Posts tagged ‘development’

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Twenty Years ago: Island Democracy seeks Recognition

1. A Democracy introduces itself

It had been a long and challenging journey, the president said. But there he was, at the lectern at Cornell University, his alma mater, delivering his Olin lecture.

He represented a country with a per-capita income of USD 12,000, its international trade totalling US$180 billion in 1994, and foreign exchange reserves of over US$99 billion, more than those of any other nation in the world except Japan.

His country had developed from a developing country to an industrialized country, and, in a peaceful transition, into a democracy.

Almost every president of the world may tell this kind of story. But this one, told on June 9, 1995, at Cornell University, was a true story. And the president who told it wasn’t welcomed by his colleague Bill Clinton, but shunned instead.

There were no official diplomatic relations between the visiting president’s country, Taiwan, and the United States. Washington recognized the Chinese government in Beijing, which claimed to represent both China and Taiwan.

That the Taiwanese president in 1995, Lee Teng-hui, had been allowed to visit the US didn’t go without saying. He wasn’t a state guest, but the university’s guest.

But his concern wasn’t that of agricultural economist or an academic – it was a politician’s concern:

I deem this invitation to attend the reunion at Cornell not only a personal honor, but, more significantly, an honor for the 21 million people of the Republic of China on Taiwan. In fact, this invitation constitutes recognition of their remarkable achievements in developing their nation over the past several decades. And it is the people of my nation that I most want to talk about on this occasion.

He only fulfilled this promise by half, if at all. Much of his talk was about himself: how he had listened in America and in Taiwan, and how he had learned. That he spoke on behalf of his people. That he heard the yearning of his people to contribute to the international community, with the Taiwan experience, development and democracy.

2. Lee Teng-hui

Even back then, twenty years ago, Lee was seen as the “father” of Taiwanese democracy, even if the ultimate goal or final success of democratization hadn’t yet been reached.

Like all Taiwanese of his generation (and the generation before), Lee grew up as a subject of the Japanese Emperor. From 1895 to 1945, Taiwan had been a Japanese colony. As a colony, Taiwan’s experience with Japan was less bad than China’s in the Japanese war from 1937 to 1945. And parts of Taiwanese population – especially the elites, and not only those of the upper classes – were co-opted by the Japanese elites. Lee Teng-hui’s family was probably co-opted, too. Lee’s brother, Lee Teng-chin, was killed in the Second World War, as a member of the Japanese military. His name is registered in the internationally controversial Yasukuni Shrine, which also contains the name of 14 A-class war criminals.

Reportedly, Lee also tried Communism, out of hatred against the KMT, Chiang Kai-shek‘s Nationalist Party, that had fled to Taiwan to “recover the Chinese mainland” from there.

After Communism, Lee tried the Christian religion, apparently with lasting success. And finally, he had himself co-opted by the (more or less) hated KMT: in 1971, he joined the one-party dictatorship, became minister of agriculture shortly afterwards, then Taipei mayor in 1978, and vice-president in 1984. Chiang Ching-kuo, son of Chiang Kai-shek and his father’s successor as a Republic-of-China president on Taiwan, supported the careers of “indigenous” Taiwanese like Lee, at the cost of the faction of traditional KMT officials who had fled Taiwan along with the Chiangs.

Chiang Ching-kuo died in 1988. The KMT’s central committee elected Lee Teng-hui as party chairman and made him president of the Republic of China on Taiwan.

Lee had tried a lot of things, and he had achieved a lot. And he had no small plans for his country.

3. The Will of the People, the Chicken, and the Egg

What a people wants, and if it “can want” anything, is up for arguments.

When a man follows the leader, he actually follows the mass, the majority group that the leader so perfectly represents,

Jacques Ellul wrote in the 1960s, and added:

The leader loses all power when he is separated from his group; no propaganda can emanate from a solitary leader.

Basically, it seems that political leaders in democratic mass societies opportunites to shape their countries are limited. But Lee had become president in extraordinary times. Opposition groups, and “illegally” founded political parties among them, had demanded the lifting of the decades-old martial law for a long time. And when Lee began his second term as president in 1990, after the two remaining years of what had originally been Chiang Ching-kuo’s term, students occupied what is now Taipei’s Liberty Square. Once Lee had been sworn in again, he received a fifty-students delegation and promised Taiwan’s democratization, less than a year after the Tian An Men massacre in China.

Democratization was hardly only on the minds of the opposition, or on Lee’s mind. Chiang Ching-kuo might have had similar plans, even if less ambitious, and American influence probably continued to matter, too, even after Washington had switched diplomatic recognition to Beijing, in 1979. But with Chiang Kai-shek in office, a bloodbath in reaction to the 1990 events would have been much more likely than democratic reform.

4. Full Speed, 1995

Lee Teng-hui’s Cornell speech was part of the first presidential election campaign ever since the KMT had seized power in Taiwan. The mass media, still quite under KMT control, made sure that Lee’s visit to the US wouldn’t go unnoticed at home. On June 6, 1995, Taiwan’s domestic media had started coverage, and that culminated on June 10 (local time in Taiwan), with the Olin lecture.

Back then, when Lee approached a convincing election victory in March 1996, there were misgivings within the KMT about Lee’s loyalty to the KMT goal of “unification” of China and Taiwan. In summer 1999, toward the end of his first democratically legitimized presidential term (and his last term), Lee defined Taiwan’s relations with China as state-to-state relations, or at least special state-to-state relations. Not for the first time, Beijing reacted angrily to the “splittist” in Taipei’s presidential palace.

5. The “New Central Plains”

A lot seems to suggest that in 2000, when his presidency ended, Lee helped to bring about a victory of the oppositional Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and their presidential candidate Chen Shui-bian. That spelled completion of the Taiwanese democratization project, but at the cost of Lee’s KMT.

After that, Lee continued his search for ways and visions for Taiwan. In “Taiwan’s Position”, a book published in 1999, Lee focused on his country’s Chinese heritage, but without making clear if he referred to China or Taiwan.

My active advocacy for  the “reform of heart and soul” in recent years is based on my hope to make society leave the old framework, applying new thought, face a new era, stir new vigor, from a transformation of peoples’ hearts. This goes deeper than political reform, and it is a more difficult transformation project, but we are confident that we will, based on the existing foundations of freedom and openness, achieve the building of a new Central Plain.

近年来,我积极倡导“心灵改革”,就是希望从人心的改造做起,让我们的社会走出旧有的框架,用新的思维,面对新的时代,并激发出新的活力。这是一个比政治 改革更加深入、也更为艰巨的改造工程,但是我们有信心,可以在社会自由开放的既有基础上,完成建立“文化新中原”的目标。

Lee had first used the term of “new central plains” in 1996. Scholars kept arguing about what he actually meant with the term. But these were hardly Chiang Kai-shek’s central plains, and, no less likely, Beijing’s.

But obviously, without the KMT, who had expulsed him for his “Taiwanization” business in 2001, and without public office, Lee wasn’t nearly as influential as before. Or, as propaganda expert Jacques Ellul put it in the 1960s, Moses (isolated from the masses) is dead on the propaganda level.

Incumbent Ma Ying-jeou, again a KMT president with rather “Chinese” manners, led a technocratically efficient government, but has been lacking success in terms of propaganda – and in terms of policies that would benefit all classes of society. Now, another “Taiwanese” politician is trying her luck. Tsai Ing-wen concludes her visit to the US today. In March 2016, Taiwan will elect another president. It could be her.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Xi Jinping’s May 1 Address to the Party, the Labor Unions, and the Model Workers

On Tuesday, Xinhua Newsagency (in Chinese) published party and state leader Xi Jinping‘s Labor Day address, celebrating national model workers and advanced workers, expressing the party’s and the people’s gratitude to them, and emphasizing the need for the whole society to learn from them (党和人民感谢你们!全社会都要向你们学习). The traditional ceremony awarded national model workers.

However, Xinhua Newsagency’s claim (in English) that the award ceremony had championed worker protection, higher working standards and stronger unions was hardly telling its foreign audience the entire truth. In fact, stronger unions in English spells party-led unions in CCP-Chinese (see last paragraphs of this post).

Labor Day ceremony in Urumqi

While the speech quoted in this post was held in Beijing, a similar ceremony went on tour in April last year, to Urumqi (click picture to get there)

On “Youth Day” in 2013, almost two years ago, Xi had tried to blend individual ambitions with party and state goals. And just as in last week’s Labor-Day ceremony, outstanding workforce (or outstanding youth representatives, as it was about youth day back then) were at the center of the event in 2013. This is a pattern that repeats itself on all kinds of occasions.

The following are excerpts from Xi Jinping’s speech during the Labor Day ceremony last week.

After the foundation of New China, our country’s working class became the leading class, and our country’s workers class and broad working masses became the masters of the country, thus giving our commemoration of May 1 international labor day a new, epoch-making meaning.

新中国成立后,我国工人阶级成为国家的领导阶级,我国工人阶级和广大劳动群众成为国家的主人,我们纪念“五一”国际劳动节具有了新的时代意义。

The times we live in are a great, inspiring era, and the cause we are undertaking is unprecedented. What we are engaging in right now, the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics, is the common cause of the entire people. The comprehensive building of a moderately prosperous society, the building of a prosperous and strong, democratic, civilized and harmonious, socialist and modernized country depends completely on work, on creation by the workers.Therefore, no matter where the epochal conditions may change, we will always value work, respect the workers, always attach importance to bringing the role of the main force – the working class and the broad working masses – into play. This is what makes our commemoration of May 1 international labor day so significant.

我们所处的时代是催人奋进的伟大时代,我们进行的事业是前无古人的伟大事业,我们正在从事的中国特色社会主义事业是全体人民的共同事业。全面建成小康社会,进而建成富强民主文明和谐的社会主义现代化国家,根本上靠劳动、靠劳动者创造。因此,无论时代条件如何变化,我们始终都要崇尚劳动、尊重劳动者,始终重视发挥工人阶级和广大劳动群众的主力军作用。这就是我们今天纪念“五一”国际劳动节的重大意义。

[…]

To promote the strategic design of the four comprehensives,  we must amply mobilize the broad people’s and masses’ enthusiasm, initiative, and creativity.

在前进道路上,我们要始终坚持人民主体地位,充分调动工人阶级和广大劳动群众的积极性、主动性、创造性。人民是历史的创造者,是推动我国经济社会发展的基本力量和基本依靠。推进“四个全面”战略布局,必须充分调动广大人民群众的积极性、主动性、创造性。

Another buzzword in Xi’s address was consociationalism (协商民主).

We must promote grassroot democratic building, establish work units with worker’s congresses as the base, and with a democratic management system, implement the employed masses’ right to know, right to participate, right to expression, and oversight.

要推进基层民主建设,健全以职工代表大会为基本形式的企事业单位民主管理制度,更加有效地落实职工群众的知情权、参与权、表达权、监督权。

Also mentioned was the “Chinese Dream”, and the fundamental interests of the overwhelming majority of the people (最广大人民根本利益).

Job creation, skills training, income distribution, social security as well as migrant workers got short nods, too, and so does mass work (做好群众工作).

Labor relations are among the most basic relations. To the greatest measure, harmonious factors must be increased, and unharmonious factors must be reduced to the lowest measure, to build and develop harmonious work relations, and to promote social harmony [harmony in society]. The legal rights of employees must be protected, a system for comprehensive coordination of work relations be built, and contradictions and disputes in work relations be timely and correctly be handled.

劳动关系是最基本的社会关系之一。要最大限度增加和谐因素、最大限度减少不和谐因素,构建和发展和谐劳动关系,促进社会和谐。要依法保障职工基本权益,健全劳动关系协调机制,及时正确处理劳动关系矛盾纠纷。

Xi mentioned the 90th anniversary of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions‘ foundation, and expressed the

hope that all organizations and the vast cadreship at the unions will unswervingly walk the development road of socialism with Chinese characteristics, adhere to main battlefield of union work, pay close attention to the central responsibilities of union work, to fulfill the organization of the unions’ political responsibilities in an exemplary way, and to bring the unions’ organizational role into play better and better. Keep to the fine tradition of free-willed acceptance of party leadership, the firm grasp of the correct political direction, the firm grasp of our country’s labor movement’s theme of the times, and to guide hundreds of millions of working masses to unswervingly go with the party.

希望各级工会组织和广大工会干部坚定不移走中国特色社会主义工会发展道路,坚守工会工作的主战场,狠抓工会工作的中心任务,模范履行工会组织的政治责任,更好发挥工会组织作用。要坚持自觉接受党的领导的优良传统,牢牢把握正确政治方向,牢牢把握我国工人运动的时代主题,带领亿万职工群众坚定不移跟党走。

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Related

» Falling Growth, Rising Vigilance, Jan 20, 2014
» The Railroader’s Dream, June 21, 2013

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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.

Friday, March 6, 2015

NPC and CPPCC sessions: The Phrasemongering Season has begun

People's Daily online resources for learning cadres

On the Road of Learning
from the Great Helmsman –
click picture for source

China’s ongoing two annual political sessions have once again hit major headlines, as the world is anticipating the country’s new measures to cope with its growth slowdown to a state of “new normal”,

according to a Xinhua report republished by Beijing Review, an English-language propaganda paper for exactly that waiting world. And also according to Beijing Review, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and other leaders on Wednesday vowed to fully implement the “Four Comprehensives” strategic layout in order to realize economic and social development targets.

The Four Comprehensives can make clearer what the road to the Chinese dream is about, believes Central Party School professor and doctoral supervisor Xin Ming.

And that’s badly needed stuff, if we go by what the BBC said in February:

Mr Xi denounced political jargon as “empty words” during a speech five years ago.
However, he launched his leadership in 2013 with the idea of the “Chinese dream”, a concept many say is still ill-defined.

So, just how does the “dream” concept become clearer, according to Xin?

The professor believes that the “Chinese dream” is “a strategic layout in the historical process of the realization of the greatest dream of the Chinese nation.”

He considers the “four comprehensives” – the goal of comprehensively building a moderately prosperous society, coprehensive deepening of reform, comprehensive promotion of government by law, and strictly governing the party – constitute three strategic measures (apparently, Xin combines the rule by law and the demand of strictly governing the party).

He believes that, iguratively speaking, one goal and three measures may also count as „three legs of a tripod“ on which the goal is set up. “One body, three feet” are structuring the blueprint of China’s happy future.

他认为,一个目标、三大战略举措,用个形象的说法,就好比是“三足鼎立”,上面架起了目标,“一体三足”构建起了中国未来美好的蓝图。

[…]

“To really comprehensively understand the ‚four comprehensives‘, I’m afraid we need to move one step further, i. e. to understand that besides the one-body-three-feet structure, we must understand which kind of consciousness it highlights.” Xin Ming believes that „behind the four comprehensives, there are contemporary communists,or three strong kinds of consciousness in current Chinese society.

“要想真正全面地理解‘四个全面’,恐怕还要再往前讲,就是仅仅明白了一体三足的战略建构之外,还要明白这一体三足的战略建构凸显了什么样的意识。”辛鸣认为,“四个全面”背后是当代中国共产党人,或者今日中国社会三种意识的强烈凸显。

Xin states “a sense of mission”, “problem awareness”, and a “sense of responsibility” as these “strong kinds of consciousness”. As for the latter,

Chinese Communists‘ have such a noble mission, but at the same time, we clearly encounter problems in the process of completing the mission. How can we deal with the problems? We shy away from them, turn a blind eye to them, or we confront them head-on, crack them, smooth them out, solve them. What does it take to do this job? It takes acceptance of responsibility. Without acceptance of responsibility, there won’t be this kind of strategic vision, there won’t be this sense of responsibility. Maybe we could still pick up what can be done well, what can be done easily, and with immediate effect, but we can’t make a big fanfare over „comprehensiveness“.

中国共产党人有这样一种崇高的使命,同时,我们也很清楚在完成这个使命的过程中会遇到什么样的问题。遇到这些问题怎么办?我们是绕着走、视而不见,还是迎 头而上,去破解问题、化解问题、解决问题。做这些工作要什么?需要一种担当。没有这种担当意识,我们做不出这样一种战略构想,没有这样一种担当意识,也许 我们就会捡好的做,捡容易的做,捡能马上见效的做,而不会在“全面”上大做文章。

All this, written in the run-up to the sessions of the NPC and the CPPCC, may come across as empty words, as observed by the BBC or by unnamed critics quoted by the BBC: Critics say the Communist elite’s obsession with jargon alienates them from plain-speaking Chinese citizens.

That may be so – among an unknown share of the Chinese population. But it would be particularly true for Chinese people who are in constant contact with foreigners, and who may actually feel somewhat embarrassed when their foreign colleagues or friends pick up some of the more colorful blossoms of CCP phrasemongering. But despite all the embarrassment (or fun) it may create, this custom – which isn’t merely “communist” – has been criticized for a century or longer, and it hasn’t gone away. To another unknown share of the Chinese population, the slogans are realities.

Or, as Jacques Ellul wrote in 1962, about a much more obvious and obtrusive kind of CCP propaganda than of our days:

When one reads this once, one smiles. If one reads it a thousand times, and no longer reads anything else, one must undergo a change. And we must reflect on the transformation of perspective already suffered by a whole society in which texts like this (published by the thousands) can be dsitributed and taken seriously not only by the authorities but by the intellectuals.*)

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Note

*) Jacques Ellul, “Propaganda”, New York 1965 (a more recent reprint of it), p. 14

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Related

» Reference Book, Beijing Review, Mar 6, 2015
» Unobtrusive and imperceptible, Jan 7, 2012

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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

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

China’s Legal Reform Projects: Slowly, very slowly

The fourth plenary session of the 18th CCP central committee took place from October 20 to October 23. Less than a month before the opening of the plenum, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) quoted a politburo statement of September 29 as saying that the plenary session’s focus would be on improving the administration of law. At the center of that, according to the SCMP, would be a battle against corruption.

In July, Stanley Lubman, a lawyer and longtime observer of legal issues in China, wrote in the Wall Street Journal‘s (WSJ) China blog (China Realtime) that the CCP’s central leading group for judicial reform of the party and the “Supreme People’s Court” were signalling a serious intention to implement measures that could lead to a shift of power over finances and personnel in basic courts, from local governments and local “people’s congresses” to provincial governments. Pilot projects were planned in Shanghai, Guangdong, Jilin, Hubei, Hainan and Qinghai. If successful, these reforms could boost citizens’ chances to challenge local cadres over issues such as illegal land seizures or concealment of violations of product safety and environmental laws. However, this didn’t mean that courts would be insulated from pressures from those higher-level officials on their decision-making. Importantly, nothing in these reforms is aimed at diminishing Communist Party control over outcomes in the courts.

Lubman also links to a creative-commons translation cooperative, China Law Translate, which describes the pilot projects on the provincial and municipal (Shanghai) level in more detail.

Ultimate CCP control reservation apart, Lubman’s article came across as sort of optimistic. Less so an article by Russell Leigh Moses, dean of academics and faculty at the Beijing Center for Chinese Studies, published on October 24. If the communique issued after the plenary session was something to go by, this was a plenum that wasn’t interested in engineering far-reaching changes to China’s legal system. China would move slowly, very slowly, suggests the headline.

That said, the term under the party’s leadership (党的领导 / 党的领导下), quoted from the communiqué by Moses as a reminder that the conception and implementation of law belongs only to the Communist Party, can’t have surprised any observer.

According to the Economist, the CCP’s new enthusiasm for the rule of law springs from the campaign against corruption – see first paragraph of this post, too (SCMP quote). The battle is old (Xi Jinping’s predecessor as party and state chairman, Hu Jintao, warned in November 2012 that corruption, if not tackled by politics, could prove fatal to the party.

The battle is even older than old. Shen Zewei, China reporter for the Singaporean daily Lianhe Zaobao (United Morning News), quoted a Taiwanese researcher, Lee Yeau-tarn, in 2009 that Chiang Kai-shek had been able to implement land reform in Taiwan, but not in the mainland, because the KMT had been intricately connected with the despotic gentry.

This suggests that even Moses’ forecast could prove overly optimistic for China.

The Economist’s November 1 edition, however, sees the glass half-full – or even more positively. After all, one of the weekly’s editorials argues, the constitution, emphasized by the CCP leadership,

enshrines property rights. Of the many thousands of “mass incidents” of unrest each year in rural China, 65% relate to disputes over the (often illegal) seizure of land by officials. Mr Xi wants to make it clear that their behaviour is not just illegal but also unconstitutional. That sounds scarier.

Farmland reform, which was at the focus of the 17h Chinese Communist Party Central Committee’s Third Plenary Session in 2008, back then under the Hu Jintao/Wen Jiabao leadership -, is also moving slowly, very slowly. And the fourth plenary session of this 18th central committee might be considered another push into the direction of a more just, and more efficient, use of land – six years later.

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Related

» Dead Cats, rotten Fish, Nov 7, 2011
» Rural Land Certificates, July 10, 2011
» Wen Jiabao’s Endgame, April 21, 2011
» Tossing the Mountain around, Nov 8, 2010
» Farmland Reform, Oct 8, 2008

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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

China News Service: “Hong Kong Citizens rise in a Chorus of Condemnation of Occupy Central”

Main link: “Rising Wave of Voices opposing Occupy Central”, CNS/Enorth, Oct 10

Enorth (Tianjin), Sohu (nationwide), Hua Shang Net (from Xi’An, main focus on trade and apparently ), and possibly some more websites with readers who are less interested in politics than People’s Daily or Huanqiu Shibao readers carried an article from China News Service (CNS, 中国新闻) on Monday, describing the “Occupy Central” movement as seriously damaging the territory’s  social order and as damaging the good international image of Hong Kong.

CNS is China’s second-largest newsagency, after Xinhua.

No warranty that the CNS comprehensive report quotes the papers from Hong Kong accurately and in a balanced way. Some of the CNS article comes across as manipulative or wrong, but the anger of Hong Kongers whose incomes are affected (maybe not the tram drivers as said in the CNS article, but certainly many cab drivers, shop owners etc.) appears likely to put Occupy Central at odds with many.

The Alliance for the Protection of Universal Suffrage and against Occupy Central and their ballot (which topped Occupy Hong Kong’s) got some coverage in European media in summer, but appears to have been mostly forgotten since.

Not only reports from a totalitarian country like China can be misleading – self-deception is a universal weakness.

Links within blockquotes added during translation. Corrctions, and advice on how to fill the gaps I couldn’t translate (see last paragraph), will be welcome.

Wave of Voices from all Walks of Life in Hong Kong opposing “Occupy Central” keeps rising

香港各界反对“占中”声浪日益高涨

Comprehensive report — A few people who started a so-called “Occupy Central”, an illegal gathering, in the early hours of September 28, has kept going on for eight days so far. They have caused traffic jams, created conflicts, hampered all professions, seriously damaged Hong Kong’s social order, affected the peaceful lives and safety of the masses, and also damaged Hong Kong’s good international image, thus arousing strong dissatisfaction and a continuously rising wave of opposing voices against “Occupy Central”.

综合报道,香港少数人自9月28日凌晨起发动所谓“占领中环”的非法集会,至今已经8天了,他们堵塞交通、制造冲突、妨碍百业,严重破坏香港社会秩序,影响民众生活安宁和安全,也破坏香港良好的国际形象,引起香港各界和民众的强烈不满,反“占中”声浪日益高涨。

42 members of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council published a joint statement on October 3, expressing concern about the endless illegal occupation, calling for reasonable dialog among the citizens, urging the “occupiers” to stop and to reflect and to end their behavior that was destructive for society as possible, to let society get back to normal.

香港42名立法会议员3日发表联署声明,对无休止的违法占领行动表示忧虑,呼吁市民理性对话,要求“占中”者“停一停,想一想”,尽快停止破坏社会行为,让社会恢复正常。

36 Hong Kong SAR delegates to the National People’s Congress have also published a joint statement supportive of the police’s legal maintenance of social stability, calling on the “occupiers” to stop harming the general public’s development interests. The delegates called for cherishing and protecting Hong Kong’s long-term stability and prosperity, for mutual respect, and for not harming the general public’s devlopment interest.

香港特别行政区的36名全国人大代表也发出联合声明,支持警方依法维护社会稳定,呼吁“占中”者不要继续损害广大市民的发展利益。代表们呼吁,珍惜和维护香港的长期稳定繁荣,相互尊重,不应损害广大市民的发展利益。

Hong Kong Civil Servants General Union also called on the “Occupy Central” demonstrators not to hamper public servants on their way to their workplaces, because civil servants were serving the city, and if their access to work was blocked, citizens would be the ultimate victims.

香港公务员总工会亦呼吁“占中”行动的示威人士,不要阻碍公务员上班,因为公务员都是为市民服务,如果上班受阻,最终受害的是市民。

Hong Kong’s tourism industry was a “disaster zone” affected by “Occupy Central”. On a press conference on October 3, Hong Kong tourism trade union(s) expressed dissatisfaction about how “Occupy Central” affected many touristical, consumption and business districts, even leading to travel warnings in some countries by which tourism was taking a serious hit.

香港旅游业是被“占中”殃及的“重灾区”。香港旅游联业工会联会3日召开记者会,表达不满“占中”影响多个旅游、消费及商业区,导致有国家对香港发出旅游警示,重创旅游业。

Hong Kong railworker union(s) also published a statement, strongly condemning “Occupy Central” as a collective and as individuals. The statement points out that traffic on the streets of Central were affected, leading to a sharply increasing workload for the railworkers, excessive work and physical wear and tear. Also, tram drivers, because of the suspension of some road sections, had been compelled to take unpaid days off. Incomes were declining every day.

香港铁路工会联合会也发声明,对“占中”的团体和个人予以严厉谴责。声明指出,占中令路面交通受影响,而铁路运输从业员工作剧增,连日超负荷工作,体力损耗极大。另一方面,电车司机因部分路段停驶而被迫放无薪假,收入每天都在减少。

As the harm done to the economy by “Occupy Central” intensifies, Hong Kong citizens rise in a chorus of condemnation. On October 2, many private associations held activities opposing “Occupy Central” actions. Mr. So, a citizen, said that “demonstrators have blocked all kinds of traffic and important roads, bringing chaos into our lives”.

“占领中环”非法集会对经济社会造成的危害愈演愈烈,香港市民齐声谴责。10月2日,香港多个民间团体举行活动,启动反对“占领中环”行动。市民苏先生表示, “示威人士堵塞了多处交通要道,把我们的生活全搞乱了。”

On October 3 and 4, citizens opposing “Occupy Central” came to “Occupy Central” strongholds in Causeway Bay and in Mong Kok, asking police to restore social order as soon as possible. Some of the citizens who had spontaneously come to the scene chided the “occupiers” for keeping others from “making a living”and demanded the “occupiers” to open the roads for the citizens’ use.

10月3日和4日,有反“占中”市民到铜锣湾及旺角等“占中”据点,要求警方尽早清场并恢复社会秩序。部分自发到场的市民斥责“占中”者“阻人揾食”(阻碍别人谋生计),要求“占中”者让出道路供市民使用。

The jamming of many roads by “Occupy Central’s” illegal activities has caused the trade of taxi drivers in Hong Kong great losses. On October 5, the cab drivers at Central Piers strongly condemned “Occupy Central’s” activities, demanding an immediate end to “Occupy Central’s” illegal forcible occupation of roads, supporting police law enforcement, and announcing collective civil claims against “Occupy Central’s” initiators.

Ever since the beginning of “Occupy Central’s” illegal gatherings, Hong Kong media have called on the “occupiers” to immediately abandon the occupation activities and to restore social order, as well as Hong Kong’s peaceful life and harmony.

“占领中环”非法集会发生后,香港媒体连日来呼吁,“占中”者应立即放弃占领行动,恢复社会秩序,还香港安宁和谐。

A “Ta Kung Pao” editorial pointed out that if an offense is allowed to succeed once, “Occupy Central” could defeat society and put it in opposition to the central government [Beijing], creating areas of anarchy – would this still justify the pride of seven million citizens in their international center of finance and “One Country, two Systems”? The editorial called on the “occupiers” to immediately clear the roads. An article by Hong Kong’s “Wen Wei Po” titled “The initiators of ‘Occupy Central’ have a responsibility to end it” said that “Occupy Central” had paralysed traffic, damaged social order, and displayed signs of getting out of control. “It is the responsibility of the initiators to immediately put the occupation activities to a halt. The paper, on October 4, wrote that “Occupy Hong Kong” had caught widespread indignation and discontent, that public opinion was rebounding, citizens were beginning to oppose “Occupy Central”, not only demanding harmony and stability, but wanting to live and work in Hong Kong in accordance with their own wishes. “Occupy Central” was not reaching the hearts of the citizens. “Ming Pao’s” editorial points out that looking at the general situation, “Occupy Hong Kong” should end its activities if they wished Hong Kong well. [Didn’t get the meaning of the following sentence: 如果“占中”的始作俑者戴耀廷等人发出呼吁,叫停“占中”,将是对历史负责的一步.] “Oriental Daily’s” editorial [title: 独有英雄驱虎豹,更无豪杰怕熊罴] believes that “Occupy Central” is simply a political fraud, and from head to tail unable to separate from the shadows of foreign forces wanting to bring chaos to Hong Kong and aiming for subversion in mainland China.

《大公报》社评指出,一个违法就能得逞、“占领”就能胜出的社会,一个公然与中央对抗、制造“无政府状态”的地方,还是值得七百万市民引以为豪的国际金融中心和“一国两制”的香港吗?评论呼吁参与“占中”者立即离开马路。香港《文汇报》文章《“占中”发起人有责任叫停占领行动》称,“占中”瘫痪交通、破坏社会秩序,已呈现失控状态。“占中”发起人有责任马上叫停占领行动。该报4日社评认为,“占中”天怒人怨,民意终于大反弹,市民群起反对“占中”,不仅说明要求和谐稳定、希望安居乐业才是香港社会的最大民意,也说明“占中”不得人心。《明报》社评提出,盱衡整体情势,权衡利害得失,若为香港好,“占中”应当停。如果“占中”的始作俑者戴耀廷等人发出呼吁,叫停“占中”,将是对历史负责的一步。《东方日报》社评《独有英雄驱虎豹,更无豪杰怕熊罴》认为,“占中”根本就是一个政治骗局,从头到尾都离不开外部势力的影子,都以搞乱香港、颠覆内地为政治目的。

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Related

» Bao Tong: Take a Break, Sinosphere, Oct 5, 2014

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