Posts tagged ‘fuel’

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Huanqiu Editorial on Hague ruling: “The Chinese People will inevitably support the Government”

The following is a translation from an editorial published online by Huanqiu Shibao. It refers to today’s (Tuesday’s) decision by the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

The terms used in this translation may not be accurate legal language, be it because of my limited translation skills, be it because of the nature of the article which may be more about purposeful agitation and reassurance, than about legal issues.

Links within the blockquote were added during translation.

The arbitration court’s result on the South China Sea arbitration case, announced in the afternoon Beijing time, is even more extreme, more shameless, than predicted by many, and may be rated as “the worst version” people could imagine, and we believe that Chinese people in their entirety will resent this illegal ruling, and the peace-loving global public will also be absolutely astonished about the arbitration court’s seriously partial approach which will very likely add to regional tensions.

南海仲裁案仲裁庭北京时间12日下午公布了仲裁结果,它比之前很多人预测的更加极端、无耻,堪称是人们可以想象的“最坏版本”,相信全体中国人都会为这一非法裁定感到愤慨,世界爱好和平的公众也会对仲裁庭这一严重偏袒一方,并且很可能加剧地区局势紧张的做法而十分诧异。

According to an unofficial translation, this arbitration result, by denying the nine-dotted line, acts drastically against China’s sovereignty within [this line], and also denies its historical foundation. It denies that there were any exclusive economic zone around any of the Spratly Islands which amounts to denying the Taiping Island its due status. It also openly claims that the [artificial] extension of the islands were without legal legitimacy, denouncing China for obstructing the Philippines’ economic activities within the nine-dotted line, and denouncing China’s interception of Philippine vessels can only exacerbate maritime tensions.

根据一个非官方的中文翻译版本,这一仲裁结果借助否决南海九段线内中国主张权益来对其做了釜底抽薪,而且否定它的历史依据。它否定南沙群岛中任何一岛有专属经济区,这等于否定了太平岛的应有地位。它还公然宣称中国在南沙扩建岛礁不具有合法性,指责中国拦阻菲律宾在九段线内开展经济活动,指中国拦截菲律宾船只加剧了海上紧张。

If one goes by this ruling, the maximum that would remain for China in the Spratly Islands would be a few isolated spots, no exclusive economic zones, and even some territorial waters linking the islands and reefs could be denied. In large part, the Spratlys would be covered by Philippine and Vietnamese exclusive economic zones.

如果按照这一裁决,中国在南沙群岛最多只剩下一些孤立的点,既无专属经济区,甚至可能连岛礁周围的一些领海都将被剥夺。而南沙海域大部分将被菲律宾和越南的专属经济区覆盖。

It would also mean that Chinese construction on these islands and reefs could not be continued, and if the Philippines and Vietnam had sufficient power, they could carry out “demolitions” of already existing Chinese construction. From here on, all maritime resources would be the Philippines’ and Vietnam’s; China’s economic activities and all other activities would have to withdraw from that area.

它还意味着,中国的岛礁建设无法持续,如果菲越有足够的力量,甚至可以对中国已建的岛礁搞“强拆”。今后那片海域的资源将归菲越所有,中国的经济活动和其他活动都要退出那个区域。

This is a brazen denial of China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime interests. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea doesn’t apply for the standards and adjustments of territorial sovereignty – this should be one of the main principles of international conventions and treaties. Now, by this contentious redefinition [my understanding of the line – may be wrong – JR], this comes full circle by delimiting the dispute with this forcible ruling, this is shameless overstepping of authority and abuse of authority, and cruel trampling on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and for the entire international law system.

这是对中国领土主权和海洋权益的悍然否定。联合国海洋法公约不适用于领土主权的调整和规范,这是该公约缔约时的首要原则之一。现在仲裁庭通过对这些争端的再定义,兜了个圈子对中菲领土和海洋划界争端强行裁决,这是无耻的越权和滥权,是对海洋法公约以及整个国际法体系的粗暴践踏。

Not only China’s government, but the entire Chinese society will never accept this “arbitration result”. We will show an unwavering attitude of non-participation and non-acceptance, and nobody should think that anything would shake us.

不仅中国政府,整个中国社会都决不可能接受这一“仲裁结果”,我们对仲裁“不接受、不参与”的态度坚定不移,谁都休想撼动我们。

The so-called “arbitration result” is wasted paper, but if America, Japan and other countries will use it to exert actual military and political pressure on China, the Chinese people will inevitably support the government as it fights back. We firmly believe that when China’s law enforcement is embattled, China’s military force will not remain silent when their appearance is needed.

所谓“仲裁结果”就是废纸一张,但美日等国如果利用它向中国施加现实军事政治压力,中国人民必将支持政府予以针锋相对的回击。相信中国的执法力量严阵以待,中国的军事力量同样不会在需要他们站出来时沉默。

We hope that China’s reasonable activities of all kinds will not be affected in any way, and we also hope that Chinese society, in the face of all storms and waves, including geopolitical provocations, will maintain their determination, and let the daily affairs of this country continue as normal. We believe that the government is able to meet these challenges and to make us believe in this country’s strength will guarantee the unmoved continuation of our correct path.

我们希望看到,中国在南沙地区的各种正当活动不受任何影响,也希望看到中国社会在各种包括地缘政治挑衅在内的各种风浪面前保持定力,让这个国家的运行节奏一如往常。相信我们的政府有能力应对这些挑战,也让我们相信这个国家的实力能够确保我们岿然不动。

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Related/Updates

» Beijing engineers coverage, BBC, July 12, 2016
» Why we cover our Ears, BBC, July 10, 2016

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Friday, May 23, 2014

Sino-Russian Shanghai Summit: Natural Gas Deal “supports Russia”, but simultaneous Naval Exercises indicate no Military Alliance

On Tuesday, prospects that Beijing and Moscow would get to an agreement over a natural gas supply treaty after many years of negotiations looked good, according to Victor Larin, Director of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Far East Institute. Societies in both countries were watching the negotiations closely and discussing them “warmly”, said Larin, and situations like these frequently indicated that two sides were close to an agreement. Russia was in a position to provide China with needed energy, and in turn, the treaty would provide Russia with the funding it needed for its own economic development. Larin was quoted by Economic Information Daily (经济参考报, via  People’s Daily, and so was a Russian sinologist whose name would read Bie’erge’er in Chinese. He was quoted as saying that energy cooperation could reach well beyond gas supplies from Russia, and include oil processing, Russian involvement in nuclear power plant construction in China, Russian electricity supplies into China, and cooperation in wind and solar energy development. The main obstacle the sinologist still saw was pricing.

Discussing Russia’s “Looking East”, Larin said that Russia was currently actively developing Siberia’s Far East, and Russia would only be able to make this happen with the help of Asian countries, and particularly with help from China. Russia needed Chinese investment, equipment, and Chinese human resources.

拉林在谈到俄罗斯“向东看”时说,俄罗斯正在积极开发西伯利亚和远东地区,只有依靠亚洲国家特别是中国的帮助,俄罗斯才能实现这一目标,俄罗斯在开发上述地区过程中需要中国的投资、设备和人力资源。

Sina quotes the Chinese website of RIA Novosti on Thursday as reporting that Russia was going to invest 55 billion USD in the implementation of the gas supply treaty, while china would invest 22 billion USD. According to the agreement, Russia will supply China with 38 billion cubic meters of gas over thirty years. The treaty’s overall value is 400 billion USD, RIA/Sina quote Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller.

It took almost a decade to conclude the negotiations, the Washington Post wrote on Wednesday. While Russia believes that gas supplies to China can start in 2018, the Christian Science Monitor quoted a consultant who warned that after the political declarations are made this week, and even if Putin comes home waving a huge new gas deal with China, Gazprom may prove unable to deliver the goods, and that 2020, rather than 2018, might mark the beginning of gas supplies at the earliest. The olifields that would have to serve the contract were running behind schedule, and any diversion of existing supplies to serve the expanding Chinese market risks disrupting ties with another priority customer, Japan. It could become necessary to pipe gas from more distant fields, and in the worst case, a costly measure like that could mean that Russian taxpayers are committed to subsidizing Chinese consumers well into the future.

Sino-Russian naval exercises in the East China Sea are taking place for the third time this year, but without intentions to form a Sino-Russian military alliance, a RIA Novosti report quotes both sides. The exercises began on Tuesday.

Guancha, a Shanghai-based website and therefore at the scene of the Sino-Russian summit, suggests that the 400-billion deal between Beijing and Moscow is “a blow to the West”, or rather, that this was the view of much of European and American public opinion (….. 欧美舆论大多认为,中俄走近对西方来说是个打击). The gas treaty would strengthen Russia’s ability to resist Western pressure. Guancha also quotes the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) as saying that the gas supply treaty provides Russia with support at a time when its relations with the West are worsening. While the EU was looing for gas suppliers beyond Russia, the treaty with China strengthened Russia’s position. (A word of warning: I haven’t found the quoted WSJ article online and can’t tell if Guancha quotes it correctly.)

The support the treaty offers Russia might come at a price – two WSJ reporters took the data available about the treaty on Wednesday and computed an implied price for the gas of about $350 per thousand cubic meters, which would spell a good deal for China. If true, that is – other guesswork quoted in the article suggests that Russia would nearly get 380 USD, i. e. basically what it gets from Europe, too.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Jang Sung-taek never been North Korea’s “Number Two”, says Researcher

The following is a translation from a Sina.com rendition of Central People’s Broadcasting Service (CPBS/China National Radio) coverage on North Korea. Links within blockquote added during translation.

CPBS news online, Beijing, December 17, via Sina.com. According to CPBS channel “Voice of China”, North Koreans from all walks of life commemorated the country’s previous leaders at Mansudae platform at the city center of Pyongyang, in front of the bronze statues of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il. As today is the second anniversary of the death of former leader Kim Jong-il, the grand celebrations will continue today.

央广网北京12月17日消息 据中国之声《全球华语广播网》报道,昨天在朝鲜平壤市中心万寿台,朝鲜各界群众16日在金日成、金正日铜像前默哀,悼念已故领导人。而今天,才是朝鲜已故最高领导人金正日逝世两周年的正日子,盛大的纪念活动将继续进行。

Journalists saw people clothed in quiet colors at the scene of mourning, holding flowers and looking sad, coming in to Mansudae from all directions, bowing deeply to the bronze statues, and putting the flowers in front of the statues, expressing their grief about Kim Jong-il’s death. An oath-taking ralleye will be held today for the North Korean People’s Army. So will North Korea still hold commemorations today? Xinhua’s correspondent Du Baiyu explains the latest situation:

记者看到,纪念活动现场人们身穿素色衣服、手捧鲜花、面色悲痛的从各方缓缓涌入万寿台,朝着铜像深深的鞠躬,并把鲜花敬献在铜像前,表达对金正日的哀悼。昨天,朝鲜举行的是朝鲜人民军誓师大会。那么在今天,朝鲜还将举行哪些纪念活动呢?新华社驻朝鲜记者杜白羽介绍最新情况:

North Korea’s People’s Army held a swearing-in ceremony on the square of Kumsusan Palace of the Sun yesterday, pleding to defend Kim Jong-un to their death, with ceremonies for the land forces, the navy, and the airforce respectively. People in charge of North Korea’s military force, troops of different ranks and cadres and students from military schools and others took part in the ceremony. Today, as the passing of previous leader Kim Jong-il is marked, the North Korean masses as well as some international organizations and consular staff etc. will go to Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, and North Korean masses will also put flowers to older bronze statues and portraits in North Korea to lay down flowers there.

在昨天,朝鲜人民军在平壤的锦绣山太阳宫广场举行了一场规模盛大的誓师大会,决心誓死保卫金正恩,在誓师大会上进行了人民军陆海空三军分列式行进。朝鲜的 人民武力部负责人、各级部队和军事学校的干部和学生等都参加了誓师大会。在今天,也就是朝鲜的前最高领导人金正日逝世两周年的日子里,朝鲜的群众和包括驻 朝的一些国际机构以及使馆等等都会去太阳宫,并且朝鲜的群众在这两天都会到朝鲜的旧的铜像以及画像前去献花。

Some foreign  media speculate that after the demise of Jang Sung-taek, within the coverage of the commemorations, a new “Number Two” [behind Kim Jong-un] could be announced. However, [the Xinhua] journalist explains that there is no such talk about a “Number Two” personality, and that the North Korean people are simply united as one around their leader, loyal to the leader, which means loyalty to Kim Jong-un. As for the new political structure in North Korea, we may expect a report to the North Korean [Workers Party] Central Committee [or central authorities] today, and the seating order there deserves attention, as it may provide clues about the structures.

有外媒猜测说,张成泽被拿下后,在金正日逝世两周年的报告大会上,所谓新的”二号人物”可能揭晓。然而,记者介绍道,其实在朝鲜国内没有所谓的二号人物一 说,朝鲜人民只是对领袖的一心团结,忠诚于领袖也就是只忠诚金正恩。关于朝鲜的新的政治架构,在今天我们预计会有一场朝鲜的中央报告大会,大会上的座次是 值得关注的,从中或许可以看出朝鲜政治架构的端倪。

There have been many media analysts who said that the participation of the highest DPRK officials at the mourning activities today would provide the outside world with the best possible window to observe North Korea’s trends. However, Yang Xiyu, Northeast Asia issues expert at the China Institute of International Studies, sees it differently. In his view, the media misread the so-called “Number Two personality”:

之前有很多媒体分析说,”今天出席金正日逝世两周年纪念活动的高官将成为外界观察朝鲜动向的最好窗口”。不过,在中国国际问题研究所研究员、东北亚问题专家杨希雨看来,媒体对于所谓的”二号人物”有误读:

Yang Xiyu: Rumours in the media, including foreign media, that Jang Song-taek was the “number two” are definitely not accurate. No matter if actually or nominally, his position wasn’t that of a number two. He was only promoted from candidate status to full membership of the politburo to full membership during Kim Jong-uns era. North Korea’s real Number-Two personality is Choe Ryong-hae, who was exceptionally promoted to permanent membership status at the politburo, while the two others are 84 and 85 years old, and their membership is of honorary nature. The only two real full members are Kim Jong-un and Choe Ryong-hae. No matter what the line-up will be like during the commemoration activities, I believe that the director of the general political bureau of the People’s Army, Choe Ryong-hae, remains North Korea’s number-two personality.

杨希雨:其实我们媒体包括外媒的传言“张成泽是二号”这个肯定是不对的,张成泽无论从实际地位还是从名义地位都没有坐过二号,而且恰恰是金正恩时代才把他 从政治局候补地位提拔为政治局委员。现在朝鲜实际上的二号人物是崔龙海,他是被破格提到政治局常委的位置,而另外两位常委分别是84、85岁,已经是一个 名誉性的,真正两位常委就是金正恩跟崔龙海。所以不管今天的正式的纪念活动是怎么样的阵容,会出现什么样的新面孔,我想人民军总政治局局长崔龙海依然是朝 鲜的二号人物。

At the swearing-in ceremony, director of the general political bureau of the People’s Army, Choe Ryong-hae, read out the words: “Korea’s gunbarrels will defend Kim Jong-un, and will only accept Kim Jong-un’s arms.” And another North Korean high official said that Jang Sung-taek hadn’t been the decisionmaker about North Korea’s economy. So, has the case of Jang Sung-taek changed the economic direction of North Korea?

在昨天的誓师大会上,朝鲜人民军总政治局长崔龙海朗读誓词时说:”朝鲜的枪杆子是誓死保卫金正恩、只接受金正恩领导的金正恩的枪杆子。”而另一位朝鲜官员则称,张成泽并非朝鲜经济政策的决策人。那么,张成泽一案是否会改变朝鲜的经济路线呢?

Yang Xiyu: North Korea’s economic policies, and economic management and optimization in particular, will not change just because of a high-ranking official’s downfall. But given that Jang Sung-taek has indeed been responsible for handling cases of economic cooperation with China, which were also contained in the official conviction of Jang, and some specifically pointed to. Therefore, the major direction of North Korea’s economic policies, including economic cooperation with China, will not change because of this downfall. But the fact that some projects of Sino-North Korean cooperation were mentioned in the conviction will at least add a lot to the political uncertainties. But these are only some individual cases, and as for the general direction, I believe that North Korea has no better choices, other than to continuously improve its systems, continuously entering market mechanisms, expanding the opening-up to the outside world. There are no better policies than these to choose from, and therefore I believe there will be no general changes in the direction of North Korean economic policies.

杨希雨:朝鲜的经济政策特别是关于经济管理与改善的这种调整不会因为某一个高官的落马而改变,但是因为张成泽在负责经济工作的时候确实亲手办理了几个朝鲜 与中国经济合作的案子,而在给张成泽定罪的官方文件当中,也专门点到了某些案例。所以总的讲,朝鲜的经济政策包括朝鲜同中国的经济合作的关系,这个大的方 向大的政策不会改变,不会因为某个人落马而改变。但是在张成泽的定罪书里涉及到一些中朝合作的项目,这个恐怕难免要至少增加了很多的政治上的不确定性。但 这只是一些个别的案子,从大的方向上,我认为朝鲜没有别的更好的选择,除了更好的进一步改善和调整自己的体制,进一步引入市场机制,进一步地扩大对外开 放,没有比这个更好的政策选择,所以我相信总的经济政策的方向没有什么改变。

This year, from January to September, Chinese-North Korean trade amounted to 4.69 billion US dollars – an increase of 200 million US dollars. From August, China resumed oil supplies to North Korea. Before that, from February to July this year, Chinese oil exports to North Korea amounted to zero. Where should future relations between China and North Korea go?

今年1至9月中国和朝鲜贸易额约达46.9亿美元,同比增加2亿美元。从8月份起,中国恢复了对朝鲜的石油供应。而之前的今年2至7月,中国对朝鲜石油出口量为零。中朝之间的关系未来该走向何方?

Yang Xiyu: Sino-North Korean relations won’t be affected by the stepping-down or by the promotion of some individual. The development of Sino-North Korean relations follow their own rules. To be frank, China is simply too important for North Korea, so North Korea will continue to make efforts to protect the relations with China, and this won’t be affected. The biggest obstacle and negative impact on relations now is North Korea’s wrong policy of continued development of nuclear arms. We all know China’s two main strategic goals on the Korean peninsula: the first is to maintain peace and stability on the Korean pensinsula, and the second is the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. These two goals are the two sides of one coin. One won’t be achieved without achieving the other, because the possession of nuclear weapons by any party on the peninsula will make it impossible to ever usher in peace and stability. Or, conversely, we want to solve the issue of denuclearization on the Korean peninsula, for the goal of peace and stability on the Korean peninsula.

杨希雨:中朝关系不会因为某一个人的下台,或者某一个人的提拔而受影响,因为他的中朝关系有它自己发展规律,说实话中国对于朝鲜来说太重要了,所以朝鲜它 也会继续的努力维护好同中国的关系,这条不会受影响。中朝关系目前最大的障碍、最大的影响是朝鲜坚持发展核武器这个错误政策,我们都知道中国在朝鲜半岛是 两大战略目标,第一是要维护朝鲜半岛的和平与稳定,第二是要坚决实现朝鲜半岛无核化。这两大目标就有如一枚硬币的两个面,二者缺一不可,因为只要朝鲜半岛 南北任何一方拥有核武器,这个半岛就永远不会迎来真正的和平与稳定。反过来说我们要解决朝鲜半岛无核化问题,其实也是为了朝鲜半岛真正的和平稳定。

(Original headline: Expert says actual No. 2 of North Korea is [and was] Choe Ryong-hae, not Jang Sung-taek.)

(原标题:专家称朝鲜真正“二号人物”系崔龙海 并非张成泽)

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Related

» China forscht, Dec 17, 2013
» Punitive expedition, April 1, 2013
» Hearts and Minds, Feb 5, 2013

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Chinese Press Review: Syria, very clever

At a moment when everything had seemed to be set for a showdown, things changed dramatically, writes People’s Daily. Yesterday night, Syria officially responded to the international community and said it was willing to hand over all its chemical weapons so as to avoid American attack.  (叙利亚危机剑拔弩张的气氛出现戏剧性变化。
昨日晚间,叙利亚正式回复国际社会,叙利亚愿意交出全部化学武器以换取免遭美国打击。)

After a short account of Kerry’s sudden suggestion on a press conference in London that Syria could only avoid U.S. military strikes by handing over its chemical weapons, and Russian foreign minister Lavrov’s and Syrian foreign minister Mouallem’s statements, amounting to a Syrian willingness to do just that, plus Obama’s ABC interview, People’s Daily quotes an old diplomat and professor, Zhou Zunnan (周尊南) of the Chinese Foreign Affairs University, in an interview with the “International Financial Journal”:

Russia is very clever. They have successfully used diplomatic techniques, and the important thing is that in the current situation, with all the different parties’ interveaved interests, this is a “good move” [in a game of chess].  On the one hand, America gets under international pressure by gradually lowering other countries’ support for unilateral American war, and on the other, objectively, Russia showed support for Syria, perhaps implicating that “no matter if you use force or if you don’t, we will stand on Syria’s side.”

“俄罗斯很聪明,他们成功利用了外交技巧,重要的是,在目前各方面利益交织的格局下,这是一步‘好棋’。”老外交官、外交学院教授周尊南对《国际金融报》记者表示,“一方面,美国会陷入国际压力,进一步压低其他国家对美国单方面发动战争的支持度;另一方面,俄罗斯客观上表达了对叙利亚的支持,言外之意可能是‘不管你动不动武,我都会站在叙利亚’这边。”

People’s Daily is hedging its bets, regarding the likelihood of open American military intervention. From the Third Middle-East War (meaning the Six-Day War) to Syria’s occupation of Lebanon in 1976, and to Syria’s “flirting glances” (与伊朗保持“眉来眼去”的关系) with Iran, things had put this Middle-Eastern country’s relations with Western countries “out of sorts”, the paper writes. In the latest stage of the Syrian conflict, America had sought an “pretext” (quotation marks by People’s Daily), which was the chemical weapons.  There were several indications, People’s Daily quotes Zhou Zunnan (周尊南), still from the “International Financial Journal”, that the issue of chemical weapons was just an excuse. It would have looked bad to take military action against Syria before the UN inspectors delivered their findings, and besides, Russia had borrowed the position Kerry stated in London, Syria had cleverly strengthened its alliance with Russia, thus putting America into a difficult position. A third problem was American public opinion, according to Zhou.

And after all, the situation was complicated: Turkey would have to forget about a four-country economy including Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, if the Assad stepped down. And Russia’s only naval base in the Mediterranean was Tartus, in Syria. Syria was at the center of solving or mishandling the big Middle-Eastern issues.

Referring to further sources, People’s Daily suggests that oil prices had to be critical factors in Washington’s deliberations, too – with repercussions for the U.S economy. And still, this could also help America to replace the Middle East as the world’s center of energy sources, with an impact on countries depending on those, such as China and India. Therefore, the possibility of military action could not be ruled out. People’s Daily quotes a Russian political scientist (波利卡诺夫) who was also quoted by Xinhua a day earlier as suggesting that the military strikes were only delayed, but had not been stopped by Moscow’s and Damascus’ decisions.

Even China wasn’t on the sidelines in Syria, writes People’s Daily.  Syria had maintained close oil trade with China, and Chinese state-owned energy companies had business in Syria. A SINOPEC spokesperson is quoted as saying (again from “International Financial Journal”) that his company had temporarily closed their branch company in Syria, with most of the staff returning to Beijing, and some staying in Lebanon. Despite all the emphasis on diversification, about fifty percent of China’s crude oil imports were still coming from the Middle East, an expert from the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) is quoted.

Economics aside, People’s Daily concludes, there had also been a close Sino-Syrian relationship in other fields. Reports say that when China was treated unfairly in the international arena, it could always count on Syrian support.

This is about as far as official Chinese media go in their support for Damascus. Voicing official or semi-official positions is frequently the job of high-ranking academics, when Zhongnanhai prefers to remain silent or low-key. Zhou Zunnan’s comments in the “International Financial Journal”, which is in fact a branch of People’s Daily itself, probably play this kind of role.

On September 4, another academic, Li Shaoxian (李绍先) of the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, was quoted by Huanqiu Shibao with a rather candid statement (which may or may not mirror the official Chinese position, obviously):

Besides, Li Shaoxian believes that, when Bashar al-Assad said that China and Russia were Syria’s allies, that was the great banner used as a tiger-skin [a way to impress enemies]. China wasn’t Syria’s ally.  “Although China and Russia both insist on a peaceful solution and both oppose foreign military intervention, Russia has major actual interests in Syria to protect, while China’s interests in Syria are small.”

李绍先还认为,叙利亚总统巴沙尔说中国、俄罗斯是其盟友的说法是“拉大旗作虎皮”,中国不是巴沙尔的盟友。
“尽管中俄对坚持和平解决、反对外来军事干预是一致的,但中俄的考虑并不完全一致,俄罗斯在叙利亚有重大的现实利益要保护,而中国在叙利亚的利益很少”。

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Related

» Netzschau (German blog), Sept 10, 2013
» Less than 40 percent, Global Times, Dec 12, 2011

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Xi Jinping, out of Town: Huanqiu Shibao quotes “Western Media” (i. e. Deutsche Welle)

China and Russia are most important strategic partners, the BBC quotes CCP secretary general and Chinese state chairman Xi Jinping, who has started a tour of Russia, Tanzania, South Africa and the Republic of Congo today. While in Africa, Russia will remain on his agenda on foreign relations, too – Xi will attend the fifth Brics summit from March 26 to 27 in South Africa.

Fenghuang (Hong Kong) coverage of Xi’s arrival in Moscow here »

According to the Voice of Russia (VoR), one of the aims in advancing the two countries’ partnership is to boost mutual trade turnover to 100 billion dollars by 2015. Energy issues, local economic cooperation and social events, including a meeting with students of the Lomonosov State University are on the agenda, according to VoR. According to the broadcaster, China has become Russia’s largest trade partner for the second year in a row.

Xi is scheduled to meet with Russian president Vladimir Putin, prime minister Dmitry Medvedev, Federation Council chairwoman Valentina Matviyenko, Duma (parliament) chairman Sergey Naryshkin “and other leaders”, as well as friends from all ways of life in Russia, writes Xinhua newsagency. He will also deliver a speech at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, and meet Russian sinologists, according to Xinhua. International affairs aren’t ranking high in the descriptive Xinhua article, but Russian president is quoted from a telephone record with Xi of March 14 as saying that Russian-Chinese relations were among the important factors of safeguarding world peace and stability, and carrying particular significance.

Huanqiu Shibao quotes a Russian deputy foreign minister as describing Xi’s visit to Russia as a “major event” in the two countries’ relationship. The deputy foreign minister added that Moscow had made careful preparations for the visit. Western media said that Xi’s choice of Russia as his first foreign destination was “no surprise” (“不意外”), writes Huanqiu. One after another, Western media believed that the intentions behind China’s arrangements made people wonder.

“Are China and Russia going to sign big energy contracts?” “Is Beijing turning back to the [old] strategic center of gravity with Moscow” to respond to the shift of America’s strategic focus to the Asia-Pacific region?” The guesses and speculations by Western analysts, with seven mouths and eight tongues (七嘴八舌), look as if they were x-raying Sino-Russian relations.

俄副外长里亚布科夫21日用“两国交往中的大事件”形容这次访问,并称莫斯科已为迎接习主席做好万全准备。西方媒体大多对中国国家主席上任后首先访俄“不 意外”,同时纷纷认为北京的安排用意极深,耐人琢磨。“中俄要签能源大单?”“北京要用‘战略重心重返莫斯科’回应‘战略重心重返亚太’的美国?”西方分 析家七嘴八舌的猜测就像在给中俄关系做X光检测。

As for Xi Jinping’s visit to Tanzania, South Africa and the Republic of Congo, after his stay in Russia, and the “Sino-African approaches” (“中非走近”), following the “Sino-Russian embrace”, have gone hot in Western public opinion. “Westerners are tossing lots of question marks, but essentially, their curiosity is only about one thing. That is how big a country China will be in the next ten years”, says Chinese scholar Jin Canrong.

由于习主席访俄后将访问坦桑尼亚、南非和刚果(布) ,“中非走近”已尾随着“中俄拥抱”在西方舆论中迅速变热。“西方人抛出的问号很多,但实质上他们的好奇只有一个。那就是未来十年,中国会做一个怎样的大国。”中国学者金灿荣说。

In fact, Germany’s former foreign broadcaster and current media platform Deutsche Welle (DW) describes Xi’s visit to Russia as his unsurprising international debut. Deutsche Welle also quotes Gu Xuewu of the University of Bonn with pretty much the remarks about deepening military cooperation in the face of the US “pivot to Asia” that had been noted by Huanqiu Shibao’s “Western media” review.

However, much of what the DW article says is simply not quoteable for Huanqiu Shibao: fair weather friends, unsentimental partnership of convenience, or a trip to Moscow that was was symbolic in nature. Not to mention the demographic development in the Far East, viewed by the Russian side with unease.

And obviously, Huanqiu provides no link to the DW article – nor do they mention the old enemy broadcaster as their online source.

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Related

» VoR Chinese frequencies, swldxbulgaria, March 14, 2013
» CRI Russian frequencies, swldxbulgaria, March 14, 2013
» No Bullying, July 19, 2012
» Now Africa’s largest trading partner, BBC, May 22, 2012
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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Vietnamese Spratly Patrol Flights: Let’s Talk about War, but Don’t Get Burned

Vietnam People’s Air Force Sukhoi Su-27 ‘Flankers’ have mounted their first patrols of the disputed Spratly Islands (Link is in Vietnamese) from their base at Phu Cat,

the Base Leg Blog quotes Vietnamese portal Thanh Vien online on Tuesday. Thanh Vien had published the newslet on Saturday.

Also on Tuesday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei reportedly told a news conference that Vietnam’s recent action was a serious violation of China’s sovereignty.

The spokesman urged Vietnam to strictly abide by the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, avoid actions escalating or complicating the situation, and make efforts to safeguard regional peace and stability,

Sina English quoted Hong Lei.

The declaration Hong referred to was signed in Phnom Penh in November 2002, by China’s special envoy and former vice foreign minister Wang Yi, and by the foreign ministers of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam (i. e. between ASEAN and China). Among a number of points, the signatory states reaffirm their respect for and commitment to the freedom of navigation in and overflight above the South China Sea as provided for by the universally recognized principles of international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (3), undertake to resolve their territorial and jurisdictional disputes by peaceful means, without resorting to the threat or use of force (4), and undertake to exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability including, among others, refraining from action of inhabiting on the presently uninhabited islands, reefs, shoals, cays, and other features (5).

As there is no agreement about whose claims on the South China sea are legitimate, the Declaration basically defines a code of conduct in handling the uncertainties.

In February 2010, Edward Wong wrote in the New York Times that the most vociferous claimants were Vietnam and China. It had also been Vietnam who had been

pushing hard behind the scenes to bring more foreign players into negotiations so that China will have to bargain in a multilateral setting with all Southeast Asian nations that have territorial claims in the South China Sea. This goes against China’s preference, which is to negotiate one on one with each country.

In an interview with the Asahi Shimbun in spring or summer 2010, then commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, Patrick Walsh said that China had started describing the South China Sea as its “core interest” – a term that had until then been reserved for Taiwan and Tibet.

Since then, Chinese officials have kept maintaining that multilateral initiatives, i. e. an internationalized rather than a bilateral approach to resolving the South China Sea disputes, would only complicate the issues. In a comparatively blunt statement, Chinese vice foreign minister Cui Tiankai was quoted by Phoenix Satellite Television (HK) in June 2011 that a few countries were playing with fire, and he hoped that America wouldn’t burn itself.

In July that same year, ASEAN and China drafted another agreement, setting out somewhat more specific guidelines for the implementation of their 2002 declaration, and in October 2011, China’s and Vietnam’s party leaders, Hu Jintao and Nguyen Phu Trong, signed yet another – and bilaterally negotiated – document, the Agreement on Basic Principles concerning guidance for the Resolution of Sino-Vietnamese South China Sea Issues.

War scenarios are only publicly discussed in the Chinese media, but even then, Yin Zhuo (尹卓), a special commentator (not a politician) who provided the public with startegic information on Huanqiu Online Television on Wednesday, expressed hope that

we are both socialist countries, friendly neighbors, and things must not get to such a state [of military conflict]. Of course, China doesn’t work into that direction, but you, the Vietnamese, must not push China into that direction.
但是我们想双方都是社会主义国家,大家是友好邻邦,不要走到这个地步上。当然中国不会向这个方向努力,但是你越南人不要把中国逼到这个位置上去。

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Related

» FMPRC Press Conference Topics, June 15, 2012
» Scarborough Shoal: “Equivalent Action”, South Sea Conversations, May 15, 2012
» Having Fun, China Rises, Sep 5, 2008

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Friday, May 18, 2012

Ma Ying-jeou, Lost in Tradition

Shortly before the beginning of Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou‘s second term in office, his support and satisfaction rates are at new historical lows, between 15 to 22 per cent. More than 60 per cent of the public have no confidence in Ma’s coming four years of administration, reports Singapore’s Morning News (Lianhe Zaobao).

“These opinion polls aren’t like anything during the past four years”, Zaobao quotes the head of Taiwan National University’s Department of Political Science, Wang Yeh-lih (王業立). “Ma Ying-jeou’s biggest problem is that the decision-making circles are too small, that communication between the government and the [KMT] party is poor, and that the relapse in public opinion was underestimated.”

During the past three months since his re-election, efforts to resolve an ongoing beef-imports dispute with the U.S., oil and electricity price hikes and stock exchange taxes, hadn’t been able to please either farmers, nor workers, nor business people, and had left people boiling with resentment (民怨沸腾), writes Zaobao. Hikes in oil and electricity prices had added to living costs, in terms of food, clothing, shelter, transportation, and all kinds of basic necessities, and stealth price increases in all kinds of products.

Ma Ying-jeou’s traditionally wooden communication skills haven’t been helpful during the recent wave of resentment. The Taipei Times people, of course, loves his exchanges with normal people, but not for the reasons Ma thinks they should:

On May 4, during a visit by the president to National Pingtung University of Science and Technology, a student told Ma in reference to a recent increase in retail prices that he does not feel full now after eating one biandang, or lunchbox. The student said typical lunchboxes these days tend to contain less vegetables even though their prices have remained the same. In response, Ma asked: “You don’t feel full? So now you need to eat one more biandang? Or do you endure being hungry?”

To make things worse, the discussion became distorted in that Ma was later quoted as saying that “Just eat another biandang and you’ll be full” (再吃一个便当就饱了), writes Zaobao.

Ma’s idea of a presidency is traditional – he certainly wants to be seen as a leader who understands what is going on in peoples’ daily lives, but his benchmark – former president Chiang Ching-kuo, who certainly was progressive at his times – when compared to his father Chiang Kai-shek -, is outdated. And each of Ma’s attempts to look like a leader of historic scale is happily ridiculed, whenever opportunites arise. They seem to arise often.

From the early 1980s on, Ma had worked for Chiang Ching-kuo, in several functions. In an interview which was part of a Chiang Ching-kuo documentary, Ma remembered one of Chiang’s last public appearances. Chiang was wheelchair-bound by then, he attended a Constitution Commemorative Conference in 1987, and as he was scurried off the stage, probably to spare him the spectacle that accompanied his exit, civil-rights advocates and democracy activists were standing – but not out of respect. They shouted, and waved posters with their demands. It appeared to be an unpleasant scene indeed – and next in the documentary’s picture was modern-day Ma, worry lines and disgust in his face, telling how ungrateful the activists had been:

It was as if [Chiang] was saying, “I have made all these efforts to promote Taiwan’s democratic reforms. How can they do this to me?”*)
好像就聽到,他嘴裡在說,他說我這幾年來,大力推動台灣的民主改革,他們怎麼還會這樣子對我呢?

But to compare Chiang Ching-kuo and Ma would be unjustified for a number of reasons. On the one hand, Ma has never been something like a secret-police director. But on the other, he doesn’t have Chiang’s merits either. What are Ma’s achievements? What should people reciprocate for? Or, in the words in which he reportedly complained to his sister, after getting a lot of stick for his administration’s management after the Morakot typhoon: “good people weren’t rewarded” (好人沒好報).

Nanfang Shuo (南方朔), a moderate critic of Ma Ying-jeou, believes that much of the public’s unease stems from an awareness that Ma is free from pressure as he faces no further elections. Reforms and decisions could therefore be taken arbitrarily (or autocratically – 独断独行).

In fact, even if one only follows Ma Ying-jeou’s presidential fortunes loosely (as JR does), it is easy to see that Ma is rarely in tune with the public in general, or even in individual chats. During the presidential election campaign, his opponent Tsai Ing-wen (herself not necessarily a folksy type of politician either), came across as fairly presidential (an observation by Nanfang Shuo in October last year), and to beat Ma in terms of communication skills was hardly a daunting challenge either.

All the same, Ma was re-elected – and the public now seems to complain that they got exactly the president they had gotten to know during his first term.

It’s not all the president’s fault. Certainly not in a democracy, where people have choices.

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Note

*) I can’t find the documentary online, but I seem to remember that Ma basically used the same words to describe his impressions there, as in this quote.

Related

» The Lame leading the Blind, June 3, 2011
» No Shanzhai Chiang, May 20, 2009

Friday, April 20, 2012

Class Struggle from Above: How Well-To-Do is the German Commuter?

A Guest Post by Tai De

car dashboardThomas Straubhaar heads the Hamburgisches Weltwirtschaftsinstitut, or Hamburg Institute of International Economics, a not-for-profit research institute, an enthusiastic buyer of local goods, he says. Clearly, he doesn’t like long-distance rides – and he doesn’t like the commuter tax allowance. It only helped well-to-do sole earners. Families weren’t the real beneficiaries, and society had to bear costs from traffic jams, greater risks of accidents, and urban sprawl. Rather, commuters should pay an additional tax, to compensate the urban population for the harm commuters inflicted on them (“damit könnten Städter für das Leid entschädigt werden, das ihnen Auto fahrende Pendler antun”).

I don’t believe that Straubhaar is really targeting the commuter tax allowance – if any political party supports it his move, it would be the Greens, but the allowance won’t go away. The Free Democrats (FDP) rather favors an increased allowance, to compensate commuters for rising petrol prices. And the two big parties, the Christian Democrats  (CDU/CSU) and the social democrats (SPD) won’t dare to alienate their classical voters – even if Straubhaar doesn’t believe it:

“Wouldn’t a commuter tax go down well with the millions of urban people? Why don’t politicians seize the opportunity?” (Wäre nicht die Pendlersteuer eine Forderung, mit der sich bei Millionen von Stadtmenschen politisch punkten ließe? Wieso nutzen Politiker(innen) diese Chance nicht?)

Who is well-to-do may be a matter of definition – but those targeted may not feel that they were well-to-do (with or without reason). However, it is easy to label your target well-to-do before making unpopular suggestions, and Mr. Straubhaar’s suggestion isn’t popular. Maybe it is because people don’t buy the allegation that the beneficiaries of the allowance are generally well-to-do. Maybe Mr. Straubhaar himself is way too well-to-do to be believed. At any rate, it seems to me that in Mr. Straubhaar’s view, the Hamburg city is too chique to tolerate all those country bumpkins there. After all, the German word for “harm” is “Leid” – and Leid is something a perpetrator inflicts on a victim.

The comments underneath the Welt article with quotes from Straubhaar seem to confirm my impression that politicians who would “seize the opportunity” and scrap the allowance wouldn’t do themselves a favour. There is no real discussion. Straubhaar seems to hate his audience, and his audience hates him back.

Straubhaar may not like it – and the Free Democrats, at odds with him concerning the commuter tax allowance, but not in general – may not like it either, but West Germany’s post-war consensus was built on exactly the allowances and financial transfers (welfare state) which he calls into question.

This comment by “Systemkritiker” (system critic) is indicative of the general mood on the “Die Welt” thread:

Great. New taxes. Then we will get even more big cities because everyone needs to go there, and even more welfare recipients, because people are jobless. That guy is deranged. Just like all politicians. Said it and boarded his fat [Audi ] A8. Blithering idiots give us counsel. (Richtig so. Neue Steuern. Dann haben wir endlich noch mehr Großstädte weil alle hinziehen müssen und noch mehr Hilfsempfänger weil sie keinen Job mehr haben. Der Typ ist doch gestört. Wie alle Politiker auch.
Sprachs und setzte sich in den fetten A8.
Dummschwätzer regieren und beraten uns.)

And that’s still sort of an optimistic interpretation, because Straubhaar is hardly giving “Systemkritiker” advice. He  doesn’t even notice “Systemkritiker”.

It’s a general mood. People everywhere may be chronically angry at those who rule their countries. But Germans don’t occupy Wall Street, or the Frankfurt city. They vote – and as every leftist or rightist member of parliament seems to cause the moderate democrats huge pain, they’d better take the anger seriously.

If property on the Elbchaussee or in Bremen-Schwachhausen should need big fences and alarm equipment in future, this won’t do their value any good.

P.S.: I don’t agree with “Systemkritiker”. I’m almost sure that Mr. Straubhaar goes t work by bike. But the bike needs to be locked away at his working place, because it’s too good to get stolen.

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Previously by Tai De:

» No Communists at Deutsche Welle, but… March 11, 2012

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