Posts tagged ‘business’

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Notebook: Tsai’s recent Speeches

Focus Taiwan (CNA newsagency’s English-language website) has President Tsai Ing-wen‘s full  Double-Ten address, (the original script can be found on the presidential website), and on October, she gave a speech in English, to the Yushan Forum, an “Asia Innovation and Progress Dialogue”, including remarks about the “New Southbound Policy”.

Yushan Forum, Oct 2017 – please click picture for video

Tsai Ing-wen’s approval ratings have recently seen a modest surge – or a significant one, when looking at where they have come from, since summer this year.

In July, an L. A. Times correspondent reported the nasty numbers of that month – an approval rating of 33 per cent -, but added that this didn’t necessarily mean that her supporters were abandoning her.

Indeed, it has become a Taiwanese tradition to keep presidents under the opinion-poll waterline most of the time – when Ma Ying-jeou, Tsai’s predecessor, was re-elected early in 2012, four years of submergence lied behind him, with another four years waiting.

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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Huanqiu Shibao Editorial: No Need for Lessons from London, re North Korea

British prime minister Theresa May gave Japan’s NHK television an interview on Friday.  NHK doesn’t appear to share its interviews on youtube (one with then U.S. president Barack Obama wasn’t available either, last year), but this video provides some excerpts:

Update, Sept 27, 2017:
The video appears to have been removed.
Soundtrack may be available on request.

The interview provoked “Global Times” articles that did their best to come across as condescending, both towards Britain and Japan. The “Global Times'” Chinese-language sister paper, Huanqiu Shibao, also criticized May’s interview, as follows.

Main Link: Editorial – No Need for Lessons from London, concerning North Korea
社评:北京不需要伦敦教如何对待朝鲜

British prime minister Theresa May set a firecracker on her way to Japan. Apart from criticizing North Korea, she also said, “Chinese pressure to block its illegal behavior plays a very important role.” She said, “we want to encourage China to do its utmost to exert pressure on North Korea”, this would be “the best way” to influence North Korea.”

英国首相特雷莎·梅在前往日本访问的途中就朝核问题放了一炮,除了批评朝鲜,她还说,“中国在对朝鲜施加压力阻止其非法行为这方面起着非常关键的作用。”她表示,“我们要激励中国尽其所能向朝鲜施压”,这是影响平壤的“最佳方式”。

Prime minister May probably doesn’t know much about the Korean peninsula. Her way of expressing her views sounded pretty much like rehashing the old lessons learned in Washington. Washington’s strategy to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue is slanted, the antagonism between the U.S. and North Korea keeps rising, and Washington just tries to push  the responsibility for the impasse to China, proclaiming that China had the ability to “control” North Korea. may is the first leader of a major European country to openly go along with this kind of preposterous reasoning.

梅首相大概对朝鲜半岛事务了解不多,她的此番言论听上去很像是对华盛顿说辞的复读和学舌。美国解决朝核问题的策略偏了,美朝对立不断升级,华盛顿就把突破僵局的责任推给中国,宣扬中国有能力“管住”朝鲜。梅首相如今成了欧洲大国中第一个公开附和这种歪理的领导人。

When Britain mentioned China recently, there was some blame game as well. The British foreign and defense secretaries suddenly said that Britain’s recently constructed aircraft carrier would go to the South China Sea to pledge “freedom of navigation”. London’s sudden enthusiasm for getting involved in East Asian affairs mystified the Chinese people.

英国这一段时间谈及中国时一直有些怪怪的,不久前英国外交大臣和国防大臣突然表示,英国新建造的航母将会赴南海宣示“航行自由”,伦敦这种对东亚事务突如其来的介入热情令中国人颇感莫名其妙。

As British power has withdrawn from East Asia long ago, it is without its bases here now, and there isn’t any of its military left. If the British government really wants to protect  its trade and investment interests in this region, it should choose its words carefully, and proceed carefully, respect the regional countries own ability and wisdom to create peace, rather than to point fingers and speaking irrelevant words.

大不列颠的力量早就退出了东亚,这里如今既没有它的基地,也不剩它的一兵一卒,如果英国现政府真想维护它在这个地区的商业和投资利益,就应当谨言慎行,尊重地区国家缔造自身和平的智慧和能力,而不是指指点点,说些不着边际的话。

The May government shouts out a slogan about “Global Britain”, apparently harboring aspirations to restore Britain’s worldwide influence. But is its way of exerting influence about “crashing cars to commit insurance fraud”? The previous British government said that Sino-British relations were entering a “golden age”. Prime minister May and her colleagues are now constantly using needling language towards China. Are they reversing Sino-British relations by 180 degrees? One has to say that testimony from the May government helps to brush off British attention.*)

梅政府喊出“全球英国”的口号,似乎心怀在世界范围内恢复英国影响之志。然而英国发挥影响的方式就是要与中国这样的大国“碰瓷”吗?上一届英国政府称中英关系进入“黄金时代”,梅首相和她的同僚如今不断发表对华绵里藏针的话,他们是要对中英关系做180度的反转吗?不能不说,梅政府高官们的舌头已经在帮英国刷注意力了。

Both the South China Sea issue and the North Korean nuclear issue are highly sensitive and complicated. If the May team’s talk becomes faster than their brains, there will be more funny shows to be watched.

南海问题和朝核问题都高度敏感复杂,如果梅团队的舌头转得比脑子还快,那就真会有越来越多的好戏看了。

Along with the increasingly provocative situation on the peninsula, the impact of North Korea’s development of nulear missiles does actually grow greater, and participation from outside ought to contribute to the easing of the situation, and to solving the problems – a role some of the currently involved countries appear to have difficulty in playing. This kind of futile dawdling on a hot spot partisanship will only aggravate the deadlocked situation.

随着半岛局势激化,朝鲜发展核导所产生的影响的确越来越大,外界的参与应当有助于缓和局势,解决问题,起目前一些当事国难以发挥的作用。那种蹭热点、站队帮腔的卷入只会加剧局势的僵持。

China is a neighboring country of North Korea, and Beijing has every reason to firmly oppose North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons and its development of missiles. Beijing didn’t only join the sanctions against North Korea, but is the main bearer of these sanctions. To demand that China assume the bigger part of the remaining responsibilities Washington’s and its north-east Asian allies’ selfish manifestation, and when prime minister May joins them on that selfish platform, it is reckless and of no benefit.

中国是朝鲜的邻国,北京没有任何理由不坚决反对朝鲜拥核和发展导弹。北京不仅加入了对朝制裁,而且是这一制裁的主要承担者。要求中国承担起余下的绝大部分责任,是华盛顿和其东北亚盟友自私的表现,梅首相为它们的自私站台,是轻率而无益的。

The real difficulty in the current situation lies in the absence of effective communication. America and North Korea fiiercely fight each other with every word they say, piling up explosives. If London really wants to make a bit of a contribution, it should take a constructive approach that helps to removes blockages, rather than making window speeches. Prime minister May’s current position may not even get president Trump’s attention, because she doesn’t provide any practical problem-solving ability. Contrary to what one may expect, Tokyo may find her words pleasing, but Tokyo, weary of deadlock with Beijing, may be delighted by any mockery about China.

局势的真正困难在于形成不了有效沟通,美朝各说各话,相互斗狠,堆积起越来越多的爆炸性。伦敦如果真想给东亚和平做点贡献,它就应为打通相互对立的立场有创造性、别开生面的表现。梅首相这样表态,大概连特朗普总统都未必瞧得上,因为她没有提供任何实际解决力。倒是东京可能听着顺耳,但东京是因为与北京僵持得有些累,谁揶揄中国一句,它都会兴高采烈。

As the Conservative Party has lost many seats, May has become a weak prime minister. When people are weak, they often look for opportunities to show their “strength”. One would hope that what the May government is now shoging isn’t this kind of “cliché”.

梅所在的保守党丢了很多议席,她成了一个弱势首相。人在弱势时,往往愿意找机会显示一下自己的“强势”,希望梅政府所展现的并非这种“俗套”。

The May government is constantly “skirting the line” around China, and postures unduly about hong Kong, but all this won’t turn into real strength. Spittled statements don’t make Britain strong. Britain needs real economic growth, but Britain is moving further and further away from China, one of the most important economic partners.

梅政府不断围绕着中国打“擦边球”,它在香港问题上尤其比前任政府更爱端不该端的架势,但是这一切换不来英国的真正强大。英国的强大不是声明纸沾着唾沫就能糊出来的,英国需要真正的经济增长,而梅政府正在一步步远离中国这个最重要的经济伙伴之一。

Notes

*) Not sure about my transation of this line — JR

____________

When May’s predecessor at 10 Downing Street declared a “golden age” in Britain’s relations with China, a German sinologist, Sebastian Heilmann, was quoted as saying that London had assumed the leading role in relations with China. And an article by German newsagency dpa worried that Xi, during his 2015 visit to the United Kingdomwas probably happy to see the human-rights topic basically dropped under the table in London, and the Europeans being split.

Now, Huanqiu Shibao appears to worry that there could be a 180-degree reversal (see blockquotes above) in London’s China policy.

But suggesting that China could do more, concerning North Korea, can hardly be read as a a turnaround in Britain’s China policy – even if no other European leader has chimed in with this criticism. Only Chinese hypersensitivities can consider a American-British commonality of this kind lèse-majesté. Huanqiu Shibao’s reaction may, however, show that Beijing can easily be needled these days, once North Korea is the issue.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Huanqiu Shibao: the Bottomline for maintaining Framework of Sino-NK Relations

The following is my translation of a  Huanqiu Shibao editorial. It is currently not available on the paper’s website, but – main link –  via China News Service (中國新聞網). Links within blockquotes added during translation — JR

Original title: How should China react to North Korea’s latest Nuclear Test?
原標題:社評:中國該如何應對朝鮮新核試

On the afternoon of September 3, following the latest North Korean nuclear test at noon that day, the Chinese foreign ministry said that the Chinese government firmly opposed and strongly condemned the test.

朝鮮於3日中午進行新的核試驗,中國外交部當天下午表示,中國政府對此表示堅決反對並予以強烈譴責。

China’s, South Korea’s and America’s seismic monitoring networks simultaneously measured an earthquake in North Korea’s Punggye-ri area, at 11:30 Beijing time. The magnitude reported by China Earthquake Networks Center was 6.3 on the Richter scale. North Korea announced on the afternoon of September 3 that North Korea’s highest leader, Kim Jong-un, had ordered conducting a hydrogen bomb test, and that the test had been successful.

中國、韓國、美國的地震台網於北京時間3日11時30分同時測定,朝鮮豐溪里一帶發生地震,中國地震台報的震級是里氏6.3級。朝鮮於3日下午宣布,朝最高領導人金正恩下令進行了氫彈試驗,試驗取得成功。

This is another mistake made by North Korea, directed against the UN security council’s and the entire international community’s will. This test will lead to another serious escalation of the tense situation on the Korean peninsula, and to the risk of the East Asian strategy [or strategies] collapsing, increasing the risk of any party misjudging the situation and leading to a situation spinning out of control.

這是平壤逆聯合國安理會和整個國際社會的意志做出了又一次錯誤選擇。這次核試驗將嚴重導致半島緊張局勢新的升級,並有導致東亞戰略出現坍塌的風險,推高各方產生誤判而導致局勢失控的危險。

As for China now, the most important thing is to strengthen monitoring, ensuring that if North Korea’s latest test has produced nuclear leaks, we can detect it at first appearance, timely inform the masses in the Northeastern region, and take all kinds of responsive measures. In fact, analysts have predicted the possiblilty of a new nuclear test by North Korea in recent days, so the [Chinese] government has undoubtedly made emergency preparations in advance, and will launch these mechanisms rapidly.

對中國來說,目前最重要的是加強監測,確保一旦朝鮮這次核爆出現核泄漏,我們能在第一時間發現,及時通報東北地區民眾,並採取各種緊急應對措施。事實上,在這之前分析界對朝鮮可能於近日搞新的核試驗已有預測,政府無疑提前做好了應急準備,而這一機制相信已經迅速啟動。

There were obvious tremors in northeastern regions near North Korea on September 3, with buildings clearly shaking, triggering a great deal of discussion among people. During North Korea’s prior five nuclear tests, there have been no nuclear leakages, and Pyongyang has solemnly vowed that its underground nuclear tests wouldn’t create any such leakage. Pyongyang also said it would be responsible for the North Korean masses. We hope that this isn’t just talk.

3日中午,東北靠近朝鮮的地區多地有明顯震感,建築物搖動明顯,民間出現大量議論。在這之前朝鮮5次核試沒有造成核泄漏,平壤信誓旦旦地宣稱它的地下核試驗不會造成任何泄漏,還表示它會為離核試驗場更近的朝鮮民眾負責。我們希望朝鮮這不僅僅是說一說。

No matter what North Korea says, we believe the Chinese government will be on high alert, and that at this moment, there won’t be the faintest bit of relaxation or taking of chances. “Huanqiu Shibao” has learned that in Baishan (Jilin Province), Mudanjiang (Heilongjiang Province), and other regions. There were wind speeds of 1 from West or Northwest on midday of September 3, blowing from China to outside its borders.

無論朝方如何表示,我們相信中國政府都會提高警惕,在這個時刻不會有一絲一毫的鬆懈和僥倖。據《環球時報》了解,吉林白山、黑龍江牡丹江等地3日中午刮的是1級西風或西北風,風小,且風向是從中國邊境地區向外吹的。

North Korea’s latest nuclear explosion and its recent series of medium- and long-range missile tests have made it clear that Pyongyang, unmoved by force or persuasion, is determined to obtain nuclear strike capability over medium and long ranges. It won’t yield to pressure from outside, and the North Korean nuclear issue is on the brink of becoming intractable.

朝鮮最新核試爆和最近的一系列中遠程導彈試驗顯示,平壤軟硬不吃,它決心獲得中遠程核打擊能力,不會向任何外來壓力屈服,朝核問題幾近成為死結。

Facing this complicated situation, China needs to maintain a high degree of cool-headedness, , take measures based on its national interests, and to limit the risks faced by Chinese society to the greatest possible degree.

中國需面對這一複雜態勢保持高度冷靜,從中國的國家利益出發採取措施,最大限度地減輕中國社會從中面臨的風險。

The safety of China’s Northeast comes first. We need to tell Pyongyang through all kinds of channels that its tests must not contaminate the Northeast of China. China’s strategic and environmental safety is the bottomline for China up to where it will exercise restraint. It has to be hoped that this can be clearly communicated between China and North Korea, and helps North Korea to understand the solemnity and seriousness of China’s approach. If North Korea doesn’t keep to this bottomline, and if its own territory and the involved areas of China’s northeast will suffer contamination, the current framework of Chinese-North Korean relations will no longer exist.

中國東北的安全是第一位的,我們需要通過各種管道明確告訴平壤,它的核試驗不能污染中國東北。中國的戰略安全與環境安全是中國對其採取克制行動的底線。希望中朝之間能夠通過溝通將這一點講清楚,讓朝方充分了解中國這一態度的嚴肅性、嚴重性。如果朝方守不住這條底線,它自己的國土連帶中國東北遭到污染,那麼中朝關係目前的框架將不復存在。

North Korea’s latest test will inevitably lead to new discussions at the [UN] security council, revolving around new sanctions, and adding sanctions will be unavoidable. But we believe that although Chinese society is very angry about this new test, we need to avoid impulsiveness. China must not lightly agree to extreme measures that would be similar to an all-around embargo.

朝鮮的最新核導活動必將導致安理會圍繞對它進行新制裁開展討論,增加制裁將不可避免。但我們認為,儘管中國社會對朝鮮舉行新的核試驗很生氣,我們還是要避免衝動,中國不應輕易同意對朝鮮採取類似全面禁運的極端制裁手段。

In the case that China completely cut off oil supplies to North Korea, and even closed the Chinese-North Korean border, it would remain uncertain if this could block North Koreas’s activities. However, there would be, in all likelihood, open antagonism between China and North Korea. If that happened, the contradictions between China and North Korea would become, at least for some time, the most outstanding contradictions around the Korean peninsula. it would push down and absorb much of the tense energy of the American-North Korean antagonism, Washington and Seoul would achieve their goalof  “outsourcing” the North Korean nuclear issue to China, and this wouldn’t be in line with China’s national interest at all.

一旦中國完全切斷對朝鮮的石油供應,甚至關閉中朝邊界,能否做到阻止朝鮮核導活動尚不確定,但中朝全面、公開的對立將很可能發生。那樣的話,中朝矛盾就將至少成為一段時期內圍繞朝鮮半島最突出的矛盾,中朝對立將壓過美朝對立吸走高度緊張局勢的大部分能量,華盛頓和首爾也就實現了將朝核問題「外包」給中國的目的,這完全不符合中國的國家利益。

Therefore, so long as North Korea’s nuclear activities won’t pollute China’s Northeast, China’s approach to sanctioning North Korea should not avoid the radicalism of America’s or South Korea’s. The origins of the North Korean nuclear issue lie in the military suppression which created Pyongyang’s serious insecurity. Pyongyang erroneously sees the possession of nuclear capability as the only guarantee for government power’s survival, and nuclear striking capability against America’s soil as the key to reaching safety for itself. In this complicated and acute game, China must not run into a position of “charging and breaking through enemy lines”.

所以,在朝鮮核活動沒有污染中國東北的情況下,中國制裁朝鮮的態度應避免像美韓那樣激進。朝核問題的根源是美韓同盟的軍事打壓造成了平壤的嚴重不安全感,平壤錯誤地將擁核看成是政權生存的唯一保障,並且認定獲得對美國本土的核打擊能力是自己安全突圍的關鍵。中國不能在這場複雜、尖銳的博弈中跑到「衝鋒陷陣」的位置上。

____________

Related

“No Leakage”, Voice of Korea, Sept 4, 2017

____________

 

Monday, August 21, 2017

In the News & Blogs (Aug 1 – 21): Beijing’s Little Helpers abroad

“China Quarterly” cooperates with China censors / Taiwan hosts 2017 Summer Universiade / Kim spoils Fun for Chinese Guam Visitors / Red-noticed police / The First “Five Marvellous Years” / Want to be Chinese?

Doing Beijing’s Dirty Work (1): Academic Institutions

Update: Cambridge University Press restores articles, Washington Post, Aug 21, 2017

China Quarterly apparently cooperates with Beijing by blocking access to articles and e-books on their website.

Can we expect them to do better? I have my doubts. Their topic is China – and if they don’t cooperate, others will, and might replace the renowned magazine. That’s no excuse, of course, and they could still display character rather than opportunism, but one has to admit that they are facing a tough choice. If they decided otherwise, there would be no academic solidarity – alternative opportunists would chum up to Beijing.

What is therefore needed is a political answer. British legislators will need to make censorship cooperation of this kind illegal, and legislators in other free societies will need to do likewise.

You can’t do Beijing’s dirty work yourself, and remain democratic, liberal, or free.

The public needs to push a political decision. People who care about human rights (those of others, and of their own), should consider to join or support relevant pressure groups, rather than political parties.

If Chinese readers can be blocked from servers in free countries, there is no good reason why we, people who live in (still) relatively free societies, should keep access to them, when Beijing demands otherwise.

This scenario may appear far-fetched now – but what happens at Cambridge now would have been unfathomable two or three decades ago, too.

Besides, no man or woman in a free country should vote for political parties who are prepared to tolerate this kind of practice. Totalitarian challenges must be met with political answers.

Taiwan’s Twelve Days of International Fame

The 2017 Summer Universiade started in Taipei, on Saturday.

Chinese Holidaymakers: Kim spoils the Fun

Huanqiu Shibao (the Global Times‘ Chinese-language sister paper) worried about unwelcome side effects of the US-North Korean war of words during the first half of the month: More than 26,000 Chinese tourists had travelled to Guam in 2016, the paper noted in an article published online on August 11 – an increase by 11 percent compared to 2015. Huanqiu numbers reportedly provided by the Guam Visitors Bureau‘s China Representative Room, an organization that runs offices in mainland China and in Hong Kong.

Guam is an island in the western Pacific. It is U.S. territory, reportedly within reach of North Korean missiles (provided that the missiles are lucky), it hosts a naval base, an air base, a religious shortwave broadcasting station, and thousands of tourists annually.

The Huanqiu Shibao article also quotes from “Sina Weibo” exchanges between Chinese netizens and the Guam Visitors Bureau, where Bureau staff reportedly posted reassuring replies to questions like “will you soon be hit by missiles?”

Probably given the incomplete state of North Korea’s striking force (God knows where the missiles would actually go if the army tried to fire them into Guam’s adjacent waters), or Donald Trump‘s notoriety as a bigmouth with little consistency, no travel warning appears to have been issued by Chinese authorities. According to the BY article, the China Youth Travel Agency told reporters that

the company hadn’t received a political-risks warning notice to suspend departures to Guam until then, and reminded journalists to monitor the China National Tourism Administration’s travel risk reminders.

….. 公司还没有接到因政治风险暂停前往关岛的旅游团的通知,他提醒记者应及时关注国家旅游局的旅游风险提示。

According to statistics quoted by the article, most tourists visiting Guam are from Japan and South Korea, with rapidly rising numbers from mainland China.

Doing Beijing’s Dirty Work (2): Red-noticed Police

The arrest of a German citizen of Turkish origin, Dogan Akhanli, made it into German news during the weekend. According to GfbV, a German organization that keeps track of cases where authoritarian regimes use Interpol to harrass critics abroad, Akhanli was arrested by Spanish police in the city of Granada. Reportedly, Turkey had requested Interpol  to issue a read notice to Spain. The dust appears to settle now, and Akhanli is free again, but the organization calls for reforming Interpol and to make sure that it doesn’t become (or remain) a tool for silencing regime critics abroad.

In the same press release, GfbV notes that Dolkun Isa, secretary general of the World Uyghur Congress, had been arrested in Rome, on July 26 this year. Isa was on his way into the Italian senate when he was arrested. According to GfbV, Chinese authorities are now using Interpol’s “red notice” mechanism systematically, to restrict movement of the regime’s critics abroad, and thus creating a de-facto occupational ban against them (Chinas Behörden nutzen die „Red Notice“ inzwischen systematisch, um die Bewegungsfreiheit von im Ausland lebenden Menschenrechtlern einzuschränken und de facto ein Berufsverbot gegen sie zu verhängen).

It certainly wasn’t the first time that Isa had been arrested. In 2009, South Korea arrested him, apparently on arrival at the airport, and refused him entry into the country. Previously, he had been arrested by the UN security service when visiting the Human Rights Commission in Geneva.

The First Five “Marvellous Years”

China’s state television (CCTV) website reminds the public of CCP secretary general Xi Jinping‘s feats during his first five marvellous years (不平凡五年) in office. On August 14, the media organization published statistics of Xi’s speeches on foreign policy.

So: Want to be Chinese?

Given that under the secretary general’s correct leadership, China is becoming the marvel of the world (an unscientific condensed international press review by JR with no further sources), it should be no surprise that Daniel Bell wants better international access to Chinese citizenship, for meritorious citizens of the world who would like to share in that glory.

Ji Xiang posted some thoughts on that, early this month.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Trump Rhetoric against North Korea reveals Need for modernized US Foreign Policy

Donald Trump was born rich. That’s why he’s qualified to serve as US President. You only have to look the other way when he’s making decisions. To talk bullshit to the press (or on Twitter) is a decision, too. This is what he told the press in New Jersey, on Tuesday:

Q: Any comment on the reports about North Korea’s nuclear capabilities?

A: North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen. He has been very threatening beyond a normal state. And as I said, they will be met with fire, fury, and, frankly, power, the likes of which this world has never seen before.

Thank you.

Senator John McCain stated the obvious, still on Tuesday, in a radio interview: “You got to be sure you can do what you say you’re going to do.”

If that’s logical, it’s too logical for President Trump – and for some of his supporters, who refer to McCain as a “traitor” who “sabotaged” their idol. Because, who knows, if everyone would have kept his  mouth shut, Pyongyang might have been very afraid.

Trump is either a madman, or a bigmouth. We may be hopeful, for now, that he’s a bigmouth first. But that doesn’t mean that he can’t do damage. In fact, Washington is heading into a loss of face like the world has never seen. George W. Bush was the first wrecker’s ball operator against American credibility, and Trump is his worthy successor.

But sometimes, when an idiot is running the farm, his operations reveal structural weaknesses that began long before his reign.

It has been said countless times by now that there are “no good options” when it comes to North Korea. That’s easy to say, and when it’s said frequently enough, it begins to sound like an inevitable truth.

But the debate if there are “good” options, or only more or less lousy options, has little to do with North Korea. Instead, it has a lot to do with America. Whenever there’s a debate about foreign policy, it sounds as if America was in full control, and just needed to decide if they want to “take out” this or that dictator.

There would be a fairly good option, concerning North Korea – the only question is if Trump is the president who can do it. Maybe he can – after all, he has no face, and therefore can’t lose face.

Either way: what is the fuss about the impossibility to recognize North Korea as an equal in international relations? Not as an equal in ethical terms, obviously, but as an equal member of the United Nations?

The problem is that both America and China follow the Yang Jiechi doctrine: that [your country] is a big country and other countries are small countries, and that’s just a fact.

America is a hegemon in decline. That means that, to maintain its international influence, it will have to modernize its foreign and military policies. It needs to find partners, rather than junior partners. And it needs to understand what constitutes a problem, and what doesn’t. America can no longer afford to exhaust all other options before doing the right thing.

If America can do business with China – a totalitarian country -, there is no plausible reason as to why it shouldn’t do business with North Korea, too. North Korea’s neighbors would hardly object. A policy – or mere rhetoric – that suggests a war on their territory is not popular there. And Pyongyang would be only to happy to reduce its dependence on Beijing.

Therefore, the first step should be to accept North Korea’s status as a nuclear power. If China should have any concerns about that, let it be Beijing’s problem. America may offer some inexpensive assistance, if deemed auspicious, but why should they tackle the main responsibility for a nuclear-free Korean peninsula if Beijing considers North Korea a bargaining chip against Taiwan?

Let’s face it: there is nothing any power on earth can do when Beijing protects the regime in Pyongyang. But there is a lot that can be done to defend South Korea, Japan, and – not least – Taiwan.

Therefore, Washington should reach out to Pyongyang.

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Updates/Related

Moon: Peace a national interest, BBC, Aug 14, 2017

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Friday, July 14, 2017

Liu Xiaobo, 1955 – 2017

It won’t be long before Liu Xiaobo‘s first post-mortem biography will be published. But it won’t have the last word. There will be further biographies, and each of them will be contested. That’s because of the man himself, and because of his country. He was a man with a conscience, and his country has been a totalitarian dictatorship for nearly seven decades – if you count the KMT’s martial law in, it’s been a dictatorship for much longer than that.

Liu Xiaobo’s political lifespan lasted for three or four decades. That doesn’t count as long in China. The Communist Party’s propaganda works tirelessly to create and sustain the “People’s Republic’s” population’s imagination of a civilizational history of five or more millenia. And at the same time, the party needs to sustain the notion that the most recent seven decades had been the best in China’s history. Not only the past fourty, after the leadership’s decision to “reform and to open up”, but the past seven decades, including Maoism. CCP propaganda’s aim is to build an image of its rule where the pre- and post-1978 decades are one political unit, without substantial contradictions within.

In all likelihood, Liu Xiaobo had foreseen that trend. Many Chinese dissidents, no matter if opponents of China’s cultural restauration, or opponents of the KMT’s military dictatorship on Taiwan, saw a Chinese complacency at work, considering itself the center of the universe.

Cultural criticism is rarely a rewarding trade, but in China, it can be lethal, as shown in Liu Xiaobo’s case.

Liu’s last camp and prison term, which began in 2009 and ended with his relase on medical parole, with cancer in its final stage, had been based on the accusation that he had “incited subversion of state power”. But the Beijing First Intermediate People’s Court’s verdict – passed on Christmas day of 2009, probably to keep the level of international attention as low as possible –  only reflected the CCP’s fear of Liu, not the likely divide between the dissident and his people. A likely divide only, because in a totalitarian dictatorship, these things are more uncertain than in an open society. Hu Jia, himself a dissident who spent more than three years in prison from 2007 to 2011, noted during Liu’s dying days that only about one out of a hundred Beijingers knew who Liu Xiaobo was. Michael Bristow, the BBC’s China correspondent  in 2011, made a similar observation back then.

The 1980s mostly came across as a period of economic optimism, but accompanied by phenomena that were viewed negatively – particularly corruption, which was one of the factors that propelled the June-4 movement at its beginning.

Liu’s answer to what was frequently seen as China’s ailments was “westernization”. Stays in Western countries seem to have intensified his idea, just as Deng Xiaoping is said to have had his own cultural shock when visiting Singapore, in 1978.

But there lies a difference between the great statesman, and the great dissident. Singapore, a highly developed city state led by a family clan, is a model not only for authoritarian Chinese nationals – Taiwanese law-and-order-minded people tend to prefer Singapore as a holiday destination, rather than “messy” Hong Kong.

Liu Xiaobo’s model of development was Hong Kong of the 1980s. It was also the crown colony that provided the intellectual in his early thirties with some public resonance. In one of the interviews, given by Liu to a magazine named Kaifang at the time, Liu made statements that astonished the interviewer:

Q. Under what circumstances can China carry out a genuine historical transformation?
A. Three hundred years of colonialism.  Hong Kong became like this after one hundred years of colonialism.  China is so much larger, so obviously it will take three hundred years of colonialism.  I am still doubtful whether three hundred years of colonialism will be enough to turn China into Hong Kong today.

Q. This is 100% “treason.”
A. I will cite one sentence from Marx’s Manifesto of the Communist Party: “Workers do not have motherlands.  You cannot take away what they don’t have.”  I care about neither patriotism nor treason.  If you say that I betray my country, I will go along!  I admit that I am an impious son who dug up his ancestors’ graves and I am proud of it.

Both the “insults” and Liu’s expressly stated pessimism probably made for a divide between him and many Chinese (as far as they got to know his story). Or, as Roland Soong, a blogger from Hong Kong, noted next to his translation of the 1988 interview, as of 2010, “I suggest that unless Charter 08 (or any other message) can connect with many people in other social strata, it will remain a mental exercise among ‘public intellectuals.'”

And nothing works in the modern middle kingdom, unless it comes with a festive up-with-people sound. (In that sense, China is globalizing indeed.)

When Soong translated the interview quoted from above, and added his assessment of the Charter 08, the global financial crisis had been wreaking havoc on Western economies for about two years, and at least one of the Charter’s demands had fallen from the tree since: #14 called for

Protection of Private Property. We should establish and protect the right to private property and promote an economic system of free and fair markets. We should do away with government monopolies in commerce and industry and guarantee the freedom to start new enterprises. We should establish a Committee on State-Owned Property, reporting to the national legislature, that will monitor the transfer of state-owned enterprises to private ownership in a fair, competitive, and orderly manner. We should institute a land reform that promotes private ownership of land, guarantees the right to buy and sell land, and allows the true value of private property to be adequately reflected in the market.

There wasn’t necessarily a conflict on this matter, between the party leadership and the authors of the Charter – time will show how the CCP is going to handle the remaining state sector of the economy. But among everyday Chinese people, this demand would hardly strike a chord. Besides, who can imagine a transfer of state-owned enterprises to private ownership “in a fair, competitive, and orderly manner”?

In the Charter’s preface, the authors wrote:

The Chinese people, who have endured human rights disasters and uncountable struggles across these same years, now include many who see clearly that freedom, equality, and human rights are universal values of humankind and that democracy and constitutional government are the fundamental framework for protecting these values.

It was a cautious description of the status quo: Liu and his co-authors understood that only a critical minority would side with them. And indeed, there was more to endure in the pipeline. The educational dictatorship China is now entering encourages anticipatory obedience rather than awareness, and it is likely to succeed. When you keep beating people up long enough – and provide them with a hopeful perspective for the future -, there is little that can help people of conscience to counter the propaganda.

This may be the main difference between Liu and his enemies (and many of his admirers, too): in the eyes of many, only hard power – no matter if you refer to it as “the people’s power” or as the “authorities” -, creates reality. If the realities are good, you don’t need to get involved. If they are evil, you can’t get involved. And when realities come in many shades of grey, you either needn’t or can’t get involved. The power of the powerless is no reality in these peoples’ world – unless they begin to tilt, so that re-orientation appears advisable.

That’s a stabilizing factor, so long as realities remain what they appear to be.  But appearances can be deceiving, often until the very last hour. Who of the Egyptians who ditched their longtime president in 2011, in colossal demonstrations, had known weeks before that he wanted to get rid of him? A mood had capsized. It wasn’t about awareness.

A manipulated and intimidated public tends to be unpredictable, and that can turn factors around that were originally meant to add to “stability”.

China’s leaders feared Liu Xiaobo. They feared him to the extent that they wouldn’t let him leave the country, as long as he could still speak a word. But in all likelihood, they fear China’s widespread, politically tinged, religious sects even more, which have a tradition at least as long as Chinese scholarship. Falun Gong is only one of its latest manifestations.

By suppressing public intellectuals not only before 1978, but after that, too, they provided space for nervous moodiness. The Communists themselves want to “guide” (i. e. control) public awareness, without leaving anything to chance.

But chance is inevitable. Totalitarian routine may be able to cope for some time, but is likely to fail in the long run, with disastrous consequences.

In that light, the CCP missed opportunities to reform and modernize the country. But then, the party’s totalitarian skeleton made sure that they could only see the risks, and no opportunities, in an opening society.

What remains from Charter 08 – for now – is the courage shown by its authors nine years ago, and by the citizens who affirmed it with their signatures.

Each of them paid a price, to varying degrees, and often, their families and loved ones did so, too: like Liu Xia, who had hoped that her husband would not get involved in drafting the Charter, but who would never dissociate herself from him.

Nobody is obligated to show the same degree of courage, unless solidarity or conscience prescribe it. In most cases, making such demands on oneself would be excessive. But those who hate the Lius for their courage – and for lacking this courage themselves – should understand that their hatred is wrong. One may keep still as a citizen – but there is an inevitable human duty to understand the difference between right and wrong. By denying our tolerance toward despotism and by repressing awareness of our own acquiescence, we deny ourselves even the small steps into the right direction, that could be taken without much trouble, or economic hardship.

May Liu Xiaobo never be forgotten – and may Liu Xia find comfort and recovery.

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Updates/Related

再生:致刘晓波, Woeser, July 13, 2017
Rebirth, Woeser/Boyden, July 16, 2017
Wiedergeburt, Woeser/Forster, July 27, 2017
The abuse hasn’t stopped, Wu Gan, July 25, 2017

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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

China’s “Core Interests” are becoming peripheral

With the national security law, it has become even clearer that the term refers to what Chinese leaders see as three sacrosanct rights of the nation,

the New York Times (NYT) noted in July 2015:

maintaining the political system, with unquestioned rule by the Communist Party; defending sovereignty claims and territorial integrity; and economic development.

That represented “a considerable expansion” of China’s previous “core-interest” concept, which had been believed to refer to Taiwan, Tibet, and Xinjiang.

The NYT article described a history of expanding the concept. Earlier this year, probably under the flag of “economic-development core interest”, it has reached South Asia.

Arguing that most of India’s “peripheral countries are also Beijing’s neighbors”, a “Global Times” author wrote on March 21 this year that

When an increasing number of Chinese companies get established in these countries, it is inevitable that Beijing will boost defense collaboration with them to protect not only China’s, but also the region’s interest.

If India tried to “balance China” in the region, rather than being part of the pursuit of China and regional countries for common development, grave consequences would be in the pipeline:

If such tendencies in India continue, China will have to fight back, because its core interests will have been violated. This is not what we hope for, but the ball is in India’s court.

In short: with the core interest of economic development comes defense collaboration abroad.

The core is becoming peripheral.

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Related

Your Sea is our Sea, my Sea is my Sea, July 16, 2015
The Stupid Little Mermaid, March 12, 2009

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Saturday, June 3, 2017

Political Time Check (Febr 2017): “Synchronized Efforts”

The following is a translation of an article published by the “People’s Daily”, online and in its printed edition, on February 14 this year, by an author named Zhao Zhenyu (赵振宇). Links within blockquotes added during translation.

Main link: “Time Culture – Galloping into the Realms of Dreams”

“A leading cadre’s time of reign is limited, and even more limited is the time he works in the same place. As leading cadres, we must, in the spirit of strife from dawn to dusk, cherish time just the more, make use of this limited time, to do practical and good things for the masses.” During the past few days, when I reviewed secretary general Xi Jinping’s discussion of time, I felt the style of pragmatic and careful work again, and experienced again the time civilization, which is indispensible to the era of pursuing the Chinese dream.

“一个领导干部,在位的时间是有限的,在一个地方工作的时间更有限。我们每一个领导干部都要以‘只争朝夕’的精神,倍加珍惜在位的时间,充分利用这有限的时间,多为群众办实事、办好事。”近日重温习近平总书记关于时间的谈话,再次感受到务实、精细的工作作风,体会到逐梦时代不可或缺的时间文明。

The seasons come and go, untouched by the words that try to describe them. In the beginning, time was an abstract concept, and something hard to grasp. When the forefathers of humankind began to record things by tying knots, measuring time was still something people strived to understand and to master, and became a criterion of civilisational expansion and progress. Of course, in history, people from ancient times formed an awareness of time under the impression of “work from sunrise and to rest after the sunset”, and they developed an attitude that appreciated time, by “attributing little value to a jade ring, but great importance to a single ray of light”. They were careful “not to miss the farming season, so as to reap the harvest in due course”. Time culture, with its connotations of understanding and cherishing time and respecting punctuality, reminds us to scientifically master time, and to effectively use time.

天不言而四时行,时间最初是一个抽象而难以把握的概念。从人类先祖结绳记事开始,定量化的时间才被逐渐认识和掌握,成为文明拓进的一个向度。当然在历史上,古人很早就形成了“日出而作,日入而息”的时间意识,形成了“贱尺璧而重寸阴”的惜时态度,形成了“不违农时,谷不可胜食也”的守时观念。以识时、惜时、守时为内涵的时间文明,提醒我们科学把握时间、有效利用时间。

No blossoming dream can occur without irrigation, and no civilizational advancement can do without the helping hand of time. Time pushes ahead without turning back, and any waste of time amounts to affecting a society’s civilization negatively. Time is the material that forms life, and wasting other peoples’ time means nothing less than scheming murder. In particular, it is the context of “infinite time” and “finiteness of life” that magnifies the value of time and the significance of struggle. That’s why Marx said that all savings ultimately amounted to saving time. As we enter the modern era of milliseconds and microseconds, the architectures-dream value of time becomes yet more apparent. Only by conserving time culture and renovating the notion of time, can we surge forward to enrich human life, and gallop into the realms of dreams.

一切梦想的花开,都离不开时间的浇灌,一切文明的进阶,都离不开时间的助力。时间总是不可逆转地向前推进,对时间的浪费,不啻对社会文明的怠慢甚至贻误。时间是组成生命的材料,浪费别人的时间无异于谋财害命。尤其在“无限的时间”与“有限的生命”的语境下,更凸显出时间的宝贵、奋斗的意义。所以马克思说,一切节约归根到底都是时间的节约。当时代的车轮驶入以毫秒、微秒计时的现代社会,时间的筑梦价值更加显现。涵养时间文明,刷新时间观念,我们才能激荡出彩人生、驰骋梦想国度。

“dit dit dit … Beijing time is x hours.” On December 15, 1970, the National Time Service Center began to broadcast Beijing standard time to the nation on shortwave. From that time on, this familiar timecheck became a reference for peoples’ coming and going. Achieving the goals of the struggles for the Chinese dream and of the “two two-hundreds”, on this brave march forward and the center’s*) strategic dispositons and reform guidelines equally depend on synchronization by Beijing time. All regions, all departments, and all units, in the process of reform and development, are united in action, in unanimous efforts. Connection with the center*) by synchronization and example guarantee that our ideology and our actions serve as rules, and only this enables the entire nation’s chessboard implementation of cooperation, to rise to the cohesive effect of “pearls falling into a jade plate”.

“嘀嘀嘀……北京时间×点整。”1970年12月15日,国家授时中心开始向全国进行短波广播标准的北京时间。从那时起,这个耳熟能详的报时声成为人们出入起居的时间参照。实现中国梦、实现“两个一百年”的奋斗目标,在这条奋进之路上,中央的战略部署和改革方针,同样是我们需要不断对表的北京时间。各地区、各部门、各单位,在改革发展中同中央步调一致、力度一致,一以贯之地与中央对表、看齐,确保我们的思想与行动都以此为准,才能产生“全国上下一盘棋”的落实合力,起到“大珠小珠落玉盘”的聚合效果。

From the venturing cry of “ten thousand years are too long, seize the day, seize the hour” to the firm exploration of “Development is the unyielding argument”, and to the magnificent journey of “reform does not stall, opening up does not stop”, time culture on the national level has amply broken new ground of meaning. We must continue to cultivate this kind of time consciousness. In reality, there is no action of reform and development without a time frame. When it comes to structural reform of production capacities and supply, it is true that resisting forces remain strong, and policies to enable access to pure resources, clean energy etc. comes at high costs, but if we can’t resolutely and decisively implement reform, we may lose the exceptionally favourable opportunity of economic transformation. As for realizing the key issue of moderate prosperity, to seize the opportunity that time provides us with, from an insightful position, is exactly the best attitude to welcome the future.

从“一万年太久,只争朝夕”的创业呐喊,到“发展才是硬道理”的坚定探索,再到“改革不停顿、开放不止步”的壮丽征程,国家层面时间文明充满开拓进取意味。今天,我们仍然需要培育这样的时间意识。现实中,各项改革发展举措,莫不有时间窗口。去产能、去库存等供给侧结构性改革任务固然阻力重重,置备污染净化设备、普及清洁能源等治霾之策固然成本高企,但我们现在如果不能毅然决然地落实改革,就可能丧失经济转型的绝佳时机。对冲刺在实现全面小康关键一程上的中国而言,把握时间给予的机遇,正是眺望前路、迎向未来的最好姿态。

As the times are changing, the dream advances. [Reference to the lunar calendar.] In the new growth ring of the years, our energetic mood shows promise, the struggle forges ahead, and they will certainly carve beautiful memories that won’t drag the mission and the era.

时序更替,梦想前行。农历丁酉年是鸡年,雄鸡司晨昭示时光宝贵,闻鸡起舞激扬勤奋精神。在新的时间年轮里,我们奋发有为、拼搏进取,一定能刻写下不负使命不负时代的美好回忆。

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Note

*) the central committee and/or the central government – probably the central committee in this context

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Related

Strategic inflection point, A. S. Grove, 1996, 1999
Grundrisse (in English), Karl Marx, 1857 – 61

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