s comprehensive national strength, its international position and rapid rise, the international community’s and broad audience’s degree of attention is also rising.

对外英语广播的听众来自不同国度,既有西方发达国家,也有第三世界发展中国家,其历史背景、地理环境、政治、经济和社会发展状况,以及文化习俗、宗教信仰 等方面各不相同,对中国的了解程度存在很大差异。但他们有一个共同特点,即对中国历史文化,经济发展和社会进步饶有兴趣。他们不满足仅仅通过本国媒体了解 中国,而是希望通过收听中国电台来认识中国,了解中国。随着中国综合国力的迅速增长以及国际地位和影响力的迅猛提升,国际社会和广大听众对中国的关注程度 也越来越高。

In the mid-1980s, the 91.5 MHZ Easy-FM frequency became fashionable throughout Beijing, with loyal listeners particularly among the white-collar class. Easy FM’s high-quality English-language news reporting, its bilingual Sino-English music programs, and its lively foreign-language course program enjoyed a high reputation among the listeners. Beijing’s 91.5 Easy-FM programs are partly or completely rebroadcast by other cities’ broadcasting stations, like Shanghai on 87.9 FM, Lhasa on 105.7 FM, Dalian on 81.9 FM, Hefei on 92.4 FM, and in Chengde on 96.7 FM.

91.5轻松调频于上世纪80年代中期开始风靡整个京城,尤其在白领阶层中拥有大批忠实的听众。轻松调频高质量的英语新闻报道,富有特色的中英双语音乐节 目,以及生动活泼的外语教学节目在听众中享有很高的声誉。北京91.5轻松调频的节目全部或部分在其他城市电台转播,如上海87.9FM,拉萨 105.7FM,大连81.9FM,合肥92.4FM,承德96.7FM。

Since its inception in 1998, English International Online has become a news and current affairs channel, and with online broadcasting as a particular feature, it has become a comprehensive website with financial news, culture, sports, lifestyle information, online learning, interactive resources, etc. Practice has shown that the English-language website’s establishment and development have become an extension, and that it has greatly strengthened China Radio International’s influence.

国际在线英语网自1998年创建以来,已形成了以时政新闻频道为龙头,以在线广播为特色,以财经、文化、体育、生活资讯、在线教学、互动资源等频道为补充 的综合性网站。实践证明,英语网的建设和发展,已成为英语广播的延伸和扩展,也大大加强了中国国际广播电台的影响力。

CRI English Worldwide receives more than 100,000 letters from listeners and readers annually.

英语中心每年收到受众来信十多万封。

There are currently 140 employees at CRI English Worldwide, 19 of who hold senior posts. Twelve of them are foreign professionals. About ten people study or work (as foreign correspondents) abroad every year.

英语中心目前有员工140人,其中19人具有高级职称,12人为外籍专业人员。每年在海外学习或工作(驻外记者)的人员约有10人。

About CRI German

China Radio International’s (CRI) German broadcasts officially started on April 15, 1960. Currently, there are eleven hours of broadcasting*) daily, through shortwave, through British company World Radio Network’s (WRN) 1440 kHz Luxemburg medium wave frequency, 97.2 MHZ FM in the Berlin area, and via satellite. The program basically covers the German-speaking areas in Europe.

中国国际广播电台德语广播于1960年4月15日正式开播,目前每天通过短波、英国世界广播网(WRN)在卢森堡的RTL中波1440千赫、调频97,2兆赫在德国柏林地区以及卫星每天累计播出共11小时节目。节目基本覆盖了欧洲的德语地区。

The German program includes news, current affairs, Beijing Hotline, listeners’ mailbox, life in China, economics, Chinese culture, traveling China, science, sports, China Kaleidoscope as well as music programs, etc. In addition to reporting significant domestic and international events, the German program also informs the listeners about circumstances and situations in China, and the friendly exchanges between China and German-speaking regions. Some of these programs are profoundly welcomed by the audience, are quite influential, and some have won awards in domestic reviews.

德语节目由新闻、时事、北京专线、听众信箱、华夏生活、经济大观、中国文化、神州行、科教卫、体育世界、中国万花筒以及音乐节目等组成。除了向 听众报道国内、国际大事以外德语节目还向听众介绍中国各个方面的情况以及中国和德语地区国家的友好往来。这些节目有的在听众中深受欢迎,影响较大,有的在 国内广播节目评比中多次获得大奖。

In 1998, CRI’s German-language website was among the first batch that went officially online. Besides all kinds of news, special reports, expertise, the German website also puts all foreign programs online.

1998年12月26日国际台德语网页做为国际台第一批上网语言之一正式对外发布。目前德语网页除了发布各类新闻、专题、知识性读物外还实现了所有对外广播节目的在线播出。

The number of listeners and website visitors from all over the world, the number of letters listeners and readers write, and website traffic, are continually rising. In 2004, the German-language department received a total of almost 25,000 letters from listeners and readers.

德语广播的听众和网页的访问者遍布世界各地,听众和读者来信数以及网页点击率不断增加。2004年德语广播部共收到听众和读者来信近25000封。

The German department is a vigorous team, doing a formidable job. They have shown outstanding performance in major reporting, and earned themselves praise and awards. Several times, they have been named an advanced collective within CRI, and the party branch has also been named an advanced party branch within the broadcaster. In 2003, the Ministry of Personnel  and the State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television (SARFT) awarded them the National Broadcasting, Film, and Television System Advanced Collective” title.

德语广播部是一支充满朝气、能打硬仗的队伍。他们多次在重大报道中表现突出,获得表彰,多次被评为台内先进集体,德语党支部也被评为国际台先进党支部。2003年国际台德语广播部更是被国家人事部和国家广电总局授予“全国广播电影电视系统先进集体”称号。

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Notes

*) this probably refers to broadcasting hours – there seems to be a two-hour format, repeatedly broadcast over the a/m frequencies.

____________

Related

» About Us (in English, CRI)
» About Us (in German, CRI)
» Victims of Something, Dec 9, 2011
» Locomotion of Ideas, Aug 2, 2011
» Foreign Expert meets Censor, July 3, 2010

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Updates/Related

» CRI Tamil: Cai Jun is Vani, June 2011

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Obituary: Norbert Taferner, 1940 – 2010

Norbert Taferner, a retired South African civil aviation official, and his wife Paula died in a plane crash in Tripoli, Libya, on Wednesday. Norbert Taferner was known among amateur radio operators as ZS6ANL, and as a presenter of a technical media program on Radio RSA (now Channel Africa) in the 1980s and the early 1990s. Paula and Norbert Taferner were originally both Austrians. He reportedly took the South African citizenship some time since the 1960s while she remained Austrian. Irish author Bree o’Mara also died in the crash.

The only survivor, a nine-year old boy from the Netherlands, was scheduled to be flown back to the Netherlands today.

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