Posts tagged ‘international’

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Notebook: Tsai’s recent Speeches

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

Yushan Forum, Oct 2017 – please click picture for video

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

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

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

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Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Huanqiu Shibao: the Bottomline for maintaining Framework of Sino-NK Relations

The following is my translation of a  Huanqiu Shibao editorial. It is currently not available on the paper’s website, but – main link –  via China News Service (中國新聞網). Links within blockquotes added during translation — JR

Original title: How should China react to North Korea’s latest Nuclear Test?
原標題:社評:中國該如何應對朝鮮新核試

On the afternoon of September 3, following the latest North Korean nuclear test at noon that day, the Chinese foreign ministry said that the Chinese government firmly opposed and strongly condemned the test.

朝鮮於3日中午進行新的核試驗,中國外交部當天下午表示,中國政府對此表示堅決反對並予以強烈譴責。

China’s, South Korea’s and America’s seismic monitoring networks simultaneously measured an earthquake in North Korea’s Punggye-ri area, at 11:30 Beijing time. The magnitude reported by China Earthquake Networks Center was 6.3 on the Richter scale. North Korea announced on the afternoon of September 3 that North Korea’s highest leader, Kim Jong-un, had ordered conducting a hydrogen bomb test, and that the test had been successful.

中國、韓國、美國的地震台網於北京時間3日11時30分同時測定,朝鮮豐溪里一帶發生地震,中國地震台報的震級是里氏6.3級。朝鮮於3日下午宣布,朝最高領導人金正恩下令進行了氫彈試驗,試驗取得成功。

This is another mistake made by North Korea, directed against the UN security council’s and the entire international community’s will. This test will lead to another serious escalation of the tense situation on the Korean peninsula, and to the risk of the East Asian strategy [or strategies] collapsing, increasing the risk of any party misjudging the situation and leading to a situation spinning out of control.

這是平壤逆聯合國安理會和整個國際社會的意志做出了又一次錯誤選擇。這次核試驗將嚴重導致半島緊張局勢新的升級,並有導致東亞戰略出現坍塌的風險,推高各方產生誤判而導致局勢失控的危險。

As for China now, the most important thing is to strengthen monitoring, ensuring that if North Korea’s latest test has produced nuclear leaks, we can detect it at first appearance, timely inform the masses in the Northeastern region, and take all kinds of responsive measures. In fact, analysts have predicted the possiblilty of a new nuclear test by North Korea in recent days, so the [Chinese] government has undoubtedly made emergency preparations in advance, and will launch these mechanisms rapidly.

對中國來說,目前最重要的是加強監測,確保一旦朝鮮這次核爆出現核泄漏,我們能在第一時間發現,及時通報東北地區民眾,並採取各種緊急應對措施。事實上,在這之前分析界對朝鮮可能於近日搞新的核試驗已有預測,政府無疑提前做好了應急準備,而這一機制相信已經迅速啟動。

There were obvious tremors in northeastern regions near North Korea on September 3, with buildings clearly shaking, triggering a great deal of discussion among people. During North Korea’s prior five nuclear tests, there have been no nuclear leakages, and Pyongyang has solemnly vowed that its underground nuclear tests wouldn’t create any such leakage. Pyongyang also said it would be responsible for the North Korean masses. We hope that this isn’t just talk.

3日中午,東北靠近朝鮮的地區多地有明顯震感,建築物搖動明顯,民間出現大量議論。在這之前朝鮮5次核試沒有造成核泄漏,平壤信誓旦旦地宣稱它的地下核試驗不會造成任何泄漏,還表示它會為離核試驗場更近的朝鮮民眾負責。我們希望朝鮮這不僅僅是說一說。

No matter what North Korea says, we believe the Chinese government will be on high alert, and that at this moment, there won’t be the faintest bit of relaxation or taking of chances. “Huanqiu Shibao” has learned that in Baishan (Jilin Province), Mudanjiang (Heilongjiang Province), and other regions. There were wind speeds of 1 from West or Northwest on midday of September 3, blowing from China to outside its borders.

無論朝方如何表示,我們相信中國政府都會提高警惕,在這個時刻不會有一絲一毫的鬆懈和僥倖。據《環球時報》了解,吉林白山、黑龍江牡丹江等地3日中午刮的是1級西風或西北風,風小,且風向是從中國邊境地區向外吹的。

North Korea’s latest nuclear explosion and its recent series of medium- and long-range missile tests have made it clear that Pyongyang, unmoved by force or persuasion, is determined to obtain nuclear strike capability over medium and long ranges. It won’t yield to pressure from outside, and the North Korean nuclear issue is on the brink of becoming intractable.

朝鮮最新核試爆和最近的一系列中遠程導彈試驗顯示,平壤軟硬不吃,它決心獲得中遠程核打擊能力,不會向任何外來壓力屈服,朝核問題幾近成為死結。

Facing this complicated situation, China needs to maintain a high degree of cool-headedness, , take measures based on its national interests, and to limit the risks faced by Chinese society to the greatest possible degree.

中國需面對這一複雜態勢保持高度冷靜,從中國的國家利益出發採取措施,最大限度地減輕中國社會從中面臨的風險。

The safety of China’s Northeast comes first. We need to tell Pyongyang through all kinds of channels that its tests must not contaminate the Northeast of China. China’s strategic and environmental safety is the bottomline for China up to where it will exercise restraint. It has to be hoped that this can be clearly communicated between China and North Korea, and helps North Korea to understand the solemnity and seriousness of China’s approach. If North Korea doesn’t keep to this bottomline, and if its own territory and the involved areas of China’s northeast will suffer contamination, the current framework of Chinese-North Korean relations will no longer exist.

中國東北的安全是第一位的,我們需要通過各種管道明確告訴平壤,它的核試驗不能污染中國東北。中國的戰略安全與環境安全是中國對其採取克制行動的底線。希望中朝之間能夠通過溝通將這一點講清楚,讓朝方充分了解中國這一態度的嚴肅性、嚴重性。如果朝方守不住這條底線,它自己的國土連帶中國東北遭到污染,那麼中朝關係目前的框架將不復存在。

North Korea’s latest test will inevitably lead to new discussions at the [UN] security council, revolving around new sanctions, and adding sanctions will be unavoidable. But we believe that although Chinese society is very angry about this new test, we need to avoid impulsiveness. China must not lightly agree to extreme measures that would be similar to an all-around embargo.

朝鮮的最新核導活動必將導致安理會圍繞對它進行新制裁開展討論,增加制裁將不可避免。但我們認為,儘管中國社會對朝鮮舉行新的核試驗很生氣,我們還是要避免衝動,中國不應輕易同意對朝鮮採取類似全面禁運的極端制裁手段。

In the case that China completely cut off oil supplies to North Korea, and even closed the Chinese-North Korean border, it would remain uncertain if this could block North Koreas’s activities. However, there would be, in all likelihood, open antagonism between China and North Korea. If that happened, the contradictions between China and North Korea would become, at least for some time, the most outstanding contradictions around the Korean peninsula. it would push down and absorb much of the tense energy of the American-North Korean antagonism, Washington and Seoul would achieve their goalof  “outsourcing” the North Korean nuclear issue to China, and this wouldn’t be in line with China’s national interest at all.

一旦中國完全切斷對朝鮮的石油供應,甚至關閉中朝邊界,能否做到阻止朝鮮核導活動尚不確定,但中朝全面、公開的對立將很可能發生。那樣的話,中朝矛盾就將至少成為一段時期內圍繞朝鮮半島最突出的矛盾,中朝對立將壓過美朝對立吸走高度緊張局勢的大部分能量,華盛頓和首爾也就實現了將朝核問題「外包」給中國的目的,這完全不符合中國的國家利益。

Therefore, so long as North Korea’s nuclear activities won’t pollute China’s Northeast, China’s approach to sanctioning North Korea should not avoid the radicalism of America’s or South Korea’s. The origins of the North Korean nuclear issue lie in the military suppression which created Pyongyang’s serious insecurity. Pyongyang erroneously sees the possession of nuclear capability as the only guarantee for government power’s survival, and nuclear striking capability against America’s soil as the key to reaching safety for itself. In this complicated and acute game, China must not run into a position of “charging and breaking through enemy lines”.

所以,在朝鮮核活動沒有污染中國東北的情況下,中國制裁朝鮮的態度應避免像美韓那樣激進。朝核問題的根源是美韓同盟的軍事打壓造成了平壤的嚴重不安全感,平壤錯誤地將擁核看成是政權生存的唯一保障,並且認定獲得對美國本土的核打擊能力是自己安全突圍的關鍵。中國不能在這場複雜、尖銳的博弈中跑到「衝鋒陷陣」的位置上。

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Related

“No Leakage”, Voice of Korea, Sept 4, 2017

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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Everybody’s Language: North Korea’s polyglot Propaganda

KCNA’s website publishes articles and news in Korean, English, Chinese, Russian, Spanish, and Japanese. The gist is the same in all versions of KCNA’s multi-lingual rendition of Tuesday’s missile launch over Japan, but certain details appear to have been customized, in accordance with the targeted audience.

The Genius instructing the Military: this is how to launch a missile - click photo for video

The Genius instructing the Military: this is how to launch a missile – click photo for Voice of Korea video

It’s Japanese devils in KCNA’s Chinese rendition of Tuesday’s (regional time) missile launch over Japan, but it’s Japanese islanders in the newsagency’s English version. There are no permalinks on KCNA’s website, therefore, some copies and pastes will follow here.

KCNA August 30 article in English

KCNA August 30 article in English

KCNA August 30 article in Chinese

KCNA August 30 article in Japanese

KCNA August 30 article in Korean

KCNA August 30 article in Korean

If Google Translate is something to go by, the Japanese version refers to Japan as an “island nation”, rather than to “devils”:

All military officers of the Korean People’s Army Strategy Army formulated a bold strategy that the brutal Japanese island nation will be overwhelmingly surprised on August 29th of the blood on which the shameful treaty “Merger of Korea-Japan” was promulgated 107 years ago He is the most enthusiastic to the unprecedented patriot who has approved to launch a ballistic rocket from the metropolitan area and cleared up the resentment piled up in the chest of our people, the highest leader who is a hero of the nation I will send a greeting of gratitude and complete the holy mission and duty as a reliable nuclear weapon power of the Korean Workers’ Party at the head of the last Jihye who will make a total decision on anti-Empress and Anti-America confrontation fight if the party’s central order makes orders I vowed to death. – –

朝鮮人民軍戦略軍の全ての将兵は、107年前、「韓日合併」という恥ずべき条約が公布された血の8月29日に残虐な日本の島国夷がびっくり仰天する大胆な作戦を策定し、首都圏地域から弾道ロケットを発射するように承認してわが人民の胸に積もりに積もった恨みを晴らしてくれた不世出の愛国者、民族の英雄である最高指導者金正恩委員長に最も熱烈な感謝のあいさつを送り、党中央が命令を下せば反帝・反米対決戦を総決算することになる最後の聖戦の先頭で朝鮮労働党の頼もしい核武装力としての聖なる使命と本分を全うする決死の誓いを立てた。---

[Update, Oct 3: Jichanglulu‘s comment sheds more light on KCNA’s Japanese version.]

The Korean version – also if Google Translate gets it right – mentions the 107th anniversary of the 1910 Annexation Treaty, but without any reference of a Japanese (national) character:

All the soldiers of the Strategic Armed Forces of the KPA approved the launch of ballistic rockets in the metropolitan area on August 29, when bloodshed was declared a fake treaty of “Korea-Japan Merger” 107 years ago. As the most patriotic and patriotic hero of the nation, Kim Jung Eun, the most grateful leader of the Korean people, who gave us the hearts of our people, the most warm thanks to the comrade, At the forefront of the temple, the holy mission of the trusteeship of the Korean Workers’ [Google translation ends here]
조선인민군 전략군의 전체 장병들은 107년전 《한일합병》이라는 치욕스러운 조약이 공포된 피의 8월 29일에 잔악한 일본섬나라족속들이 기절초풍할 대담한 작전을 펼치시고 수도권지역에서 탄도로케트를 발사하도록 승인하여주시여 우리 인민의 가슴에 쌓이고쌓인 한을 풀어주신 절세의 애국자,민족의 영웅이신 경애하는 최고령도자 김정은동지께 가장 뜨거운 감사의 인사를 드리면서 당중앙이 명령만 내리면 반제반미대결전을 총결산하게 될 최후성전의 맨 앞장에서 조선로동당의 믿음직한 핵무장력으로서의 성스러운 사명과 본분을 다해나갈 결사의 맹세를 다지였다.(끝)

In Spanish, readers are told that

All officials and soldiers within the Korean People’s Army’s strategic forces expressed gratitude to the Supreme Leader, the unequaled patriot and the hero of the nation, who, on August 29, the bloodstained day of the thuggish Korean-Japanese annexation treaty’s publication, put into practice the courageous operation of instilling fear into the cruel reactionary Japanese, by permitting the launch of a ballistic missile from the Korean capital’s region, so as to make amends for the pent-up grudges of the Korean people.

Todos los oficiales y soldados de las fuerzas estratégicas del EPC expresaron agradecimiento al Máximo Dirigente, patriota sin igual y héroe de la nación, quien el 29 de agosto, día ensangrentado de ser publicada hace 107 años el infame tratado de anexión de Corea a Japón, practicó la operación valiente para dar el gran temor a los crueles reaccionarios japoneses y permitió en la zona de la capital el lanzamiento el cohete balístico haciendo quitar el rencor acumulado del pueblo coreano.

The Russian translation – again, according to Google Translate – doesn’t appear to make any particular mention of the Japanese at all:

Все солдаты и офицеры стратегических войск КНА преподнесли уважаемому высшему руководителю товарищу Ким Чен Ыну – выдающемуся патриоту и герою нации самую теплую благодарность за то, что он разрешил запустить в столице по плану смелой операции баллистическую ракету кровавого 29-го августа, который исполняется 107 лет со дня опубликования позорного соглашения так называемой «аннексии Кореи Японией», и сорвал злобу нашего народа. И они дали клятву выполнить священную миссию и долг как надежные ядерные вооруженные силы ТПК на форпосте окончательной священной войны, когда будет подытожена антиимпериалистическая и антиамериканская борьба, если будет приказ ЦК ТПК.

All the soldiers and officers of the KPA strategic troops presented the most warm gratitude to the distinguished senior leader, Comrade Kim Jong-un, an outstanding patriot and hero of the nation, for allowing him to launch a ballistic missile of bloody August 29th on schedule in the capital, which marks 107 years since Day of publication of the shameful agreement of the so-called “annexation of Korea by Japan”, and ripped off the anger of our people. And they took an oath to fulfill their sacred mission and duty as the reliable nuclear forces of the WPK at the outpost of the final holy war, when the anti-imperialist and anti-American struggle will be summed up, if there is an order from the TPK Central Committee.

As for the Russian-language approach – again, if this is a basically accurate Google translation -, the explanation for the comparatively polite approach towards Japan might be found in what a Chinese researcher, Cui Heng, wrote in December 2013:

Russia isn’t only prepared to develop beneficial relations with Japan for geopolitical reasons. In Russian historical memory, there isn’t much hate against Japan. During the age of the great empires, Japanese-Russian relations in the Far East were of a competitive nature. Many Russians still talk about the 1905 defeat, but the Far East wasn’t considered a place that would hit Russian nerve as hard as the crushing defeat in the Crimean war. Back then, Japan wasn’t perceived as a threat for Russia, and from another perspective, if there had been anti-Japanese feelings, there wouldn’t have been a revolution. According to perception back then, the [1905] defeat was a result of the Russian government’s incompetence, not [brought about by] a strong adversary. The outstanding achievements of the Soviet Red Army in 1945 led to a great [positive] Russian attitude, but still without considering Japan a great enemy.

And as far as the term “Japanese devils” is concerned, the Chinese version – the only KCNA version that takes the expression of sentiments against Japan that far – may intend to remind North Korea’s somewhat changeable Chinese allies of traditional common causes.

Monday, August 21, 2017

In the News & Blogs (Aug 1 – 21): Beijing’s Little Helpers abroad

“China Quarterly” cooperates with China censors / Taiwan hosts 2017 Summer Universiade / Kim spoils Fun for Chinese Guam Visitors / Red-noticed police / The First “Five Marvellous Years” / Want to be Chinese?

Doing Beijing’s Dirty Work (1): Academic Institutions

Update: Cambridge University Press restores articles, Washington Post, Aug 21, 2017

China Quarterly apparently cooperates with Beijing by blocking access to articles and e-books on their website.

Can we expect them to do better? I have my doubts. Their topic is China – and if they don’t cooperate, others will, and might replace the renowned magazine. That’s no excuse, of course, and they could still display character rather than opportunism, but one has to admit that they are facing a tough choice. If they decided otherwise, there would be no academic solidarity – alternative opportunists would chum up to Beijing.

What is therefore needed is a political answer. British legislators will need to make censorship cooperation of this kind illegal, and legislators in other free societies will need to do likewise.

You can’t do Beijing’s dirty work yourself, and remain democratic, liberal, or free.

The public needs to push a political decision. People who care about human rights (those of others, and of their own), should consider to join or support relevant pressure groups, rather than political parties.

If Chinese readers can be blocked from servers in free countries, there is no good reason why we, people who live in (still) relatively free societies, should keep access to them, when Beijing demands otherwise.

This scenario may appear far-fetched now – but what happens at Cambridge now would have been unfathomable two or three decades ago, too.

Besides, no man or woman in a free country should vote for political parties who are prepared to tolerate this kind of practice. Totalitarian challenges must be met with political answers.

Taiwan’s Twelve Days of International Fame

The 2017 Summer Universiade started in Taipei, on Saturday.

Chinese Holidaymakers: Kim spoils the Fun

Huanqiu Shibao (the Global Times‘ Chinese-language sister paper) worried about unwelcome side effects of the US-North Korean war of words during the first half of the month: More than 26,000 Chinese tourists had travelled to Guam in 2016, the paper noted in an article published online on August 11 – an increase by 11 percent compared to 2015. Huanqiu numbers reportedly provided by the Guam Visitors Bureau‘s China Representative Room, an organization that runs offices in mainland China and in Hong Kong.

Guam is an island in the western Pacific. It is U.S. territory, reportedly within reach of North Korean missiles (provided that the missiles are lucky), it hosts a naval base, an air base, a religious shortwave broadcasting station, and thousands of tourists annually.

The Huanqiu Shibao article also quotes from “Sina Weibo” exchanges between Chinese netizens and the Guam Visitors Bureau, where Bureau staff reportedly posted reassuring replies to questions like “will you soon be hit by missiles?”

Probably given the incomplete state of North Korea’s striking force (God knows where the missiles would actually go if the army tried to fire them into Guam’s adjacent waters), or Donald Trump‘s notoriety as a bigmouth with little consistency, no travel warning appears to have been issued by Chinese authorities. According to the BY article, the China Youth Travel Agency told reporters that

the company hadn’t received a political-risks warning notice to suspend departures to Guam until then, and reminded journalists to monitor the China National Tourism Administration’s travel risk reminders.

….. 公司还没有接到因政治风险暂停前往关岛的旅游团的通知,他提醒记者应及时关注国家旅游局的旅游风险提示。

According to statistics quoted by the article, most tourists visiting Guam are from Japan and South Korea, with rapidly rising numbers from mainland China.

Doing Beijing’s Dirty Work (2): Red-noticed Police

The arrest of a German citizen of Turkish origin, Dogan Akhanli, made it into German news during the weekend. According to GfbV, a German organization that keeps track of cases where authoritarian regimes use Interpol to harrass critics abroad, Akhanli was arrested by Spanish police in the city of Granada. Reportedly, Turkey had requested Interpol  to issue a read notice to Spain. The dust appears to settle now, and Akhanli is free again, but the organization calls for reforming Interpol and to make sure that it doesn’t become (or remain) a tool for silencing regime critics abroad.

In the same press release, GfbV notes that Dolkun Isa, secretary general of the World Uyghur Congress, had been arrested in Rome, on July 26 this year. Isa was on his way into the Italian senate when he was arrested. According to GfbV, Chinese authorities are now using Interpol’s “red notice” mechanism systematically, to restrict movement of the regime’s critics abroad, and thus creating a de-facto occupational ban against them (Chinas Behörden nutzen die „Red Notice“ inzwischen systematisch, um die Bewegungsfreiheit von im Ausland lebenden Menschenrechtlern einzuschränken und de facto ein Berufsverbot gegen sie zu verhängen).

It certainly wasn’t the first time that Isa had been arrested. In 2009, South Korea arrested him, apparently on arrival at the airport, and refused him entry into the country. Previously, he had been arrested by the UN security service when visiting the Human Rights Commission in Geneva.

The First Five “Marvellous Years”

China’s state television (CCTV) website reminds the public of CCP secretary general Xi Jinping‘s feats during his first five marvellous years (不平凡五年) in office. On August 14, the media organization published statistics of Xi’s speeches on foreign policy.

So: Want to be Chinese?

Given that under the secretary general’s correct leadership, China is becoming the marvel of the world (an unscientific condensed international press review by JR with no further sources), it should be no surprise that Daniel Bell wants better international access to Chinese citizenship, for meritorious citizens of the world who would like to share in that glory.

Ji Xiang posted some thoughts on that, early this month.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Zis is like Zed

So much to write about.

 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Liu Xiaobo, 1955 – 2017

It won’t be long before Liu Xiaobo‘s first post-mortem biography will be published. But it won’t have the last word. There will be further biographies, and each of them will be contested. That’s because of the man himself, and because of his country. He was a man with a conscience, and his country has been a totalitarian dictatorship for nearly seven decades – if you count the KMT’s martial law in, it’s been a dictatorship for much longer than that.

Liu Xiaobo’s political lifespan lasted for three or four decades. That doesn’t count as long in China. The Communist Party’s propaganda works tirelessly to create and sustain the “People’s Republic’s” population’s imagination of a civilizational history of five or more millenia. And at the same time, the party needs to sustain the notion that the most recent seven decades had been the best in China’s history. Not only the past fourty, after the leadership’s decision to “reform and to open up”, but the past seven decades, including Maoism. CCP propaganda’s aim is to build an image of its rule where the pre- and post-1978 decades are one political unit, without substantial contradictions within.

In all likelihood, Liu Xiaobo had foreseen that trend. Many Chinese dissidents, no matter if opponents of China’s cultural restauration, or opponents of the KMT’s military dictatorship on Taiwan, saw a Chinese complacency at work, considering itself the center of the universe.

Cultural criticism is rarely a rewarding trade, but in China, it can be lethal, as shown in Liu Xiaobo’s case.

Liu’s last camp and prison term, which began in 2009 and ended with his relase on medical parole, with cancer in its final stage, had been based on the accusation that he had “incited subversion of state power”. But the Beijing First Intermediate People’s Court’s verdict – passed on Christmas day of 2009, probably to keep the level of international attention as low as possible –  only reflected the CCP’s fear of Liu, not the likely divide between the dissident and his people. A likely divide only, because in a totalitarian dictatorship, these things are more uncertain than in an open society. Hu Jia, himself a dissident who spent more than three years in prison from 2007 to 2011, noted during Liu’s dying days that only about one out of a hundred Beijingers knew who Liu Xiaobo was. Michael Bristow, the BBC’s China correspondent  in 2011, made a similar observation back then.

The 1980s mostly came across as a period of economic optimism, but accompanied by phenomena that were viewed negatively – particularly corruption, which was one of the factors that propelled the June-4 movement at its beginning.

Liu’s answer to what was frequently seen as China’s ailments was “westernization”. Stays in Western countries seem to have intensified his idea, just as Deng Xiaoping is said to have had his own cultural shock when visiting Singapore, in 1978.

But there lies a difference between the great statesman, and the great dissident. Singapore, a highly developed city state led by a family clan, is a model not only for authoritarian Chinese nationals – Taiwanese law-and-order-minded people tend to prefer Singapore as a holiday destination, rather than “messy” Hong Kong.

Liu Xiaobo’s model of development was Hong Kong of the 1980s. It was also the crown colony that provided the intellectual in his early thirties with some public resonance. In one of the interviews, given by Liu to a magazine named Kaifang at the time, Liu made statements that astonished the interviewer:

Q. Under what circumstances can China carry out a genuine historical transformation?
A. Three hundred years of colonialism.  Hong Kong became like this after one hundred years of colonialism.  China is so much larger, so obviously it will take three hundred years of colonialism.  I am still doubtful whether three hundred years of colonialism will be enough to turn China into Hong Kong today.

Q. This is 100% “treason.”
A. I will cite one sentence from Marx’s Manifesto of the Communist Party: “Workers do not have motherlands.  You cannot take away what they don’t have.”  I care about neither patriotism nor treason.  If you say that I betray my country, I will go along!  I admit that I am an impious son who dug up his ancestors’ graves and I am proud of it.

Both the “insults” and Liu’s expressly stated pessimism probably made for a divide between him and many Chinese (as far as they got to know his story). Or, as Roland Soong, a blogger from Hong Kong, noted next to his translation of the 1988 interview, as of 2010, “I suggest that unless Charter 08 (or any other message) can connect with many people in other social strata, it will remain a mental exercise among ‘public intellectuals.'”

And nothing works in the modern middle kingdom, unless it comes with a festive up-with-people sound. (In that sense, China is globalizing indeed.)

When Soong translated the interview quoted from above, and added his assessment of the Charter 08, the global financial crisis had been wreaking havoc on Western economies for about two years, and at least one of the Charter’s demands had fallen from the tree since: #14 called for

Protection of Private Property. We should establish and protect the right to private property and promote an economic system of free and fair markets. We should do away with government monopolies in commerce and industry and guarantee the freedom to start new enterprises. We should establish a Committee on State-Owned Property, reporting to the national legislature, that will monitor the transfer of state-owned enterprises to private ownership in a fair, competitive, and orderly manner. We should institute a land reform that promotes private ownership of land, guarantees the right to buy and sell land, and allows the true value of private property to be adequately reflected in the market.

There wasn’t necessarily a conflict on this matter, between the party leadership and the authors of the Charter – time will show how the CCP is going to handle the remaining state sector of the economy. But among everyday Chinese people, this demand would hardly strike a chord. Besides, who can imagine a transfer of state-owned enterprises to private ownership “in a fair, competitive, and orderly manner”?

In the Charter’s preface, the authors wrote:

The Chinese people, who have endured human rights disasters and uncountable struggles across these same years, now include many who see clearly that freedom, equality, and human rights are universal values of humankind and that democracy and constitutional government are the fundamental framework for protecting these values.

It was a cautious description of the status quo: Liu and his co-authors understood that only a critical minority would side with them. And indeed, there was more to endure in the pipeline. The educational dictatorship China is now entering encourages anticipatory obedience rather than awareness, and it is likely to succeed. When you keep beating people up long enough – and provide them with a hopeful perspective for the future -, there is little that can help people of conscience to counter the propaganda.

This may be the main difference between Liu and his enemies (and many of his admirers, too): in the eyes of many, only hard power – no matter if you refer to it as “the people’s power” or as the “authorities” -, creates reality. If the realities are good, you don’t need to get involved. If they are evil, you can’t get involved. And when realities come in many shades of grey, you either needn’t or can’t get involved. The power of the powerless is no reality in these peoples’ world – unless they begin to tilt, so that re-orientation appears advisable.

That’s a stabilizing factor, so long as realities remain what they appear to be.  But appearances can be deceiving, often until the very last hour. Who of the Egyptians who ditched their longtime president in 2011, in colossal demonstrations, had known weeks before that he wanted to get rid of him? A mood had capsized. It wasn’t about awareness.

A manipulated and intimidated public tends to be unpredictable, and that can turn factors around that were originally meant to add to “stability”.

China’s leaders feared Liu Xiaobo. They feared him to the extent that they wouldn’t let him leave the country, as long as he could still speak a word. But in all likelihood, they fear China’s widespread, politically tinged, religious sects even more, which have a tradition at least as long as Chinese scholarship. Falun Gong is only one of its latest manifestations.

By suppressing public intellectuals not only before 1978, but after that, too, they provided space for nervous moodiness. The Communists themselves want to “guide” (i. e. control) public awareness, without leaving anything to chance.

But chance is inevitable. Totalitarian routine may be able to cope for some time, but is likely to fail in the long run, with disastrous consequences.

In that light, the CCP missed opportunities to reform and modernize the country. But then, the party’s totalitarian skeleton made sure that they could only see the risks, and no opportunities, in an opening society.

What remains from Charter 08 – for now – is the courage shown by its authors nine years ago, and by the citizens who affirmed it with their signatures.

Each of them paid a price, to varying degrees, and often, their families and loved ones did so, too: like Liu Xia, who had hoped that her husband would not get involved in drafting the Charter, but who would never dissociate herself from him.

Nobody is obligated to show the same degree of courage, unless solidarity or conscience prescribe it. In most cases, making such demands on oneself would be excessive. But those who hate the Lius for their courage – and for lacking this courage themselves – should understand that their hatred is wrong. One may keep still as a citizen – but there is an inevitable human duty to understand the difference between right and wrong. By denying our tolerance toward despotism and by repressing awareness of our own acquiescence, we deny ourselves even the small steps into the right direction, that could be taken without much trouble, or economic hardship.

May Liu Xiaobo never be forgotten – and may Liu Xia find comfort and recovery.

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Updates/Related

再生:致刘晓波, Woeser, July 13, 2017
Rebirth, Woeser/Boyden, July 16, 2017
Wiedergeburt, Woeser/Forster, July 27, 2017
The abuse hasn’t stopped, Wu Gan, July 25, 2017

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Friday, July 7, 2017

Taiwanese Media Reports: Association of International Broadcasters maintains Radio Taiwan International’s Membership, despite Chinese Motion to replace it

Making Taiwan appear “inofficial” has become easy business for Beijing, when it comes to politicians. The row about the country’s inoffical embassy in Nigeria may be one of the recent cases in point.

But influencing journalists doesn’t appear to be quite that easy. A spokeswoman for the foreign ministry in Taipei is quoted as saying that

At this year’s first meeting of AIB’s executive board, the possibility of ejecting RTI to make room for China Central Television [CCTV] was discussed, but RTI vice president Travis Sun’s (孫文魁) proactive handling of the matter has dealt with the situation.

AIB stands for the Association of International Broadcasting, an organization headquartered in Britain, and RTI stands for Radio Taiwan International, Taiwan’s foreign broadcasting service. According to the Taipei Times –  quoting weekly Taiwanese magazine The Journalist – the Chinese motion was rejected after RTI’s protests won the support of British, German, French and Russian committee members.

According to the AIB website, RTI vice president Travis Sun is among the six members of the organization’s executive committee.

According to “The Journalist”,   Travis Sun had been voted into the committee with the highest number of votes. Also according to “The Journalist”, CCTV and other Chinese media had previously been invited to join the AIB, but had declined, because of RTI’s membership. Following China’s motion this month, the AIB secretariat drafted three resolutions for discussion by the executive committtee. One suggested that the Chinese media could enter with an inofficial membership. The second suggested inoffical membership or termination of membership for RTI, and the third suggested to abandon the idea of Chinese media obtaining membership.

It appears that Sun appealed to AIB’S journalistic values to defend RTI’s membership, and successfully so, and all that, apparently, on the phone. According to the Taipei Times, RTI didn’t send personnel to participate in the AIB’s annual meeting in London due to “internal reasons,” instead being represented by personnel from the Taipei Representative Office in the UK. Also according to the Taipei Times, during a June 20 teleconference, Sun had been confronted with the secretariat motions.

Reportedly, Britain, France, Germany (that would be Deutsche Welle‘s committee member), and Russia (i. e. the delegate for RT) decided in RTI’s favor.

The Russian committee member, Alexey Nikolov, is currently serving as the executive committee’s chairman, according to “The Journalist”. The article mentions the “Voice of Russia” as the media organization he represents. That would now be Sputnik News Agency and Radio. According to AIB and RT, Nikolov is RT‘s managing editor, or managing director.

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Related

AIB members

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Updates/Related

Taiwan not abandoned, Sentinel, June 30, 2017

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Thursday, July 6, 2017

Radio Taiwan International Test Transmissions

Radio Taiwan International (RTI) is going to air two analog and two DRM test transmission on shortwave today (Thursday UTC), as posted there with times and frequencies, by Alokesh Gupta.

2016 special QSL for reports on
shortwave transmissions from Tamsui transmitter,
New Taipei (click picture for more info)

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