Posts tagged ‘industrial relations’

Sunday, October 25, 2015

“Foreign Marxists”: the Virtues of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics

The following is a translation from a People’s Daily article, published online on July 27, and by the paper’s printed edition on July 24 this year. Links within blockquotes added during translation.

There’s a great likelihood that this translation contains errors. The translator, i. e. this blogger, has no idea about the concepts involved here.

In the wake of China’s great economic and social achievements, some foreign Marxist scholars’ research focuses on socialism with Chinese characteristics. Most of them praise China’s great achievements and hold an affirmative attitude towards China’s path, China’s theory, and China’s system. Some also researched the causes for China’s successes in depth, as you can improve by accepting experience from elsewhere1). To develop 21rst-century China’s Marxism, we should pay attention to foreign Marxist scholars’ China research, and from this, we should absorb and learn what is useful, while keeping the initiative ourselves in making use of it.

随着我国经济社会发展取得巨大成就,一些国外马克思主义学者将研究聚焦于中国特色社会主义。他们大多赞赏中国取得的巨大成就,对中国道路、中国理论、中国制度持肯定态度,有的还深入研究了中国成功的原因。他山之石,可以攻玉。发展21世纪中国的马克思主义,应关注国外马克思主义学者对中国的研究,从中吸收和借鉴有益的东西,以我为主、为我所用。

Adhere to the road that is in accordance with China’s national condition, the road that provides socialism with Chinese characteristics. The road that is meant to solve the major issues of the fate of the country’s perspectives, the fate of the nation, and the well-being of the people, is to develop 21rst-century China’s Marxism. Nottingham University’s tenured professor and National University of Singapore’s East Asian Institute director Zheng Yongnian2) believes that the successes after New China‘s establishment and particularly during the more than 30 years of reform and opening up, are the results of China taking a road in accordance with its national situation, a road in possession of socialism with Chinese characteristics. This road of development has distinct Chinese characteristics, and can be referred to as the Chinese model. The Chinese model is a combination product [?] of international optimal experience [?] and China’s own practice, showing both global and Chinese qualities. The initiator of the “Beijing Consensus”, renowned American China issues expert Joshua Cooper Ramo, believes that through hard work, own-initiative innovation and bold practice, figured out a development model in accordance with its own country’s national condition, a model clearly superior to the already embattled Latin American model.3) Renowned foreign Marxist scholar Samir Amin believes that China’s path has innovated from the beginnings of the PRC’s establishment, and that if China does not adhere to socialism with Chinese characteristics, the only result would be mere capitalism, and the fate of many countries bears testimony that this could only be a tragedy. Member of the Japanese Communist Party’s politburo standing committee, Fang Jingfu4), also said that the Chinese model is a matter that is still under development. It substance is socialism built through the market, coexisting with capitalism, a path found from competition, a new, peaceful road.

坚持走符合中国国情、具有中国特色的社会主义道路。道路关乎国家前途、民族命运、人民幸福,是发展21世纪中国的马克思主义要解决的首要问题。英国诺丁汉大学终身教授、新加坡国立大学东亚研究所所长郑永年认为,新中国成立后尤其是改革开放30多年来取得的成就,是中国走了一条符合中国国情、具有中国特色的社会主义道路的结果。这种发展道路具有鲜明的中国特色,可以称之为中国模式。中国模式是国际最优经验和中国本身实践相结合的产物,既有世界性,也有中国性。“北京共识”的首倡者、美国著名中国问题专家乔舒亚·库珀·雷默认为,中国通过艰苦努力、主动创新和大胆实践,摸索出一条适合本国国情的发展模式,这种模式显然优于已经陷入危机的拉美模式。著名国外马克思主义学者萨米尔·阿明认为,中国道路从中华人民共和国建立开始就已经是独创性的,如果中国不坚持社会主义道路,其结局就只能是纯粹的资本主义,许多其他国家的命运已经证明这只会是悲剧。日本共产党中央政治局常委绪方靖夫也提出,中国模式是一个还在形成发展过程中的事物,其实质就是通过市场建设社会主义,是一条在与资本主义并存、竞争中寻找到的道路,是一条新的和平之路。

Setting out from a perspective beyond capitalism and adhering to, and developing, the theoretical system of socialism with Chinese characteristics. The system of socialism with Chinese characteristics is the latest result from the sinicisation of Marxism. To adhere to and to develop the theoretical system of socialism with Chinese characteristics is the central proposition of developing 21rst-century China’s Marxism. University of Tokyo emeritus professor Makoto Itoh believes that what constitutes socialism with Chinese characteristics is mainly state ownership of the land, the concept of “state ownership of means of production as the main feature” and “diversification of management”, a “consultative type of industrial relations” [or labor-capital relations], etc.. He also points out that the foundations of an economy developed by a theoretical system of socialism with Chinese characteristics will be a market economy with public ownership as the mainstay, with a greater significance of China’s economic system in the 21rst century. Arif Dirlik, a longtime left-wing scholar researching Chinese issues, believes that socialism with Chinese characteristics has some sort of inherent perspective beyond capitalism, and a particular urge to avoid a return to capitalism. The theoretical value of socialism with Chinese characteristics isn’t in current importance for the globalizing economy, but in its efforts to provide some kind of alternative experience to the global capitalist system.

从超越资本主义的视界出发坚持和发展中国特色社会主义理论体系。中国特色社会主义理论体系是马克思主义中国化的最新成果。坚持和发展中国特色社会主义理论体系,是发展21世纪中国的马克思主义的核心命题。东京大学名誉教授伊藤诚认为,中国特色社会主义理论的构成主要有“土地国有”“生产手段的公有为主体与经营管理的多样化”“协商型的劳资关系”等。他还指出,中国特色社会主义理论未来发展的经济基础是以公有制为主体的市场经济,中国经济体制在21世纪将具有更重要的意义。长期研究中国问题的左翼学者阿里夫·德里克则认为,中国特色社会主义具有一种内在超越资本主义的视界,并具有寻求避免回到资本主义的特质。中国特色社会主义的理论价值,不在于它目前在全球经济中的重要性,而在于它正努力为资本主义世界体系提供一种替代经验。

Keeping an eye on the manifestation of socialism’s unrivaled superiority, adhere to and bring to perfection the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics. The system of socialism with Chinese characteristics is the essential institutional warrant for progress in contemporary China’s development. To adhere to and to perfect the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics is an important task for the development of 21rst-century development of Chinese Marxism. Vladimir Popov, an international economic researcher at the Russian State Economics Institute5), says that “China’s institutional abilities” or socialist system guaranteed that China, during the global economic crisis, maintained a superb expressive power. A major Global system theory representative, Giovanni Arrighi, believes that there are three main systemic reasons for China’s many successes in achieving more than thirty years of rapid economic growth: reform and opening up, unhampered accumulation and deep societal roots. French scholar Tony Andreani points out that the system of socialist market economy represents China’s national condition and systemic advantages. One was China’s status in the primary stage of socialism which was to continue for at least another fifty years. A second advantage was that the economic characteristic of this primary stage of socialism was that public ownership would maintain a dominant position in the economy, with a leading role to play. And a third was that China China would retain state planning and governmental macro-economic control, the role of which, even while exercised by indirect tools, was very powerful. And fourthly, China needed to take the national condition of the country into consideration, with its socialism needing Chinese characteristics.

着眼于彰显社会主义的优越性坚持和完善中国特色社会主义制度。中国特色社会主义制度是当代中国发展进步的根本制度保障。坚持和完善中国特色社会主义制度,是发展21世纪中国的马克思主义的重大课题。俄罗斯国家经济学院国际经济研究生院院长弗拉基米尔·波波夫说,中国“国家的制度能力”即社会主义制度,保证了中国在经历世界经济危机的时候依然可以有出色的表现力。世界体系理论的主要代表人物乔万尼·阿里吉认为,中国30多年成功实现经济高速增长的制度原因主要有三个方面:改革开放、无剥夺的积累与深刻的社会根源。法国学者托尼·安德烈阿尼指出,社会主义市场经济体制体现了中国的国情和制度优势:一是中国当前仍处于社会主义初级阶段,这个初级阶段至少要延续半个世纪。二是中国社会主义初级阶段的经济特点是公有制在经济中占主体地位、发挥主导作用。三是中国仍然保留国家计划和政府的宏观调控,只不过是通过间接手段进行,但其作用十分强大。四是中国必须考虑本国的特殊国情,其社会主义的发展需具有中国的特点。

The discussions of China’s path, China’s theory, and China’s system by foreign Marxists are mostly friendly, objective, and also of enlightening significance. In the development of 21rst-century Chinese Marxism, these views and points of view can be used as a reference system, to continuously strengthen confidence in the path, theories and system, absorb the rationalization proposals they contain, adhere to and broaden the road of socialism with Chinese characteristics, adhere to and develop the theoretical system of socialism with Chinese characteristics, adhere to and bring to perfection the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and constantly broaden the range of sinicisation of Marxism.

国外马克思主义学者关于中国道路、中国理论、中国制度的这些论述,大都是友善的、客观的,也是有启示意义的。发展21世纪中国的马克思主义,可以把这些看法和观点作为一个参考系,进一步坚定道路自信、理论自信、制度自信,吸收其中包含的合理化建议,坚持和拓展中国特色社会主义道路、坚持和发展中国特色社会主义理论体系、坚持和完善中国特色社会主义制度,不断开拓马克思主义中国化新境界。

(Authoring unit: Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Research Center for the Theoretical System of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics)

(作者单位:中国社会科学院中国特色社会主义理论体系研究中心)

People’s Daily, July 24, page 7

《 人民日报 》( 2015年07月24日 07 版)

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Notes

1) Literally: taking stones from someone else’s mountain to polish the jade.
2) I can’t judge if this is an accurate account of what Zheng said or says.
3) This seems to refer to the Washington Consensus, in this original sense.
4) Chinese transliteration – I didn’t find his Japanese name online.
5) The institute’s or university’s real name (in English) is probably different.

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Sunday, September 13, 2015

Weekend Links: O2O Business in China

Warning: JR is trying to explain the economy to himself. His word pool and previous knowledge about this topic are shaky, and the following may or may not make sense – you’ll have only have yourselves to blame if you base your homework (or investment decisions) on this post.

Going “Brick-and-Mortar”

Let’s get industrial. O2O is about [people] buying things online, but collecting them from a shop on their side of the computer or smartphone – or having the stuff delivered to their doorstep. But China’s woefully inefficient logistics network .. acts as a brake on e-commerce growth, the Economist wrote in August, and that leads to online retailers seeking “brick-and-mortar” outlets to increase the points of delivery and to make their goods more accessible for their online customers.

Dalian Wanda Group’s (万达集团) and Suning Commerce Group (苏宁云商) are a recent example in the news. Wanda’s property development section (the company’s other major trades would be culture and tourism)  provides department stores or plazas all over the country, and Suning Commerce Group is a retailer with reportedly more than 1600 stores across mainland China, Hong Kong, and Japan. The two have signed a cooperation agreement: Suning will open stores at Wanda Plazas throughout the country, Reuters wrote on September 6.

National Soft Power, too

China News Service (CNS) explained, on September 7:

Suning coming into play is a direct result of an upgrade at Wanda. Wang Jianlin has long indicated that the answer would be revealed on this day.

其实,细心的人早就能发现这次合作的蛛丝马迹。它与万达正在进行的业态升级紧密关联。甚至可以说,苏宁的入局,正是万达进行业态升级的直接成果。王健林一直引而不发,直到这一天揭晓答案。

The adjustments had been watched by many skeptical observers for about half a year, without Wang Jianlin providing much of a response during all the time, according to CNS. But as for Wanda’s department stores, or plazas, CNS has reassuring news:

Are Wanda’s stores really as bad as comments from outside suggest? Not at all. One one occasion, in an internal meeting, Wang Jianlin revealed that nearly half of the Wanda stores were incurring losses, but that the other half of them were profitable. He was in a position to cut the outlets that were incurring heavy losses, optimize the portfolio, and then have a attractive story to tell to the Hong Kong capital markets, with a beautiful financial report.

万达百货真的有外界评说的那么糟糕吗?并不是。王健林曾经在一次内部会上透露,万达百货有近一半是亏损的,但还有另一半是盈利的。他完全可以砍掉亏损严重的门店,优化资产组合,用亮丽的财报去给香港资本市场讲一个动听的故事。

The CNS article also points out that Wanda became involved in the culture industry in 2012.

Compared with real estate business, the contribution the culture segment could make to [the Wanda group’s] revenues and profits was very low, but it perfectly fitted into the strategic requirements of the national advancement of soft power, and its synergy effects with real estate, tourism, and other trades was obvious. As big onlooking companies  from the real estate began to recognize [Wanda’s approach], they scrambled to emulate it.

2012年,万达发力文化产业。跟地产比起来,文化产业能够贡献的收入和利润份额在当时非常之低,但是却紧密契合了国家提升软实力的战略需求,与地产、旅游等行业的协同效应非常明显。以至于在后来,许多大型地产企业都看明白了,开始争相效仿。

CNS also refers to the acquisistion of AMC Theatres (AMC Cinemas), and Infront Sports and Media, and offers an explanation as to why such acquisitions would make sense, and concludes:

There are many more such examples. Every draw in this game of chess was made not from a spur of the moment, but as a move taken after careful consideration, serving the transformation plan for the entire Wanda group. This is also true for the adjustments of the stores, and the introduction of Suning.

这样的例子还有很多。万达的每一步棋子都不是临时起意,都是深思熟虑之后的谨慎之举,并为整个集团公司的转型大计服务。调整百货,引入苏宁,也是如此。

The message provided by CCTV’s website for the foreign audience is equally heartwarming:

The Wanda Group, headed by Asia’s richest man Wang Jianlin, seems unstoppable.

Complementary illustration ...

Complementary illustration …

The Financial Times, in an online article published on August 6, isn’t quite that enthusiastic – although, it should be said, their misgivings aren’t about the Wanda-Suning romance which was only made public in September, but about the O2O industry in general. Rising labor costs could hamper the business model, and it is not entirely clear what lasting new business models will emerge.

That said, if O2O is really a lifestyle, as suggested by Chinaskinny, the question might come up, sooner or later, if and how costs play a role in that customer “hobby”, and if the promises it makes to the supplier side are sustainable, For sure, the example of the nail specialists who can make so much more per hour, if based on O2O, is all over the internet, as observed by the FT.

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Related

» Baidu Q3 forecast, TechCrunch, July 27, 2015
» Traditional Industries, new Bones, April 17, 2015
» Central Committee Cultural Decision, Oct 28, 2011

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Friday, July 3, 2015

Argentinian Radio on Strike

Radio Argentina al Exterior (RAE) QSL card, 1980s

Radio Argentina al Exterior (RAE) QSL card, 1980s. The station is still active on shortwave in a number of languages – Spanish, Portuguese, English, German, French, Italian, Japanese, and Chinese.

Radio Nacional employees went on a 24-hours’ strike at 6 a.m. local time on Thursday (3 a.m. UTC), and there will be another strike on Monday, July 6, also starting at 6 a.m., writes APSF (Asociación de Prensa de Santa Fe), a labor union. According to the notice, the strikes are motivated by demands for a rise in payment for all employees at the country’s public radio, and demands to put an end to staff precarization (i. e. to enter permanent work contracts).

A blog post by Prensa Radio Nacional writes that patience has a limit, and that the listeners must know this., apparently defending the radio staff against accusations from the broadcasting authorities.

The workers who are today accused of letting their audience down are exactly those who prevented privatization and thanks to whom we still have this public radio you like to listen to.
This radio today is not the fruit of those in the spotlight, but of the silent efforts made by technicians and journalists in the durable station plant.

Los trabajadores a los que hoy acusan de dejar sin “aire” a los oyentes son los mismos que impidieron  en los 90 los intentos de privatización y gracias a ello, tenemos hoy esta radio pública que a ustedes les gusta escuchar.
La radio actual no es fruto de unos iluminados sino del silencioso  esfuerzo de los operadores técnicos y periodistas de la planta estable de la emisora.

Director Maria Seoane and vice director Vicente Muleiro hadn’t met with delegates from the committees for years, writes Prensa Radio Nacional, and kept focusing on small issues rather than the pressing ones, according to the blogpost.

They say that they belong to the national and popular camp [apparently a union motto], but they are not in a dialogue with the workers, whom they ignore and whom they try to make invisible.

Ellos dicen pertenecer al campo Nacional y Popular pero no dialogan con los trabajadores, los ningunean y tratan de invisibilizarlos.

This strike could have been avoided, and as journalists at the information service we like our work, despite zero recognition from the part of the authorities.

Este paro se podría haber evitado, a los periodistas del Servicio Informativo nos gusta nuestro trabajo, a pesar del nulo reconocimiento que existe por parte de las autoridades.

The criticism follows these quotes but is, unfortunately, beyond my very limited language skills.

The strike includes Argentine foreign radio, Radiodifusión Argentina al Exterior (RAE).

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Related

H/t to Medios y Opinión‘s link collection, July 2, 2015

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Friday, May 1, 2015

Xi Jinping’s May 1 Address to the Party, the Labor Unions, and the Model Workers

On Tuesday, Xinhua Newsagency (in Chinese) published party and state leader Xi Jinping‘s Labor Day address, celebrating national model workers and advanced workers, expressing the party’s and the people’s gratitude to them, and emphasizing the need for the whole society to learn from them (党和人民感谢你们!全社会都要向你们学习). The traditional ceremony awarded national model workers.

However, Xinhua Newsagency’s claim (in English) that the award ceremony had championed worker protection, higher working standards and stronger unions was hardly telling its foreign audience the entire truth. In fact, stronger unions in English spells party-led unions in CCP-Chinese (see last paragraphs of this post).

Labor Day ceremony in Urumqi

While the speech quoted in this post was held in Beijing, a similar ceremony went on tour in April last year, to Urumqi (click picture to get there)

On “Youth Day” in 2013, almost two years ago, Xi had tried to blend individual ambitions with party and state goals. And just as in last week’s Labor-Day ceremony, outstanding workforce (or outstanding youth representatives, as it was about youth day back then) were at the center of the event in 2013. This is a pattern that repeats itself on all kinds of occasions.

The following are excerpts from Xi Jinping’s speech during the Labor Day ceremony last week.

After the foundation of New China, our country’s working class became the leading class, and our country’s workers class and broad working masses became the masters of the country, thus giving our commemoration of May 1 international labor day a new, epoch-making meaning.

新中国成立后,我国工人阶级成为国家的领导阶级,我国工人阶级和广大劳动群众成为国家的主人,我们纪念“五一”国际劳动节具有了新的时代意义。

The times we live in are a great, inspiring era, and the cause we are undertaking is unprecedented. What we are engaging in right now, the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics, is the common cause of the entire people. The comprehensive building of a moderately prosperous society, the building of a prosperous and strong, democratic, civilized and harmonious, socialist and modernized country depends completely on work, on creation by the workers.Therefore, no matter where the epochal conditions may change, we will always value work, respect the workers, always attach importance to bringing the role of the main force – the working class and the broad working masses – into play. This is what makes our commemoration of May 1 international labor day so significant.

我们所处的时代是催人奋进的伟大时代,我们进行的事业是前无古人的伟大事业,我们正在从事的中国特色社会主义事业是全体人民的共同事业。全面建成小康社会,进而建成富强民主文明和谐的社会主义现代化国家,根本上靠劳动、靠劳动者创造。因此,无论时代条件如何变化,我们始终都要崇尚劳动、尊重劳动者,始终重视发挥工人阶级和广大劳动群众的主力军作用。这就是我们今天纪念“五一”国际劳动节的重大意义。

[…]

To promote the strategic design of the four comprehensives,  we must amply mobilize the broad people’s and masses’ enthusiasm, initiative, and creativity.

在前进道路上,我们要始终坚持人民主体地位,充分调动工人阶级和广大劳动群众的积极性、主动性、创造性。人民是历史的创造者,是推动我国经济社会发展的基本力量和基本依靠。推进“四个全面”战略布局,必须充分调动广大人民群众的积极性、主动性、创造性。

Another buzzword in Xi’s address was consociationalism (协商民主).

We must promote grassroot democratic building, establish work units with worker’s congresses as the base, and with a democratic management system, implement the employed masses’ right to know, right to participate, right to expression, and oversight.

要推进基层民主建设,健全以职工代表大会为基本形式的企事业单位民主管理制度,更加有效地落实职工群众的知情权、参与权、表达权、监督权。

Also mentioned was the “Chinese Dream”, and the fundamental interests of the overwhelming majority of the people (最广大人民根本利益).

Job creation, skills training, income distribution, social security as well as migrant workers got short nods, too, and so does mass work (做好群众工作).

Labor relations are among the most basic relations. To the greatest measure, harmonious factors must be increased, and unharmonious factors must be reduced to the lowest measure, to build and develop harmonious work relations, and to promote social harmony [harmony in society]. The legal rights of employees must be protected, a system for comprehensive coordination of work relations be built, and contradictions and disputes in work relations be timely and correctly be handled.

劳动关系是最基本的社会关系之一。要最大限度增加和谐因素、最大限度减少不和谐因素,构建和发展和谐劳动关系,促进社会和谐。要依法保障职工基本权益,健全劳动关系协调机制,及时正确处理劳动关系矛盾纠纷。

Xi mentioned the 90th anniversary of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions‘ foundation, and expressed the

hope that all organizations and the vast cadreship at the unions will unswervingly walk the development road of socialism with Chinese characteristics, adhere to main battlefield of union work, pay close attention to the central responsibilities of union work, to fulfill the organization of the unions’ political responsibilities in an exemplary way, and to bring the unions’ organizational role into play better and better. Keep to the fine tradition of free-willed acceptance of party leadership, the firm grasp of the correct political direction, the firm grasp of our country’s labor movement’s theme of the times, and to guide hundreds of millions of working masses to unswervingly go with the party.

希望各级工会组织和广大工会干部坚定不移走中国特色社会主义工会发展道路,坚守工会工作的主战场,狠抓工会工作的中心任务,模范履行工会组织的政治责任,更好发挥工会组织作用。要坚持自觉接受党的领导的优良传统,牢牢把握正确政治方向,牢牢把握我国工人运动的时代主题,带领亿万职工群众坚定不移跟党走。

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Related

» Falling Growth, Rising Vigilance, Jan 20, 2014
» The Railroader’s Dream, June 21, 2013

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Friday, March 13, 2015

“One Country Two Systems” Logic: Elections are Infiltration

Fanny Law (羅范椒芬), Hong Kong Executive Councillor and a delegate to the ” National People’s Congress”, in an interview with a mainland news website, quoted by Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) on Saturday (Friday UTC).

Law certainly has reasons to dislike free elections – her chances to win any would appear rather dim.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Good News for Deutsche Welle, but “some used the Discussion about DW Financing to raise their own Profiles”

The German ministry of finance and federal government commissioner for Culture and the Media Monika Grütters have agreed to increase the Deutsche Welle (DW) budget by twelve million Euros, from 2016 on. The Generalanzeiger, a paper from Bonn, and therefore from one of the two cities hosting DW services, describes the agreement – reportedly reached on February 22 – as a mark set by the two against DW director general Peter Limbourg‘s plans to close ten out of the thirty language services run by DW.

Employee committee member Daniel Scheschkewitz had referred to the director general’s plans as hostage-taking, according to the eco-liberal daily taz in December last year. In the same article however, taz also quoted DW spokesman Christoph Jumpelt as saying that Limbourg had pointed out consequences that  budget squeezes on DW could lead to.

But neither the Generalanzeiger, nor taz, come across as convinced. Nor does Tabea Rössner, media spokesperson for the Greens in German federal parliament. In a speech on a demonstration of some 300 DW employees in Bonn on February 23,  she quoted DW general employee committee Ayse Tekin as saying that if the director general wanted an English-language news channel, the budget needed to be increased, and that the news channel should not come at the cost of DW’s regional language services. And she didn’t forget to mention how enduringly she, Rössner, had advocated this position in the federal parliament, in the press, in interviews, and in discussions.

Indeed, Rössner has made DW, and the strategic choice it is facing, publicly noticeable (if anyone has). And she caught the ire of the DW bosses when, a few days ahead of the DW staff protests in Bonn, she allegedly referred to their plans as the organization’s transformation into an English-language news channel. This echoed the two opposing December narratives, about an either reckless or concerned director general. DW spokesman Jumpelt reacted with a press release, on February 20, criticizing Rössner’s representation of the plans – or warnings, depending on whose side of the story you side with – as unobjective. There were “some” who used the discussion about DW financing to raise their own profiles.

If that, too, was targeted at Rössner, it may not be completely off the mark. But every politician who makes DW a topic of public debate – beyond government – is doing the public foreign broadcaster a favor.

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Related

Leaving Rwanda, Febr 12, 2015
Mindless Competition, Jan 6, 2015
Aha, the Russians, Nov 25, 2014
Cooperating with CCTV, Oct 4, 2014

Related tag: Deutsche Welle

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Saturday, February 7, 2015

CCP Influence on Education in Free Societies is a Problem – but it’s not the Main Challenge

Shoe Me Quick

Kiss Me Quick (while we still have this feeling)

Yaxue Cao of ChinaChange.org links to questions asked by U.S. Congressman Chris Smith:

Is American education for sale? And, if so, are U.S. colleges and universities undermining the principle of academic freedom and, in the process, their own credibility in exchange for China’s education dollars?

These are important questions, asked in New York University’s (NYU) cooperation with the East China Normal University (ECNU) in Shanghai. And Chris Smith, writes Cao, did not know the answer when he delivered his statement on Thursday.

There are people who think they do know the answer. Jörg-Meinhard Rudolph, a sinologist from south-western Germany, for example. In an interview with German national radio Deutschlandradio he said in the context of German universities cooperating with Confucius Institutes that

The [censoring] scissors are at work in the heads of these people. They know exactly that, if they are sinologists, for example, having cooperations or research, field research in China, they can’t do it the way Chinese, for example, can do it here. They have to cooperate with Chinese bodies. In many cases, these, too, are sub-departments of the central committee. And everyone knows what happens if you attend a talk by the Dalai Lama, for example. There are university boards who don’t go there, and they will tell you why: because they fear that their cooperations will suffer. That, in my view, is not in order. This is where you have to safeguard your independence. After all, that’s how universities came into being in Europe, during the 12th century – as independent institutions.

Every country seems to have its share of sinologists who believe – or believed in the past, anyway -, that free trade
with China would be the catalyst for political liberalism. They don’t seem to say that anymore, or maybe nobody quotes them anymore. But that doesn’t change the attitude of those who seem to believe, for whatever reason, that engagement is always better than maintaining a distance.

Cao also tends to believe that she knows the answer. She draws some conclusions that sound logical to me, and besides, she quotes Chinese stakeholders, whose statements suggest that the CCP carried the day at every stage at the ECNU negotiations with the NYU.

In fact, nobody should ever accuse the CCP of making a secret of their intentions. They discuss these intentions and drafts very openly, in the Chinese press. The problem, and here again it is time to quote Rudolph,

[…] is that the big China bestsellers in this country have all been written by people who can’t even read a Chinese newspaper.

The problem with maintaining standards – and I’m all for defining and defending some – is that political corrections come and go in waves. Campaigns, not reflection, shape the debates when it comes to how much cooperation with totalitarianism a free society can stand. When it is about the CCP infringing on freedoms, complaints usually get some media attention, because this fits into the general propaganda. When Chinese or ethnic Chinese people in Germany get censored, they get hardly any attention – it is as if the process were taking place in an anechoic chamber.

Rudolph, the sinologist quoted above, isn’t only a writer, but also a doer. He was the first president of the German Chamber of Commerce in Beijing, in 1997. And he was a “program observer” at the Chinese department of German foreign broadcaster Deutsche Welle, probably from the end of 2009 until 2014, appointed and paid by Deutsche Welle. That practice was never a matter of public debate in Germany, and no transparency either – only one news service cared to write a telling report, which only appeared in a media trade journal. At least four Chinese or Chinese-German journalists lost their contracts, apparently in conflicts over what was deemed “too CCP-friendly”. Rudolph doesn’t look like a champion of free speech to me.

The CCP is indeed unscrupulous. Its power abolishes freedom in China, and its influence endangers freedom where societies are supposed to be “autonomous”. A few weeks after Beijing and its puppet administration in Hong Kong had finished off legitimate democratic demands for universal suffrage from the Hong Kong public, Huanqiu Shibao (“Global Times”), one of the flagships of Chinese state media, warns that opposition against a mainland student running for university office at the University of Hong Kong reflected a dangerous “McCarthyite trend” in the former British colony. On a sidenote. if this conflict occured in Germany, Huanqiu might have tried allegations of Nazism instead.*)

But the CCP isn’t the core problem when it comes to its influence on academic institutions and people. When private enterprise becomes an important source of income for universities, that, too, endangers academic independence. There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

If there were clear standards, procedures and constant verification of their practice in general, and beyond this particular “communist problem”, nobody would have to fear the CCP anyway.

In that way, Beijing actually helps to demonstrate what is wrong with us. If we don’t get this fixed as free societies, don’t blame China. Don’t even blame the CCP.

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Note

*) Recent years have seen a resurgence of Nazi Skinheads in some places in Germany. Attacks on foreigners occur from time to time. The unhealthy trend of racism is also the background to a series of anti-China moves of some German mediaXinhua, in 2008, reacting to the suspension of then DW-Chinese deputy department manager Zhang Danhong.

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Related

» 不该让“麦卡锡”进校门, Huanqiu, Feb 6, 2015
» Hearing transcript, Committee on Foreign Affairs, Febr 4, 2015
» Princelings & Sideshows, March 4, 2011

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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Deutsche Welle Updates: “Mindless Competition”

Combative Director, Annoyed Politicians, December, 2014

German politicians reacted with resentment last month, to an announcement by Deutsche Welle (DW) director Peter Limbourg to cease programs in German and other important languages if there was no significant increase in the broadcaster’s funding. “I’m thinking of the cutting of the German language as an unnecessary threat posture to get more funding. A Deutsche Welle that does without the German language and doesn’t broadcast in rare languages misses the mark and damages its reputation”, the main representative of the Christian Democrats in German parliament’s foreign affairs commisson, Roderich Kiesewetter, told a German paper, the Handelsblatt, around December 15.

Tabea Rössner, media spokesperson for the Greens in German federal parliament and quoted in the same article, also criticized Limbourg’s policy. The decision to adjust the broadcaster to the English language was “fatal for Deutsche Welle’s future”, Handelsblatt quoted Rössner. The multi-language character of DW was its core competence and its unique selling point. “Thus, a source of information, with broad great esteem for its reliability, is lost for the broad population.”

Kiesewetter had been positive about Limbourg’s idea to “counter” Russia Today (RT) television, some two months earlier.

Some 600 DW employees took to the streets in Berlin’s government quarter on December 15, according to Frank Überall, treasurer of German journalist association DJV. They reportedly protested against Limbourg’s plans. DW would only remain a success story if further developed in close cooperation with the employees and politics, and Limbourg should know that, Überall told his organisation’s website, djv-berlin.de, in December.

Members of the two biggest groups in German federal parliament’s lower house, the Bundestag, had stated in November that they had recognized the problem of structural underfunding at DW. On December 18, three days after the demonstrations in Berlin and in a debate of DW’s Aufgabenplanung (task planning), federal state minister for culture Monika Grütters and spokes persons of all parliamentary groups said that DW should get more funding on a regular basis. Above all, rising labor costs needed to be taken into account. All parties seem to have agreed that far.

The Christian Democrats, their Bavarian sister Party and the Social Democrats (SPD) – i. e. all bigger parties and all of them forming the current federal government – agree with Limbourg that DW English-language television needed to be strengthened. Martin Dörmann (SPD) pointed out that while the German television program reached only 250,000 viewers, the English program had an audience of 30 million. Members of parliament from the governing parties also suggested that DW “countered” frequently propagandistic coverage from other foreign broadcasters, from countries like Russia and China. That’s where the opposition disagreed.

The Left Party and the Greens, currently the only oppositional parties in federal parliament with only a fifth of all mandates there, oppose the idea, if it leads to closing down departments in other languages. Rather than entering a mindless competition with the English-speaking television stations of other countries, DW needed to strengthen their core competences.

In a motion for a Bundestag resolution, the Greens also addressed a paragraph from Germany’s co-determination law for federal institutions, the Federal Staff Representation Act (Bundespersonalvertretungsgesetz), § 90. The paragraph in question states that only permanent employees (with indefinite as well as temporary contracts) are eligible to elect members of the employee committees or to be elected. Non-permanent employees should be represented by the employee councils, too, according to the motion, which was turned down by the CDU/CSU/SPD majority.

The motion, if accepted, wouldn’t have greatly strengthened the position of non-permanent DW employees when defending themselves in the labor court against sackings, but it would have allowed – and obliged – the employee councils to pay closer attention to such issues.

Member of parliament Marco Wanderwitz (CDU) rejected criticism from Green member Tabea Rössner that Limbourg had taken DW employees hostage in order to get more money. However, Monika Grütters (also CDU) acknowledged that Limbourg’s move to threaten the closure of the German service had been wrong.

As many other departments, too, the German radio service was closed down during the past decade.However, there are still German-language television programs and a German-language internet website run by DW.

Foreign-language Service “from a German perspective”, January 2015

From the the [German] foreign office’s press release:

the foreign office and Deutsche Welle have agreed to establish a new multi-medial foreign-language service to promote international coverage of Germany abroad. The news agency dpa will contribute content, and the foreign office will support the project financially.

The new multi-medial foreign-language service shall spread current news and background from a German perspective to media partners and end-users all over the world. News from Germany and topics that shape discussions in the German public are at the center. The foreign-language service will be produced in German, English, Spanish, and Arabic, and fitted with regionally relevant topics respectively.

German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (Social Democrat) is quoted in the press release as saying that the new service offers the opportunity to spread news from and about Germany in a contemporary way and at high standards, thus shaping Germany’s image abroad in a positive way.

Limbourg, also according to the press release, said that the offer contributes to put Germany’s global political and economic weight into a medial context. Lasting partnerships can only evolve with cultural understanding. We want to promote this understanding with an honest, independent view onto Germany.

A press release by Deutsche Welle (in English) also mentions a budget from the foreign office, but does not become more specific than the foreign office either.

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Related

» Phoenix/DW, press release, Dec 19, 2015

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