Posts tagged ‘democracy’

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.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Monthly Summary: March 2015 – Death of a China Expert

Bremen, East of Central Station, March 26, 2015

Bremen, East of Central Station, March 26, 2015

1. How’s your Weibo going?

Mainland regulators say people will be able to have nicknames – they will just have to register them with website administrators first,

the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported in January.

The rule apparently took effect on March 1, but yours truly, himself running a Sina Weibo profile, hasn’t been contacted yet.(Having said that, it’s a very low profile – I’m reading there, but I’ve never posted anything myself.)

Either way, it’s »not »the »first try by the authorities to control or to intimidate the microbloggers, and time will show how serious they are this time.

Either way, ways appear to have been found to spoil much of the interest in microblogging.

2. Rectifying Political Ideology at Universities

That blog by Fei Chang Dao was posted on February 25, but it’s probably as important in March and in future. Even if you read no other China blog, make sure you read Fei Chang Dao, and China Copyright and Media, for that matter. What they cover matters much more than the not-really-uncertain fate of Zhou Yongkang – if you want to understaaaaand China.

3. Kailash Calling

Travelling Tibet can be an easy affair, or it can be cumbersome. It might depend on who you are, and where you come from. Here’s an account of scuffproof cheerfulness and patience.

4. “Two Meetings”

The annual tale of two meetings has come to its serene conclusion again this year, with China’s new normal. Just to have mentioned that, too.

5. Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)

The Economist suggested in November that

China will use the new bank to expand its influence at the expense of America and Japan, Asia’s established powers. China’s decision to fund a new multilateral bank rather than give more to existing ones reflects its exasperation with the glacial pace of global economic governance reform. The same motivation lies behind the New Development Bank established by the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). Although China is the biggest economy in Asia, the ADB is dominated by Japan; Japan’s voting share is more than twice China’s and the bank’s president has always been Japanese. Reforms to give China a little more say at the International Monetary Fund have been delayed for years, and even if they go through America will still retain far more power. China is, understandably, impatient for change. It is therefore taking matters into its own hands.

The “People’s Daily” suggests that the AIIB is intended to be complementary to top dogs like the World Bank or the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Britain, France, Germany and Italy are European countries that want to be founding members of the AIIB, the British move (which came first in Europe, it seems) angered Washington, a so far reluctant Japanese government may still be persuaded to join the Beijing-led project, and Huanqiu Shibao quotes Russian foreign multimedia platform Sputnik as quoting an analyst as saying that America, too, might still join, so as to hamper China’s influence that way.

6. In Defense of the Constitution: Are you mad?

Taiwan’s president Ma Ying-jeou appeared to question the mental faculties of a Fulbright exchange academic who had asked if the KMT couldn’t drop its claims in the South China Sea.

“Are you mad?”, asked the president – reportedly -, then adding that abandoning those claims would be unconstitutional. He’s also said to have reacted somewhat wooden in another exchange with Fulbright scholars, on the same occasion, March 19.

7. Lee Kuan Yew, 1923 – 2015

Ma’s prayers for Lee Kuan Yew‘s early recovery weren’t terribly successful either; Singapore’s elder statesman died from pneumonia after weeks in hospital. Lee had his admirers both in China and Taiwan, especially for very low levels of corruption in Singapore, and apparently, he had a admirer at the American top, too. Probably no great surprise for John McCain or the tea partisans.

According to “People’s Daily”, Lee was a China expert and a West expert. According to other sources, he appeared to be a democracy expert, too (but he denied that claim).

In an apparently rather terse statement, Benjamin Pwee (方月光), secretary general of the Democratic Progressive Party of Singapore (one of several opposition parties, but neither of them influential in Singapore’s flawed democracy) said that

all great leaders are still people, and inevitably, one can find words of praise and of contempt. But at this time of national grief, let’s remember the contributions he made for the people of Singapore, and affirm his contributions.

“所有伟大的领导人毕竟都是人,难免可褒可贬。但在这个举国哀悼之际,让我们记得他为国人做所的贡献,肯定他的贡献。”

Singapore’s authorities closed the “Speakers Corner” at Hong Lim Park on Monday, for an undefined period. Reportedly, truly “free speech” never really ruled there, anyway.

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Related

想要更多政治空間和言論自由, CNA, March 23, 2015

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Friday, March 13, 2015

“One Country Two Systems” Logic: Elections are Infiltration

Fanny Law (羅范椒芬), Hong Kong Executive Councillor and a delegate to the ” National People’s Congress”, in an interview with a mainland news website, quoted by Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) on Saturday (Friday UTC).

Law certainly has reasons to dislike free elections – her chances to win any would appear rather dim.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman: “One Country, two Systems” a “Great Success” in Hong Kong

Q: The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office issued the 36th Six-Monthly Report on Hong Kong on February 26. What is China’s comment?

A: Since the return of Hong Kong, “one country, two systems” has been proved to be a great success, and is recognized by the world. The Central Government of China will continue to implement the “one country, two systems” policy and the Basic Law, resolutely support Hong Kong’s democratic development in accordance with the law, and safeguard Hong Kong’s long-term prosperity and stability.

I would like to stress again that the Central Government of China resumed its sovereignty over Hong Kong on July 1, 1997. Since then, Hong Kong has been a special administrative region of China. The so-called “responsibility” that the British side claimed to have over Hong Kong simply does not exist. Hong Kong affairs are completely China’s domestic affairs. No foreign country has any right to interfere.

FMPRC (English), Febr. 27

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问:26日,英国外交部发表第36份《香港问题半年报告》。中方对此有何评论?

答:香港回归以来,“一国两制”的实践取得巨大成就,举世公认。中国中央政府将继续坚定不移贯彻“一国两制”方针和基本法,坚定不移支持香港依法推进民主发展,坚定不移维护香港长期繁荣稳定。

同时,我要再次强调,1997年7月1日,中国中央政府恢复对香港行使主权,香港成为中国的特别行政区,英方对香港的所谓“责任”是不存在的。香港事务纯属中国内政,任何外国无权干预。

FMPRC (Chinese), Febr. 27

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via Radio Taiwan International, Febr. 27, 2015

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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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

VoT: Tibetan Student beaten to Death after Village “Elections”

A young Tibetan student was beaten to death in Dari County, southeastern Qinghai province, earlier this month, according to Voice of Tibet (VoT), a Norwegian-based radio station and website.A two-committee “election” held in Dari County on December 7 reportedly led to clashes, after Communist cadres or employees had forcibly demanded (强制要求) that Tibetans vote a Han Chinese candidate ito office, in accordance with the authorities’ prior arrangements.

Thirteen persons were arrested and interrogated. On December 10, the student was brutally beaten and died on the afternoon of December 11, in the county hospital, according to VoT.

Dari County, which is part of Golog (or Guoluo, 果洛州) Tibetan “Autonomous” Prefecture, is described by VoT as Tibetan territory. Much of Qinghai, a province established by the KMT government in 1928, was once Tibetan.

Contact, a magazine published in Dharamsala, reported on Monday that the student’s name was Karmey, and that he died aged twenty-two.

In September, the International Campaign for Tibet published what appear to be regulations issued by the Chinese authorities. These were said to be in force in Ngari Prefecture, western Tibet. Different ways of “maintaining stability” are apparently taken in different places.

Village-level “elections” are ostensible means of “democratization”, a process apparently started by Chinese central legislation in 1987.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Straits Times: Ma Ying-jeou expected to resign KMT Chairmanship

Taiwan’s president and chairman of the ruling KMT nationalist Party, Ma Ying-jeou, is expected to step down as KMT chairman on Wednesday, reports the Straits Times, thus accepting responsiblities for a disastrous defeat of his party in local elections last Saturday.

Ma has led the KMT since 2009, and has been president since 2008. His current second term in office ends in 2016.

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Related

» The Ma-Wu-Chiang Drama, May 8, 2009

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Updates/Related

» Ma resigns KMT Chair, BBC News, Dec 3, 2014

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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Occupy Central: one Movement, two Pictures

Much of recent weeks’ coverage on Occupy Central has been rather gloomy, as this article by Zachary Keck in The Diplomat on October 15. Keck also mentioned a meeting between Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in Hong Kong director Zhang Xiaoming (张晓明) and pro-establishment Hong Kong lawmakers on October 14. And a Reuters report stated the obvious, quoting sources: Beijing’s “bottom line” wouldn’t change, and making use of the army to suppress the movement would be a “last resort” – that would be if there was widespread chaos – killing, arson and looting. During the first week in October, the new National Security Commission chaired by President Xi Jinping had reached a position which left Hong Kong’s chief executive Leung Chun-ying with little leeway in dealing with the students.

A China News Service (CNS) article, written by an author named Guo Ping, quoted Zhang Xiaoming in indirect speech, but apparently extensively – it’s at times hard to see where Guo Ping quotes Zhang, and where he uses words of his own.

Since Hong Kong’s return [in 1997], the article says (or quotes), the core of the political dispute had been if or if not the principle of “one country, two systems” were respected, if or if not the governance rights (管治权) of the central authorities in Beijing over Hong Kong were respected, if or if not the constitutional status of Hong Kong’s basic law was respected, all of which concerned the direction of how the principle of “one country, two systems” was put into practice (香港回归以来围绕政制发展问题的争议,核心是要不要尊重“一国”的原则,要不要尊重中央对香港的管治权,要不要尊重基本法的宪制地位,这些是关系到“一 国两制”实践发展方向的大是大非问题。三个“要不要”直接抓住了当前问题的焦点所在).

As is well known, “one country, two systems” is the fundamental policy by which our country achieves peaceful reunification. “One country” points to [the fact that] this happens inside the country, that Hong Kong is an unseparable part of the country, directly belonging to the central government’s local administrative areas. “Two systems” means within “inside one country”, with the principal part carrying out a socialist system, and with Hong Kong and a few other regions carrying out a capitalist system. It can be said that “one country, two systems” isn’t only the great pioneering undertaking of the Chinese people to resolve the issue of national unity, but also a model and a sample for other countries to reference when having to solve similar problems.

In general, either Zhang’s or Guo Ping’s (the author’s) utterances appear to be a (for now) verbal “day of reckoning”, shovelling all “opponents” into one bag and threshing it: Hong Kongers who had opposed the introduction of “national education” (国民教育) and calling it “brainwashing education” (恐吓), Hong Kongers who “threatened and intimidated mainland tourists”, and “clamoring for Hong Kong independence”. All these plus (or including) Occupy Central.

Zhang’s speech to the Hong Kong legislators could be regarded as a speech to all Hong Kongers, Guo Ping concludes

Legislator Kenneth Leung probably wasn’t among Zhang’s audience in October. In a “Letter to Hong Kong” on RTHK on Sunday, he drew a very different picture of the movement’s effects on Central:

Central has become a cleaner, more pleasant and connectable business district for city dwellers. The sharp decrease in local traffic results in the reduction in road side pollution, making the air more breathable and the temperature more bearable. Walking becomes such a pleasant experience that people enjoy strolling during lunch time and evening, stopping occasionally to have a chat or a cigarette. Studies conducted in the States revealed that “walkability” of a community has a direct correlation with the local population’s life quality and health. Also, a recent study conducted by George Washington University on 30 metropolis in the States indicates that a city’s domestic productivity is higher when office and retail space is located in “walkable” communities

With the hindsight of these studies and the recent experience, it is high time for the Government to rethink about re-routing local traffic flow and re-designate most part of Central to become a pedestrian zone.

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Related

» A Chorus of Condemnation, Oct 7, 2014

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