Posts tagged ‘economy’

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Inter-Korean Summit: all the Virtuous Circles (around China, please)

CCTV, via Huanqiu Shibao.

Main Link: Historic Day – One Sentence from South-North Korean Summit makes this Continental Plate go Wild (历史性一天:朝韩首脑的一句话 让这个板块涨疯了)

Today, the Korean peninsula has welcomed a historic scene. At 08:30 Beijing time and 09:30 Seoul time, North Korea’s highest leader Kim Jong-un crossed the military demarcation line between the North and the South, to meet and shake hands with South Korean president Kim Jae-in. This was the first time for a highest North Korean leader to set foot on South Korean soil.

今天朝鲜半岛迎来历史性的一幕。北京时间8时30分,首尔时间9时30分,朝鲜最高领导人金正恩越过朝韩军事分界线,与韩国总统文在寅会面握手。这是朝鲜最高领导人首次踏上韩国领土。

After having talks, they signed an agreement and jointly issued the “Panmunjom Declaration”, achieving agreement to a denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Let us look back on this historic moment together.

双方在会谈之后,签署协议并共同发表了《板门店宣言》,就半岛无核化达成协议。一起来回顾一下这一历史性的时刻↓ [sic]

One line (or word) of this summit meeting has driven this continental plate wild!

朝韩首脑会晤上的一句话,让这些领域涨疯了!

Concerning this South-North Korean summit, CCTV Finance Channel’s special correspondent to South Korea, Li Xianghe, and Washington correspondent Wei Xuejiao also compiled the latest reports.

有关此次韩朝首脑会晤,央视财经频道在韩国首尔的特约记者李香和驻美国华盛顿记者魏雪娇也发挥了最新的报道↓

The nearly 12-hours itinerary of the third South-North Korean summit ended concluded perfectly. This afternoon, the South and North Korean leaders signed the “Panmunjom Declaration”, announcing the termination of all hostile behavior towards the other side, a strife for a declaration of the end to the state of war within a year, the two sides confirmed the goal of complete denuclearization of the peninsula by complete abandonment of nuclear weapons, and realizing balanced development and joint prosperity of the national economy. All South Korean media carried out complete and close coverage of today’s meeting. Many among the South Korean masses paid close attention to the historic moment.

将近12个小时的韩朝第三次首脑会晤的日程圆满结束。今天下午,韩朝领导人签署了《板门店宣言》,宣布停止一切针对对方的敌对行为,争取年内宣布结束战争状态,双方确认通过完全弃核实现半岛无核化的共同目标,实现民族经济的均衡发展和共同繁荣等。韩国各大媒体对今天的会晤进行了全程跟踪报道。很多的韩国民众,他们对这一历史性时刻给予了高度的关注。

Also, all South Korean walks of life assess the results of today’s meeting positively. All parties from South Korea, although with varying enthusiasm, affirmed the content of the “Panmunjom Declaration” signed today. Reactions from entrepreneurial circles were more direct and more positive.

另外,韩国各界也积极评价了今天的会晤成果。韩国朝野各党虽然存在一定的“温差”,但是对韩朝双方签署的“板门店宣言”的内容都给予了肯定。企业界的反映则更直接、更积极。

South Korea’s committee of small and medium-sized enterprises said that this meeting could become a relief for the tense situation on the peninsula, a major opportunity for the promotion of peace and prosperity, that they [the SMEs] would actively prepare renewed operation of Kaicheng Industrial Park, and promote South-Northern economic cooperation.

韩国中小企业委员会表示,此次会晤成为缓解朝鲜半岛紧张局势、推进和平繁荣的重要契机,他们将积极准备开城工业园的重启工作,促进南北经济合作。

After some notes on market reactions, the CCTV article continues:

In the informal conversation of this morning, Kim Jong-un praised South Korea’s high-speed railway, while Moon Jae-in said that if the two railway systems could link up to each other, they could be used by everyone. This kind of dialog pushed railway sector stock exchange up, with some exceeding a rise of 13 percent.  This kind of bilateral willingness is also reflected in the two sides’ declarations. Both the South and the North that they will link up the Interkorean Railway and the Gyeongui Line rail and road, promoting cooperation in the field of infrastructure. The North-South Korean summit was constantly and closely watched by the United States.

在今天上午的非正式谈话中,金正恩赞了韩国的高铁,文在寅则说到如果双方铁路能连起来了,大家可以一起用。这样的对话助推了铁路板块股票的上涨,有的涨幅甚至超过了13%。这样的意愿也反映在了双方的宣言上,韩朝双方表示将连接韩朝东海线及京义线铁路和道路,推动基础建设领域的合作。 针对此次朝韩首脑会晤,美国方面一直在对其进行着密切的关注。

White House: At the time of the North-South Korean summit, America hopes for smooth [interaction of] the people in the North and the South. It hopes that the talks will allow the Korean peninsula to forge toward peace and prosperity. At the same time, America also praises its South Korean ally and expresses hopes that President Trump and Kim Jong-un will also meet within a few weeks. At the same time, many American mainstream media provide prominent coverage of this summit. On the whole, the American media really anticipate this historic meeting. Many American media also refer to a “historic meeting”.

白宫:在朝韩首脑会晤之际,美方希望朝韩人民顺利。希望谈判能够让朝鲜半岛向和平、繁荣迈进。同时,美方也赞赏了盟友韩国,对未来几周,特朗普总统和金正恩的会谈表示期待。 与此同时,很多美国主流媒体都突出报道了此次朝韩首脑会晤,整体上来看,美国媒体非常期待这次历史性会谈。很多美国媒体也用“历史性会晤”来形容。

The “Wall Street Journal” [writes] that this time’s results will determine the future direction of relations on the Korean peninsula, and establish a foundation for preparing and holding the summit between North Korea and America.

美国《华尔街日报》本次的结果势将决定朝鲜半岛关系未来走向,并为拟定举行的朝美首脑会晤奠定基础。

“Bloomberg News” said that hopes were rekindled on the Korean peninsula, and that this time’s meeting between the North and the South made people expect that besides putting an end to a meaningless conflict, and that it could at least reduce current threats to global security and the tense situation on the global financial markets.

美国《彭博社》表示,朝鲜半岛再次燃起希望,此次朝韩会晤也令人期待,除了结束毫无意义的冲突之外,至少可以减少目前威胁全球安全和世界金融市场的紧张局势。

The CCTV article then describes US media interest in the two leaders’ dinner menu, abd mentions the release of photos showing newly-appointed US secretary of state Pompeo’s meeting with North Korean leaders a few weeks ago.

In fact, if everything develops smoothly, including this North-South Korean summit, President Trump and Kim Jong-un will hold a leaders meeting in May or June, which would be the first dialog between a sitting US president and a North Korean leader.

实际上,如果一切进展顺利的话,包括此次朝韩首脑会晤,特朗普总统和金正恩将在5月或6月举行美朝领导人会晤,那将是美国现任总统与朝鲜领导人之间的首次对话。

In further news, South Korean media have revealed that the South Korean president may visit America around mid-May, have talks with US President Trump, brief him about the results of his talks with Kim Jong-un, and discuss a specific roadmap for the implementation of the Korean peninsula’s denuclearization.

接下来,韩国媒体已经透露,韩国总统或将于5月中旬访问美国,与美国总统特朗普举行会谈,向他介绍同金正恩的会谈结果,并讨论半岛无核化路线图的具体落实方案。

This meeting was the third one between South and North Korean leaders, eleven year after the most recent one. The “Panmunjom Declaration” confirms the realization of the peninsula’s denuclearization which brings about development space for the two countries, North East Asia and the whole world for economic cooperation.

此次会晤是时隔11年后,韩朝首脑的第三次会谈,《板门店宣言》确认实现半岛无核化,这将为两国、东北亚以及全球范围内的经济合作,带来发展空间。

Experts say that this summit, bringing about the establishment for a long-term peace mechanism, opens the door and paves the way for economic cooperation between the two countries and North East Asia.

专家表示,此次韩朝首脑会晤,带来的长期和平机制的建立,将为打通韩朝两国以及东北亚各方的经济合作,奠定基础。

Chinese Academy of Social Studies Asian and Global Strategy Research Institute’s researcher Pu Jianyi says that China’s, Russia’s and Mongolia’s building of a trilateral economic corridor could include North Korea, if the situation on the Korean peninsula approached a a virtuous circle. Once North Korea was included, South Korea would naturally join, with Japan behind. China, Japan, and South Korea cooperating, plus China integrating them with North Korea and Russia, would spell better prospects for the future.

中国社会科学院亚太与全球战略研究院研究员 朴键一表示,目前在中国、俄罗斯、蒙古三方的经济走廊建设,如果朝鲜半岛形势向着良性循环的方向发展,可以期待中蒙俄经济走廊建设的横向扩展,很快就可以把朝鲜拉进来,有了朝鲜,韩国自然就跟上了,后边日本。中国、日本,韩国的合作,还有就是中国和朝鲜、俄罗斯怎么把它们整合,会有一个比较好的前景。

[…]

Zhang Jianping, director of the Minstry of Commerce’s Research Center for Regional Economic Cooperation, says that North Korea has actually made some preparations during the past few years, establishing more economic development zones. Also, agricultural cooperation had become a matter of vital importance.

商务部研究院区域经济合作研究中心主任 张建平表示,朝鲜其实在前些年已经准备了一些,设立一些更多的一些经济开发区,另外在农业开放合作方面,现在也是当务之急。

Chinese Academy of Social Studies Asian and Global Strategy Research Institute’s researcher Pu Jianyi says that from South Korea through North Korea up to China, infrastructure building such as railways and highways, are now under discussion.  Among these, not only China, but along the Russian coastline, too, there were matters of  building railways and energy pipelines.  This infrastructure construction would entail lots of mutual economic cooperation, for example in the field of minerals, etc..

中国社会科学院亚太与全球战略研究院研究员 朴键一表示,从韩国经过朝鲜到中国来,像铁路、公路基础设施的建设,现在正在讨论。其中不光是到中国来,去俄罗斯的沿海岸线要铺设铁路,还有一个就是能源管道的问题。这样的一些基础设施建设,后边就带上一大堆相应的经济合作,比如矿产品等。

____________

Related

Chinese Interests won’t be sidelined, March 12, 2018

____________

Advertisements
Saturday, November 4, 2017

CNA: Zhu Rongji backs Xi Jinping Thoughts in rare public appearance

Main Link: Zhu Rongji backs Xi Jinping Thoughts in rare public appearance, CNA/RTI Taipei, Nov 4, 2017. Links within blockquotes added during translation.

____________

Former Chinese chief state councillor Zhu Rongji, who has rarely appeared publicly after his retirement, had a meeting with foreign guests on Monday afternoon (Oct 30), when he made a rare mention of politics, backing the Xi Jinping Thoughts, and expressing that this was the program of action in the CCP’s leadership of all of China.

自退休後便極少公開露面的前中國國務院總理朱鎔基10月30日下午會見外賓時,罕見提及政治議題,力挺習近平思想,並表示這是中共帶領全中國的「行動綱領」。

According to the official website of Tsinghua University’s School of Economics and Management, Zhu Rongji, in his capacity as the first dean who ever lead the school, met members of the School’s advisory board, including Apple CEO Tim Cook.

根據北京清華大學經濟管理學院官網公告,朱鎔基當天以首任院長身分在北京釣魚台國賓館會見蘋果執行長庫克(Tim Cook)在內的北京清華大學經濟管理學院顧問委員會委員。

Zhu Rongji said during the meeting that he had recently attended the CCP’s 19th National Congress. “This time’s congress took place at the stage of determining victory in the comprehensive building of a moderately well-off society. This important congress was held at a defining moment of the development of socialism with Chinese characteristics.”

朱鎔基在會中表示,自己日前作為特邀代表出席中國共產黨第19次全國代表大會。「這次大會是在中國全面建成小康社會決勝階段、中國特色社會主義發展關鍵時期召開的一次重要會議。」

He said that “a string of major achievements” had been made politically, theoretically and practically, that elections had produced “a new generation of central collective leaders with [comrade] Xi Jinping as the core”, and that “Xi Jinping’s major thoughts for a new era of socialism with Chinese characteristics” had been established.

他表示,大會在政治上、理論上、實踐上取得了「一系列重大成果」,選舉產生了「以習近平同志為核心的新一代中央領導集體;創立了習近平新時代中國特色社會主義思想」。

Zhu Rongji also mentioned that “Xi Jinping’s thoughts for the new era of socialism with Chinese characteristics are the most recent achievement of sinicization of Marxism, the political propaganda and guiding action principles of our party as it unitedly leads all nationalities into the new era and as it develops socialism with Chinese characteristcs.”

朱鎔基還提到「習近平新時代中國特色社會主義思想是馬克思主義中國化的最新成果,是我們黨團結帶領全國各族人民在新時代堅持和發展中國特色社會主義的政治宣言和行動綱領,必須長期堅持和不斷發展。」

Zhu Rongji lives a mostly secluded life after his retirement in 2003, and has made only very few public appearances. Mainland Chinese media also repeatedly reported that after retiring, Zhu Rongji had said that “without office and without planning politics, the most important principle is not to talk about work.” Zhu Rongji’s public discussion of political issues is really a rare sight.

朱鎔基自2003年卸任後便深居簡出,極少公開露面。中國大陸媒體也多次報導,朱鎔基退休後曾明確表示,「不在其位,不謀其政,最大的原則就是不談工作」。朱鎔基這次公開談論政治議題實屬罕見。

It is worth noting that according to a Xinhua newsagency report, CCP secretary general Xi Jinping also met members of the Tsinghua School of Economics and Management advisory board’s overseas members, and Chinese entrepreneurs who are also members, at the Great Hall of the People. Both meetings [with Zhu and Xi] even appeared to be accompanied by almost exactly the same staff.

值得注意的是,據新華社報導,中共總書記習近平當天也在北京人民大會堂會見北京清華經濟管理學院顧問委員會海外委員和中方企業家委員。連陪同會見的人員都幾乎一模一樣。

Among them were Chinese state council vice chief councillor Liu Yandong, Ma Kai, CPPCC vice chairman Chen Yuan, and [central] People’s Bank of China governor Zhou Xiaochuan. Only CCP general office director Ding Xuexiang was an additional participant in the meeting with Xi Jinping.

其中包括,中國國務院副總理劉延東、馬凱,全國政協副主席陳元、中國人民銀行行長周小川。習近平會見外賓時只多了中共中央辦公廳主任丁薛祥。

____________

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Notebook: Tsai’s recent Speeches

Focus Taiwan (CNA newsagency’s English-language website) has President Tsai Ing-wen‘s full  Double-Ten address, (the original script can be found on the presidential website), and on October, she gave a speech in English, to the Yushan Forum, an “Asia Innovation and Progress Dialogue”, including remarks about the “New Southbound Policy”.

Yushan Forum, Oct 2017 – please click picture for video

Tsai Ing-wen’s approval ratings have recently seen a modest surge – or a significant one, when looking at where they have come from, since summer this year.

In July, an L. A. Times correspondent reported the nasty numbers of that month – an approval rating of 33 per cent -, but added that this didn’t necessarily mean that her supporters were abandoning her.

Indeed, it has become a Taiwanese tradition to keep presidents under the opinion-poll waterline most of the time – when Ma Ying-jeou, Tsai’s predecessor, was re-elected early in 2012, four years of submergence lied behind him, with another four years waiting.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Political Time Check (Febr 2017): “Synchronized Efforts”

The following is a translation of an article published by the “People’s Daily”, online and in its printed edition, on February 14 this year, by an author named Zhao Zhenyu (赵振宇). Links within blockquotes added during translation.

Main link: “Time Culture – Galloping into the Realms of Dreams”

“A leading cadre’s time of reign is limited, and even more limited is the time he works in the same place. As leading cadres, we must, in the spirit of strife from dawn to dusk, cherish time just the more, make use of this limited time, to do practical and good things for the masses.” During the past few days, when I reviewed secretary general Xi Jinping’s discussion of time, I felt the style of pragmatic and careful work again, and experienced again the time civilization, which is indispensible to the era of pursuing the Chinese dream.

“一个领导干部,在位的时间是有限的,在一个地方工作的时间更有限。我们每一个领导干部都要以‘只争朝夕’的精神,倍加珍惜在位的时间,充分利用这有限的时间,多为群众办实事、办好事。”近日重温习近平总书记关于时间的谈话,再次感受到务实、精细的工作作风,体会到逐梦时代不可或缺的时间文明。

The seasons come and go, untouched by the words that try to describe them. In the beginning, time was an abstract concept, and something hard to grasp. When the forefathers of humankind began to record things by tying knots, measuring time was still something people strived to understand and to master, and became a criterion of civilisational expansion and progress. Of course, in history, people from ancient times formed an awareness of time under the impression of “work from sunrise and to rest after the sunset”, and they developed an attitude that appreciated time, by “attributing little value to a jade ring, but great importance to a single ray of light”. They were careful “not to miss the farming season, so as to reap the harvest in due course”. Time culture, with its connotations of understanding and cherishing time and respecting punctuality, reminds us to scientifically master time, and to effectively use time.

天不言而四时行,时间最初是一个抽象而难以把握的概念。从人类先祖结绳记事开始,定量化的时间才被逐渐认识和掌握,成为文明拓进的一个向度。当然在历史上,古人很早就形成了“日出而作,日入而息”的时间意识,形成了“贱尺璧而重寸阴”的惜时态度,形成了“不违农时,谷不可胜食也”的守时观念。以识时、惜时、守时为内涵的时间文明,提醒我们科学把握时间、有效利用时间。

No blossoming dream can occur without irrigation, and no civilizational advancement can do without the helping hand of time. Time pushes ahead without turning back, and any waste of time amounts to affecting a society’s civilization negatively. Time is the material that forms life, and wasting other peoples’ time means nothing less than scheming murder. In particular, it is the context of “infinite time” and “finiteness of life” that magnifies the value of time and the significance of struggle. That’s why Marx said that all savings ultimately amounted to saving time. As we enter the modern era of milliseconds and microseconds, the architectures-dream value of time becomes yet more apparent. Only by conserving time culture and renovating the notion of time, can we surge forward to enrich human life, and gallop into the realms of dreams.

一切梦想的花开,都离不开时间的浇灌,一切文明的进阶,都离不开时间的助力。时间总是不可逆转地向前推进,对时间的浪费,不啻对社会文明的怠慢甚至贻误。时间是组成生命的材料,浪费别人的时间无异于谋财害命。尤其在“无限的时间”与“有限的生命”的语境下,更凸显出时间的宝贵、奋斗的意义。所以马克思说,一切节约归根到底都是时间的节约。当时代的车轮驶入以毫秒、微秒计时的现代社会,时间的筑梦价值更加显现。涵养时间文明,刷新时间观念,我们才能激荡出彩人生、驰骋梦想国度。

“dit dit dit … Beijing time is x hours.” On December 15, 1970, the National Time Service Center began to broadcast Beijing standard time to the nation on shortwave. From that time on, this familiar timecheck became a reference for peoples’ coming and going. Achieving the goals of the struggles for the Chinese dream and of the “two two-hundreds”, on this brave march forward and the center’s*) strategic dispositons and reform guidelines equally depend on synchronization by Beijing time. All regions, all departments, and all units, in the process of reform and development, are united in action, in unanimous efforts. Connection with the center*) by synchronization and example guarantee that our ideology and our actions serve as rules, and only this enables the entire nation’s chessboard implementation of cooperation, to rise to the cohesive effect of “pearls falling into a jade plate”.

“嘀嘀嘀……北京时间×点整。”1970年12月15日,国家授时中心开始向全国进行短波广播标准的北京时间。从那时起,这个耳熟能详的报时声成为人们出入起居的时间参照。实现中国梦、实现“两个一百年”的奋斗目标,在这条奋进之路上,中央的战略部署和改革方针,同样是我们需要不断对表的北京时间。各地区、各部门、各单位,在改革发展中同中央步调一致、力度一致,一以贯之地与中央对表、看齐,确保我们的思想与行动都以此为准,才能产生“全国上下一盘棋”的落实合力,起到“大珠小珠落玉盘”的聚合效果。

From the venturing cry of “ten thousand years are too long, seize the day, seize the hour” to the firm exploration of “Development is the unyielding argument”, and to the magnificent journey of “reform does not stall, opening up does not stop”, time culture on the national level has amply broken new ground of meaning. We must continue to cultivate this kind of time consciousness. In reality, there is no action of reform and development without a time frame. When it comes to structural reform of production capacities and supply, it is true that resisting forces remain strong, and policies to enable access to pure resources, clean energy etc. comes at high costs, but if we can’t resolutely and decisively implement reform, we may lose the exceptionally favourable opportunity of economic transformation. As for realizing the key issue of moderate prosperity, to seize the opportunity that time provides us with, from an insightful position, is exactly the best attitude to welcome the future.

从“一万年太久,只争朝夕”的创业呐喊,到“发展才是硬道理”的坚定探索,再到“改革不停顿、开放不止步”的壮丽征程,国家层面时间文明充满开拓进取意味。今天,我们仍然需要培育这样的时间意识。现实中,各项改革发展举措,莫不有时间窗口。去产能、去库存等供给侧结构性改革任务固然阻力重重,置备污染净化设备、普及清洁能源等治霾之策固然成本高企,但我们现在如果不能毅然决然地落实改革,就可能丧失经济转型的绝佳时机。对冲刺在实现全面小康关键一程上的中国而言,把握时间给予的机遇,正是眺望前路、迎向未来的最好姿态。

As the times are changing, the dream advances. [Reference to the lunar calendar.] In the new growth ring of the years, our energetic mood shows promise, the struggle forges ahead, and they will certainly carve beautiful memories that won’t drag the mission and the era.

时序更替,梦想前行。农历丁酉年是鸡年,雄鸡司晨昭示时光宝贵,闻鸡起舞激扬勤奋精神。在新的时间年轮里,我们奋发有为、拼搏进取,一定能刻写下不负使命不负时代的美好回忆。

____________

Note

*) the central committee and/or the central government – probably the central committee in this context

____________

Related

Strategic inflection point, A. S. Grove, 1996, 1999
Grundrisse (in English), Karl Marx, 1857 – 61

____________

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.

Monday, November 28, 2016

A few Thoughts about Castro

Fidel Castro, in the course of about half a century, became an icon for people who would have liked to challenge America’s leading global role. And he was hated by many Americans. When I asked an otherwise friendly American friend (by letter, back then) in the early 1990s why the embargo was still in place, I got a long and angry answer, as if I had I had trespassed. And when I made some not-too-critical, but not really reverent remarks about Castro the other day, I got an angry answer, too. What you get in a conversation about Castro really depends on your interlocutor (and, of course, on your diplomatic skills).

What is frequently ignored however, is the Cuban people. It is true that fear, intimidation and human rights violations has helped to keep the Cuban Communist Party in power. so have state and party propaganda. Decades of getting the same stories told over and over and over again, in school, the media, and  arguably by Grandpa at home, won’t fail to leave  traces on most human harddisks.

Few political leaders of the 20th and – so far – 21st century trigger as strong emotions as Fidel Castro does. Castro is idolized, and demonized. And more frequently than not, peoples’ reactions to his memory depend on where they belong, or who they side with: America, China, or Russia, for example.

It would take biographic research to judge Castro and his rule. It would require reading one or two biographies, at least. The information that daily mass media offer won’t provide insights into how Cuba has endured, or profitted from, Castro rule since early 1959.

But you wouldn’t run into too many people without clear-cut opinions about Castro.

That’s why countries and civilizations can be surprising to outsiders (and even to insiders). Things happen, and they may appear to be unlogical or bizarre. But they happen for reasons – good or bad -, and the driving forces behind them aren’t necessarily idiocy.

To understand Castro’s rise to power, and the reasons as to why the Cuban Communist Party has been able to cement its dictatorship to this days, we would need to walk the Cuban streets of the 1940s and 1950s, not those of the 2010s.

Research – scientific or journalistic – needs to take us there.

Monday, October 31, 2016

German FM Vietnam Visit: Counter-Balancing China?

“Vietnam is Germany’s important strategic partner”, Nhan Dan‘s Chinese edition quoted German foreign minister Frank Walter Steinmeier, in one of its headlines on October 29. Nhan Dan is the organ of Vietnam’s Communist Party central committee.

German foreign minister Frank Walter Steinmeier left Berlin on October 29 to begin a trip intended to strengthen the two countries’ strategic partnership.

德国外交部长弗兰克-瓦尔特·施泰因迈尔10月29离开柏林,开始启程对越南进行访问,旨在加强两国战略伙伴关系。

German foreign minister Steinmeier is leading a delegation with members in charge of economic and cultural affairs.

德国外长施泰因迈尔率领负责经济和文化事务代表团对越南进行为期三天的访问。

The German foreign minister sees Vietnam as Germany’s important economic, political, cultural and strategic partner. The head of Germany’s federal parliament, Norbert Lammert, visited Vietnam in March 2015, and Vietnam [then] state chairman Trưong Tan Sang’s visit to Germany in November 2015 strengthened the two countries’ relations further.

德国外交部将越南是为德国重要的经济、政治、文化战略伙伴。德国联邦议院议长诺贝特·拉默特2015年3月对越南进行访问和越南国家主席张晋创2015年11月对德国进行访问为两国关系增添了新动力。

In the framework of the two countries’ strategic-partnership action plan, Germany’s and Vietnam’s cooperation activities are developing further, in a variety of fields, with new projects being added every year. One of these important projects is the “German House”, under construction in Ho Chi Minh City, which is going to be a headquarter for German organizations and companies in Ho Chi Minh City.

在两国战略伙伴行动计划框架内,德国与越南合作活动在各领域上继续向前发展,每年都有新的合作项目。两国重要合作项目之一是在胡志明市兴建 “德国屋”,这里将成为在胡志明市德国组织和企业的总部。

Bilateral trade between Vietnam and Germany amounted to 10.3 billion USD in 2015, with German imports from Vietnam at eight bn, and exports to Vietnam at 2.3 bn USD. Major export products from Vietnam are footwear, textiles, farming and seafood products, electronic components, wooden furniture, etc.. Major import products from Germany are machinery, transport, vehicles, chemical products, and measurement instruments, etc..

越德两国2015年双边贸易金额达103亿美元,德国自越南进口80亿美元、对越南出口23亿美元。越南对德国主要出口产品是鞋类、纺织品、农海产品、电子零件和木家具等;越南自德国进口主要产品是机械、运输车辆、化学物品和化学仪器等。

On Sunday, Nhan Dan reported a visit by Steinmeier to a German company’s investment site in Haiphong. According to the newsarticle, the gypsum production site, built by German gypsum producer Knauf, is one of the biggest investment projects in Haiphong.

Vietnam’s foreign broadcaster Voice of Vietnam‘s (VoV) German service adds a short description of the Phu Lac wind farm.

Betram Lang, a MERICS researcher, wrote earlier this month that

[i]n times of rising diplomatic tensions in the South China Sea, the European Union (EU) tries to bolster the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) as a counterweight to China in the region. To this end, the EU has offered generous financial support to foster the regional integration process and sponsor the still politically toothless ASEAN secretariat. It almost tripled previous financial commitments to 196 million EUR between 2014 and 2020.

That however was proving difficult: While Cambodia has been positioning itself as China’s closest ally in South East Asia since at least 2001, other ASEAN countries have recently sought their own kind of ‘privileged relationship’ with the PRC as well.

China’s online media apparently don’t report Steinmeier’s Vietnam visit – most of the Chinese-language coverage appears to be from Vietnamese sources.

Before heading for Vietnam, Steinmeier reportedly called on Vietnam’s leadership for political reforms in Vietnam, an issue that Vietnam’s state-controlled media didn’t cover (not in Chinese, anyway).

In a speech at the opening ceremony for a German and European Law program of study at Hanoi Law University, Steinmeier came back to the topic of political reforms. Successful modernization required the rule of law, and a strong civil society, he said.

Steinmeier also addressed the South China Sea conflict – in a diplomatic way -, plus ASEAN:

For us, but for Vietnam with its important and further growing role in ASEAN and the United Nations, one thing is clear: Peace can only be secured when international law and politics work together. International law aims at guide power within tracks, and the powerful in politics must accept these tracks. The latest decision, based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, was an important legal step. What matters now is that the groundbreaking elements of the decision will gradually be turned into practice of international law.

Für uns, aber auch für Vietnam mit seiner wichtigen und weiter wachsenden Rolle in ASEAN und in den Vereinten Nationen ist jedenfalls eines klar: Frieden wird nur gesichert, wenn Völkerrecht und Politik zusammenspielen. Das Völkerrecht zielt darauf ab, Macht in Bahnen zu lenken, und die Mächtigen in der Politik müssen diese Bahnen akzeptieren. Der jüngste Schiedsspruch, basierend auf der Seerechtskonvention der Vereinten Nationen, war ein wichtiger rechtlicher Schritt. Jetzt kommt es darauf an, dass die wegweisenden Elemente des Schiedsspruches Schritt für Schritt auch völkerrechtliche Praxis werden.

Vietnam’s opposition to China’s naval strategy in the South China Sea has been stronger than that of other ASEAN nations. But geostrategic considerations are only one aspect of Germany’s Vietnam policy. Vietnam’s economy keeps growing fast, and East Germany and Vietnam in particular share a history of economic cooperation.

Deutsche Welle, once Germany’s foreign radio station, in a March 2015 report, commemorating fourty years of German-Vietnamese ties:

When that country [East Germany] collapsed, almost all its Vietnamese workers suddenly lost their jobs. They did not want to return to Vietnam because the employment prospects in their home country were very poor. The Vietnamese economic boom was yet to come.

Even so, the majority of these Vietnamese were still repatriated because they did not have a residence permit.

The conflict over contract workers and the regulation of old debts strained the German-Vietnamese ties for several years, according to Gerhard Will. “Only during the course of negotiations, it became clear to both countries what they could offer a lot to each other,” writes Will, who has been a Vietnam expert and worked at the German Institute of International and Security Affairs in Berlin.

[…]

In 2011, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung signed the “Hanoi Declaration” to establish a “strategic partnership” between the two countries. The two leaders expressed the desire to continue economic partnership and cooperate in the areas of development policy, environment, education and science. The German-Vietnamese University in the city of Ho Chi Minh, founded in 2008, is considered a model project in terms of bilateral cooperation.

There is also a West German-Vietnamese history. 33,000 immigrants may not sound like a big number these days, but it did in the 1970s and 1980s.

%d bloggers like this: