Posts tagged ‘Britain’

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Xinhua: Jacques Chirac’s “profound awareness”

Main Link: “Jacques Chirac: a French president’s love for China” (希拉克:一位法国总统的中国情缘)

Xinhua, Paris, Sept 26, 2019 — Jacques Chirac, currently France’s “most popular politician,” was also an important foreign leader with a deep affinity to China. On September 26, his family confirmed that this former French president had died on that day, aged 86. The independent and self-determined diplomatic position and anti-war philosophy he took during his presidency has left France and even Europe with a precious legacy.

新华社巴黎9月26日电 雅克·希拉克,法国当代“最受欢迎的政治家”,也是一位有着深深“中国情缘”的外国政要。9月26日,希拉克的家人确认,这位法国前总统当天上午与世长辞,享年86岁。希拉克担任总统期间的独立自主外交立场和反战理念,是留给法国乃至欧洲的宝贵政治遗产。

That’s the way they liked him (click picture for CCTV video)

Gaining fame by opposing war

反战赢声誉

Jacques Chirac was born on November 29, 1932 in Paris, Corrèze [?]1), his father was a manager at Crédit Commericale de France. [Chirac] graduated at Sciences Po and the École Nationale d’Administration. At a young age, he followed Charles de Gaulle’s policies, and was elected to France’s National Assembly before he was 40 years old. In 1974, he became France’s prime minister. After resigning as prime minister in 1976, he founded the Rassemblement pour la République and became its first chairman. From 1986 to 1988, Chirac took up the post of prime minister again. In 1995 he was elected French president, re-elected in 2002, staying in office until he retired in 2007.

希拉克1932年11月29日生于巴黎科雷兹镇,其父曾为法国商业银行总管。他毕业于巴黎政治学院、法国国家行政学院,年轻时就追随戴高乐从政,不到40岁当选为法国国民议会议员。1974年,希拉克出任法国总理。1976年辞去总理职务后,他创立保卫共和联盟并任主席。1986年至1988年,希拉克再度出任法国总理。1995年他当选法国总统,2002年连任,直至2007年卸任。

photo / caption: on July 14, 1995, just been elected president, Chirac attended the Bastille Day military parade at the Place de la Concorde. (Xinhua)

Despite having lost much of its former economic power, France played the role of a top-ranking power in the field of diplomacy. When British and American-led coalition forces started the Iraq war in 2003, France, led by Chirac, stood at the forefront of the anti-war camp.

在希拉克时代,法国尽管经济实力已大不如前,但在外交领域却一度发挥着一流大国的作用。2003年,以英美军队为主的联军发动伊拉克战争,希拉克率领的法国则站在了反战阵营的前列。

Before the Iraq war began, Chirac clearly said that France would exercise its veto power at the UN security council. One year after the beginning of the war, Chirac predicted that the Iraq war would lead to increasing terrorist activities and make the world more dangerous. The facts have confirmed the truth of Chirac’s warning.

伊拉克战争开始前,希拉克明确表示法国会在联合国安理会行使否决权。开战后一年,希拉克就预言,伊拉克战争将导致恐怖活动加剧,会让世界变得更加危险。事实证明,希拉克的警告是正确的。

Chirac’s firm opposition to the war earned France global fame, but especially in the Arab world. Many French people took pride in Chirac, believing that on a matter of peace or war, of life and death, “he had adhered to French principles and upheld justice and morality.”

希拉克的坚定反战立场,使得法国在全球、特别是阿拉伯世界赢得了声誉。不少法国人以希拉克为荣,认为他在“事关和平与战争,生命和死亡”的时候,“坚持了法国的原则,捍卫了正义和道德”。

As the leader of one of the Western powers, Chirac was very clear-headed about the trend of global multi-polarization and advocated a “strong Europe” for that reason. In 2007, he said at a EU summit that “the world’s biggest transformation is that we are going through a decade of transformation, from global uni-polarity to multi-polarity. He also believed that European diversity and social fusion were important factors in maintaining strength.

作为西方大国领袖,希拉克对世界多极化的趋势非常清醒,并主张为此需要“强大的欧洲”。2007年,他在欧盟峰会上表示,“世界最大的变革在于,我们正经历从单极世界向多极世界转变的年代”。他同时认为,欧洲的多样性和社会融合是保持强大的重要因素。

photo / caption: on April 28, 2002, French president Chirac, at the central French city of Nontron, embraced a baby from the welcoming crowed at a election campaign event. The presidential elections were held on May 5 that year. (Xinhua / Reuters)

2002年4月28日,法国总统希拉克在法国中部城市农特龙进行竞选活动时,从欢迎人群中接抱一个婴儿。法国总统选举当年5月5日举行。(新华社/路透)

In 2009, a survey conducted by opinion pollster IFOP for “Paris Match” found that two years after leaving office, Chirac remained the most popular politician in the French peoples’ opinion.

2009年法国民调机构Ifop为《巴黎竞赛画报》所做一项调查中,卸任两年的希拉克被法国人视为“最受欢迎的政治家”。

Deep love for China

中国情缘深

Chirac wasn’t only a well-known politician and diplomat, but also an elegant connoisseur of oriental culture. He had a particular passion for the long history of Chinese culture, which he had studied a lot. French media have called him a man who ardently loves China”, having a “deep affinity towards China”.

希拉克不仅是著名的政治家与外交家,也是品位高雅的东方文化鉴赏家。他对历史悠久的中国文化情有独钟,且颇有研究。法国媒体称他为“热爱中国的人”,有着深深的“中国情缘”。

As a youngster, Chirac often went to Guimet Museum. At the time, he was particularly attracted to Chinese art, especially ancient bronze devices. Appreciation of ancient Chinese bronze devices became his hobby at the time, at times an obsessive one. According to a diplomat familiar with Chirac, he can even accurately determine the historic age of Chinese bronze relics. In July 2007, while attending a NATO summit was “absent-mindedly” reading a book. The moment was captured on camera by a French reporter who published the news that “president takes a short break, studying Chinese bronze devices.”

希拉克在少年时代经常光顾法国国立吉美亚洲艺术博物馆。当时,他被中国艺术品特别是古代青铜器深深吸引。从此,中国青铜器鉴赏研究成为他的爱好,甚至到痴迷程度。据了解希拉克的外交官介绍,希拉克甚至能准确判断中国青铜器的历史年代。2002年7月,希拉克出席北约首脑会议时“开小差”读书。这一幕被在场的法国记者拍下,登报称“总统忙里偷闲,研究中国青铜器”。

Photo/Caption: on December 4, 2000, Chirac appreciated China Liao dynasty relics on a Chinese cultural relic discoveries exhibition in Paris.

2000年12月4日,希拉克在巴黎举办的中国文物考古发现展上欣赏中国辽代文物。(新华社记者李根兴摄)

In September 1978, Chirac, in his capacity as former French prime minister and as Paris mayor, visited China on invitation. After visiting the Qin Shihuang Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an, he was greatly stunned and called the place “the eighth world wonder”.

1978年9月,希拉克以法国前总理、巴黎市市长的身份应邀访华。他在西安参观秦始皇兵马俑后深受震撼,称之为“世界第八大奇迹”。

Jacques Chirac felt emotional links towards Chinese culture and was a major promoter of French cultural exchanges with China. When the Chinese-French cultural year was held from 2003 to 2005, the Eiffel Tower was illuminated in “Chinese red”. This didn’t only pioneer cultural exchange between the two countries, but also played a model role globally.

希拉克情系中国文化,也是法国对华文化交流的主要推动者。2003年至2005年,中法互办文化年,埃菲尔铁塔披上“中国红”。这既是两国文化交流史上的创举,也在世界上具有示范作用。

Chirac left a profound footprint in Sino-French relations and contributed to the “golden decade” of Sino-French” relations. Between the times he assumed and left office as president, he visited China four times, tracking almost half of the country. In the meantime, Sino-French relations kept improving. In 1997, China and France established a comprehensive cooperative partnership, and in 2004, they established a comprehensive strategic partnership.2)

希拉克对中法关系的发展留下了自己的深刻印迹,造就了中法关系的“黄金十年”。1995年出任总统至卸任,希拉克4次访华,足迹几乎遍及半个中国。其间,中法关系不断得到提升。1997年,中法两国建立全面合作伙伴关系,2004年建立全面战略伙伴关系。

In 2006, in an interview with Xinhua reporters before a visit to China, Chirac emphasized that all French people understood the extent to which the prospects of global development depended on China. China and the world were inextricably linked to each other, and this profound awareness was exactly one of Jacques Chirac’s prime motives to vigorously promote Sino-French relations.

2006年,希拉克在访华前接受新华社记者专访时强调,每个法国人都明白,世界的发展前途在很大程度上取决于中国。中国与世界密不可分,这一深刻认识正是希拉克大力推进中法关系发展的原动力之一。

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Note

1) probably a mix-up by Xinhua – Chirac was born in Paris, but many of his ancestors were from Corrèze in central / southwestern France, the department he also represented at the National Assembly from 1967 to 1986 and from 1988 to 1995.
2) Referred to as partenariat global sino-français and partenariat stratégique global respectively, in French-language Chinese publications.

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Related

“Le bruit et l’odeur”, 1991, Wikipedia, acc 20190928
“A completely banal incident”, LA Times, Aug 29, 1987

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Friday, July 19, 2019

You want to defend Democracy, Mr. Rasmussen? Introduce a dedicated Property Tax

In an op-ed for The Guardian, former NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen calls on Europe to

stand up for Taiwan’s self-determination and treat it as a fully-fledged member of the alliance of democracies. In a globally interdependent world, failure to defend our values in east Asia and beyond will eventually lead to the erosion of those same values at home.

The headline – (Now Europe must defend Taiwan) – is more spectacular than Rasmussen’s actual text, where the man who led the West’s military alliance from summer 2009 to fall 2014 doesn’t exactly call for a formal military alliance with Taiwan. As far as military cooperation is concerned, his op-ed remains vague.

It does, however, make tangible demands, by citing American measures in support of Taiwan as examples for Europe, or by accusing European governments of allowing China to bully them into accept its version of Taiwan’s status. Rasmussen also encourages the European Union’s incoming leadership to start practical measures to strengthen Taiwan’s position economically.

Op-eds like these are icebreakers – this one doesn‘t touch on “taboo” issues, at least not yet. And it remains to be seen if Rasmussen is up to a stronger European voice and economic policy in Taiwan‘s favor, or to full military cooperation. If the latter is the case, the EU would have a long way to go – it is anything but a “Pacific player”.

In 2014, Rasmussen wrote an op-ed for the Telegraph which was built in a similar way. Back then, he drew on Russia‘s annexation of Crimea and demanded to “invest in defence of democracy.” Now, he is drawing on the obvious crash of China‘s “one-country-two-systems” policy in Hong Kong.

Is Rasmussen‘s op-ed good news? Basically, yes. Taiwan needs support indeed, and supporters don‘t need to be likeable, as long as their support is sustainable. But Rasmussen’s suggestion that perhaps it had been “naive to believe that this erosion of Hong Kong’s democracy was not inevitable” is cute. I don‘t think that Michael Heseltine, the UK’s trade minister back then, gave democracy in Hong Kong much thought when he had his arguments with  Chris Patten.

What seems to become apparent is a rift within Europe. China, obviously, would love to see an ever-more integrated European Union, provided that such a union would collectively sing the correct tune on Beijing‘s policies, and on Taiwan. In western Europe, bigger countries seem to be less concerned about China‘s – or Russia‘s, for that matter – role in Europe than smaller ones, especially the Netherlands, and Denmark. In eastern Europe, things may evolve differently.

Even if sympathetic with, or loyal to Taiwan, Europe‘s ordinary citizens need to be careful when it comes to utterances like Rasmussen‘s. For decades, China has counted as a huge business opportunity, and western companies were only too happy to throw their technology at it. That was in the interest of investors, but not necessarily in the interest of the European workforce. Now, who exactly is expected to invest in the defense of democracy? There isn’t only a rift between countries – there’s one between income groups, too.

As Rasmussen said, in a globally interdependent world, failure to defend our values in east Asia and beyond will eventually lead to the erosion of those same values at home. But the defense of democracy still starts at home.

If the EU – or single countries of it – want to strengthen Europe’s global military role, I have some words of advice for their  leaders, too. Introduce a meaningful property tax to just that end – one that is going to tax you. Show that you are serious about defending democracy.

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Related

Rising aggression against Taiwan, Jan 28, 2017

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Saturday, March 16, 2019

Yellow Blogging

Monday, December 24, 2018

Merry Christmas

Weser River, Verden District (West)

Weser River, Verden District (West)

Merry Christmas, run, run, Rudolph, and let it snow.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Pete Myers, 1939 – 1998

December 15, this coming weekend, marks the 20th death anniversary of Pete Myers, probably the past century’s greatest radio personality without a Wikipedia entry of his own.

Here is an excerpt from one of his programs, broadcast on October 11, 1992, an official day of mourning in the Netherlands, one week after the Bijlmer disaster.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Abe’s Visit to Darwin: Kneeling PM, Crouching PM

ABC coverage, Nov 16, 2018

Guanchazhe online (Observer), a news website from Shanghai, publishes a report, referring to Reuters newsagency coverage, writing that Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe and Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison held a ceremony at Darwin Cenotaph on Friday, commemorating the dead from Japan’s air raids on Darwin during WW2, 76 years ago. The article also mentions discussions concerning strengthened trade and defense cooperation between the two leaders.

The article refers to a liquid natural gas (lng) investment project in Darwin, with a planned Japanese investment of 54 billion Australian dollars (about 274.7 billion RMB), with INPEX Holdings Inc. as the main shareholder and operator, as one of the cooperation projects.

Without comment, Guanchazhe also quotes Morrison as saying*) that

Australia and Japan remain consistent about the importance of sholving the South China Sea dispute. Both Japan and Australia strongly oppose any behavior that could intensify the tense situation in the region.

莫里森还表示,他期待与日本加强合作,维护地区的海上安全。两国领导人在会晤后表示,他们希望明年年初就加强两国防务合作达成协议,包括举行更多的联合军事演习。

Both Guanchazhe and Haiwainet (the latter is the online portal of People’s Daily‘s overseas edition) feature a photo showing the two prime ministers laying wreaths at the cenotaph, but Haiwainet points out the obvious in writing: “The Australian prime minister kneels, Abe crouches.”

ABC (video at the beginning) discusses Japan’s and Australia’s motivation to strengthen military cooperation.

According to reports earlier this year, an Australian dockyard, ASC Pty Ltd, is reportedly set to build nine Hunter class frigates from 2020 (designed in Britain), with the first of them to be operational by 2027. In a report this summer, ABC referred to the project as Australia’s largest peacetime warship building program.

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Note

*) as quoted by AP newsagency: “Australia and Japan also stand united on the importance of resolving disputes in the South China Sea, peacefully and in accordance with international law, and we are strongly opposed to any actions that could increase tensions within the region.”

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Sunday, July 1, 2018

Donald Trump’s Quiztalks

When Donald Trump speaks without a script, it sounds like BBC Radio 4 entertainment – the I’m-sorry-I-haven’t-a-clue style, where people are supposed to talk without repeating a single word, or without mentioning a specific world. Something like …

Host: Mr. President, you are supposed to speak about clocks for sixty seconds, and you must use the word “clock” only once.
Trump: I don’t mind clocks. I like those things. I actually love them. We have a great relationship. The only problem with clocks is …
Detector: BUZZ!!!


Anyway. Why is the president supposed to participate in a game where winning is not important? That’s preposterous.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Taiwan cuts Shortwave Broadcasts in French and Spanish – here is why it shouldn’t

Cutting Shortwave broadcasts in French and Spanish

The French and the Spanish programs of Radio Taiwan International (RTI) are no longer broadcast on shortwave. On March 5, Radio Berlin-Brandenburg‘s (RBB) Radio Eins media magazine reported that RTI would terminate its broadcasts in German on March 25, i. e. the day when the current international shortwave frequency plan (A-18) came into effect1).

A notice was added by the Radio Eins editors a few days later, saying that RTI’s German service kept denying this information. However, Radio Eins did not name the source or sources of their information, citing rather general “trade circles” (Branchenkreise).

On March 9, in a regular mailbag program, RTI’s German service reacted to listeners’ questions concerning the shortwave issue, and stated that while the Spanish and French departments were indeed to exit shortwave with effect from March 26, the German service’s shortwave broadcasts would continue.

Seventeen days later, the German service’s denial proved correct – its broadcasts have been continued, now on their traditional summer frequency of 6185 kHz, as predicted on March 9.

In its report, Radio Eins also pointed out that Radio France Internationale (RFI) had terminated its shortwave broadcasts for Asia years ago, and that this had also put an end to Radio Taiwan International’s once lower-cost access to transmissions from France (with transmitters located at Issoudun, central France). The two international broadcasters appear to have exchanged airtime in the past.

On its website, RTI hardly (if at all) communicates the decision to terminate the shortwave broadcasts in Spanish and French. However, a month before Radio Eins wrote about RTI’s shortwave closures, shortwave-watching website swling.com had quoted from an RTI email saying that the station’s French and Spanish services would “unfortunately stop broadcasting on shortwave”. There appears to have been no mention of the German programs at the time.

Following a Trend …

RTI is following a trend among foreign radio services from industrialized countries2). As noted by Radio Eins, Radio France Internationale ended its shortwave broadcasts to Asia years ago. German foreign Radio, Deutsche Welle (DW), terminated its shortwave broadcasts in Chinese with effect from January 1, 2012. Three months earlier, DW had ended its shortwave broadcasts in German.

Earlier in 2011, the BBC and the Voice of America (VoA) had announced their Chinese programs’ withdrawals from shortwave (the VoA later reversed the decision, but BBC Mandarin kept to their exit).

One of the more contested decisions to abandon shortwave was Radio Australia‘s. It took effect by the end of January, 2017. The station made a – not terribly successful, it seems – effort to communicate the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s (ABC) decision.

Radio Australia’s (now abandoned) role in informing Pacific islanders about emergency situations via shortwave was deemed essential by some critics, and Radio New Zealand (RNZ), Radio Australia’s only existing competitor on shortwave in the Pacific region, leapt at the gap left by the Australians.

But funding public diplomacy is hardly popular in most free societies. Slashed budgets may irritate or infuriate the trade or the immediate users of an abandoned service, but they will hardly become known to a wider public. After all, the (noticeable) remonstrators are usually just some listeners abroad, and apart from that, they are no voters.
In RTI’s case, the question – from the audience perspective – seems to be how prepared the target areas are for the termination of shortwave broadcasts. As for France and Spain, the answer seems to be easy: industrialized, reasonably good internet connections, and with only a few people (probably) who would still listen on shortwave anyway.
But there are drawbacks. In general – this goes for countries with a highly developed internet infrastructure and Latin America or North Africa alike – it is much harder to gain new listeners, than to retain existing ones.
RTI’s management (or the lords of their budgets) may have drawn inspiration from reports like ECLAC’s 3), discussing sharply increasing internet use and access in Latin American countries, and the Caribbean.

But the ECLAC, while optimistic about the development and prospects of the internet in Latin America, also notes that no country in the region has at least 5% of its connections with speeds of more than 15Mbps, compared to 50% in advanced countries, and there is a difference of 41 percentage points in Internet penetration between urban and rural areas in the country that has the greatest gap in the region.And a report (apparently published online in December 2016) by Statista, a Hamburg-based market research company, saw the region’s average monthly internet usage at 18.6 hours in 2016. When you leave Brazil – the leading country in terms of monthly internet usage – out of the calculation, the rate will be even lower.

If the trends indicated by the two papers continue, there may be a time when switching off shortwave makes sense (at least when considering the costs, and the pressures from the broadcasters’ funders). But the data suggests that RTI’s decision to do so came too early.

… but neglecting the Facts

One of the reasons that international broadcasters stop using shortwave frequencies is that radio is a medium used by the poor, rather than by the affluent and influential. That’s not how they communicate their decision (if there is communication at all), but the trade’s high-flown jargon suggests just that.

In a press release of May 18, 2011, less than a year before abandoning shortwave broadcasts in Chinese, German (its native language) and Hindi, Deutsche Welle wrote that by focusing on the internet in many regions of the world, “info seekers” would be reached more effectively,

… especially those who are or will be influential in their countries’ public opinion, and people who actively campaign for democracy, civil liberties and progress in authoritarian states, thus strengthening civil society.

… insbesondere insbesondere jene, die Einfluss auf die öffentliche Meinung eines Landes haben oder zukünftig haben werden, sowie Menschen, die sich in autoritären Staaten aktiv für Demokratie, Freiheitsrechte und Fortschritt einsetzen und so die Zivilgesellschaft stärken.

But nobody knows who will call the shots in a target area, ten or twenty years from now. In Venezuela, it’s an ex bus driver now. Brazil’s president from 2003 to 2011, Lula da Silva, reportedly only learned to read at the age of ten, and worked as a peanut seller and shoe shine boy as a child. Bolivia’s president, Evo Morales, was born to a subsistence farming family and started his political career as a rural labor unionist.

If they had been born ten or fifteen years ago, none of them would be a likely regular internet user.

Shortwave radio may not matter as a medium, when it comes to commercial viability, as the owner of a North American shortwave radio station admitted in 1991. In that light, Facebook could be a more or less “real” alternative to shortwave radio.

But on “social media”, a foreign radio station is just one “friend” among many. There may be no studies available, but if there were some, they would probably show that shortwave listeners are a much more dedicated audience than internet users.

In short: shortwave radio remains a crucial medium, especially for Taiwan. The country will almost inevitably lose all or most of its remaining “diplomatic allies” in Latin America, as it has lost official diplomatic ties with nearly every country worldwide already. If shortwave remains crucial in Taiwan’s communications with European countries may be debatable, but to maintain Taiwan’s visibility in Latin America, there can be no doubt that shortwave would be worth the (quite manageable) costs.
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Note

1) While KBS World’s German service via Woofferton, England, is announced under the broadcasting station’s name (Korean Broadcasting Station), Radio Taiwan International’s name is ommitted. Instead, the HFCC states the operator’s company name (Babcock Communications) there. The KBS frequency is also operated by Babcock, and also from Woofferton.
2) Japan may be the only exception.
3) The UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. The report linked to is dated September 12, 2016.

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Related

Inclusive Internet Index, Economist Group, 2018
Abandoning Shortwave & Opportunities, Oct 3, 2014
A bottomless pit of waste, PCJ, around 2014

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