Posts tagged ‘Hu Xijin’

Monday, March 12, 2018

Huanqiu Shibao: Chinese Interests won’t be sidelined on Korean Peninsula

Huanqiu Shibao carried an unsigned editorial on Friday, reacting to an apparent rapprochement between Washington and Pyongyang. It’s reasoning reflects what Duowei News portrayed as Huanqiu’s editor-in-chief’s notion of Sino-North Korean relations, in December last year.

The author of the article translated underneath doesn’t seem to doubt that Pyongyang genuinely pursues a policy of denuclearization.

Main Link: How China should act in the light of dramatic changes on [Korean] peninsula

Links within blockquotes added during translation.

The situation on the Korean peninsula has seen another dramatic change. Having been to North Korea and in Washington right after that to report, the head of the Blue House national security office, Chung Eui-Yong, announced in Washington that North Korea’s top leader Kim Jong-un had invited invited Donald Trump to a meeting, and the American side immediately said that President Trump had accepted the invitation.

朝鲜半岛局势又出现新的爆炸性突破。几天之内访问了朝鲜、接着又去华盛顿通报的青瓦台国家安保室室长郑义溶在华盛顿宣布,朝鲜最高领导人金正恩邀请特朗普总统会面,美方随即表示,特朗普总统已经接受邀请。

The American side said that time and location of the meeting were yet to be determined. However, South Korea said that the meeting should be conducted before the end of May this year. Trump especially emphasized that South Korea had told him that not only had Kim Jong-un mentioned a freeze on nuclear activities, but also denuclearization. A sitting US president has never met a North Korean leader before. No matter what, a breakthrough like this deserves to be welcomed, and China should be happy for it.

美方表示,会面的时间地点待定。不过韩方称,会晤将在今年5月底前举行。特朗普特意强调,韩方告诉他,金正恩说到的不仅仅是冻结核活动,而是无核化。美国现任总统从未与朝鲜领导人会晤过,这一突破无论如何都值得欢迎,中国应当为之高兴。

In the face of the continuous dramatic changes on the peninsula, both Chinese people and foreigners are watching China’s actions with interest.

面对半岛局势不断出现的戏剧性变化,中国该如何做,国人很关心,世界也很关注。

First of all, the Chinese should maintain a calm attitude and remain focused. There should be no sense of “being sidelined”, and it is not the right perspective from where to look at the issue.

首先,中国人应放平心态,保持定力,不应有“中国被边缘化”的想法,跳出那样看问题的角度。

We should keep in mind what China’s main goal on the peninsula is, i. e. denuclearization and peace and stability. These two major points matter more than China and the gains and losses in its bilateral relations between the North and the South respectively, or the effect of such gains and losses in the contest of big powers. This is because China’s Northeast is close to North Korea, and North Korea’s nuclear activities and the stirring acrtivities on the peninsula are posing a potential threat to China.

我们应当牢记中国在半岛最重要的目标是什么,它们是半岛的无核化及和平稳定,这两点的重要性要高于中国与半岛南北两方双边关系的得失以及这种得失对大国博弈的影响。原因就是中国东北紧挨着朝鲜,朝鲜的核活动以及半岛的动荡都对中国东北构成潜在威胁。

China can’t compare match America. Firstly, America is far from the Korean peninsula, with corresponding room to maneuver. Secondly, US-South Korean relations are those of alies, and its ability to control South Korea is a legacy of its role of an experienced superpower.

中国不能和美国比,第一美国远离朝鲜半岛,因此进退都更有空间。第二,美国与韩国是盟友关系,美对韩国的操纵能力是它作为老牌超级大国的遗产。

China’s influence on North Korea didn’t continue after resisting the US and helping North Korea. We haven’d stationed troops in North Korea. The Chinese People’s Volunteers delegates also left Panmunjom in the mid-1990s. Chinese-North Korean relations soon became normal bilateral relations,with only certain remaining ideological bonds. The relations between the two countries also mainly amount to mutually beneficial cooperation, and it is many peoples’ misunderstanding that there were great amounts of Chinese gratuitous help to North Korea.

中国对朝鲜的影响在抗美援朝之后中断了,我们在朝鲜既无驻军,志愿军谈判代表也在上世纪90年代离开了板门店。中朝早就是正常国家关系,只剩下一定的意识形态纽带。两国经济关系也主要是平等互利的合作,中国大量无偿援助朝鲜是很多人的误解。

The influence that China does exercise on the peninsula is based on our country’s increasing strength, and its geopolitical position. The appearance of being able to decide international sanctions is also a key element in its ability to influence the situation on the peninsula. But China is no leader in finding a solution to the situation on the peninsula, and nor do we have the leverage to change the attitude of any of the parties on our own.

中国今天对半岛的影响力是基于我们国家实力的增强和地缘位置,中国有决定国际制裁面貌的能力,也是影响半岛局势的关键一方。但中国不是如何解决半岛问题的领导者,我们也没有能够单独撬动某一方态度的杠杆。

All the same, China’s exercise of power has played a role. The direction the situation on the peninsula is taking now is precisely what China has promoted. Firstly, the “double-moratorium” proposed by China has at last appeared. The “two-track merger” is also beginning to take shape. During these two years, China both participated in the sanctions policy against the DPRK, led by the United Nations, and China also prevented extreme measures such as sea blockades, that could have led to military conflict, and has made preparation for the aftermath of a possible hot conflict.

然而中国的发力产生了作用,半岛局势今天的走向恰恰与中国推动的方向相一致。首先,中国提出的“双暂停”终于出现了,中国主张的“双轨并进”也开始形成态势。这两年中国一方面参与了联合国主导的对朝国际制裁,一方面阻止了对朝海上封锁等可能导致军事冲突的极端措施,为朝美激烈冲突之后局势峰回路转预留了可能性。

As a big country, China has no reason to worry that North Korea could turn to a so-called “reliance on American help”. There can’t be any country on China’s boundaries that could completely “rely on American help”. China has actively advocated direct US-North Korean dialog on the nuclear issue, and seeing the two sides breaking the deadlock and talking directly, we should support this improvement all the more. If Kim and Trump can help to denuclearize the peninsula and make it peaceful and stable, this achieves China’s two big goals, and why should we not be happy about that?

作为大国,中国完全不必担心朝鲜会所谓的“投靠美国”,中国周边不可能有任何一个国家是完 全“投靠美国”的。中国从朝核问题一开始就积极推动美朝直接对话,在事实证明美朝直接对话是打破僵局绕不开的途径时,我们就更应该支持局势的这一进展了。 如果金特会有助于通向半岛无核化及和平稳定这两大中国最期待的目标,我们有什么理由为此而不高兴呢?

Chinese-North Korean relations are currently at a low ebb, but the real reason for that is the nuclear issue, not some historical or cultural reasons, a s some people like to exaggerate, or because of the North Korean leader’s personality. Once the North Korean nuclear issue can be alleviated, Chinese-North Korean may rather easily be improved.

目前中朝关系处在低潮,根本原因是核问题,而非一些人夸张的历史文化原因或者朝鲜领导人个性的影响。只要朝核问题能够缓解,中朝改善关系就会变得比较容易。

xBecause of modern technological development and because of changes in the international situation, North Korea’s significance as China’s geopolitical protective screen may decrease. Future good Chinese-North Korean relations will be more important for North Korea, than for China. China should calmly support US-North Korean contacts, and look favorably at the Kim-Trump meeting. At the same time, we should also actively react to sudden changes in the situation, improve relations with North Korea, and support the stabilization of a good development.

由于现代科技的发展和国际形势的变化,朝鲜作为中国地缘政治屏障的意义已大为下降,未来良好的中朝关系对朝鲜的意义比对中国来说更为重要。中国应当坦然支持美朝接触,对金特会乐见其成。同时我们也应积极回应局势的急遽变化,改善与朝鲜的关系。

We should respect North Korea. We should both continue to protect the UN security council’s decision-making authority, and help protect North Korea’s legitimate rights and interests*), as talks on conditions for denuclearization between Pyongyang and Washington get underway. North Korea, once starting the process of denuclearization, China must be a advocate and defender of international guarantee systems which make sure that [North Korea] won’t be cheated by America, and that it won’t continue to be pressured by America.

我们应当尊重朝鲜,一方面我们要继续维护安理会决议的权威,一方面要在平壤与华盛顿就无核化条件开展谈判时,帮助维护朝鲜的正当权益,继续做局势的平衡者。朝鲜一旦开始无核化进程,中国有必要做确保其不被美方欺骗、不继续受美国挤压等国际保障体系的坚决推动和维护者。中国的平衡作用有利于半岛局势的最终软着陆。

As the situation on the peninsula is about to ease, many uncertainties are still lying ahead. China must maintain its focus and stick to principles. It must not allow dazzling situations  to disturb our train of thought. We can’t see short-term gains, and even less should we worry about gains and losses. We should welcome US-North Korean talks to solve the nuclear issue, and in the denuclearization process, we should be [North Korea’s] strong supporter in their defense of their interests. If this is how China consistently continues, our interests will certainly not be sidelined.

半岛局势缓和刚开了个头,前方还有大量可能的变数。中国需保持定力,坚持原则,不让眼花缭乱的事态变化扰乱我们的思路。我们不能急功近利,更不应患得患失。欢迎美朝谈判解决核问题,在朝鲜无核化的过程中做它保护自身利益强有力的支持者,中国就这样一以贯之地做下去,我们自身的利益也一定不会被挤向边缘。

____________

Notes

*) When first published online on Friday, the article used the term 合法权益 (which seems to amount to “legitimate”, too, though maybe somewhat less expressively).
x

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Innovative Guidance of Public Opinion: China Radio International’s “Independent Journalists”

On March 25, 2014, the Chinese Journalists Association held a seminar in the Association’s press room, according to an article published by the organization. Both the 2014 “National People’s Congress” (NPC), China’s alibi parliament, and the “Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference”,  had ended about two weeks earlier. The combination of the two is frequently referred to as lianghui (two sessions). The pattern of the seminar didn’t seem to stand out, it was about “implementing the party’s 18th National Congress’ and the 18th Central Committee’s third plenary session’s spirit”, exchanging or sharing experience made with innovative news reporting methods (交流两会新闻报道中的创新经验做法), and with new explorations in increasing the ability or skills of guiding the public (提高舆论引导能力方面所做的新探索).

The beginning was pretty ordinary indeed, if you go by the Chinese Journalists Association account. The deputy director of China Radio International‘s (CRI) central editorial office, Zhang Hui (张晖), provided the participants with lots of statistics:  the “two meetings” had been covered in 55 foreign languages, four national-minority languages, five Han dialects and in standard Chinese, with more than 620 headlines. In form of written pieces or by radio, CRI covered the meetings in 42,000 news items and in 3,800 background reports, using 7,600 photos in the process. Radio reports had been broadcast on shortwave, medium wave, and digital frequencies, covering 160 countries or regions worldwide, in more than fifty foreign languages, Han dialects, and in standard Chinese. According to yet incomplete statistics (by the time of the seminar, that is), CRI had, during the NPC and CPPCC sessions season, received more than 72,000 messages from overseas listeners in more than 160 countries or areas, by letter, telephone, fax, email, and texting.

Many interviews had been recorded, in many languages, with important people, such as the Serbian prime minister, ambassadors from Russia, Mexico, Columbia, Italy, Mongolia and sixteen more states, and foreign parliamentarians and other foreign visitors had conveyed their positive assessments of China’s achievements. A multi-medial approach had been taking all along the way, Zhang told the seminar.

So far, so traditional. And there were tons more of that. Somewhere along the way, Zhang Hui’s shared experience would have sent most foreigners to sleep. But there’s also that magical moment in a Chinese talk, somewhere, when things begin to become more important, and when a Chinese participant would wake up, heeding an intuitive sense of timing, and when he or she really starts listening, at least with one ear.

Zhang Hui  – according to the published record, anyway – had arrived at the innovative aspects of CRI’s lianghui coverage:

CRI brought foreign media forces into play, promoted the localization of production, of distribution, and interaction, put the leading role at the front into effect, and reported globally. 1. Localization leads production and broadcasting closer to the audience. During the past years, CRI has leaned on companies to increase the pace of the “go-out policy”. In the main cities of Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, South Korea, Albania, and other countries, localization in research, production, distribution and in the work processes was achieved. Overseas media clusters played a particular role. An FM broadcaster in Lisbon transmitted a special program (“An ABC of the Sessions”), hot issues, guest interviews, foreign press reviews, etc.. An FM station in Bangkok transmitted the story of the two meetings in unceremonious language.

国 际台调动海外媒体力量,推进本土化制作、发布和互动,实现两会报道阵地前移、报道全球覆盖。1.本土化内容制播贴近受众需求。 近年来,国际台依托公司化运作加快“走出去”步伐,在泰国、老挝、柬埔寨、韩国、阿尔巴尼亚等多个国家的主要城市,实现了本土化采集、制作、发布和运营。 两会报道中,海外媒体集群发挥了独特作用。葡萄牙里斯本调频台播出特别节目《两会ABC》、热点问题、嘉宾访谈、外媒评论等。泰国曼谷调频台在《缤纷世 界》栏目中,以轻松活泼的形式讲述两会故事。

In “Studio 93” and similar programs of the FM station in Vientiane, Laos, officials, experts and academics were invited to a special program, to interpret the content of the two sessions. The program “Current Affairs in Chinese”, broadcast by the Albanian FM station, offered the main issues of the day by the “hot words from the two sessions”. CRI’s broadcasting stations with the CAMG media group in Melbourne, Auckland, Bangkok, Incheon, Colomb0, Kathmandu, Ulaanbataar, and other studios, arranged the news programs about the two sessions, organized the coverage mechanisms, and gave an example of the advantages of localization. The studio in Bangkok, through local hosts, in a familiar and effective fashion, gave explanations on [how] the two meetings [work].

老挝万象调频台在《93 播放室》等栏目中开设两会专 栏,邀请老挝官员、专家学者,解读两会相关内容。阿尔巴尼亚调频台在《时事汉语》节目中,开设“两会热 词”,关注当天热点。国际台环球凯歌公司下属的墨尔本、奥克兰、曼谷、仁川、科伦坡、加德满都、乌兰巴托等节目制作室,提前制定中国两会报道方案,建立健 全报道机制,彰显本土化传播优势。泰国曼谷节目制作室通过《泰中一家亲》栏目,由泰国本土主持人向受众解读中国两会,报道贴心,实效显著。

According to a Reuters report published early this month, CAMG Media is one of three foreign joint ventures co-run by China Radio International, or rather, by a 100 percent CRI subsidiary, Guoguang Century Media. Guoguang, according to Reuters, holds sixty percent in EDI media (North America), GBTimes (Finland), and CAMG Media Group (Melbourne), respectively.

Back to the Journalist Association’s seminar article on Wang Hui’s experience account:

2. International coverage localization operations abide by the broadcasting rules. CRI’s EDI Media in North America, GBTimes in Europe, CAMG Media in Australia, Global Iberia in Portugal, and other overseas companies dispatched nine reporters, in their capacities as [Update 20151117: overseas] independent reporters, to the two sessions, where they were positively active. Louise, Andrew and Michael as well as other reporters from CAMG, IBTimes, and EDI Media respectively, asked five questions [each?], to ministers and delegates, concerning property tax, environmental protection, economic growth etc. and achieved broad attention in domestic and foreign media. The nine reporters reported short commentary, blogs, miscellaneous, hot topics on social networks and photo stories [to their respective local or regional stations] and, speaking as borrowed foreign staff, told the Chinese narrative*) well.

2. 国际化新闻运作遵循传播规律。国际台美国环球东方、欧洲环球时代、澳洲环球凯歌、葡萄牙环球伊比利亚等海外公司,派出9名记者以海外独立媒体记者身份 上会,积极活跃在两会会场内外。环球凯歌、环球时代、环球东方上会记者Louise、Andrew、Michael等分别就房产个税、环保治理、经济增长 等在记者会上向各位部长、人大代表提问达5次,受到中外媒体广泛关注。9名上会记者为海外媒体公司开设的网站和落地电台发回短评、记者博客、每日花絮、社 交媒体热议以及图片新闻等报道,实现了借用外籍员工之口和海外媒体平台讲好中国故事。[…]

The Reuters story of early this month isn’t clear about where the idea of “borrowed boats”, i. e. CRI-invested joint ventures abroad, grew first: if the overseas Chinese media entrepreneurs who partner with CRI or CRI themselves got the idea first. “Borrowed boat”, according to Reuters, is how CRI director general Wang Gengnian refers to the overseas outlets concept. Wang Hui, in her work report to the seminar, used the same term in March 2014. And at least one of CRI’s overseas partners, James Su Yantao, described on a media industry convention in 2008 in China how overseas outlets could offer China’s external propaganda advantages.  According to Reuters, EDI Media was founded in the following year, in 2009.
____________

Note

*) Party and state leader Xi Jinping addressed the issue of telling a good Chinese narrative (讲好中国故事) on a central committee external work meeting on November 29, 2014, i. e. eight months after the China Journalists Association seminar described above. But the term is older; Hu Xijin, chief editor of Huanqiu Shibao, discussed the zhongguo gushi in 2013, and the leadership probably picked the concept from the usual circles of public-diplomacy expertise and academia.

____________

Related

» Borrowed Boats hit the News, Jichang Lulu, Nov 4, 2015
» Beijing’s covert Radio Network, Reuters, Nov 2, 2015
» Rumours about China Radio International, April 13, 2015

____________

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Weekend Links: Western Linguistic Manipulation, Destabilizing Russian Propaganda

Bicycles in Bremen-Sebaldsbrück, August 2015

“The world is upside down”,
said the wrong-way driver

1. China wants an Apology from the Japanese Emperor

That’s what Xinhua demanded on Tuesday, anyway: “Injustice has a source, a loan has a lender” (冤有头,债有主).

2. China wants North Korea to shut up

That’s because North Korea wanted South Korean loudspeakers to shut up. That has now happened, but on Monday, the loudspeaker crisis wasn’t yet resolved, and that was terrible, because South Korean president Park Geun-hye considered to stay at home in Seoul, due to the bad political weather on the Korean peninsula, rather than attending the PLA military parade on September 3.

Korean tensions won’t take China hostage, announced the “Global Times”, the quasi-Chinese parallel universe for foreigners who don’t understand Chinese, suspecting that certain forces in Pyongyang, Seoul, or outside the peninsula are gambling on this. Sino-NK compares the article in English and its – somewhat different – Chinese original.

The anger was actually understandable, as sino-narcissistic as it may have been. After all, Park’s attendance – now (re)confirmed – lends a lot of face to the parade of an army which actually had comparatively little to do with the defeat of Japanese imperialism, as Taiwanese president (and former KMT chairman) Ma Ying-jeou pointed out last month.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon can hardly be considered one of the certain forces in Pyongyang, Seoul, or outside the peninsula anyway. According to Reuters, citing Xinhua, he has defended his trip to Beijing next week to watch a military parade marking the end of World War Two following concern from Japan. Ban is scheduled to attend the sublime distortion of history, too.

Ban defended his planned attendance in Beijing next week after Japan’s foreign ministry had sent a message to the United Nations, saying that the events draw attention to the past for no purpose and that the United Nations should remain neutral, and a senior ministry official expressed strong dissatisfaction with Ban’s plan to observe the military parade in Tiananmen Square.

Tokyo’s top diplomats apparently felt an urgent need to prove that you don’t need to be Xinhua to talk like a wide-mouth frog.

3. China wants to cast off Western Linguistic Manipulation

This is what Huanqiu Shibao, translated and quoted by Fei Chang Dao, actually meant in its editorial on Thursday: a need to cast off Western linguistic manipulations and steer clear of the linguistic traps that they set when it comes to democratic concepts. CCP democratic practice proves that most “lingustic traps” are digital these days.

4. India is a Victim of such Manipulation

No, Mao Siwei, a former consul-general to Kolkata, doesn’t say that. He only suggests that India’s political system has (or leads to) problems, with all important legislation stalled in parliament. And he doesn’t even say that. He only quotes a Times of India editorial that says so.

5. How Marco Rubio would “deal with China”

On the basis of strength and example, of course, like any presidential candidate, prior to entering the White House and inheriting his predecessors desk (and files). Marco Rubio‘s first goal – repeat: first goal – would be to restore America’s strategic advantage in the Pacific. How so? By restoring the Pentagon’s budget to its appropriate level, of course:

This will allow us to neutralize China’s rapidly growing capabilities in every strategic realm, including air, sea, ground, cyber space and even outer space.

And

I will also promote collaboration among our allies, as America cannot and need not bear the full burden of counterbalancing China’s power.

Well, some of them will be in Beijing on Thursday, saying Hello to the victorious “People’s Liberation Army”. Maybe Rubio should first ask America’s quasi-allies in East Asia what they are going to spend on their countries’ military. Hegemony is unsustainable. Partnership might work.

6. Contested Economist Obituary of Tashi Tsering

The Economist published an obituary on Tashi on December 20 last year, and Woeser, who apparently furnished the news magazine with a photo taken by her husband Wang Lixiong ten years earlier, took issue with several points of the article. A few days after the Economist’s publication, she had recorded her objections. High Peaks Pure Earth offers an English translation. (Btw, Woeser also unveils the identity of the author of the Economist’s obituary – as a rule, authors remain anonymous there. The Economist explains why.)

7. Women can’t keep a Secret secret

Hilary Clinton can’t, Woeser can’t (see previous note, re the Economist’s Tashi Tsering obituary and its now uncovered author), and nor can Ambassador Caroline Kennedy.

Anyway, who cares. In the digital age, secrets are rapidly going out of fashion.

8. No “Russia Today” Rep Office in Latvia

According to Delfi, a Baltic online publication quoted by Euromaidan Press, the Latvian Registry of Enterprises denied permission to RT, saying that “the documents submitted by Russia Today contradict the Constitution of Latvia as well as several other laws”. Seconding the decision, the National Council of Electronic Media in Latvia reportedly alleged that the goal of the Russia Today Russian state news agency is to spread biased information in the information space to support the interests of Russia’s foreign policy.

A People’s Daily article in April suggested that the European Union was on the defensive in a “propaganda war” with Russia.

A rapid-response team to counter the destabilizing influence of Russian propaganda is now being established by the European Service of Foreign Affairs, writes Euromaidan Press.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Herrschaftswissen: Free or not, but “Engineered”

Wikileaks may have been useful in making some of the (Western or Arab) governments’ inside workings a bit more transparent – but it seems to me that what has been published by them doesn’t outweigh what is published by government themselves, or by their advisers, or by the mainstream press. We could have every government archive at our disposal, and would still face the problem of finding out what matters, and the problems of interpretation.

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

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

In this post, I will try to describe two examples of Herrschaftswissen, and one (rather old) example of methodology. A talk (not an article) on Wikipedia about enlightenment in Western secular tradition translates Herrschaftswissen as knowledge restricted to the rulers. I’m not sure if this should count as an exact translation, or just as a rough one.

Example 1: David Cameron’s “Muscular Liberalism”

In February 2011, British prime minister David Cameron addressed the Munich Security Conference, an annual conference on international security policy held in Bavaria’s capital. It is an example of how politics and mainstream media work hand in hand – it was founded by a publisher in 1962, and that publisher was succeeded by a former high-ranking government bureaucrat in 1998.

In his speech, Cameron focused on radicalization among Muslims in many European countries. There isn’t much in the speech itself that I would object to, but what I view critically is the context of the speech.

While Cameron was focused on radical Islamists in Europe, the “Arab Spring” was in full swing. Cameron gave his talk on the eve of the outbreak of the Syrian civil war – a war described by the BBC‘s Jim Muir as a proxy struggle between the US-led western world and al-Qaeda international.

The West’s undertaking could also be described as a struggle to discern moderate and radically Islamist forces among the opposition fordes in Syria – a struggle European governments are facing at home, too. But that’s a problem the West could have spared itself. If Western governments (and their Arab and Turkish allies) succeeded in toppling Syria’s Baath regime and install a “moderate” new regime, chances are that the new regimes human rights record would be no better than that of the Baath party. Governments who encourage and support radicalism in mainly Muslim countries are hardly qualified to encourage moderation among Muslims in their own countries.

A few days ago, the European Union’s Counter-terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove told told the BBC that among the estimated 500 European citizens who were currently fighting in Syria, but most likely many of them will be radicalised there, will be trained.

When you want to undermine Islamist radicalization at home, the West’s strategy on Syria doesn’t look too reasonable. Those who Cameron purportedly wants to win over know very well how ambivalent muscular liberalism is about terrorism, when it is about practise, rather than about talk.

Example 2. Trust in the CCP’s Central Committee

“Unity” is one of the supreme banners of the Chinese Communist Party. The downfall of Chongqing’s party chief Bo Xilai, only eight months ahead of the 18th National Congress of the CCP, came at a sensitive time. But if the power struggle about Bo Xilai was unpleasant or embarrassing already, the “visit” (or rather the tempoary getaway) of Chongqing’s Public Security Bureau head to the U.S. consulate in Chengdu in February 2012 should count as a PR disaster for the CCP.

The Chinese press had to pick up the pieces in the guidance of public opinion. Huanqiu Shibao, a CCP-owned but rather popularar Chinese paper, applied a mix of natural science (China’s rapid development is like a living body’s development, and there may always be some particulars we haven’t been familiar with) and orthodoxy (In China’s society of numerous and complicated voices, trust in the party’s central committee has become reason for society in its entirety). There was, Huanqiu elaborated, no contradiction between emancipation of mind and trust in the party’s central committee:

It is exactly for the diversity, for having several options, that we truly discover that trusting the party’s central committee, implementing the party’s road map, is more reliable than any other method other people may teach us, and more able to create the conditions that make the country and the individual develop.

This sounds like muscular socialism with Chinese characteristics.

Both Cameron and Chinese propaganda emphasize unity when it comes to fundamentals. The fundamentals are very different from each other, but the tools they are using to justify and legitimize their dominance are quite similar. However, Camaron’s game is easier to play than the CCP’s. When Chinese media openly bash dissidents, they risk getting unusually unharmonious responses from their recipients. When Cameron addresses radical Islamism, he will get his share of criticism, too, but that is nothing uncharacteristic in the British media.

And despite some inevitable criticism, when a European leader singles out radicalization among Muslims, chances are that the mainstream will respond rather favorably.

The problem for European politicians is that the political class is lacking the high degree of legitimacy – in view of the public – that it (reportedly) used to have. Or, as the Economist‘s Bagehot observed, the pomp of Margaret Thatcher‘s funeral met with shallow public interest. Even Mrs Thatcher’s enemies trusted that her motives were sincere, argues the Economist, but now all politicians are distrusted.

Not just among radical or not so radical Muslims. But if you pick a frequently disliked minority as Cameron does, you may still strike a chord with an increasingly resentful majority.

3. Engineering of Consent

In 1955, an American public-relations counsel, Edward L. Bernays, wrote an article, summarizing what he referred to as the engineering of consent. Bernays didn’t necessarily invent it, but at the time when he wrote about it, he had probably been among the most successful thinkers about and propagandists and practitioners of the concept for decades. The engineering of consent should under no circumstances […] supersede or displace the functions of the educational system, either formal or informal, Bernays wrote, in bringing about understanding by the people as a basis for their action. Rather, engineering of consent supplemented the educational process.

But in the previous paragraphs, Bernays had also written that

[..] it is sometimes impossible to reach joint decisions based on an understanding of facts by all the people. The average American adult has only six years of schooling behind him. With pressing crises and decisions to be faced, a leader frequently cannot wait for the people to arrive at an even general understanding. In certain cases, democratic leaders must play their part in leading the public through the engineering of consent to socially constructive goals and values. This role imposes upon them the obligation to use the educational processes, as well as other available techniques, to bring about as complete an understanding as possible.

Bernay’s essay leaves it essentially to the adopters how to make use of the toolkit he provided. Given that the tools are highly effective, it is obvious that they aren’t only used when the gap between public understanding and necessity (problem-solving) can’t be bridged in time, but whenever opportunists finds the engineering useful. Or, to put it more catchy: the dumber a policy, the dumber the public needs to be, and all the more, engineering of consent needs to supersede education.

Both democratically-elected and totalitarian politicians appear to be keen adopters, and it would be for the public itself to become more informed, to judge if the actons of politicians are in the public interest, or if they are not.

But the opposite is the case. While many European middlebrows regard the political class and their techniques as ethically rotten or even detest them for the manipulation, they are themselves adopters of spin-doctoring, too. Many blogs,  comments and other expressions of (political) opinion seem to apply the means and methods used by the political class to make their case. There seems to be an ambivalence among the ruled about the desire to belong to the political class, and to refute it.

Not to mention Wikileaks. Wikileaks doesn’t “educate”, either.

In that regard, the average Chinese netizen appears to be more aware of the manipulation he or she is subjected too, than the Western subject to the same PR technology – Chinese awareness states itself in terms like “we’ve been harmonized” [by Chinese authorities or media]. Or, when Huanqiu Shibao wrote in 2012 that opinion poll results published by American Gallup  showed that during the preceding three years, among the five BRIC states’ population, the Brazilians and Chinese had been most satisfied with their living standards, and only the Chinese felt during three successive years that the living standard had continuously improved, a commenter laconically replied that he had been satisfied (in a passive-voice sense) by the Americans. In certain ways, the experience of living under a totalitarian government seems to stimulate clear-sightedness.

Bernays reportedly liked to close his speeches and talks with an invariable summary: And everybody is happy.

There may not be a great future for public happiness. But quite probably, there is one for the engineering of consent.

____________

Related

» Battle of Opinion, Feb 13, 2013

____________

Thursday, September 6, 2012

I’m almost a Model Worker, but I’ve been Misunderstood

China Smack won Danwei‘s Model Worker of the Year Award 2012 in the blogs and websites category. That happened in June, and one of the runners-ups – in the current affairs and commentary category – is this blog. I had noticed the link to my blog back then, but never reacted, because I somehow thought that it was only the initial step in the process of choosing blogs.

I’m very grateful for the inclusion of this blog, but have to take issue with the description of its probable cause:

Reportage of insider riffs within the Party, recently peppered with an increasing number of translations. This German blogger describes his attitude towards the CCP as “cold-warlike”.

That’s how misunderstandings happen. What I wrote under “About” is this:

When it comes to politics, this mission statement may help to describe my blogging approach. By semi-official Chinese standards, my attitude towards the Chinese Communist Party would be cold-warlike.

That’s different, isn’t it? I mean, since when are semi-official Chinese standards JR‘s standards? Am I Hu Xijin?

Either way, it’s great to get a mention like this, even if some bloggers still don’t quite understand JR.

Please have a look at the blogs and sources listed there. Three likely choices I’d make myself would be Rectified Name (without commenter sections, unfortunately), Beijing Cream, and Seeing Red in China.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Blog and Press Review: Oh, Rule of Law!

I’m sometimes wondering if one should really make a fuss and take issue with stuff that is written by the mouthpieces of a totalitarian political system, who praise the disciplinary investigation against Bo Xilai or charges against his wife as shining examples of how rule of law prevails in China . But if one wants to take issue, the following is a great way to do so:

It’s not rule of law if everybody’s doing it and you only oust the people who piss on the shoes of the top leadership. It’s not rule of law if every case of corruption is due to a lack of personal virtue on the part of the official with nary a word about the system that allows this kind of venality to flourish. It’s not rule of law if the police chief of a major city has to threaten to defect in order to get the attention of the central government.

Jeremiah Jenne, reacting to the  Global Times‘ coverage.

But another option, if you really want to insult Huanqiu Shibao, is to quote from it:

There is no contradiction between emancipation of mind and trust in the party’s central committee. Without emancipation of minds, trust in the central committee would be mere slavish conformism. It is exactly for the diversity we have, for having other options, that we truly discover that trusting the party’s central committee, implementing the party’s road map, is more reliable than any other method other people may teach us, and more able to create the conditions that make the country and the individual develop.

相信党中央和解放思想不矛盾,没有思想的解放,相信党中央就是盲从。正是因为我们有了多元化,有了其他选项,我们才真正发现,相信党中央,执行党的路线,比任何别人教我们的方法都更可靠,更能为保障国家和个人的发展创造条件。

____________

Related

Dr. Zhivago lives, Andresen / RIA Novosti, Aug 12, 2011

____________

%d bloggers like this: