Posts tagged ‘Donald Trump’

Saturday, May 6, 2017

KCNA: North Korea “has contributed to protecting China’s peace and security”

North Korean newsagency KCNA published an article on Wednesday evening this week, criticizing Chinese press coverage and commentary. According to China’s state-owned newspaper Huanqiu Shibao, it is the third article in recent days that criticizes Chinese pundits and media on North Korea, but the first to mention China by name.

Rather than criticizing Pyongyang, Beijing should cherish the long-standing alliance with North Korea, which had benefitted China, rather than causing problems, KCNA wrote, and added:

One must clearly understand that the DPRK’s line of access to nukes for the existence and development of the country can neither be changed nor shaken and that the DPRK will never beg for the maintenance of friendship with China, risking its nuclear program which is as precious as its own life, no matter how valuable the friendship is.

The DPRK, which has already become one of the most powerful nuclear weapons state, does not feel the need to think over how many options it has now.

KCNA, who provide news and articles in Korean, English, Chinese, Russian, Spanish and Japanese – but no permalinks – wrote as follows (the name “Kim Chol” should probably not be attributed to the country’s former vice minister, or  Kim Jong-un’s murdered elder brother):

Pyongyang, May 3 (KCNA) — Kim Chol released a commentary on Wednesday, urging Chinese newspapers to refrain from making reckless remarks undermining the DPRK-China relations.  Noting that a string of absurd and reckless remarks are now heard from big neighboring countries, perhaps frightened at the U.S. blackmail and war racket, every day only to render the acute situation of the Korean peninsula more strained, the commentary says: 朝中社平壤5月3日电 金哲3日发表题为《不要再做乱砍朝中关系支柱的贸然言行》的评论。文章摘要如下:
或许是因为被最近美国高调的威胁恐吓与轰隆的战争机械动音吓坏了,临近的大国内部连日传来不谙事理、失去分寸的言论,使日趋尖锐的朝鲜半岛局势更加紧张。
The People’s Daily and the Global Times, widely known as media speaking for the official stand of the Chinese party and government, have recently carried commentaries asserting that the DPRK’s access to nukes poses a threat to the national interests of China. They shifted the blame for the deteriorated relations between the DPRK and China onto the DPRK and raised lame excuses for the base acts of dancing to the tune of the U.S. 被人认为代表中国党和政府正式立场的《人民日报》和《环球时报》最近发表几篇评论声称朝鲜拥核威胁中国的国家利益,把朝中关系恶化的责任完全推给朝鲜,同时极力辩解中国对美国随波逐流的卑鄙做法。
  Those commentaries claimed that the DPRK poses a threat to “the security in the northeastern region of China” by conducting nuclear tests less than 100 km away from its border with China. They even talked rubbish that the DPRK strains the situation in Northeast Asia and “offers the U.S. excuses for deploying more strategic assets” in the region.  评论说,“朝鲜在距离中国边界不到一百公里的地方搞核试验,威胁到中国东北的安全”, “朝鲜刺激东北亚局势,给美国加强在这一地区的战略部署提供了借口”。
 Not content with such paradox, the commentaries asserted that to remain averse to the DPRK’s access to nukes is to preserve interests common to the U.S. and China, calling for slapping harsher sanctions against the DPRK in order to avert a war which would bring danger to China.  甚至诡称反对朝鲜发展核导技术是中美两国的共同利益,就是为避免危及自身的战争也得强化对朝制裁。
 The newspapers, even claiming China holds the initiative in handling the DPRK-China relations, made no scruple of letting out a string of provocative remarks urging the DPRK to choose one among such options if it doesn’t want military confrontation with China–“whether to face protracted isolation or to preserve national security by making a U-turn” and whether to break Sino-DPRK friendship or to dismantle its nukes.  更有甚者,悍然放出“中朝关系的主动权掌握在中国的手中”,如果朝鲜不愿与中国军事对立,就要在“长期孤立和另走一条国家安全道路之间”、中朝友谊和弃核之间作出抉择的极为挑衅的妄言。
 This is just a wanton violation of the independent and legitimate rights, dignity and supreme interests of the DPRK and, furthermore, constitutes an undisguised threat to an honest-minded neighboring country which has a long history and tradition of friendship.  这是对朝鲜自主合法的权利、尊严和最高利益的严重侵害,也是具有悠久的友好历史和传统的善良邻国露骨的威胁。
 China is hyping up “damage caused by the DPRK’s nuclear tests” in its three northeastern provinces. This only reveals the ulterior purpose sought by it, being displeased with the DPRK’s rapid development of nukes.  中国有些人大谈东北三省的“核试灾害”,只能暴露出中国不喜欢朝鲜核武高度化的内心。
 As far as “violation of national interests” oft-repeated by politicians and media persons of China is concerned, it is just the issue that the DPRK should rather talk much about.

It is just the DPRK whose strategic interests have been repeatedly violated due to insincerity and betrayal on the part of its partner, not China at all.

 至于中国政治家和媒体人动辄提到的“侵害国家利益”,反而朝鲜有更多的话要说。由于对方背信弃义的行动,国家战略利益屡遭侵害的不是中国,而是朝鲜。
 Some theorists of China are spouting a load of nonsense that the DPRK’s access to nukes strains the situation in Northeast Asia and offers the U.S. an excuse for beefing up its strategic assets in the region. But the U.S. had activated its strategy for dominating Asia-Pacific long before the DPRK had access to nukes, and its primary target is just China. 中国有人荒唐地主张朝鲜拥核加剧东北亚局势,给美国加强在这一地区的战略部署提供借口,但美国的亚太支配战略早在朝鲜拥核很久以前就开始启动,其主要目标本来就是中国。
China should acknowledge in an honest manner that the DPRK has just contributed to protecting peace and security of China, foiling the U.S. scheme for aggression by waging a hard fight in the frontline of the showdown with the U.S. for more than seven decades, and thank the DPRK for it. 中国倒是应当老实承认长达70多年在反美对抗战的第一线艰苦作战,挫败美国的侵略阴谋,为维护中国大陆的和平与安全做出贡献的到底是谁,先向朝鲜表示感谢才合乎道理。
Some ignorant politicians and media persons of China daringly assert that the traditional relations of the DPRK-China friendship were in line with the interests of each county in the past. They are advised to clearly understand the essence of history before opening their mouth. 悍然胡扯传统的中朝友好关系“当时契合了各国的利益”的愚昧无知的一些中国政治家和媒体人,应首先搞清楚历史的本质后再来理论。
Their call for not only slapping stricter sanctions but also not ruling out a military intervention if the DPRK refuses to abandon its nuclear program is no more than an extremely ego-driven theory based on big-power chauvinism that not only the strategic interests but also the dignity and vital rights of the DPRK should be sacrificed for the interests of China. 只要朝鲜不弃核,不仅加强对朝制裁力度,而且不惜使出军事干涉手段的说法,不过是极为霸道的大国主义逻辑而已,即为了中国的利益,朝鲜的战略利益乃至主权和生存权都要牺牲。
One must clearly understand that the DPRK’s line of access to nukes for the existence and development of the country can neither be changed nor shaken and that the DPRK will never beg for the maintenance of friendship with China, risking its nuclear program which is as precious as its own life, no matter how valuable the friendship is. 必须明白,不管是谁,决不能改变或摇动朝鲜为国家的存在和发展拥核的路线。无论朝中友谊怎样宝贵,朝鲜也不会拿如同生命的核武来交换或乞求。
The DPRK, which has already become one of the most powerful nuclear weapons state, does not feel the need to think over how many options it has now. 毋庸赘述,朝鲜已是最强的核国家,有很多路可以选择。
China should no longer try to test the limits of the DPRK’s patience but make proper strategic option, facing up to the situation. 中国不要再无谓地企图考验朝鲜的忍耐的界限,而应当冷静看待现实并作出正确的战略选择。
China had better ponder over the grave consequences to be entailed by its reckless act of chopping down the pillar of the DPRK-China relations. -0- 中国要深思,现在乱砍朝中关系支柱的危险妄动可能带来的严重后果。(完)

The wordings in English and Chinese aren’t always identical. For example, according to the English version, People’s Daily and Huanqiu Shibao are widely known as media speaking for the official stand of the Chinese party and government, while in KCNA’s Chinese version, the two publications are believed to represent China’s party’s and government’s official position. And while the English version says that [t]he DPRK, which has already become one of the most powerful nuclear weapons state, does not feel the need to think over how many options it has now, the Chinese translation says that with no need to go into unnecessary details, the DPRK is already the strongest nuclear country and can choose from many roads.

Huanqiu Shibao, one of the two Chinese papers mentioned by KCNA, lost no time to react: an article, written by “Shan Renping” (that would be editor Hu Xijin‘s (胡锡进) pen name, according to Feichang Dao),  appeared in Chinese at 8 a.m. the next day – KCNA’s commentary had been published the evening before. At 10:18 a.m., an English version of the same article followed on the “Global Times” website.

Neither Western nor Chinese media may take a great interest in reproducing the case Pyongyang is trying to make: that doesn’t fit in either America’s nor into China’s interests, as KCNA noted in the Wednesday editorial: […] the commentaries asserted that to remain averse to the DPRK’s access to nukes is to preserve interests common to the U.S. and China, calling for slapping harsher sanctions against the DPRK in order to avert a war which would bring danger to China.

From the official North Korean perspective, America, not North Korea, poses problems – and KCNA adds a warning to Beijing (whose politicians have left it to scholars and media so far to voice discontent with Pyongyang):

Some theorists of China are spouting a load of nonsense that the DPRK’s access to nukes strains the situation in Northeast Asia and offers the U.S. an excuse for beefing up its strategic assets in the region. But the U.S. had activated its strategy for dominating Asia-Pacific long before the DPRK had access to nukes, and its primary target is just China.

On Friday, Taiwan’s Liberty Times quoted a South Korean foreign ministry spokesman as saying that sanctions on the North were showing effects, as demonstrated by North Korea’s reaction. According to the Liberty Times report, US secretary of state had previously revealed that Pyongyang had received a warning from Beijing to either refrain from further nuclear tests, or to face sanctions voluntarily imposed by China.

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Related

Big country, small countries, Wikipedia, last edt. March 19, 2017

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Saturday, April 15, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Related

Defending the decision, CNN, April 14, 2017
“MOAB killed dozens”, NY Times, April 14, 2017
Warning to North Korea, KBS Seoul, April 14, 2017
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Saturday, January 28, 2017

China’s rising Aggression against Taiwan – is there anything we can do to counter it?

Nigeria told Taiwan earlier this month to move its de-facto embassy from the capital Abuja to Lagos, the country’s biggest city and its capital until 1976, and seat of the federal government until 1991. According to the Chinese foreign ministry,

Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama told journalists after reaffirming the One-China Policy at a joint press conference with visiting Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, that Taiwan will now have to function in Lagos with a skeletal staff.

One could condemn the decision of the Nigerian government, who have reportedly been promised $40 bn Chinese investment in the country’s infrastructure, and the Taiwanese foreign ministry did just that.

But there will always be governments who are too weak to be principled – and most governments worldwide, and especially those of “developed” and powerful countries, have long played along with Beijing’s “one-China policy”. Big or small countries’ decisions are based on “national interest” (whichever way national interest may be defined).

Still, what Nigeria is doing to Taiwan shows a new quality in harming the island nation. A Reuters report on January 12 didn’t try to “prove” Beijing’s driving force behind the Nigerian decision, but quotes a Taiwanese perception that would suggest this, writing that Taiwan sees the “request” to move its representative office from the capital as more pressure by China to isolate it.

Reuters also wrote that

[w]hile economic ties between the mainland and Taiwan have grown considerably in recent years, their relations have worsened since Tsai Ing-wen, who heads a pro-independence party, was elected president of the island last year.
Beijing has been stepping up pressure on her to concede to its “one China” principle.

In fact, this isn’t just a move to make Taiwan “lose face”, or to re-emphasize the – in Beijing’s view – inofficial nature of Taiwanese statehood and sovereignty. This is an attempt on Taiwan’s lifelines, even if only a small one – for now. If Taiwan has to reduce staff at one of its embassies, simply because Beijing wants the host country to bully Taiwan, this affects Taiwanese trade. And this means that Beijing is making fun of a World Trade Organization member’s legitimate interests.

Looking at it under less formal aspects, this move via Nigeria is also an aggression against Taiwan’s democracy.

The Tsai administration’s position during the past eight months hadn’t even been “provocative”. All they can be blamed for is that they didn’t bow before Beijing’s hatpole, an alleged “1992 consensus” between the Chinese Communist Party and the Taiwanese National Party (KMT). In her inaugural speech in May, President Tsai Ing-wen still acknowledged the fact that there had been KMT-CCP talks that year, and the role the talks had had in building better cross-strait relations. But  she pointed out that among the foundations of interactions and negotiations across the Strait, there was the democratic principle and prevalent will of the people of Taiwan.

It seems that this position – legitimate and reasonable – was too much for Beijing. This should be food for thought for everyone in the world who wants the will of the people to prevail.

J. Michael Cole, a blogger from Taiwan, wrote in September last year that China’s leadership

behaves very much like a 12-year-old: pouting and bullying when it doesn’t get what it wants. To be perfectly honest, it’s rather embarrassing and hardly warrants the space and scare quotes it gets in the world’s media. […]

Why the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has kept at it for so long is because we, the international community, have allowed it to do so. From the hallowed halls of academia to the media, government agencies to the public sphere, we have allowed fear to regulate how we interact with China, with ourselves, and with the rest of the world.

His conclusion: we – and I assume that by “we”, he refers to all freedom-loving people who cherish democracy – need collectively stiffer spines, ; the times when we let the authoritarian-child determine what’s in our best interest should come to an end, not just in the political sphere but in other areas, including the embattled field of free expression, where the 12-year-old has been making a mockery of our proud traditions in journalism and academia.

I wasn’t sure if I agreed when I read this, months ago. Yes, it is true that China’s dollars are corrupting. But aren’t all dollars corrupting, if you are corrupt? Who forces us to take them? I’m wondering if South Africa in the 1980s would have faced sanctions if their white government and elites had had to offer then what Beijing has to offer now. And in that regard, I believe we should see clearly that Western countries frequently put their positions on sale easily, when they are offered the right price.

That was  a main factor in America’s motivation, in the 1970s, to acknowledge Beijing’s “one-China policy”. That’s why the EU is nearly spineless when it comes to interaction with Beijing. And that’s why Taiwan’s own elites are frequently eager to do business with China, even if this limits the island republic’s political scope further.

All the same, China’s measures against democracy are uniquely aggressive in some ways. Above all, they are completely shameless. If they serve their country, Chinese people may advocate them without the least disguise – because it serves China. When an American politician – Donald Trump – does a similar thing by ostensibly “putting America first”, he faces a bewildered global public who can’t believe their own ears. And yes, censorship and records where only the victor writes the history books and declares the defeated parties villains is part of hallowed Chinese tradition. There were Chinese people who were openly critical of that tradition during the 1980s or the 1990s. As far as I can see, there aren’t too many of them any more. (I’m not sure there are any left.)

Chinese “public opinion” may debate measures to optimize business, or CCP rule. But there are no competing visions in China. There is no public opinion. There is only guidance toward totalitarianism.

Can governments play a role in controlling China’s aggression against democracy? Not in the short or medium term, anyway. Any such movement has to start from the grassroots. And it won’t be a terribly big one, let alone a “collective” one, as Cole appears to hope.

But every right move is a new beginning, and a contribution to a better world. We can’t boycott China, and if we could, it might amount to a tragedy.

But we can make new, small, decisions every day: is this really the right time to arrange a students exchange with China? Why not with Taiwan? Is an impending deal with China really in one’s best interest? Could an alternative partner make better sense in the long run, even if the opportunity cost looks somewhat higher right now?

The CCP’s propaganda, during the past ten or twenty years, has been that you have no choice but to do business with China under its rule, no matter if you like the dictatorship and its increasing global reach, or not. The purpose of this propaganda has been to demobilize any sense of resistance, of decency, or of hope.

We need to take a fresh look at China.

As things stand, this doesn’t only mean a fresh look at the CCP, but at China as a country, too. During the past ten years, the CCP has managed to rally many Chinese people behind itself, and to discourage dissenters, apparently a minority anyway, from voicing dissent.

A new personal and – if it comes to that – collective fresh look at China requires a sense of proportion, not big statements or claims. It doesn’t require feelings of hatred or antagonism against China, either. We should remain interested in China, and continue to appreciate what is right with it.

What is called for is not a answer that would always be true, but a question, that we should ask ourselves at any moment when a choice appears to be coming up.

As an ordinary individual, don’t ask how you can “profit” from China’s “rise” (which has, in fact, been a long and steady collapse into possibly stable, but certainly immoral hopelessness).

Ask yourself what you can do for Taiwan.

Happy new year!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Xi Jinping in Davos: the Warming Sunshine of Economic Globalization

“Davos: China’s president Xi Jinping argues for a liberal economic order”, German business paper “Handelsblatt” titled on its front page on Wednesday. (Not quite the headline, though – that was a news article on Theresa May‘s Brexit speech.) The paper also quotes incoming US president Donald Trump‘s advisor, Anthony Scaramucci, as saying that the US didn’t want a trade war, “but we want fair trade”, and that Trump’s attacks on NATO and EU had been misinterpreted.

The editorial in the same edition is enthusiastic: Xi Jinping‘s Davos speech had been “a dressing-down for populists”, argues Handelsblatt editorialist Stephan Scheuer, and provided “a keynote for discussions of the coming years”. Xi’s unambiguous message was that China would “not close its doors, but open them further for the world.”

Scheuer’s Wednesday editorial seems to confirm the impression of a Chinese government researcher, Zhao Jinping (赵晋平), who was quoted by “People’s Daily” as saying that reactions to Xi’s speech had been sympathetic (共鸣).

Gulliver in Smurfland (Xinhua artwork)

Gulliver in Smurfland (Xinhua artwork)

While Zhao pointed out that globalization remained the international mainstream consensus, Xi Jinping himself found more flowery words to express the same belief (as quoted in another “People’s Daily” article):

“The global economy’s vast sea, if you like it or not, is there, and you can’t avoid it.” Xi Jinping pointed out that a desire to artificially cut every national economy’s capital flows, technology flows, flows of products, industries, and people, and to shrink the vast sea of the global economy to an isolated small lake, or a small river, was impossible, and would not be in correspondence with the historic trend. When facing economic globalization’s opportunities and risks, the right choice is to make full use of the opportunities, to cooperate to respond to challenges, and to guide the direction of economic globalization well.

“世界经济的大海,你要还是不要,都在那儿,是回避不了的。”习近平指出,想人为切断各国经济的资金流、技术流、产品流、产业流、人员流,让世界经济的大海退回到一个一个孤立的小湖泊、小河流,是不可能的,也是不符合历史潮流的。面对经济全球化带来的机遇和挑战,正确的选择是,充分利用一切机遇,合作应对一切挑战,引导好经济全球化走向。

And:

Protectionism is like locking oneself into a dark room, as if one wants to avoid the hardship, but also the warming sunshine. The result of trade wars would only bring harm to both sides.

搞保护主义如同把自己关进黑屋子,看似躲过了风吹雨打,但也隔绝了阳光和空气。打贸易战的结果只能是两败俱伤

But not everyone appears to have become fully convinced this week that the hero now lives in Beijing, and that the villain is going to reside in the White House. Frank Sieren, a columnist who had been accused by his former Deutsche Welle colleague Su Yutong of being too nice to Beijing more than two years ago, reminds his readers that Xi, no less than Trump, would stand against those who are currently lauding him – whenever that makes sense for him. And both Xi and Trump would have to pursue goals of their own: China would have to get more integrated with the world to be successful, and America would need to produce more goods at home, without making the products more expensive for Americans.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The U.S. Democrats’ Red Herring: Blaming the Russians

Mattathias Schwartz of The Intercept suggests a statement different from the one US President Obama actually made at his last press conference. That statement, as scripted by Schwartz, would have deviated from the actual statement indeed. But it wouldn’t have provided America with moral and political leadership, as the teaser suggested.

The Intercept's presidential statement

The Intercept’s presidential statement

There’s no question to my mind that Donald Trump and his supporters (professionals and “ordinary people”) have made substantial contributions to brutalize the campaign, and political culture. But there is no question either that the Democratic Party’s establishment has shown its contempt for democratic principle, by pushing Hillary Clinton‘s nomination campaign, at the expense of Bernie Sanders‘. Clinton and her supporters showed quite the “sense of entitlement” once ascribed to China’s leader Xi Jinping.

That – not the Russian exposure of it – is the problem.

Were there American media that exposed the Democratic National Committee’s conduct? I haven’t heard of any. There was no Bob Woodward of our times who would have dug up that pit. The American media didn’t perform. They didn’t pick up their essential role. Moscow simply filled the vacuum.

Maybe that’s what Obama should have said (if he could have). He could have tried to talk some sense into those democrat functionaries (and press people) who are now trying to make the public forget their own role in their candiate’s undoing.

Obviously, there’s no reason to thank the Russian leadership for what they did. But there is no reason to flame them, either. America wasn’t treated like a banana republic this year, it acted like one.

If you want more of the same, shoot the messenger. But if you want democracy that works, do your homework.

Friday, December 2, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ignatius:

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

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

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Related

Why Wikileaks can’t work, Dec 1, 2010

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