Posts tagged ‘isolation’

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Once upon a time in America

We pride ourselves on our friendly relations and open borders with our two North American neighbors.

Ronald Reagan, US president, November 9, 1985

Friday, April 5, 2019

Prague Castle*) incident: “The Minister should have known what to do”

*) Correction, April 11, 2019: not at the Castle, but at the trade ministry in Prague.

Update, April 11, 2019: Reportedly, trade minister Marta Nováková will be replaced, along with transport minister Dan Ťok, in a cabinet reshuffle.

Britain’s Daily Mail quotes a “series of missteps”, the way she dealt with the Chinese ambassador’s “request” to remove Taiwan’s representative from a meeting at the trade ministry among them, but mainly her comments on Czech mobile data prices.

====================

The top levels of Czech politics may be confused, but civil society stands up to blackmail. While it is true that the world’s leading democracies are falling over themselves to do business with China, the Czech Republic’s tradition is different from that of the London School of Economics.

Beijing doesn’t appear to advertise its ambassador’s implementation of its one-belt-one-road project in Prague, but Zdeněk Hřib, Prague’s mayor and one of the critics of Beijing’s most recent attempt to sideline Taiwan, isn’t an unknown in China anyway. A blogger named Warfare Bureau stationed with Taiwan Special Task Force member no. 666, publishing on a Guanchazhe platform, shows rightful indignation about Hřib’s current visit to Taiwan:

Actually, this mayor of the Czech Republic capital who has just taken office has often before raised his unfriendly voice against China. Early this year, he voiced doubt about the “one-China clause” in the sister city agreement between Prague and Beijing, asserting that he “could not see the need to retain it,” and demanding renegotiation.

其实,这位才上任不久的捷克首都新市长曾经多次发表对华不友好的声音,今年初贺瑞卜在受访时就公然对与北京缔结姐妹城市关系时协定中的“一中条款”表示质疑,他声称,“实在看不出保留的必要性”,要求重新协商。

According to the blog, Hřib said in an interview with Czech media that if the Prague city council demanded to repeal the article from the agreement, he would negotiate with Beijing, and if negotiations failed, Prague would have to withdraw from the agreement.*)

Even worse, the guy, reacting to Beijing’s plans to send a Panda to Prague, had said in 2016, in an interview with Taiwan’s Liberty Times (自由時報), that “human rights are much more important than Panda’s”. (What a shameless lie.)

It might be worth mentioning that Hřib is a member of the Czech Pirate party. A lot of politicians talk about “values”, but some actually have the nerve to practice them.

____________

Related

Rising Aggression, Jan 28, 2017

____________

Notes / Updates

*) Prague’s city council decided on January 21 that the article about the “one-China policy” should either be removed, or the partnership with Beijing be terminated, according to Radio Prague‘s German service on that day.

____________

Sunday, September 23, 2018

A long-running Taiwan Blog is closing

Michael Turton announced closure of The View from Taiwan sixteen days ago. The blog had its drawbacks, but it will hopefully remain online, as an archive of pan-green views, information, and dogmatism – and as a rare collection of photos, showing everyday life in Taiwan.

There are too few English-language windows on Taiwan, and it is bad news that The View isn’t posting anymore.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Beijing’s Reaction to Indo-Pacific Strategy: “China’s Rise isn’t isolated but heralds the Rise of the Asian Continent”

The following is a Huanqiu Shibao editorial, published online on Thursday, May 31. It may indicate a pattern of argument currently used by Chinese officials and “public diplomats”, in discussions with Indian counterparts – reminding the unloved southern neighbor of the need to restore Asia’s glory (and to put those small differences aside).
Links within blockquotes added during translation.

Original title
Editorial: Indo-Pacific Strategy wants to bury both China and India

社评:印太战略,想既埋中国又埋印度的坑

America announced on Wednesday that the United States Pacific Command will be renamed Indo-Pacific Command.
This is a plan that has been taking shape for a long time, but has given the common people a running gag when discussing America‘s Asian strategy. Washington now welcomes this attention.

美国星期三宣布将太平洋司令部改名为印度洋-太平洋司令部,这是早已透出的计划,但还是提供了世人谈论美国亚洲战略的一个噱头。华盛顿现在很欢迎这样的关注。

Apart from analyzing how much symbolic or practical significance this kind of renaming may have, many media follow American guidance, looking at it as Washington‘s emphasis on uniting with India, as one of the steps aimed at exerting more pressure on China.

除了分析这种改名有多少象征意义和多少实际意义,很多媒体顺着美方的引导,将这看成华盛顿重视并联合印度,向中国施加更大压力的步骤之一。

This is, of course, an important momentary American strategic consideration. However, we believe that Washington is looking at the next, bigger game. The Indo-Pacific strategy has two long-term objectives. One is to make China and India, the world‘s two largest emerging countries with a population of more than a billion, neutralize each other strategically. The second is to respond to and to plan ahead for the inevitable rise of India, and to make American control of the Indian
Ocean happen in time, thus keeping India from becoming a new challenge.

这当然是美国当下的重要战略考量。不过我们认为,华盛顿在下一盘更大的棋。印太战略有两个长远目标:一是要促成中印这两个世界上十亿人口以上新兴大国的长期相互战略消耗;二是为应对必将到来的印度崛起未雨绸缪,将美国加强对印度洋的控制提前变成现实,防止印度成为新的挑战。

China‘s rise is nothing isolated, but heralds the rise of the Asian continent. When history will look back at the 21rst century, the Sino-Indian rise will most probably be seen as two consecutive waves in the same major event. The nature of China‘s and India‘s rise is identical, with two underdeveloped countries moving to the front of global development, thus driving fairer rules for global economics and politics, and allowing people who have long found themselves trailing
behind to enjoy the benefits of modernization.

中国崛起不是孤立的,而是亚洲大陆崛起的先声。历史回望21世纪时,中印崛起很有可能被看成一个大事件的先后波次。中印崛起的本质都是一样的,那就是后发国家走向世界发展的前台,促使世界的经济和政治规则更加公平,让长期处在落后、贫困中的人们分享现代化的红利。

No matter if it is about China‘s or India‘s development, Westerners‘ true feelings are complicated. In the current stage, Western public opinion more supportive attitude towards Indian development at this stage comes from strategic thought that restrains taking advantage now. As India will continuously earn economic successes, Western public opinion‘s dislike of Indian development will surface in the end.

无论对中国发展,还是对印度发展,西方人的真实情感都很复杂。现阶段西方舆论对印度发展给予了更多支持,是地缘政治思维压住了利益计算的临时心态。随着印度不断获得经济成功,西方舆论对印度发展的反感终将浮上水面。

India‘s diplomacy may be sailing with tailwinds in the smoothest seas, but this won‘t last very long. If India‘s development turns out to be rather smooth, relations with the West will become highly complicated.

现在是印度外交最顺风顺水的时候,但这个时间不会很长。如果印度的发展比较顺利,或许20年后它与西方的关系就将高度复杂化。

For America, helping India and controlling China and promoting the mutual strategic neutralization of the two, is its best countermeasure to deal with Asia. Agitation for the Indo-Pacific strategy and American containment of China are two thoughts that raised their heads at about the same time. They are two aspects of almost the same strategic consideration. It can even be said that Washington and its main Asia-Pacific allies are working diligently and tirelessly at this. Also, this dream of theirs was almost put into reality at the Doklam standoff in summer 2017.

对美国来说,拉印制华,促使中印相互战略消耗,是其最佳的亚洲对策。鼓吹印太战略与美国遏制中国思维的抬头差不多同时发生,它们几乎是同一战略考量的不同侧面。华盛顿及其主要亚太盟友可谓对此孜孜以求,而且它们的这一愿望在2017年夏天的洞朗危机期间几乎就要实现了。

The Indian Ocean is increasingly turning into global navigation‘s center of gravity, but this area‘s structure of military strength is simple nevertheless. In future, more forces will enter this area, but provided that China and India maintain normal relations, the outstanding competition will probably not be Sino-Indian. America will inevitably play the leading role here, and also go to any length to act as the director, excluding any side that would share in the power.

印度洋越来越成为全球海上交通的重心,但该地区的军事力量格局则相对简单。未来会有更多力量介入该地区,但是只要中印保持正常关系,印度洋上最为突出的安全竞争就不太可能是中印之间的,美国必将是那场竞争的第一主角,而且它将竭尽全力充当主导者,排斥任何一方与它分享权力。

China has no military bases in the Indian Ocean, Indian public opinion is alerted by China‘s participation in building harbors in Sri Lanka and Pakistan. However, the Indian Ocean‘s only significance for China is in passage, while to America, it is a new front in consolidating its global hegemony. A far-sighted view can see the main contradictions on the Indian Ocean inevitably occurring between America and India.

中国在印度洋没有军事基地,印度舆论目前对中国在斯里兰卡、巴基斯坦参与港口建设充满警惕。然而印度洋对于中国的唯一意义是通道,但它是美国巩固全球霸权的新的主阵地。往远了看印度洋上的主要矛盾必将在美国和印度之间发生。

The importance of America‘s military base on Diego Garcia will continuously become more obvious. That base doesn‘t make China feel threatened in any way, but it will probably soon cause India increasing unease.

美国在印度洋上迪戈加西亚军事基地的要性将不断凸显出来,那个基地并不让中国感到什么威胁,但是印度方面大概很快就会对那个基地地位的提升而感到不安。

The Asian continent is facing two different prospects. One is that China and India will be successfully split by America, clash with each other, constitute restrictions on one another, neutralize each other, thus delaying their respective rise to different degrees. The second is that the two countries successfully resolve their disputes or set them aside, jointly promote an irreversible global trend of rising new emerging markets, which allows human society‘s development to obtain a fairer distribution, with Asia as a whole gradually entering modernization.

亚洲大陆面临两种前景:一是中印被美国成功分化,相互冲突,形成彼此牵制、消耗之势,双方的崛起都不同程度地延后;二是两国成功化解或搁置纠纷,共同推动新兴市场的崛起成为不可逆转的世界大势,使人类社会的发展权利得到更加公平的分配,亚洲作为一个整体逐渐步入现代化。

The Indo-Pacific strategy is a big pit, dug by America. Washington wants to bury both China‘s and India‘s rise in there. The anticipation of some American elites is to help India to push China into the pit and India helping to fill it, just to kick India into the next pit.

印太战略是美国挖的一个很大的坑,华盛顿想在这一个坑里同时埋葬中国崛起和印度崛起。一些美国精英的如意算盘是,先拉着印度一起把中国推到坑里,印度跟着填土,然后再把印度也踹进坑里。

Of course, this is the anticipation some Americans are dreaming of. From India‘s reactions to the Indo-Pacific strategy so far, it can easily be seen that there is an awareness in New Delhi that India will, in the end, earn very little from this strategy.

当然了,这是一些美国人梦一般的如意算盘。从印度迄今对印太战略的反应中不难看出,新德里是存了一个心眼的,印度最终被美国这一战略俘获的可能性很小。

____________

Related

“Confluence of the Two Seas”, East-West Center, May 9, 2018
(Shorter) GT English version of Huanqiu article, May 31, 2018

____________

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.
____________

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.

____________

Related

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

____________

 

Friday, August 11, 2017

Trump Rhetoric against North Korea reveals Need for modernized US Foreign Policy

Donald Trump was born rich. That’s why he’s qualified to serve as US President. You only have to look the other way when he’s making decisions. To talk bullshit to the press (or on Twitter) is a decision, too. This is what he told the press in New Jersey, on Tuesday:

Q: Any comment on the reports about North Korea’s nuclear capabilities?

A: North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen. He has been very threatening beyond a normal state. And as I said, they will be met with fire, fury, and, frankly, power, the likes of which this world has never seen before.

Thank you.

Senator John McCain stated the obvious, still on Tuesday, in a radio interview: “You got to be sure you can do what you say you’re going to do.”

If that’s logical, it’s too logical for President Trump – and for some of his supporters, who refer to McCain as a “traitor” who “sabotaged” their idol. Because, who knows, if everyone would have kept his  mouth shut, Pyongyang might have been very afraid.

Trump is either a madman, or a bigmouth. We may be hopeful, for now, that he’s a bigmouth first. But that doesn’t mean that he can’t do damage. In fact, Washington is heading into a loss of face like the world has never seen. George W. Bush was the first wrecker’s ball operator against American credibility, and Trump is his worthy successor.

But sometimes, when an idiot is running the farm, his operations reveal structural weaknesses that began long before his reign.

It has been said countless times by now that there are “no good options” when it comes to North Korea. That’s easy to say, and when it’s said frequently enough, it begins to sound like an inevitable truth.

But the debate if there are “good” options, or only more or less lousy options, has little to do with North Korea. Instead, it has a lot to do with America. Whenever there’s a debate about foreign policy, it sounds as if America was in full control, and just needed to decide if they want to “take out” this or that dictator.

There would be a fairly good option, concerning North Korea – the only question is if Trump is the president who can do it. Maybe he can – after all, he has no face, and therefore can’t lose face.

Either way: what is the fuss about the impossibility to recognize North Korea as an equal in international relations? Not as an equal in ethical terms, obviously, but as an equal member of the United Nations?

The problem is that both America and China follow the Yang Jiechi doctrine: that [your country] is a big country and other countries are small countries, and that’s just a fact.

America is a hegemon in decline. That means that, to maintain its international influence, it will have to modernize its foreign and military policies. It needs to find partners, rather than junior partners. And it needs to understand what constitutes a problem, and what doesn’t. America can no longer afford to exhaust all other options before doing the right thing.

If America can do business with China – a totalitarian country -, there is no plausible reason as to why it shouldn’t do business with North Korea, too. North Korea’s neighbors would hardly object. A policy – or mere rhetoric – that suggests a war on their territory is not popular there. And Pyongyang would be only to happy to reduce its dependence on Beijing.

Therefore, the first step should be to accept North Korea’s status as a nuclear power. If China should have any concerns about that, let it be Beijing’s problem. America may offer some inexpensive assistance, if deemed auspicious, but why should they tackle the main responsibility for a nuclear-free Korean peninsula if Beijing considers North Korea a bargaining chip against Taiwan?

Let’s face it: there is nothing any power on earth can do when Beijing protects the regime in Pyongyang. But there is a lot that can be done to defend South Korea, Japan, and – not least – Taiwan.

Therefore, Washington should reach out to Pyongyang.

____________

Updates/Related

Moon: Peace a national interest, BBC, Aug 14, 2017

____________

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.

____________

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

____________

 

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.

____________

Related

AIB members

____________

Updates/Related

Taiwan not abandoned, Sentinel, June 30, 2017

____________

%d bloggers like this: