Posts tagged ‘literature’

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Xi Jinping: Commemorating the War, Expanding the Picture

The following is a translation of a People’s Daily article, republished on Enorth (Tianjin) on Saturday morning local time. The article appears to be a combination of an event, and more or less verbatim quotes from a speech by Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People on the occasion. There is no clear distinction between what Xi Jinping said, and what is added by the (unnamed) commentator or commentators (人民日報評論員, as stated by another republishing website).

According to Guanchazhe, a magazine and website from Shanghai, the ceremony described underneath took place on Wednesday, with Xi Jinping awarding commemorative medals to Chinese and foreign war veterans or veterans’ family people, and delivering an important speech (发表重要讲话, a conventional term to express appreciation and attention for the words of top leaders). Li Keqiang, Zhang Dejiang, Yu Zhengsheng, Liu Yunshan, Wang Qishan and Zhang Gaoli reportedly attended the event.

Main link: Carry forward the Spirit

Links within blockquotes added during translation — JR

A heroic spirit between Heaven and Earth, inspiring the Ages with Awe

天地英雄气,千秋尚凛然

At the solemn moment of commemorating the 70th anniversary of China’s war of resistance against Japan and the world’s victory over fascism, the motorcade with the veterans of the war of resistance, the martyrs’ sons and daughters,  the former frontline exemplary persons, escorted by guards on motorcycles, first received the reverence of the motherland and the people, on Tian An Men Square. At the Great Hall of the People, State Chairman Xi Jinping awarded veterans, comrades and high-ranking veterans of the war of resistance with the People’s Republic of China’s War-of-Resistance 70-years Commemorative Medal. The whole nation, from the leadership to the masses, cherished the memory of the martyrs in the war of resistance who fought bloody battles, sung the praise of the great war-of-resistance spirit, standing together and expanding towards the great power of the nation’s rejuvenation.

在纪念中国人民抗日战争暨世界反法西斯战争胜利70周年的庄严时刻,天安门广场上,抗战老兵、英烈子女、抗战支前模范的乘车方队在摩托车护卫下最先接受祖国和人民的敬礼;人民大会堂,国家主席习近平向抗战老战士、老同志、抗战将领等颁发中国人民抗日战争胜利70周年纪念章。举国上下,人们缅怀浴血奋战的抗战英烈,讴歌伟大的抗战精神,凝聚起迈向民族复兴的伟大力量。

“A nation that is hopeful cannot be without heroes, and a promising country cannot be without pioneers.” Secretary-general Xi Jinping looked back at the hard and bitter war of resistance against Japan, the unremitting and continuous struggle of the Chinese people ever since the opium wars, and how the Chinese nation moved from the darkness into the light, from humiliation to a position of prosperity and strength, inspiring a people of hundreds of millions to move forward along a road marked with the heroes’ footprints, with the confidence to achieve the Chinese dream.

“一个有希望的民族不能没有英雄,一个有前途的国家不能没有先锋。”习近平总书记回望艰苦卓绝的抗日战争,追溯鸦片战争以后中国人民的不懈抗争和持续奋斗,道出了中华民族从黑暗走向光明、从屈辱走向富强的力量所在,鼓舞起亿万人民沿着英雄足迹前进、实现中国梦的必胜信心。

The people uphold their own heroes, the motherland needs her own heroes. Stilling the hunger only by eating tree bark and cotton batting, Yang Jingyu, as he was told to surrender, sternly replied: “no need to say more, just open fire.” Zhang Zhizhong fought to the last moment, “determined to die for the country and the people, just as the sea isn’t clear and stone won’t rot, there won’t be the slightest change.” The eight-hundred heroes of the Sihang Warehouse, “without instructions or command, rather died than retreated”, The 82 Liu Lao Zhuang Lian soldiers fought to the end, all heroically sacrificing themselves for the country … At the Chinese nation’s most dangerous hour, thousands upon thousands of heroes at the war of resistance casted themselves into death, spilled their blood, in a heroic spirit that conquered mountains and rivers, they lifted the hearts of millions of people to awaken the nation to the resistance against foreign aggression. The deeds of their heros will forever remain in history, and their awe-inspiring righteousness will illuminate the centuries.

人民崇尚自己的英雄,祖国需要自己的英雄。以树皮棉花果腹的杨靖宇面对敌人的劝降,凛然回答:“不必多说,开枪吧。”张自忠战斗到最后一刻,“为国家民族死之决心,海不清,石不烂,决不半点改变”。四行仓库八百壮士“没有命令,死也不退”,新四军“刘老庄连”82名官兵血战到底,全部壮烈殉国……在中华民族最危险的时候,千千万万抗战英雄抛头颅、洒热血,书写了气壮山河的英雄史诗,唤起了万众一心、共御外侮的民族觉醒。他们的英雄事迹永载史册,他们的浩然正气光照千秋。

The heroes come from the people, and the people nurture the heroes. How many mothers, in the fourteen years of the war of resistance, gave their sons to the battlefield, how many common people gave all they had for the country to resist the enemy. This is the ocean of the people’s war which trapped and destroyed the enemy, these are thousands after thousands of heroic sons and daughters who, with their flesh and blood, saved the nation, a Great Wall of defense for the nation’s dignity, and wrote, for a shaken world to read, chapters and pieces of patriotism. “No matter if they directly partipated in the war or if they assisted from the back area, all Chinese people who threw themselves into the war of resistance against Japan are war heroes, they are all national heroes.”

英雄来自人民,人民哺育英雄。十四年抗战,多少母亲送儿上战场,多少百姓毁家纾难御敌寇,是人民战争的汪洋大海陷敌于灭顶之灾,是千千万万的英雄儿女以血肉之躯筑起拯救民族危亡、捍卫民族尊严的钢铁长城,谱写下惊天地、泣鬼神的爱国主义篇章。“无论是正面战场还是敌后战场,无论是直接参战还是后方支援,所有投身中国人民抗日战争中的人们,都是抗战英雄,都是民族英雄。”

To engrave history in our hearts and to cherish the memory of the martyrs is to inherit the great spirit shown by the heroes. In those years, countless heroes in the war of resistance saw the fall and rise of the world, with a sense of duty from patriotic feelings, faced death without fear, with national integry that would rather die than surrender, [the heroes] defied brutal depression, they fought to the end with sublime heroism, they unyieldingly, firmly and indomitably kept their confidence in victory, casting the great spirit of the war of resistance. Today, we advocate the heroes, learn from the heroes, so that we will advance and enrich that spirit, so that we will defend peace on a new historic journey, so that we will unlock the future, and fulfill our countless heroes’ unfinished hopes to revitalize the Chinese nation.

铭记历史、缅怀先烈,为的是传承英雄身上展现的伟大精神。当年,无数抗战英雄以天下兴亡、匹夫有责的爱国情怀,视死如归、宁死不屈的民族气节,不畏强暴、血战到底的英雄气概,百折不挠、坚忍不拔的必胜信念,铸就了伟大的抗战精神。今天,我们崇尚英雄、学习英雄,就是要弘扬这种精神,在新的历史征程上守卫和平、开创未来,实现无数先贤英烈振兴中华的未竟夙愿。

Great times summon great spirit, a sublime cause requires ambitious minds. To recall how the Eighth Army smashed the Japanese army in the Huangtuling battles, when the writer Wei Wei wrote that “on the battlefield, it was clear to see that two different kinds of spirits measured their strengths against each other. One was the Japanese ‘warrior’s way’ spirit; the other was the Red Army’s revolutionary purpose, finding out whose determination was greater, and who of the two would prevail.” In a blood-and-fire, life-and-death struggle with the aggressor, the spirit of resistance against Japan was hardened into steel, and encouraged the Chinese people to win the first complete victory over foreign invaders in modern times. Today, as we carry out a new great struggle with many historical characteristics, we also need heroes, and a heroic spirit for the new era.

伟大时代呼唤伟大精神,崇高事业需要精神引领。追忆八路军击溃日军的黄土岭之战,作家魏巍曾这样写道:“在战场上看得很清楚,这是两种精神在较量:一种是日本人的‘武士道’精神,一种是老红军的革命意志,看看究竟谁更顽强,谁压倒谁。”在同侵略者殊死搏斗的血火淬炼中,抗战精神百炼成钢,激励中国人民取得了近代以来抗击外敌入侵的第一次完全胜利。今天,我们正在进行具有许多新的历史特点的伟大斗争,同样需要英雄,需要新时代的英雄精神。

To engrave in our hearts all the things the heroes did for the Chinese nation and the Chinese people, to advocate the heroes, to defend the heroes, to learn from the heroes, to care for the heroes, to advocate the great spirit of patriotism, to advocate the great spirit of the war of resistance against Japan, we can certainly lay the cornerstone of confidence, revive the ability to struggle, to be united with one mind in the struggle for national rejuvenation, to create the Chinese nation’s new splendor.

铭记一切为中华民族和中国人民作出贡献的英雄们,崇尚英雄,捍卫英雄,学习英雄,关爱英雄,弘扬伟大的爱国主义精神,弘扬伟大的抗战精神,我们就一定能筑牢信仰的基石、振奋精神的力量,戮力同心为民族复兴而奋斗,创造中华民族的新辉煌。

Original title: Carry Forward the Spirit cast by the Heroes of the War of Resistance

原标题:弘扬英雄铸就的抗战精神

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Related

» Open the Skies for the Young, May 5, 2013
» PRC stands Towering, Mar 18, 2013

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Monday, April 15, 2013

Tibetan Music Videos: “Hold on to the Ancestral Land”

High Peaks Pure Earth runs a series of music videos from Tibet, about one per week. This is the most recent one. Every post comes with some background information.

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Related

» Federation of Literary and Art, April 15, 2012

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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Obituary: Stéphane Hessel, 1917 – 2013


Main Links:

» Stéphane Hessel, gentleman indigné, Le Monde, December 23, 2011 / February 27, 2013
» 《愤怒吧!》: 93岁愤怒战士一夜爆红, Beijing News, April 11, 2011

Links within blockquotes added during translation.

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Hessel was born German, grew up French, and became a French citizen in 1939. He took part in the formulation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, and never stopped promoting its values, Le Monde wrote in December 2011 (article updated on February 27, 2013).

He had joined the résistance in 1941. He had been arrested, tortured, and survived the Buchenwald concentration camp.

And his hope was contagious (Le gentleman indigné, dont l’espérance est contagieuse).

He was also a diplomat. Compromise was hardly something foreign to him. But to react to wrongs seems to have been second nature to him.

On October 20, 2010, on his 93rd birthday, his booklet “Indignez-vous”, Time for Outrage, was published in France, with more than two million copies sold in France, and almost two million more in the rest of the world. He published another edition soon after, describing his admiration for Eleanor and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Indignez-vous was followed by “Engagez-vous”, Get involved, came next.

Counter-espionage was Hessel’s job from 1941, when he followed General de Gaulle to London, a correspondent for Beijing News wrote  from Paris, in April 2011, six months after “Time for Anger” had been published:

In March 1944, he was assigned to organize the resistance network in Paris, and to gather intelligence for the allied troops as they prepared to enter continental Europe. Named “Ge Like”, he secretly entered France, but was soon betrayed and then arrested by the Gestapo. Neither punishment nor lure by promises led to the results [his captors] desired, and Hessel was then transferred to the Buchenwald concentration camp on August 8, 1944, only days before the liberaton of Paris. He later wrote a detailed description of these experiences, in “Danse avec le Siècle”.
1941年,他为追随戴高乐将军来到伦敦,从事反间谍的侦查行动。1944年3月,他受命组织联络巴黎的抵抗网络、为盟军登陆搜集情报,化名“格里科”秘密潜入法国。由于叛徒的出卖,他很快便被盖世太保所捕获。刑逼利诱毫无收获后,8月8日埃塞尔被押解往德国布痕瓦尔德集中营,而这仅仅就是巴黎解放的前几天。之后他在自传《世纪之舞》中对这段经历有着详细的记述。

His narrow escape from death – by obtaining the identity of a fellow inmate who had died of typhus – inspired him.

Just as Hessel said: “this kind of leap from death, back into life makes him the more determined to enter the enthusiasm of global politics” (正如埃塞尔自己所说的:“这种死里逃生经历更加坚定了他介入世界的政治热情”).

The article’s description of Hessel’s post-war life included his co-authorship of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

To help this document of tremendous historic value obtain acknowledgment as [a set of] universal values, Hessel and his colleagues went to great pains to make it suitable for East and West, for ideologies, and the different situations of countries and nations.
为了使这份人类历史上极为重要的文件获得公认的普世价值,为了能使其适应东西方、意识形态、国家种族不同的状况,达成一致的认同,埃塞尔和他的同事们费尽心机,奔走疾呼。

There was nothing new in the novel, “Time to get Angry”, and it provided neither a logical analysis of the problems faced by humankind today, nor practical methodology for dealing with them, the Beijing News author quoted Hessel, in 2011, and added that its fascination was to be found in the emotions it stirred, and the lesson it taught: not to allow evil to repeat itself.

An initially small, unobtrusive book, written without much preparation, of only some thirty pages including footnotes and a postscript, but inevitable content, unexpectedly led to this kind of reading, discussion and dissemination. (Frequently, customers went to a bookstore and bought ten or more copies for their families and friends). While many publishers call this a coincidence, many others explore the reasons for the book’s strong sales. There is this global upheaval, and worried people are seeking some relief. This small book is just right in its simplicity, legibility, its sentiment and excitement, and its catchiness. […] And secondly, the author’s personal charm adds an envelope of respectability and trustworthiness to this small book. It seems that only with the historical experience and the energetic and passionate involvement of this 93-year-old warrior, a man may be qualified to appeal to public enthusiasm.
一本事先毫不张扬,也无甚精心企划的小书;一本加上注释和后记才三十多页,内容无可避免的略显单薄的小册子,竟然引发了如此的阅读、讨论和传播(经常有顾客到书店一买十多册赠与身边的家人朋友)。在大多出版界人士大呼偶然的同时,也有不少人研究它畅销的必然所致。首先,世界局势的动荡,对未来的担忧让人们急需找到一个释放内心情绪的出口,而这本小册子正好简单、易懂,情绪激昂、朗朗上口。 […] 其次,作者的个人魅力无疑为这本小书笼罩了一层令人尊敬和信赖的气场。似乎,唯有这种经历过历史,并以自身全部的精力和激情投入其中的长者(93岁的老战士)才有资格以这种语气号召起大众的热情。

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Related

Hessel dies at 95, The Guardian, Febr 27, 2013
A Resistance Hero Fires up the French, NYT, March 9, 2011

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Another “Media Scandal”: Anti-CNN crops Li Qi’s “Deutsche Welle’s China Nightmare”

The following is an article published by April Media (四月网) in October this year, a review of Li Qi‘s “Deutsche Welle’s China Nightmare” (China-Albtraum der Deutschen Welle). Anti-CNN was turned into April Media in 2009.

Links within blockquote added during translation; I added my remarks about the review underneath.

April Media’s Book Review

2008 was a memorable year. It was a year of a global uproar because of China, and it was a year where, for the first time, Chinese people became collectively excited. The uproar began with the Tibet incident in March that year, with the excitement going against Western media reporting and the way it had created an uproar for no reason. In the West, people took to the streets to protest against China’s “repression” of Tibetans, obstructing the torch ralleye to the Olympic Games which were for the first time held in Beijing. All over the world, Chinese people without an interest in politics also loudly expressed their anger at the West’s one-sided, distorted coverage.

2008是一个令人难忘的年头。那是一个世界因为中国而沸腾的年头,那是一个全世界华人首次全体激动起来的年头。那个沸腾始于是年三月的西藏事件;那个激动始于对西方报导及其引发的西方“无端”沸腾的不满。在西方,人们走上街头抗议中国“镇压”藏族人,阻挠首次在中国举办的奥运会的火炬之行。在世界上,从不关心政治的华人也站起来大声地表达对西方的片面、扭曲的报导的愤怒。

“The Voice of Germany’s China Nightmare” was written by a Chinese with many years of work experience in Western media, and describes what happened at the “Voice of Germany” and other German media from the Tibet incident to the end of 2011. It is a mere description, fully reflecting the predicament of Western media coverage on China with detailed material.

《德国之声的中国梦魇》这本书是一名在西方媒体工作多年的华人记者写的,记述了西藏事件至2011年底发生在“德国之声”和其它德国媒体中的事情。它仅仅是记述,是详尽的资料,但充分反映了西方媒体在中国报导中所处的窘境。这种窘境在20世纪末就已经发生,它至今仍然持续着。

The predicament, to say it clearly, is a kind of phobia against China’s rise. After hundreds of years of habitually reporting objectively, reflected in the law, they turned away from their own law and principles to a great degree. They can’t, for example, dare to mention the good aspects of China, even when the economy is the topic. They still have to involve politics, and within positive coverage, there still needs to be some criticism. Even in international disputes, there is a natural belief that China isn’t good. When it comes to the most recent Diaoyu Islands dispute, for example, Western media mostly use the Japanese name, clearly standing on Japan’s side, leading Western readers to a tendency which is just as clear.

这种窘境,说穿了就是一种对中国崛起的恐惧症。几百年来养成了客观报导的习惯、并将之大写在各种法律里的西方媒体,在很大程度上背离了自己的法律和原则:不能、不敢说中国好的方面,即使是谈经济,也要牵扯政治,在好的报导中也要有所批评。甚至在国际争端中,也自然而然地认定中国不好。比如在最近的钓鱼岛争端中,西方媒体大多用日本的岛名,明显地站在日本一边,导致西方读者也有了明显的倾向。

Within this “China isn’t good” discourse, within this envelope of China “phobia”, also on German television, radio, internet and in- and outside an international broadcaster’s television station – “Voice of Germany” -, a series of scandals occurred. In August 2008, ahead of the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games, this station’s Chinese-department’s Zhang Danhong said on German television that China’s overcoming of poverty was a great achievement. It triggered attacks from overseas dissidents and German media. This grew into attacks on the comparatively objective and comprehensive coverage of the Voice of Germany’s Chinese department. Some overseas dissidents, quickly and at will, fabricated a deceptive representation of [Deutsche Welle] Chinese broadcasting and online departments that were “China-friendly” and “CCP-friendly”. Some German journalists and politicians blindly believed those fabrications without checking the accusations. The so-called “German Author Circle of the German Federal Republic” even suggested that the Voice of Germany’s Chinese department should be purged and be comprehensively supervised in its China coverage. A surge of open letters to Germany’s federal parliament emerged, and in a wave of at least ten open letters and several tens of German media reports, the German parliament also became involved. Chinese media surged, too.

在这种中国“不好论”、中国“恐惧症”笼罩下,于是在德国集电视、广播、互联网于一体的国际广播电视台“德国之声”内外,发生了一系列的丑闻。在2008年8月,北京奥运开幕之际,该台中国部张丹红在德国电视台说中国除贫是重大贡献,引起了海外异议人士和德国媒体的围攻。继而扩散到对在西藏事件等方面相对客观地、比较全面地展开报导的德国之声中文部的攻击。一些海外异议人士凭空捏造、随意组合,创建了一个“亲华亲共”的德国之声中文广播和网络部报导的假象。一些德国记者、政治家盲目地相信这些捏造,而根本不去核对那些指责。所谓的“联邦德国作家圈”甚至提出要清洗德国之声中文编辑部、全面监督对华报导。一轮向德国联邦议院发公开信的热潮涌现了,在先后至少十封公开信和几十个德国媒体的报导热潮中,德国联邦议院也插手了。中国媒体在这个热潮冲击下同样汹涌澎湃。

The final examination report shows that the allegations against the Voice of Germany’s Chinese editorial department were completely slanderous. Originally, this matter should have been over by then. But the Voice of Germany’s leaders got trapped in fear, and went into disarray. From early in 2009, this international media unit implemented” the original demands which had been comprehensively repudiated [by the investigation]: it invited people “immune against the CCP” to examine the reporting – in violation of Germany’s constitution, and editors who adhered to the legal principles of objective coverage were put under pressure, up to the expulsion of four editors and reporters.

最后的审核结论表明,对德国之声中文编辑部的指责纯属子虚乌有。本来,这件事情应该过去了。可是,德国之声领导完全陷入了恐慌之中,在胜利中自乱阵脚。从2009年开始,这个国际媒体全面“执行”了本来被它全面推翻了的对方的要求:请“免疫”于共产主义的台外人员对中文节目展开违反德国宪法的新闻检查;对坚持德国法律规定的客观报导原则的编辑、记者实施打压,直到把四名编辑、记者开除出去。

In October 2012, “Deutsche Welle’s China Nightmare” was published by August von Goehte Lieteraturverlag [sic]. It describes, with detailed material, revealing many creepy scandals. Some examples as follows.

2012年10月出版的德语版《德国之声的中国梦魇》(China-Albtraum der Deutschen Welle,出版社:August von Goehte Lieteraturverlag)一书以详实的资料,记述了整个过程,揭露了许多令人毛骨悚然的丑闻。在此举例如下。

I’m not going to translate April Media’s list line by line, but only mention them very roughly here –

  • the way dissidents were believed and the inclination to believe them because of their suitable China-isn’t-good narrative;
  • how the Deutsche Welle management abandoned “the fruits of victory” (胜利果实);
  • how – in the eyes of many listeners and readers, April Media adds -, the station became a voice of dissidents and Falun Gong, etc., thus abandoning Deutsche Welle director’s assertion that they were neither CCP’s, nor of the dissidents’ mouthpiece;
  • the “monitor” (Jörg-Meinhard Rudolph), with an emphasis on how he allegedly objected to the term “mainland”, and demanding the use of “China” and “Taiwan” instead;
  • inviting a “Tibetan separatist” to comment on the Yushu earthquake, with politicized remarks not related to the earthquake, or referring to Xinjiang as East Turkestan;
  • violating the principles of objective journalism, and the German constitution;
  • “Lying in court”;
  • Falun-Gong guidance on German media and Deutsche Welle, beginning with the Zhang-Danhong affair.

After describing several episodes from “Deutsche Welle’s China Nightmare”, April Media returns to the issue of “sinophobia”. While the book can’t solve problems, it can describe otherwise rather hidden issues, the reviewer suggests. And it “can also help Chinese people to understand the West and Germany more comprehensively”.

Remarks

First of all, April Media’s review should not be held against Li Qi, in my view – just as the way Chinese media presented Zhang Danhong – a German citizen, btw, according to Li – as a Chinese-motherland-superhero four years ago, should not be held against Zhang.  Li Qi wrote the book, not April Media’s review of it.

The review leaves an important episode out – one that Li himself addresses in his book: Zhang Danhong’s “interview with herself”, i. e. an intern or – rather, according to Li – a newbie in the department asking the questions. Li would go along with the review in that the Deutsche Welle management “abandoned the fruits of victory” without need – but he does see Zhang’s “interview” as the turning point. The following is based on my understanding of Li Qi’s chapter on the issue. I’ll base the following paragraphs on my understanding of that chapter.

Zhang had a dispute with He Qinglian, a dissident living in America. He Qinglian had alleged that Zhang had asked her, in 2005, to write no comments commentaries for the department anymore, but rather to report about China. He Qinglian considered that a request to terminate her assignment with Deutsche Welle, because reporting about China was difficult when living in the U.S.. In an interview with Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, He alleged that the Chinese propaganda department had been involved in the decision.

Li Qi felt that he could relate to the anger of the department managers. After all, they had been targeted by He Qinglian.

But I felt that such remarks weren’t worth a debate. What mattered was that the absurd accusations that we had been red infiltrators had been staved off.

The online department manager suggested to care about more important things when Zhang approached her, asking if an online colleague could do the interview with her. Zhang did it anyway. The release online then apparently followed a misunderstanding about “intranet” and “internet”.

Here is the crux – in my view: the Deutsche Welle management certainly felt that they had done their best to defend the integrity of the Chinese department. They had faced criticism, public uproars, inquiries from politics, and had seen it all through. And there came some small-minded editors with a “the-winner-takes-it-all” mentality who wouldn’t want to spare a single point, when it came to the “enemy”.  To be clear – I’m speculating about the mindsets here.

“Deutsche Welle’s China Nightmare” leaves the impression that Li doesn’t want to criticize the incident – but that he doesn’t want to condone it either.

Probably, nobody would have had to hit the roof (but Deutsche Welle’s top managers did, according to Li’s book). And the “interview incident” did pose questions about the department’s state of the art – , if nothing else had done that previously.

But the irony is that all this apparently turned into a political purge after all, rather than into continuous improvement (there’s no place where improvement would be unwarranted, is there?). And Li Qi and his colleagues were hardly to blame for the “interview incident”. According to Li, neither of the four online editors sacked in 2010/2011 was really responsible for the “self-interview”.

But April Media’s information – much of it apparently accurate, some of it half-true, and some of it – apparently – a wilful omission – is relevant all the same. It is relevant because it is among the media that cover the issue at all.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

[Added:] Book Review: Li Qi’s “Deutsche Welle’s China Nightmare”

“The limits of my language mean the limits of my world”, wrote Ludwig Wittgenstein, and that’s true. You get very different comments, depending on the language you use on the internet. I’m realizing that I should have written about Deutsche Welle in German much earlier, say, since 2008. The share of Germans who read English-language blogs is probably much higher than the share of Chinese who do so – because English and German are much more similar to each other than English and Chinese, or because we are culturally closer, etc.. But that doesn’t mean that you can “reach” Germans with English.

That said, you have to find media here who would actually accept posts about Deutsche Welle’s Chinese department. Der Freitag seems to be one.

The following is what I wrote there, in the community section. Think of it as the book review in English I promised on Tuesday.

Public Diplomacy. Qi Li is a German citizen. From 2001 to 2011, he worked at Deutsche Welle. The “expiration of his contract” was a big media topic in China. In Germany, it wasn’t.

When Zhang Danhong, deputy Chinese department manager back then, made controversial remarks about China’s political issues during public appearances more than four years ago, it was well documented by the media. No wonder: 2008 was the year of the Beijing Olympics, and the “China” topic topped the agendas of many German papers and broadcasters.

Not only Zhang’s public-appearance comments, at Kölner Stadtanzeiger (a paper) or Deutschlandfunk (radio) were controversial; Deutsche Welle’s Chinese department became controversial, too. Dissidents who lived in Germany wrote a letter to the German Bundestag (federal parliament) on September 13, 2008:

We believe that Deutsche Welle’s Chinese department – broadcasting mainly in Chinese – is, to a large extent, isolated from German society and functioning like an island. This has led to a striking deviation from Deutsche Welle’s mission statement, to promote democracy and human rights and to explain Germany to the world.

It wasn’t necessarily the first letter from dissidents against an allegedly misguided editorial department. And according to Li Qi, who published his working experience with Deutsche Welle’s Chinese online department (2001 – 2011) last month, it wasn’t that much the open letter written by the dissidents that got Deutsche Welle into hot waters, but a letter by the “Deutscher Autorenkreis” (German authors’ club) ten days later. Li:

I’ve learned through the years that Germans take Germans seriously. The dissidents’ letter didn’t unsettle Deutsche Welle or the Bundestag. They might have been ignored forever, even though many of them have taken German citizenship long ago. And Zhang Danhong, too, was constantly described as “Chinese” by German media, even though that wasn’t correct, in terms of citizenship.

Back then, Deutsche Welle reacted publicly. Zhang Danhong was temporarily suspended from work at the microphone, and lost her position as the Chinese department’s deputy manager. Above all, however, the Chinese department’s work – and that of the online editors in particular – was investigated. A translation agency translated the Chinese articles back into German, and former German ARD (channel-1) correspondent and “Tagesthemen” (a newsshow) editor Ulrich Wickert reviewed them. “You are free to decide about the results. You are completely free in this regard” (Sie entscheiden, was am Ende herauskommt. Sie sind völlig frei), Süddeutsche Zeitung’s Hans Leyendecker quoted Deutsche Welle director Erik Bettermann, months later.

Wickert’s findings: accusations of slanted China coverage were completely unfounded. Wickert didn’t only criticize that politicians had picked up the accusations unchecked, but also that the director, apparently because of public and political pressure … [took personnel decisions] hastily and unjustifiedly. To be clear, this wasn’t about Zhang Danhong’s public-appearance remarks, but about the Chinese editorial department’s work.

Wickert’s report remained unpublished. Different to the original allegations, it gave no rise to headlines. It took an inquiry by the Süddeutsche Zeitung to Bettermann, who reportedly rated Wickert’s report as “very good work – great”. Bettermann didn’t want to publish the report however, so as “not to revive the China debate again”.

When reading Li’s book, you can hardly escape the feeling that Deutsche Welle has been very successful at that.

Four online editors at the China department lost their freelance assignments or jobs respectively, in 2010 and 2011. If and how far the “freelance” assignments amounted to “employee-like” contracts (arbeitnehmerähnlich Beschäftigte), and if and how far the jobs had to count as temporary (befristet) can’t be discussed here. Some of that still seems to be disputed at the labor courts – Wang Fengbo expects his case to be at the federal labor court this month.

More interestingly, Deutsche Welle – despite Wickert’s acquittal – prescribed a “monitor” for the Chinese department, Jörg-Meinhard Rudolph from Ludwigshafen. Officially, he was meant to monitor style and language/expression, and to correct those, if need be. In fact, according to an open letter by the four former employees, he rated how “close” to the CCP (or how distant to it) articles written by the editorial department were.

It was an angry letter, published by the four at the online paper “Neue Rheinische Zeitung” in April 2011, and even just for its length, it was no journalistic masterpiece. But its content is mostly authenticated. Deutsche Welle employees committee member Christian Hoppe, quoted by EPD in May 2011:

Some of the letter’s phrasing had been overboard, said Hoppe, but by and large, the events in the editorial department were described accurately (die Autoren des „offenen Briefs“ seien „mit einigen Formulierungen über das Ziel hinausgeschossen“, würden jedoch “die Vorgänge in der Redaktion insgesamt korrekt wiedergeben”).

According to Li, Wang Fengbo and another colleague met a journalist in Cologne for two hours, in the evening on April 14, 2011. The journalist, himself a freelancer, “wanted to report about it, but didn’t know what his superiors thought” (Li’s account). “In fact, we never heard about a report at his paper.”

But another source did report, as quoted above. Li:

You can’t google the report, though, because it can only be read at “epd medien”. Press agencies like dpa, ap, epd enter their stories into a database. That’s how they make them available to the media.

The book – Li categorizes it as reportage – isn’t above the story. There is bitterness in some of its chapters. But it is a schoolbook for a number of cultural and political issues: “intergration“, suspicions of extremism, public diplomacy (and how it shoots itself in the foot, “politically”), journalism, labor law, and – one begins to suspect – about the despair of superiors who have to execute an agenda which can’t be plausibly explained to any reasonable contemporary.

Not least: about how a public institution (apparently) got into the eddying of a parallel society. That “parallel society” isn’t malign in the way rednecks would have it. It isn’t malign at all. But politics faces it without a clue, unprepared and sort of trigger-happy.

While the Chinese press reported – and someties raged – extensively, there was almost no German coverage. “Is the topic of no interest for German media?”, Li asks towards the end of his book. It’s not only him – Wang Fengbo, too, finds that hard to believe.

They aren’t Eva Herman or Susan Stahnke, obviously. Deutsche Welle may only be known to those Germans who, into the 1990s, took their shortwave receivers to Mallorca, or before travelling the world. But when it is about good journalism – at a public broadcaster (or a public media platform), public interest seems likely. And if one is inclined to believe that a number of Deutsche-Welle employees were wronged, this poses questions about the usual practice in our media: how well (or badly) do we actually want to be informed?

Li Qi: “China-Albtraum der Deutschen Welle”, August-von-Goethe Literaturverlag, Frankfurt a/M, 2012.
Only available in German.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

On Li Qi’s “China-Albtraum der Deutschen Welle”

My review of Li Qi‘s “China-Albtraum der Deutschen Welle” (Deutsche Welle’s China Nightmare), in German.

A review in English will follow here.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Nobel Lecture in Literature: Mo Yan

Script in English »
Script in Chinese »

Monday, November 12, 2012

Unblogged Stuff: through her Teeth, Factions N & N+1, at the Grassroots

Big flu – hence rather little blogging. What I might have blogged about otherwise:

1) about Han Suyin

An obituary about Han Suyin, a Chinese-British writer who devoted her life to spreading Chinese culture and literature around the world, according to China Daily, or a cheerleader for Mao’s Cultural Revolution, according to the New York Times.

You’d have to subscribe for reading the rest there, but Peking Duck got there in time to provide a bit more from the NYT article – how Han Suyin “lied through her teeth” about the “great leap forward”, as she reportedly admitted later.

I’m not sure which verdict would hit me harder: to be referred to as Mao’s cheerleader by the NYT, or as a guy who spread Chinese culture and literature, by China Daily. Faced with only these two choices before passing the gate of reincarnation, would you want to be a blunt or a subtle propagandist? Would you want to be one who will say “I knew what I did”, or one who will say “I didn’t know” or “I had to make a living and couldn’t afford to take a closer look”?

2) about the CCP’s 18th National Congress

What happens before such meetings matters more than what matters during them, but The Hindu shows that studying the peope who are raising their hands there can still make some sense.

Woeser wrote an article for the Tibetan service of Radio Free Asia (RFA) in April, describing Wang Lixiong‘s (i. e. her husband’s) views of how different factions in the party have been institutionalized – and why, in  his view, placing hopes on “inner-party democracy” is misguided.

German Fairy Tale Road, Bremen

German Fairy Tale Road (Bremen)

3) about Neil Heywood

Granted, the headline  Beijing Cream chose is somewhat speculative, but that’s about as true for every bit I’ve read about the man’s life and death before.

4) about the Chinese press

Thumbs-down on that one, Beijing Cream. The Global Times isn’t “the Chinese press”.  Or, if it is, “Facts about Germany” is “the German press”. (That’s not to say that the Chinese press would take a more benevolent view than the GT, though.)

5) Etc.

Maybe I’d blog about the “100 reporters at the grassroots”, too.  But I suppose it isn’t really big news and can wait for a while.

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Related

» Old Friends of the Chinese People, April 27, 2012

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