Posts tagged ‘Chen Guangcheng’

Saturday, February 7, 2015

CCP Influence on Education in Free Societies is a Problem – but it’s not the Main Challenge

Shoe Me Quick

Kiss Me Quick (while we still have this feeling)

Yaxue Cao of links to questions asked by U.S. Congressman Chris Smith:

Is American education for sale? And, if so, are U.S. colleges and universities undermining the principle of academic freedom and, in the process, their own credibility in exchange for China’s education dollars?

These are important questions, asked in New York University’s (NYU) cooperation with the East China Normal University (ECNU) in Shanghai. And Chris Smith, writes Cao, did not know the answer when he delivered his statement on Thursday.

There are people who think they do know the answer. Jörg-Meinhard Rudolph, a sinologist from south-western Germany, for example. In an interview with German national radio Deutschlandradio he said in the context of German universities cooperating with Confucius Institutes that

The [censoring] scissors are at work in the heads of these people. They know exactly that, if they are sinologists, for example, having cooperations or research, field research in China, they can’t do it the way Chinese, for example, can do it here. They have to cooperate with Chinese bodies. In many cases, these, too, are sub-departments of the central committee. And everyone knows what happens if you attend a talk by the Dalai Lama, for example. There are university boards who don’t go there, and they will tell you why: because they fear that their cooperations will suffer. That, in my view, is not in order. This is where you have to safeguard your independence. After all, that’s how universities came into being in Europe, during the 12th century – as independent institutions.

Every country seems to have its share of sinologists who believe – or believed in the past, anyway -, that free trade
with China would be the catalyst for political liberalism. They don’t seem to say that anymore, or maybe nobody quotes them anymore. But that doesn’t change the attitude of those who seem to believe, for whatever reason, that engagement is always better than maintaining a distance.

Cao also tends to believe that she knows the answer. She draws some conclusions that sound logical to me, and besides, she quotes Chinese stakeholders, whose statements suggest that the CCP carried the day at every stage at the ECNU negotiations with the NYU.

In fact, nobody should ever accuse the CCP of making a secret of their intentions. They discuss these intentions and drafts very openly, in the Chinese press. The problem, and here again it is time to quote Rudolph,

[…] is that the big China bestsellers in this country have all been written by people who can’t even read a Chinese newspaper.

The problem with maintaining standards – and I’m all for defining and defending some – is that political corrections come and go in waves. Campaigns, not reflection, shape the debates when it comes to how much cooperation with totalitarianism a free society can stand. When it is about the CCP infringing on freedoms, complaints usually get some media attention, because this fits into the general propaganda. When Chinese or ethnic Chinese people in Germany get censored, they get hardly any attention – it is as if the process were taking place in an anechoic chamber.

Rudolph, the sinologist quoted above, isn’t only a writer, but also a doer. He was the first president of the German Chamber of Commerce in Beijing, in 1997. And he was a “program observer” at the Chinese department of German foreign broadcaster Deutsche Welle, probably from the end of 2009 until 2014, appointed and paid by Deutsche Welle. That practice was never a matter of public debate in Germany, and no transparency either – only one news service cared to write a telling report, which only appeared in a media trade journal. At least four Chinese or Chinese-German journalists lost their contracts, apparently in conflicts over what was deemed “too CCP-friendly”. Rudolph doesn’t look like a champion of free speech to me.

The CCP is indeed unscrupulous. Its power abolishes freedom in China, and its influence endangers freedom where societies are supposed to be “autonomous”. A few weeks after Beijing and its puppet administration in Hong Kong had finished off legitimate democratic demands for universal suffrage from the Hong Kong public, Huanqiu Shibao (“Global Times”), one of the flagships of Chinese state media, warns that opposition against a mainland student running for university office at the University of Hong Kong reflected a dangerous “McCarthyite trend” in the former British colony. On a sidenote. if this conflict occured in Germany, Huanqiu might have tried allegations of Nazism instead.*)

But the CCP isn’t the core problem when it comes to its influence on academic institutions and people. When private enterprise becomes an important source of income for universities, that, too, endangers academic independence. There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

If there were clear standards, procedures and constant verification of their practice in general, and beyond this particular “communist problem”, nobody would have to fear the CCP anyway.

In that way, Beijing actually helps to demonstrate what is wrong with us. If we don’t get this fixed as free societies, don’t blame China. Don’t even blame the CCP.



*) Recent years have seen a resurgence of Nazi Skinheads in some places in Germany. Attacks on foreigners occur from time to time. The unhealthy trend of racism is also the background to a series of anti-China moves of some German mediaXinhua, in 2008, reacting to the suspension of then DW-Chinese deputy department manager Zhang Danhong.



» 不该让“麦卡锡”进校门, Huanqiu, Feb 6, 2015
» Hearing transcript, Committee on Foreign Affairs, Febr 4, 2015
» Princelings & Sideshows, March 4, 2011


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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.



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


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Chen Kegui sentenced to three years, three month in jail

Chen Kegui (陈克贵), nephew of Chen Guangcheng, has been sentenced to three years and three months in jail, “for assaulting officials”, reports the Guardian.

After Chen Guangcheng’s succesful getaway from his home (and house arrest) in Dongshigu village, Shandong Province, in April this year, local officials and public security people burst into the home of Chen Guangcheng’s older brother Chen Guangfu (陳光福), whose son (Chen Guangcheng’s newphew) Chen Kegui held a kitchen knife in self defense, Radio Taiwan International (RTI) describes the case. Three people got injured.

Yinan County Court (沂南縣法院) found Chen Kegui guilty of what – according to RTI’s wording – would seem to amount to “intentional murder” or “intentional manslaughter” (故意杀人), and jailed him for three years and three months.

If that was the verdict, and if this article by Human Rights Watch (HRW) of October 15 this year was correct, hopes that the police accusation (“intentional manslaughter”) would turn into “intentional infliction of injury” at the state prosecutor’s office apparently didn’t materialize.

Chen Kegui’s jail sentence doesn’t quite reach that of Hu Jia, who – in an unrelated case – was sentenced to three years and six months in prison in 2008, after three months in detention while awaiting trial. In Hu’s case, the charges were about “subversion of state power”. What spelled factors for Hu not to get the maximum sentence of five years appears to be unknown.

Chen Kegui’s detention while awaiting trial (his whereabouts at the time appear to have been unknown) amounted to about seven months.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland criticized the proceedings for lacks of basic due process guarantees. Among other issues, Chen Kegui wasn’t

fully represented by legal counsel of his choosing. He didn’t have an opportunity to present his own defense. So this was a deeply flawed legal process.

Indeed, according to German daily Die Welt, (quoting news agencies), Chen Kegui’s defenders were appointed by the state.



» Kurzer Prozess, Die Welt, Nov 30, 2012
» Huanqiu: Just a Grassroot issue, May 3, 2012
» Support Network, BBC, May 19, 2012


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Britain Shreds a Fundamental Principle of Diplomatic Relations

Ecuador has accused the UK of making a “threat” to enter its embassy in London to arrest Wikileaks’ Julian Assange, reports the BBC. There seems to be no clear confirmation from the British government, but a statement that the Foreign Office

can lift the embassy’s diplomatic status to fulfil a “legal obligation” to extradite

Assange. Britain may have the legal means to arrest Assange inside the Ecuaorian embassy – the BBC cites the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987.

The act followed the 1984 Libyan embassy siege, and included an option to remove diplomatic status from premises which are being misused. In the Law Gazette, Carl Islam argued that

[f]or both legal and political reasons the Act is unlikely to be used in a crisis situation, but this cannot be ruled out altogether.


[..] even if the authorities were sure of their facts by taking action they ran the risk that the inviolability of the premises might subsequently be upheld in the courts with the embarrassing result that their action would have been illegal.

There were East Germans who took refuge in West Germany’s permanent mission in East Berlin – East Germany respected the permanent mission’s immunity. Czechoslovakia respected the West German embassy’s immunity when East Germans took refuge there. China respected the U.S. embassy’s immunity when Chen Guangcheng, and, decades earlier, Fang Lizhi and his wife, sought refuge there.

To avoid misunderstandings: this is no Assange-Chen-etc. comparison. This is a comparison on how countries respect or disrespect some basics of international relations. If Assange is reason enough to invade Ecuador’s embassy in London, any other reason will be good enough, too. All it takes will be the the passage of domestic legislation to the liking of the host country’s government.

How “special” does the British government think it is? It is unlikely that there will be fundamental conflicts with Sweden which would even remotely justify this action. Maybe Assange’s supporters are right to suspect that Assange’s final and forced destination, after leaving the embassy, would be America.



» Why Wikileaks can’t Work, Dec 1, 2010


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Wang Xia: Unswerving Birth Control

China’s family-planning commission director Wang Xia (王侠) told a working session that China would unswervingly adhere to the family-planning policy, the BBC Mandarin website quotes Chinese press. Stabilizing the low birthrate was a priority. However, malignant cases of unlawful administration had to end. Apparently, Wang also mentioned induced labor in late months of pregnancy (大月份引产, in order to kill the child) in the context of unlawful administration.



» Feng Jianmei, Wikipedia, accessed July 21, 2012
» Wang Xia, China Vitae, accessed July 21, 2012


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Beijing’s Foreign Affairs: Don’t Mislead your Public Opinion – Cement it

The following is a random choice, mostly from the Chinese foreign ministry’s (FMPRC) website. Emphasis within blockquotes by JR.

1) (Then) FMPRC spokesman Liu Jianchao‘s comments on the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission Annual Report (2007):

Turning a blind eye to China’s political, economic and social progress and achievements in other fields, the Commission clings to its biased position, grossly interferes in China’s internal affairs and vilifies China. Their attempt to mislead public opinion and set obstacles for China-US extensive cooperation will lead nowhere.

2) Foreign minister Yang Jiechi on public diplomacy with Chinese characteristics, February 17, 2011:

Through public diplomacy, the government tries to influence public opinion and public opinion in turn affects government policy-making. The third is its incremental process. Due to constant changes in the domestic and international situation, public diplomacy is a long-term, complex effort.

3) FMPRC reporting State Councillor Liu Yandong‘s  remarks on public opinion in China-Russian relations, October 11, 2011:

On a new historical starting point, China expects to join hands with Russia to further tap the potential of the Committee and its subcommittees, improve cooperation mechanisms, develop cooperation programs, expand cooperation areas and raise cooperation level, promote the bilateral cooperation in the fields of education, culture, health, sports, tourism, media, movie and file and between the young people and consolidate the social and public opinion foundation of China-Russia friendship.

4) FMPRC quoting from Chairman Hu Jintao‘s Three-Point Proposal to Vietnam, November 12/13, 2011:

Third, expand cultural exchanges and cement the basis of public opinion for the China-Vietnam friendship.

5) FMPRC reporting Wu Bangguo‘s  remarks on public opinion in China-Vietnam relations, January 2012:

He called on the two sides to continue to consolidate the foundation of public opinion for the development of China-Vietnam relations, and to inject new vitality into parliamentary exchanges.

6) FMPRC reporting Wu Bangguo’s  remarks on public opinion in China-UAE  relations, March 29, 2012:

Both sides should expand exchanges on education, culture and tourism, cement the public opinion basis of long-term friendship and push China-UAE relations to a new level.

7) FMPRC reporting State Councillor Liu Yandong’s  remarks on public opinion in China-British relations, April 16, 2012:

The two countries should transcend the differences in social systems, historical and cultural traditions, and stages of development, eliminate misunderstanding and enhance mutual trust through people-to-people exchanges so that the friendship between China and the UK has a more solid social and public opinion foundation.

8) Regular Foreign Ministry press conference, April 19, 2012 (spokesman Liu Weimin):

Over the past days, some Philippine senior officials misled public opinion by making repeated remarks that the Philippines has sovereignty over the Huangyan Island, which is in disregard of historical facts and legal evidence.

9) Regular Foreign Ministry press conference, May 3, 2012 (spokesman Liu Weimin, reacting to Hillary Clinton‘s statement on Chen Guangcheng):

What the US side should do now is not to continue confusing public opinion or evading or covering up by all means its responsibility for the incident, nor should it continue its interference in China’s internal affairs.

10) Regular Foreign Ministry press conference, May 14, 2012 (spokesman Hong Lei):

Q: Philippine Foreign Secretary del Rosario reportedly said that the Philippines would never agree on China’s demands on the Huangyan Island and diplomatic dialogues between the two sides would at most reach a “temporary agreement” which could not help solve the issue fundamentally. The Philippines asks for a comprehensive resolution of the Huangyan Island issue from political, legal and diplomatic aspects. What is your comment?

A: China’s principled stance on the Huangyan Island issue has been made clear. China demands the Philippines to earnestly respect China’s territorial sovereignty and do not take measures that will escalate and complicate the situation. In particular, diplomatic negotiations should be adhered to in resolving the current situation, rather than continuing to incite public opinion and send contradictory messages.

11) FMPRC reporting Wu Bangguo’s  remarks on public opinion in Chinese-Dutch relations, May 17, 2012:

Third, both sides should further deepen humanities exchanges, implement a new round of MoUs on cultural, education, scientific and technological cooperation, enhance tourism cooperation and build up understanding and friendship between both peoples through colorful and diverse forms of exchange activities so as to cement the public opinion basis of state relations.

12) China Daily: Regular Foreign-Ministry press conference, June 21, 2012:

BEIJING – A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman on Thursday urged the Philippine side to stop making remarks that will instigate the public opinion.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei made the remarks at a regular press briefing when asked to comment on Philippine President Benigno Aquino’s recent remarks on Huangyan Island.

Aquino said Wednesday that the Philippine Air Force will soon fly over Huangyan Island to check the situation in the area.



» Vietnamese Maritime Law Illegal and Invalid, CNTV, June 22, 2012
» Let’s Talk about War, June 21, 2012


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Weekender: how Chen Guangcheng is Unharmonious, and why he was Freed Anyway

Harmony promoters in China, ideally, ridicule non-conformistic behavior, to the degree a situation appears to demand. A child won’t be argued with, and won’t be refuted. Rather, it will be told that “you must not be that way”. If need be, a mischief will be shamed.

But maintenance or restauration of harmony can also be a fight to the finish. That’s true for many families, every triad, every brotherhood, and it’s true within the CCP.

The way the CCP “educates the masses” (or “public”) is also a process with many different options. Huanqiu Shibao, a governent mouthpiece for a (comparatively) angry readership, is diverse. Once in a while, readers will be encouraged to believe in the partyline or the party’s correct leadership, with stuff like this:

There is no contradiction between emancipation of mind and trust in the party’s central committee. Without emancipation of minds, trust in the central committee would be mere slavish conformism. It is exactly for the diversity we have, for having other options, that we truly discover that trusting the party’s central committee, implementing the party’s road map, is more reliable than any other method other people may teach us, and more able to create the conditions that make the country and the individual develop.

Which seems to come pretty close to philosophy, theology, or a simplified way of advocating a second naivete (after the era of the Great Helmsman who butchered the country until 1976). If there are parallels between religion and socialism with Chinese characteristics, this is one of them.

And on other occasions, after a lively anti-Japan campaign for example, some reconciliatory words appear to be in order, as an indication to the crowd that even virtuous “patriotism” shouldn’t come without occasional restraint.

And again, once in a while, one might quote from a – basically suitable – foreign article to say things that one doesn’t want say in ones own role as a propagandist (or kindergarten teacher), but which is deemed an article worthy to be communicated to the target readership, so as to encourage a somewhat relaxed or more objective attitude.

It’s only a fight to the finish once all other means haven’t achieved their goal. This certainly owes to some ethics, and it’s practical, too (weighing the costs and effects of an approach). Shock and awe – at least “ideally” – is an exception.

In any case, nowhere is there a principle which is right in all circumstances, or an action that is wrong in all circumstances. The method we used yesterday we may discard today and use again in future, there are no fixed right and wrong to decide whether we use it or not,

That’s how the Liezi appears to choices like these. If a Chinese official were prepared to discuss the authorities’ handling of dissidents publicly, he might quote this one. If American consular officials understood their Chinese counterparts correctly, back in May this year, there were “no remaining legal issues directed at” Chen Guangcheng. To get rid of the embarrassing case, and to make the end to Chen’s (illegal) house arrest plausible, the obvious had to be stated.

As my view of the Chinese classics is at least as simplified as Huanqiu Shibao’s view of Paul Recoeur‘s second naivete, issues of no rights or wrongs in all circumstances – in my view – may help to explain why Chen wasn’t jailed again. And they may help to explain why the CCP can – however unconvincingly – preach a concept of “a country under law”, but act – however convincingly – as if there was no law.

When it comes to harmony, the Huainanzi has / have this to say:

When the lute-tuner strikes the kung (gong) note (on one instrument), the kung note (on the other instrument) responds (ying). (…) This results from having corresponding musical notes in mutual harmony.

Before he was jailed, and later placed under house arrest, Chen, as a self-taught legal activist, had brought his own instruments and tunes to the courtroom, as he defended victims of state transgressions. But he didn’t play along with the usual script, and as the CCP continued to confuse a courtroom with a concert hall, he was kicked out of there, and jailed when he continued to “stir trouble”.

The authorities reckoned that Chen might continue to act “disgracefully” after his release from jail – that he would continue to endanger the “harmony”. But to state this openly was impossible, because the disgrace was on the bureaucracy, not on Chen.

Snowwhite: the Queen's Mirror

I’m beautiful. I’m beautiful. I’m beautiful, it’s true (click picture for source).

That’s also why propaganda can’t simply “shame” dissidents publicly, even if this should be the first choice to restore harmony.

Concerning Chen Guangcheng, tries to shame him or his supporters were certainly made, but an apparent experiment by Shan Renping – also at Huanqiu Shibao – to this end went rather wrong, judging by the comments that followed.

To shame dissidents, one would need to have public debates with them – and to refute them. And even if the CCP believed it had a chance to gain from such an approach, the question who would gain or lose in that kind of process isn’t only too important to leave that to chances – just as China wouldn’t take disputes with south-eastern neighbors to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. You just won’t argue with “children”.

It’s not that China would mind a more harmonious global tune. It’s just that, globally and at home, the CCP wants to be the composer, the conductor, and the artistic director.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Another Escape from Dongshigu

Chen Guangfu (陈光福), Chen Guangcheng‘s older brother, has escaped to Beijing, reportedly to find help on behalf of his son, Chen Kegui (陈克贵).

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