Posts tagged ‘government’

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Tsai Ing-wen: in a State of Overall Mobilization

Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) held a press conference – or a “tea reception” for reporters – at → Taipei Guest House on Saturday afternoon local time.

The following are excerpts from her introductory statement, translated into English. Links within blockquotes added during translation.

Main link: → Presidential website

I’m very glad to meet with all the friends from the press here today. Apart from being happy to speak to the reporters ahead of schedule, I would also like to take the opportunity of this tea reception to report to all our compatriots about the efforts we have made for this country since the new government came into office.
I believe that all reporters present here, and many compatriots too, will know that a few days ago, the dispute concerning the national highway toll station dispute has been resolved.


Although some different views and opinions remain, concerning the solution to this dispute, I believe that, when watching on television how everyone smiled while the curtain fell on the dispute, many people, just like me, felt happy for them and their families.


To some people, this solution only means to give in to a group of people protesting in the streets. However, I want to look at the entire issue from a different perspective. As far as we are concerned, the point is that now that the curtain has fallen on this struggle, this society and above all some families can get back to their daily lives.


This is what governments are for. Some people →say that this [approach] is called giving out sweets to those who quarrel. But as far as this government is concerned, the real issue here isn’t the noise. The issue is if the noise is justified, and if the government listens. My expectation to myself and to my team, during the past three months, has been that we are prepared to listen, to communicate, and to find a solution.


I know that the friends from the press are curious about what I have done since May 20 [inauguration day], on a daily basis. In fact, after becoming president, my life and work have seen changes, and although the issues now are different, they have changed in a rather simple way, as mentioned in my inaugural speech: they are about solving problems.


Many problems have accumulated for a long time, and the previous government wanted to solve some of them, but wasn’t successful. There have also been some problems the past government neither wanted to solve, nor had the strength to solve.


The people who elected us want the new government to address and solve issues in a pragmatic and courageous way. The people do not want the new government to shift responsibilities altogether to the past. Therefore, I tell myself every day, and my governing team, too, that the people expects to see a different government.


In the decisionmaking process, I have to admit that we haven’t considered things sufficiently, and that we haven’t dealt with them sufficiently. When that happens, we will adapt, honestly face this, and that we will change. We won’t harden, we won’t weaken. During the Democratic Progressive Party government, and no half-minute incident.


For the past three months, the new government’s main four areas of attention have been as follows.

(1): Aborigines, Industrial Relations

The first one has been about solving longstanding problems in Taiwanese society. On August 1, I apologized to the aborigine nation on behalf of the government. For several hundred years, the aborigine people have suffered unfair treatment, that can’t be changed by a simple apology. But this society needs a starting point. I want to make the first step. Although the form of my apology sparked some controversy, we can take a successive approach and honestly face the problems that have accumulated during the past few hundred years.


Industrial relations disputes have long existed in Taiwanese society. In the wake of global economic change as well as economic slowdowns, weak labor rights and protection, have become more and more important issues. As for enterprises, and small and medium-sized enterprises in particular, there have been transformational problems, which has also led to more and more tense industrial relations.


The new government has not tried to avoid the issue. We have chosen to handle the problem directly. Of course, we admit that to solve years-old disputes in a short time and to achieve social consensus in a short time is difficult. We want to communicate with society again, especially with labour organizations’ and small and medium-sized enterprises’ views, and we want to listen more carefully. This will be reflected in my future arrangements.


We also need to understand that if the Taiwanese economy doesn’t speed up transformation, labor disputes, even if solved for a while, will continue to trouble labour and industry.


(2): “Ill-Gotten Party Assets”, Judicial Yuan Nominations, Pension Reform

The second field of work discussed by President Tsai is recently-passed legislation on “ill-gotten party assets”, as described →here by the English-language Taipei Times in July. Tsai, in her address to the press on Saturday, referred to the process as a first step in the handling of rightening the authoritarian period in Taiwan (i. e. the decades of martial law under KMT rule). Tsai Ing-wen conjured a duty on the part of the KMT to share responsibility in the process:

I want to emphasize in particular that this is done to remind all politicians that many things that were considered natural within the authoritarian system, will not be allowed to happen again in today’s democratic society. What matters more is that, to create a more fair political environment in Taiwan, is our common responsibility.


In that “second field of work”, Tsai also mentioned a controversy concerning judicial yuan nominations – both nominees chosen by Tsai Ing-wen herself – which resulted with the nominees →bowing out:

I admit that the previous judicial yuan nomination sparked controversy in society. In the end, both nominees decided to decline with thanks, and I want to thank the two nominees for granting me a chance to think again. Of course, this was my responsibility. I will remember this experience carefully. The new government will communicate more carefully with the masses in future.


Another major issue addressed as part of the second field of work is pension reform.

(3): Taiwan’s New Economic Development Model

The third field of work for the new government is the new model for Taiwan’s economic development. During the past three months, our ministries and commissions in charge have actively worked on this matter. National construction programs made by think-tanks during our time in opposition have been turned into policies by the government offices. From here, the budgets of the offices in charge will be devised.


Concerning involvement in economic construction, and the promotional economic development plan concerning the five big innovative industries and the acceleration of technological innovation etc., our budgets for the coming year will grow correspondingly. This stands for our goal to build the new economic model round innovation.


As for a safe internet, for our social housing policies, and for the expansion of community care, raising the quality of long-term care, treatment and prevention, etc., we are also increasing the budgets.



Involvement in overall economic development will not limit itself to government budgeting. We will also encourage publicly-owned institutions to invest in new kinds of industries, lending impetus to non-governmental enterprises, especially the upgrading transformation of small and medium-sized enterprises.


The budgeting is only the beginning, and the real test is to do things well. In fact, the cabinet is in a state of overall mobilization. During the past three months, under the → executive yuan president‘s leadership and the coordination of the government affairs committee as well as the efforts of the heads of ministries and commissions, the new government hasn’t been lax. I have lists from every governmental commission concerning their issues and their progress, and can explain each of them. I believe that these lists can also be found on the executive yuan’s website.


I do not hope that people will use the first one-hundred days to judge my successes and failures, and I’m not going to judge the cabinet members’ performances based on the first one-hundred days.


Reform takes time. I’m not going to shrink back in the light of lacking short-term results or because of difficulties in promoting reform. When something goes wrong, it will be corrected, and what goes well, will be advanced boldly. I believe that this is what the Taiwanese people expect from government at this stage.


(4): Cross Strait Relations, Remembering Wang Tuoh

Fourthly, we will maintain the necessary communication with the relevant countries to maintain regional peace and stability, and to handle external relations. In particular, after the outcome of the arbitrational →decision concerning the South China Sea has been issued, we will, together with all countries, maintain the stability of the South China Sea situation. The people want the government to do more regarding sovereignty in the South China Sea, and we understand and acknowledge that.


As for the cross-strait relations [with China], I re-emphasize the importance of “maintaining the status quo”. Our goal is to build consistent, calculable and sustainable cross-strait relations under the current constitutional systems.


We will soon announce the staffing issues at the Strait Exchange Foundation. At the current stage, we have a choice among several candidates, and are at the final stage of consultations and assessments. Apart form the Strait Exchange Foundation, we will fill the remaining vacancies in government staff as soon as possible.


Some move quickly on the road of reform, and some move slowly, but as long as there is a common direction, we should support and encourage each other. There may be bumps on the government’s path in the coming days, but we will continue to make efforts forward.


Some say that solving the highway toll station staff issue is something “the previous government didn’t succeed to do”. As far as I am concerned, this is the greatest encouragement for our new government. To do what the previous government didn’t succeed at is what change of government is about.


There is one more thing. I want to mention a very particular man. When I took the office of Democratic Progressive Party chairpersonship in 2008, the party’s secretary general was → Mr. Wang Tuoh. Not long ago, he also left us. On his sickbed, he still showed concern for me. I will always remember how, when I wasn’t viewed favorably by the outside world, when the Democratic Progressive Party’s morale was at its lowest point, he bravely stepped forward, and together with me, he helped the Democratic Progressive Party to climb out from that lowest point.


In those difficult days, he often encouraged me, and he reminded me that when the thing you are doing is right, you must stick to it. I’m really sad that he can’t be in this world to see, with us, the changes of Taiwan.


But I will always remember what he said during his last days, he said “our way of governing must be different from the past, it must be successful.” I want to use these words to wind up my address. Everyone in the government team, put up the ante.


Friday, May 20, 2016

Tsai Ing-wen’s Inagurational Address: an Economy with New Bones

The inaugural address in → Chinese and in → English, published by CNA. Prior to President Tsai’s inaugural speech, there were two songs: an indigenous one, and the national anthem of the RoC.

Language observation: I used to think that 脱胎换骨 was merely an mainland Chinese figure of speech (to be reborn with new bones, see footnote →there. This is not so. President Tsai used it too, this morning:


The CNA translation puts it less pictographic:

In order to completely transform Taiwan’s economy, from this moment on, we must bravely chart a different course – and that is to build a “New Model for Economic Development” for Taiwan.

So, chances are that Wang Meng and his generation learned that →phrase long before joining the Communist Party. It’s either “KMT”, or still older.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Media Coverage on Ministry of Education’s (MoE) “Blue Book” on Returning Overseas Students and the Labor Market

The Chinese ministry of education (MoE) published a “blue book”, or a government report, on March 25, concerning overseas Chinese students returning to China, and looking for a job there. If Chinese press and government agency coverage on the report is something to go by, this is what the average academic returnee to the motherland looks like:

he is actually mostly a she (59.16 percent of the returnees are female), aged 23 to 33 (absolute average 27.04 yrs old), a masters student (80.7 percent), a postgraduate (9,49 percent), or an undergraduate / a student with a specialized subject (9.81 percent combined). If a postgraduate, his main fields should mainly be chemistry, material science, economics, electronics and electrical engineering, while the masters fields of study are somewhat more into the direction of finance, accounting, business management, management studies, or international business studies.

Statistics seem to suggest that there have been more returnees recently, than the 1978 to 2015 average numbers. Either way, the MoE’s Overseas Students’ Support Center deputy director Xu Peixiang (徐培祥) is quoted as saying that some 70 to 80 percent of students, in recent years, have returned after their studies abroad.1)

97 percent of those who currently study abroad are doing so at their own expense, which appears plausible when looking at the total numbers. In 2015 alone, 523,700 students reportedly left for studies abroad, and 409,100 job-seeking overseas students returned to China that year. By comparison, 248 students left China for studies abroad in 1978, according to Xinhua newsagency.

Very rough calculations with many unknowns: given that 459,800 Chinese left China to study abroad in 2014, according to this government-agency news report, the average of students leaving in 2014 and 2015 combined would be (459,800 + 523,700)/2 = 491,750, and based on an average duration of 22 months (more precisely 21.47 months) of studies abroad among the 2015 returnees,  this would mean that about 901,542 Chinese students would currently be abroad.

Three percent of these would then not study at their own expense (or that of their parents, relatives, etc.). Some 27,000 of the 901,542 abroad would, based on my shoddy calculation, study with a government grant, a scholarship, etc.. And probably, very few, if any, among the 248 who went abroad in 1978, were self-paying students.

23.85 percent of the 2015 returnees have been looking for a job in state-owned companies, 19.4 percent prefer minban operations2), and foreign-invested enterprises, state institutions and financial institutions rank third, fourth and fifth, respectively, in the returnees search settings. Only 3.32 percent want to establish businesses of their own (one percentage point up, compared to the 2014 returnees).

When it comes to location and company types, the returnees haven’t necessarily followed their ideas of perfect companies and locations, but looked at some hard facts (and regulations), and have therefore looked for jobs that appeared to be closer within their reach. Either way, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen are still very popular destinations, with 49.34 percent indicating these goals, but this is said to be eight percentage points less than in 2013. This share is now basically focused on other provincial-capital-level cities.

Being in a position to pay for ones studies abroad doesn’t necessarily translate into perfect (or labour-market-oriented) choices, according to the news coverage. Qi Mo (齐默), head of the returnee office at the MoE, is quoted as stating “a certain blindness” in terms of how students (and their parents) are choosing fields of studies (or majors) and places (cities and universities) abroad. Hence, the MoE was trying to provide candidates for self-paid overseas studies, as well as their families, with information to support their choices, according to Qi.

It isn’t strongly highlighted in the news, but it becomes fairly evident that while Xu Peixiang points out how returning overseas students have become a group that receives great attention at our country’s market of talents, there may be particular challenges for returning overseas students, too. When a Xinhua article mentions measures like bases (or opportunities) for practical work as supportive measures for returnees to integrate into the labor market (this might also be translated as internship opportunities), you might suspect some frustration and trouble there. After all, such “opportunities” are hardly the financial return self-paying students (and their families and networks) would expect on their investment (or borrowings).



1) According to statistics quoted in the Chinese press coverage on the MoE “blue book”, 4.04 million Chinese students have studied abroad from 1978 to 2015. 2.22 million of them have returned so far.

2) minban is a poorly defined term. There are, of course, many ways to find definitions anyway. Dorothy J Solinger, in “China’s Transition from Socialism”, first published in 1993, suggested that

there are three main types: those […] which are supposedly owned and managed by “people” (minyou-minban); those owned by the state but managed by “people” (guanyou-minban); and those jointly operated and owned by the state and the “people” (guanmingongyou).

And in 1999/2000, Guoqiang Tian, now a professor at Texas A & M University and in China, discussed in a paper on Property Rights and the Nature of Chinese Collective Enterprises why collective enterprises, especially township and village enterprises (TVEs) had – those sixteen years ago, anyway – developed more rapidly than privately owned enterprises, in China.

General note: I have no information about survey’s return rate among the former overseas students.


Friday, February 19, 2016

“Social Credit System”

If you want to read only one thing about China this weekend, this is what you should read: a translation – by China Copyright and Media – of a State Council Notice concerning Issuance of the Planning Outline for the Construction of a Social Credit System. If you haven’t read it before, that is.

It’s kind of old news (from 2014), but I haven’t noticed this document before. It covers all areas of public and private life: finance, products and services, “soft power”, government and administration, work and product safety, pricing and monetary policies, medical services, industrial relations, education and science, environmental protection, “disclosure of false information” etc., and, of course, the internet:

Credit construction in the area of Internet applications and services. Forcefully move forward the construction of online sincerity, foster ideas of running the Internet according to the law and using the Internet in a sincere manner, progressively implement the online real-name system, perfect legal guarantees for the construction of online credit, forcefully move forward the construction of online credit supervision and management mechanisms. Establish online credit evaluation systems, evaluate the credit of the operational behaviour of Internet enterprises and the online behaviour of netizens, and record their credit rank. Establish network credit files covering Internet enterprises and individual netizens, vigorously move forward with the establishment of exchange and sharing mechanisms for online credit information and corresponding credit information in other areas, forcefully promote the broad application of online credit information in various areas of society. Establish online credit black list systems, list enterprises and individuals engaging in online swindles, rumourmongering, infringement of other persons’ lawful rights and interests and other grave acts of breaking trust online onto black lists, adopt measures against subjects listed on black lists including limitation of online conduct and barring sectoral access, and report them to corresponding departments for publication and exposure.

互联网应用及服务领域信用建设。大力推进网络诚信建设,培育依法办网、诚信用网理念,逐步落实网络实名制,完善网络信用建设的法律保障,大力推进网络信用 监管机制建设。建立网络信用评价体系,对互联网企业的服务经营行为、上网人员的网上行为进行信用评估,记录信用等级。建立涵盖互联网企业、上网个人的网络 信用档案,积极推进建立网络信用信息与社会其他领域相关信用信息的交换共享机制,大力推动网络信用信息在社会各领域推广应用。建立网络信用黑名单制度,将 实施网络欺诈、造谣传谣、侵害他人合法权益等严重网络失信行为的企业、个人列入黑名单,对列入黑名单的主体采取网上行为限制、行业禁入等措施,通报相关部 门并进行公开曝光。

Thanks to Smukster for his advice.




Spektrum der Wissenschaft, “Digitales Manifest”, Dec 21, 2015

Friday, August 28, 2015

Investigations at “People’s Daily” Online: two Executives, Leading Editors “taken away”

China’s supreme procurate’s website reported on Friday that Henan procurate has opened investigations (立案侦查) concerning People’s Daily Online director and former chief editor  Liao Hong (廖玒), and board member and deputy director Chen Zhixia (陈智霞), reports the BBC Mandarin service online.

The online service should not be confused with the paper edition of People’s Daily.

According to the South China Morning Post (SCMP), quoting a public profile, Liao was a founding member of the People’s Daily website. He had worked for the paper and its digital department for 19 years after graduating from the Beijing University of Technology. Both he and Chen had been taken away for investigation, the SCMP wrote on Thursday. The Hong Konger paper also writes that Liao had been under a lot of pressure after lending support to the publication of  “Under the Dome”, a documentary about air pollution in China, on the website.

According to the BBC, official confirmation of the investigations came after Caixin Online (财新网) and Southern Weekend (南方周末) had already quoted numerous sources saying that Kiao and Chen had been taken away for investigations.

The BBC also quotes news people who saw links between these two investigations and the case of Xu Hui (徐辉), then deputy editor in chief at People’s Daily online. Xu was put under investigation in May this year, and was reportedly accused or suspected of blackmail, and of taking bribes from people who had become subject to supervision by public opinion (舆论监督). The accusations might come across as an accusation similar to one made against former Central Military Commission vice chairman Guo Boxiong, who had been accused of 用职务便利, i. e. taking “advantage of his job”, or office. In the context of supervision by public opinion, it would refer to advantages from the job of an influential journalist. Concerning Xu Hui, Radio Free Asia (RFA) was rather specific about what accusations like these could mean, citing allegations that Xu had approached various companies and threatened to publish negative news stories about them if they didn’t buy advertising on the site.

All that said and written, the “investigations” may just as likely be mere tools in an inofficial-official campaign against critical journalism, be it in the context of the “Under the Dome” documentary, or in any other context.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Twenty Years ago: Island Democracy seeks Recognition

1. A Democracy introduces itself

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Lee Teng-hui

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jacques Ellul wrote in the 1960s, and added:

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

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

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

4. Full Speed, 1995

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

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

5. The “New Central Plains”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, June 7, 2015

“Star of the East” Aftermath: at Ease, under the Party’s and Government’s Help

A breathless Xinhua article published online by the People’s Daily today, with coverage which reads as if the whole story had unfolded only within the past twenty-four hours.

The Xinhua article seems to be the authoritative account of what happened, and how the authorities reacted. It was announced on Saturday evening's Xinwen Lianbo.

The Xinhua article seems to be the authoritative account of what happened, and how the authorities reacted. It was announced on Saturday evening’s Xinwen Lianbo. Click picture above for video.

On June 1, at about 21:30, the “Star of the East” from Chongqing’s Dongfang Ferry Company, on its way from Nanjing to Chongqing, suddenly capsized, hit by a tornado. In the furious storm and the surging waves, 456 passengers and crew were in a desperate situation.


Life is greater than the heavens!


Under the strong leadership of the Party’s Central Committee with Xi Jinping as the Secretary General, under the State Council’s work group’s direct command, the party committees and governments of Hubei, Hunan, Chongqing and elsewhere, the united action of the central authorities, the People’s Liberation Army’s and Armed Police and maritime authorities rapid mobilization abilities, nationwide mobilization for search and rescue action quickly unfolded.


After receiving the report, Central Committee Secretary General, State Chairman, and Central Military Commission Chairman Xi Jinping issued important instructions right away, ordering the State Council work group to go to the site to guide the rescue work, and that Hubei Province, Chongqing Metropolitan, and other work groups unfold all efforts with their adequate strength, and properly deal with the aftermath.


Standing Politburo member and Chief State Councillor Li Keqiang immediately issued written instructions and, on behalf of the Party’s Central Committee and the State Council, and on behalf of Secretary Xi Jinping, hurried to the site by plane, directing the rescue and emergency reaction work.


After the description of the political will behind the rescue work, the article goes into more technical and bureaucratic detail. Further down, the article mentions that the relevant local party committees and governments (i. e. Hubei Province, the Changjiang Maritime Bureau, Yueyang City, Shanghai, Jiangsu Province, Chongqing, Zhejiang Province, Fujian Province, Shandong Province, Tianjin Metropolitan authorities etc), on their own initiative, coordinated their actions. Support from companies with nationwide significance is also acknowledged.

The article also quotes reportedly positive coverage from the Wall Street Journal (WJS), and a Weibo message allegedly resent more than 100,000 times within a day, saying that “what most touched me is that the water level was lowered to facilitate the rescue work, with the Three Gorges Dam damming up water”.

That’s the role “social media” are meant to play in China, under the CCP’s guidance. Issuing authoritative information and news is for the authorities:

To publish authoritative news on ones own initiative is an effective medium to respond to society’s deep concerns. By the afternoon of June 6, the relevant authorites had done 13 press conferences, convened by the ministry of transport, the National Health and Family Planning Commission, the ministry of civil affairs, by the People’s Liberation Army, Hubei Province, and other people in charge who explained the situation and replied to the reporters’ questions, supplying information regarding the rescue and salvage work and the investigations in a timely, accurate, open and transparent manner.


After the incident, Associated Press, Reuters, CNN, BBC, and other foreign media, some 62 of them, arrived at Jianli, Hubei Province, covering the rescue work, the aftercare for the relatives, and how the aftermath was dealt with. Front command staff also organized three trips to the site for foreign media.


The article’s firt page ends with the same character it started with: Xi Jinping giving an important speech on the morning of June 4, concerning the next steps of rescue work.

Assuming high responsibility for the people’s life and safety – the attitude of the party’s and state’s highest decision-making levels is distinctive!


the Xinhua article jubilates, and concludes the first page of its online article (there are two more pages) with what it says is a quote from French daily Le Monde:

“At a time of disaster, the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party have built the image of responsible national leaders.”


The following two pages are mostly a chronicle of the rescue efforts, of blood, sweat, and respect for the dead (对逝者的尊重), apparently written to evoke the readership’s national pride and trust in the authorities.

Zhu Hongmei, a survivor saved from the wreck around noon of June 2, is hospitalized in Jianli. The article’s final line:

At Jianli County People’s Hospital, Zhu Hongmei’s condition is stable. She says that with the Party’s and government’s help, she feels at ease.




»Mourning the Victims, Radio Japan, June 7, 2015
» Rescuers, Families Bow in Silence, NYT, June 7, 2015
» En quête de réponses, Le Monde, June 5, 2015
» Search complete, L. A. Times, June 6, 2015
» To the Directorate for Religious Affairs, Russian Orthodox Church, June 4, 2015
» Reluctant to embrace Transparency, NYT June 4, 2015


Friday, April 17, 2015

A Chinese concept of Internet Revolution: a Need for Traditional Industries to be Reborn with New Bones

A CCTV op-ed, republished here by Enorth (Tianjin), picks up the official buzzword of “Internet plus”, or “互联网”+ in Chinese. The author is a frequently published commentator beyond CCTV, Qin Chuan (秦川).

Main Link: “互联网+”不是加工具 而是转观念

On March 5 this year, chief state councillor Li Keqiang, in his work report, spelled out the action plan for the formulaton of “Internet plus”. From there, “Internet plus” has become one of the most popular terms. There are people who welcome the age of “Internet plus”, and there are others who believe that this year is “the first year of the traditional industry’s internetization”, but there are also people who keep asking questions about why it should be “Internet plus” rather than “plus the internet”.


The enthused tractor driver

Riding into the incomparable Tomorrow

Internet plus had become a concept, writes, Qin, which had already “become hot”. It had the potential of making the Chinese economy take off. In the first quarter’s seven percent of economic growth and the first quarter’s smooth beginning for the national economy, the role played by “Internet plus” was not clearly quantifiable, but certainly discernible.

“Internet plus” isn’t “plus the internet” because the subjects are different, and because their effects are also different. “Plus the internet” stays at the concept of “traditional industries plus the internet” and sees the internet as a tool, but what “internet plus” signals is actually “internet plus all kinds of traditional industries”. The internet isn’t just a carrier, it’s the main frame, it doesn’t play a supporting role, but the indispensible and leading role.


In the second industrial revolution, electricity had led to great changes in many industries, writes, Qin, but the internet wouldn’t only help raising productivity and efficiency as electricity had one; the internet in itself was industrialization (互联网本身已经产业化). Internet companies which had attained some industrial attributes and inspired industrial upgrades should not be underestimated.

Qin urges a broader perspective. The internet was about merging, sharing, transformation and improvement. It was “not an addend, but a multiplier”. Traditional industries were facing big changes, and even needed to be “reborn with new bones” (脱胎换骨)*): Just as scholars say, new technologies and abilities can completely change traditional industries’ efficiency and abilities, and form new operations and business models.

That’s why we can say that “Internet Plus” may bring a technological revolution of far-reaching significance, which may permeat all aspects, not only topple traditional industries, but also provide traditional industries with new life. The shame is that when it comes to “Internet Plus”, quite many people just can’t see its value, or remain superficial about its significance. Reports say that the most serious bottleneck in China for “Internet Plus” are anachronistic concepts [or viewpoints]. At present, rather serious inflexible points of view exist in our countries’ traditional industries, as can be seen in the phenomenon of copying what is already there, a lack of essential understanding and use of cloud computing and services in big data infrastructure, and there is no broad change towards a consumer-led business pattern either.


We suffered from aphasia during several technological revolutions in the past. In this new technological revolution, we must not be marginalized again. The good thing is that the central authorities have already recognized the great significance of “internet plus”, and promoted it systematically. According to reports, the state has already established new industry venture capital funds at a value of 40 billion Yuan. More capital must be raised and integrated, to assist in beefing up industrial innovation.


The article doesn’t suggest that anything would be certain, however. The author is careful enough to suggest that “Internet Plus” could lead to these or those desirable results, and his article ends with a maybe (或许), not with a certainly (肯定):

By changing outdated ideas, by embracing “Internet Plus”, we may have an extraordinary tomorrow, with deep changes from China’s economy to Chinese life.




*) 脱胎换骨 could also be translated with the more “civil” term of re-inventing themselves, but to be reborn with new bones is a much older saying in China than the business philosophy reflected in self-reinvention. Self-criticism, sometimes necessary for survival when facing accusations of being a bad or weak revolutionary, for example, included the preparedness to be “reborn with new bones”. To be “reborn” that way is also the demand Haiyun, the wife of Cadre Zhang in Wang Meng‘s novel “Butterfly”, is facing after having praised “wrong” novels as an academic lecturer. And the man making these demands on her is Cadre Zhang himself:

All you can do now is to lower your head and to confess your guilt, to start anew, to flay your face and to wash your heart, to be reborn and to change your bones!

That’s to say, the choice of words reflects a blend of politics and economics, and, indeed of fear and survival. But when isolated from history, it probably amounts to this quote (Andy S. Grove):

For now, let me just say that a strategic inflection point is a time in the life of business when its fundamentals are about to change. That change can mean an opportunity to rise to new heights. But it may just as likely signal the beginning of the end.”

And yes, Only the Paranoid Survive is the title of the book.


Further Reading

» The Trickies Part, Slate, Jan 21, 2015
» Address Censorship, SCMP, March 8, 2015
» Deutschland will digital, DW, March 16, 2015
» Work Report, China Daily, Mar 5, 2015
»  Work Report (hours later), Mar 5, 2015
» Angst vor Zusagen, Die Zeit, Aug 19, 2014
» Digital Germany 2015, Nov 10, 2010
» The Digital Germany paper (in German)
» Destruction or Development, Mar 15, 2010


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