Posts tagged ‘internet’

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Updates: Huawei / Hong Kong / Taiwan

Heading into a few weeks of working at half speed, but while the muse keeps kicking me, I don’t feel like doing long translations yet of, say, the Bulgarian president’s visit to China. But the following two news items – neither of them really new – may remain interesting as summer moves on.

Huawei

Trade conflict between America and China – no blog yet either, but here is a bit of it, by means of a few links.

Huawei advertisement, Bremen Central Station, December 2018

“2019 will be big (thanks to
a 6.21 in display)” – advertisement at
Bremen Central Station

A public warning by the Czech cyber watchdog is met with some heavy-handed PRC diplomacy,

Sinopsis wrote in December, with some more entries on the same subject following during the first half of this year.

Addressing concerns about a “kill switch” that could be added to Germany’s G5 infrastructure if Huawei were involved, the company’s Germany boss Dennis Zuo said in an interview with German daily Handelsblatt on February 20 that such a practice by Huawei would be technically impossible – only single components were supplied by any company.

Asked how Huawei would react if state or party demanded access, and if they actually had “a chance to say no”, Zuo said that Huawei would say no indeed – Huawei was owned by its staff, not by the Chinese state. Asked if they would go to court against the Chinese state, Zuo said that they wouldn’t do that, but “we would refuse [access] in any case” (“wir würden dies auf jeden Fall ablehnen”).

German Data Protection Commissioner Ulrich Kelber, also in an interview with Handelsblatt, pointed out that “the US itself once made sure that backdoor doors were built into Cisco hardware.”

Hong Kong / Taiwan

And Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam, in June, awarded Taiwan a democracy and rule-of-law prize, although a somewhat embittered one:

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Updates / Related

2019 HK extradition bill, Wikipedia, acc July 4, 2019

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Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Two Meetings, and how Red History re-educated Yang Liwei

The following is a translated excerpt from “People’s Daily” online, published there on March 9, during the “two meetings”, i. e. the “National People’s Congress” and the “Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference” sessions earlier this month.

The term “re-education” has never left the Chinese language – there has always been “re-education” in the PRC, even though the use of the term may have peaked during Maoism.

Main Link (original title): Actively Participating in the Management of State Affairs, Fostering the Propagation of Popular Science

Links within blockquotes added during translation.

Host: Hello everyone, this is People’s Daily online’s video interview. Today, we have run into Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference’s committee member and space-flight hero Yang Liwei. Hello, Yang laoshi. First of all, a question that everyone is particularly interested in, how has your past year of duty been?

大家好,这里是人民网视频访谈。今天我们遇到了全国政协委员、航天英雄杨利伟,杨老师您好。首先大家特别关注,在去年一年,您的履职情况是怎样的呢?

Yang Liwei: First of all, by being able to enter the big family of the Political Consultative Conference I have learned and seen many things, because following my participation in last year’s two meetings, especially when attending the meeting, I took the path of a committee member, and by doing so, we from the manned space flight can do good propaganda, and at the same time make the space flight third generation’s selection situation known. As it happens, we have just completed the pre-selection of third-generation astronauts, under everyone’s attention. From here, a completely new work can be touched upon. Following this kind of getting in touch, I like and love this big family more and more, the CPPCC is really good, with people from different trades coming across each other and conducting exchanges which helps you to understand a lot. Especially last year I have participated in many CPPCC activities, going out and conducting investigation and research left a really deep impression on me.

首先能够去加入政协这个大家庭,去年一年对我来讲学到了很多东西,也看到了很多东西,因为随着参加去年的两会,特别是参加会议的时候,我走了委员通道,用这种方式对我们载人航天也进行了一个很好的宣传,同时也介绍了一下第三批航天员的选拔情况,恰恰我们现在第三批航天员的初选已经结束了,大家很关注。从这开始之后,一个全新的工作,就是让自己去接触。随着这种接触,越来越喜欢这个大家庭和爱上这个大家庭,政协真的是很好,不同界别的人交叉在一起进行交流,会让你了解很多。特别是在去年,又参加了很多政协的活动,出去进行了调研,给我留下印象非常的深刻。

Host: To which kind of impression can you think back now, for example, that was very deep?

主持人:比如什么样的印象让您现在回想起来很深刻?

Yang Liwei: We studied and researched the old revolutionary area of Jiangxi, conducting research themed “protection and use of red resources”. Apart from that, after getting to the old revoltionary areas, we looked at the area’s development, and at the same time received a very good re-education of the Red Army of that time, leaving a really very deep impression on us. Before, it could all be seen on the media, but this time’s personal experience, to see these things, spells reeducation to me.

我们调研到了江西老区,进行“红色资源的保护与利用”的主题调研,除了调研红色资源的保护和利用,到了革命老区之后,看到了老区的发展,同时也进一步接受了那个时候红军的一个很好的再教育,给我留下的印象真的非常深刻。以前都是在媒体上看到的,这一次身临其境的去看,看到了一些东西,对我来讲,也是进行再一次教育。

No kidding – it’s a real astronaut

In this process, because we were in touch with the old revolutionary area’s common people, between the lines and idioms they used, besides from red genes and revolutionary continued tradition, as astronauts, I also met many children there. They were very interested in space flight. In this process, after recognizing us, they were really happy, and also, very small children all knowing made me feel gratified. Actually, when you think deeply about what forty years of reform and opening have brought to this country, because of all kinds of development of differing degrees, allows us to even better make contact with the common people, and the common people understanding us better. So, by doing some study and research, I got to know from my own experience how to maintain and how to increase efficiency of this method, how to improve our participation in the management of state affairs, and how to implement it better. Practical study and research is the best way. So, last year, especially by this process, many members still have some interaction, especially with an online app opened by the CPPCC for members. By using modern technology, on this platform, you will understand many members’ proposals and advice quite well, and the information is very helpful at our work. So, this year, apart from my job, I should say that what influenced me most has been this work.

在这个过程当中,因为接触了红区的老百姓,在他们字里行间,除了红色基因、红色传承以外,作为航天员来讲,对我来讲,因为碰到很多孩子,在那个地方。对航天又非常的感兴趣。在这个过程当中,认出来我们之后非常高兴,而且很小的孩子都知道,让我非常的欣慰,实际上深层次去想,国家经过40年的改革开放,给国家带来的是什么,因为各种各样的不同程度的发展,让我们能去更好地接触到老百姓,和老百姓更好地了解我们。所以,通过一些调研,也让我深刻体会到了,怎么样去保持增效这种方式,提高我们参政议政的能力,怎么样把它更好地落到实处。实际的调研是最好的一个方式。所以,通过去年这一年,特别是因为在这个过程当中,很多委员还有一些互动,特别是我们现在政协又开通了委员的网上APP,用现代的技术手段,你在这个平台上会了解很多不同委员的一些建言献策也好,信息也好,对我的工作有很大的帮助。所以,这一年对我来讲,除了本职工作以外,应该说对我影响最大的还是这项工作。

[…]

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Related

Xinjiang Re-education Camps, Wikipedia
Uighur’s Today, Han’s Tomorrow, Aug 19, 2018
How Yellow was my Hometown, Febr 14, 2015
Open the Skies for the Young, May 5, 2013
National Tourism and Leisure, Febr 18, 2013
A Role in School Curricula, Sep 1, 2009

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Monday, February 18, 2019

Sony ICF 2001 – Early Days of Global Digitalization

Among the large variety of receivers currently available, the Sony ICF 2001 is unique. […] suggests the Sony is probably the first portable shortwave receiver designed to overcome the general public reluctance to tune to shortwave and international broadcasts. With the Sony ICF 2001, nearly anyone can call up a distant station, if the frequency is known.

This is how then South African foreign broadcaster Radio RSA reviewed the Sony ICF 2001 at the time.

Sony would certainly agree, as can be seen from the early 1980s artwork on the box: that wasn’t a receiver, it was a technological sunrise, with a glorious new millennium booming into your face.

Sony ICF 2001 packing

Proclamation of a new Era: Sony ICF 2001 packing

While reviewers at Radio RSA apparently admired the receiver’s sophistication, they did see a potential problem:

The convenience of the ICF 2001 is obviously unique, but for the established shortwave hobbyist, the lack of a conventional tuning knob can be a drawback.”

And battery consumption was deemed “a little high” – average battery lifetime was estimated at around ten hours.

Great points in its favor, as seen by the reviewers, was excellent sensitivity, selectivity, automatic gain control, and just the right bandwith (as long as users wouldn’t want to bother about choosing the right bandwith).

A shortwave listener in South Bend, Indiana, listened to the Radio RSA review on March 14, 1982, and recorded it. About 35.5 years later, he posted it online.

It’s a fascinating document to listen to. The review contains a short original soundtrack of the ICF 2001’s performance, and a bit of (feigned, I suppose) political innocence:

But let’s try medium wave and let’s try Channel 702, broadcasting from Bophuthatswana.

Summing up, the reviewers pointed out that the ICF 2001

has several features not found on other portables, namely the six-channel memory.

OK – that was in 1982.

A shortwave radio blogger who bought a Sony ICF 2001 in 2015 highlights the built-in antenna trimmer – a great feature indeed, and one the Sony ICF 2001 D (the Sony ICF 2010’s edition for the German market) was lacking.

Obviously, when the year of 2001 really arrived, the internet had been there for years, and even the world’s most incredible shortwave receiver wouldn’t lure a dog from behind the stove, as a German saying goes.

That said, it might still work on dogs older than forty.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

National Leading Group on Science and Technology first plenary session held

Main Link: Li Keqiang presides over national science and technology leading group’s first session ( 李克强主持召开国家科技领导小组第一次会议)

Links within blockquotes added during translation — JR

On December 6, CCP central committee standing committee member, chief state councillor and head of the national leading group on science and technology Li Keqiang presided over the national leading group on science and technology first plenary session. Photo by Xinhua reporter Liu Wei Bing

12月6日,中共中央政治局常委、国务院总理、国家科技领导小组组长李克强在北京主持召开国家科技领导小组第一次全体会议。 新华社记者刘卫兵摄

Li Keqiang presided over national leadcing group on science and technology’s first plenary session

李克强主持召开国家科技领导小组第一次会议强调

Deepening reform will further expand arousal of society’s ingenuity

深化改革更大激发社会创造力

Even better bring technological innovation’s supporting and leading role for economic development into play

更好发挥科技创新对发展的支撑引领作用

Han Zheng attended

韩正出席

Xinhua newsagency, Beijing, December 6, CCP central committee standing committee member, chief state councillor and head of the national leading group on science and technology Li Keqiang presided over the national leading group on science and technology first plenary session, explored the strategic plan of technological development, promotion of open cooperation in innovation, to push and implement policies of giving technological organizations and employees greater leeway in decision-making.

新华社北京12月6日电 12月6日,中共中央政治局常委、国务院总理、国家科技领导小组组长李克强主持召开国家科技领导小组第一次全体会议,研究国家科技发展战略规划、促进创新开放合作,推动落实赋予科研机构和人员更大自主权政策。

Han Zheng, member of the standing committee of the CCP central committee’s politbureau and vice premier of the state council, attended.

中共中央政治局常委、国务院副总理韩正出席。

Li Keqiang pointed out that innovation concerns the country’s future destiny. Ever since the party’s eighth national congress, under the the party center’s strong leadership with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core, the entire nation had implemented a new concept of development, thoroughly carried out the strategy of driving innovation, with technological development achieving major breakthroughs in many fields, society’s innovative vitality bursting forth enormously and technological progress, and old and new kinetic energy conversion constituting a huge promotional force for economic development. The current new round of global technologcial revolution and industrial transformation are pressing issues, our country finds itself at a key moment of upgrading economic transformation, facing opportunities, difficulties and challenges, and [our country] must stand on the strengthening of economic innovation power and competitive power, bringing into play our country’s abundance of manpower and human resources, domestically, the market’s huge advantages etc. must be used, technological innovation and competitiveness be established with greater vigor, and high-quality development be promoted.

李克强指出,创新事关国家前途命运。党的十八大以来,在以习近平同志为核心的党中央坚强领导下,全国上下贯彻新发展理念,深入实施创新驱动发展战略,科技发展在多个领域取得重大突破,社会创新创造活力极大迸发,科技进步和新旧动能转换对经济发展形成了巨大推动力。当前世界新一轮科技革命和产业变革形势逼人,我国正处于经济转型升级的关键时期,面对机遇、困难和挑战,要立足增强经济创新力和竞争力,发挥我国人力人才资源丰富、国内应用市场巨大等优势,更大力度推进科技创新,推动高质量发展。

Li Keqiang said, technological innovation strategies needed to integrate better into the national development’s general situation, orient towards construction of modernity, focus on key core technology, foster and strengthen new kinetic energy, and promote deepened harmonization of technology with the economy. Fundamental research is the source of scientific systems and must provide increased support for the long-term stability of fundamental research, guide companies and society towards more investment, project “hard technology” research, and make efforts to achieve more innovation. Innovation mechanisms needed to be perfected, companies’ main bodies and markets to be upheld, joint innovation in production, education and research be encouraged, leading enterprises leading role in major technological projects be supported, international channels of innovation be expanded, and breakthroughs in scientific and technological innovation as well as result transformation be promoted. A level playing field of technological-development resources for common use, and new types of research and development organisations and other innovative platforms as well as industrial internet platforms need to be developed, big, medium-sized and small companies, online and offline circulation, in-depth promotion of mass entrepreneurship and mass innovation must be supported, and a level based on “double innovation” as well as an industry rising to the medium and high-end be promoted.

李克强说,科技创新战略布局要更好融入国家发展大局,面向现代化建设,聚焦突破关键核心技术、培育壮大新动能,推动科技与经济深度融合。基础研究是科学体系的源头,要对基础研究加大长期稳定支持,引导企业和社会增加投入,突出“硬科技”研究,努力取得更多原创成果。完善创新机制,坚持企业主体、市场主导,鼓励产学研用联合创新,支持龙头企业牵头重大科技项目,拓展国际创新合作渠道,促进科技创新突破和成果转化。发展科技资源共享平台、新型研发机构等创新平台和工业互联网平台,支持大中小企业、线上线下融通创新,深入推进大众创业、万众创新,促进“双创”上水平,推动产业向中高端跃升。

Li Keqiang said that reform of technological structures needes to be deepened, intellectual property rights more strongly protected, and a good innovation ecology be built. The law and scientific staff needed to be respected, and the productive forces be further emancipated. Technological organizations and policies giving scientific staff greater leeway in decision-making, [policies of] assessing scientific research projects, and giving incentives to research staff needed to be implemented. As for policies concerning project management, technology route and decision-making, budget adjustments, the allocation of result transformation benefits etc. that have already emerged, the relevant departments need to further sort things out, define responsibilities, and ensure comprehensive redemption.

李克强说,要深化科技体制改革,更大力度保护知识产权,营造良好创新生态。尊重规律,尊重科研人员,进一步解放生产力。要切实抓好赋予科研机构和人员更大自主权、科研项目评价、科研人员激励等政策落实。对项目管理、技术路线决策、预算调剂、成果转化收益分配等方面已出台的政策,有关部门要逐一梳理,明确责任,确保全面兑现。

Li Keqiang said that the scientists minds needed to be vigorously enhanced, that full concentration of scientists and researchers needed to be encouraged, more opportunities for young people to grow and to make something of themselves needed to be created, and help had to be provided to them to solve lingering worries from the past*). More efforts to build sincere science and research, to avoid fickleness and impatience, serious investigations of improper behavior in violation of scientific ethics, and the building of an academic atmosphere of pursuing excellence and a practice of rigorously striving for realistic results were needed.

李克强强调,要大力弘扬科学家精神,鼓励科研人员潜心钻研,多为青年人成长成才创造机会,帮助解决后顾之忧。加强科研诚信建设,避免浮躁,严肃查处违背科研道德和伦理的不端行为,营造追求卓越、严谨求实的学术风气。

Li Keqiang demanded that all member units of the national leading group on science and technology should take Xi Jinping’s new-era socialism with Chinese charachteristics as guidance, implement the party’s 19th national congress’ spirit, conscientiously plan the project of reforming and developing science and technology, strengthen and overall planning, focus on policy implementation and the advancement of major missions, to mobilize science and technology circles and relatede forces to spare no effort in building an innovative country.

李克强要求,国家科技领导小组各成员单位要以习近平新时代中国特色社会主义思想为指导,贯彻党的十九大精神,认真谋划科技事业改革发展,加强统筹协调,狠抓政策落实和重大任务推进,调动科技界和相关各方面力量,为建设创新型国家不懈努力。

Sun Chunlan, Liu He, Bagatur and He Lifeng attended the meeting.

孙春兰、刘鹤、巴特尔、何立峰出席会议。

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Notes

*) This could refer to former students’ employment opportunities and student loans repayment problems, issues Li has discussed before.
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Related

Economic transformation, SCMP, Dec 7, 2018
Israel-China Innovation Coop, Embassy, Oct 30, 2018
十三五规划, Wikipedia as of June 10, 2018
孔子说过, State Council, Dec 30, 2016

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Friday, October 19, 2018

Xinhua: “Trial opens on former Central Propaganda Department Deputy Director Lu Wei’s Bribery Case”

Main link

Links within blockquotes added during translation.

The Intermediate People’s Court in Ningbo, Zhejiang Province held a first-instance public court session on October 19, 2018 to hear the bribery case against former Central Propaganda Department Deputy Director Lu Wei.

2018年10月19日,浙江省宁波市中级人民法院一审公开开庭审理了中共中央宣传部原副部长鲁炜受贿一案。

The Ningbo People’s Procuratorate charge is that from July 2002 to the second half of 2017, the accused Lu Wei had made use of the conveniences and the authority of his posts as Xinhua party branch member, secretary and seputy agency director, as standing member of Beijing’s Municipal Party Committee, propaganda department director, vice mayor, as director of the Cyberspace Administration of China, as deputy director of the State Council’s information office, as director of the Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission, vice director of the propaganda department of the Communist Party of China, of other posts, and favorable conditions shaped by these positions, trying to gain benefits from relevant work units and individuals in internet administration, advancement, and other matters, obtaining property from relevant units or individual’s directly or through others, amounting to 32 million Yuan RMB.

浙江省宁波市人民检察院指控:2002年7月至2017年下半年,被告人鲁炜利用担任新华社党组成员、秘书长、副社长,中共北京市委常委、宣传部部长、北京市副市长,国家互联网信息办公室主任,国务院新闻办公室副主任,中央网络安全和信息化领导小组办公室主任,中共中央宣传部副部长等职务上的便利以及职权、地位形成的便利条件,为有关单位和个人在网络管理、职务晋升等事项上谋取利益,直接或者通过他人收受相关单位和个人给予的财物,共计折合人民币3200万余元。

During the trial, the prosecution brought relevant evidence, Lu Wei and his defender(s) carried out cross examinations, prosecution and defense amply expressed their opinions under the court’s presiding, and Lu Wei also made a final statement, pleaded guilty and confessed.

More than sixty people – People’s Congress members from the national, provincial and Ningbo level, members of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, People’s Courts special supervisors, news reporters and members of the masses from all walks of life – attended the trial.

庭审中,公诉机关出示了相关证据,鲁炜及其辩护人进行了质证,控辩双方在法庭的主持下充分发表了意见,鲁炜还进行了最后陈述,并当庭表示认罪、悔罪。全国和浙江省、宁波市三级人大代表、政协委员,人民法院特约监督员,新闻记者和各界群众60余人旁听了庭审。

After the court hearing, the court announced a postponement, to determine a prison term.

庭审结束后法庭宣布休庭,择期宣判。

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Related

First tiger, Nov 22, 2017

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Updates

Anti-Lu campaign, SCMP, Sept 26 / Oct 8, 2018

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Saturday, September 29, 2018

Internet Governance: “the party’s standpoints as a timely rain in a spring breeze, silently moistening all things”

If you are looking for a platform that assumes the ungrateful – but important – task of translating party documents, there it is. It comes with a national interest (not necessarily China’s), but it takes the CCP’s paperwork seriously (which we all should).

The latest there is a translation of a commentary by Zhuang Rongwen (庄荣文), newly appointed head of the “Cyberspace Administration of China” (CAC).

Here’s a bit of the spiritual nourishment in Chinese, and in English:

善于站在网民视角谋划网上正面宣传,推进网上宣传理念、内容、形式、方法、手段等创新,深耕信息内容,注重用户体验,力戒“虚”、务求“实”,使广大网民愿听愿看、爱听爱看,使党的主张春风化雨、润物无声。

Be adept at seeing things from the point of view of netizens in planning positive online propaganda; enhance innovation in online propaganda ideas, content, forms, methods, techniques, etc.; deeply cultivate information content; pay attention to user experience; guard against the “fake” and strive for the “real”; ensure that the majority of Internet users are willing to listen and willing to see, and love to see and love to listen; let the Party’s standpoints be as a timely rain in a spring breeze, silently moistening all things.

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Related

人类灵魂的工程师, 人民日报, Sept 15, 2018
Lu Wei’s visit to Germany, July 17, 2015
“Unobtrusive influence”, Jan 7, 2012
Delighting in Rain, 2012 / 2009

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Thursday, March 29, 2018

Taiwan cuts Shortwave Broadcasts in French and Spanish – here is why it shouldn’t

Cutting Shortwave broadcasts in French and Spanish

The French and the Spanish programs of Radio Taiwan International (RTI) are no longer broadcast on shortwave. On March 5, Radio Berlin-Brandenburg‘s (RBB) Radio Eins media magazine reported that RTI would terminate its broadcasts in German on March 25, i. e. the day when the current international shortwave frequency plan (A-18) came into effect1).

A notice was added by the Radio Eins editors a few days later, saying that RTI’s German service kept denying this information. However, Radio Eins did not name the source or sources of their information, citing rather general “trade circles” (Branchenkreise).

On March 9, in a regular mailbag program, RTI’s German service reacted to listeners’ questions concerning the shortwave issue, and stated that while the Spanish and French departments were indeed to exit shortwave with effect from March 26, the German service’s shortwave broadcasts would continue.

Seventeen days later, the German service’s denial proved correct – its broadcasts have been continued, now on their traditional summer frequency of 6185 kHz, as predicted on March 9.

In its report, Radio Eins also pointed out that Radio France Internationale (RFI) had terminated its shortwave broadcasts for Asia years ago, and that this had also put an end to Radio Taiwan International’s once lower-cost access to transmissions from France (with transmitters located at Issoudun, central France). The two international broadcasters appear to have exchanged airtime in the past.

On its website, RTI hardly (if at all) communicates the decision to terminate the shortwave broadcasts in Spanish and French. However, a month before Radio Eins wrote about RTI’s shortwave closures, shortwave-watching website swling.com had quoted from an RTI email saying that the station’s French and Spanish services would “unfortunately stop broadcasting on shortwave”. There appears to have been no mention of the German programs at the time.

Following a Trend …

RTI is following a trend among foreign radio services from industrialized countries2). As noted by Radio Eins, Radio France Internationale ended its shortwave broadcasts to Asia years ago. German foreign Radio, Deutsche Welle (DW), terminated its shortwave broadcasts in Chinese with effect from January 1, 2012. Three months earlier, DW had ended its shortwave broadcasts in German.

Earlier in 2011, the BBC and the Voice of America (VoA) had announced their Chinese programs’ withdrawals from shortwave (the VoA later reversed the decision, but BBC Mandarin kept to their exit).

One of the more contested decisions to abandon shortwave was Radio Australia‘s. It took effect by the end of January, 2017. The station made a – not terribly successful, it seems – effort to communicate the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s (ABC) decision.

Radio Australia’s (now abandoned) role in informing Pacific islanders about emergency situations via shortwave was deemed essential by some critics, and Radio New Zealand (RNZ), Radio Australia’s only existing competitor on shortwave in the Pacific region, leapt at the gap left by the Australians.

But funding public diplomacy is hardly popular in most free societies. Slashed budgets may irritate or infuriate the trade or the immediate users of an abandoned service, but they will hardly become known to a wider public. After all, the (noticeable) remonstrators are usually just some listeners abroad, and apart from that, they are no voters.
In RTI’s case, the question – from the audience perspective – seems to be how prepared the target areas are for the termination of shortwave broadcasts. As for France and Spain, the answer seems to be easy: industrialized, reasonably good internet connections, and with only a few people (probably) who would still listen on shortwave anyway.
But there are drawbacks. In general – this goes for countries with a highly developed internet infrastructure and Latin America or North Africa alike – it is much harder to gain new listeners, than to retain existing ones.
RTI’s management (or the lords of their budgets) may have drawn inspiration from reports like ECLAC’s 3), discussing sharply increasing internet use and access in Latin American countries, and the Caribbean.

But the ECLAC, while optimistic about the development and prospects of the internet in Latin America, also notes that no country in the region has at least 5% of its connections with speeds of more than 15Mbps, compared to 50% in advanced countries, and there is a difference of 41 percentage points in Internet penetration between urban and rural areas in the country that has the greatest gap in the region.And a report (apparently published online in December 2016) by Statista, a Hamburg-based market research company, saw the region’s average monthly internet usage at 18.6 hours in 2016. When you leave Brazil – the leading country in terms of monthly internet usage – out of the calculation, the rate will be even lower.

If the trends indicated by the two papers continue, there may be a time when switching off shortwave makes sense (at least when considering the costs, and the pressures from the broadcasters’ funders). But the data suggests that RTI’s decision to do so came too early.

… but neglecting the Facts

One of the reasons that international broadcasters stop using shortwave frequencies is that radio is a medium used by the poor, rather than by the affluent and influential. That’s not how they communicate their decision (if there is communication at all), but the trade’s high-flown jargon suggests just that.

In a press release of May 18, 2011, less than a year before abandoning shortwave broadcasts in Chinese, German (its native language) and Hindi, Deutsche Welle wrote that by focusing on the internet in many regions of the world, “info seekers” would be reached more effectively,

… especially those who are or will be influential in their countries’ public opinion, and people who actively campaign for democracy, civil liberties and progress in authoritarian states, thus strengthening civil society.

… insbesondere insbesondere jene, die Einfluss auf die öffentliche Meinung eines Landes haben oder zukünftig haben werden, sowie Menschen, die sich in autoritären Staaten aktiv für Demokratie, Freiheitsrechte und Fortschritt einsetzen und so die Zivilgesellschaft stärken.

But nobody knows who will call the shots in a target area, ten or twenty years from now. In Venezuela, it’s an ex bus driver now. Brazil’s president from 2003 to 2011, Lula da Silva, reportedly only learned to read at the age of ten, and worked as a peanut seller and shoe shine boy as a child. Bolivia’s president, Evo Morales, was born to a subsistence farming family and started his political career as a rural labor unionist.

If they had been born ten or fifteen years ago, none of them would be a likely regular internet user.

Shortwave radio may not matter as a medium, when it comes to commercial viability, as the owner of a North American shortwave radio station admitted in 1991. In that light, Facebook could be a more or less “real” alternative to shortwave radio.

But on “social media”, a foreign radio station is just one “friend” among many. There may be no studies available, but if there were some, they would probably show that shortwave listeners are a much more dedicated audience than internet users.

In short: shortwave radio remains a crucial medium, especially for Taiwan. The country will almost inevitably lose all or most of its remaining “diplomatic allies” in Latin America, as it has lost official diplomatic ties with nearly every country worldwide already. If shortwave remains crucial in Taiwan’s communications with European countries may be debatable, but to maintain Taiwan’s visibility in Latin America, there can be no doubt that shortwave would be worth the (quite manageable) costs.
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Note

1) While KBS World’s German service via Woofferton, England, is announced under the broadcasting station’s name (Korean Broadcasting Station), Radio Taiwan International’s name is ommitted. Instead, the HFCC states the operator’s company name (Babcock Communications) there. The KBS frequency is also operated by Babcock, and also from Woofferton.
2) Japan may be the only exception.
3) The UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. The report linked to is dated September 12, 2016.

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Related

Inclusive Internet Index, Economist Group, 2018
Abandoning Shortwave & Opportunities, Oct 3, 2014
A bottomless pit of waste, PCJ, around 2014

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Monday, December 25, 2017

Shortwave Logs, December 2017: Germany’s annual Public-Radio High-Frequency Broadcast

“Gruß an Bord” is one of the oldest programs1) carried on German public radio, and the only one among these that is still broadcast on shortwave. Once a year, that is. The program starts at 19:00 UTC and runs through 23:00 UTC, i. e. Midnight central European time (see table there).

Christmas Eve on Sunday was that one night a year when a public German-language radio broadcaster returns to shortwave: “Gruss an Bord” is a program where sailors’ relatives and friends send greetings to their loved ones on board, wherever on the seven seas they may be2).

From Norddeich Radio to Deutsche Welle

“Gruß an Bord” first went on air in 1953. Back then, according to Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR, northern German radio), coastal radio station Norddeich Radio beamed the wistful messages across the seas.

It hasn’t been aired every year since, according to an NDR press release of 2009, which provides no notes about at which times there had been interruptions.

Some time after its inception, Germany’s public foreign broadcaster Deutsche Welle must have taken the task of broadcasting “Gruss an Bord” internationally, while NDR has always been in charge of the content.

Haus der Schiffahrt (House of Shipping Companies), Leer (archive)

Norddeich Radio has been defunct since the 1990s, and Deutsche Welle terminated their German-language broadcasts on shortwave in 2011. “Deutschland schafft sich ab” (Germany does itself in), an angry seafarer reportedly wrote in a protest letter.

From Deutsche Welle to Media Broadcast

It appears that the program was limited to VHF/FM and medium wave in December 2011, but in 2012, NDR bought airtime from Media Broadcast, a company that operates the Nauen transmitter station ( a site formerly used by Deutsche Welle). They also coordinate with other broadcasting sites in Europe.

NDR is a public broadcaster operating in the federal states of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Schleswig-Holstein, Hamburg, and Lower Saxony. (As Bremen was part of the American occupation zone in post-war Germany, the city state runs a broadcasting station of its own, Radio Bremen.)

The first hour – and some of the second – of this year’s broadcast were recordings made earlier in December, at Hamburg’s Duckdalben international seamen’s club (or Seemannsmission), a place operated by Germany’s evangelical church. Some time during the second hour of this year’s program, recordings from Leer, a town in Eastern Friesland, Germany’s far northwest, were broadcast. Leer is only a small town, with some 30 to 35 thousand population, but it is a place with a lot of history, and a navigation school. Probably not least thanks to the latter, Leer is considered the place with the second-largest number of shipping companies in Germany, after Hamburg.

In Leer’s “Kulturspeicher”, the NDR’s Lower Saxony broadcasting house also made some recordings, on December 10, to televise a few minutes of them within the state on December 23, in a 3’19” report. (The video should remain online for a few weeks.)

The show felt a bit as if it was from a different era, trade magazine website Radioszene noted four years ago. That’s hard to deny, when you look at the cozy arrangements captured by the NDR cameras.

But then, even in 1979, Werner Bader, head of Deutsche Welle’s German programs at the time, observed that

A minority keeps criticizing, sometimes wittingly, that the two programs [“Gruß an Bord” and “Grüße aus dem Heimathafen”, another sailors’ program] were unctuous. But a majority advocates to carry them forward.
(Eine Minderheit kritisiert immer wieder, in beiden Sendungen gebe es Rührseligkeiten, und sie tut es manchmal auch geistreich witzig. Aber die Mehrheit plädiert für das Wunschkonzert und die “Grüße aus dem Heimathafen”.)

The Audience: families, the wider public …

“Gruß an Bord” is aired by a public broadcaster, and at the same time, it is about family – two rather different target audiences. An NDR editor interviewed in the December 23 report from Leer, tries to match the two:

If this is about feelings, the broadcast is still needed. If someone says that most of the German ships have been equipped with internet for a year now, and that families can skype or text each other, or use Whatsapp – but then, people may sit alone in their bunk, on Christmas Eve, before and after their meals, that’s not the same as if you join everyone else in the mess deck, listening to this broadcast together.
Wenn es um Gefühle geht, dann braucht man die Sendung noch. Wenn jetzt jemand sagt, die deutschen Schiffe sind seit einem Jahr weitgehend mit Internet ausgerüstet, und dann können die Familien miteinander skypen und sich eine SMS schicken oder per Whatsapp kommunizieren, aber da sitzen vielleicht die Leute allein in ihrer Koje am Heiligen Abend, vorm Essen, nach dem Essen, bekommen ihre Whatsapps, das ist ja nicht so, als wenn  man gemeinsam in der Messe sitzt und dann vielleicht gemeinsam diese Sendung hört.

Or as put by an (apparent) senior sailor in a television report from the Hamburg event, the program is

special, because you get the impression that – even if you can be reached by email, smartphone etc. -, the public is aware of you.
Das Besondere an der Sendung ist, dass man eben tatsächlich den Eindruck hat, dass man – auch wenn man über Email, Handy erreichbar ist, trotzdem auch im Bewusstsein der Öffentlichkeit ist.

… and the friends of the high frequencies

I recorded all of the program, and listened to some of it. It remains a reverend institution, and worth listening to. But I think I liked the final twenty-five minutes best. There, letters and emails were read out from an ordinary broadcasting studio – well-structured and carefully thought out messages, rather than improvised talk into microphones.

I have no idea how many people listen to the programs, and where. But when listening to the mails and letters being read out, you realize that a substantial share (if not the majority) of those who listen to the shortwave transmissions must be shortwave aficionados, rather than seafarers:

Bernd Ottenau from Ottenau sends greetings to all members, honorary members and friends of the Radio Taiwan International listeners’ club Ottenau, as well as the international shortwave programs’ German-language editorial offices.
(Bernd Ottenau aus Ottenau grüßt herzlich alle Mitglieder, Ehrenmitglieder und Freunde des Radio Taiwan International Hörerclubs Ottenau, sowie die deutschsprachigen Redaktionen der internationalen Kurzwellenprogramme, und wünscht gesegnete Weihnachten sowie ein gutes neues Jahr 2018.)

A thing Germany has in common with countries like China, India, or Japan are its pasttime associations, and its shortwave listeners’ associations not least. They, too, may be an explanation as to why a radio institution like “Gruß an Bord”, allegedly from a different era, remains on air – at least once a year.

The 6155 kHz relay transmission from Armenia – offering the best signal among all the sites rebroadcasting “Gruß an Bord” – goes off air a few seconds after 23:00 UTC. CPBS Beijing emerges on the same frequency, informing me that it’s the eighth day of the lunar calendar’s  eleventh month today.

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Notes

1) The “Hafenkonzert” is even older – see Related underneath – “Soundscrapes of the Urban Past”
2) Then again, maybe not exactly on all the seven seas. The Pacific Ocean isn’t among the target areas stated by NDR.

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Related

Soundscrapes of the Urban Past, 2013

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