Posts tagged ‘Belgium’

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Huanqiu Shibao on “Ulterior Motives” in Southern Weekly Conflict

Main Link: Global Times: Lay Off Supporting Southern Weekend, Or Else

There’s a blog – kind of a bridge blog, if you like – which deserves a lot more attention. In November 2011, China Copyright and Media translated the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party’s Decision on Deepening Cultural Structural Reform (I could have saved myself a lot of time if I had come across their translation earlier).

Fortunately, I did save myself the time to translate a Huanqiu Shibao editorial on the Southern Weekly / Southern Weekend standoffs with the local propaganda department. They’ve got a translation or rendition of that, too – been online since January 8 this year – including the original commentary in Chinese.  China Copyright and Media  includes posts about Chinese legislation, as well, but obviously, I can’t judge their quality. It’s not my department.

Not the full picture, but an instructive glimpse.

Soft power: the land where the Bananas bloom

So, if you want translations from the real Chinese press – beyond the English-language mouthpieces from China Daily to the “Global Times” which are stuff from a parallel universe, made by the CCP propaganda department for foreigners -, read JR’s China Blog, for example.

But read there, too. There are updates every few days, and sometimes several times a day.

The translator finds a lot of rotten points in the Huanqiu article. But this may not be what matters to Huanqiu, to the China-Daily Group, or to the propaganda department. They can’t overlook many domestic online comments in their threads which are highly critical of their approach.

Song Luzheng, an overseas Chinese journalist or official in Paris, follows the same line as does Huanqiu Shibao, in many of his articles, particularly about the freedom of the press. Some of the readers he – probably – hopes to reach are Chinese readers who are disillusioned former admirerers of “Western” values. There seems to have been a trend since 2008, the botched “Sacred-torch” ralleye in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics which has changed the atmosphere in favor of Song Luzheng, Huanqiu Shibao, et al.

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Related

» Readers’ Reactions: I will Endure, May 3, 2012
» Oh Rule of Law, April 11, 2012

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Friday, December 14, 2012

The BoZhu Interviews: Germany’s and Japan’s post-war image –

Tai De about war crimes, popular narratives, foreignness, and soft power

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« Previous Interview: MKL, July 13, 2012

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The following is a spontaneous, unplanned BoZhu interview with Tai De, a civil servant from Verden. It’s actually the second interview with him, after a more general one about his blog, about a year ago.

Tai De studied history. His pattern of thought is that of a historian – but he wants me to write a word of warning in advance: he is no particular “expert” on Japan or on the Far East.

Our interview – originally rather a discussion – came up this afternoon after I listened to the memories of William Shawcross, son of the British chief prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials, on Radio Australia‘s shortwave service this afternoon.


Q: When listening to Anglo-American media, I’m getting the impression that we (Germans) get away with a much more positive image despite the Nazi crimes and WW2, than them (the Japanese). What’s your impression?

A: Quite so.

Q: Do you have an explanation for that?

A: I don’t think there’s that one explanation which can say it all.

Q: To start with something: do the Americans or British see Germans as part of the family? Sort of distant relatives? Like: “Yes, they committed heinous crimes, but …”

A: The outset after the war was the same after VE day and VA day, in terms of geostrategic interest – America needed West Germany, and America needed Japan. Britain didn’t mind an anti-Soviet bulwark in central or Europe either. I can’t generalize Anglo-American perceptions of either Germans or Japanese people. But as far as my favourite trash history novelist is concerned, …

Q: … Alexander Kent, …

A: … you can sense his attitude towards the Japanese – I think I can, anyway. I may be wrong, of course.

Q: German gentleman criminals, Japanese low-class criminals?

A: Oh, he definitely doesn’t get trapped in that kind of concept. But there’s that Japanese foreignness. And there’s that incredible Japanese brutality against allied prisoners of war – and the brutality of their warfare.

Q: German crimes were no smaller, were they?

A: No, they weren’t smaller. The German war was a war of extermination.  The industrialized annihilation of millions of people. But when it comes to our international image, a lot of that brutal German energy was directed against Germans, not Americans or British people.  The annihilation of Jews in particular, but other minorities, too. And communists, social democrats, also very blanketly.  As far as Alexander Kent is concerned, you also see a clear division of roles, in Germany’s case. The basically good – and very brave – Wehrmacht or navy officer on the one hand, and the coward, brutal, lower-class Gestapo policeman or SS man on the other. You don’t have that difference when it comes to the depiction of Japan. There’s no “Samurai”, no gentleman warrior. And if there was a “Samurai” depiction, it would have to be the kind of perpetrator who’d behead American or British POW from the platform of a truck, just by holding his sword out while passing rows of POWs on their death march.
Mind you, that’s not necessarily an accurate depiction of a Japanese soldier – but it’s become a picture of symbolic power. There were British and American pilots murdered by Germans, too, but not that systematically. And not that – how can I put this? – the war in Europe didn’t become that personal. Not between unoccupied countries and Germans, anyway.

Q: Were Allied prisoners of war traumatized? Did they face more brutality than what they would have expected from the Japanese?

A: Maybe not before the first atrocities – against non-Asians, I should add – became known. But initially, yes. I can’t tell how familiar they were with the way the Japanese forces treated Asians – but they probably didn’t expect that their service people would be treated similarly – that civilians with their forces would be forced into prostitution, for example.

Q: Japanese brutality spelled foreignness?

A: That’s one side of it, I think. And the other is the decades after the war. I mentioned the Samurai. But there was no such positive Japanese symbol, at least not in the Western narrative. Very different from the way Germany was depicted. And that’s a matter of symbolic gestures. Maybe Japan did make gestures, but not of the kind America, Australia, or Britain would easily understand. Emperor Hirohito looks quite good in some of their narratives, as a man who assumes “responsibility” for Japan’s crimes. But that was immediately after the end of the hostilities. The Japanese were under huge objective pressure then. But later on, after the pressure had eased, they never managed to do something highly symbolic – not in a Western sense, anyway.

Q: Like Willy Brandt dropping to his knees before the Warsaw Ghetto Monument?

A: Exactly. I’m not saying that Willy Brandt changed everything – but he had a huge effect on our national image abroad. For one, he hadn’t been involved – he had actually been underground in Norway during the war. But he was a German. “A symbol for a different Germany”, as they say.
He didn’t do because of his personal record. I don’t know what exactly made him kneel – all I know is that he made an allusion later, when reacting to criticism from the BILD-Zeitung, stuff like “one must only kneel before God”. He only reacted in private, and one of his ministers recalled it in 1992, after Brandt’s death. Brandt said that those journalists had no idea before whom he had kneeled.
But when it comes to Japan…  if there was resistance among the Japanese during the war – and I suppose there was – we may never know about these people.

Talking about Willy Brandt – there was his Neue Ostpolitik, too, for the obvious reason that Germany was divided. The Ostpolitik was a symbol of hope – not only for Germans, by the way, but for all of Europe – and it was really powerful. With really honest intentions – and skills – the social democrats and the liberals in Germany made the best of it. They turned our calamities into moral strength. You write a lot about soft power, don’t you? That was soft power. Brandt was about soft power. Olof Palme, too, in his own way, from Sweden. German partition was a price Germany had to pay – that division of our country. Territorial losses, too. In Asia, it was – and still is – Korea who has to live with partition. Not Japan. That could matter, too.

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Related

» Nanking Massacre, Wikipedia, acc. Dec 14, 2012
» Lev Kopelev: No Easy Solution, April 11, 2009
» All BoZhu Interviews

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

China’s Car Exports Falling

That said, the major issue in China’s foreign relations isn’t love and understanding (which doesn’t mean that losing face wouldn’t hurt). So long as official boycotts of Chinese goods aren’t on the cards – and the only Turkish minister who called for one had only expressed his personal view – there may be Chinese hurt feelings, but the oil keeps will keep coming in – and China, contrary to most countries, does keep importing lots of it. Iran’s, Oman’s, and Kuwait’s crude oil exports to China all rose per May this year, according to steelguru.com – and they will all try to keep their business. Chinese exports to Muslim countries may be a different story, but the current declines can hardly be attributed to 7-5. Let’s take a look at the Chinese car industry and its exports, for example. According to globalautoindustry.com, China exported only 61,000 vehicles in the first quarter of 2009, a decline of 62% from the previous year.

Chinese Car, Syrian Characteristics

Chinese Car, Syrian Characteristics

Cars made in China may go almost unnoticed in most of Europe (and North America, I guess), but you do see a lot of them in Syria, which was among the four countries visited by Wu Sike (吴思科), China’s special representative for the Middle East, late in July and earlier this month. In 2006, the major export markets for the Chinese car industry were Russia, Iran, Belgium, Syria, Algeria, Kazakhstan, Angola, Vietnam, Ukraine, and Iraq (the countries written in bold letters are among the four visited by special representative Wu). The 2006 numbers in detail, according to wtojob.com, were as follows:

Rank Country Vehicles in 1,000 USD
1. Russia 38,051 350,030
2. Iran 10,606 237,710
3. Belgium 18,147 197,730
4. Syria 51,662 191,560
5. Algeria 20,201 156,950
6. Kazakhstan 5,703 135,520
7. Angola 6,966 131,540
8. Vietnam 14,491 99,650
9. Ukraine 10,119 82,800
10. Iraq 13,618 77,920

The average price paid per car varies strongly from country to country.

According to the same source, exports to Syria showed a small decline in 2007, while exports to Russia rose to 106,000 vehicles – that would be 17.3 per cent of China’s total automobile exports. Major markets in 2007, besides Russia, were Syria, Ukraine, South Africa, Algeria, Vietnam, Iran, and Venezuela.

Exports to Russia went down in 2008, with only 77,000 vehicles. Especially in the fourth quarter, there were hardly any exports to Russia. Exports to Africa, Latin America and ASEAN countries kept rising, but the trend in Russian exports is pointing downward this year, too.

Statistics for the first half of 2009 are rather fragmentary on the internet, but Changan Global Sales Company‘s general manager is quoted as saying that he sees problems on all of the industry’s (or Changan’s) existing markets. The China Automobile Industry Association reportedly recorded automotive exports dropping by 62 per cent during the first quarter this year, compared to the same period [last year]. As far as Zhejiang province’s carmakers [the source seems to refer to the first four months of this year] are concerned, their exports to Syria fell by more than half, according to this source which claims to quote the Zhejiang Ministry of Commerce.

China’s automotive companies may not abandon the roads for the skies yet, but if China’s propaganda has it right, industry insiders expect China to become the pacemaker of a new-energy automobile industry in the future thanks to strong policies from the government and a full industrial chain.

That said, it probably depends on which industry insiders you ask. The globalautoindustry.com website is less euphoric than the Global Times.

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Related:
在叙利亚看中国车:东方之子售3.7万美元, sina.com, March 20, 2005

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Codfish on the Rocks

Every day has been cold here so far this year. It’s either crisp, sunny and cold with minus 10 degrees Celsius – sometimes probably closer to minus 20 degrees in some places at night when the skies are clear -, or it’s overcast and foggy, some minus three degrees or somewhat above the freezing point, but windy and humid which feels much colder. I think wind makes the biggest difference, and humidity is the second factor which makes moderate frost feel cold. Last night was one of the milder ones, with some snowfall.

A cartoonist at De Standaard (Belgium) seems to have second thoughts about Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth.

Then again, maybe the Arctic meltdown is cooling down the North Sea? Codfish on the rocks?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Time Blog Info on Henan-Beijing relations

The relationship between the provinces and Beijing is one of the most complex and difficult to fathom in China. Usually however, the central government can use it undoubted muscle in situations where it deems it politically necessary. […]

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Henan denies Attack on Belgian TV crew

The following is from Pu Cheng Jincheng City’s (晋城市, Shanxi Province) municipal party committee’s website of today, concerning VRT journalist Tom van de Weghe’s trip to Shangqiu, Henan Province on November 27.

Henan Province denied yesterday that three Belgian journalists had recently been violently attacked when interviewing AIDS victims.

Xinhua quotes Henan Province Foreign Affairs Office Deputy Director of Information Services Wang Yuejin (王跃进) saying that the preliminary investigations by the departments in charge differed substantially with foreign reports. He said that Belgian VRT television reporter Tom Van de Weghe, a Belgian assistant and an interpreter were stopped twice while doing interviews in two places in Zhoukou and Shangqiu on November 27.

The first stop took place around 2:00 p.m. at the Shangqiu-Zhoukou highway junction (商周高速公路路口). Van de Weghe’s video was taken away by several men, but there had been no violent confrontation.

The second stop happened in the evening of the same day at the riverbank of Suixian (睢县) township. There were claims that four AIDS victims who didn’t want their condition to be publicized to the outside world demanded the video from Van den Weghe. There was a scuffle and Van den Weghe handed over the video and a memory card, but [the VRT team] came out of their car by themselves, and had not been dragged out of the car as said in foreign reports, and there had been no violent assault etc.

Wang Yuejin said that the reporter’s video and memory card had been taken to Zhengzhou [Henan Province capital] by the investigation team.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Xinhua: Investigation in Progress

Local official: Belgian journalists, villagers scuffle in China’s AIDS zone


ZHENGZHOU, Dec. 2 (Xinhua) — An investigation is in progress into an incident in which three Belgian journalists scuffled with villagers in central China’s AIDS zone on Nov. 27, a provincial government spokesman said on Tuesday. […..]

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Belgian TV crew attacked in Henan Province

Tom Van de Weghe and his crew were attacked in a rural area of Henan province while interviewing people suffering from AIDS, according to the Foreign Correspondents Club of China on Thursday, according to boxun.com.

According to a statement on the Foreign Correspondents Club website,

Van de Weghe, his cameraman and assistant were beaten up and robbed of tapes, phones and money as they attempted to report on HIV-Aids in Henan province.

Eight thugs pulled their van over, reached inside to unlock the doors, dragged the crew on to the road and punched them into submission. […..]
Earlier in the day, the reporters had been questioned by a policeman. Soon after, they were followed by two unmarked cars. After several hours, they were stopped again, surrounded and forced to hand over a tape. Locals said the thugs in this incident were Zhoukou and Gangshan county officials.

The journalists tried to return to the airport, but their van was pulled over a third time on a dark road, where the violent assault took place. The reporters were beaten until they handed over their tapes, identity cards and belongings.

The incident apparently occured in Shangqiu County (商丘县). According to Van de Weghe in VRT’s (Belgium) Het Late Journaal he was told that nationwide rules didn’t apply and that “we in Henan make the rules”.

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