Posts tagged ‘isolation’

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Mayor Carmena, the Scuttling Dalai Lama, and the Inseparably close Sino-Spanish Links

The following is an online article published by Voice of Tibet, a broadcaster from Norway.

Main Link (1):
→ Madrid considers inviting Dalai Lama to take part in Peace Conference – Communist China Overseas United Front Organization: this Hurts the Feelings of the Chinese People

Voice of Tibet, Febr 17, 2017 – The mayor of Madrid has met the American film star and Tibet supporter Richard Gere and mandated him to invite His Holiness the Dalai Lama to attend a peace forum in April. Communist Chinese organization “→ China Council for the Promotion of Peaceful National Reunification”, immediately expressed protest towards the Madrid city government, saying that the Dalai Lama was a “defector”, and demanding that Madrid should not “hurt the dignity of  Chinese people, nor hurt Chinese feelings”.

【西藏之声2017年2月17日报道】西班牙马德里市市长会见美国援藏影星理查•基尔,拜托他邀达赖喇嘛尊者出席4月的一场和平论坛。中共海外统战机构“中国和平统一促进会”立即向马德里市政府表达抗议,称达赖喇嘛是“叛逃者”,并要求马德里市不要“伤害中国人的尊严,伤害中国人的感情”。

A number of Spanish media have concurrently reported that American film star Richard Gere visited Madrid. The website “Think Spain” reported on February 15 that on February 14, Madrid mayor Manuela Carmena had met with Richard Gere.

西班牙多家媒体近日均报道了美国影星理查•基尔到访马德里市的新闻。ThinkSPAIN网站 15日报道说,14日当天,马德里市女市长卡梅娜(Manuela Carmena)与理查•基尔见面。

Carmena mandated Gere to deliver an invitation to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, hoping that His Holiness would take part in the “Forum on Violence and Education for Peace”, to be held in Madrid from April 17 to April 19. It is reported that mayors from various big cities worldwide, political leaders, and social science experts are going to attend.

卡梅娜拜托基尔向达赖喇嘛转达邀请,希望尊者能够参加定于4月17日至19日在马德里举行的“暴力与和平教育论坛”(Forum on Violence and Education for Peace),据悉将有世界各大城市的市长、政治领袖,以及社会科学专家出席。

In an article published on their official website, the CCP-United-Front-led “China Council for the Promotion of Peaceful National Reunification” pointed out that members of the Spanish [secton of the] “China Council for the Promotion of Peaceful National Reunification” had, “for the first time, taken action, and convened leadership meetings for that very night”, and with their efforts during that night, they had drafted “a protest letter, seriously protesting the Tibetan independence ‘separatist Dalai Lama’s participation’ in the ‘Madrid Peace Forum’.”

由中共统战部指挥安排的“中国和平统一促进会”17日于官网刊文,指西班牙中国和平统一促进会成员“第一时间行动起来,连夜召开骨干会议”并且在“连夜努力下”起草了一封“严重抗议‘藏独’分裂者达赖喇嘛出席‘马德里和平论坛’”的抗议信。”

Members of said organisation handed the protest letter to Madrid city government staff, demanding that it should be handed to the mayor. According to their statements, Communist Chinese embassy officials also made representations to the city government.

该组织几名成员将抗议信交给马德里市政府工作人员,要求转交市长。而据他们的新闻声明,中共驻西班牙大使馆的官员也向该市政府就此进行了交涉。

In their protest letter, the Chinese Communist United Front organization “China Council for the Promotion of Peaceful National Reunification” [abreviated by VoT author]  vilified the Dalai Lama as someone who had defected abroad, carrying out activities [intended to] split the motherland … attacking the Tibet policies of the Chinese central government and Tibet’s development and progress … inciting believers to create violent incidents and to damage stability in the Tibetan region …”

在抗议信中,中共海外统战机构“统促会”诋毁达赖喇嘛“叛逃国外,进行分裂祖国的活动……攻击中国中央政府的西藏政策和西藏的发展进步……并煽动信众制造暴力事件,破坏藏区稳定……”

The “China Council for the Promotion of Peaceful National Reunification” [abreviated by VoT author], just as other Chinese Communist organizations “representing” the common Chinese people, said they hoped that the Madrid city government “won’t hurt the dignity of Chinese people, or hurt their feelings.”

统促会并如其他中共机构一般“代表”了中国百姓,称希望马德里政府“不要伤害中国人的尊严,伤害中国人的感情。”

Recently, University of California San Diego branch university’s invitation to the Dalai Lama to attend the graduation ceremony raised protest from its overseas Chinese student groups. The management didn’t change their decision, and the overseas Chinese student groups modified their protests to demanding that it should be ensured that the Dalai Lama’s speech should not touch upon politics.

近日,美国加州大学圣地亚哥分校因计划邀请达赖喇嘛出席毕业典礼,而引起该校中国留学生团体的抗议。校方未改变决定,留学生团体便转为要求确保达赖喇嘛的讲话不牵涉政治。

Columbia University Contemporary Tibetan Studies Institute director Professor Robert Barnett pointed out in an interview with INSIDE HIGHERED that everyone should be aware of this kind of foreign governments’ bullying against academic institutions. He praised the university for not withdrawing from an important position, but also suggested that it should immediately open opportunities for dialogue between the Chinese students and the Dalai Lama, such as arranging a private meeting between them and the Dalai Lama.

哥伦比亚大学现代西藏研究所所长罗伯特•巴内特(Robert Barnett)接受媒体INSIDE Highered采访时指出,各方应该关注此类学术机构被外国政府霸凌的现象。他赞扬校方没有后退是一个重要的立场,但也提议校方立刻打开与中国学生对话的机遇,比如安排他们与达赖喇嘛之间的私下会面。

The VoT article adds a photo apparently first posted by the “reunification council”, taken by the latter as they “ran into” Chinese embassy staff at the Madrid city government premises as they taking their protest letter there.

VoT’s online article apparently refers to → this online posting by the “reunification council”. Here goes:

Main Link (2):
→ Madrid City Mayor invites Dalai Lama participation in “Madrid Peace Forum” – Spanish [section of] the China Council for the Promotion of Peaceful National Reunification hands Letter of Protest to Madrid City Government

On February 15, Madrid city mayor Manuela Carmena met with famous visiting American film star Richard Gere, and expressed her hope that she could invite the Dalai Lama through Gere, to attend the Madrid “Concerning Municipal Violence and Peace-handling Forum of the Educational World”. Richard Gere is a believer in Tibetan Buddhism, and a faithful follower of the Dalai Lama.

2月15日,马德里市长Manuela Carmena会见了到访的美国著名影星Richard Gere,表达了希望能够通过他邀请达赖喇嘛参加马德里城市“关于城市暴力与和平相处教育世界论坛”。Richard Gere是藏传佛教的信徒,也是达赖喇嘛的忠实追随者。

As the news had burst out, it immediately caught the attention of Chinese people travelling Spain. Ever since the Dalai Lama’s defection in 1959, the establishment of a “exile government” and the drafting a bogus constitution, he has carried out actions to split the motherland.

新闻爆出之后,立即引起了旅西华人的关注。达赖喇嘛自从1959年叛国以来,建立“流亡政府”,制定伪宪法,进行分裂祖国的活动。

Once the news was reported, and everyone became aware of the situation, the Spanish [section of] the China Council for the Promotion of Peaceful National Reunification under the leadership of chairman → Xu Songhua, took action for the first time, immediately in the same night, convening a leadership meeting. At the meeting, all unified their ideology, pooled knowledge for everyone’s benefit, and reported to related parties. In the end, a protest letter, bilingual in Chinese and Tibetan, ‘”seriously protesting ‘Tibetan independence’ divider Dalai Lama’s attendence at the ‘Madrid Peace Forum’ was drafted.

新闻一经报道,大家在得知这样的情况后,西班牙中国和平统一促进会在徐松华主席的带领下,第一时间行动起来,立即连夜召开的骨干会议。在会议上大家统一思想、集思广益,并且向有关方面做了汇报。最终起草了一封“严重抗议‘藏独’分裂者达赖喇嘛出席‘马德里和平论坛’”的中西文双语抗议信。

The letter was completed with the efforts of everyone during that night, and early next morning, under the leadership of Chairman Xu Songhua – together with → Fundación Orient chairman of the board and Council for the Promotion of Peaceful National Reunification senior consultant Julia Zhang, deputy chairman Liu Guangxin and Xu Zhenhai – was handed to Madrid city government.

信件在大家连夜的努力之下起草完毕,并且在第二天一早在徐松华主席的带领下,一同诚信基金会董事长、西班牙中国和平统一促进会高级顾问Julia张女士,副主席刘光新和徐振海交于马德里市政府。

When the four arrived at Madrid city government, time was nearing closing time, and in the end, the four handed the letter to city government staff, to have them pass it on to mayor Carmena, and expressed their severe protest. As they were leaving, they ran into Chinese embassy’s [title] Huang Yazhong and spokesman Ji Dengyun. The two had just made serious representations to the Madrid city government on behalf of the embassy in Spain, concerning the matter. Having bumped into each other, the two sides exchanged their views and opinions, expressing anger and strong protest against mayor Carmena’s mistaken practice of hurting the friendship between the peoples of China and Spain.

一行四人抵达马德里市政府已经接近下班时间,最终四人将信件交给市政府的工作人员,让其转交给马德里市长Carmena女士。并表达了严厉的抗议。四人一出市政府门口,迎面碰上驻西大使馆公参黄亚中和新闻发言人吉登云。他俩代表驻西使馆就此事件刚刚也向马德里市政府严重交涉过。在此一碰,双方交换了意见看法,对卡梅拉市长伤害中西人民友谊的错误做法表示愤怒和强烈抗议。

The protest letter’s complete wording:

抗议信件全文如下:

Seriously protesting “Tibetan Independence” Separatist Dalai Lama’s Attendence at “Madrid Peace Forum”

Respected Madrid City Mayor Ms Carmena:

尊敬的马德里市政府市长卡梅拉女士:

[no translation found]

春祺不一。

We thank Madrid mayor and Madrid city government for their participation in the Chinese Spring Festival activities, their support and help. We appreciate it.

感谢市长和马德里市政府在庆祝中国春节活动中的参与,支持与帮助。我们予以积极评价。

Yesterday, at the shocking news that you wanted to invite the Dalai Lama through American film star Richard Gere, from April 19 to 21, at the Madrid “Concerning Municipal Violence and Peace-handling Forum of the Educational World”, we felt shock and disbelief. Therefore, we send you a letter to cancel this mistaken decision.

昨日,惊悉您通过美国影星李察?基尔,欲邀请达赖参加四月十九曰至二十一日,在马德里召开的”关于城市暴力和平相处教育世界论坛”,我们感到震惊,不可思议。所以,致函您取消这一错误決定。

What kind of man is the Dalai Lama? He is one of the → Gelug school‘s Living Buddhas. Ever since he defected abroad in 1959, he established of a “exile government”, drafted a bogus constitution, and has carried out actions to split the motherland. Under a banner of “peace”, “non-violence”, and “human rights”, he scuttles to every place, spreading rumors, building up international public opinion, gaining uninformed peoples’ sympathy, attacking the Tibet policies of the Chinese central government and Tibet’s development and progress. He deceives, bewitches, bribes, utilizes and incites some believers  to create all kinds of disturbances and uses every opportunity to damage stability in the Tibetan region to achieve his delusional ideas of splitting up China.

达赖喇嘛是何许人?他是藏传佛教格鲁派活佛之一。自1959年叛逃国外以来,他建立“流亡政府”,制定伪宪法,进行分裂祖国的活动。打着“和平”,“非暴力”,“人权”旗号四处窜访,散布谣言,制造国际舆论,获取不明真相人们的同情,攻击中国中央政府的西藏政策和西藏的发展进步。欺骗,蛊惑,收买,利用和煽动一些信众制造各种事端和暴力事件,利用一切机会破坏藏区稳定,以实现他分裂中国的痴心妄想。

In recent years, after the real face of the the Dalai had been exposed, meetings between foreign leaders and the Dalai Lama has become less and less frequent, and the international news world’s interest in the Dalai Lama has become ever lower. The Chinese government has invested an enourmous energy in the building and development of Tibet, and Tibet has maintained stable development these years, with ever closer ethnic unity and religious relations. Tibetan development, the support from the entire nation for Tibet, and the implemenation of various projects and policies have continuously improved Tibet’s situation, with the Dalai Lama’s international status going down, and ever fewer places to go to. Ever since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Spain several decades ago, the two sides have continuously strengthened their exchanges in the fields of politics, economics, culture, etc., with ever deepening friendly cooperation. Especially in recent years, the momentum in Sino-Spanish economic and technical cooperation has been good, and Spain has become an important trade partner of China, within the European Union, with Sino-Spanish technological trade continuously improving, bilateral investment continuously expanding, and a big increase in Chinese tourists travelling to Spain. Currently, economic and trade exchange between China and Spain, with China’s “one belt one road” development strategy, have become inseparably close, and have added strong power to the two countries’ economic prosperity. Friendship between the two countries has continuously deepened and developed.

近年来,达赖真面目暴露之后,外国的国家领导人和达赖喇嘛见面的越来越少,国际新闻界对达赖喇嘛的关注度越来越低。中国政府对西藏建设和发展投入了巨大的精力,西藏这些年来持续不断地保持稳定发展,民族团结越来越好,宗教关系越来越好。西藏的发展、全国人民对西藏的支持以及各项政策措施的实施,使西藏的局面越来越好,而“藏独”分裂者达赖喇嘛在国际上的身价越来越低、越来越走不动。中西两国建交几十年來,双方在政治、经济、文化等方面的交流不断加强,友好合作关系不断深化。特别是近年来,中西经济技术合作势头很好,西班牙已成为中国在欧盟的重要贸易伙伴,中西技术贸易不断发展,双边投资合作不断扩大,到西旅游中国旅客大幅增长。当前,中西两国的经贸交流,在中国提出的“一带一路”发展战略上紧密对接,为中西两国的经济繁荣注入了强劲动力,两国之间的友谊在不断深化和发展。

We hope that the Madrid [city] government will uphold the friendly relations between China and Spain, and that it will not harm the dignity and the feelings of the Chinese people.

我们希望马德里政府,维护中西两国的友好关系,不要伤害中国人的尊严,伤害中国人的感情。

As Chinese immigrants living far from their native land, we respect Spanish dignity and traditional culture, abide by Spanish law and regulations, and hold Spanish liberties, democracy, and peace in high esteem. With sincere hopes for long-lasting Sino-Spanish friendship!

作为侨居西班牙的中国移民,我们尊重西班牙的民族尊严和传统文化,遵守西班牙的法律法规,崇尚西班牙的自由、民主与和平。衷心希望中西友谊长存!

[Spanish section of] the China Council for the Promotion of Peaceful National Reunification, Febr 16, 2017

西班牙中国和平统一促进会
2017年2月16日

On February 9, Richard Gere had met with German chancellor Angela Merkel, in his capacity as chairman of the International Campaign for Tibet. Radio Berlin-Brandenburg (RBB) → noted that the meeting, scheduled to take 30 minutes, had lasted for three quarters of an hour. No information about the content of their discussions was given.

____________

Related

→ Imagen de la Reunión, Febr 14, 2017
→ Rising China, Rotten Diplomacy, Jan 11, 2013

____________

Saturday, January 28, 2017

China’s rising Aggression against Taiwan – is there anything we can do to counter it?

Nigeria told Taiwan earlier this month to move its de-facto embassy from the capital Abuja to Lagos, the country’s biggest city and its capital until 1976, and seat of the federal government until 1991. According to the Chinese foreign ministry,

Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama told journalists after reaffirming the One-China Policy at a joint press conference with visiting Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, that Taiwan will now have to function in Lagos with a skeletal staff.

One could condemn the decision of the Nigerian government, who have reportedly been promised $40 bn Chinese investment in the country’s infrastructure, and the Taiwanese foreign ministry did just that.

But there will always be governments who are too weak to be principled – and most governments worldwide, and especially those of “developed” and powerful countries, have long played along with Beijing’s “one-China policy”. Big or small countries’ decisions are based on “national interest” (whichever way national interest may be defined).

Still, what Nigeria is doing to Taiwan shows a new quality in harming the island nation. A Reuters report on January 12 didn’t try to “prove” Beijing’s driving force behind the Nigerian decision, but quotes a Taiwanese perception that would suggest this, writing that Taiwan sees the “request” to move its representative office from the capital as more pressure by China to isolate it.

Reuters also wrote that

[w]hile economic ties between the mainland and Taiwan have grown considerably in recent years, their relations have worsened since Tsai Ing-wen, who heads a pro-independence party, was elected president of the island last year.
Beijing has been stepping up pressure on her to concede to its “one China” principle.

In fact, this isn’t just a move to make Taiwan “lose face”, or to re-emphasize the – in Beijing’s view – inofficial nature of Taiwanese statehood and sovereignty. This is an attempt on Taiwan’s lifelines, even if only a small one – for now. If Taiwan has to reduce staff at one of its embassies, simply because Beijing wants the host country to bully Taiwan, this affects Taiwanese trade. And this means that Beijing is making fun of a World Trade Organization member’s legitimate interests.

Looking at it under less formal aspects, this move via Nigeria is also an aggression against Taiwan’s democracy.

The Tsai administration’s position during the past eight months hadn’t even been “provocative”. All they can be blamed for is that they didn’t bow before Beijing’s hatpole, an alleged “1992 consensus” between the Chinese Communist Party and the Taiwanese National Party (KMT). In her inaugural speech in May, President Tsai Ing-wen still acknowledged the fact that there had been KMT-CCP talks that year, and the role the talks had had in building better cross-strait relations. But  she pointed out that among the foundations of interactions and negotiations across the Strait, there was the democratic principle and prevalent will of the people of Taiwan.

It seems that this position – legitimate and reasonable – was too much for Beijing. This should be food for thought for everyone in the world who wants the will of the people to prevail.

J. Michael Cole, a blogger from Taiwan, wrote in September last year that China’s leadership

behaves very much like a 12-year-old: pouting and bullying when it doesn’t get what it wants. To be perfectly honest, it’s rather embarrassing and hardly warrants the space and scare quotes it gets in the world’s media. […]

Why the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has kept at it for so long is because we, the international community, have allowed it to do so. From the hallowed halls of academia to the media, government agencies to the public sphere, we have allowed fear to regulate how we interact with China, with ourselves, and with the rest of the world.

His conclusion: we – and I assume that by “we”, he refers to all freedom-loving people who cherish democracy – need collectively stiffer spines, ; the times when we let the authoritarian-child determine what’s in our best interest should come to an end, not just in the political sphere but in other areas, including the embattled field of free expression, where the 12-year-old has been making a mockery of our proud traditions in journalism and academia.

I wasn’t sure if I agreed when I read this, months ago. Yes, it is true that China’s dollars are corrupting. But aren’t all dollars corrupting, if you are corrupt? Who forces us to take them? I’m wondering if South Africa in the 1980s would have faced sanctions if their white government and elites had had to offer then what Beijing has to offer now. And in that regard, I believe we should see clearly that Western countries frequently put their positions on sale easily, when they are offered the right price.

That was  a main factor in America’s motivation, in the 1970s, to acknowledge Beijing’s “one-China policy”. That’s why the EU is nearly spineless when it comes to interaction with Beijing. And that’s why Taiwan’s own elites are frequently eager to do business with China, even if this limits the island republic’s political scope further.

All the same, China’s measures against democracy are uniquely aggressive in some ways. Above all, they are completely shameless. If they serve their country, Chinese people may advocate them without the least disguise – because it serves China. When an American politician – Donald Trump – does a similar thing by ostensibly “putting America first”, he faces a bewildered global public who can’t believe their own ears. And yes, censorship and records where only the victor writes the history books and declares the defeated parties villains is part of hallowed Chinese tradition. There were Chinese people who were openly critical of that tradition during the 1980s or the 1990s. As far as I can see, there aren’t too many of them any more. (I’m not sure there are any left.)

Chinese “public opinion” may debate measures to optimize business, or CCP rule. But there are no competing visions in China. There is no public opinion. There is only guidance toward totalitarianism.

Can governments play a role in controlling China’s aggression against democracy? Not in the short or medium term, anyway. Any such movement has to start from the grassroots. And it won’t be a terribly big one, let alone a “collective” one, as Cole appears to hope.

But every right move is a new beginning, and a contribution to a better world. We can’t boycott China, and if we could, it might amount to a tragedy.

But we can make new, small, decisions every day: is this really the right time to arrange a students exchange with China? Why not with Taiwan? Is an impending deal with China really in one’s best interest? Could an alternative partner make better sense in the long run, even if the opportunity cost looks somewhat higher right now?

The CCP’s propaganda, during the past ten or twenty years, has been that you have no choice but to do business with China under its rule, no matter if you like the dictatorship and its increasing global reach, or not. The purpose of this propaganda has been to demobilize any sense of resistance, of decency, or of hope.

We need to take a fresh look at China.

As things stand, this doesn’t only mean a fresh look at the CCP, but at China as a country, too. During the past ten years, the CCP has managed to rally many Chinese people behind itself, and to discourage dissenters, apparently a minority anyway, from voicing dissent.

A new personal and – if it comes to that – collective fresh look at China requires a sense of proportion, not big statements or claims. It doesn’t require feelings of hatred or antagonism against China, either. We should remain interested in China, and continue to appreciate what is right with it.

What is called for is not a answer that would always be true, but a question, that we should ask ourselves at any moment when a choice appears to be coming up.

As an ordinary individual, don’t ask how you can “profit” from China’s “rise” (which has, in fact, been a long and steady collapse into possibly stable, but certainly immoral hopelessness).

Ask yourself what you can do for Taiwan.

Happy new year!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Xi Jinping in Davos: the Warming Sunshine of Economic Globalization

“Davos: China’s president Xi Jinping argues for a liberal economic order”, German business paper “Handelsblatt” titled on its front page on Wednesday. (Not quite the headline, though – that was a news article on Theresa May‘s Brexit speech.) The paper also quotes incoming US president Donald Trump‘s advisor, Anthony Scaramucci, as saying that the US didn’t want a trade war, “but we want fair trade”, and that Trump’s attacks on NATO and EU had been misinterpreted.

The editorial in the same edition is enthusiastic: Xi Jinping‘s Davos speech had been “a dressing-down for populists”, argues Handelsblatt editorialist Stephan Scheuer, and provided “a keynote for discussions of the coming years”. Xi’s unambiguous message was that China would “not close its doors, but open them further for the world.”

Scheuer’s Wednesday editorial seems to confirm the impression of a Chinese government researcher, Zhao Jinping (赵晋平), who was quoted by “People’s Daily” as saying that reactions to Xi’s speech had been sympathetic (共鸣).

Gulliver in Smurfland (Xinhua artwork)

Gulliver in Smurfland (Xinhua artwork)

While Zhao pointed out that globalization remained the international mainstream consensus, Xi Jinping himself found more flowery words to express the same belief (as quoted in another “People’s Daily” article):

“The global economy’s vast sea, if you like it or not, is there, and you can’t avoid it.” Xi Jinping pointed out that a desire to artificially cut every national economy’s capital flows, technology flows, flows of products, industries, and people, and to shrink the vast sea of the global economy to an isolated small lake, or a small river, was impossible, and would not be in correspondence with the historic trend. When facing economic globalization’s opportunities and risks, the right choice is to make full use of the opportunities, to cooperate to respond to challenges, and to guide the direction of economic globalization well.

“世界经济的大海,你要还是不要,都在那儿,是回避不了的。”习近平指出,想人为切断各国经济的资金流、技术流、产品流、产业流、人员流,让世界经济的大海退回到一个一个孤立的小湖泊、小河流,是不可能的,也是不符合历史潮流的。面对经济全球化带来的机遇和挑战,正确的选择是,充分利用一切机遇,合作应对一切挑战,引导好经济全球化走向。

And:

Protectionism is like locking oneself into a dark room, as if one wants to avoid the hardship, but also the warming sunshine. The result of trade wars would only bring harm to both sides.

搞保护主义如同把自己关进黑屋子,看似躲过了风吹雨打,但也隔绝了阳光和空气。打贸易战的结果只能是两败俱伤

But not everyone appears to have become fully convinced this week that the hero now lives in Beijing, and that the villain is going to reside in the White House. Frank Sieren, a columnist who had been accused by his former Deutsche Welle colleague Su Yutong of being too nice to Beijing more than two years ago, reminds his readers that Xi, no less than Trump, would stand against those who are currently lauding him – whenever that makes sense for him. And both Xi and Trump would have to pursue goals of their own: China would have to get more integrated with the world to be successful, and America would need to produce more goods at home, without making the products more expensive for Americans.

Monday, November 28, 2016

A few Thoughts about Castro

Fidel Castro, in the course of about half a century, became an icon for people who would have liked to challenge America’s leading global role. And he was hated by many Americans. When I asked an otherwise friendly American friend (by letter, back then) in the early 1990s why the embargo was still in place, I got a long and angry answer, as if I had I had trespassed. And when I made some not-too-critical, but not really reverent remarks about Castro the other day, I got an angry answer, too. What you get in a conversation about Castro really depends on your interlocutor (and, of course, on your diplomatic skills).

What is frequently ignored however, is the Cuban people. It is true that fear, intimidation and human rights violations has helped to keep the Cuban Communist Party in power. so have state and party propaganda. Decades of getting the same stories told over and over and over again, in school, the media, and  arguably by Grandpa at home, won’t fail to leave  traces on most human harddisks.

Few political leaders of the 20th and – so far – 21st century trigger as strong emotions as Fidel Castro does. Castro is idolized, and demonized. And more frequently than not, peoples’ reactions to his memory depend on where they belong, or who they side with: America, China, or Russia, for example.

It would take biographic research to judge Castro and his rule. It would require reading one or two biographies, at least. The information that daily mass media offer won’t provide insights into how Cuba has endured, or profitted from, Castro rule since early 1959.

But you wouldn’t run into too many people without clear-cut opinions about Castro.

That’s why countries and civilizations can be surprising to outsiders (and even to insiders). Things happen, and they may appear to be unlogical or bizarre. But they happen for reasons – good or bad -, and the driving forces behind them aren’t necessarily idiocy.

To understand Castro’s rise to power, and the reasons as to why the Cuban Communist Party has been able to cement its dictatorship to this days, we would need to walk the Cuban streets of the 1940s and 1950s, not those of the 2010s.

Research – scientific or journalistic – needs to take us there.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Dalai Lama: there’s a Chinese Constitution

Whereever I go, I do not wish to create trouble for politicians in charge. No worries. Actually, the purpose of my visits isn’t to meet politicians in charge, but to meet the public, or people. I have nothing to tell to the officials. I prefer to talk about happiness.

Should I stay or shoud I go?

Why, surely you aren’t here to stirr trouble?

That’s how French daily Le Monde quoted the Dalai Lama, on September 10. Tibet’s spiritual leader did, however, have something to say to the Chinese leadership:

We don’t seek independence, we demand all the rights that are written down in the Chinese constitution.

It’s funny to be reminded that there is actually such a thing in China – a constitution.

According to Voice of Tibet (VoT), a Norway-based radio station and website, the custodians of the Chinese constitution were kept busy by the Dalai Lama’s visit to France, from September 12 to 18:

His Holiness’, the Dalai Lama’s visit to France received close attention from China. A joint photo with hotel staff and the Dalai Lama, posted by a Hyatt Group Hotel, immediately met with resistance from Chinese netizens who demanded that the hotel remove the online post. Also, students at Sciences Po protested against the recent cancellation of a speech by his Holiness and emphasized “the need to respect free speech”.

达赖喇嘛尊者访法行程受到中方密切关注,凯悦集团旗下饭店在网上刊出员工与尊者的合影后,立即有中国网友提出抗议,要求饭店删除该则贴文。另外,巴黎高政学生则对校方日前取消尊者演讲而表达抗议,强调“言论自由”应受到遵守。

Official receptions for the Dalai Lama on overseas trips from his exile in India have increasingly vexed the Chinese government, writes Radio France Internationale (RFI English service). But that is hardly accurate – efforts to isolate Tibet’s paramount monk have been part of Beijing’s policy ever since the beginning of his exile in India. And depending on China’s clout overseas, such efforts are sometimes highly successful.

The Dalai Lama didn’t get a visa to visit South Africa in 2009. A few weeks later, South African foreign minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said that the Dalai Lama could visit South Africa anytime he wanted.

Anytime, except October 2014, of course. (Maite Nkoana-Mashabane was still South Africa’s foreign minister.)

As for the protests against the Hyatt hotel welcome for the Dalai Lama in Paris, VoT writes:

There were Chinese netizens unaware of the facts, who used propaganda content that had been directed against the Dalai Lama by the Chinese Communist Party for decades. They demanded that the removal of the online photo and said that if Hyatt wanted to continue business in China, they should not actively be in touch with this “splittist element”.

有不明真相的中国网友在该则贴文下,使用中共数十年来对西藏议题与达赖喇嘛尊者的不实宣传内容,向饭店表达抗议并要求删除这张照片,更表示:若凯悦集团希望在中国继续经营下去,就不该去主动接触这位“分裂份子”。

Today, on September 17, [the hotel] removed the text and photo from its Facebook page.

今天17日巴黎旺多姆帕悦酒店已从官方脸书上撤下该则贴文和照片。

Apparently, the Collège des Bernadins wasn’t quite that afraid of Beijing. On September 14, they hosted a meeting on inter-religious dialogue with the Dalai Lama.

(Maybe they’ve got a nice auberge for him, too, next time he visits France. He could be in need of one.)

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Updates / Related

» China threats after EU Parliament visit, Reuters, Sep 19, 2016
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Sunday, May 22, 2016

America, Japan: a more equal Relationship?

US President Barack Obama gave NHK an exclusive interview ahead of his arrival in Japan, reports NHK, emphasizing that Obama would be the first sitting US President to visit the atomic-bombed city.

A full account of the interview doesn’t seem to be available online yet. NHK provides a video with excerpts from the interview.

News like this doesn’t make much sense without context. US-Japan relations, frequently dubbed one of the closest alliances worldwide, were contentious in 2009, according to the New York Times. At the time, Japan had just seen its first transition of power from one political party to another, and the Hatoyama government – in short – called for a more equal relationship with the United States, with a number of possible ramifications.

The departure from the usual Liberal-Democrats rule in Japan was only an interlude. And a nation’s foreign policies are usually bi-partisan, or meta-partisan – in Japan, too.

From the Middle East to Ukraine, questions are being asked about the U.S. ability and willingness to maintain peace. If it cannot or will not, who will fill the void?,

the Nikkei Asian Review asked in May 2015.

Japan sees its future more within Asia, the NYT quoted Eswar S. Prasad back then. That, however, doesn’t necessarily benefit Sino-Japanese relations, as suggested by the NYT six years earlier. Rather, Japan appears to be warming to Russia.

Japan and Russia have especially found ample opportunity to conduct a coordinated response to the most recent security crisis in North Korea. Japan and Russia have also sought to increase their economic and financial ties, which are particularly important for the development of the Russian Far East,

Anthony Rinna of the Sino-NK research group noted in March this year. The Russian pivot to the East – possibly with a lot of help from Tokyo – was hampered by two obstacles however, Rinna cautioned: the long-standing dispute over the Kuril Islands, and Japan’s alignment with the West over the Ukraine crisis.

And while

the containment of China remains the primary purpose of the Japan-U.S. defense apparatus, U.S. strategic containment of Russia also continues to be an important factor in the Japan-U.S. alliance, which comprises one key flank of the American strategic posture in Asia,

Rinna added.

But being part of an alliance doesn’t mean that Japan would forgo foreign policies of its own. When Obama (reportedly) tried to talk Japanese prime minister Abe out of a meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin, his appeal was unsuccessful.

It’s not only Japan who needs to take existing alliances into consideration. The same is true for Russia – but less so than Japan. Russian obligations toward China can’t be compared to Japan’s obligations toward America. That may not be a general opinion in China, but observers who watch the developments probably wouldn’t be caught by surprise if Russia and Japan were to sign a peace treaty in the not too distant future.

In December 2013, Cui Heng (崔珩) of the East China Normal University’s Russia Research Center in Shanghai, published an opinion on the China Internet Information Center (中国网) website. Titled “Russia won’t keep away from Japan because of Russia-Chinese relations”, Cui’s article pointed out that Russia’s preparedness to be considerate of China was limited, even though Sino-Russian relations were “at their best in history”.

Abe’s generation in particular had, because of their country’s economic successes, developed a sense of national greatness, and were seeking normalization for Japanese statehood. The economic revival after Abe’s taking office [there was a revival indeed, three years ago] had added to this conscience among Japanese politicians, Cui wrote. Ending the official state of war with Russia would be part of normalization. Even if hardly relevant in military terms, the status quo weighed heavily in terms of in terms of symbolism.

By coming to formally peaceful terms with Russia, Japan could also shed its status as a defeated country, Cui argued, and then addressed a factor that made Russia’s perception of Japan different from both China’s, and America’s:

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.

By visiting Hiroshima, Obama appears to make a concession to Tokyo’s desire for “normalization”. Of course, few decisions are made for only one reason – they are part of a network, or hierarchy, of objectives. One objective was stated by Obama himself – that we should continue to strive for a world without nuclear weapons.

There is no great likelihood that Japan would shift away from the alliance with Washington. Japan’s distrust of China probably outweighs even America’s. That’s a stabilizing factor in US-Japanese relations.

But Tokyo is certainly trying to put its relations with America on a more equal footing – not just formally, but by creating diplomatic and economic facts that will help to further this aim.

Russia’s Far East is nothing to disregard, in terms of its economic potential. Japan can do business with Ukraine, and with Russia, and is likely to cooperate with both.

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Related

Shared Concern, Nov 11, 2015
Greater Contributions, April 25, 2014

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Thursday, May 19, 2016

DPP: a Need to Control and to Trust Tsai

Very few things can be taken for granted. Tsai Ing-wen‘s presidency will have to address issues from pension reform and social issues, to relations with China and efforts for economic-cooperation agreements with countries in the region, beyond Singapore and New Zealand.

From tomorrow, many things will be different from preceding presidencies. But one thing will not change at all: Beijing’s latent aggression against the island democracy will stay around.

Tsai will probably try to avoid anything that would, in the eyes of many Taiwanese people and especially in the eyes of Washington or Tokyo, unnecessarily anger Beijing. That in turn may anger some or many of her supporters.

But in tricky times, Tsai needs loyal supporters, who are prepared to believe that she has the best in mind for her country, and that she has the judgment and strength to make the right choices.

There will be disagreement, and there will be debate, which is essential. But underlying these, there needs to be loyalty within the Democratic Progressive Party.

Probably, there will be no loyal opposition – there are no indications, anyway, that the KMT in its current sectarian shape will constitute that kind of democratic balance.

The DPP itself, and maybe the New Power Party, too, will have to take much of that loyal-opposition role – at least until July next year.

Distinguishing between blind faith and loyalty will be a challenge for people who support the president elect. But if Tsai’s supporters expect her to perform well, they themselves will have to play their part, too, in terms of judgment, strength, and faith.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

This Week (2): If you are Chinese today, can you become Taiwan’s President?

Probably not. But then, especially in Taiwanese politics, everything depends on definitions. If you think – and publicly state – that there is one China with different interpretations (一中各表), and if you add that this means that China is in fact the Republic of China (RoC), and that the constitution doesn’t permit a concept of two Chinas, that might work for a president, or for a presidential candidate, especially when your opponents are in disarray. That was the case with the (governing) DPP when Ma Ying-jeou himself was elected RoC president, in 2008. Back then, and in an article that didn’t necessarily describe Taiwan’s legal status accurately, the Washington Post referred to the president-elect as a smooth Harvard law graduate.

There’s a problem with Chineseness in Taiwan however when your opponents are well-organized and pretty much in tune with the majority of the country. And there’s a problem when you, as a candidate, are anything but smooth. Her Hong Hsiu-chu‘s political career was, but apparently, she owed that to herself, friends, and her wider family, rather than to her party, the KMT. And she is said to be very outspoken – that makes for a difficult relationship with a party that is hardly known for non-conformism.

There’s also a problem with Chineseness in Taiwan when you create the impression that you can’t wait for Taiwan’s “reunification with the mainland”, with mottos like one China, one interpretation (一中同表). Yes, you can afford some non-starters when there is no real opponent, as was the case for Ma Ying-jeou from about 2005 to 2010. All the same, telling an international audience via CNN that Taiwan would never ask the American to fight for Taiwan was too smooth to become acceptable.

Tsai Ing-wen, the oppositional Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) nominee, has managed to convince much of the centrist political spectrum in Taiwan that she is not, like former president Chen Shui-bian, a “troublemaker”. In 2011, during her first candidacy for presidency, then against incumbent Ma Ying-jeou, she acknowledged the Republic of China’s significance for Taiwan, even if Taiwan had its own history. That was on October 10, Taiwan’s national day. This year, she agreed to an invitation by legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng to attend the official “double-ten” celebrations.

In this context, Hung Hsiu-hong became the actual “radical” in the election campaigns, and her apparent closeness to China only helped Tsai.

Just how much the KMT is in disarray can be seen from this well-meant, but delirious advice as from the KMT-leaning China Post in summer this year:

The Taiwanization faction is wrong. Hung’s China policy can be a weapon with which she can fight Tsai Ing-wen, chairwoman of the DPP who bears its standard. Tsai is far outdistancing Hung, according to polls conducted by pro-Taiwan independence think tanks. Instead of attempting to copy the DPP’s pro-Taiwanization stance, Hung can try to narrow Tsai’s lead by telling eligible voters that her policy is to build a roadmap to eventual Chinese unification. She has to only explain it is a Chinese version of the Commonwealth that is an evolutionary outgrowth of the British Empire and that relations between the Republic of China in Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China would be like those between the United Kingdom and Canada or Australia or New Zealand.

This read as if Kang Youwei had been at work again.

To cut a long, miserable story short: yes, you can (become Taiwan’s President if you are Chinese today). But not if you are too Chinese.

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