Posts tagged ‘nationalism’

Friday, June 12, 2015

The BoZhu Interviews: If you want to Believe the Best or the Worst about China, it’s easy enough –

Ji Xiang about getting started with China, stereotypes, and finding a balance between Chinese and Western ways of life.

Ji Xiang is a blogger from Europe who lives in China. In his first blog post, in 2008, he explained how he got his Chinese name. And he is probably one of very few foreign China bloggers who started blogging almost right on arrival in the country, and have kept to the habit ever since.

Q: Ji Xiang, you are Chinese by name, but you are actually from Europe, right?

That’s right. My mom’s British, and my dad’s Italian. I grew up in Italy, although I have also lived in Britain. It’s not too obvious unless you look at my blog very carefully though. Interestingly, some of my readers have assumed I was American in the past.

Q: Could that be because your stance comes across as more “pro-Western” than that of most sinologists or Westerners who speak Chinese? It seems to me that both Foarp and you stand out as rather critical of what might be called “cultural relativism”, or a preparedness to find human rights violations tolerable because of a country’s culture, a “situation on the ground”, etc.

Well, I’m not sure if that makes you seem more like an American or not. Foarp is after all British. But to be honest, I think a lot of Westerners who speak Chinese have the same sort of opinions as I do. I don’t think of myself as “pro-Western” really, I am quite aware of all the bad things Western countries have done around the world, and the shortcomings of the “West” (if there really is such a thing as the West. But that’s another debate). But that doesn’t necessarily mean being pro-Chinese.

When it comes to human rights violations, I don’t really buy cultural justifications. I mean, East Asian countries like Japan and South Korea have created systems where basic human rights are respected, so it obviously isn’t only Western countries which can reach that point. The argument that human rights have to be put aside when a country is still poor and developing is more complicated. I think certain basic rights, like the right not to disappear, be tortured or speak your mind without going to jail, should be respected, and I don’t think the right to have a full belly clashes with these other rights.

There might however be a good argument for not holding elections in countries where most of the people are illiterate, or divided along ethnic or tribal lines. Say in Yemen or Burkina Faso. Even in Arab countries, it is clear that elections often bring religious fundamentalists to power.

Q: You went to China as a teacher in 2005, and came back to the country as a student. How did you get interested in China? You’ve spent a number of years there now, haven’t you?

I actually taught in China in 2004, and that was just for a summer. I then went back to China because I got a scholarship to get a master’s degree there. I have spent over six years in China by now.

Q: Was 2008 a good time to start a blog? You might have started one in 2005, the heydays of the (English-language) “Chinese blogosphere”. Was there a key moment where you felt that you should share your experiences, which got your blog started?

Well in 2005 I didn’t live in China, and had only spent a few months there. I had no basis for writing a blog about it. I only discovered recently that that was supposed to be the heyday of the “Chinese blogosphere”. Pity I missed it. I started my blog when I started living in China full-time. In the beginning, it was mainly to share my experiences with my family and friends back home. Now it’s turned more into a blog of commentary about China.

Q: Do the statistics or feedback give you an idea about who your readers are?

A bit. Most of my hits are from the United States, but I think that might be to do with the fact that most of the VPNs people use in China redirect there. Curiously, I also seem to have a lot of readers from Germany, Ukraine and Russia (well, you are one of the ones from Germany). Other than that, my most read posts are the ones with titles which people can come across randomly on Google.

Q: Apart from the blogs your blogroll, are there others – about China or other countries and topics – that you read regularly?

To be honest, not really. I mostly look at those few blogs on China which are on my blogroll (which includes your one). And there is my uncle’s blog, he lives in Israel and blogs about his life there and Israeli topics.

Q: Did family history contribute to your interest in China?

Not really. I don’t have any relatives who have lived or live in China. Having said that, the first time I came to China was with my parents. They are active in the international Esperanto movement, and in 2004 the World Esperanto Congress was in Beijing, so they were going to China to attend it and I went with them. That’s when I first got interested in China. Being able to speak Esperanto helped plug me in to the community of Chinese Esperanto speakers, which has been a nice way to get to know some cool, unusual Chinese people.

Q: Most bloggers will sometimes be surprised by the responses a post of them triggers. Have there been reactions and comments that surprised you during the past seven years?

After visiting Vietnam, I wrote a post on why the Vietnamese dislike China. It got quite a few reactions from Vietnamese readers, most of them proving my original point. One of them actually claimed that Daoism, the I Ching and the idea of Ying/Yang originally came from Vietnam and not from China. Total nonsense as far as I know. Unfortunately unreasonable nationalism is widespread throughout Asia. At its basis lies a wall of mental rigidity and misinformation which is very hard to break through.  Then again, Europe was probably similar up until the Second World War. And Westerners have their own unreasonable prejudices, just look at the persistence of antisemitic tropes among some people, or how so many Europeans will complain that immigrants get more benefits from the state than locals even when it just isn’t true.

Q: It seems that you’ve got most of your Chinese education in the North. Is that so, and do you think it differs from learning Chinese language, ways of interaction, etc., in the South?

You are correct. Although I’ve traveled all over China, I live in Beijing. It’s a stereotype to say that the North is best for learning to speak Mandarin, but actually I think you can learn just as well in most big Southern cities, because nowadays most people speak it there too. I think the Southern Chinese do tend to be a bit more like we imagine the Chinese to be (quiet, indirect, reserved), but in the main I don’t think the cultural difference between Northern and Southern China is that huge. It might not even be as big as the one between Northern and Southern Italy! Whether you live in a small or a big city, and a rich or a poor part of China, probably makes more difference to your experience. But I’ve never lived in Southern China, so I stand to be corrected.

Q: How would you describe your daily life? Is it becoming still more “Chinese”, concerning your choice of food, newspapers, internet sources, or television?

In some ways I am, and in some ways I’m not. I would say that my lifestyle has stopped becoming more Chinese for a while. In fact, after an initial enthusiasm for “going native”, which many foreigners have at first, I think I have found a balance. In a city like Beijing you can find loads of foreign amenities, and it would be silly not to make use of them. On the other hand I wouldn’t want to live in a bubble like some expats do. It really comes down to who you hang out with, and I still hang out with lots of Chinese.

When it comes to food I am pretty Chinese: I like eating Chinese food when it’s properly made, and I even do my best to cook it at home. I have long stopped eating street food or patronizing cheap, hole-in-the-wall type places though, because of concerns about the hygiene and the quality. Many Chinese seem to have come to the same conclusion. Foreigners who pride themselves on being able to eat in such places without minding the consequences are either young foreign-exchange students, or they are pretty dimwitted.

When it comes to media, I still look at Chinese newspapers every now and again to see what they say, but for real news I mostly turn to foreign sources. Of course the language is one issue (it is obviously still much quicker for me to read in English or Italian), but also I think the European media is just superior in terms of giving you a decent picture of what goes on in the world, and, when it comes to sensitive issues, even in China! Same for entertainment: although I sometimes watch Chinese shows and films, in the main I still watch far more foreign ones. I make full use of Chinese internet sites like Baidu or Weibo though.

Q: Do you see changes on Weibo, in terms of real-name requirement, censorship, etc.?

When I got an account in 2011, it still wasn’t necessary to give your ID/passport number. As far as I know now it is, although I have heard you can still get away with giving a false one. In any case, I am sure that if they really want to they can find out who you are.

Q: Generally, when reading your blog, I got an impression overtime that you might think of China as a project, as a country or civilization headed into a rather benign future, compared with Western societies. And on the other hand, your criicism of China, or its political system, sounds pretty much like the general global criticism of it. Is this an accurate impression?

I’m not entirely sure where you got that impression from. I have unquestionably been getting more pessimistic about China, its system and its prospects over the last few years. I think to an extent the current system is geared in such a way that China always gives the impression to outsiders that it’s almost on the cusp of becoming a decent, progressive, modern and confident society, but then it never quite does. I think the political system is good at producing GDP growth, but pretty hopeless at solving the country’s huge social problems. Yes, China has more and more subways and high speed railways, and that’s useful and good for the people, but surely a country like China could do so much better than just that?

I hope China gets better with time, but I don’t think it’s a given that, if you wait 20 or 30 years, it’s all going to be much better. That’s how a lot of Chinese seem to think: just wait a few decades, and everything will solve itself. Unfortunately it’s not that simple.

I think my criticism is also a bit different from that of someone who’s never lived in China, because I am far more aware of aspects like the rise of Chinese nationalism, which many foreign commentators seem blissfully unaware of.

Q: That unawareness seems to be quite a phenomenon. This is what Bruce Anderson (himself not necessarily a human-rights champion) said about Edward Heath, in a BBC radio documentary. Former German chancellor Helmut Schmidt might be another case in point.

Is there something Russia (for example) could learn from China, in terms of soothing external propaganda, or winning influential people over abroad?

Well, Chinese officials certainly are very good at flattering foreign visitors, saying the right things to them, and appearing reasonable and friendly. I don’t have much experience with the Russians, but I doubt they are as good at it. It’s probably not something you can learn either, it’s deep-rooted in the culture.

You have to remember that most Westerners know little about China, and obviously want to be open-minded. The unawareness of the rise of Chinese nationalism probably also lies in the fact that China does tend to leave other countries alone, as long they don’t have any territorial disputes with China of course, and as long as they don’t express any views on what China defines as its “internal affairs”. Of course China’s neighbours are very aware of its nationalistic side, especially the ones which have territorial disputes with it. But people in other parts of the world don’t get to see this side of things. And its not obvious to the casual visitor either.

The European media also focuses too much on the Middle East and almost never talks about Asia’s potentially explosive problems, like the dispute in the South China Sea and the anti-Japanese feeling in China or Korea. The only thing they ever talk about is the issue of Tibet, which has certainly damaged China’s image.

Then again, the real issue is one of projection. Many left-wing Westerners are predisposed to think well of any power which challenges the United States anywhere, regardless of what it really is or does. If you want to believe the best about China (or the worst for that matter), and you don’t live there, it’s easy enough. Right wingers on the other hand may see China’s rise as a vindication of free market economics, or god knows what. Everyone sees what they want to see in China, and no one knows much about it. This has always been the case.

Q: Do you have arguments with Chinese nationalists?

Well, in a sense I do, because I have political arguments with people in China, and most Chinese are nationalists at some level, although the level varies. The level of open-mindedness towards opinions which clash with modern Chinese nationalism, as the schools and media have constructed it, also varies. I know many Mainlanders who are perfectly open minded even about issues like Taiwan, and don’t just toe the line. I think they are a minority however. And by the way, they aren’t necessarily the people with most international exposure. On the other hand if you are talking about dyed-in-the-wool fenqing, rational debate is all but impossible.

Q: You have blogged in English for nearly seven years, and quite recently, you have also started a blog in Italian. What’s next? A blog in Chinese?

My written Chinese is really not good enough to blog in it. I would actually be more likely to start a blog in Esperanto, a language I also speak.

Q: Ji Xiang, thanks a lot for this interview.

The interview was conducted by an exchange of e-mails.

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Related

All BoZhu Interviews

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Friday, April 17, 2015

A Chinese concept of Internet Revolution: a Need for Traditional Industries to be Reborn with New Bones

A CCTV op-ed, republished here by Enorth (Tianjin), picks up the official buzzword of “Internet plus”, or “互联网”+ in Chinese. The author is a frequently published commentator beyond CCTV, Qin Chuan (秦川).

Main Link: “互联网+”不是加工具 而是转观念

On March 5 this year, chief state councillor Li Keqiang, in his work report, spelled out the action plan for the formulaton of “Internet plus”. From there, “Internet plus” has become one of the most popular terms. There are people who welcome the age of “Internet plus”, and there are others who believe that this year is “the first year of the traditional industry’s internetization”, but there are also people who keep asking questions about why it should be “Internet plus” rather than “plus the internet”.

今年3月5日,李克强总理在政府工作报告上提出制定“互联网+”行动计划。自此,“互联网+”成为最流行的词语之一。有人欢呼“互联网+”时代来了,还有人认为今年是“传统行业互联网化元年”,不过也有人追问,为什么是“互联网+”,而不是“+互联网”?

The enthused tractor driver

Riding into the incomparable Tomorrow

Internet plus had become a concept, writes, Qin, which had already “become hot”. It had the potential of making the Chinese economy take off. In the first quarter’s seven percent of economic growth and the first quarter’s smooth beginning for the national economy, the role played by “Internet plus” was not clearly quantifiable, but certainly discernible.

“Internet plus” isn’t “plus the internet” because the subjects are different, and because their effects are also different. “Plus the internet” stays at the concept of “traditional industries plus the internet” and sees the internet as a tool, but what “internet plus” signals is actually “internet plus all kinds of traditional industries”. The internet isn’t just a carrier, it’s the main frame, it doesn’t play a supporting role, but the indispensible and leading role.

“互联网+”不是“+互联网”,这是因为主体不同,作用也不同。“+互联网”仍停留于“传统业态+互连网”的观念,把互联网视为工具,而“互联网+”传递的信号则是“互联网+各个传统行业”,互联网不只是载体,而是主体,它不是配角,而是当仁不让的主角,不可或缺。

In the second industrial revolution, electricity had led to great changes in many industries, writes, Qin, but the internet wouldn’t only help raising productivity and efficiency as electricity had one; the internet in itself was industrialization (互联网本身已经产业化). Internet companies which had attained some industrial attributes and inspired industrial upgrades should not be underestimated.

Qin urges a broader perspective. The internet was about merging, sharing, transformation and improvement. It was “not an addend, but a multiplier”. Traditional industries were facing big changes, and even needed to be “reborn with new bones” (脱胎换骨)*): Just as scholars say, new technologies and abilities can completely change traditional industries’ efficiency and abilities, and form new operations and business models.

That’s why we can say that “Internet Plus” may bring a technological revolution of far-reaching significance, which may permeat all aspects, not only topple traditional industries, but also provide traditional industries with new life. The shame is that when it comes to “Internet Plus”, quite many people just can’t see its value, or remain superficial about its significance. Reports say that the most serious bottleneck in China for “Internet Plus” are anachronistic concepts [or viewpoints]. At present, rather serious inflexible points of view exist in our countries’ traditional industries, as can be seen in the phenomenon of copying what is already there, a lack of essential understanding and use of cloud computing and services in big data infrastructure, and there is no broad change towards a consumer-led business pattern either.

从这个意义上说,“互联网+”或将带来一种意义深远的技术革命,它渗透在各个方面,不仅颠覆了传统行业,更赋予了传统行业新的生命。遗憾的是,对“互联网+”,不少人并非意识到它的价值,或者将其意义表面化。据报道,中国“互联网+”存在的一大瓶颈是观念落伍:目前我国的传统产业存在较为严重的观念固化现象,体现在因袭原有的信息化老路,对云计算、大数据等基础设施服务缺乏必要的了解和应用,也没有适应以消费者为主导的商业格局的转变。

We suffered from aphasia during several technological revolutions in the past. In this new technological revolution, we must not be marginalized again. The good thing is that the central authorities have already recognized the great significance of “internet plus”, and promoted it systematically. According to reports, the state has already established new industry venture capital funds at a value of 40 billion Yuan. More capital must be raised and integrated, to assist in beefing up industrial innovation.

我们曾在前几次技术革命中失语,在新的技术革命中绝不能再被边缘化。好在中央早已意识到“互联网+”的重大意义,并从制度安排上推动之。据悉,国家已设立400亿元新兴产业创业投资引导基金,要整合筹措更多资金,为产业创新加油助力。

The article doesn’t suggest that anything would be certain, however. The author is careful enough to suggest that “Internet Plus” could lead to these or those desirable results, and his article ends with a maybe (或许), not with a certainly (肯定):

By changing outdated ideas, by embracing “Internet Plus”, we may have an extraordinary tomorrow, with deep changes from China’s economy to Chinese life.

改变落伍观念,拥抱“互联网+”,或许我们将拥有不同凡响的明天,从中国经济到生活状态,各个方面都将深刻改变。

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Notes

*) 脱胎换骨 could also be translated with the more “civil” term of re-inventing themselves, but to be reborn with new bones is a much older saying in China than the business philosophy reflected in self-reinvention. Self-criticism, sometimes necessary for survival when facing accusations of being a bad or weak revolutionary, for example, included the preparedness to be “reborn with new bones”. To be “reborn” that way is also the demand Haiyun, the wife of Cadre Zhang in Wang Meng‘s novel “Butterfly”, is facing after having praised “wrong” novels as an academic lecturer. And the man making these demands on her is Cadre Zhang himself:

All you can do now is to lower your head and to confess your guilt, to start anew, to flay your face and to wash your heart, to be reborn and to change your bones!
只有低头认罪,重新做人,革面洗心,脱胎换骨!”他的每个字都使海云瑟缩,就像一根一根的针扎在她身上,然后她抬起头,张思远打了一个冷战,他看到她的冰一样的目光。

That’s to say, the choice of words reflects a blend of politics and economics, and, indeed of fear and survival. But when isolated from history, it probably amounts to this quote (Andy S. Grove):

For now, let me just say that a strategic inflection point is a time in the life of business when its fundamentals are about to change. That change can mean an opportunity to rise to new heights. But it may just as likely signal the beginning of the end.”

And yes, Only the Paranoid Survive is the title of the book.

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Further Reading

» The Trickies Part, Slate, Jan 21, 2015
» Address Censorship, SCMP, March 8, 2015
» Deutschland will digital, DW, March 16, 2015
» Work Report, China Daily, Mar 5, 2015
»  Work Report (hours later), Mar 5, 2015
» Angst vor Zusagen, Die Zeit, Aug 19, 2014
» Digital Germany 2015, Nov 10, 2010
» The Digital Germany paper (in German)
» Destruction or Development, Mar 15, 2010

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Friday, March 6, 2015

NPC and CPPCC sessions: The Phrasemongering Season has begun

People's Daily online resources for learning cadres

On the Road of Learning
from the Great Helmsman –
click picture for source

China’s ongoing two annual political sessions have once again hit major headlines, as the world is anticipating the country’s new measures to cope with its growth slowdown to a state of “new normal”,

according to a Xinhua report republished by Beijing Review, an English-language propaganda paper for exactly that waiting world. And also according to Beijing Review, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and other leaders on Wednesday vowed to fully implement the “Four Comprehensives” strategic layout in order to realize economic and social development targets.

The Four Comprehensives can make clearer what the road to the Chinese dream is about, believes Central Party School professor and doctoral supervisor Xin Ming.

And that’s badly needed stuff, if we go by what the BBC said in February:

Mr Xi denounced political jargon as “empty words” during a speech five years ago.
However, he launched his leadership in 2013 with the idea of the “Chinese dream”, a concept many say is still ill-defined.

So, just how does the “dream” concept become clearer, according to Xin?

The professor believes that the “Chinese dream” is “a strategic layout in the historical process of the realization of the greatest dream of the Chinese nation.”

He considers the “four comprehensives” – the goal of comprehensively building a moderately prosperous society, coprehensive deepening of reform, comprehensive promotion of government by law, and strictly governing the party – constitute three strategic measures (apparently, Xin combines the rule by law and the demand of strictly governing the party).

He believes that, iguratively speaking, one goal and three measures may also count as „three legs of a tripod“ on which the goal is set up. “One body, three feet” are structuring the blueprint of China’s happy future.

他认为,一个目标、三大战略举措,用个形象的说法,就好比是“三足鼎立”,上面架起了目标,“一体三足”构建起了中国未来美好的蓝图。

[…]

“To really comprehensively understand the ‚four comprehensives‘, I’m afraid we need to move one step further, i. e. to understand that besides the one-body-three-feet structure, we must understand which kind of consciousness it highlights.” Xin Ming believes that „behind the four comprehensives, there are contemporary communists,or three strong kinds of consciousness in current Chinese society.

“要想真正全面地理解‘四个全面’,恐怕还要再往前讲,就是仅仅明白了一体三足的战略建构之外,还要明白这一体三足的战略建构凸显了什么样的意识。”辛鸣认为,“四个全面”背后是当代中国共产党人,或者今日中国社会三种意识的强烈凸显。

Xin states “a sense of mission”, “problem awareness”, and a “sense of responsibility” as these “strong kinds of consciousness”. As for the latter,

Chinese Communists‘ have such a noble mission, but at the same time, we clearly encounter problems in the process of completing the mission. How can we deal with the problems? We shy away from them, turn a blind eye to them, or we confront them head-on, crack them, smooth them out, solve them. What does it take to do this job? It takes acceptance of responsibility. Without acceptance of responsibility, there won’t be this kind of strategic vision, there won’t be this sense of responsibility. Maybe we could still pick up what can be done well, what can be done easily, and with immediate effect, but we can’t make a big fanfare over „comprehensiveness“.

中国共产党人有这样一种崇高的使命,同时,我们也很清楚在完成这个使命的过程中会遇到什么样的问题。遇到这些问题怎么办?我们是绕着走、视而不见,还是迎 头而上,去破解问题、化解问题、解决问题。做这些工作要什么?需要一种担当。没有这种担当意识,我们做不出这样一种战略构想,没有这样一种担当意识,也许 我们就会捡好的做,捡容易的做,捡能马上见效的做,而不会在“全面”上大做文章。

All this, written in the run-up to the sessions of the NPC and the CPPCC, may come across as empty words, as observed by the BBC or by unnamed critics quoted by the BBC: Critics say the Communist elite’s obsession with jargon alienates them from plain-speaking Chinese citizens.

That may be so – among an unknown share of the Chinese population. But it would be particularly true for Chinese people who are in constant contact with foreigners, and who may actually feel somewhat embarrassed when their foreign colleagues or friends pick up some of the more colorful blossoms of CCP phrasemongering. But despite all the embarrassment (or fun) it may create, this custom – which isn’t merely “communist” – has been criticized for a century or longer, and it hasn’t gone away. To another unknown share of the Chinese population, the slogans are realities.

Or, as Jacques Ellul wrote in 1962, about a much more obvious and obtrusive kind of CCP propaganda than of our days:

When one reads this once, one smiles. If one reads it a thousand times, and no longer reads anything else, one must undergo a change. And we must reflect on the transformation of perspective already suffered by a whole society in which texts like this (published by the thousands) can be dsitributed and taken seriously not only by the authorities but by the intellectuals.*)

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Note

*) Jacques Ellul, “Propaganda”, New York 1965 (a more recent reprint of it), p. 14

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Related

» Reference Book, Beijing Review, Mar 6, 2015
» Unobtrusive and imperceptible, Jan 7, 2012

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Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Endless Era of Propaganda

It begins to dawn on me that this won’t be a peaceful world, or even a world of armistices, as long as a fairly big number of people refuse  to think for themselves, about some fundamental things of love and hate, especially collective feelings of love and hate.

This is a great story, pretty short, but as good as many books about similar issues – The Unwelcome Villager, by Karoline Kan.

Hatred is no monopoly of any particular nation, even if at different times, different nations may be more or less prone to it, and especially those ruled by totalitarianism.

But you will find incredibly stupid quotes from any place, anyway. Words like entertaining the idea that PRC China is a cancer/virus to the world. Words so hopelessly goofy, underexposed, and brutal, that any argument would be a waste of time.

That’s what propaganda is doing to people.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Nanjing Massacre MemorialDay: an Enorth account of a War Veteran’s Memories

The following is a translation of an article published by Enorth, an official online news portal for Tianjin municipality. Explanatory notes put into [square brackets]. Links within blockquotes inserted during translation. Mistakes during translation likely.

Main Link: National Memorial Day: Tianjin’s only Chinese Expeditionary Force Veteran tells Story of Japanese War

Enorth — He was fifteen at the time of the Nanjing massacre, and witnessed the panic and helplessness of the refugees who had escaped from there, and the bloody images of Japanese soldiers hunting the common people of Nanjing. He gave up the pen for the sword, and as a member of the Whampoa / Huangpu Branch Seventeen, joined the Chinese Expeditionary Force and fought in the battle of Taungoo, the fiercest in the defense war of Myanmar, he’s the only Tianjiner still living and in good health who was part of the Chinese Expeditionary Force – the War of resistance against Japan veteran Yang Cenfeng. On December 13, 2014, the first day of commemoration [of the Nanjing massacre] held in China, 93-year-old Yang Cenfeng told us this dark period in history 77 years ago, which no Chinese people can ever forget.

天津北方网讯:南京大屠杀发生之时,他15岁,目睹了南京城逃出难民的惊恐无助,目睹了日本军人追杀南京百姓的血腥画面。他投笔从戎,以黄埔十七期的身份,加入了中国远征军,参加了缅甸防御战最惨烈的同古战役,他就是天津现今唯一健在的中国远征军军官、抗日老兵杨岑峰。在2014年12月13日,中国首个国家公祭日之时,93岁的杨岑峰向我们讲述了77年前,那段黑暗、但每个中国人绝不能忘却的历史。

Nanjing falls, Blood colors the Yangtze River

南京失守 血染长江

Seventy-seven years ago, Yang Cenfeng was in senior high school and living in a family of seven, in Wuhu, next to the Yangtze River. This was a gateway to Nanjing, with only some ninety kilometers between there and Nanjing. After the Japanese had occupied Nanjing, the burning, killing and looting started, and some lucky Nanjingers fled in panic to Wuhu, which, although peaceful, saw the Japanese soldiers coming nearer with each passing day.

77年前,杨岑峰正在读高三,一家7口住在长江边的芜湖,那里是南京的门户,距离南京仅有90多公里,日本人占领南京后,烧杀抢掠,有些幸存的南京人惊恐地向芜湖逃难,而芜湖也非太平之所,日渐被日本兵逼近。

At the time, everyone had heard about the disaster of Nanjing, and hated and feared the Japanese. And in fear, the people of Wuhu spent the Spring Festival days of 1938.

那个时候,人们都听说了南京城的惨剧,对日本人又恨又怕。而在恐惧中,芜湖迎来了1938年的春节。

“I remember the day of Spring Festival, we were just having a somewhat gloomy family reunion dinner. Just when the meal came onto the table, the air-raid sirens went off, and Japanese airplanes passed through, dropping bombs. At the time, the planes flew at particularly low heights, and I could clearly see the Japanese flag underneath the wings. They bombed unscrupulously, strafing here and there, and whereever they went, they left ruins, and seas of fire”, Yang Cenfeng said.

“我记得春节那天,马马虎虎地吃着团圆饭。刚把饭端上桌的时间,放空警报响了,日本的飞机过来轰炸了。当时飞机飞得特别低,我可以清楚地看见机翼之下的日本国旗。他们素无忌惮地投炸弹、扫射,所到之处一片废墟、一片火海。”杨岑峰说。

When the Japanese army approached Wuhu, many common people of Wuhu also fled into all directions, placing their hopes on the New Fourth Army on the northern side of the Yangtze River.

随着日军逼近芜湖,大批的芜湖百姓也是四散逃窜,在他们的心里,江北的新四军是希望所在。因此,大批的百姓都聚集在长江边,等着轮渡,过江逃命。

Yang Cenfeng’s recollections continue with a description of how people fleeing Wuhu and waiting for the ferry to the northern banks of the Yangtze – the place densely crowded – were bombed by Japanese warplanes, with countless numbers of people dying on the riverside, or dying in the river. How many people actually died, Yang Cenfeng doesn’t know, but he remembers how the water of the river turned red from the blood, from people who had come there to seek survival.

Yang Cenfeng’s family leapt from death back into life, finding survival in a small village in Jiangbei [here, geographically and literally: north of the Yangze River] under the protection of the New Fourth Army. At the time, a political instructor named Huang left an unforgettable impression on Yang Cenfeng.

死里逃生的杨岑峰一家来到了江北新四军保护下的一个小村子避难。当时,一位姓黄的指导员,给杨岑峰留下了难忘的印象。

“He put us into groups of, say, forty to fifty students, he told us that ‘young students should protect and defend China’, put us into a few groups so that we would stand guard, and taught us many songs to boost our morale.

“他把我们青年学生召集在一起,大约四五十人吧,告诉我们‘青年学生应该保家卫国’,把我们分成几组,站岗放哨,还教了我们很多歌,鼓舞我们的士气。”

Instructor Huang’s lessons turned Yang Cenfeng to the idea of giving up the pen for the sword, and after a stay of four or five months in the village, he enrolled at the Huangpu Military Academy’s Southern Anhui [皖南 stands for Anhui-south]. Together with fourteen classmates, all eye witnesses of the Japanese invaders’ atrocities, walked more than 150 kilometers in four days, and reached the administrative office in Tunxi in southern Anhui, and joined the army to join the resistance against Japan.

黄指导的教诲,让杨岑峰萌生了投笔从戎的念头,在小村子呆了四五个月之后,黄埔军校在皖南招生。目睹了日本侵略者暴行的杨岑峰和14个同学步行4天150多公里路,来到了当时皖南行署所在屯溪市,投笔从戎,参加抗日。

“My family wouldn’t let me go, so I secretly took three silver dollars from home and went to Tunxi with my classmates.”

“当时家里人也担心不让去,我就偷偷地拿了家里的3块大洋,和同学们走到了屯溪。”

But an application for [entrance] exams required graduation from senior high school. Lacking qualification, Yang Cenfeng and his classmates, with their own determination and willpower to resist Japan, impressed the school and were finally admitted to the exams. Going through layers of selection with subjects of literature, math, English, politics etc., Yang Cenfeng and ten of the classmates who had traveled with him entered Huangpu Military Academy.

但是,按照报考要求高中毕业,杨岑峰和同学们不够资格,他们就用自己抗日的决心和毅力打动着校方,最后终于感动了校方参加了考试。在经历了文学、数学、英语、政治等五六门功课的层层选拔,杨岑峰和其他同来的10位同学,加入了黄埔军校。

Having become a student of the Huangpu Branch Seventeen, and because of the Japanese closing in, southern Anhui became into imminent danger, and to protect the young seed of resistance against Japan and national salvation, the Branch Seventeen had to be transferred to Chengdu in Sichuan. After a four-months walk, Yang Cenfeng and his classmates arrived in Chengdu, and began their life of learning there.

成为了黄埔17期学员之后,由于日本人的步步紧逼,皖南岌岌可危,为了保住这些抗日救国的种子,黄埔17期学员需要转移到四川成都,杨岑峰和同学们步行4个多月,来到了成都,在那里开始了黄埔军校的学习生活。

The article / its rendition of Yang Cenfeng’s memories describes the year of 1941 as the peak of the Japanese war, with Academy students becoming replaces for soldiers who lost their lives or their fitness to fight. After two years at the academy, Huang joined the 96th Division of the Fifth Army of the Chinese Expeditionary Force as a platoon leader and a second lieutenant (少尉排长).
The Chinese Expeditionary Force is described as a model of China cooperating directly with military allies, and also claims that this had been the first time ever that Chinese troops had left the country to fight in a war (这是中国与盟国直接进行军事合作的典范,也是甲午战争以来中国军队首次出国作战 …). In the three years and three months of Chinese involvement in the China Burma India Theater, China deployed some 400,000 soldiers, 200,000 of who became casualties, the article says, and describes the battles in which Yang Cenfeng took part as the fiercest in the defense of Burma / Myanmar. The battle of Taungoo is described as Yang Cenfeng’s most agonizing and most deeply-felt experience of Japanese troops’ brutality (他一生中最惨痛的经历,也是最深刻感受到日本军队残忍的一幕).

Withdrawal to Savage Mountain, Supporting the Flying Tigers

撤退野人山 支援飞虎队

But because of a Japanese breakthrough at the British flank, the 200th and 96th divisions of the Chinese Expeditionary Force were surrounded, and after defending to the last for eight days and eight nights, Tonggu could still not be held. In the end, after breaking through the encirclement into the endless virgin forests of Savage Mountain, the 96th Division went through Putao in northernmost Myanmar and entered Yunnan province, returning home.

然而,由于英军侧翼被突破,中国远征军200师和96师被包围,在死守了8天8夜之后,同古最终还是没有守住。最终,96师从茫茫的原始森林野人山突围后,从缅甸北端的葡萄进入云南福贡回国。

Looking back at the breakthrough at Savage Mountain, Yang Cenfeng says that rather than a way out, it was another dead end. Behind them, the enemy forces pursuing them, in front of them, the virgin forests as a no man’s land with all kinds of venomous serpents, wild animals, and disease awaiting them.

回忆起野人山突围,杨岑峰说,那与其说是生路,其实也是另一条死路。后面有敌军追,前面原始森林无人区又有各种毒蛇猛兽、瘟疫疾病等着他们。

“You won’t believe it, but there were ants as long as your fingers,” Yang Cenfeng says. “Diseases claimed many lives, and it was even worse for the few women soldiers. They became unable to walk and had to lie on the naked ground to wait for death to come.”

“说起来你们不信,蚂蚁都有手指那么长。”杨岑峰说,“瘟疫疾病夺走了很多人的生命,那些女兵们更惨,走不动了,最后只能在原地等死。”

There are people who have recorded this kind of miserable story: 1,500 wounded and ill soldiers were unable to go with the troops’ withdrawal, but didn’t want to be captured and humiliated. They set themselves on fire and became martyrs …..

曾经有人记录过这样一个极为悲惨的故事:1500名伤病员无法跟随部队徒步撤退,又不愿意被俘受辱,最后点火自焚,壮烈殉国……

In the end, with astonishing willpower, the 96th Division completed its roundabout route in 35 days, through the northern Myanmar Savage Mountain, across more than 300 kilometers, with less than half of them making their way home.

最终96师以惊人的毅力,用了35天,跨越了整个缅北野人山,绕道300多公里,人员损失大半终于撤回了国内。

After returning to Kunming, Yang Cenfeng’s troops were deployed to protect Kunming airport, working with the famous “Flying Tigers”. Finally, after completing the northern Burma counter attack, thus reopening the international traffic line, safeguarding a stream of international support into China and driving the Japanese army out of southwestern China, after clamping down on and inflicting heavy losses on the Japanese troops in northern Myanmar and Yunnan province, creating favorable conditions for the allied forces, to open the battleground for the counter-attack on Japan.

撤回昆明之后,杨岑峰所在的部队被安排守卫昆明机场,配合大名鼎鼎的“飞虎队”作战。最终,完成了缅北反攻,重新打通了国际交通线,保障了国际援华物资源源不断地运入中国,并把日军赶出了中国西南大门,钳制和重创了缅北、滇西日军,为盟军收复全缅甸创造了有利条件,揭开了正面战场对日反攻的序幕。

In remarks at the end of the article, the Enorth reporter describes Yang Cenfeng as looking younger than his age (92 or 93), as saying that the party and the state were showing great concern and care for him, and that he was very satisfied. His hobbies are also mentioned, as shown in the pictures within the article. But he would never forget his painful war experiences, the brothers in arms he lost, and he would always utterly detest the atrocities committed by the Japanese invaders.

He says that his survival was luck. He therefore cherishes the era of peace, and he can’t forgive people who distort history.

他说,自己能侥幸活下来,是幸运的,因此,他也更珍惜和平年代的生活,对于歪曲历史的人绝对不能原谅。

As a veteran of the war of resistance against Japan, he feels encouraged by the establishment of a national day of commemoration and warns coming generations that history must not be forgotten, to be vigilant about the stirring between the dry bones of Japanese militarism, to use history as a guide, to strengthen our motherland, and to achieve the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

作为抗日老兵,他很欣慰国家从今年开始设立了公祭日,他告诫后人们,绝对不能忘记历史,警惕日本军国主义死灰复燃,以史为鉴、强大我们的祖国,实现中华民族的伟大复兴。

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Related

» Wartime childhood, Sept 7, 2009

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Friday, October 31, 2014

Huanqiu Shibao on Occupy Central: “This Country has Ways and Means”

An article published by Huanqiu Shibao on October 22 went through much of the usual reflections on how Occupy Central was – supposedly – harmful for Hong Kong, but then offers a question that may as well be considered an ultimatum:

Those who, with Western forces at their center, continue to applaud the “Occupy Central” participants, and those exiles who ran away during the early years, may look at “Occupy Central” as a hopeful indication that the fortunes would be turning in their favor. A formation that opposes China’s rise is taking shape. Their goal is to severely wound China, as a prelude to bringing down China. May we ask if this is the intention of the young students who are taking part in “Occupy Central”?

以西方为中心的外部势力会继续为香港“占中”者喝彩,那些早年跑出去的流亡者们会视“占中”为他们时来运转的希望。一个针对崛起中国的阵形眼看着一天天成型。它的目标是要重伤中国,作为“扳倒”中国的序曲。请问这是香港参与“占中”年轻学生们的初衷吗?

If not, we ask these students to leave early. For the very small minority of those who look at China as a mortal enemy this country has ways and means to deal with them.

如果不是,请那些学生早早离开。至于极少数视社会主义中国为死敌的人,这个国家自会有对付他们的办法。

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Related

» Chorus of Condemnation, Oct 7, 2014
» OC coverage links, Oct 3, 2014

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Updates/Rlated

» Anti-China scheming, “Global Times”, Oct 22, 2014

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Military Training in the Garden of Growing Imams

Main link: Xinjiang Islamic Institute conducts its First Military Training

China News Service (中国新闻社), China’s second-largest newsagency, published nine photos on Monday, of a military drill at Xinjiang Islamic Institute in Urumqi (Ürümqi), East Turkestan (aka Xinjiang).

Each of the nine photos comes with the same note which reads:

According to PLA Daily‘s microblog on September 15, Xinjiang Islamic Institute invited the political department of Xinjiang Military Region to carry out military training of 80 students who enrolled at the Institute this year. The military region [department] specifically chose eight military-political officers and soldiers of excellent quality [toughness] who speak both Uighur and Chinese. During the ten days of military training, the students learn basic military subjects, take part in defense lectures, and watch ethnic-unity propaganda movies.

据军报记者微博9月15日报道,新疆伊斯兰教经学院邀请新疆军区政治部为 该院今年招收的80名新学员进行军训。军区专门从某红军师抽选了8名维语、汉语兼通、军政素质过硬的官兵担任教官。为期10天的军训中,学员们学习基本军 事课目,参加国防知识讲座、观看民族团结宣传片。

Click the following links for the photos.

Picture 1

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Beijing review, an English-language propaganda paper, referred to the Islamic Institute as a garden of young imams in a 2009 online article.

And in 2008, China Radio International‘s (CRI) German service quoted the Institute’s deputy director as follows:

“My home was very far from the Uighur school. Up to high school, I visited a school of the Han nationality. When I didn’t pass the entrance exam for university, I was very sad. My parents comforted me and said that university wasn’t the only way of further education. We are Muslims, they said. Therefore, you should be in the know about Islam. You should look into your religion and study Islam.”

“Mein Zuhause lag sehr weit von der uigurischen Schule entfernt. Ich besuchte bis zur Oberschule die Schule der Han-Nationalität. Als ich dann später die Aufnahmeprüfung für die Universität nicht bestanden hatte, war ich sehr traurig. Meine Eltern trösteten mich und erklärten mir, dass die Universität nicht die einzige mögliche weitere Ausbildung war. Wir sind Muslime, sagten sie. Daher sollst Du gut über den Islam Bescheid wissen. Du solltest dich also intensiver mit Deiner Religion auseinandersetzen und den Islam studieren.”

The PLA photo story is carried by a number of Chinese websites, including Xinhua newsagency online, CCTV, and, – no surprise – Huanqiu Shibao.

And nothing satisfies a true Chinese patriot, at least not according to the latest comment (from Shenzhen):

Our country puts too much emphasis on the culture of different nationalities and neglects unified cultural education, particularly the education in Chinese culture for national minorities. It seems that there are many races among Americans, but it is the same English language and the same writing form for everyone. Put Chinese ideological and cultural education first, and [put regional ethnic culture [second] as a supplement.

我国太重视各民族文化而忽视了统一文化的教育,尤其是对少数民族的中华文化教育。似乎美国人种族很多,但都是英语,一样的字体。大中华思想文化教育为先,地方民族文化为辅。

But the previous commenter, from Zhejiang Province, dislikes the military component of “education”:

These Muslim students should rather study Chinese language [hanyu] and Confucian thought. To teach military subjects among institute students who aren’t yet mature isn’t quite appropriate. Not even ten percent of Uighur students in Xinjiang speak Chinese, and among the Islamic students from southern Xinjiang, even fewer speak Chinese. The state must vigorously expand Chinese-language and Chinese cultural education among national minorities, to make them recognize that their identity and ideology is Chinese.

这些伊斯兰教的学生更应该学习汉语和中国儒家思想,军训这样带有军事化的东西在一些思想不成熟的宗教学生中开展不是十分妥当。新疆的维族学生中会说汉语的学生不倒百分之十,尤其这些伊斯兰教的学生主要来自南疆地区,会说汉语的为更是稀少。国家应当大力开展对少数民族学生的汉语和中华文化教育,让他们认同他们是中国人的身份和思想。

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Related

» Religion and Peace, People’s Daily, Sep 17, 2014
» Come sigh with us, Aug 17, 2014
» Kunming Attack, March 3, 2014
» Golden vase of unity, Dec 26, 2010

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Monday, July 14, 2014

Monday Start-of-Work Links: Debauchery, Demonic Fetuses, and War

1. Vietnam’s Key Ally

Vietnam “can’t fight Chinese encroachment alone”, writes Tuong Lai, a  sociologist, also known as Nguyen Phuoc Tuong, and a former adviser to two Vietnamese prime ministers, according to the New York Times. The key ally for Vietnam today is the United States — an alliance that the Vietnamese liberation hero Ho Chi Minh ironically always wanted.

2. Shinzo Abe ends Tour of  New Zealand, Australia, Papua New Guinea

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe arrived back in Tokyo on Saturday afternoon. He had visited New Zealand, Australia and Papua New Guinea during a trip that began the previous Sunday, according to Radio Japan:

He briefed leaders of the 3 countries on his Cabinet’s decision to reinterpret the Constitution to allow Japan to exercise its right to collective self-defense.
He sought their understanding on Japan’s aim to proactively contribute to global and regional peace and security.

Reinterpretation – or a constitutional putsch, as Jeff Kingston describes it in an article for the Japan Times.

Abe has decided to allow his country to go to war in the defence of its allies. The polite cover story is that Japan needs to be able to help the US in defending itself against the dangerous crazies of North Korea,

writes Peter Hartcher of the Sydney Morning Herald, adding that

The reality is that Japan is bracing for the possibility of war with China.

Meantime, on Saturday, China Youth Net (中国青年网) briefed its readers about what it describes as an anti-communist, anti-China policy with a continuity from former Japanese prime minister Nobusuke Kishi – be it from his days as prime minister from 1957 to 1960, be it from his days in Manchuria – to current prime minister Shinzo Abe:

The [CCTV] report says that Kishi lived a life of debauchery while in China, with alcohol and whores every night. He was called the demon of Manchuria. After the war, he was rated a class A war criminal but in the end managed to avoid trial, becoming Japanese prime minister in 1957. During his term, Kishi actively promoted anti-communism and anti-China, modified the the policies of the peaceful constitution, just as Abe is doing these days. It is exactly the mantle of this war-criminal grandfather.

报道称,岸信介在华期间生活放荡,每晚饮酒嫖妓,人称“满洲之妖”。战后被判为甲级战犯,但最终逃脱审判,并于1957年担任日本首相。在任期间,岸信介积极推进反共反华、修改和平宪法的政策,而如今安倍晋三继承的,正是这个战犯外公的衣钵。

The article also mentions the Nagasaki flag incident:

Kishi was hostile to New China (i. e. communist China). After coming to power, the winds of Japanese politics quickly turned right, with activities hostile towards China. During April and May 1958, the Japan-China Friendship Association’s Nagasaki branch held an exhibition of Chinese stamps and paper cuts. During the exhibition, two thugs tore the Five-Starred Red Flag down, causing the “Nagasaki Flag Incident” which shocked China and Japan, while Kishi actually said that “the article that makes the damaging of foreign flags a punishable crime does not apply to China.” This matter caused outrage in China. In May of the same year, the Chinese government announced that the limits of Chinese tolerance had been reached and that under these circumstances, trade and cultural exchange with Japan would be cut off. After that, Sino-Japanese relations withdrew to the initial stages of the post-war period. Until Kishi stepped down in 1960 and Hayato Ikeda formed a new cabinet, Sino-Japanese relations made a turn for the better again.

岸信介敌视新中国。在他上台后,日本的政治风向迅速右转,进行了一系列敌视中国的活动。1958年四五月间,日中友好协会长崎支部举办中国邮票剪纸展览 会,期间会场上悬挂的五星红旗被两名暴徒撤下撕毁,制造了震惊中日两国的“长崎国旗事件”,而岸信介居然称:“日本刑法关于损坏外国国旗将受惩罚的条款, 不适用于中国。”此事激起了中方的极大愤慨。同年5月11日,中国政府宣布,中方在忍无可忍的情况下决定断绝同日本的贸易往来和文化交流。此后,中日关系 倒退到战后初期状态。直到1960年岸信介下台,池田勇人组织新内阁,中日关系才出现转机。

[…]

While Kishi has a bad reputation in China, Japan’s current prime minister Shinzo Abe, when referrring to this maternal grandfather, blew the trumpet [to his praise]. In his book, “Beautiful Japan”, he acknowledges that “my political DNA has inherited more from Nobusuke Kishi’s genes.”

虽然岸信介在中国臭名昭著,但日本现任首相安倍晋三提到这个外祖父时,却大吹特吹。他在其所写的《美丽的日本》一书中承认:“我的政治DNA更多地继承了岸信介的遗传。”

 

Kishi’s reputation in South Korea isn’t good either. However, his name may serve to insult South Korean politicians. A South Korean member of parliament

described President Park and her Japanese counterpart, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, as the offspring of “demonic fetuses” that should not have been born ― in reference to ex-President Park Chung-hee and ex-Japanese leader Nobusuke Kishi.

In Australia, the government’s policy towards China and Japan appears to be causing headaches. Peter Hartcher of the Sydney Morning Herald notes that

[t]o now, the government and opposition have agreed on how Australia should deal with China. That agreement fell apart this week. It fell apart after the leader of Japan, China’s arch-rival, came to town.

Apparently, Hartcher writes, Australia’s foreign minister

Julie Bishop spoke in anticipation of the potential reaction from Beijing in an interview with Fairfax Media’s John Garnaut.
The story in Thursday’s paper began: “Australia will stand up to China to defend peace, liberal values and the rule of law, says Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.
“In the Coalition government’s clearest statement yet on how to handle China, Ms Bishop said it had been a mistake for previous governments to avoid speaking about China for fear of causing offence.
“China doesn’t respect weakness,” the article quoted Bishop as saying.

Labor disagreed. And once the can had been opened, alleged euphemisms by prime minister Tony Abbott about Japan’s war on its neighbors, made in reply to Abe, became an issue, too.

All that after Abe had left for Papua New Guinea, and before any words of disapproval had emerged from Beijing.

3. Xinjiang: Have you eaten?

The old traditional Han-Chinese greeting – “did you eat?” – has apparently become a genuine question in Xinjiang. As Han-Chinese cultural imperialism shows concern not only for the spirutual, but also the tangible nourishment of the  colony the autonomous region, Muslim students are forced to have meals with professors to ensure they are not fasting during the current Ramadan, reports the BBC‘s Martin Patience.

4. Four more Generals

Four Chinese military officers have become generals. Xi Jinping, in his capacity as the party and state Central Military Commission (CMC), issued the promotions and took part in the ceremony on Friday. The promoted officers are Deputy Chief of General Staff (副总参谋长) of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Qi Jianguo (戚建国), Commander of the Shenyang Military Area Command (沈阳军区司令员) Wang Jiaocheng (王教成), Political Commissar of the Shenyang Military Area Command (政治委员) Chu Yimin (褚益民) and Political Commissar of the Guangzhou Military Area Command (广州军区政治委员) Wei Liang (魏亮). CMC vice chairmen Fan Changlong (范长龙) and Xu Qiliang (许其亮) also attended the ceremony.

In neat military formation and high spirits, the promoted officers went to the Chairman’s rostrum. Xi Jinping handed them their letters of appointment and cordially shook their hands to congratulate them. The four military officers, wearing general’s epaulets, saluted to Xi Jinping and the other leading comrades and to all comrades attending the ceremony, and enthusiastic applause rose from the whole audience.

晋升上将军衔的4位军官军容严整、精神抖擞地走到主席台前。习近平向他们颁发命令状,并同他们亲切握手,表示祝贺。佩戴了上将军衔肩章的4位军官向习近平等领导同志敬礼,向参加仪式的全体同志敬礼,全场响起热烈的掌声。

CMC members Chang Wanquan, Fang Fenghui, Zhang Yang, Zhao Keshi, Zhang Youxia, Wu Shengli, Ma Xiaotian and Wei Fenghe attended the promotion ceremony.

中央军委委员常万全、房峰辉、张阳、赵克石、张又侠、吴胜利、马晓天、魏凤和出席晋衔仪式。

The ceremony ended with the resonant sound of military songs. Afterwards, Xi Jinping and other leading comrades stood for a souvenir photo with the promoted officers.

晋衔仪式在嘹亮的军歌声中结束。之后,习近平等领导同志同晋升上将军衔的军官合影留念。

Also in attendance were all the PLA headquarters, all big Danweis (units) of Beijing, leaders of the General Office of Central Military Commission, and others.

出席晋衔仪式的还有解放军各总部、驻京各大单位和军委办公厅领导等。

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