Posts tagged ‘negotiations’

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

KMT’s Communication: one Party, two Interpretations

It’s nothing unusual that Beijing bemoans a lack of pro-China “patriotism” among members or supporters of the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in Taiwan, but on Wednesday (Oct 26), on a regular press conference, a “Taiwan Affairs Office” (TAO) spokesman commented on a debate within the oppositional Kuomintang (KMT), a party with a Chinese history, according to Taiwanese news agency CNA. Former president Ma Ying-jeou, in office from 2008 to May this year, had worked to promote both closer economic ties to China, and some kind of political understanding. The “1992 consensus” always featured prominently in Ma’s China talk, but not so in president Tsai Ing-wen‘s. Now, the question within the KMT appears tobe  if one China, two interpretations (the traditional KMT view of the “consensus”), or one China, one interpretation should be a position to aspire to.

The TAO spokesman, apparently commenting on controversy within the KMT, also reiterated the “1992 consensus”. He mentioned neither two, nor one interpretation, probably because Beijing has never done that anyway.

Previously, the TAO had commented on the issue a fortnight ago. Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), Taiwan’s vice president from 2012 to 2016 (serving during president Ma Ying-jeou’s second term in office), had criticized current KMT chairperson Hung Hsiu-chu‘s (洪秀柱) cross-straits policies. In reaction to Wu’s criticism, KMT cultural and communications commission director Chow Chi-wai (周志偉) had quoted Hung Hsiu-chu as saying that the established KMT formular, “one China, two interpretations”; had not been cancelled, and that the KMT’s central committee would work to continuously strengthen communication further.

The English-language China Times pointed out in a report on October 16 that Hung had advocated moving towards a “one China, one interpretation” status during her presidential campaign in 2015. Hung, in a meeting with KMT legislators, had affirmed that to advocate the “different interpretation” version in a scheduled meeting with Chinese party and state chairman Xi Jinping was her “responsibility”.

However, she also said that the lawmakers probably did not understand the meaning of the “1992 Consensus” and how it had been reached.

Hung’s communication style could be described as erratic. Even people who might want to trust her, may not be in a position to do so when it comes to national security issues.

Apart from that, anything like “one China, one interpretation” is a reliable killer of any hope the KMT may have to win national elections.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Duterte’s China Visit: We need your Help, Son of a Whore

Guanchazhe quotes “German media” (read: Deutsche Welle‘s (DW) Mandarin website) as reporting that Rodrigo Duterte, president of the Philippines, wants to gain distance from America and become close to China (疏美亲中). The second part quotes extensively from the DW article (with credits), but leaves out the more pointed remarks (“this president”, “closely observing”).

Deutsche Welle, on Wednesday:

Philippines president Duterte said on Wednesday (October 19) that it was time to say Good-bye to America. He told Filipinos living in Beijing that an alliance with America that had lasted for many years had brought the Philippines extremely little profit.

菲律宾总统杜特尔特周三(10月19日)在北京表示,是时候和美国说再见了。他对生活在北京的菲律宾团体说,菲律宾从多年的美菲同盟中获利甚少。

Discussing American criticism of how he had drug dealers executed extrajudicially, Duterte said, “I’m really angry. If you do that, you are insulting the people of a country.” He said that just as he didn’t want American interference, he didn’t want American military exercises. The reason for you to stay in our country is for your own interest, therefore, it’s time to say good-bye, friend,” he ostensibly shouted into Washington D.C.’s direction.

在谈到美国批评他法外处决毒贩时,杜特尔特说,”我真的很生气。如果你们这样做,你们是在侮辱一个国家的人民”。他表示,再也不要美国的干预,再也不要美国的演习。”你们留在我的国家是为了你们的自身利益,所以是时候说再见了,朋友”,他似乎在向华盛顿喊话。

“I won’t go to America again, I would only be insulted there,” said Duterte, as he once again denounced US president Obama as “raised by a whore”.

“我不会再去美国,在那里我只会受侮辱”,说完杜特尔特又再次骂美国总统奥巴马是”婊子养的”。

This Philippines president also said he had enough of foreign-policies arranged by the West and said that “in the past, they made us stay distant from China, but that wasn’t our own wish, and I will open a new road.”

这位菲律宾总统还表示,他受够了菲律宾受西方摆布的外交政策,并说,”以前让我们远离中国,并非是我们自己的意愿,我会开始新路线”。

Since the beginning of his presidency in June, Philippine foreign policy has taken a big turn, contrasting with previous president Aquino III policies, distancing the Philippines from Washington, the old ally, and expressing goodwill to China.

自从杜特尔特今年6月底上台以来,菲律宾的外交政策相比前任阿基诺三世时期发生了大转弯,开始疏远多年来的盟友华盛顿,向北京示好。

Duterte, who is currently in China, has praised the country. According to AFP, he said on Wednesday that China was “good”, and hasn’t invaded any place in our country for generations”; thus hinting at America’s colonial history in the Philippines. “During the Cold War, China was described as the bad guy. At that time, our schoolbooks were full of Western propaganda.”

目前身处中国的杜特尔特对中国大加赞赏。据法新社报道,他在周三说中国”不错”,”世世代代以来,从没有侵略过我们国家的任何地方”,影射美国对菲律宾的殖民历史。 “在冷战时期,中国被描述成坏人。那些年里,我们的教科书中都是西方制造的政治宣传”。

China is closely observing Manila’s expressions of goodwill, of course. Foreign-ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said in Wednesday’s regular press conference that China “expressed admiration” for Dutertes strikes against drug criminality”, and said that “China supports Dutertes leadership in the construction of his country by the Philippine people, their efforts for economic development, and we are willing to actively participate in economic and social construction. China is willing to cooperate with the Philippines in trade, production capacity, infrastructure building and in other fields.”

对于马尼拉的示好,中国方面自然看在眼里。中国外交部发言人华春莹在周三的例行记者会上表示,中方对杜特尔特打击毒品犯罪”表示赞赏”,同时称,”中方支持杜特尔特总统领导菲人民建设国家、发展经济的努力,愿积极参与菲经济社会建设,同菲方在包括经贸、产能、基础设施建设等领域开展合作。”

There are doubts within the Philippines however, regarding Dutertes position towards China. Richard Heydarian, political scientist of De La Salle University in Manila, told AP that the Philippines’ mainstream media felt that “it can’t be right to be show that much respect for a country that invaded Philippine territory.”

不过,杜特尔特的对华立场在菲律宾国内受到了一些质疑。马尼拉德拉萨大学的政治学教授海德林(Richard Heydarian)对美联社说,菲律宾的主流媒体认为,”对于这个侵占菲律宾领土的国家如此恭敬,这让人感觉不对”。

The initiator of the Hague arbitration case concerning the South China Sea, former foreign minister Albert del Rosario, said that the Philippine’s foreign policy shouldn’t be contemptuous of America as a long-standing ally, or replace it with another country (China).

南海海牙仲裁案的发起者、前菲律宾外长罗萨里奥(Albert del Rosario)也表示,菲律宾的外交政策不应该唾弃长期的盟友美国而取悦另外一个国家(中国)。

That, however, doesn’t appear to be on Duterte’s mind. In a CCTV interview, he said that he wanted to extend a fraternal and friendly hand, ask for Chinese help, and, looking right into the camera, “frankly said, we need your help.”

然而这些,似乎并不在杜特尔特的考虑之中。在接受央视采访时,杜特尔特称,自己要伸出兄弟友谊之手,向中国寻求帮助,他直面镜头说:”坦率地说,我们需要你们的帮助。”

The DW article comes across as slightly sardonic. Guanchazhe, obviously, ignores that. It does, however, quote “foreign media” as reporting doubts from within the Philippines. Guanchazhe also seeks and finds an answer to such voices of doubts, delivered by foreign-ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying, on the same press conference as quoted further up.

Some reporters at the foreign ministry’s regular press conference on October 19 asked: Western media follow Duterte’s China visit closely, but there are voices among them who “pour cold water” on the enthusiasm. How does the foreign ministry comment on this?

Foreign-ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said that the Chinese and Philippine people were all very happy and full of hope concerning Duterte’s visit, but in fact, there were also people with anxious, disappointed or complex feelings. The return of Sino-Philippines relations to the tracks of a more healthy and stable development was, however, good news, both for China and the Philippines, and for regional peace and stability. I believe that provided that they hope for peaceful and stable development of the Asia-Pacific region, people will welcome this.

10月19日外交部例行记者会上,有记者问到,西方媒体非常关注杜特尔特访华一事,但其中有“泼冷水”的声音,中方对此有何评论?

外交部发言人华春莹就此回应,对于杜特尔特此访,中菲两国人民都很高兴并抱有期待,但的确也有人焦虑、失落,五味杂陈。中菲关系重回健康稳定发展的正确轨道,无论对于中菲两国,还是地区和平稳定,都是利好消息。我想,只要是真正希望亚太地区和平稳定发展繁荣的人,对此都会持欢迎态度。

Guanchazhe quotes Mainila Commercial Times as reporting that China Railway Group Ltd was going to invest three billion USD in Philippines infrastructures in the future.

The Guanchazhe article’s effect on the readership, if uncensored, is handsome. The “overjoyed” button was clicked 321 times by 07:15 UTC, 41 clicks went to the button “timely”, and only five clicks hit the “absurd” or “sad” button.

We can sign a contract with Old Du, for step-by-step investment, thus ensuring Chinese interests, but also the stability of Old Du’s political power, how about that,

我们可以和老杜签个合同,投资分段进行,既保证中国利益,又保证老杜政权的稳定,怎么样?

suggests The Little Venerable, and Clear Spring from a Rock serenely declares:

If you say good-bye to America or not doesn’t matter. what matters is an independent and self-determined foreign policy, without being used by others.

与美国再不再见的不太要紧,关键是要独立自主的外交政策,别被人利用了

According to Radio Japan‘s Mandarin service, Duterte meets Chinese party and state chairman Xi Jinping on Thursday.

Carrie Gracie, the BBC’s China editor, suggested two days ago that

a clear-cut courtroom win against China, coming just after Mr Duterte took up office, has created opportunities for a new approach. China cannot take that legal victory away. And meanwhile in the nearly four years since the Philippines began its legal case, it has suffered economically as Beijing has frozen Manila out of the benefits of Chinese wealth. China has actively discouraged tourists, investors and importers from looking to the Philippines. With the legal card in his back pocket, Mr Duterte wants that economic chill to end. He sees no reason why the Philippines shouldn’t, just like most other countries in the region, have its cake and eat it – enjoy the economic benefits of China’s growth at the same time as sheltering under the US security umbrella.

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Related

Inherent Territory, May 13, 2012

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Updates/Related

Indonesia detains Taiwan vessel, RTI, Oct 20, 2016

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Saturday, October 15, 2016

Pope’s Meeting with Suzhou Bishop Raises Questions

Central News Agency (CNA), via Radio Taiwan International (RTI), →quotes Taiwan’s foreign ministry as saying that the diplomats were closely following developments after Pope Francis had held the first public reception for a mainland Chinese pilgrimage group, led by Suzhou bishop Xu Honggen (徐宏根), on October 5. According to the report, the foreign ministry added that the Vatican, as a non-secular state, remained “absolutely concerned” about the treatment of mainland Chinese underground church members.

RTI CNA refers to a Chinese-language report by the Catholic Asian News network (UCAN), →here  in English, on October 13. According to UCA, the event met a mixed reception among the open and underground Catholic communities in China due to ongoing talks between the Vatican and China’s ruling Communist Party that have divided the faithful.

The public reception (including a souvenir photo with the Pope in Saint Peter’s Square) was seen as an indication that the relationship between mainland China and the Vatican were developing further.

Apparently quoting the Taiwanese foreign ministry again, the RTI report points out that there was an alliance between the Republic of China (i. e. Taiwan) regarding religious freedom, democracy, human rights, and humanitarian help, and that in September, → Taiwanese vice president Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) had visited the Vatican on invitation, to take part in the → canonization of Mother Teresa.

→ The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that there has been a long-standing friendship between the Republic of China and the Vatican, that the bilateral friendship was stable and strong, with close exchanges, and frequent high-ranking bilateral meetings between the two sides.

外交部表示,中華民國與教廷邦誼源遠流長,雙邊邦誼穩固、交流密切,多年來雙方高層及重要官員互訪頻繁。

According to the → “state administration for religious affairs of P.R.C” (SARA, 国家宗教事务局) website,

In the morning of April 20 [2006], Father Xu Honggen of the Catholic Suzhou parish was ordained bishop in the → Yangjiaqiao Catholic Church. The → Bishops Conference of the Catholic Church in China Vice Chairman and Bishop of Linyi diocese in Shandong province, Fang Xingyao, Jiangsu Province Nanjing diocese Bishop Lu Xinping, Shandong Qingdao diocese Bishop Li Mingshu, Shandong Zhoucun diocese Bishop Ma Xuesheng and Shandong Jinan diocese Bishop assistant Bishop Zhang Xianwang conducted the ceremony. More than fourty priests from Suzhou diocese and other provincial cities were also on the platform, with nearly 3,000 Catholics attending. — → Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association and the Bishops Conference of the Catholic Church in China Chairman Bishop Fu Tieshan and others sent congratulatory messages.  Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association Secretary General Liu Yuanlong, Deputy Secretary General Chen Shujie, were present to congratulate. The ordination was conducted in accordance with the Bishop Conference of the Catholic Church in China’s “Regulations Concerning the Choice of Bishops” and the “Holy Order of Ordination of Bishops”, with the Bishops Conference of the Catholic Church in China’s document of approval being read out. The newly ordained Bishop Xu Honggen swore that he would conscientiously carry out his duties as Bishop, lead all the priests, monks, nuns and church members in the diocese, comply with the state constitution, protect national unity, social stability and unity, and contribute to comprehensively build a moderately prosperous society and to the building of a socialist, harmonious society. The ordainment ceremony was dignified and solemn, warm-hearted and peaceful.

祝圣仪式由中国天主教主教团副主席、山东省临沂教区主教房兴耀主礼,江苏省南京教区陆新平主教、山东省青岛教区李明述主教、山东省周村教区马学圣主教和山东省济南教区张宪旺助理主教襄礼。苏州教区和有关省市40多位神甫同台共祭,近3000名天主教徒参加了祝圣典礼。中国天主教爱国会主席、中国天主教主教团代主席傅铁山主教等致贺电,中国天主教爱国会秘书长刘元龙、中国天主教爱国会副秘书长陈书杰神甫到场祝贺。主教祝圣仪式按照中国天主教主教团《关于选圣主教的规定》和《主教圣秩授予典礼》有关程序进行,宣读了中国天主教主教团批准书。新任主教徐宏根宣誓要善尽主教的职责,带领本教区全体神甫、修士、修女和教友,遵守国家宪法,维护国家的统一和社会安定团结,为全面建设小康社会和构建社会主义和谐社会贡献力量。祝圣典礼庄严隆重、热烈祥和。

Xu Honggen, born in April 1962, graduated from → Shanghai Sheshan Monestary in 1990. He was ordained by former Suzhou diocesan Bishop Ma Longyao as a priest the same year. From 1994 to 1999, he went to America to study at → St. Joseph’s Seminary and Church in New York and the 联合神学院 in Chicago. He earned theological and classical master’s degrees and is currently [i. e. 2006] the Jiangsu Catholic educational administration’s deputy director.

徐宏根主教生于1962年4月,1990年毕业于上海佘山修院,同年由原苏州教区马龙麟主教祝圣为神甫。徐宏根主教1994年至1999年赴美国纽约若瑟修院、芝加哥联合神学院学习,先后获神学硕士、圣经学硕士学位,现任江苏省天主教教务委员会副主任。

According to Vatican Radio‘s German-language → website at the time (April 2006), Xu Honggen’s ordination was approved both by the Vatican, and the Chinese government. Oddly, Radio Vatican spotted the diocese in Hong Kong.

The BBC Mandarin service quotes UCAN as writing that this public meeting with Xu Honggen and the pilgrims was considered neglicance of the underground church. Members of the underground church had said the event confirmed that even though they were loyal to the Vatican, they got very little support.

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Related

→ Inexhaustible Wisdom, Febr 17, 2016
→ Unachieved Dream, Mar 13, 2013
→ Hao Jinli, 1916 – 2011, Mar 28, 2011

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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Tsai Ing-wen’s First Double-Ten Speech as President

Tsai Ing-wen delivered her first double-ten speech as Taiwan’s president on Tuesday.

Focus Taiwan, the English-language website operated by the Central News Agency (CNA), published the → full text of President Tsai Ing-wen’s Tuesday speech as an English translation.

KMT chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu stayed away from the national day celebrations. However, Ma Ying-jeou, former KMT chairman, and Tsai Ing-wen’s predecessor  as Taiwan’s president,  and other pan-blue politicians, did attend.

According to a Radio Taiwan International (RTI) report, U.S. assistant secretary of state Daniel Russel for Asia-Pacific affairs said on Wednesday that America had carefully read Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s speech on the island’s national holiday, Tuesday, October 10 (or Double-Ten). Washington supported and appreciated Tsai’s call for the two sides of the Taiwan Strait to hold a dialogue. Russel was also quoted as saying that the U.S. welcomed all constructive steps the two sides of the Taiwan Strait would take to lower tensions.

→ Russel made the remarks at a Washington Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) forum that discussed related Asia-Pacific affairs, in response to a question from a Taiwanese journalist.

羅素上午在華府智庫戰略暨國際研究中心(CSIS)參加有關亞洲發展的一場座談,會中回答台灣媒體記者提問時,做上述表示。

Asked how he judged President Tsai’s Double-Ten speech, Russel pointed out that he didn’t want to express his personal views. However, he also said that America had carefully read President Tsai’s double-ten speech, and that America supported and appreciated her call and support for cross-strait dialogue.

對於如何評價蔡總統的雙十國慶談話?羅素先指出,他不想對蔡總統的雙十談話表達個人意見;但他也表示,當然,美方很仔細了解蔡總統的雙十談話,美方支持、也欣賞她呼籲並支持兩岸要對話的說法。

Russel reiterated that America took a profound interest in the stability of cross-strait relations and welcomed any steps the two sides [i. e. Beijing and Taipei] would take to lower tensions, any constructive steps the two sides might take to lower tensions. Leeway remained to show flexibility and creativity, and to remain patient.

羅素重申,美國在兩岸關係的穩定上有深遠利益,美國歡迎兩岸雙方採取所有降低緊張、改善關係的建設性步驟,這其中仍有展現彈性與創意的空間,並且保持耐心。

Would America maintain the previous pattern of meeting with [James Soong] the representative of Taiwan’s leader at the coming APEC conference? Russel pointed out that he wasn’t aware of secretary of state Kerry’s itinerary, but that he believed the U.S. and Taiwan’s bilateral talks during previous APEC conferences had been very fruitful, with efficient and substantial content, and that this kind of  bilateral discussions. These  kinds of bilateral discussions on economic topics between America and Taiwan could always take place, and there would also be opportunities to discuss trade issues.

對於接下來的亞太經濟合作會議(APEC),美方是否會照過去模式,與台灣的領袖代表會面?對此,羅素先指出,他不清楚國務卿凱瑞的行程安排,但他認為,美方和台灣過去在APEC期間的雙邊會談,非常富有成效且有實質內容,這樣的雙邊會談讓美台間的經濟議題能夠有所討論,另外像是貿易議題也有機會溝通。

Concerning the issue of America discussing a wide range of economic issues, and even geopolitics, one should take an attitude of wait-and-see.

至於這次APEC期間,美國會有針對哪些廣泛的經濟議題討論、甚至是地緣政治上的相關議題,他則說可以拭目以待。

There have been a number of occasions in the past where America held bilateral talks [with Taiwan] during APEC forums. In 2012, former KMT chairman Lien Chan, as then Taiwanese leader’s [that was then president Ma Ying-jeou], had a meeting with then U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton. Another representative of then Taiwanese leader, former Vice President Vincent Siew had bilateral meetings with U.S. secretary of state Kerry in 2013 and 2014.

美台在APEC期間召開雙邊會談有多次經驗,2012年,時任領袖代表的前國民黨主席連戰參與APEC,就曾與當時國務卿希拉蕊於會議期間舉行雙邊會談,之後的領袖代表、前副總統蕭萬長更兩度於2013年及2014年與國務卿凱瑞舉行雙邊會面。

Apart from that, last year, then Taiwanese leader’s representative Vincent Siew, during U.S. assistant of state → Antony J. Blinken‘s APEC attenance, even interacted with U.S. President Barack Obama and mainland State Chairman Xi Jinping during a dinner. This was a rare case where Taiwan’s, America’s and China’s Siew, Obama and Xi had met.

國務院去年則是由副國務卿布林肯出席APEC,時任領袖代表的蕭萬長除與布林肯舉行雙邊會晤,他更與美國總統歐巴馬及大陸國家主席習近平在晚宴時互動,出現少見的台、美、中三方的「蕭歐習」會。

Associated Press (AP) quotes Russel as saying that

→ the U.S. has a “deep and abiding interest” in stability across the Taiwan Strait, and welcomes constructive steps by both sides to improve relations. He called for flexibility, creativity and patience.

AP also writes that

China says it won’t resume talks until Tsai endorses Beijing’s position that China and Taiwan are part of a single Chinese nation. The previous Taiwanese government accepted that formulation.

Previous President Ma Ying-jeou‘s KMT government had actually acknowledged a → “1992 Consensus” which – in the KMT’s view – allowed “different interpretations” by both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

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Related

→ One RoC, two Interpretations, Oct 10, 2011

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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Tsai Ing-wen: in a State of Overall Mobilization

Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) held a press conference – or a “tea reception” for reporters – at → Taipei Guest House on Saturday afternoon local time.

The following are excerpts from her introductory statement, translated into English. Links within blockquotes added during translation.

Main link: → Presidential website

I’m very glad to meet with all the friends from the press here today. Apart from being happy to speak to the reporters ahead of schedule, I would also like to take the opportunity of this tea reception to report to all our compatriots about the efforts we have made for this country since the new government came into office.
I believe that all reporters present here, and many compatriots too, will know that a few days ago, the dispute concerning the national highway toll station dispute has been resolved.

很高興能跟現場所有的記者朋友們見面。除了提早向各位說聲記者節快樂之外,藉著今天與各位見面茶敘的機會,我也要向全體國人同胞報告,新政府上任以來,我們為這個國家所做的努力。
相信在場的記者朋友,以及許多國人同胞都知道,幾天前,歷時兩年多的國道收費員爭議,已經得到解決。

Although some different views and opinions remain, concerning the solution to this dispute, I believe that, when watching on television how everyone smiled while the curtain fell on the dispute, many people, just like me, felt happy for them and their families.

儘管,有一些人對於解決這個爭議,仍然有些不同的意見與看法。不過,當大家從電視上看到他們在抗爭落幕之後所展現的笑容,我相信很多人的心中,都跟我一樣,替他們,以及他們的家庭,感到開心。

To some people, this solution only means to give in to a group of people protesting in the streets. However, I want to look at the entire issue from a different perspective. As far as we are concerned, the point is that now that the curtain has fallen on this struggle, this society and above all some families can get back to their daily lives.

對一些人而言,這個問題的解決,只是讓這個社會少掉一群人在街頭抗議。不過,我願意從另一個角度來看這整件事情。對我們來說,這個事情的意義在於,抗爭落幕之後,這個社會,又多了一些家庭,重新展開他們的人生。

This is what governments are for. Some people →say that this [approach] is called giving out sweets to those who quarrel. But as far as this government is concerned, the real issue here isn’t the noise. The issue is if the noise is justified, and if the government listens. My expectation to myself and to my team, during the past three months, has been that we are prepared to listen, to communicate, and to find a solution.

這就是政府存在的目的。有人說,這叫做會吵的人就有糖吃。不過,對一個政府而言,吵不是重點,吵得有沒有道理,政府有沒有在聽才是重點。願意傾聽,願意溝通,願意解決,這就是過去三個月來,我對自己與團隊的期許。

I know that the friends from the press are curious about what I have done since May 20 [inauguration day], on a daily basis. In fact, after becoming president, my life and work have seen changes, and although the issues now are different, they have changed in a rather simple way, as mentioned in my inaugural speech: they are about solving problems.

我知道,現場的記者朋友們,都很好奇,從520到現在,我每天都在做什麼。其實,當了總統之後,我的人生以及工作有一些變化,事情雖然變多了,但從另一個角度來看,也變得比較簡單,就是我就職演說中所提到的那四個字:解決問題。

Many problems have accumulated for a long time, and the previous government wanted to solve some of them, but wasn’t successful. There have also been some problems the past government neither wanted to solve, nor had the strength to solve.

很多的問題是長期累積的,有些問題,過去政府曾經想解決,沒有成功。也有些問題,是過去政府無心也無力去解決的。

The people who elected us want the new government to address and solve issues in a pragmatic and courageous way. The people do not want the new government to shift responsibilities altogether to the past. Therefore, I tell myself every day, and my governing team, too, that the people expects to see a different government.

人民選擇我們,是希望新政府能夠務實而勇敢地面對問題、解決問題。人民也不會希望,新政府將責任全部推給過去。所以,我每天都這樣告訴自己,我也用一樣的話告訴民進黨所有執政團隊,人民希望看到不一樣的政府。

In the decisionmaking process, I have to admit that we haven’t considered things sufficiently, and that we haven’t dealt with them sufficiently. When that happens, we will adapt, honestly face this, and that we will change. We won’t harden, we won’t weaken. During the Democratic Progressive Party government, and no half-minute incident.

在解決問題的過程中,我也承認,有些事情,我們考慮得不夠周全,做得不夠好。當這樣的情況發生時,我們會調整,會誠實面對,我們會改變。我們不會硬凹,民進黨執政期間,更不會有半分鐘事件。

For the past three months, the new government’s main four areas of attention have been as follows.

(1): Aborigines, Industrial Relations

The first one has been about solving longstanding problems in Taiwanese society. On August 1, I apologized to the aborigine nation on behalf of the government. For several hundred years, the aborigine people have suffered unfair treatment, that can’t be changed by a simple apology. But this society needs a starting point. I want to make the first step. Although the form of my apology sparked some controversy, we can take a successive approach and honestly face the problems that have accumulated during the past few hundred years.

過去這三個月來,新政府的施政大致上可以分為以下四個領域:
第一個,我們試圖解決臺灣社會長久累積的問題。八月一號,我代表政府向原住民族道歉。幾百年來原住民所遭受的不公平待遇,不會因為一句道歉而改變。不過,這個社會需要一個開始。我願意跨出第一步。儘管,道歉的形式引發了一些爭議,但是,我們會用接下來的作為,有誠意地來面對這個幾百年累積的問題。

Industrial relations disputes have long existed in Taiwanese society. In the wake of global economic change as well as economic slowdowns, weak labor rights and protection, have become more and more important issues. As for enterprises, and small and medium-sized enterprises in particular, there have been transformational problems, which has also led to more and more tense industrial relations.

勞資的爭議也是臺灣社會長久以來一直存在的問題。隨著全球經濟情勢的改變,以及經濟成長的趨緩,弱勢勞工的權益與保障,變得越來越重要。而企業、尤其是中小型企業,也面臨轉型的困境,這也造成勞資關係越來越緊張。

The new government has not tried to avoid the issue. We have chosen to handle the problem directly. Of course, we admit that to solve years-old disputes in a short time and to achieve social consensus in a short time is difficult. We want to communicate with society again, especially with labour organizations’ and small and medium-sized enterprises’ views, and we want to listen more carefully. This will be reflected in my future arrangements.

新政府沒有逃避,我們選擇正面去處理這個問題。當然,我們也承認,多年來的爭議很難在很短的時間內,獲得社會一致的共識。我們願意再跟社會溝通,特別是勞工團體與中小企業的意見,我們會更加仔細聆聽。這也會反映在我未來的行程安排上面。

We also need to understand that if the Taiwanese economy doesn’t speed up transformation, labor disputes, even if solved for a while, will continue to trouble labour and industry.

我們也清楚,如果臺灣經濟不加速轉型,勞資爭議縱然一時能夠解決,但仍然會持續地困擾勞工與產業。

(2): “Ill-Gotten Party Assets”, Judicial Yuan Nominations, Pension Reform

The second field of work discussed by President Tsai is recently-passed legislation on “ill-gotten party assets”, as described →here by the English-language Taipei Times in July. Tsai, in her address to the press on Saturday, referred to the process as a first step in the handling of rightening the authoritarian period in Taiwan (i. e. the decades of martial law under KMT rule). Tsai Ing-wen conjured a duty on the part of the KMT to share responsibility in the process:

I want to emphasize in particular that this is done to remind all politicians that many things that were considered natural within the authoritarian system, will not be allowed to happen again in today’s democratic society. What matters more is that, to create a more fair political environment in Taiwan, is our common responsibility.

我要特別強調,做這件事情,是為了提醒所有政治人物,過去在威權體制中,許多被視為理所當然的事,在今天的民主社會中,是不容許再發生的。更重要的是,為臺灣創造一個更公平的政治環境,是我們共同的責任。

In that “second field of work”, Tsai also mentioned a controversy concerning judicial yuan nominations – both nominees chosen by Tsai Ing-wen herself – which resulted with the nominees →bowing out:

I admit that the previous judicial yuan nomination sparked controversy in society. In the end, both nominees decided to decline with thanks, and I want to thank the two nominees for granting me a chance to think again. Of course, this was my responsibility. I will remember this experience carefully. The new government will communicate more carefully with the masses in future.

我承認,前一陣子司法院正副院長的提名人選引發了社會上的爭議。最終,造成兩位被提名人決定懇辭,我要感激這兩位被提名人給我一個重新思考的機會。當然,這裡面有我的責任。我會記取這個經驗。新政府未來會用更謹慎的態度來跟社會大眾溝通。

Another major issue addressed as part of the second field of work is pension reform.

(3): Taiwan’s New Economic Development Model

The third field of work for the new government is the new model for Taiwan’s economic development. During the past three months, our ministries and commissions in charge have actively worked on this matter. National construction programs made by think-tanks during our time in opposition have been turned into policies by the government offices. From here, the budgets of the offices in charge will be devised.

新政府施政的第三個領域是臺灣經濟發展新模式。過去三個月,我們的相關部會,積極在做一件事情。就是把以前在野時期,智庫所規劃的國家建設方案,轉變成行政部門的政策規劃。再從行政部門的政策規劃,具體轉化成行政院的預算編列。

Concerning involvement in economic construction, and the promotional economic development plan concerning the five big innovative industries and the acceleration of technological innovation etc., our budgets for the coming year will grow correspondingly. This stands for our goal to build the new economic model round innovation.

在經濟建設的投入上,對於五大創新產業與加速科技創新等促進經濟發展的計畫,我們明年度的預算都相當幅度的成長,這代表我們要建構,以創新為主導的新經濟模式。

As for a safe internet, for our social housing policies, and for the expansion of community care, raising the quality of long-term care, treatment and prevention, etc., we are also increasing the budgets.

在社會安全網上,我們的社會住宅政策,以及擴大社區照顧、提升長照品質,醫療與防疫等,我們也都增列了預算。

[…]

Involvement in overall economic development will not limit itself to government budgeting. We will also encourage publicly-owned institutions to invest in new kinds of industries, lending impetus to non-governmental enterprises, especially the upgrading transformation of small and medium-sized enterprises.

整體經濟發展相關的投入,不會僅限於政府預算的投入,我們也會鼓勵國公營事業來投資新型產業,共同帶動民間企業、尤其是中小企業的產業升級與轉型。

The budgeting is only the beginning, and the real test is to do things well. In fact, the cabinet is in a state of overall mobilization. During the past three months, under the → executive yuan president‘s leadership and the coordination of the government affairs committee as well as the efforts of the heads of ministries and commissions, the new government hasn’t been lax. I have lists from every governmental commission concerning their issues and their progress, and can explain each of them. I believe that these lists can also be found on the executive yuan’s website.

預算編列只是一個開始,真正的考驗是把事情做好。事實上,內閣已經是總動員。在過去的三個月,在院長的帶領,政務委員的協調,以及部會首長的努力下,新政府沒有懈怠。我手邊有一份各政委列管的事項清單以及進度,可以說明這些。我相信這些清單在行政院的網站也可以找到。

I do not hope that people will use the first one-hundred days to judge my successes and failures, and I’m not going to judge the cabinet members’ performances based on the first one-hundred days.

我不希望別人用一百天來評斷我個人執政的成敗;同樣的,我也不會只用一百天的時間來評論內閣閣員的表現。

Reform takes time. I’m not going to shrink back in the light of lacking short-term results or because of difficulties in promoting reform. When something goes wrong, it will be corrected, and what goes well, will be advanced boldly. I believe that this is what the Taiwanese people expect from government at this stage.

改革需要時間,我不會因為短期內看不到成效,或者因為推動改革很困難,就輕易退縮。錯了就改,對的事情就勇往直前,我相信,這才是現階段臺灣人民對政府的期待。

(4): Cross Strait Relations, Remembering Wang Tuoh

Fourthly, we will maintain the necessary communication with the relevant countries to maintain regional peace and stability, and to handle external relations. In particular, after the outcome of the arbitrational →decision concerning the South China Sea has been issued, we will, together with all countries, maintain the stability of the South China Sea situation. The people want the government to do more regarding sovereignty in the South China Sea, and we understand and acknowledge that.

第四,在維持區域的和平穩定,以及對外關係的處理上,我們持續與相關的國家保持必要的溝通。尤其是在南海仲裁結果出爐後,我們也跟各國共同維持南海情勢的穩定。人民希望政府在南海主權議題能多做一些,我們了解也認同。

As for the cross-strait relations [with China], I re-emphasize the importance of “maintaining the status quo”. Our goal is to build consistent, calculable and sustainable cross-strait relations under the current constitutional systems.

對於兩岸關係,我再一次強調「維持現狀」的重要性。我們的目標,就是在當前的憲政體制下,建立一個具有一致性、可預測性、可維持性的兩岸關係。

We will soon announce the staffing issues at the Strait Exchange Foundation. At the current stage, we have a choice among several candidates, and are at the final stage of consultations and assessments. Apart form the Strait Exchange Foundation, we will fill the remaining vacancies in government staff as soon as possible.

海基會的人事,我們會在近期之內公布。現階段我們有幾位人選,正在做最後的諮詢與評估。
除了海基會之外,政府部門尚未完成布局的人事,我們會儘速補上。

Some move quickly on the road of reform, and some move slowly, but as long as there is a common direction, we should support and encourage each other. There may be bumps on the government’s path in the coming days, but we will continue to make efforts forward.

改革的路上有人走得快,有人走得慢,但只要方向一致,就應該相互扶持、彼此鼓勵。也許這段日子以來,新政府走得有些顛簸,但我們一直努力在往前走。

Some say that solving the highway toll station staff issue is something “the previous government didn’t succeed to do”. As far as I am concerned, this is the greatest encouragement for our new government. To do what the previous government didn’t succeed at is what change of government is about.

有人說,解決國道收費員的問題,「這是以前政府做不到的事」。這句話,對我來說,是對我們新政府最大的鼓勵。要做以前政府做不到的事,這才是政黨輪替的意義。

There is one more thing. I want to mention a very particular man. When I took the office of Democratic Progressive Party chairpersonship in 2008, the party’s secretary general was → Mr. Wang Tuoh. Not long ago, he also left us. On his sickbed, he still showed concern for me. I will always remember how, when I wasn’t viewed favorably by the outside world, when the Democratic Progressive Party’s morale was at its lowest point, he bravely stepped forward, and together with me, he helped the Democratic Progressive Party to climb out from that lowest point.

最後,我要特別提一個人。我2008年擔任民進黨主席時的秘書長­­–王拓先生。不久前,他離開我們。在病榻上,他依然很關心我。我會永遠記得,當外界都不看好我,民進黨士氣最低落的時候,他挺身而出,跟我一起帶領民進黨從谷底爬起。

In those difficult days, he often encouraged me, and he reminded me that when the thing you are doing is right, you must stick to it. I’m really sad that he can’t be in this world to see, with us, the changes of Taiwan.

在那段困難的日子,他常常鼓勵我,也提醒我,只要是對的事情,一定要堅持下去。我很遺憾,他不能在人世間跟我一起看到臺灣的改變。

But I will always remember what he said during his last days, he said “our way of governing must be different from the past, it must be successful.” I want to use these words to wind up my address. Everyone in the government team, put up the ante.

不過,我會永遠記得他在生命的最後幾天告訴我的話,他說,「我們的執政一定要跟以前不一樣,要做得成功」。我就用這一句話,來作為今天的結尾。所有執政團隊的同仁,大家加油。

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Bank of China: Brexit Risks and Opportunities

The following is an article initially published by Pengpai News (澎湃新闻), an internet news portal apparently operated by Oriental Morning Post (or Dongfang Morning Post),  a paper from Shanghai. According to Radio Free Asia (RFA), the paper’s then director Lu Yan (陆炎) and  deputy editor-in-chief Sun Jian (孙鉴) were removed from their posts in summer 2012. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Yu Zhengsheng (俞正声), Shanghai CCP secretary at the time, had been “unhappy” with Oriental’s stories. Sun Jian apparently re-emerged later, as the name was mentioned as the concurrent director of  Oriental Morning Post’s and Pengpai News’ economy and finance news centers, in a “People’s Daily” article published in 2015, praising the innovative practice at integrating the paper and its internet platform.

Either way, the news portal’s article about the BoC’s meetings with overseas financial administration dignitaries apparently appealed to the Communist central bankers – it was republished on the BoC’s website, two days after its original publication. Here goes.

The last meeting of G-20 finance ministers and central bank governors before the G-20 summit in Hangzhou was held in Chengdu, with [Chinese] central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan opening intensive meetings with high monetary officials from a number of countries.

G20杭州峰会前最后一次G20财长和央行行长会议在成都召开,央行行长周小川又开启了密集会见各国财金高官模式。

According to the People’s Bank of China’s official website, Zhou Xiaochuan, on July 23, met with American treasury secretary Jack Lew, Britain’s newly-appointed chancellor of the exchequer Philip Hammond, Argentine finance minister Alfonso Prat-Gay and Argentine central bank governor Federico Sturzenegger.
That said, this kind of officially issued information is generally rather simple. For example, at the meeting with the British finance minister, the two sides exchanged views on Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, the strengthening of Sino-British financial cooperation and other issues; at the meeting with the US finance minister, the two sides mainly exchanged views on the global financial markets’ situation, about the Chinese and American economies and finances, and policy coordination under the G-20 framework; and at the meeting with the two high Argentine officials, the two sides exchanged views on the international economic and financial situation, the macroeconomic Chinese and Argentine situations, the strengthening of Sino-Argentine financial cooperation and other issues.

据中国人民银行官网消息,7月23日,周小川已先后会见了美国财长雅各布•卢、英国新任财政大臣哈蒙德、阿根廷财政部长盖伊和阿根廷央行行长斯图森内格。
不过,这类会见官方发布信息均比较简单。比如,会见英国财长,双方就英国退欧、加强中英两国金融合作等议题交换了意见;会见美国财长,双方主要就近期全球金融市场形势、中国和美国经济金融形势,以及G20框架下的政策协调等问题交换了意见;会见阿根廷两高官,双方主要就国际经济金融形势、中阿宏观经济状况,以及加强中阿两国金融合作等议题交换了意见。

Currently, Britain’s withdrawal from the EU is undoubtedly a hot topic, but the central bank didn’t disclose any details. Still, the British finance minister’s time’s itinerary suggests that while withdrawing from the EU, they didn’t forget to to sell themselves.

眼下,英国退欧无疑是热门话题,不过央行并未透露任何细节。但从英国财政部此次行程来看,他们在退欧的同时,仍不忘推销自己。

According to the Bank of China, the “Sino-British Financial Services Round Table Meeting”, organized by the British embassy and co-hosted by the Bank of China, was held in the BoC’s head office’s mansion in Beijing, on July 22. British chancellor of the exchequer Philip Hammond, British deputy chancellor of the exchequer [Mark Bowen?], British Ambassador to China Dame Barbara Woodward and other British government representatives, as well as People’s Bank, the CBRC, the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, and big financial organisations and more than 40 high-ranking officials were guests at this meeting.

据中国银行消息,7月22日,由英国大使馆主办、中国银行协办的“中英金融服务圆桌会”在北京中国银行总行大厦举行。英国财政大臣菲利浦•哈蒙德、英国财政部副部长马克•博文、英国驻华大使吴百纳女爵士等英方政府代表,以及人民银行、银监会、外管局和中英两国大型金融机构的高管共约40多人作为受邀嘉宾出席了本次会议。

Hammond said at the meeting that the British economic fundamentals after the “Brexit” referendum remained fine, that Britain would continue to play an important role in the international arena, that British commerce, financial services and investment would, just as in the past, be open and competitive, and the British government would attach yet more attention to cooperation with China in the financial field.

哈蒙德在会上表示,英国公投“脱欧”后经济基本面依然良好,英国将继续在国际舞台上扮演重要角色,英国的商务、金融服务和投资领域也将一如既往地呈现开放、竞争的态势,英国政府将会更加重视在金融服务领域与中国的合作。

Chairman of the BoC board Tian Guoli said that Britain’s position in the fields of international politics, economics, and finance was highly influential. As far as Chinese and British investors were concerned, there were interdependent “risks” and “opportunities” in the “Brexit”, with both challenges and opportunities. To safeguard Chinese and British investors’ interests, there should be a continuation of promoting the two countries’ economic and trade development, global financial stability, the suggested common promotion of the building of “one belt, one road”, active participation in China’s supply-side structural reforms, the strengthening of financial cooperation, and the acceleraton of building London as an offshore center for the RMB.

中行董事长田国立则表示,英国在国际政治、经济、金融领域的地位举足轻重。对中英两国投资人而言,英国“脱欧”“危”“机”相倚,挑战与机遇并存。为守护中英投资人利益、持续推动两国经贸发展、促进全球金融稳定,建议中英双方共同推动“一带一路”建设,积极参与中国供给侧结构性改革,强化金融合作,加快伦敦人民币离岸中心建设。

At the meeting, participants discussed the two topics of “Seen from the perspective of the financial industry, Britain after the ‘Brexit’ remains a good destination for overseas investment” and “The important role of Britain as a good partner in the development and opening of the Chinese financial industry”.

会谈中,与会代表就“从金融业角度看英国‘脱欧’后仍是海外投资的良好目的地”和“在中国金融业发展开放过程中,英国如何发挥好合作伙伴的重要作用”两个议题展开讨论。

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Related

» Whose Gateway, Nov 24, 2015
» 媒体融合中, “People’s Daily” online, Sept 17, 2015
» Locomotion, Finance, Energy, July 27, 2014
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Updates/Related

» Propaganda 2.0, The Economist, Dec 13, 2014
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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

South China Sea: Permanent Court of Arbitration decides in Philippines’ favor

According to reports, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague has decided in favor of the  Philippines in a dispute about several of the Spratley Islands.

China had ruled out in advance that it could accept a decision from the Permanent Court.

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Update/Related

» Schiedshof zugunsten der Philippinen, Sofortbild, July 12, 2016

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Sunday, April 3, 2016

Germany: Is “The Ivan” Back?

The Russians are coming was a standard line when I was a child. Sometimes, everyone into the blockhouses would be added. it was meant to be fun, but there was an underlying fear in it.

Another term for Russians in general would be The Ivan*) (probably an echo from “Ivan the Terrible”). At least in West Germany, fear of Russia was part of collective post-war identity – much more so than in Britain or France.

There may be many possible explanations for this, and I tend to believe that it was a combination of several factors (Germany being subject to allied, including Soviet, control being one that lasted particularly long) was one of them. West Germany’s existence and raison d’être as a frontline state was another. And then, there was a widespread inclination among many Germans to see their country as a victim in the first place, rather than as an initiator of Nazism and boundless war.

By 1983, it had become evident, at least in certain quarters, that the USSR had lost most of its expansionary power. In terms of soft power, Moscows message had become about as attractive as athlete’s foot, and in military terms, the “Evil Empire” was grossly overestimated.

But there was a narrative, and as usual (when the narrative is well crafted), it prevailed over facts. On March 31, 1983, US president Ronald Reagan told a Los Angeles World Affairs Council Luncheon that

In the last 15 years or more, the Soviet Union has engaged in a relentless military buildup, overtaking and surpassing the United States in major categories of military power, acquiring what can only be considered an offensive military capability. All the moral values which this country cherishes-freedom, democracy, the right of peoples and nations to determine their own destiny, to speak and write, to live and worship as they choose—all these basic rights are fundamentally challenged by a powerful adversary which does not wish these values to survive.

Der Spiegel, back then a center-left and liberal German newsmagazine, took issue with Reagan. While the USSR was certainly no paper tiger, and while it was true that Soviet military had seen a huge push during two decades under Leonid Brezhnev (with American military budgets being  reduced by some 2.5 percent per year during the Nixon, Ford, and Carter presidencies), the USSR’s military power wasn’t as strong as first reported.

Shortly before a paper was published by US secretary of defense, Caspar Weinberger (also in March 1983, and supportive of Reagan’s March-31 remarks), the CIA had retracted all its US statements concerning Moscow’s military budget:

military expenditures had been overestimated by fifty percent. Rather than by three, four, or more percent, there had been growth by a maximum of two percent since 1976.

Such subtleties, however, didn’t put Ronald Reagan off-message. His story remained the same; the Soviet Union was about to put an end to [a]ll the moral values which this country cherishes.

Fourty-year-old statistics like those debted in the early 1980s are hard to verify (or falsify). But in at least one respect, the Spiegel authors, in 1983, were wrong: contrary to what they believed (quoting “experts”), America proved able to finish the USSR off in a gargantuan arms race, and the factors that lead to the Soviet Union’s demise in 1991 were pretty much the weaknesses that the Spiegel authors themselves had pointed out less than a decade earlier.

The rest, as they say, is history. The world, from Alaska to Siberia (the long way round, of course), and from Pole to Pole, happily awaited huge peace dividends. After all, we had reached the end of history.

But Russia felt squeezed by NATO – understandably, the Baltic nations and Poland had felt rather urgently that they needed a strong reassurance against potential future Russian expansionism. (Not everyone appeared to trust the story about the end of history, and besides, a democratic society doesn’t necessarily live in a peaceful, unaggressive state.

Germans have viewed Russia – and the Soviet Union – differently since the mid-1980s. By 1987, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev had overtaken Ronald Reagan, in terms of popularity here. That didn’t change after the USSR’s demise: while Gorbachev was seen as a failure, or even a “sellout” of sourts, among many Russians, Germans considered him “the” man who had made German unification possible. And Boris Yeltsin‘s Russia, even if not looking terribly respectable at the time, certainly didn’t look like something to fear either.

In an article in Germany’s weekly Die Zeit, a Moscow correspondent stated in May 1994 that once again, a majority of Russians considered the end of the USSR a greater calamity than its beginnings, and that Russian reformers had not been successful in “learning from the West”, as stipulated by Yeltsin two and a half years earlier.

Yeltsin had to accept that the safeguarding of authority, which had for centuries been based on expansion rather than on enlightenment, could not be redesigned with a new constitution alone.

Jelzin hat einsehen müssen, daß Herrschaftssicherung, die seit Jahrhunderten durch Ausdehnung statt durch Aufklärung erfolgte, mit einer neuen Verfassung alleine nicht umgestaltet werden kann.

Only pacts and compromises with conservative forces could save the “autumn” of Yeltsin’s presidency, the correspondent wrote.

In economic terms, a Stratfor paper dating from November 1999 suggested that veterans of perestroika, such as Prime Minister Vladimir Putin or former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, could strip the oligarchs of their wealth and influence, and enact more centrist policies.

To quite an extent, this seems to be what Vladimir Putin‘s presidency has done. In its early years, it continued the ideological consolidation started by Yeltsin himself, and his administration began to implement a policy that the “Zeit” Moscow correspondent described as west-oriented as a matter of principle, but moving away from America in particular. […] In America, however, the “Zeit” article quoted Yeltsin, forces were concentrating that would like to keep Russia in a state of controllable paralysis. That said, Putin  – in the eyes of investors – may have arrived at a point similar to Yeltsin’s, by now. Too little appears to move, economically.

When reading the press these days – certainly the German press -, you might be forgiven if you think that Russian policies had fundamentally changed since the 1990s. But they haven’t. There has been a remarkable Russian continuity – and a tendency in the West to disregard realities in Russia, and in its remaining sphere of influence.

When late German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle told Moscow in December 2013 that it was “not appropriate” for the EU “to ask third parties for permission before inviting the Ukraine to develop into Europe’s direction”, this represented widespread western- and central European illusions.

Russia, too, is a European country – most Russians live on the European continent, and Moscow, Saint Petersburg, and Volgograd not least, are European cities. The discriminatory – and self-centred – approach of equating Europe with the EU has done much to its recent crises, be it on its eastern, be it on its northwestern boundaries.

There is an important difference to make: it would have been unethical if NATO had refused Polish or a Baltic country’s accessions, and it would have been particularly unethical if Germany a main author of Polish partition and loss of the Baltic states’ sovereignty,- had demanded such a refusal.

But in Ukraine, there had been no consensus to join an alliance with the West. In a row, administrations closer to Moscow or closer to the West had been elected, but there had been no continuity. There was Russian intervention, but there had been unwarranted Western interference prior to that. I have no doubt that any Russian leader, be it Putin, Yeltsin, or Gorbachev, would have reacted just the way Putin did. That was no matter of conviction; it was a matter of geopolitics.

Now, Germany’s federal government intends to counter Russian espionage, propaganda, and disinformation in Germany, writes German daily Die Welt. What they mean is, that Russian and pro-Putin publications have blown several issues in the news – issues that have recently troubled many Germans – out of proportions, or given them a slant that favored narratives from the fringes, rather than the much-conjured “center” of German society.

If the German public can be persuaded by domestic propaganda to swing back from a rather “russophile” (since the 1980s) to a rather anti-Russian attitude again (as from the 1940s to the 1970s) remains to be seen. But if the political class have their way, it is going to work that way.

That said, there are surprises, once in a while. In May 2015, Joachim Gauck, not particularly famous for being a friend of the Russian people, gave a speech in the Westphalian town of Schloß Holte-Stukenbrock, a prisoner-of-war campsite during World War 1 and, more notoriously, World War 2. What Gauck said, was this:

We have gathered here today in Schloß Holte-Stukenbrock to recall one of the worst crimes of the war – the deaths of millions of Red Army soldiers in German prisoner-of-war camps. They died in agony without medical care, starved to death or were murdered. Millions of prisoners of war for whose care the German Wehrmacht was responsible under the law of war and international agreements.

Saying that was laudable, especially as most Germans I know aren’t even aware of this chapter in their history. But there is a catch: to say something only once hardly changes anything. Only regular repetition – as anyone with just a faint idea of how propaganda works can tell you – will make sink inconvenient truths like these sink in. Most Germans I know aren’t actually aware of the scale of German warcrimes against Soviet war prisoners. And to make the warprisoner story sink in isn’t deemed desirable: neither by most of Germany’s media, nor by the German population in general, many of whom would like to see a Schlußstrich, a “final stroke” underneath the complete chapter of Nazism.

Some time in the early 1980s – prior to Gorbachev’s tenure as Soviet party secretary -, the West German foreign office published a booklet for use in school classes. Our school was a rather conservative environment, but the booklet made it into our classroom anyway. Titled “Aufrüsten-Abrüsten” (Armament-Disarmament), it was a try to educate us in foreign politics, and I don’t remember much of it. But there was a remarkable line in it which basically said that, no matter to which conclusions we, as school students, might come concerning the Soviet Union’s role in Europe, we should develop some sympathy – even if not necessarily acquiescence – in the light of the past.

I guess that this booklet had much to do with the man at the helm of the foreign office at the time – Hans-Dietrich Genscher, German foreign minister from 1974 to 1992, who died on Thursday. As phobic as West German feelings against the “East” might have been back then, there seemed to be an understanding, at least in some substantial quarters of the political class, that you can’t have peace without trying to understand those who may (or may not) become your foes, and that your own decisions may matter in the process.

This understanding may no longer be here, and I’m wondering how much misery it may take before we will regain some common sense.

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Notes

*) Max Frisch, in his novel “Homo Faber”, raised a modest monument for German anti-Russian sentiment, in the shape of an, as it turns out later, otherwise/actually/mostly quite likeable German philistine:

No German desired re-armament, but the Russian forced America into it, tragically, which I, as a Swissman […], couldn’t judge, because I hadn’t been to the Caucasus, he [the German] had been in the Caucasus, he knew the Ivan, who could only be taught a lesson with weapons. He knew the Ivan! He said that several times. Only possible lesson through weapons!, he said, because nothing else would impress him, the Ivan —

I peeled my apple.

Distinction between Herrenmenschen and Untermenschen, as advocated by the good Hitler, was, of course, nonsense; but Asians remained Asians —

I ate my apple.

Kein  Deutscher  wünsche  Wiederbewaffnung,  aber  der  Russe zwinge  Amerika  dazu,  Tragik,  ich  als  Schweizer   (Schwyzzer, wie  er mit Vorliebe sagte)  könne  alldies  nicht   beurteilen,  weil  nie im Kaukasus gewesen,  er sei  im  Kaukasus gewesen,  er  kenne den Iwan, der nur durch Waffen zu belehren sei. Er kenne den Iwan!
Das  sagte  er mehrmals. Nur durch Waffen zu  belehren!  sagte  er, denn alles andere  mache  ihm keinen Eindruck,  dem  Iwan   –

Ich  schälte meinen Apfel.

Unterscheidung   nach  Herrenmenschen   und   Untermenschen, wie’s  der  gute  Hitler  meinte, sei  natürlich  Unsinn;  aber  Asiaten bleiben Asiaten –
Ich  aß meinen Apfel.

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