Posts tagged ‘communication’

Friday, April 17, 2015

A Chinese concept of Internet Revolution: a Need for Traditional Industries to be Reborn with New Bones

A CCTV op-ed, republished here by Enorth (Tianjin), picks up the official buzzword of “Internet plus”, or “互联网”+ in Chinese. The author is a frequently published commentator beyond CCTV, Qin Chuan (秦川).

Main Link: “互联网+”不是加工具 而是转观念

On March 5 this year, chief state councillor Li Keqiang, in his work report, spelled out the action plan for the formulaton of “Internet plus”. From there, “Internet plus” has become one of the most popular terms. There are people who welcome the age of “Internet plus”, and there are others who believe that this year is “the first year of the traditional industry’s internetization”, but there are also people who keep asking questions about why it should be “Internet plus” rather than “plus the internet”.

今年3月5日,李克强总理在政府工作报告上提出制定“互联网+”行动计划。自此,“互联网+”成为最流行的词语之一。有人欢呼“互联网+”时代来了,还有人认为今年是“传统行业互联网化元年”,不过也有人追问,为什么是“互联网+”,而不是“+互联网”?

The enthused tractor driver

Riding into the incomparable Tomorrow

Internet plus had become a concept, writes, Qin, which had already “become hot”. It had the potential of making the Chinese economy take off. In the first quarter’s seven percent of economic growth and the first quarter’s smooth beginning for the national economy, the role played by “Internet plus” was not clearly quantifiable, but certainly discernible.

“Internet plus” isn’t “plus the internet” because the subjects are different, and because their effects are also different. “Plus the internet” stays at the concept of “traditional industries plus the internet” and sees the internet as a tool, but what “internet plus” signals is actually “internet plus all kinds of traditional industries”. The internet isn’t just a carrier, it’s the main frame, it doesn’t play a supporting role, but the indispensible and leading role.

“互联网+”不是“+互联网”,这是因为主体不同,作用也不同。“+互联网”仍停留于“传统业态+互连网”的观念,把互联网视为工具,而“互联网+”传递的信号则是“互联网+各个传统行业”,互联网不只是载体,而是主体,它不是配角,而是当仁不让的主角,不可或缺。

In the second industrial revolution, electricity had led to great changes in many industries, writes, Qin, but the internet wouldn’t only help raising productivity and efficiency as electricity had one; the internet in itself was industrialization (互联网本身已经产业化). Internet companies which had attained some industrial attributes and inspired industrial upgrades should not be underestimated.

Qin urges a broader perspective. The internet was about merging, sharing, transformation and improvement. It was “not an addend, but a multiplier”. Traditional industries were facing big changes, and even needed to be “reborn with new bones” (脱胎换骨)*): Just as scholars say, new technologies and abilities can completely change traditional industries’ efficiency and abilities, and form new operations and business models.

That’s why we can say that “Internet Plus” may bring a technological revolution of far-reaching significance, which may permeat all aspects, not only topple traditional industries, but also provide traditional industries with new life. The shame is that when it comes to “Internet Plus”, quite many people just can’t see its value, or remain superficial about its significance. Reports say that the most serious bottleneck in China for “Internet Plus” are anachronistic concepts [or viewpoints]. At present, rather serious inflexible points of view exist in our countries’ traditional industries, as can be seen in the phenomenon of copying what is already there, a lack of essential understanding and use of cloud computing and services in big data infrastructure, and there is no broad change towards a consumer-led business pattern either.

从这个意义上说,“互联网+”或将带来一种意义深远的技术革命,它渗透在各个方面,不仅颠覆了传统行业,更赋予了传统行业新的生命。遗憾的是,对“互联网+”,不少人并非意识到它的价值,或者将其意义表面化。据报道,中国“互联网+”存在的一大瓶颈是观念落伍:目前我国的传统产业存在较为严重的观念固化现象,体现在因袭原有的信息化老路,对云计算、大数据等基础设施服务缺乏必要的了解和应用,也没有适应以消费者为主导的商业格局的转变。

We suffered from aphasia during several technological revolutions in the past. In this new technological revolution, we must not be marginalized again. The good thing is that the central authorities have already recognized the great significance of “internet plus”, and promoted it systematically. According to reports, the state has already established new industry venture capital funds at a value of 40 billion Yuan. More capital must be raised and integrated, to assist in beefing up industrial innovation.

我们曾在前几次技术革命中失语,在新的技术革命中绝不能再被边缘化。好在中央早已意识到“互联网+”的重大意义,并从制度安排上推动之。据悉,国家已设立400亿元新兴产业创业投资引导基金,要整合筹措更多资金,为产业创新加油助力。

The article doesn’t suggest that anything would be certain, however. The author is careful enough to suggest that “Internet Plus” could lead to these or those desirable results, and his article ends with a maybe (或许), not with a certainly (肯定):

By changing outdated ideas, by embracing “Internet Plus”, we may have an extraordinary tomorrow, with deep changes from China’s economy to Chinese life.

改变落伍观念,拥抱“互联网+”,或许我们将拥有不同凡响的明天,从中国经济到生活状态,各个方面都将深刻改变。

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Notes

*) 脱胎换骨 could also be translated with the more “civil” term of re-inventing themselves, but to be reborn with new bones is a much older saying in China than the business philosophy reflected in self-reinvention. Self-criticism, sometimes necessary for survival when facing accusations of being a bad or weak revolutionary, for example, included the preparedness to be “reborn with new bones”. To be “reborn” that way is also the demand Haiyun, the wife of Cadre Zhang in Wang Meng‘s novel “Butterfly”, is facing after having praised “wrong” novels as an academic lecturer. And the man making these demands on her is Cadre Zhang himself:

All you can do now is to lower your head and to confess your guilt, to start anew, to flay your face and to wash your heart, to be reborn and to change your bones!
只有低头认罪,重新做人,革面洗心,脱胎换骨!”他的每个字都使海云瑟缩,就像一根一根的针扎在她身上,然后她抬起头,张思远打了一个冷战,他看到她的冰一样的目光。

That’s to say, the choice of words reflects a blend of politics and economics, and, indeed of fear and survival. But when isolated from history, it probably amounts to this quote (Andy S. Grove):

For now, let me just say that a strategic inflection point is a time in the life of business when its fundamentals are about to change. That change can mean an opportunity to rise to new heights. But it may just as likely signal the beginning of the end.”

And yes, Only the Paranoid Survive is the title of the book.

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Further Reading

» The Trickies Part, Slate, Jan 21, 2015
» Address Censorship, SCMP, March 8, 2015
» Deutschland will digital, DW, March 16, 2015
» Work Report, China Daily, Mar 5, 2015
»  Work Report (hours later), Mar 5, 2015
» Angst vor Zusagen, Die Zeit, Aug 19, 2014
» Digital Germany 2015, Nov 10, 2010
» The Digital Germany paper (in German)
» Destruction or Development, Mar 15, 2010

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Presidential Elections 2016: Tsai Ing-wen is back

It’s Tsai Ing-wen again, running as the DPP’s nominee for president in Taiwan, and I think she’s a great choice. If she makes it into the presidential palace, expect no ballyhoo (she’s as lousy an actor and speaker just as the incumbent is)  – but expect social reforms that actually benefit the people.

Next time, we will make that final mile, she said in January 2012. Chances are that she and her supporters will make it indeed.

Monday, April 13, 2015

A Look at the Rumors about China Radio International

There has been some talk about plans among China’s leaders to close down a number of foreign-language services – the German-language department among them -, at China Radio International (CRI), China’s international broadcaster. Keith Perron, a radio producer in Taiwan, claimed inside knowledge and suggested that, according to this quote by Glenn Hauser‘s World of Radio, March 26:

At last month’s meeting of the committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference in Beijing, one of the subcommittees, headed by Zhang Dejiang, who is also chairman of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, will form a twelve-member board to look into the effectiveness of shortwave as a [unreadable] platform for China Radio International. Members include leaders from various former ministries, including the [unreadable], culture, propaganda, SARFT, and the central committee.They may be looking at shortwave cuts made in Australia, Canada, Russia, UK, and the US. Last year the Chinese government spent over 600 mega Yuan on the shortwave, that’s about 100 mega dollars US. It includes not only CRI, but China National Radio [aka Chinese People’s Broadcasting Station, CPBS — JR]. They will be looking at staff reductions. CRI currently has a staff of 8,500. They are looking at reducing some 40 percent, closing several of their overseas bureaus, closing CRI Television, some CRI language services. Looked at for axing are: Tagalog, Polish, Greek, Italian, German, Esperanto, Kroatian, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Icelandic, Finnish, Bulgarian, and Danish. But English would be expanded, as would Chinese.

What struck me on December 31 last year – but it wouldn’t lead me to dramatic conclusions, of course – was that party secretary general and state chairman Xi Jinping had dropped CRI from his new-year’s address. The broadcaster was mentioned along with CPBS and CCTV by Xinhua’s introductory text, but not by Xi himself. Both Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin had made it a tradition to mention CRI, CPBS, and CCTV in their new year’s addresses – and CRI was always mentioned first.

To put the rumors about CRI into some perspective, though, Perron had been a critic of “waste” at CRI for some time, and understatment isn’t onw of his greatest hobbies. The Voice of America (VoA), for example, is a terminally ill patient, which might lead to the question who’s more dead – the American or the Chinese foreign broadcaster.

And Bernd Seiser, chairman of the Radio Taiwan International Ottenau Listeners’ Club, said in his April 10 club bulletin he had been told by CRI staff that

I can confirm that CRI will not terminate its German-language programs on shortwave.

However, listeners who wanted information on shortwave frequencies would need to enquire with the German department, rather than receive frequency notifications automatically by email, said Seiser.

So, how much truth is there in the rumors about closing the departments mentioned by Perron? That’s hard to tell.  For one, it appears unlikely to me that CPPCC committee activities would go completely unreported inside China (which appears to be the case – I’ve seen no such report in the Chinese media). However, it wouldn’t appear exactly unlikely that China’s top cadres want CRI to become more effective. Three years ago, CRI German still ran a program dedicated to listeners’ letters and emails, but the feedback, as a rule, appeared to be embarrassingly low. Regular broadcasts of telephone interviews with German listeners weren’t a terribly reviving factor either. By now, feedback from the audience is interspersed into CRI Panorama, a magazine with a variety of topics, rather than featured in a dedicated program. An editorial staff of 31, according to CRI German’s website anyway, might be expected to draw a bigger crowed on the other side of the radio, too. (That said, there’s no information concerning their working hours.)

What seems highly unlikely to me is a closure of the German department. For the time being, Germany is an important “partner” for the Chinese leadership, in technological and partly in political terms. For one, both China and Germany try to defend their inveterately high trade surpluses against a growing international chorus of criticism. Even a small congregation of “early Christians” is probably worth being nurtured, from the CCP’s point of view.

Will shortwave be reduced? Maybe, but not necessarily. If the early Christians want shortwave, maybe their prayers will be heard. And jamming of foreign broadcasters like VoA, BBC, or All India Radio, will remain in place anyway. To avoid making it unnecessarily obvious, domestic CPBS stations at least will continue to be used as informal jammers in future, too, along with the “Firedrake”.

Does CRI make a big difference in Germany? Hardly so. What does make a big difference is Chinese financial and economic engagement in Germany, and Chinese interest in German products: sponsoring professorships, taking a stake in a new (and not yet used-to-capacity) German seaport, buying Volkswagen cars, etc.. China’s money has great leverage in Germany, even in German politics.

China’s public diplomacy remains a seedling here – but that’s probably no reason to dump CRI German.

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Related/Updates

» 杨尚昆, 通过中国国际广播电台, Jan 1, 1993
»
CRI 历史, CRI, undated
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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Xi Jinping’s Greetings to the Military: “forever obey the Party”

CCP secretary general and state chairman Xi Jinping visited troops in Xi’an, Shaanxi Province on Monday. Xi is also chairman of the party and state central military commissions (the two CMC are usually staffed by the same Chinese leaders).

Xinhua newsagency has a short report in English, and a more detailed report in Chinese.

Main Link: On the Eve of Spring Festival, Xi Jinping inspects Troops in Xi’an

Links within blockquotes added during translation

Xinhua Net, Xi’an February 17 (Cao Zhi, Fan Yongqiang, Zhang Yuqing reporting) — On the eve of Spring Festival, the Year of the Goat, CCP central committee secretary general, state chairman and chairman of the central military commission Xi Jinping visited troops in Xi’an on February 16, giving his cordial greetings and, on behalf of the central committee and the central military commission, extended new year wishes to to all officers and men of the PLA, and all armed police, people’s militia, and reservists.

新华网西安2月17日电(记者曹智、樊永强、张玉清)羊年春节即将到来之际,中共中央总书记、国家主席、中央军委主席习近平16日视察驻西安部队,亲切看望慰问官兵,代表党中央、中央军委向人民解放军全军指战员、全体武警官兵和民兵预备役人员致以新春祝福。

In the ancient city of Xi’an, on a pleasant spring day, with the magnolia blossoming, and everyone within and without the military ranks delighting in the atmosphere of the coming holidays. At about 9:20, Xi Jinping arrived at the big conference hall of the Shaanxi Provincial Military Area Office Building, receiving Xi’an leading cadres and their deputies as well as unit commanders above the rank of 西安部队正师职. Xi Jinping warmly shook hands with everyone, had souvenir photos taken, and under enthusiastic applause, he delivered an important speech.

古城西安,春日和煦,腊梅吐蕊,军营内外洋溢着喜庆的节日气氛。9时20分许,习近平来到陕西省军区办公楼大会议室,接见驻西安部队正师职以上领导干部和副师级单位主官。习近平同大家亲切握手、合影留念,并在热烈的掌声中发表了重要讲话。

In his speech, Xi Jinping fuly reaffirmed that the troops in Xi’an had, in recent years,  been successful at deepening combat readiness training, expanding scientific research and testing, and cultivating red successors1), and other fields. and applauded them for protecting the country and for making important contribitions to advancing regional economic development. Xi Jinping emphasized that today, the goals and tasks of national defense and military building were clear, and that the key is to master implementation and to keep hold of the “critical few” of the leading cadres. All leading cadres needed to strenghten their worthiness to assume their missions, to fulfill the three requirements of being strict and real2) and to play an exemplary role in the pursuit of achieving a strong military. It was necessary to set examples in upholding ideals and beliefs, to unvaveringly maintain the party’s absolute leadership over the military, to immerse oneself in the learning of the party’s innovation theory, to develop and enrich the Yan’an spirit and other fine traditions, to strictly observe discipline and the political rules3), to forever obey the party and to go with the party. It was important to lead in getting right on the job, to maintain the combat effectiveness standards, to keep making headway in military construction, reform, to all work concerning all items of combat readiness, 立说立行, 善作善成 There was a need to take the lead in being honest and self-disciplined, in consolidating and expanding the party’s mass line education and practice, to consciously use power in accordance with the law, impartially, and honestly, and to build a clean political ecology. It was important to take the lead in maintaining unity between the miltary and politics, between the military and the people, with our military’s fundamental purpose always on our minds, to strictly observe mass discipline, to support the government and to cherish the people, to deepen the amalgamation of  the military and the people [integration of the military and the civilian society], and to make contributions to the economy and to society.

习近平在讲话中充分肯定驻西安部队近年来在深化战备训练、开展科研试验、培育红色传人等方面取得的成绩,称赞他们为维护国家安全、促进地方经济社会发展作出了重要贡献。习近平强调,当前,国防和军队建设目标任务已经明确,关键在抓好落实,抓住领导干部这个“关键少数”。各级领导干部要强化使命担当,践行“三严三实”要求,在实现强军目标中发挥模范带头作用。要带头坚定理想信念,毫不动摇坚持党对军队的绝对领导,深入学习党的创新理论,弘扬延安精神等优良传统,严守政治纪律和政治规矩,永远听党的话、跟党走。要带头真抓实干,坚持战斗力标准,扎实推进军队建设、改革和军事斗争准备各项工作,立说立行,善作善成。要带头廉洁自律,巩固和拓展党的群众路线教育实践活动成果,自觉依法用权、秉公用权、廉洁用权,营造风清气正的政治生态。要带头维护军政军民团结,牢记我军根本宗旨,严守群众纪律,自觉拥政爱民,推动军民融合深度发展,为经济社会建设贡献力量。

Afterwards, Xi Jinping went to inspect the bomber aviation regiment. At 10:39, Xi Jinping entered the aviation training center’s physical training hall, cordially meeting all pilots and some ground service and logistical services’ cadre delegates, and gave important instructions. Xi Jinping pointed out that to build a strong air force, it took generations of officers’ and soldiers’ continuous struggles. […]

随后,习近平前往轰炸航空兵某团视察。10时39分,习近平走进这个团飞行训练中心体能训练馆,亲切接见全体飞行人员及部分地勤、后勤干部代表,并作重要指示。习近平指出,建设强大人民空军,需要一代代官兵接续奋斗。 […..]

[…]

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Note

1) Red Successors (红色传人)
I’m not familiar with the term, but it seems to apply beyond Xi’an, and the “red successors” or “red heirs” programs appear to be educational activities especially for the military and the military police. This would seem to be the more important as the CCP’s control over the military (instead of the state controlling it) doesn’t go without saying.

2) “Three stricts” and “three reals”:
three demands of “strictness” on cadres: strictness at cultivating their moral character, strictness with their use of power, and strictly applying self-discipline.
three demands of being “real”: to base ones actions on facts (从实际出发), to be real in ones undertakings (创业要实), and to be honest (做人要实 / 做老实人).

3) “Political rules”
A CCDI meeting on January 13 or 14 reportedly referred to political discipline and political rules, and a meeting of the politburo’s standing commission on January 16 reportedly specified that to maintain the leadership of the party, i. e. to maintain, above all, united leadership at the party’s central committee, was the fundamental political rule (坚持党的领导,首先是要坚持党中央的集中统一领导,这是一条根本的政治规矩).

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Related

Defense Budget defying Slowdown, Reuters, Febr 16, 2015

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Friday, February 13, 2015

On the Summits of Science: Legal Construction and Recent History

“I want to be damned if I know now what I meant when I wrote that” – that’s how a German author, Arno Schmidt, once quoted an imaginary writer, confronted with his productions of several decades ago.

I’m only translating an article – but I want to be damned if I know now what this is actually about. Anyway – I feel that someone has to do this translation.

Here goes.

A Xinhua commentary earlier thims month looked back to the 18th CCP Central Committee’s plenary session – the one that focused on rule of law under CCP leadership -, and repeats an old leitmotif: the unity of theory and practice. The Xinhua commentator/editor, Ding Feng (丁峰), puts it this way:

Just as a nation must stand on the summits of science, it must never, not even for a moment, be separated from theoretical thought. To succeed in a great cause, it must never, not even for a moment, be separated from the guidance by scientific theory. Theory comes from practice, and on the other hand, it guides practice. In the circles of practice, knowledge, more practice and knowledge again, practice deepens continously, theory improves with each passing day, and the promotion of the cause develops steadily.

正如“一个民族要想站在科学的高峰,就一刻也不能离开理论思维”,成就一项伟大事业,一刻也不能离开科学理论指导。理论来自实践,反过来又指导实践。在实践、认识、再实践、再认识的循环往复中,实践不断深入,理论日臻完善,推动事业不断发展。

As an important part of the great  cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics, legal construction is part of the foundations of institution building. The party’s 18th central committee’s fourth plenum issued a comprehensive strategic policy [or decision] on the promotion of government by law (依法治国), the general goal of which is to build a legal system of socialism with Chinese characteristics, to build a socialist country ruled by law. The goal decided that socialism with Chinese characteristics rule of law is Chinese rule of law, and its significant function is to provide a powerful guarantee for the cause of of socialism with Chinese characteristics. The fundamental task of rule by law stipulates that legal theory must closely center around this core of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and ponder and answer to the major theories and practical questions of legal construction, so as to comprehensively provide a compass of thought and theoretical guidance for the comprehensive promotion of rule by law. Secretary-general Xi Jinping emphasized that “the theory of socialism-with-Chinese-characteristics rule by law is essentially the theoretical result of the theoretical system of socialism with Chinese characteristics”, deeply promulgating the source of Chinese theory of rule by law and political attributes. It specifies the direction in which to promote the development of our country’s theory of rule by law.

作为中国特色社会主义事业的重要组成,法治建设居于制度建设的基础性地位。党的十八届四中全会作出全面推进依法治国战略决策,总目标就是建设中国特色社会 主义法治体系,建设社会主义法治国家。目标决定了中国的法治是中国特色社会主义法治,其全部意义和作用在于为中国特色社会主义事业提供有力法治保障。法治 根本任务规定了法治理论必须紧紧围绕“中国特色社会主义”这个核心来思考回答法治建设的重大理论、实践问题,为全面推进依法治国提供思想指南和理论指导。 习近平总书记强调“我们要发展的中国特色社会主义法治理论,本质上是中国特色社会主义理论体系在法治问题上的理论成果”,深刻揭示出中国法治理论的思想渊 源和政治属性,为推动我国法治理论发展指明了方向。

Problems are the voice of the times, and theory is the answer to the “voice of the times”. The theoretical system of socialism with Chinese characteristics was formed by opening and reform. [This theoretical system] is the theoretical summary made by the party leaders and the people, in the practice of socialist modernization. It is the current CCP members’ theoretical innovation, combining Marxism with our country’s initial stage of socialism. It is the latest theoretical fruit of the sinicization of Marxism. Under the correct guidance of this theoretical system, reform and opening achieved brilliant successes that attracted worldwide attention, highlighting the great power of this theory, and established our high degree of theoretical confidence.

问题是时代的声音,理论则是对“时代之声”的思考回应。中国特色社会主义理论体系形成于改革开放,是党领导人民进行社会主义现代化实践的理论总结,是当代 中国共产党人把马克思主义原理同社会主义初级阶段基本国情相结合的理论创新,是马克思主义中国化的最新理论成果。在这一理论体系的正确指导下,改革开放取 得举世瞩目的辉煌成就,凸显出这个理论的强大威力,树立起我们高度的理论自信。

Ever since [the policies of] reform and opening, from the third plenum of the 11th central committee‘s promulgation of building comprehensive socialist democracy and the strengthening of a socialist legal system, to the 15th national party congress‘ establishment of a basic plan for a country ruled by law, and the 16th national party congress‘ proposal for socialist-democracy politics most fundamental organic unity of maintaining the leadership of the party, the people’s self-determination (当家作主), the 17th national party congress‘ proposal to accelerate the strategic plan of a socialist country ruled by law, the 18th national party congress‘ clearly pointing out that rule by law is the fundamental way of governing the country, the 18th central committee’s fourth plenum issuing the decision and plan for the comprehensive promotion of government by law, our party has continuously deepened humankind’s knowledge of theoretical thought on government by law, practical exploration and the major successes achieved, reflecting, from an important aspect, the milestone to which socialism with Chinese characteristics theory has developed so far, marking the continuous deepening of our party’s knowledge about the party’s pattern of holding power, about the pattern of building socialism, and about the pattern of human development. […]

改革开放以来,从党的十一届三中全会提出健全社会主义民主和加强社会主义法制的目标,到党的十五大确立依法治国基本方略,十六大提出发展社会主义民主政治 最根本的是要把坚持党的领导、人民当家作主和依法治国有机统一起来,十七大作出加快建设社会主义法治国家新的战略部署,十八大明确提出法治是治国理政的基 本方式,十八届四中全会作出全面推进依法治国决策部署,我们党对依法治国的理论思考、实践探索以及所取得的重大成就,从一个重要方面反映出中国特色社会主 义理论从形成到发展的历程,标志着我们党对党的执政规律、社会主义建设规律、人类社会发展规律的认识不断深化。[…..]

[…..]

China Copyright and Media, on January 24, provided background to the CCP’s current endeavors to rectify higher education. The Copyright and Media post also summarizes a speech by Xi Jinping on a study session of the politburo, in the afternoon of January 23. An academic, Professor Sun Zhengyu (孙正聿) from the Center for Fundamentals of Philosophy at Jilin University, reportedly also spoke at the study session.

Meantime, the English-language “Global Times” quotes a report by Liaoning Daily from November last year: it

said that many college teachers mocked Marxism, praised Western values and questioned the central government’s major policies. The report said that 80 percent of college students have encountered such teachers. The report which asked teachers to “treat China in a nicer way” has become a hit on the Internet.

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Related

» Re-ideologizing, ChinaChange, Feb 10, 2015
» Neither law nor order, Apr 24, 2011

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Deutsche Welle: Withdrawal from the Land of a Thousand Hills

Deutsche Welle (DW) is going to close Kigali relay station in Kigali, Rwanda, the last shortwave station in its ownership, on March 29, according to Tabea Rößner, media spokesperson for the Green members of Germany’s federal lower house, the Bundestag. Rößner published the information on February 4, and voices regret:

In our motion of December 2014 we, Bündnis 90/Die Grünen demanded to keep the station operating and to secure transmissions of Deutsche Welle radio programs on shortwave. We want the station to be maintained because we believe that interference-resistant supply of information such as shoretwave need to be kept. This is the more important as geopolitical and foreign-policy constellations can change anytime. Independent coverage needs to be independent from infrastructural issues.

In unserem Antrag vom Dezember 2014 haben wir von BÜNDNIS 90/DIE GRÜNEN gefordert, die Station aufrecht zu erhalten und die Übertragung von Radioprogrammen der Deutschen Welle via Kurzwelle zu sichern. Die Station wollen wir aufrecht erhalten, weil wir der Meinung sind, dass störunanfällige Informationsangebote wie die Kurzwelle unbedingt aufrechterhalten werden müssen. Dies ist umso wichtiger, da geo- und außenpolitische Konstellationen sich jederzeit ändern können. Unabhängige Berichterstattung aber muss von Infrastrukturfragen unabhängig sein.

Indeed, on December 18 last year, when the Bundestag debated, among others, Deutsche Welle’s task plan and budget, had argued that rather than entering a mindless competition with English-language foreign broadcasters, DW, the Greens argued, should strengthen its core competences, maintain shortwave in general, and the Kigali relay station in particular.

Deutsche Welle QSL card confirming reception of Kigali relay station, on September 6, 2014, at 04:00 UTC.

Deutsche Welle QSL card confirming a report on Kigali relay transmissions, September 2014

Adventist World Radio (AWR), a station that broadcasts via stations of its own (Guam among them) and via rented airtime (Nauen in Germany and Trincomalee in Sri Lanka among them), appears to have rented a lot of airtime from Kigali since October last year, according to a report by Radio Berlin-Brandenburg‘s (RBB) media magazine on February 8, who quote Jose Jacob, an Indian ham radio operator, as an unverified source.

A week earlier, the magazine had reported that Kigali relay station would be dismantled.

It won’t be DW’s first withdrawal from the land of a thousand hills. In April 1994, seven German DW staff and four relatives were evacuated from the transmitter site by Belgian paratroopers, while Rwanda was descending into genocide. Most of the Rwandan staff, some eighty out of 120 Rwandan nationals, are believed to have been killed in the 1994 massacres, according to DW.

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 ChinaChange.org 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.

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Note

*) 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.

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Related

» 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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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

German Television Interview with Deutsche Welle director: Aha, the Russians do Propaganda

After facing many inconvenient questions about the editorial independence of his multimedia broadcaster during the past months, from the media, from politics, and from Reporters without Borders, Deutsche Welle (DW) director Peter Limbourg got airtime this month with much nicer questions. On November 16, Berlin Direkt, a primetime political magazine on Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (ZDF), one of Germany’s two national – domestic – television channels, interviewed Limbourg.

Q:   Russia currently upgrades its foreign television, and other [media] – internet, radio – incredibly, and also invests a lot of money into these. Is the restructuring of Deutsche Welle an answer to that offensive?
A:   I think that it [DW restructuring] has to do with that, because we simply noticed that very many broadcasters, internationally, spend a lot of money for their purposes, and that we obviously have to see to it that the German perspective and German values for which we stand, i. e. democracy, freedom of the press, freedom of opinion, that these are heard in the world. Therefore we have, of course to enter this competition to a degree, even if that is quite expensive.
Q:   And even if this will immediately lead to the accusation that aha, the Russians do propaganda, but Deutsche Welle spends more money, too, so Deutsche Welle, too, does propaganda?
A:   No, I think that in our place, that’s nothing to do with propaganda or counter-propaganda, but we want to score with enlightenment, and this means that we won’t explicitly try to work against someone, but we work for our values, and I think that it explains itself, that  when you stand for democracy, freedom of the press, and pluralism, that precisely therefore, we have nothing to do with propaganda, but on the contrary: we try to represent plurality of opinion. That means, too, of course, that we listen to other opinions such as opinions of the Russians, and work with these.
Q:  How is Deutsche Welle positioned in Russia, and how are you received there?
A:  We have a correspondent bureau in Russia and we have, of course, a very strong and, during the past months, yet strengthened, Russian and Ukrainian service which are in very, very high demand. The numbers of users have tripled or quadrupled. But we wouldn’t be able to launch a broadcaster in Russian in Russia; you don’t get a licence from the government for that.

I didn’t watch Berlin Direkt on television. On the ZDF internet pages, you can access both the interview and a report that provides some background information about Deutsche Welle’s Russian competitors – ZDF certainly portray Russia Today television, Radio Sputnik, and Russia’s umbrella organization for foreign media, Rossiya Segodnya, as competitors for Deutsche Welle. The Berlin Direkt report starts right from the first minute here, and there may not be a great deal of information about Russia’s foreign propaganda around at German television. “Recently, German is spoken, too”, the ZDF anchor suggests in his lead-in.

In fact, the first program by Radio Moscow that ever targeted a foreign audience was in German. That was in 1929. The German programs continued through the years of the 2nd World War, and when Radio Moscow was reorganized as the “Voice of Russia” in December 1993, the German-language tradition – many hours a day, seven days a week – continued. It still does.

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Update/Related

Putin’s side of the story, …

… in an interview with the other main German tv channel, ARD, Nov 17.

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Main tag: Deutsche Welle

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