Posts tagged ‘China Global Times’

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Huanqiu Shibao: Imagine (Mother of all Bombs, Father of all Bombs)

Main Link: Can “Mother of all Bombs” frighten Pyongyang?, Huanqiu Shibao, April 14. Links within blockquotes added during translation.

American military stationed in Afghanistan threw a large airbomb, referred to as “mother of all bombs”, in the country’s eastern mountaineous regions in the evening of Thursday local time. Said bomb’s weight was 9.8 tons, with a capacity amounting to 11 tons of TNT, and it is the largest non-nuclear bomb used by America in combat so far.

驻阿富汗美军当地时间星期四晚上在这个国家的东部山区投掷了一枚有“炸弹之母”之称的大型空爆炸弹,该炸弹重9.8吨,爆炸当量相当于11吨TNT,它是迄今美国在战斗中使用的最大威力非核爆炸装置。

The White House and the US military stationed in Afghanistan said that the use of this precision-controlled blockbuster had been directed at “Islamic State’s” fighting groups’ tunnel and cave systems and eliminated said facilities, and maintained the momentum of American troups striking at “Islamic State”. President Donald Trump said in a brief comment that this had been another successful action carried out by the US military. He also mentioned North Korea, saying that [the issue of] the “mother of all bombs” being a signal to Pyongyang or not wasn’t important.

白宫及驻阿富汗美军表示,使用这种精确制导的巨型炸弹旨在摧毁“伊斯兰国”武装分子的隧道和洞穴系统,该炸弹是清除上述设施同时保持美军打击“伊斯兰国”势头的合适武器。特朗普总统发表简短评论说,这是美军又一次成功的袭击行动。他还提到了朝鲜,表示“炸弹之母”是不是向平壤发出一个信号,这不重要。

Trump hasn’t been president for three months yet, but the US military has launched at least two attacks that drew global attention. One was the bombing of the Syrian air force base, and the other was the “mother of all bombs” in Afghanistan. Trump is clearly more spontaneous in using US military might than previous US president Obama, and displays some indulgence and pride in American military power.

特朗普担任总统还不到3个月,美国军队发动的攻击至少已经两次受到全球瞩目,一次是轰炸叙利亚空军基地,一次就是在阿富汗使用“炸弹之母”。特朗普对使用美国军力比前任总统奥巴马显然更加随意,他表现出对美国军事力量的某种迷恋和骄傲。

Even the younger president Bush, who conducted two wars, went through detailed procedures prior to war, and the wars were part of an extensive range of expectations. In contrast, both the bombing of a Syrian airbase and throwing the “mother of all bombs” in Afghanistan came very suddenly. If use of armed force continues at the current frequency and pace, president Trump may be “in constant war”, becoming remembered as the “warring president”.

即使打了两场战争的小布什总统,每一次开战之前都经过了繁琐程序,而且当时的开战处于广泛的预期之中。然而无论攻击叙空军基地还是往阿富汗山区扔“炸弹之母”,来的都很突然。如果按照这样的频率和速度使用武力,那么特朗普总统就要“不停打仗”了,他说不定最终会作为一名“战争总统”被历史记住。

The “mother of all bombs” is a very cruel kind of weapon, consuming a large amount of oxygen in the process, within the range of its explosion. As its destructive force is very large, its so-called “precision control” only applies in a locational sense. In fact, its probability to harm innocent is comparatively high. In the current fields of anti-terrorism operations, with military and civilians being located next to each other, the US military incessantly kills and wounds ordinary people. By using the “mother of all bombs”, Washington doesn’t appear to have taken the issue of innocent fatalities very seriously.

“炸弹之母”是一种非常残忍的武器,它能在爆炸过程中消耗周围的大量氧气,由于破坏力极大,它的所谓“精确制导”只是投放地点意义上的,实际上伤及无辜的概率更高。如今与反恐有关的战区,大多是军民相间的,美军不断在伊拉克、阿富汗等地炸死炸伤平民,现在又把“炸弹之母”投入使用,看来华盛顿并没真把伤及无辜当回事。

Obviously, the purpose of this bombing has been about testing the effect of this weapon. At the same time, it has added a new antic to US military deterrence. Presumably, similarly mountainous North Korea felt the shock waves from far-away Afghanistan. If the US military could, by throwing this bomb [in Afghanistan], get the Pyongyang regime under control, that wouldn’t be a bad thing. However, its likely effect will be contrary.

这次投弹显然有试验该武器实战效果的目的,同时也是给美国的军事威慑增添一个新噱头。想必同样多山的朝鲜感受到了这场遥远阿富汗大爆炸传过来的冲击波。如果美军扔了这个炸弹,就真能把平壤政权给镇住,那倒也不错。然而它所产生的效果很可能是相反的。

Pyongyang’s main line of thought these years has been that if you have no nuclear weapons, the future of their regime will resemble Saddam Hussein’s and Gaddafi’s. The “mother of all bombs” may once again irritate and mislead Pyongyang, about how important it would be to increase the explosive capacity they themselves can master.

平壤这些年来只有一个思维,那就是如果没有核武器,萨达姆和卡扎菲政权的下场就是平壤政权未来的样子。“炸弹之母”可能再次刺激并误导平壤:提高自己所能掌握的爆炸当量是多么重要。

Various analysts believe that Pyongyang has done all the preparation for a sixth nuclear test, and that its top leader Kim Jong-un will now make his final deliberations: to set it off, or not. The latest bit of information conveyed to Pyongyang by the US military won’t contribute to rational choices by Pyongyang.

多方分析认为,朝鲜已经做好举行第六次核试验的各种准备,其最高领导人金正恩可能正在做最后的权衡:引爆还是不引爆。美国军方传递的最新信息对平壤做出理性抉择没有好处。

Reportedly, there is still a non-nuclear bomb that exceeds the “mother of all bombs”. That is the Russian high-efficiency vacuum bomb, called “father of all bombs”. Imagine what would happen if Russia used it to strike at the “Islamic State” in Syria, and how America and the West would condemn Moscow.

据报道,世界上还有比“炸弹之母”爆炸当量更大的非核炸弹,它就是被称为“炸弹之父”的俄罗斯高效率真空炸弹。设想一下,如果是俄罗斯在打击叙利亚“伊斯兰国”组织时扔一颗“炸弹之父”,那么美国和西方舆论会不会往死里骂莫斯科。

America appears to have the privilege to do whatever it wants to do, but this, very probably, means all kinds of danger, rather than more security.

美国像是有想怎么做就怎么做的特权,然而这对世界来说很可能意味着某种危险,而不是更多的安全。

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Related

Defending the decision, CNN, April 14, 2017
“MOAB killed dozens”, NY Times, April 14, 2017
Warning to North Korea, KBS Seoul, April 14, 2017
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Monday, March 27, 2017

Populism in China (1): The Downfall of Bo Xilai

There is no Weltinnenpolitik yet, but there are cross-civilizational trends.

The City of Red Songs

There would be no second chance. Gerhard Schröder, former chancellor of Germany, was in a hurry in June 2011, on the sidelines of a forum in southwestern China’s metropolis of Chongqing. He was therefore lacking the time to attend one of the red-song nights that were customary there. But he still pleased his interlocutors with a German proverb: Where people sing, you can settle down – wicked people sing no songs.

In full, the red-songs custom advocated by Chongqing’s party chief Bo Xilai was Singing revolutionary songs, Reading classic books, telling stories and spreading mottos. There would be nine more months of that before Bo Xilai was toppled by his CCP comrades.

A Hudong article explained the activity at the time. It was a mass concept, started in Chongqing in 2008, which was greeted with enthusiasm there, and elsewhere in China. The concept wasn’t outdated, because

if a country and a nation have no correct thought and advanced culture, it will lose its backbone. The current deep changes of the economic system, the structure of society, and the profound adjustment of interest patterns must be reflected in the ideological field. There is diversity in peoples’ minds, and although the mainstream is positive and healthy, while some peoples’ material life conditions have improved, spiritual life is somewhat empty. To change that condition, and to ensure a safe passing of the torch in the cause of the party and the country, the red flag must be righteously upheld, the ideology of Marxism must be consolidated in its guiding position within the ideological field, and the attractiveness and the cohesive power of socialist ideology must be strengthened.

一个国家和民族没有正确的思想、先进的文化,就会失掉主心骨。当前,经济体制深刻变革、社会结构深刻变动、利益格局深刻调整,必然反映到意识形态领域。人们的思想日趋多元多变多样,虽然主流积极健康向上,但一些人物质生活改善了,精神生活却有些空虚。为了彻底改变这种状况,保证党和国家的事业薪火相传,必须理直气壮地举红旗,不断巩固马克思主义在意识形态领域的指导地位,增强社会主义意识形态的吸引力和凝聚力。[Links within these lines omitted.]

According to the HuDong article, CCP politbureau member and Chongqing party secretary Bo Xilai (薄熙来) had deplored the phenomenon of young people who sang decadent songs (唱 .. 靡靡之音, chàng mímí zhī yīn), who were reading “fast-food” kinds of literature (读 .. 快餐文化, dú kuàicān wénhuà), told “low and vulgar stories” (讲 .. 低俗故事, jiǎng dīsú gùshì), and “spread pornographic or dull scripts/pieces” (传 .. 黄段子、灰段子, chuán huáng duànzi, huī duànzi).

So, apparently, there were dirty songs, too. Maybe things weren’t as simple as Schröder had believed. At least one  reader and forum commenter of China’s Huanqiu Shibao didn’t trust Schröder’s expertise and wrote:

OK, listen [to the red songs], you won’t comprehend them anyway. It will be as if you were listening to folk songs.

听吧,反正听不懂,就当听民歌了

The “Chongqing Model” was controversial, at least in the perceivable medial public of China. The party elite wasn’t entirely in love with Bo’s pretentious neo-Maoism. A vice president of Law School at China University of Political Science and Law was quoted by the English-language party mouthpiece “Global Times”:

There have been 104,000 “Red Song Concerts” in Chongqing, with 80 million participants. It cost 1,500 yuan ($231) per person for onsite renting and costume expenses, 210 million yuan in total. Adding in the offwork compensation and transportation the final cost is 270 billion [sic – probably means million – JR] yuan. Why don’t they use the money for health insurance?

Bo Xilai’s “Populism”, 2007 – 2012

At the grassroots, however, Bo’s leadership style appears to have worked (maybe it still does). The Chongqing Model wasn’t just about folklore, red or otherwise.

Chongqing (Sichuan province) residents set off firecrackers today, celebrating the execution of the provincial-level city’s former chief justice Wen Qiang (文强), cqnews.net reported in July 2010. The Wall Street Journal explained:

Wen Qiang was put to death following the rejection in May by China’s Supreme Court of an appeal of his conviction on charges including bribery, shielding criminal gangs, rape and inability to account for millions of dollars in cash and assets, according to Xinhua news agency. Xinhua didn’t say how Mr. Wen was executed.

Punching black crime and uprooting vice (拳打黑除恶) was the name of the campaign that cost Wen his life – according to the historical records as Bo would have it, he and his police chief Wang Lijun not only battled against gangs, but infiltrated cadres, too.

The now defunct website Chinageeks published an English translation of Zhang Wen, a former chief editor of the Xinhua magazine Globe:

Bo Xilai and the “northeast tiger” Wang Lijun entered Chongqing and started a war and began a “battling corruption and evil” movement that has gradually begun to spread nationwide and worldwide. This action is in line with the people’s wishes, and at the same time, also in line with what central authorities wish.

At first, the public opinion was very one-sided; no one could find any fault with Bo. The controversy and difference of opinions came with the case of Li Zhuang. Proponents of the democratic rule of law questioned and criticized the legality of Chongqing [court] proceedings, but Bo Xilai’s supporters hold that punishing lawyers who defend “bad people” is appropriate.

Bo Xilai’s wife Gu Kailai is a high-level lawyer who has been working for many years. The two have been together for many years and Bo himself was once the head of the Ministry of Commerce, and thus often negotiated international legal issues with foreign opponents. Because of this, Bo Xilai should have a solid conception and knowledge of the law.

But in the end, in the Li Zhuang case, the organs of justice in Chongqing left a bad impression that they might violate legal procedures. Precisely because of this, some people’s opinions on Bo Xilai changed dramatically. I myself once wrote an essay expressing pity that Bo Xilai hadn’t turned out to be the sort of high-quality modern politician [we had hoped].

Chongqing was a small pond for a big fish – Bo Xilai appeared to have hoped for a permanent seat in the CCP’s central politburo, but landed the job as party secretary of Chongqing instead. Chongqing wasn’t an insignificant city, but it was far from where central Chinese power was. Only an alernate politburo membership linked him to Beijing. From 2008, his Maoist song events raised nationwide attention, and even beyond China – Henry Kissinger apparently leapt at the chance Schröder had missed.

In 2011, Bo Xilai started his second campaign for a permanent seat at the CCP’s top table. While the Economist found Bo’s style refreshing, it noted nervously that

The region’s party chief, Bo Xilai, is campaigning for a place on the Politburo Standing Committee in next year’s leadership shuffle. He looks likely to succeed. Like every other Chinese politician since 1949, he avoids stating his ambitions openly, but his courting of the media and his attempts to woo the public leave no one in any doubt. Mr Bo’s upfront style is a radical departure from the backroom politicking that has long been the hallmark of Communist rule and would seem like a refreshing change, were it not that some  of his supporters see him as the Vladimir Putin of China. Mr Bo is a populist with an iron fist. He has waged the biggest crackdown on mafia-style gangs in his country in recent years. He has also been trying to foster a mini-cult of Mao, perhaps in an effort to appeal to those who are disillusioned with China’s cut-throat capitalism.

Bo didn’t appear to aim for the top job as secretary general, the Economist noted, as that position appeared to have been reserved for Xi Jinping. Indeed, Xi succeeded Hu Jintao as party secretary general in autumn 2012, and as state chairman in March 2013.

Bo Xilai’s plans didn’t work that smoothly. In November 2011, a British citizen, Neil Heywood, died in a hotel in Chongqing. Given that Chinese courts don’t work independently from the party, the circumstances of his death can’t be considered resolved. A Chinese court found Gu Kailai, Bo Xilai’s wife, guilty of killing Heywood, and after only one day in court, she got a suspended death sentence.

The BBC‘s China editor Carrie Gracie tried to shed light on the circumstances of Bo Xilai’s rise and fall, and the role Heywood’s death played in the latter, but didn’t find too many interlocutors. Instead, she presented a Rocky Horror Picture Show of elite power struggles with Chinese characteristics. Bo Xilai as the avenger of the common man, a crashing, media-savvy scourge of organized crime, who addressed the public directly, without party media filtering. That hadn’t happened since Mao’s days – “think Donald Trump”.

With support from local police chief Wang Lijun, who fancied leading roles in martial-arts television, too, Bo had exercised a regime that labeled opponents as mafiosi and not only jailed them, but expropriated them too, in favor of Chongqing’s budgets.

It isn’t contested that Bo Xilai and Wang Lijun prosecuted the real or supposed gangsters’ advocates, too, with questionable means. Gracie quotes one of these advocates, Li Zhuang (see above, Zhang Wen’s criticism of Bo Xilai), as Li describes how he was arrested by Wang Lijun personally:

The scene was so over-the-top, loads of police cars surrounding the plane, riot police in helmets and camouflage, armed with submachine guns. I asked, “Why the big show? Is it Obama’s state visit or are you capturing Osama Bin Laden?”

We were surrounded by a huge scrum of reporters. He wanted to show his authority on camera. He was in a trench coat, hands in his pockets. He said: “Li Zhuang, we meet again.”

There were admirers of Bo and Wang, there were critics and enemies, and there were people who detested the two. But at the grassroots, the fans appeared to be numerous. According to Gracie, there are still many.

Making inconvenient lawyers disappear was no unique feature of Bo Xilai, however. The party leadership with Xi Jinping at the core has been proving for years that to them, the rule of law is a theroretical nicety they may or may not care about.

Gracie reduces the causes of conflict between the noisy polit-soloist Bo Xilai and the basically “collectivist” leadership in Beijing on a personal rivalry between princeling Bo and princeling Xi.

Certainly, top politicians’ egos can hardly be overestimated, and when they are Chinese, ostentatious modesty shouldn’t fool anyone.

But Xi alone wouldn’t have gotten Bo under control. Neither with the sudden Neil-Heywood scandal – that became known as the Wang-Lijun incident in China after the police chief fled into the next US consulate and being passed on to the central authorities from there (but only after having spilled the beans). Nor otherwise.

The question suggests itself if Bo Xilai’s career wasn’t finished in summer 2011 anyway, given wide-spread disapproval among the party elite, of his egotistic leadership style in Chongqing.

“Unity is strength” was one of the “red songs” Bo Xilai had them sing in Chongqing (above: October 8, 2009). But it wasn’t only the Xi faction that saw a lack of just that on Bo’s part. Bo was putting himself forward, and that had been a taboo during all the post-Mao years.

He didn’t denigrate his leading comrades – appearances like that of Donald Trump as a campaigner, cursing fellow members of his political class, would have been inconceivable. But putting himself into the limelight (and casting it away from others) amounted to the same thing, by Chinese standards. Besides, given his anti-corruption renown, sanctimonious as it may have been, could have threatened his “comrades”. A tribun within their ranks – that couldn’t work.

Xi Jinping and his predecessor Hu Jintao are said to be rivals. But within the Hu camp, Bo’s populism didn’t seem to resonate either. On the contrary: Wen Jiabao, chief state councillor (aka “prime minister”) during the Hu Jintao era, had been a tireless, even if unsuccessful, advocate of political reform, way beyond economics or technology.

At a press conference in March 2012, after the closing ceremony of the annual “parliament” plenary sessions, Wen warned that China wasn’t immune against another cultural revolution. That John Garnaut, an Australian correspondent in Beijing, got the opportunity to talk with Hu Dehua, one of Hu Yaobang’s sons, may also count as an indication that the comparatively liberal factions in the party leadership were at least as sick of Bo Xilai’s revolutionary operas, as were the Xi supporters.

Garnaut, two weeks after Wen’s press conference, in an indirect account of his conversation with Hu Dehua*):

Hu Dehua told his father how pessimistic he felt about his country’s future. Hu Yaobang agreed that the methods and ideologies of the 1987 anti-liberalization movement came straight from the Cultural Revolution. But he told his son to gain some historical perspective, and reminded him that Chinese people were not joining in the elite power games as they had 20 years before. He called the anti-liberalization campaign a “medium-sized cultural revolution” and warned that a small cultural revolution would no doubt follow, Hu Dehua told me. As society developed, Hu Yaobang told his son, the middle and little cultural revolutions would gradually fade from history’s stage.

From there, everything went fast. Still in March, Bo was dismissed as Chongqing’s party chief. He also lost his alternate membership in the politburo. In summer 2012, his wife Gu Kailai got her commuted death sentence, and in September 2013, Bo was sentenced to life in prison – based on the usual charges for unrigged politicians: corruption.

Is there a Chongqing Heritage?

At first glance, Bo Xilai’s “populism” or “Maoism” is finished. But Bo counted as a champion of many Chinese from the political left. A comment in German weekly Die Zeit, in September 2013, saw the verdict against Bo as a signal from the top that resistance against economic reform was futile.

To assess Bo Xilai’s political heritage objectively. The CCP may be beyond the era when beaten opponents were airbrushed from all photos and records. But the question about how publicly or privately-owned China’s economy should be might impose itself with any questions about Bo Xilai, and the now seven-member standing committee of the politburo can’t use such questions.

A political scientist of Beijing University, He Weifang (贺卫方), hinted at problems in assessing the Chongqing Model’s performance, from 2007 to 2012:

It is generally believed that the so-called “Chongqing Model” is mainly shaped by three aspects: “red culture” on the political level, “targeted actions against dark and evil forces in Chongqing“, and the reduction of the income gaps between the poor and the rich. The most criticized aspects are the former two, although there is support for the two of them in Chongqing and elsewhere. The third aspect isn’t that controversial. However, all data published concerning the efficiency of the measures taken to narrow the income gap are actually issued by the Chongqing authorities, and therefore lacking neutral assessment. Also, we can see that the whole process is strongly government-led, whose focus isn’t on creating a market logic of equal opportunities. If this approach will or will not lead to mistakes in financial policies, including the rural land policies‘ impartiality, is also questionable. And then there are concerns about life today being lead on future earnings, short-term inputs being made to curry favor with the public, which may come at high future costs.

答:一般认为,所谓的重庆模式主要由三方面内容构成:政治层面上的红色文化,执法层面上的“打黑除恶”以及民生方面的缩小贫富差距。最受诟病的是前两者,虽然在重庆和其他地方,似乎也有一些人人对于“唱红”和“打黑”表达支持。第三方面内容相对较少争议。不过,那些举措究竟对于缩小贫富差距产生了怎样的效果,目前得到的信息都是由重庆当局发布的,缺少中立的评估。另外,我们可以看到整个过程是在政府强势主导下进行的,其重点并非创造机会均等的市场逻辑。这种做法是否会带来财政决策中的失误,包括重庆所推行的农村土地政策的公正性,都是大可怀疑的。还有寅吃卯粮的隐忧,短期内的高投入讨好了民众,但是却需要未来付出巨大的代价。

If Bo Xilai was a populist, one of Donald Trump’s kind, or Putin’s, or Neil Farage’s, or whoever, one has to ask oneself how much influence he has maintained over Chinese politics to this day. After all, populists like Geert Wilders aren’t ineffective, merely because they can’t lay their hands on the imperial regalia.

When looking at European populism – that’s only a snapshot, of course -, one can get the impression that populists may not be elected, but they do leave marks on politics, from Merkel’s Willkommenskultur back to the traditional Christian Democrats’ policies, and Britain’s Brexit, implemented not by its original proponents, but by Theresa May, who had used to be a lukewarm supporter of Britain’s EU membership.

Populism is hardly ever the common peoples’ business, but that of the elites. The battles are fought within the political class, as observed by Hu Yaobang in the late 1980s. That is about as true in Europe. However, these battles within the superstructure may create or intensify certain trends in the public mood – and once policies have moved sufficiently into the “populist” direction, the support for these parties wanes, and the electorate turns back to the long-established parties. After all, Joe Blow doesn’t want to look like an extremist.

When Xi Jinping announced China’s new role as a guardian of free trade at the Davos forum in January, German Handelsblatt China correspondent Stephan Scheuer hailed the party and state leader’s “dressing-down for populists”. In Davos, Xi had become “a pioneer of fair-minded globalization”.

What could be beginning to show in China is a comparatively strong Maoist component in propaganda, as long as this doesn’t come at the cost of China’s privileged, and as long as this doesn’t require substantial reallocation of means or wealth to poor classes of population, or laggard regions. But whenever the name “Bo Xilai” should appear in any token event, the exorcists will be just around the corner.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Is the Truth losing in Today’s World? (And if Yes: How so?)

That’s what Richard Stengel, currently undersecretary for public diplomacy at the State Department, believes, according to a Washington Post article:

“We like to think that truth has to battle itself out in the marketplace of ideas. Well, it may be losing in that marketplace today,” Stengel warned in an interview. “Simply having fact-based messaging is not sufficient to win the information war.”

And, adds the author of the WaPo article, David Ignatius:

How do we protect the essential resource of democracy — the truth — from the toxin of lies that surrounds it? It’s like a virus or food poisoning. It needs to be controlled. But how?

Fascinating stuff – fascinating, because it feels like a déjà vu to me (and I’m wondering for how many others who have a memory of some decades).

The Genius leads the spectators: engineering of consent in its early stages in applauding his works.

The Genius leads the spectators: engineering of consent in its early stages.

When I studied and worked in a fairly rural place in China, I had a number of encounters with – probably mainstream – Chinese worldviews. That was around the turn of the century, and these were probably the most antagonistic, and exciting, debates I ever had, as the only foreigner among some Chinese friends. Discussions sometimes ended with the two, three or four of us angrily staring at each other, switching to a less controversial topic, and bidding each other a frosty good-bye.

But there was a mutual interest in other peoples’ weird ideas. That’s why our discussions continued for a number of weekends. At at least one point, I felt that I had argued with overwhelming logic, but my Chinese interlocutor was unimpressed. I blamed Chinese propaganda for his insusceptibility, but apparently, propaganda was exactly his point: “If propaganda helps to keep my country safe, I have nothing against propaganda,” he replied.

I found that gross. The idea that propaganda should just be another tool, something you might volunteer to use and to believe in, so as to keep your country and society stable, was more alien to me than any Chinese custom I had gotten to know.

The idea that truth is, or that facts are, the essential resource of a (working, successful) democracy looks correct to me. Democracy can’t work without an informed public. But when it comes to German mainstream media, I have come to the conclusion that they aren’t trustworthy.

I agree with the WaPo article / Richard Stengel that the US government can’t be a verifier of last resort. No government can play this kind of role. The Chinese party and state have usurped that role, but China is known to be a low-trust society – that doesn’t suggest that they have played a successful role as official verifiers. While many Chinese people do apparently think of their government as the ultimate guardian of national sovereignty and individual safety from imperialist encroachment, they don’t seem to trust these domestic public security powers as their immediate neighbors.

And the ability of any Western government to be a verifier ends as soon as an issue involves state interests, government interests, or governing parties’ interests.

The US government as a verifier of last resort concerning the Syria war? That idea isn’t even funny.

The German government as a verifier of last resort when it comes to foreign-trade issues (within the European Union, or beyond)? Bullshit.

But what about the American media? I don’t have a very clear picture of how they work, but it would seem to me that US television stations usually address the issues that earn them most of the public’s attention. If that is so, it should be no wonder that Donald Trump profited more from media attention, than Hillary Clinton.

But if tweets, rather than platforms, become the really big issues, the media must have abandoned the role that has traditionally been ascribed to them.

German (frequently public-law) media are strongly influenced by political parties, and apparently by business-driven foundations, too.

I don’t know if something similar can be said about American media, but even if only for their attention-seeking coverage, they can’t count as well-performing media either.

What about “social” media? According to Stengel, as quoted by the Washington Post, they give everyone the opportunity to construct their own narrative of reality.

Stengel mentions Islamic State (in 2014) and Russian propaganda campaigns as examples. In the latter’s case, he points to the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and other political organizations during the elections in particular.

I believe that Stengel / Ignatius may have half a point. Russia – provided that they were indeed behind the leaks – only targeted Clinton’s campaign, not Donald Trump’s.

But then, wouldn’t it have been the task of the US media to unearth either campaign’s dirty secrets? Russian propaganda performed, even if only selectively, where US media had failed. It exposed practice in the Democratic Party leadership that was hostile to democracy, but acting under the guise of defending it.

How should citizens who want a fact-based world combat this assault on truth, Ignatius finally asks, and quotes Stengel once again, and addressing the role of “social media”:

The best hope may be the global companies that have created the social-media platforms. “They see this information war as an existential threat,” says Stengel. The tech companies have made a start: He says Twitter has removed more than 400,000 accounts, and YouTube daily deletes extremist videos.

Now, I’m no advocate of free broadcasts for ISIS videos. But if the best hope is the removal of accounts and videos by the commercial providers, it would seem that there isn’t much hope in human power of judgment, after all – and in that case, there wouldn’t be much hope for democracy as a model of government.

Ignatius:

The real challenge for global tech giants is to restore the currency of truth. Perhaps “machine learning” can identify falsehoods and expose every argument that uses them. Perhaps someday, a human-machine process will create what Stengel describes as a “global ombudsman for information.”

Wtf? Human-machine processes? Has the “Global Times” hacked the WaPo?

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Related

Why Wikileaks can’t work, Dec 1, 2010

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Huanqiu Shibao: Will Turkey turn East?

Chinese media provide relatively very little opinion on the coup attempt in Turkey and its aftermath, and prefer to quote foreign media. However, the choice of information sources may indicate where Chinese media pay special attention, and the article translated here ends with a bit of expertise from Chinese academia.

The following is a translation of a press review of sorts, originally from Huanqiu Shibao, and republished by china.com, a news portal in a number of languages (including Mandarin), that is apparently operated by Global Broadcasting Media Group, which in turn is operated by China Radio International (CRI). Global Broadcasting Media Group, as CRI’s investment vehicle, is also known as “Guoguang”. The following article – or my translation of it, for that matter – may or may not reflect the quoted sources accurately.

Links within blockquotes added during translation.

The BBC reported on July 20 that the purge of so many people had led to concern among international observers, and that the United Nations were working on making sure that Turkey maintained the essence of the rule of law, and protected human rights. Germany, on July 20, condemned the growing purges by the Turkish government even more directly. Government spokesman Steffen Seibert said, “we see actions almost daily that damage the rule of law, with measures whose force exceeds the seriousness of the problems.” Some of the measures were deeply disturbing, and unconstitutional.

英国广播公司20日报道称,如此众多的人员被清洗已经引起国际观察家的关注,联合国在努力确保土耳其坚持法治精神和维护人权。德国20日则更为直接地对土耳其政府升级整肃行动表示谴责。德国政府发言人斯特芬·塞伯特说,“我们几乎每天都看到破坏法治的新举动,措施力度超出了问题的严重性”,有些措施是令人深感不安、违背宪法的做法。

Associated Press quoted EU Parliament speaker Martin Schulz as saying that Turkey was now carrying out “retaliation” against opponents and critics, and the debate about the reintroduction of the death penalty was “absolutely worrying”. The EU has warned that such a move would spell the end of EU accession negotiations with Turkey.

美联社援引欧洲议会议长舒尔茨的话说,土耳其正在对反对者和批评者实施“报复”,围绕恢复死刑展开的争论“非常令人担忧”。欧盟已经警告,这样做将意味着土耳其加入欧盟谈判的终结。

A White House statement on Tuesday said that President Barack Obama, during a telephone conversation with Erdogan, “had urged respect for the law while investigating those involved in the coup, in a way that would strengthen public trust in the democratic system.” However, the problem US-Turkish relations were facing go far beyond the protection of rule of law and of democracy.

美国白宫在周二的声明中说,总统奥巴马在与埃尔多安的电话中“敦促对参与政变者的调查应该遵守法律,并以增强公众对民主体系信心的方式进行”。但对美国来说,美土关系需要面对的问题远不止维护法治和民主。

According to a “New York Times” report, Turkish officials, including the foreign minister, demanded on July 19 that America extradite Fethullah Gülen. On that day, the White House confirmed it had received electronic documents from Turkey that was meant to serve as evidence. However, it was not clear if a formal request for extradition had already been made. “The ministry of justice will examine this material in accordance with the extradition treaty between our two countries,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. CNN said that according to the extradition treaty between America and Turkey, treason [as a reason for extradition] did not apply, but Turkey had given exactly that reason for its request. When asked if the Turkish government had any evidence for this, Turkish deputy prime minister Kurtulmus said that Turkey knew clearly that Gülen was the manipulator behind the scene, just as America knew that bin Laden had been the conspirator of “9-11”.

据美国《纽约时报》报道,包括外长在内的土耳其官员19日要求美国交出居伦。当天,白宫证实已经收到土耳其提供的作为证据的电子文档。但不清楚土方 是否已经正式提出引渡要求。“司法部和国务院将根据两国之间的引渡条约审视这些材料。”白宫发言人厄内斯特说。美国有线电视新闻网(CNN)说,根据美土 达成的引渡协议,叛国罪并不适用,但土耳其正是以此提出引渡居伦。在被问及土政府对此有何证据时,土副总理库尔图尔穆说,土耳其明确知道居伦在幕后操纵, 就像当年美国知道拉登是“9·11”主谋一样。

David Ignatius, a “Washington Post” columnist, writes that within the clamor of the coup aftermath, the US-Turkish relations, which had already been tense, could get into new difficulties, with the demand of extraditing Gülen as the most immediate test. Given the US and EU concern about the Erdogan government’s human rights record, this issue would be complicated. There were serious differences between the two sides about strategies of strikes against IS in Syria. During the past few years, the American-Turkish relations had come across as those between friends who were breaking up.

美国《华盛顿邮报》专栏作家大卫·伊格拉蒂尔斯撰文说,在政变之后的喧嚣中,华盛顿和安卡拉之间业已紧张的关系将陷入新困境,要求遣返居伦是最直接 的考验。考虑到美欧此前对埃尔多安政府人权记录的批评,此事将相当复杂。在叙利亚打击IS的战略上,双方已经分歧严重。近几年的美土关系向外界展示了一对 朋友如何一拍两散。

Could Turkey become an ally of Russia? Russia’s [online paper] Vzglyad writes in an editorial that Turkish prime minister [Yildirim] had already said, Ankara could review Turkish-US relations if America refused to extradite Gülen. Russia’s Izvestia quoted the Russian Academy of Sciences Oriental Institute’s Gadzhiev as believing that while it was premature to say that Turkey would completely turn to Russia, there could be some change. German Global News Network*) commented that a coup was now changing Turkey, and possibly the Middle East. Turkey didn’t trust America any longer, and the Middle East’s future could become more complicated.

土耳其可能因此成为俄罗斯的战略盟友吗?俄罗斯《观点报》以此为题评论说,土耳其总理已经表示,安卡拉或因美拒绝交出居伦而重新审视与美国的关系。 俄罗斯《消息报》20日援引俄东方学研究所专家加日耶夫认为,虽然说土耳其的对外政策将全面转向俄罗斯为时尚早,但会有所变化。德国全球新闻网评论说,一 场政变正在改变土耳其,也将改变中东。土耳其不再信任美国,中东的未来将更加复杂。

But Li Weijian [apparently a researcher from Shanghai International Issues Research Institute – not previously mentioned in the article] thinks that Erdogan’s intention is to broaden his presidential powers and pave the way for the implementation of domestic policies and of diplomacy, and this wouldn’t necessarily constitute fundamental regional or global change. In an interview with “Huanqiu Shibao” he said, Erdogan had always maintained [an approach of] benefitting from West and East alike, and would keep to this strategy.

但李伟建认为,埃尔多安的意图在于扩大其总统权力,为内政外交政策的实施铺平道路,这未必会对地区关系和世界格局构成彻底改变。他在接受《环球时报》记者采访时说,埃尔多安一直以来秉持在西方与中东间左右逢源,这一战略会继续。

(Huanqiu Shibao special correspondents from Turkey, Germany, Egypt – Ji Shuangcheng, Qing Mu, Wang Yunsong and Huanqiu Shibao reporter Bai Yunyi, Ren Zhong, Zhen Xiang, Liu Yupeng]

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*) Not known to me, or not under this name – JR

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Huanqiu Editorial on Hague ruling: “The Chinese People will inevitably support the Government”

The following is a translation from an editorial published online by Huanqiu Shibao. It refers to today’s (Tuesday’s) decision by the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

The terms used in this translation may not be accurate legal language, be it because of my limited translation skills, be it because of the nature of the article which may be more about purposeful agitation and reassurance, than about legal issues.

Links within the blockquote were added during translation.

The arbitration court’s result on the South China Sea arbitration case, announced in the afternoon Beijing time, is even more extreme, more shameless, than predicted by many, and may be rated as “the worst version” people could imagine, and we believe that Chinese people in their entirety will resent this illegal ruling, and the peace-loving global public will also be absolutely astonished about the arbitration court’s seriously partial approach which will very likely add to regional tensions.

南海仲裁案仲裁庭北京时间12日下午公布了仲裁结果,它比之前很多人预测的更加极端、无耻,堪称是人们可以想象的“最坏版本”,相信全体中国人都会为这一非法裁定感到愤慨,世界爱好和平的公众也会对仲裁庭这一严重偏袒一方,并且很可能加剧地区局势紧张的做法而十分诧异。

According to an unofficial translation, this arbitration result, by denying the nine-dotted line, acts drastically against China’s sovereignty within [this line], and also denies its historical foundation. It denies that there were any exclusive economic zone around any of the Spratly Islands which amounts to denying the Taiping Island its due status. It also openly claims that the [artificial] extension of the islands were without legal legitimacy, denouncing China for obstructing the Philippines’ economic activities within the nine-dotted line, and denouncing China’s interception of Philippine vessels can only exacerbate maritime tensions.

根据一个非官方的中文翻译版本,这一仲裁结果借助否决南海九段线内中国主张权益来对其做了釜底抽薪,而且否定它的历史依据。它否定南沙群岛中任何一岛有专属经济区,这等于否定了太平岛的应有地位。它还公然宣称中国在南沙扩建岛礁不具有合法性,指责中国拦阻菲律宾在九段线内开展经济活动,指中国拦截菲律宾船只加剧了海上紧张。

If one goes by this ruling, the maximum that would remain for China in the Spratly Islands would be a few isolated spots, no exclusive economic zones, and even some territorial waters linking the islands and reefs could be denied. In large part, the Spratlys would be covered by Philippine and Vietnamese exclusive economic zones.

如果按照这一裁决,中国在南沙群岛最多只剩下一些孤立的点,既无专属经济区,甚至可能连岛礁周围的一些领海都将被剥夺。而南沙海域大部分将被菲律宾和越南的专属经济区覆盖。

It would also mean that Chinese construction on these islands and reefs could not be continued, and if the Philippines and Vietnam had sufficient power, they could carry out “demolitions” of already existing Chinese construction. From here on, all maritime resources would be the Philippines’ and Vietnam’s; China’s economic activities and all other activities would have to withdraw from that area.

它还意味着,中国的岛礁建设无法持续,如果菲越有足够的力量,甚至可以对中国已建的岛礁搞“强拆”。今后那片海域的资源将归菲越所有,中国的经济活动和其他活动都要退出那个区域。

This is a brazen denial of China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime interests. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea doesn’t apply for the standards and adjustments of territorial sovereignty – this should be one of the main principles of international conventions and treaties. Now, by this contentious redefinition [my understanding of the line – may be wrong – JR], this comes full circle by delimiting the dispute with this forcible ruling, this is shameless overstepping of authority and abuse of authority, and cruel trampling on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and for the entire international law system.

这是对中国领土主权和海洋权益的悍然否定。联合国海洋法公约不适用于领土主权的调整和规范,这是该公约缔约时的首要原则之一。现在仲裁庭通过对这些争端的再定义,兜了个圈子对中菲领土和海洋划界争端强行裁决,这是无耻的越权和滥权,是对海洋法公约以及整个国际法体系的粗暴践踏。

Not only China’s government, but the entire Chinese society will never accept this “arbitration result”. We will show an unwavering attitude of non-participation and non-acceptance, and nobody should think that anything would shake us.

不仅中国政府,整个中国社会都决不可能接受这一“仲裁结果”,我们对仲裁“不接受、不参与”的态度坚定不移,谁都休想撼动我们。

The so-called “arbitration result” is wasted paper, but if America, Japan and other countries will use it to exert actual military and political pressure on China, the Chinese people will inevitably support the government as it fights back. We firmly believe that when China’s law enforcement is embattled, China’s military force will not remain silent when their appearance is needed.

所谓“仲裁结果”就是废纸一张,但美日等国如果利用它向中国施加现实军事政治压力,中国人民必将支持政府予以针锋相对的回击。相信中国的执法力量严阵以待,中国的军事力量同样不会在需要他们站出来时沉默。

We hope that China’s reasonable activities of all kinds will not be affected in any way, and we also hope that Chinese society, in the face of all storms and waves, including geopolitical provocations, will maintain their determination, and let the daily affairs of this country continue as normal. We believe that the government is able to meet these challenges and to make us believe in this country’s strength will guarantee the unmoved continuation of our correct path.

我们希望看到,中国在南沙地区的各种正当活动不受任何影响,也希望看到中国社会在各种包括地缘政治挑衅在内的各种风浪面前保持定力,让这个国家的运行节奏一如往常。相信我们的政府有能力应对这些挑战,也让我们相信这个国家的实力能够确保我们岿然不动。

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Related/Updates

» Beijing engineers coverage, BBC, July 12, 2016
» Why we cover our Ears, BBC, July 10, 2016

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Friday, February 26, 2016

Korean Peninsula: Deploy THAAD if you have to, but provide China with an Explanation

The prospect of a North Korean nuclear arsenal can’t be promising in Beijing’s view – but appears to be preferrable to a scenario where the regime in Pyongyang would collapse and give way to South Korea’s political system, with US military close on its heels.

Given that, it is no great surprise that China doesn’t agree to sanctions that could endanger the very survival of the North Korean regime. And given that, the sanctions Beijing agreed to anyway, in negotiations with Washington’s mission to the UN that were concluded on Thursday, look as if they were unusually biting after all, even if stopping short of causing Pyongyang fatal or near-fatal calamities. After all, the sanctions’ effect depends not only on what the Security Council agrees to, but also on how far North Korea’s trading partners, including China, are prepared to go in implementing them.

What made Beijing agree to the resolution draft that should be voted on shortly? Not least fear of a regional arms race.

A Foreign Ministry official confirmed that China’s Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin requested a meeting with South Korea’s Ambassador to Beijing Kim Jang-soo,

KBS World Radio, South Korea’s foreign broadcasting service, reported on Febuary 9.

The official told Seoul-based Yonhap News Agency that China conveyed its stance on the launch of the THAAD negotiations during that meeting. Asked about what stance China had expressed, the official said it is not appropriate to reveal content from consultations held via diplomatic channels,

the KBS report continued.

The confirmation came as China’s Foreign Ministry announced on Monday that Liu urgently summoned the South Korean ambassador and protested the launch of South Korea-U.S. negotiations on deploying the U.S. THAAD system on the Korean Peninsula.

In her speech to parliament, South Korean president Park Geun-hye also conjured THAAD:

The Government is making sure our military readiness posture is solid and is also making thorough preparations for nonmilitary provocations including cyber- attacks and acts of terrorism in public places.

To maintain robust deterrence against the North, the Government is enhancing the Korea-U.S. combined defense capability and engaging in consultations with the United States to improve our alliance’s missile defense posture. The start of formal consultations to deploy the THAAD system to US Forces Korea, as announced on February 7, is also part of these efforts.

Eleven days earlier, Park had been on the phone, talking to Chinese party and state leader Xi Jinping. The conversation didn’t appear to bear fruit, and certainly not the way Park had hoped for. China was “still unprepared” to “think about this in larger strategic terms”, Yonhap newsagency quoted Jonathan Pollack of the Brookings Institution. Pollack was also quoted as pointing out

how much effort Park has put in to strengthen relations with China and build personal ties with Xi, including her attendance at a massive Chinese military parade in September that was shunned by Western leaders.

“President Park’s expectation, I think legitimate expectation, was that she wanted a different answer from China. She’s made a lot of commitment to China,” the expert said, noting that Park risked domestic and international criticism to attend the September parade.

“She expected something in return, and so far, she has not received that,” he said.

Broadly speaking, Seoul’s plans for tough sanctions against Pyongyang had been frustrated. But there was a pressure point on Beijing. While Seoul had reportedly long been reluctant – or ambiguous – about the idea of deploying THAAD as part of American military defense, the South Korean leadership quickly warmed up to it during the past six or seven weeks.

And Beijing – not terribly successfully, it seems – tried to find an effective line in its communications with South Korea. In a meeting with Kim Jong-in, leader of South Korea’s largest opposition party, Chinese ambassador Qiu Guohong (邱国洪) – quoted by Chosun Ilbo as in turn quoted by Huanqiu Shibao

[…] emphasized that Sino-South Korean relations could thus be negatively affected, as mentioned at the beginning of this [Huanqiu, that is] article. The [Chosun Ilbo] report says that Qiu Guohong had expressed the Chinese position in three points. Firstly, the South Korean government says it would limit the radar reach and lower the performance of ‘THAAD’, but the Chinese government cannot possibly believe that. As a friend, China can believe South Korea’s promises, but the problem is that America has all powers in the deployment, the upgrades, and adjustments made to ‘THAAD’. In the end, China and Russia would become target objects, too.” Secondly, this [THAAD] issue would destroy the regional strategic balance, cause an arms race, and fire up nervousness and disquiet.” Ambassador Qiu reminded the South Korean side of the question of how South Korea’s seucrity should, under such circumstances, be guaranteed? His last point was that “the South-Korean-American consultations concerning ‘THAAD’ had, to some extent, dispersed the international community’s unanimous reaction concerning sanctions against North Korea. Without this issue, maybe there would be a new, passed, UN resolution already.”

[…..] 强调,中韩关系可能因此受到负面影响,这就出现了本文开头的一席话。报道称,邱国洪就中方立场大致说明了3点:首先,“韩国政府虽然声称会缩短预警雷达的探测距离,降低‘萨德’性能,但中国政府无法相信。作为好朋友,中国可以相信韩国的承诺,但问题是美国拥有部署、升级、调整‘萨德’的所有权利,最终中国和俄罗斯也会成为瞄准对象”;其次,该问题会“打破地区的战略均衡,引发地区军备竞赛,助长紧张和不安”。邱大使提醒韩方,如果出现这样的局面,韩国的安全是否能得到保障?最后一点是,“韩美协商‘萨德’问题相当于分散了国际社会对朝鲜制裁的一致应对。如果没有该问题,新的联合国决议案可能已经获得通过”。

The South Korean government wasn’t amused and summoned Qiu to the foreign ministry on Wednesday to discuss his comments during his talks with the country’s opposition leader. This was no dramatic response to a questionable Chinese move, but an unusually strong reaction by South Korean standards, in its relations with Beijing. And there is no indication that Seoul will drop the idea of THAAD deployment again, after what appears to have been a successful game of hardball with Beijing, forced upon the clestial kingdom by three unruly barbarians: America, South Korea, and – not least – the North Korean “ally”.

On Thursday, the day when Beijing’s and Washington’s missions to the UN agreed to the resolution draft on sanctions against North Korea, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi apparently struck a more conciliatory tone, saying that the decision was ultimately up to South Korea, and China understood the desire of the United States and South Korea to ensure the defense of their own countries. However, China’s legitimate security concerns also needed to be taken into account, Reuters quoted Wang as saying – an explanation must be provided to China.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Pope and China: “Inexhaustible Wisdom”

In Order of Publication (from January 2015 to February 2016)

Ma Ying-jeou, speaking at a Dinner banquet in Italy, March 18, 2013

Pope Francis is the first pontiff from Latin America, as well as the first from the Society of Jesus. He is humble and amicable, shows special concern for the poor, and leads a frugal life, traveling by public transport to and from work. He also attaches great importance to international poverty reduction. Meanwhile, the Republic of China has provided humanitarian relief, through the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, to those affected by the Italian earthquake. We have aided refugees in the border areas of Syria and South Sudan. Assistance has also been extended to Mali, Niger, Mauritania and Chad for national greening projects aimed at combating desertification, as well as to Colombia for a community reconstruction plan. These all clearly reflect the role that the ROC plays as a provider of humanitarian aid.

Huanqiu Shibao online, January 20, 2015

Huanqiu online report, Ge Peng reporting — According to an Agence-France Presse report on January 20, Pope Francis, on his return flight from the Philippines, told reporters that the reason for not having met the Dalai Lama in December hadn’t been because he “feared China”, but just because no arrangements for a meeting had been made.

【环球网报道 记者 葛鹏】据法新社1月20日报道,教皇方济各20日从菲律宾飞回梵蒂冈后对记者表示,他在去年12月时未会见达赖喇嘛并不是因为“害怕中国”,只是并未安排会见。

The Dalai Lama had been in Rome last month [i. e. in December] to attend a Nobel Peace Prize winners’ summit. Francis said: “Some papers wrote that the reason I hadn’t met him was out of fear of China. This proposition is wrong. He has previously suggested a meeting, but the time hasn’t come yet, and we are still in touch.”

达赖喇嘛上个月曾到罗马参加诺贝尔和平奖获奖者峰会。方济各说:“有的报纸说我没和他见面是因为害怕中国,这种说法是错误的,他此前曾提出和我会谈,但还没到时候,我们还在接触。”

When asked about Sino-Vatican relations, he said: “Chinese people are polite, we are also very courteous, and we are slowly approaching each other.

当被问及中国和梵蒂冈的关系时,他说:“中国人很有礼貌,我们也很客气,我们在慢慢接近。”

On his flight back from Manila and across China, just as he did with other countries [whose airspace] he passed, he sent a telegram to Chinese state chairman Xi Jinping, expressing his good wishes to the Chinese people.

在方济各从马尼拉飞回经过中国时,他同飞经其他国家一样,向国家主席习近平发了一封电报,向中国人民表示祝福。

Dalai Lama candels October U.S. Visit, September 25, 2015

His Holiness the Dalai Lama is in the United States for a medical check-up. The doctors have advised His Holiness to rest for the next several weeks. As a result, His Holiness’ planned October U.S. visit has been cancelled. We deeply regret the inconvenience caused by this decision and apologize to all the people who have worked so hard in organizing the visit as well as to the public. We thank you for your support and understanding.

The Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama

[Note: there apparently were no meeting plans – the Dalai Lama would have visited Philadelphia after Pope Francis]

Ma Ying-jeou responds to Pope’s 2016 World Peace Day Message, January 27, 2016

The president said as peace also requires consensus and collaboration, he proposed the East China Sea and South China Sea Peace Initiatives to address tensions in the Asia-Pacific region.

Based on clearly defined concepts, those initiatives “call on all parties concerned to exercise restraint, shelve disputes and use peaceful means such as consultation and dialogue to resolve conflict,” he added. The president said over the last seven years, he has done his utmost to encourage peaceful interaction between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait and overcome numerous obstacles.

In particular, his November 2015 meeting with mainland Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Singapore serves as a positive example of settling disputes through peaceful means for other regions facing similar difficulties.

Taiwan Today / RoC Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Guanchazhe online, February 3, 2016

This translation doesn’t necessarily mirror the pope’s actual wording. The Asia Times interview can be found there. The Asia Times reporter Guanchazhe referred to is Francesco Sisci.

According to foreign media reports, Roman Catholic Pope Francis, on the eve of China’s traditional New Year – Spring Festival – expressed long-standing admiration for China’s “great culture” and “inexhaustible wisdom”, and his “best greetings and wishes to Chairman Xi Jinping and all Chinese people”. This was another step that raised speculation about the Vatican and China rapidly improving relations.

据外媒报道,在中国传统新年——春节来临之际,罗马天主教皇方济各(Pope Francis)在接受媒体采访时,向中国的“伟大文化”和“无穷尽的智慧”表达了长久以来的“钦佩之情”,表达了“对习近平主席和所有中国人民最美好的问候与祝福”。此举进一步增加了梵蒂冈和中国可能会迅速改善关系的猜测。

The Hong Kong [paper] “Asia Time”, on February 2, published online the content of an interview conducted with Pope Francis on January 28.

教皇方济各在1月28日接受了香港《亚洲时报》(Asia Time)的采访,这家媒体星期二(2月2日)通过互联网公布了采访的内容。

Francis said in the interview that to him, China had always been place to think of when greatness was mentioned, that [he saw] China as a great country.

方济各在采访中说,中国对于他来说一直是一个说到伟大就会想到的地方,是一个伟大的国家。

Vatican Holy See spokesman Lombardi said that the Pope’s interview was significant. However, the situation of Catholicism in China and the issue of bishops in China appointed by the Holy See weren’t mentioned in the interview.

梵蒂冈教廷新闻官龙巴蒂(P. Federico Lombardi)表示,这次教皇的采访意味深长。不过,有关中国天主教状况及教廷任命中国主教的话题没有在这次采访中提及。

That the Pope shows friendliness to Beijing isn’t news: [events] from his greetings from a flight through Chinese airspace in August 2014 when he sent a greetings telegram to Xi Jinping, to a Vatican delegation’s visit to Beijing in October 2015 showed the Vatican’s gradual rapprochement to Beijing.

教皇方济各向北京示好并非新闻:从2014年8月飞越中国领空、向习近平发问候电报,到梵蒂冈代表团2015年10月访问北京,这一切都显示着梵蒂冈与北京的渐行渐近。

[…]

In his speeches, Francis repeatedly called for world peace, tolerance and respect in his speeches. This includes tolerance and harmony between different ideological camps like East and West. During his visit to South America in September 2015, he met with Cuban leader Raoul Castro and revolutionary leader Fidel Castro. Also, according to American sources, the Vatican played a key role in the diplomatic “thaw” between Washington and Havana.

方济各还在讲话中反复呼吁世界的和平、宽容与尊重。这其中也包括东、西方不同意识形态阵营的宽容与融合。在他2015年9月访问南美期间,他与古巴领导人劳尔·卡斯特罗以及革命领袖菲德尔·卡斯特罗会面。另外据美国方面称,方济各和梵蒂冈在华盛顿与哈瓦那的外交“融冰”中发挥了关键作用。

The “Asia Time” reporter addressed the Chinese family planning issue, as the Pope resolutely opposes abortion. Francis first discussed issues of aging [populations] in different regions, and of [people not wanting] children, and then talked about China. “Not having many children is of course very painful, because this way of an upside-down pyramid, the parental and great-parental generations all lean on one child. This is fatiguing, harsh, and confusing, it’s not natural.” But the Pope also said that nowadays, there was some change in China in this regard.

亚洲时报》记者在采访中提及中国的计划生育问题,因为天主教的教义坚决反对堕胎。方济各先是谈到世界各地的人口老龄化和不愿意要小孩儿问题,然后才讲到中国。“不能多要小孩这个问题,当然非常令人痛苦,因为这样金字塔倒了过来,父辈、祖父辈的负担都在一个孩子身上。这是累人的、苛刻的、令人迷惘的,不是自然的。”但是教皇也表示,中国在这方面如今有所改变。

Francis said, “so long as there is improvement and onward movement, I’m not worried, because this testifies that they are making [or creating] history. I believe that China moving forward is their great position. … to be in charge of choosing ones own road is healthy and useful. We have taken this road, it hasn’t led through perfectly, so others may be opened.”

方济各说,“只要是在进步、在向前走,我就不担心,因为这证明了他们正在创造历史。我认为,中国人在向前走,这也是他们伟大的地方。……对自己选择的路负责是健康、有益的。我们走了这条路,没有完全走通,所以现在其他可能被开辟出来”。

At the end of the interview, the Pope “send his best greetings and wishes to Xi Jinping and all Chinese people.” He said that “I hope they will never lose their historical awareness that they are a great nation, that they will not forget their nation’s history of sublime wisdom, that they will make their own considerable contributions to the world. The world relies on your extraodinary wisdom. On the eve of this new year, I hope you will keep this awareness, that you will continue to move forward, and together with everyone make a common cause of taking care of our common home and common people.

在采访的结尾,教皇向“习近平主席和所有中国人民致以最美好的问候与祝福”。他表示,“我祝愿他们永不丢失自己是个伟大民族的历史意识,不忘记自己民族智慧的崇高历史,体认到自己必能对世界贡献良多。世界仰赖你们超凡绝伦的智慧。在这新年之际,愿你们怀着这份意识,持续向前迈进,与众人同心协力照料我们的共同家园和黎民百姓。”

The BBC quoted sources saying that before publication of Francis’ [interview], a Chinese delegation had visited the Vatican in January. According to other unconfirmed news, the Vatican has already reached an agreement with Beijing, allowing the Pope to appoint bishops in China.

英国广播公司引述的消息说,在教皇方济各的上述谈话发表之前,曾经有一个中国代表团在今年1月访问过梵蒂冈。证实的消息说,梵蒂冈已经同北京达成协议,允许教皇在中国任命主教。

Some comments say the Vatican’s settlement with Beijing was welcomed by many Chinese Catholics, but was also met with many [religious practitioner’s] opposition worrying that the Vatican was sacrificing their interests.

有评论指出,梵蒂冈同北京的和解受到许多中国天主教徒的欢迎,但是也受到许多教徒的反对,他们担心梵蒂冈牺牲他们的利益。

Concerning relations with China, there are also two opposing points of view within the Vatican. One group believes that treating China requires flexibility, thus earning Catholic followers greater freedoms. Another group believes that China’s regime has shown absolutely no change.

梵蒂冈内部有关中国问题也存在着两种对立的观点。一派认为,对待中国应该表现出灵活性,以便能让中国的天主教徒获得更大的自由。但是另一派认为,中国的政权根本没有发生变化。

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Related

Garden of Growing Imams, Sept 17, 2014
Retired Pope’s unachieved Dream, Mar 13, 2013
Certifying Living Buddhas (in Chinese), Garze Daily, Dec 2010

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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

“Internet Plus” Updates

As Chinese economic growth isn’t quite itself these days, the innovation buzzword keeps growing. State chief councillor Li Keqiang‘s Internet Plus action plan, described in some detail on March 5 last year in his work report to the Third Session of the 12th “National People’s Congress”, is being revived as a news item and covered here by the Washington Post. The article describes an internet town near Haikou as a place where little else can be done:

According to the local government, the Internet Town project will cover the entire Shishan township in 2018, with the completion of an online trading platform and an operation center as well as other facilities. The project will be a major engine for local growth, creating a new source of income for farmers along with the tourism industry that features volcanic tours.

Meantime, the English-language “Global Times” focuses on places where a lot of things that make sense could be done, and where a number of building owners (you can’t say landlord in China) fell for the business concepts of kids whose first profession was to be their daddies’ sons (reportedly, anyway), and who burnt their business war chests rather than using them mindfully. But obviously, the article is generally optimistic about a phoenix [that] will rise from the ashes of the first wave of China’s tech boom.

Chinese innovation may not be exactly what Japan’s industry is waiting for, but Chinese growth is. Ikuo Hirata, a columnist with a number of Japanese papers, suggests that Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe should stop counting on China’s economy as a booster for Abenomics, and that the government should lower its growth target.

Hirata also warns that

[w]hile working to reduce excess capacity in the steel and other traditional sectors, Chinese policymakers are also trying to help high-tech industries, such as robotics, sophisticated machine tools and aerospace, catch up with their rivals in advanced economies. The technological prowess of a country that has a successful manned space mission under its belt should not be underestimated.

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Related

» Traditional industries, new bones, April 17, 2015

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