There is no Weltinnenpolitik yet, but there are cross-civilizational trends.
The City of Red Songs
There would be no second chance. Gerhard Schröder, former chancellor of Germany, was in a hurry in June 2011, on the sidelines of a forum in southwestern China’s metropolis of Chongqing. He was therefore lacking the time to attend one of the red-song nights that were customary there. But he still pleased his interlocutors with a German proverb: Where people sing, you can settle down – wicked people sing no songs.
In full, the red-songs custom advocated by Chongqing’s party chief Bo Xilai was Singing revolutionary songs, Reading classic books, telling stories and spreading mottos. There would be nine more months of that before Bo Xilai was toppled by his CCP comrades.
A Hudong article explained the activity at the time. It was a mass concept, started in Chongqing in 2008, which was greeted with enthusiasm there, and elsewhere in China. The concept wasn’t outdated, because
if a country and a nation have no correct thought and advanced culture, it will lose its backbone. The current deep changes of the economic system, the structure of society, and the profound adjustment of interest patterns must be reflected in the ideological field. There is diversity in peoples’ minds, and although the mainstream is positive and healthy, while some peoples’ material life conditions have improved, spiritual life is somewhat empty. To change that condition, and to ensure a safe passing of the torch in the cause of the party and the country, the red flag must be righteously upheld, the ideology of Marxism must be consolidated in its guiding position within the ideological field, and the attractiveness and the cohesive power of socialist ideology must be strengthened.
一个国家和民族没有正确的思想、先进的文化，就会失掉主心骨。当前，经济体制深刻变革、社会结构深刻变动、利益格局深刻调整，必然反映到意识形态领域。人们的思想日趋多元多变多样，虽然主流积极健康向上，但一些人物质生活改善了，精神生活却有些空虚。为了彻底改变这种状况，保证党和国家的事业薪火相传，必须理直气壮地举红旗，不断巩固马克思主义在意识形态领域的指导地位，增强社会主义意识形态的吸引力和凝聚力。[Links within these lines omitted.]
According to the HuDong article, CCP politbureau member and Chongqing party secretary Bo Xilai (薄熙来) had deplored the phenomenon of young people who sang decadent songs (唱 .. 靡靡之音, chàng mímí zhī yīn), who were reading “fast-food” kinds of literature (读 .. 快餐文化, dú kuàicān wénhuà), told “low and vulgar stories” (讲 .. 低俗故事, jiǎng dīsú gùshì), and “spread pornographic or dull scripts/pieces” (传 .. 黄段子、灰段子, chuán huáng duànzi, huī duànzi).
So, apparently, there were dirty songs, too. Maybe things weren’t as simple as Schröder had believed. At least one reader and forum commenter of China’s Huanqiu Shibao didn’t trust Schröder’s expertise and wrote:
OK, listen [to the red songs], you won’t comprehend them anyway. It will be as if you were listening to folk songs.
The “Chongqing Model” was controversial, at least in the perceivable medial public of China. The party elite wasn’t entirely in love with Bo’s pretentious neo-Maoism. A vice president of Law School at China University of Political Science and Law was quoted by the English-language party mouthpiece “Global Times”:
There have been 104,000 “Red Song Concerts” in Chongqing, with 80 million participants. It cost 1,500 yuan ($231) per person for onsite renting and costume expenses, 210 million yuan in total. Adding in the offwork compensation and transportation the final cost is 270 billion [sic – probably means million – JR] yuan. Why don’t they use the money for health insurance?
Bo Xilai’s “Populism”, 2007 – 2012
At the grassroots, however, Bo’s leadership style appears to have worked (maybe it still does). The Chongqing Model wasn’t just about folklore, red or otherwise.
Chongqing (Sichuan province) residents set off firecrackers today, celebrating the execution of the provincial-level city’s former chief justice Wen Qiang (文强), cqnews.net reported in July 2010. The Wall Street Journal explained:
Wen Qiang was put to death following the rejection in May by China’s Supreme Court of an appeal of his conviction on charges including bribery, shielding criminal gangs, rape and inability to account for millions of dollars in cash and assets, according to Xinhua news agency. Xinhua didn’t say how Mr. Wen was executed.
Punching black crime and uprooting vice (拳打黑除恶) was the name of the campaign that cost Wen his life – according to the historical records as Bo would have it, he and his police chief Wang Lijun not only battled against gangs, but infiltrated cadres, too.
The now defunct website Chinageeks published an English translation of Zhang Wen, a former chief editor of the Xinhua magazine Globe:
Bo Xilai and the “northeast tiger” Wang Lijun entered Chongqing and started a war and began a “battling corruption and evil” movement that has gradually begun to spread nationwide and worldwide. This action is in line with the people’s wishes, and at the same time, also in line with what central authorities wish.
At first, the public opinion was very one-sided; no one could find any fault with Bo. The controversy and difference of opinions came with the case of Li Zhuang. Proponents of the democratic rule of law questioned and criticized the legality of Chongqing [court] proceedings, but Bo Xilai’s supporters hold that punishing lawyers who defend “bad people” is appropriate.
Bo Xilai’s wife Gu Kailai is a high-level lawyer who has been working for many years. The two have been together for many years and Bo himself was once the head of the Ministry of Commerce, and thus often negotiated international legal issues with foreign opponents. Because of this, Bo Xilai should have a solid conception and knowledge of the law.
But in the end, in the Li Zhuang case, the organs of justice in Chongqing left a bad impression that they might violate legal procedures. Precisely because of this, some people’s opinions on Bo Xilai changed dramatically. I myself once wrote an essay expressing pity that Bo Xilai hadn’t turned out to be the sort of high-quality modern politician [we had hoped].
Chongqing was a small pond for a big fish – Bo Xilai appeared to have hoped for a permanent seat in the CCP’s central politburo, but landed the job as party secretary of Chongqing instead. Chongqing wasn’t an insignificant city, but it was far from where central Chinese power was. Only an alernate politburo membership linked him to Beijing. From 2008, his Maoist song events raised nationwide attention, and even beyond China – Henry Kissinger apparently leapt at the chance Schröder had missed.
In 2011, Bo Xilai started his second campaign for a permanent seat at the CCP’s top table. While the Economist found Bo’s style refreshing, it noted nervously that
The region’s party chief, Bo Xilai, is campaigning for a place on the Politburo Standing Committee in next year’s leadership shuffle. He looks likely to succeed. Like every other Chinese politician since 1949, he avoids stating his ambitions openly, but his courting of the media and his attempts to woo the public leave no one in any doubt. Mr Bo’s upfront style is a radical departure from the backroom politicking that has long been the hallmark of Communist rule and would seem like a refreshing change, were it not that some of his supporters see him as the Vladimir Putin of China. Mr Bo is a populist with an iron fist. He has waged the biggest crackdown on mafia-style gangs in his country in recent years. He has also been trying to foster a mini-cult of Mao, perhaps in an effort to appeal to those who are disillusioned with China’s cut-throat capitalism.
Bo didn’t appear to aim for the top job as secretary general, the Economist noted, as that position appeared to have been reserved for Xi Jinping. Indeed, Xi succeeded Hu Jintao as party secretary general in autumn 2012, and as state chairman in March 2013.
Bo Xilai’s plans didn’t work that smoothly. In November 2011, a British citizen, Neil Heywood, died in a hotel in Chongqing. Given that Chinese courts don’t work independently from the party, the circumstances of his death can’t be considered resolved. A Chinese court found Gu Kailai, Bo Xilai’s wife, guilty of killing Heywood, and after only one day in court, she got a suspended death sentence.
The BBC‘s China editor Carrie Gracie tried to shed light on the circumstances of Bo Xilai’s rise and fall, and the role Heywood’s death played in the latter, but didn’t find too many interlocutors. Instead, she presented a Rocky Horror Picture Show of elite power struggles with Chinese characteristics. Bo Xilai as the avenger of the common man, a crashing, media-savvy scourge of organized crime, who addressed the public directly, without party media filtering. That hadn’t happened since Mao’s days – “think Donald Trump”.
With support from local police chief Wang Lijun, who fancied leading roles in martial-arts television, too, Bo had exercised a regime that labeled opponents as mafiosi and not only jailed them, but expropriated them too, in favor of Chongqing’s budgets.
It isn’t contested that Bo Xilai and Wang Lijun prosecuted the real or supposed gangsters’ advocates, too, with questionable means. Gracie quotes one of these advocates, Li Zhuang (see above, Zhang Wen’s criticism of Bo Xilai), as Li describes how he was arrested by Wang Lijun personally:
The scene was so over-the-top, loads of police cars surrounding the plane, riot police in helmets and camouflage, armed with submachine guns. I asked, “Why the big show? Is it Obama’s state visit or are you capturing Osama Bin Laden?”
We were surrounded by a huge scrum of reporters. He wanted to show his authority on camera. He was in a trench coat, hands in his pockets. He said: “Li Zhuang, we meet again.”
There were admirers of Bo and Wang, there were critics and enemies, and there were people who detested the two. But at the grassroots, the fans appeared to be numerous. According to Gracie, there are still many.
Making inconvenient lawyers disappear was no unique feature of Bo Xilai, however. The party leadership with Xi Jinping at the core has been proving for years that to them, the rule of law is a theroretical nicety they may or may not care about.
Gracie reduces the causes of conflict between the noisy polit-soloist Bo Xilai and the basically “collectivist” leadership in Beijing on a personal rivalry between princeling Bo and princeling Xi.
Certainly, top politicians’ egos can hardly be overestimated, and when they are Chinese, ostentatious modesty shouldn’t fool anyone.
But Xi alone wouldn’t have gotten Bo under control. Neither with the sudden Neil-Heywood scandal – that became known as the Wang-Lijun incident in China after the police chief fled into the next US consulate and being passed on to the central authorities from there (but only after having spilled the beans). Nor otherwise.
The question suggests itself if Bo Xilai’s career wasn’t finished in summer 2011 anyway, given wide-spread disapproval among the party elite, of his egotistic leadership style in Chongqing.
“Unity is strength” was one of the “red songs” Bo Xilai had them sing in Chongqing (above: October 8, 2009). But it wasn’t only the Xi faction that saw a lack of just that on Bo’s part. Bo was putting himself forward, and that had been a taboo during all the post-Mao years.
He didn’t denigrate his leading comrades – appearances like that of Donald Trump as a campaigner, cursing fellow members of his political class, would have been inconceivable. But putting himself into the limelight (and casting it away from others) amounted to the same thing, by Chinese standards. Besides, given his anti-corruption renown, sanctimonious as it may have been, could have threatened his “comrades”. A tribun within their ranks – that couldn’t work.
Xi Jinping and his predecessor Hu Jintao are said to be rivals. But within the Hu camp, Bo’s populism didn’t seem to resonate either. On the contrary: Wen Jiabao, chief state councillor (aka “prime minister”) during the Hu Jintao era, had been a tireless, even if unsuccessful, advocate of political reform, way beyond economics or technology.
At a press conference in March 2012, after the closing ceremony of the annual “parliament” plenary sessions, Wen warned that China wasn’t immune against another cultural revolution. That John Garnaut, an Australian correspondent in Beijing, got the opportunity to talk with Hu Dehua, one of Hu Yaobang’s sons, may also count as an indication that the comparatively liberal factions in the party leadership were at least as sick of Bo Xilai’s revolutionary operas, as were the Xi supporters.
Garnaut, two weeks after Wen’s press conference, in an indirect account of his conversation with Hu Dehua*):
Hu Dehua told his father how pessimistic he felt about his country’s future. Hu Yaobang agreed that the methods and ideologies of the 1987 anti-liberalization movement came straight from the Cultural Revolution. But he told his son to gain some historical perspective, and reminded him that Chinese people were not joining in the elite power games as they had 20 years before. He called the anti-liberalization campaign a “medium-sized cultural revolution” and warned that a small cultural revolution would no doubt follow, Hu Dehua told me. As society developed, Hu Yaobang told his son, the middle and little cultural revolutions would gradually fade from history’s stage.
From there, everything went fast. Still in March, Bo was dismissed as Chongqing’s party chief. He also lost his alternate membership in the politburo. In summer 2012, his wife Gu Kailai got her commuted death sentence, and in September 2013, Bo was sentenced to life in prison – based on the usual charges for unrigged politicians: corruption.
Is there a Chongqing Heritage?
At first glance, Bo Xilai’s “populism” or “Maoism” is finished. But Bo counted as a champion of many Chinese from the political left. A comment in German weekly Die Zeit, in September 2013, saw the verdict against Bo as a signal from the top that resistance against economic reform was futile.
To assess Bo Xilai’s political heritage objectively. The CCP may be beyond the era when beaten opponents were airbrushed from all photos and records. But the question about how publicly or privately-owned China’s economy should be might impose itself with any questions about Bo Xilai, and the now seven-member standing committee of the politburo can’t use such questions.
A political scientist of Beijing University, He Weifang (贺卫方), hinted at problems in assessing the Chongqing Model’s performance, from 2007 to 2012:
It is generally believed that the so-called “Chongqing Model” is mainly shaped by three aspects: “red culture” on the political level, “targeted actions against dark and evil forces in Chongqing“, and the reduction of the income gaps between the poor and the rich. The most criticized aspects are the former two, although there is support for the two of them in Chongqing and elsewhere. The third aspect isn’t that controversial. However, all data published concerning the efficiency of the measures taken to narrow the income gap are actually issued by the Chongqing authorities, and therefore lacking neutral assessment. Also, we can see that the whole process is strongly government-led, whose focus isn’t on creating a market logic of equal opportunities. If this approach will or will not lead to mistakes in financial policies, including the rural land policies‘ impartiality, is also questionable. And then there are concerns about life today being lead on future earnings, short-term inputs being made to curry favor with the public, which may come at high future costs.
If Bo Xilai was a populist, one of Donald Trump’s kind, or Putin’s, or Neil Farage’s, or whoever, one has to ask oneself how much influence he has maintained over Chinese politics to this day. After all, populists like Geert Wilders aren’t ineffective, merely because they can’t lay their hands on the imperial regalia.
When looking at European populism – that’s only a snapshot, of course -, one can get the impression that populists may not be elected, but they do leave marks on politics, from Merkel’s Willkommenskultur back to the traditional Christian Democrats’ policies, and Britain’s Brexit, implemented not by its original proponents, but by Theresa May, who had used to be a lukewarm supporter of Britain’s EU membership.
Populism is hardly ever the common peoples’ business, but that of the elites. The battles are fought within the political class, as observed by Hu Yaobang in the late 1980s. That is about as true in Europe. However, these battles within the superstructure may create or intensify certain trends in the public mood – and once policies have moved sufficiently into the “populist” direction, the support for these parties wanes, and the electorate turns back to the long-established parties. After all, Joe Blow doesn’t want to look like an extremist.
When Xi Jinping announced China’s new role as a guardian of free trade at the Davos forum in January, German Handelsblatt China correspondent Stephan Scheuer hailed the party and state leader’s “dressing-down for populists”. In Davos, Xi had become “a pioneer of fair-minded globalization”.
What could be beginning to show in China is a comparatively strong Maoist component in propaganda, as long as this doesn’t come at the cost of China’s privileged, and as long as this doesn’t require substantial reallocation of means or wealth to poor classes of population, or laggard regions. But whenever the name “Bo Xilai” should appear in any token event, the exorcists will be just around the corner.
Links within blockquotes added during translation – JR
Lianhe Zaobao news – Chongqing’s Communist Party municipal committee secretary Sun Zhengcai pointed out publicly yesterday (March 21) that the municipal committee must strictly follow political discipline and political standards. They also needed to strengthen political keenness and political discriminability, “comprehensively and thoroughly eliminate the ideological poison left behind by Bo and Wang (Bo Xilai, Wang Lijun).
According to a report by the “Chongqing Daily”, Sun Zhengcai also said that in recent years, work in Chongqing had “achieved some success”, and the most important, the key point was “to maintain, at all times, a high degree of unanimity with the party central committee and (Communist Party secretary general) Xi Jinping at its core”.
Reportedly, the CCP municipal committee’s standing committee held a “special Democratic Life Meeting” to discuss feedback concerning the rectification and implementation of central committee inspections. Sun Zhengcai made the above remarks on that meeting.
Sun Zhengcai said that the municipal committee must “take a clear-cut position in explaining politics”, firmly build “political ideology, awareness of the general situation, core awareness and a preparedness to follow [correct] examples”, and to maintain a high degree of unanimity with the party’s central committee and Xi Jinping at its core”, concerning ideology, politics, and action.
He said that Chongqing municipal committee must strictly follow political discipline and political standards, resolutely defend the CCP’s central authority and its focused, united leadership, and resolutely and thoroughly implement the party central committee’s dispositions. Awareness needed to be truly increased, political keenness and political discriminability be strengthened, and “the ideological poison left behind by Bo and Wang comprehensively and thoroughly be eliminated”. (Lianhe Zaobao online editor Wang Weiwen)
Guanchazhe quotes “German media” (read: Deutsche Welle‘s (DW) Mandarin website) as reporting that Rodrigo Duterte, president of the Philippines, wants to gain distance from America and become close to China (疏美亲中). The second part quotes extensively from the DW article (with credits), but leaves out the more pointed remarks (“this president”, “closely observing”).
Deutsche Welle, on Wednesday:
Philippines president Duterte said on Wednesday (October 19) that it was time to say Good-bye to America. He told Filipinos living in Beijing that an alliance with America that had lasted for many years had brought the Philippines extremely little profit.
Discussing American criticism of how he had drug dealers executed extrajudicially, Duterte said, “I’m really angry. If you do that, you are insulting the people of a country.” He said that just as he didn’t want American interference, he didn’t want American military exercises. The reason for you to stay in our country is for your own interest, therefore, it’s time to say good-bye, friend,” he ostensibly shouted into Washington D.C.’s direction.
“I won’t go to America again, I would only be insulted there,” said Duterte, as he once again denounced US president Obama as “raised by a whore”.
This Philippines president also said he had enough of foreign-policies arranged by the West and said that “in the past, they made us stay distant from China, but that wasn’t our own wish, and I will open a new road.”
Since the beginning of his presidency in June, Philippine foreign policy has taken a big turn, contrasting with previous president Aquino III policies, distancing the Philippines from Washington, the old ally, and expressing goodwill to China.
Duterte, who is currently in China, has praised the country. According to AFP, he said on Wednesday that China was “good”, and hasn’t invaded any place in our country for generations”; thus hinting at America’s colonial history in the Philippines. “During the Cold War, China was described as the bad guy. At that time, our schoolbooks were full of Western propaganda.”
China is closely observing Manila’s expressions of goodwill, of course. Foreign-ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said in Wednesday’s regular press conference that China “expressed admiration” for Dutertes strikes against drug criminality”, and said that “China supports Dutertes leadership in the construction of his country by the Philippine people, their efforts for economic development, and we are willing to actively participate in economic and social construction. China is willing to cooperate with the Philippines in trade, production capacity, infrastructure building and in other fields.”
There are doubts within the Philippines however, regarding Dutertes position towards China. Richard Heydarian, political scientist of De La Salle University in Manila, told AP that the Philippines’ mainstream media felt that “it can’t be right to be show that much respect for a country that invaded Philippine territory.”
The initiator of the Hague arbitration case concerning the South China Sea, former foreign minister Albert del Rosario, said that the Philippine’s foreign policy shouldn’t be contemptuous of America as a long-standing ally, or replace it with another country (China).
南海海牙仲裁案的发起者、前菲律宾外长罗萨里奥（Albert del Rosario）也表示，菲律宾的外交政策不应该唾弃长期的盟友美国而取悦另外一个国家（中国）。
That, however, doesn’t appear to be on Duterte’s mind. In a CCTV interview, he said that he wanted to extend a fraternal and friendly hand, ask for Chinese help, and, looking right into the camera, “frankly said, we need your help.”
The DW article comes across as slightly sardonic. Guanchazhe, obviously, ignores that. It does, however, quote “foreign media” as reporting doubts from within the Philippines. Guanchazhe also seeks and finds an answer to such voices of doubts, delivered by foreign-ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying, on the same press conference as quoted further up.
Some reporters at the foreign ministry’s regular press conference on October 19 asked: Western media follow Duterte’s China visit closely, but there are voices among them who “pour cold water” on the enthusiasm. How does the foreign ministry comment on this?
Foreign-ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said that the Chinese and Philippine people were all very happy and full of hope concerning Duterte’s visit, but in fact, there were also people with anxious, disappointed or complex feelings. The return of Sino-Philippines relations to the tracks of a more healthy and stable development was, however, good news, both for China and the Philippines, and for regional peace and stability. I believe that provided that they hope for peaceful and stable development of the Asia-Pacific region, people will welcome this.
Guanchazhe quotes Mainila Commercial Times as reporting that China Railway Group Ltd was going to invest three billion USD in Philippines infrastructures in the future.
The Guanchazhe article’s effect on the readership, if uncensored, is handsome. The “overjoyed” button was clicked 321 times by 07:15 UTC, 41 clicks went to the button “timely”, and only five clicks hit the “absurd” or “sad” button.
We can sign a contract with Old Du, for step-by-step investment, thus ensuring Chinese interests, but also the stability of Old Du’s political power, how about that,
suggests The Little Venerable, and Clear Spring from a Rock serenely declares:
If you say good-bye to America or not doesn’t matter. what matters is an independent and self-determined foreign policy, without being used by others.
According to Radio Japan‘s Mandarin service, Duterte meets Chinese party and state chairman Xi Jinping on Thursday.
Carrie Gracie, the BBC’s China editor, suggested two days ago that
a clear-cut courtroom win against China, coming just after Mr Duterte took up office, has created opportunities for a new approach. China cannot take that legal victory away. And meanwhile in the nearly four years since the Philippines began its legal case, it has suffered economically as Beijing has frozen Manila out of the benefits of Chinese wealth. China has actively discouraged tourists, investors and importers from looking to the Philippines. With the legal card in his back pocket, Mr Duterte wants that economic chill to end. He sees no reason why the Philippines shouldn’t, just like most other countries in the region, have its cake and eat it – enjoy the economic benefits of China’s growth at the same time as sheltering under the US security umbrella.
Inherent Territory, May 13, 2012
Indonesia detains Taiwan vessel, RTI, Oct 20, 2016
Chinese media provide relatively very little opinion on the coup attempt in Turkey and its aftermath, and prefer to quote foreign media. However, the choice of information sources may indicate where Chinese media pay special attention, and the article translated here ends with a bit of expertise from Chinese academia.
The following is a translation of a press review of sorts, originally from Huanqiu Shibao, and republished by china.com, a news portal in a number of languages (including Mandarin), that is apparently operated by Global Broadcasting Media Group, which in turn is operated by China Radio International (CRI). Global Broadcasting Media Group, as CRI’s investment vehicle, is also known as “Guoguang”. The following article – or my translation of it, for that matter – may or may not reflect the quoted sources accurately.
Links within blockquotes added during translation.
The BBC reported on July 20 that the purge of so many people had led to concern among international observers, and that the United Nations were working on making sure that Turkey maintained the essence of the rule of law, and protected human rights. Germany, on July 20, condemned the growing purges by the Turkish government even more directly. Government spokesman Steffen Seibert said, “we see actions almost daily that damage the rule of law, with measures whose force exceeds the seriousness of the problems.” Some of the measures were deeply disturbing, and unconstitutional.
Associated Press quoted EU Parliament speaker Martin Schulz as saying that Turkey was now carrying out “retaliation” against opponents and critics, and the debate about the reintroduction of the death penalty was “absolutely worrying”. The EU has warned that such a move would spell the end of EU accession negotiations with Turkey.
A White House statement on Tuesday said that President Barack Obama, during a telephone conversation with Erdogan, “had urged respect for the law while investigating those involved in the coup, in a way that would strengthen public trust in the democratic system.” However, the problem US-Turkish relations were facing go far beyond the protection of rule of law and of democracy.
According to a “New York Times” report, Turkish officials, including the foreign minister, demanded on July 19 that America extradite Fethullah Gülen. On that day, the White House confirmed it had received electronic documents from Turkey that was meant to serve as evidence. However, it was not clear if a formal request for extradition had already been made. “The ministry of justice will examine this material in accordance with the extradition treaty between our two countries,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. CNN said that according to the extradition treaty between America and Turkey, treason [as a reason for extradition] did not apply, but Turkey had given exactly that reason for its request. When asked if the Turkish government had any evidence for this, Turkish deputy prime minister Kurtulmus said that Turkey knew clearly that Gülen was the manipulator behind the scene, just as America knew that bin Laden had been the conspirator of “9-11”.
据美国《纽约时报》报道，包括外长在内的土耳其官员19日要求美国交出居伦。当天，白宫证实已经收到土耳其提供的作为证据的电子文档。但不清楚土方 是否已经正式提出引渡要求。“司法部和国务院将根据两国之间的引渡条约审视这些材料。”白宫发言人厄内斯特说。美国有线电视新闻网(CNN)说，根据美土 达成的引渡协议，叛国罪并不适用，但土耳其正是以此提出引渡居伦。在被问及土政府对此有何证据时，土副总理库尔图尔穆说，土耳其明确知道居伦在幕后操纵， 就像当年美国知道拉登是“9·11”主谋一样。
David Ignatius, a “Washington Post” columnist, writes that within the clamor of the coup aftermath, the US-Turkish relations, which had already been tense, could get into new difficulties, with the demand of extraditing Gülen as the most immediate test. Given the US and EU concern about the Erdogan government’s human rights record, this issue would be complicated. There were serious differences between the two sides about strategies of strikes against IS in Syria. During the past few years, the American-Turkish relations had come across as those between friends who were breaking up.
美国《华盛顿邮报》专栏作家大卫·伊格拉蒂尔斯撰文说，在政变之后的喧嚣中，华盛顿和安卡拉之间业已紧张的关系将陷入新困境，要求遣返居伦是最直接 的考验。考虑到美欧此前对埃尔多安政府人权记录的批评，此事将相当复杂。在叙利亚打击IS的战略上，双方已经分歧严重。近几年的美土关系向外界展示了一对 朋友如何一拍两散。
Could Turkey become an ally of Russia? Russia’s [online paper] Vzglyad writes in an editorial that Turkish prime minister [Yildirim] had already said, Ankara could review Turkish-US relations if America refused to extradite Gülen. Russia’s Izvestia quoted the Russian Academy of Sciences Oriental Institute’s Gadzhiev as believing that while it was premature to say that Turkey would completely turn to Russia, there could be some change. German Global News Network*) commented that a coup was now changing Turkey, and possibly the Middle East. Turkey didn’t trust America any longer, and the Middle East’s future could become more complicated.
土耳其可能因此成为俄罗斯的战略盟友吗？俄罗斯《观点报》以此为题评论说，土耳其总理已经表示，安卡拉或因美拒绝交出居伦而重新审视与美国的关系。 俄罗斯《消息报》20日援引俄东方学研究所专家加日耶夫认为，虽然说土耳其的对外政策将全面转向俄罗斯为时尚早，但会有所变化。德国全球新闻网评论说，一 场政变正在改变土耳其，也将改变中东。土耳其不再信任美国，中东的未来将更加复杂。
But Li Weijian [apparently a researcher from Shanghai International Issues Research Institute – not previously mentioned in the article] thinks that Erdogan’s intention is to broaden his presidential powers and pave the way for the implementation of domestic policies and of diplomacy, and this wouldn’t necessarily constitute fundamental regional or global change. In an interview with “Huanqiu Shibao” he said, Erdogan had always maintained [an approach of] benefitting from West and East alike, and would keep to this strategy.
(Huanqiu Shibao special correspondents from Turkey, Germany, Egypt – Ji Shuangcheng, Qing Mu, Wang Yunsong and Huanqiu Shibao reporter Bai Yunyi, Ren Zhong, Zhen Xiang, Liu Yupeng]
*) Not known to me, or not under this name – JR
North Korea’s “Historical Moment”
On February 7, North Korea launched a missile. Pyongyang referred ot it as a satellite launch, and that’s how they had registered it with the International Maritime Office in London, a few days earlier.
But the world appeared to be in disbelief. One month earlier, on January 6, North Korea had conducted a nuclear test, and given that space rockets’ and ballistic missiles’ technological platforms are quite similar to each other, it is believed that Pyongyang chose the space option (a three-stufen rocket) rather than a (two-stufen) missile so as to circumvent UN Security Council restrictions on its missile program.
Beijing, too, expressed disbelief and “regretted” the satellite launch which, as the foreign ministry spokesperson emphasized, had been based on ballistic-missile technology.
Pyongyang’s claim that it had tested a hydrogen bomb was met with skepticism in the West, in Japan, and South Korea, and at least semi-officially – via the world of Chinese science, as usual – Beijing expressed doubt, too.
He wouldn’t rule out that North Korea mastered a bit of hydrogen-bomb technology already, PLA Academy of Military Science researcher Du Wenlong told CCTV, but the available data “didn’t support a ‘hydrogen-bomb test’”.
There were no such doubts about North Korean television’s wonderweapon: “Heaven and earth are shaking because of the historical moment”, announced Ri Chun-hee, a veteran presenter, re-emerged from retirement for the festive occasion.
South Korea’s Reaction
And South Korea’s leadership was steaming with anger. If it was up to the South’s foreign minister, Yun Byung-he, the North Korean leadership would be entering a world of pain:
“I believe it is time for the international community to show zero tolerance to North Korea’s uncontrolled provocations”, he told the Munich Security Conference in Munich on Thursday, and: “it is time now to inflict unbearable pain on Pyongyang, to make them take the right strategic decision, as Iran has done.”
South Korea sees itself affected by Pyongyang’s nuclear test more immediately as other neighbors or opponents taking part in the six-party talks on the Korean peninsula’s denuclearization. Different from the world outside the peninsula, reunification of the two Koreas is on the agenda, even if outside the South Korean government, considerable doubts are expressed concerning the use and feasibility of such unification.
There was a special relationship between South Korea and Germany, because of the painful experience of division, South Korean president Park Geun-hye said during a visit to Berlin, in March 2014.
Her demand that “meticulous preparations” should be made for making Korean unity happen was probably meant seriously then, and still is. Basically, the situation on the Korean peninsula isn’t that different after the North’s fourth nuclear test, anyway: America and China can agree to a common denominator concerning sanctions against Pyongyang, but no sanctions that would call the continuation of the North Korean regime into question.
Besides, flashes of official Korean anger – northern or southern – might be considered a ritual. As German sinologist Oskar Weggel observed decades ago, student protests in [South] Korean cities always took the same shape and followed the same script, while life continued as normal just next to where young people were battling it out with the police. 1)
But for some South Korean companies, life may be anything but normal now. An industrial park jointly run in Kaesong, by North and South Korea, has ceased operation last week. On Thursday, Pyongyang deported all the South Korean employees to the South, after South Korea had stopped production. The South Koreans’ apparent attempt to take their assets and stock across the border to the South reportedly didn’t succeed: according to Radio Japn news on Friday, the North Korean committee for reunification announced that South Korean assets in Kaesong would be frozen, and also on Friday, China Radio International’s Mandarin service reported that the South Koreans had only been allowed to take personal belongings with them. The industrial park had been sealed off as a military zone – chances are that this halt will last longer than a previous one in 2013.
Valued more than 500 million USD in 2015, inter-Korean production in Kaesong may be considered less than decisive, in macro-economic terms. However, according to South Korean broadcaster KBS’ German service, South Korean opposition criticized the production halt in Kaesong as the governing party’s “strategy” for the upcoming parliamentary elections in April. Also according to KBS, Seoul feels compelled to take relief measures for companies invested in Kaesong. All companies residing in the industrial park are granted a moratorium on loan repayments, and companies who took loans from an inter-Korean cooperation fund may also suspend interest payment.
Chinese-North Korean Relations
China had “total control” of North Korea, Donald Trump claimed in a CNN interview – there would be nothing to eat in North Korea without China. If you go by statistics, Trump appears to have a point.
From 2009 to 2011, North Korean exports (imports) to (from) China rose from 348 mn (1.47 bn) USD to 2.5 bn (3.7 bn) USD. In total, North Korea’s exports (imports) reached a value of 3.7 bn (4.3 bn) USD.2) Even after a contraction of North Koran-Chinese trade in 2014 and 2015 to 2.3 bn (2.6 bn) USD by 2015, there’s hardly a way to reject the notion of North Korean dependence on China.
North Korea also depends on China in military terms. An American-led attack on Pyongyang – be it to occupy the North, be it for the sake of “regime change”, is hardly conceivable – directly or indirectly, Beijing’s nuclear umbrella protects the regime.
All the same, it is wrong to believe that Beijing wielded substantial influence over Pyongyang’s behavior. Neither economic nor military support from Beijing has been able to satisfy Pyongyang. Given Chinese reform and opening up “to the West”, or to international markets, since 1978, China’s leaders are considered weaklings by North Korean peers, despite some private-economy tries of their own. To consider oneself an economic or military dwarf, but a giant of ideological purity vis-à-vis China has some tradition in Korea.
That China has joined several initiatives – resolutions and sanctions – against North Korea hasn’t been a confidence-building measure for the neighbor and ally either.
That Pyongyang, under these circumstances, keeps striving for nuclear arms, come what may, is only logical – at least by the regime’s own interest –, and not negotiable, unless the regime falls. There are no conceivable guarantees – be it from Beijing, be it from Washington – that could make the North Korean political class abandon their nuclear goal.
No matter if there ever was or wasn’t a Western “guarantee” to the former USSR not to expand NATO eastward: a precondition for any feasible arrangement of that kind – in east or west – would be a situation where all parties involved would see themselves in a position to enter a non-aligned status, or to maintain one. There is no way that this could currently be done in East Asia. Even as there is no structure comparable to NATO in East Asia – and South-East Asia, for that matter -, none of China’s neighbors will discard the option to play America and China off against one another, thus increasing its own leeway – neither North Korea as China’s current “ally”, nor any other state within the former Chinese imperial state’s range of influence. And neither America nor China – strategic rivals of one another – would abandon the option to establish or to maintain alliances in Asia, based on partnership or on hegemony.
If the North Korean regime collapsed, there would be no guarantees for China that a North Korean power vacuum wouldn’t be filled by South Korea and the United States. And if China invaded Korea’s north preemptively, it wouldn’t only violate its own attitude of non-interference, but it would risk war, or at least a crash in its economic relations with America and many other countries. Not least, a Chinese invasion would harden an antagonism against China that already exists among former tributary states.
From China’s perspective, there is therefore no convincing alternative to the incumbent North Korean regime. The status quo costs less than any conceivable alternative scenario.
America knows that, too, and a newly lected president Trump would get real very quickly, or America would lose a great deal of influence in the region.
Last week’s developments will be most frustrating for the South Korean government, particularly for president Park. Her public-support rate will hardly depend on national reunification drawing closer, but it will depend on a reasonably relaxed co-existence with the North, including at least a few fields of cooperation, as has been the case in the Kaesong Industrial Park. The South Korean opposition’s accusations against the government to have stopped production carelessly or intentionally, it’s exactly because levelling such accusations can damage the government’s reputation with the electorate.
A phone call between Park and Chinese party and state leader Xi Jinping didn’t provide Park with good news either, let alone progress in her efforts to influence the North through international channels. China was still “not prepared” to change its …. Toward North Korea, an editorialist for South Korea’s Yonhap newsagency stated cautiously, adding a quote from Jonathan Pollack who had emphasized how Park had made efforts for good relations with Beijing, even by attending the Chinese military parade in September, commemorating the end of World War 2.
Pyongyang is hardly at risk to suffer from unbearable pains, as demanded by South Korea’s foreign minister in Munich.
But Beijing, too, can’t be happy with the situation. It offends face-conscious Chinese people to be fooled, on the world stage, by a gang – that’s how many Chinese view North Korea’s “elites”. The effects of North Korea’s behavior also strengthen the hand of the US in the region. Just as Pyongyang helps itself to a Chinese military umbrella without much cost (if any), most other neighbors afford themselves, to varying degrees, an American umbrella. Even Japan and South Korea, facing North Korean nuclear armament, might work to defuse mutual antagonism, as feared by Chinese military professor Zhang Zhaozhong, in 2010. Preparedness to improve Japanese-South Korean relations appears to be on the increase.
Besides the – aggressive indeed – role played by China in the South China sea, North Korea’s attitude remains another strong anchor point for America’s military and political presence in the Far East.
1) Oskar Weggel: “Die Asiaten”, Munich 1989, 1994, 1997 p. 148
2) FAO/WFP Group and Security Assessment Mission to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Rome, Nov 28, 2013, p. 7
Before the old (lunar) year leaves and a new comes in, things need to be tidied up in China. However, efforts to calm the stock markets by new management measures appear to have been unsuccessful. And in Hong Kong, where RMB trading, is unrestricted, people pay less for China’s currency, according to the New York Times.
There’s still other bad news, and the indicator in this case, too, is Hong Kong.
“Something terrible has happened. We are all afraid. We are leaving now,” an employee told me a few hours before locking the doors for the foreseeable future.
That’s how the BBC‘s correspondent in the former British colony, Juliana Liu, concluded an entry in the broadcaster’s China blog on Monday, and the topic, of course, is the case of five Hong Kong citizens, all associated with the Causeway Bay Bookstore, who have gone missing since October last year. The latest case is Paul Lee, and he went missing late in December.
Hong Kong’s SCMP, one of East Asia’s leading English-language papers, but one with an uncertain future, reported on Monday the first precept speech by a Chinese leader since Mao Zedong. The guy who’s imitating the late great dictator is, of course, current party secretary general, state chairman, and the central military commissions’ (CMC) chairman Xi Jinping. The speech is seen as part of Xi’s efforts to reform China’s military, but obviously, the – probably intended – signal goes beyond the armed forces project.
Given that no other former CMC chairman, from Deng Xiaoping to Hu Jintao, had given a military precept, an associate professor at Shanghai University of Political Science and Law concludes that Xi’s power and authority is even higher than them.
This may or may not be true. If Wang Qishan, rather than Li Keqiang, ranks second in terms of power or influence within the party, the assessement may be correct. But then, maybe Deng Xiaoping, who faced open ideological competition at times by more conservative party veterans like Chen Yun, simply didn’t need to show off his autority by admonishing the military.
Back then, too, the party was corrupted. But that was at a time when – or that’s how it felt, anyway – everyone had a chance to become rich. Now, there’s a two-fold challenge of corruption and slowing growth.
This could mean that Xi has powers because potential rivals do not want to challenge him, so as not to rock the not-so-stable boat.
If China’s regime manages the switch from an export-led economy to a more services-oriented economy successfully, the doubts in Beijing’s macro-economic control of the economy won’t persist – some disappeared people, in China or elsewhere, have never been a great concern to business.
All the Xidadamania aside however, confidence in mainland China, in Hong Kong, and abroad, appears to be slipping, at least currently.
In an interview with German national radio on Thursday, Markus Taube, a professor at a university in Germany’s Ruhr region, stated “a massive loss of confidence” in China:
What we see in China at the moment, definitely, is a massive loss of confidence. All market actors can see that the CCP has clearly lost its former control capacity. Until now, the Chinese market was always a very [unreadable] […]. Now, this ability to lead isn’t in place and that the state has failed several times, on its own promises.
Das, was wir in China momentan definitiv sehen ist ein massiver Vertrauensverlust. Alle Marktakteure sehen, dass die Kommunistische Partei offensichtlich ihre frühere Steuerungskapazität verloren hat. Bislang war der chinesische Markt immer ein sehr [unreadable] … Fundamentaldaten haben da kaum eine Rolle gespielt, und es war das Vertrauen einfach da, dass die Partei, der Staat, im Endeffekt die Richtung vorgibt [unreadable]. Jetzt ist es so, dass diese Führungsfunktion fehlt und dass der Staat mehrfach versagt hat, auf seine eigenen Versprechen hin.
Not least, Taube said, the “anti-corruption campaign” has discouraged Chinese decisionmakers in charge of approving (or delaying) investment projects.
Given that Chinese control mechanisms – concerning the financial markets – are out of order, Taube, with an audible sigh, introduces an old friend from the 2009 tool cabinet:
It sounds unorthodox, but probably, in the current situation, it would be more appropriate to issue another stimulus package, in that the state, again, to a great extent, pumps money into the economy. A classical Keynesian stimulus package to create state-induced demand so as to restore the economic dynamics on a basic level.
Es klingt sehr unorthodox, aber wahrscheinlich ist es in der momentanen Situation tatsächlich eher angesagt, ein klassisches Konjunkturpaket wieder aufzusetzen, einen Stimulus, in dem der Staat einfach in großem Maße wieder Geld in die Volkswirtschaft hineinpumpt. Also ein klassisches keynesianisches Konjunkturprogramm, in dem einfach staatlich induziert Nachfrage geschaffen wird, und damit einfach die volkswirtschaftliche Dynamik auf einem grundlegenden Level wieder stabilisiert wird.
That said, Taube doesn’t judge the situation by standards of five-year plans, or by taking the long view, as recommended by the Lord of the Confucius Institutes. Taube advocates a stimulus because the methods tried more recently haven’t worked and wouldn’t turn the tide for the coming six months.
» Executives Disappearing, HP, Jan 8, 2016