Posts tagged ‘negotiations’

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。

____________

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.

____________

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.

____________

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.

____________

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Hung Hsiu-chu elected KMT Chairwoman

Hung Hsiu-chu, the KMT’s presidential nominee until October 2015 (when she was ditched and replaced by Eric Chu), has been elected KMT chairwoman today. She replaces Eric Chu who resigned as KMT chairman in January, after suffering a heavy defeat as the KMT’s presidential candidate. According to this website, turnout was low.

A new leader will be elected in July 2017, a year and four months from now.

Will she stand for re-election then? And would she be re-elected?

Not necessarily. She hasn’t been quite the diplomat during her political career so far, and a successful KMT chairperson would need great skills to integrate the different tempers and political directions within the KMT.

Her position concerning relations with China were a factor in bringing her down as the KMT’s presidential nominee – she was deemed to close to Beijing. To become a long-term KMT chairperson, the least she would need to do is to move away from her “unification” position.

You may actually be quite “Chinese”, and still become Taiwan’s president. In a post for a University of Nottingham blog, Michael Cole describes how seemingly “pro-unification” parties may be vulnerable to movements that consider themselves Chinese on the one hand, but by no means “pro-Beijing”.

In May, Tsai Ing-wen will be sworn in as President of the Republic of China on Taiwan. And the main opposition leader will be Hung Hsiu-chu. Sounds like a fascinating constellation.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Korean Peninsula: Deploy THAAD if you have to, but provide China with an Explanation

The prospect of a North Korean nuclear arsenal can’t be promising in Beijing’s view – but appears to be preferrable to a scenario where the regime in Pyongyang would collapse and give way to South Korea’s political system, with US military close on its heels.

Given that, it is no great surprise that China doesn’t agree to sanctions that could endanger the very survival of the North Korean regime. And given that, the sanctions Beijing agreed to anyway, in negotiations with Washington’s mission to the UN that were concluded on Thursday, look as if they were unusually biting after all, even if stopping short of causing Pyongyang fatal or near-fatal calamities. After all, the sanctions’ effect depends not only on what the Security Council agrees to, but also on how far North Korea’s trading partners, including China, are prepared to go in implementing them.

What made Beijing agree to the resolution draft that should be voted on shortly? Not least fear of a regional arms race.

A Foreign Ministry official confirmed that China’s Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin requested a meeting with South Korea’s Ambassador to Beijing Kim Jang-soo,

KBS World Radio, South Korea’s foreign broadcasting service, reported on Febuary 9.

The official told Seoul-based Yonhap News Agency that China conveyed its stance on the launch of the THAAD negotiations during that meeting. Asked about what stance China had expressed, the official said it is not appropriate to reveal content from consultations held via diplomatic channels,

the KBS report continued.

The confirmation came as China’s Foreign Ministry announced on Monday that Liu urgently summoned the South Korean ambassador and protested the launch of South Korea-U.S. negotiations on deploying the U.S. THAAD system on the Korean Peninsula.

In her speech to parliament, South Korean president Park Geun-hye also conjured THAAD:

The Government is making sure our military readiness posture is solid and is also making thorough preparations for nonmilitary provocations including cyber- attacks and acts of terrorism in public places.

To maintain robust deterrence against the North, the Government is enhancing the Korea-U.S. combined defense capability and engaging in consultations with the United States to improve our alliance’s missile defense posture. The start of formal consultations to deploy the THAAD system to US Forces Korea, as announced on February 7, is also part of these efforts.

Eleven days earlier, Park had been on the phone, talking to Chinese party and state leader Xi Jinping. The conversation didn’t appear to bear fruit, and certainly not the way Park had hoped for. China was “still unprepared” to “think about this in larger strategic terms”, Yonhap newsagency quoted Jonathan Pollack of the Brookings Institution. Pollack was also quoted as pointing out

how much effort Park has put in to strengthen relations with China and build personal ties with Xi, including her attendance at a massive Chinese military parade in September that was shunned by Western leaders.

“President Park’s expectation, I think legitimate expectation, was that she wanted a different answer from China. She’s made a lot of commitment to China,” the expert said, noting that Park risked domestic and international criticism to attend the September parade.

“She expected something in return, and so far, she has not received that,” he said.

Broadly speaking, Seoul’s plans for tough sanctions against Pyongyang had been frustrated. But there was a pressure point on Beijing. While Seoul had reportedly long been reluctant – or ambiguous – about the idea of deploying THAAD as part of American military defense, the South Korean leadership quickly warmed up to it during the past six or seven weeks.

And Beijing – not terribly successfully, it seems – tried to find an effective line in its communications with South Korea. In a meeting with Kim Jong-in, leader of South Korea’s largest opposition party, Chinese ambassador Qiu Guohong (邱国洪) – quoted by Chosun Ilbo as in turn quoted by Huanqiu Shibao

[…] emphasized that Sino-South Korean relations could thus be negatively affected, as mentioned at the beginning of this [Huanqiu, that is] article. The [Chosun Ilbo] report says that Qiu Guohong had expressed the Chinese position in three points. Firstly, the South Korean government says it would limit the radar reach and lower the performance of ‘THAAD’, but the Chinese government cannot possibly believe that. As a friend, China can believe South Korea’s promises, but the problem is that America has all powers in the deployment, the upgrades, and adjustments made to ‘THAAD’. In the end, China and Russia would become target objects, too.” Secondly, this [THAAD] issue would destroy the regional strategic balance, cause an arms race, and fire up nervousness and disquiet.” Ambassador Qiu reminded the South Korean side of the question of how South Korea’s seucrity should, under such circumstances, be guaranteed? His last point was that “the South-Korean-American consultations concerning ‘THAAD’ had, to some extent, dispersed the international community’s unanimous reaction concerning sanctions against North Korea. Without this issue, maybe there would be a new, passed, UN resolution already.”

[…..] 强调,中韩关系可能因此受到负面影响,这就出现了本文开头的一席话。报道称,邱国洪就中方立场大致说明了3点:首先,“韩国政府虽然声称会缩短预警雷达的探测距离,降低‘萨德’性能,但中国政府无法相信。作为好朋友,中国可以相信韩国的承诺,但问题是美国拥有部署、升级、调整‘萨德’的所有权利,最终中国和俄罗斯也会成为瞄准对象”;其次,该问题会“打破地区的战略均衡,引发地区军备竞赛,助长紧张和不安”。邱大使提醒韩方,如果出现这样的局面,韩国的安全是否能得到保障?最后一点是,“韩美协商‘萨德’问题相当于分散了国际社会对朝鲜制裁的一致应对。如果没有该问题,新的联合国决议案可能已经获得通过”。

The South Korean government wasn’t amused and summoned Qiu to the foreign ministry on Wednesday to discuss his comments during his talks with the country’s opposition leader. This was no dramatic response to a questionable Chinese move, but an unusually strong reaction by South Korean standards, in its relations with Beijing. And there is no indication that Seoul will drop the idea of THAAD deployment again, after what appears to have been a successful game of hardball with Beijing, forced upon the clestial kingdom by three unruly barbarians: America, South Korea, and – not least – the North Korean “ally”.

On Thursday, the day when Beijing’s and Washington’s missions to the UN agreed to the resolution draft on sanctions against North Korea, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi apparently struck a more conciliatory tone, saying that the decision was ultimately up to South Korea, and China understood the desire of the United States and South Korea to ensure the defense of their own countries. However, China’s legitimate security concerns also needed to be taken into account, Reuters quoted Wang as saying – an explanation must be provided to China.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Pope and China: “Inexhaustible Wisdom”

In Order of Publication (from January 2015 to February 2016)

Ma Ying-jeou, speaking at a Dinner banquet in Italy, March 18, 2013

Pope Francis is the first pontiff from Latin America, as well as the first from the Society of Jesus. He is humble and amicable, shows special concern for the poor, and leads a frugal life, traveling by public transport to and from work. He also attaches great importance to international poverty reduction. Meanwhile, the Republic of China has provided humanitarian relief, through the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, to those affected by the Italian earthquake. We have aided refugees in the border areas of Syria and South Sudan. Assistance has also been extended to Mali, Niger, Mauritania and Chad for national greening projects aimed at combating desertification, as well as to Colombia for a community reconstruction plan. These all clearly reflect the role that the ROC plays as a provider of humanitarian aid.

Huanqiu Shibao online, January 20, 2015

Huanqiu online report, Ge Peng reporting — According to an Agence-France Presse report on January 20, Pope Francis, on his return flight from the Philippines, told reporters that the reason for not having met the Dalai Lama in December hadn’t been because he “feared China”, but just because no arrangements for a meeting had been made.

【环球网报道 记者 葛鹏】据法新社1月20日报道,教皇方济各20日从菲律宾飞回梵蒂冈后对记者表示,他在去年12月时未会见达赖喇嘛并不是因为“害怕中国”,只是并未安排会见。

The Dalai Lama had been in Rome last month [i. e. in December] to attend a Nobel Peace Prize winners’ summit. Francis said: “Some papers wrote that the reason I hadn’t met him was out of fear of China. This proposition is wrong. He has previously suggested a meeting, but the time hasn’t come yet, and we are still in touch.”

达赖喇嘛上个月曾到罗马参加诺贝尔和平奖获奖者峰会。方济各说:“有的报纸说我没和他见面是因为害怕中国,这种说法是错误的,他此前曾提出和我会谈,但还没到时候,我们还在接触。”

When asked about Sino-Vatican relations, he said: “Chinese people are polite, we are also very courteous, and we are slowly approaching each other.

当被问及中国和梵蒂冈的关系时,他说:“中国人很有礼貌,我们也很客气,我们在慢慢接近。”

On his flight back from Manila and across China, just as he did with other countries [whose airspace] he passed, he sent a telegram to Chinese state chairman Xi Jinping, expressing his good wishes to the Chinese people.

在方济各从马尼拉飞回经过中国时,他同飞经其他国家一样,向国家主席习近平发了一封电报,向中国人民表示祝福。

Dalai Lama candels October U.S. Visit, September 25, 2015

His Holiness the Dalai Lama is in the United States for a medical check-up. The doctors have advised His Holiness to rest for the next several weeks. As a result, His Holiness’ planned October U.S. visit has been cancelled. We deeply regret the inconvenience caused by this decision and apologize to all the people who have worked so hard in organizing the visit as well as to the public. We thank you for your support and understanding.

The Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama

[Note: there apparently were no meeting plans – the Dalai Lama would have visited Philadelphia after Pope Francis]

Ma Ying-jeou responds to Pope’s 2016 World Peace Day Message, January 27, 2016

The president said as peace also requires consensus and collaboration, he proposed the East China Sea and South China Sea Peace Initiatives to address tensions in the Asia-Pacific region.

Based on clearly defined concepts, those initiatives “call on all parties concerned to exercise restraint, shelve disputes and use peaceful means such as consultation and dialogue to resolve conflict,” he added. The president said over the last seven years, he has done his utmost to encourage peaceful interaction between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait and overcome numerous obstacles.

In particular, his November 2015 meeting with mainland Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Singapore serves as a positive example of settling disputes through peaceful means for other regions facing similar difficulties.

Taiwan Today / RoC Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Guanchazhe online, February 3, 2016

This translation doesn’t necessarily mirror the pope’s actual wording. The Asia Times interview can be found there. The Asia Times reporter Guanchazhe referred to is Francesco Sisci.

According to foreign media reports, Roman Catholic Pope Francis, on the eve of China’s traditional New Year – Spring Festival – expressed long-standing admiration for China’s “great culture” and “inexhaustible wisdom”, and his “best greetings and wishes to Chairman Xi Jinping and all Chinese people”. This was another step that raised speculation about the Vatican and China rapidly improving relations.

据外媒报道,在中国传统新年——春节来临之际,罗马天主教皇方济各(Pope Francis)在接受媒体采访时,向中国的“伟大文化”和“无穷尽的智慧”表达了长久以来的“钦佩之情”,表达了“对习近平主席和所有中国人民最美好的问候与祝福”。此举进一步增加了梵蒂冈和中国可能会迅速改善关系的猜测。

The Hong Kong [paper] “Asia Time”, on February 2, published online the content of an interview conducted with Pope Francis on January 28.

教皇方济各在1月28日接受了香港《亚洲时报》(Asia Time)的采访,这家媒体星期二(2月2日)通过互联网公布了采访的内容。

Francis said in the interview that to him, China had always been place to think of when greatness was mentioned, that [he saw] China as a great country.

方济各在采访中说,中国对于他来说一直是一个说到伟大就会想到的地方,是一个伟大的国家。

Vatican Holy See spokesman Lombardi said that the Pope’s interview was significant. However, the situation of Catholicism in China and the issue of bishops in China appointed by the Holy See weren’t mentioned in the interview.

梵蒂冈教廷新闻官龙巴蒂(P. Federico Lombardi)表示,这次教皇的采访意味深长。不过,有关中国天主教状况及教廷任命中国主教的话题没有在这次采访中提及。

That the Pope shows friendliness to Beijing isn’t news: [events] from his greetings from a flight through Chinese airspace in August 2014 when he sent a greetings telegram to Xi Jinping, to a Vatican delegation’s visit to Beijing in October 2015 showed the Vatican’s gradual rapprochement to Beijing.

教皇方济各向北京示好并非新闻:从2014年8月飞越中国领空、向习近平发问候电报,到梵蒂冈代表团2015年10月访问北京,这一切都显示着梵蒂冈与北京的渐行渐近。

[…]

In his speeches, Francis repeatedly called for world peace, tolerance and respect in his speeches. This includes tolerance and harmony between different ideological camps like East and West. During his visit to South America in September 2015, he met with Cuban leader Raoul Castro and revolutionary leader Fidel Castro. Also, according to American sources, the Vatican played a key role in the diplomatic “thaw” between Washington and Havana.

方济各还在讲话中反复呼吁世界的和平、宽容与尊重。这其中也包括东、西方不同意识形态阵营的宽容与融合。在他2015年9月访问南美期间,他与古巴领导人劳尔·卡斯特罗以及革命领袖菲德尔·卡斯特罗会面。另外据美国方面称,方济各和梵蒂冈在华盛顿与哈瓦那的外交“融冰”中发挥了关键作用。

The “Asia Time” reporter addressed the Chinese family planning issue, as the Pope resolutely opposes abortion. Francis first discussed issues of aging [populations] in different regions, and of [people not wanting] children, and then talked about China. “Not having many children is of course very painful, because this way of an upside-down pyramid, the parental and great-parental generations all lean on one child. This is fatiguing, harsh, and confusing, it’s not natural.” But the Pope also said that nowadays, there was some change in China in this regard.

亚洲时报》记者在采访中提及中国的计划生育问题,因为天主教的教义坚决反对堕胎。方济各先是谈到世界各地的人口老龄化和不愿意要小孩儿问题,然后才讲到中国。“不能多要小孩这个问题,当然非常令人痛苦,因为这样金字塔倒了过来,父辈、祖父辈的负担都在一个孩子身上。这是累人的、苛刻的、令人迷惘的,不是自然的。”但是教皇也表示,中国在这方面如今有所改变。

Francis said, “so long as there is improvement and onward movement, I’m not worried, because this testifies that they are making [or creating] history. I believe that China moving forward is their great position. … to be in charge of choosing ones own road is healthy and useful. We have taken this road, it hasn’t led through perfectly, so others may be opened.”

方济各说,“只要是在进步、在向前走,我就不担心,因为这证明了他们正在创造历史。我认为,中国人在向前走,这也是他们伟大的地方。……对自己选择的路负责是健康、有益的。我们走了这条路,没有完全走通,所以现在其他可能被开辟出来”。

At the end of the interview, the Pope “send his best greetings and wishes to Xi Jinping and all Chinese people.” He said that “I hope they will never lose their historical awareness that they are a great nation, that they will not forget their nation’s history of sublime wisdom, that they will make their own considerable contributions to the world. The world relies on your extraodinary wisdom. On the eve of this new year, I hope you will keep this awareness, that you will continue to move forward, and together with everyone make a common cause of taking care of our common home and common people.

在采访的结尾,教皇向“习近平主席和所有中国人民致以最美好的问候与祝福”。他表示,“我祝愿他们永不丢失自己是个伟大民族的历史意识,不忘记自己民族智慧的崇高历史,体认到自己必能对世界贡献良多。世界仰赖你们超凡绝伦的智慧。在这新年之际,愿你们怀着这份意识,持续向前迈进,与众人同心协力照料我们的共同家园和黎民百姓。”

The BBC quoted sources saying that before publication of Francis’ [interview], a Chinese delegation had visited the Vatican in January. According to other unconfirmed news, the Vatican has already reached an agreement with Beijing, allowing the Pope to appoint bishops in China.

英国广播公司引述的消息说,在教皇方济各的上述谈话发表之前,曾经有一个中国代表团在今年1月访问过梵蒂冈。证实的消息说,梵蒂冈已经同北京达成协议,允许教皇在中国任命主教。

Some comments say the Vatican’s settlement with Beijing was welcomed by many Chinese Catholics, but was also met with many [religious practitioner’s] opposition worrying that the Vatican was sacrificing their interests.

有评论指出,梵蒂冈同北京的和解受到许多中国天主教徒的欢迎,但是也受到许多教徒的反对,他们担心梵蒂冈牺牲他们的利益。

Concerning relations with China, there are also two opposing points of view within the Vatican. One group believes that treating China requires flexibility, thus earning Catholic followers greater freedoms. Another group believes that China’s regime has shown absolutely no change.

梵蒂冈内部有关中国问题也存在着两种对立的观点。一派认为,对待中国应该表现出灵活性,以便能让中国的天主教徒获得更大的自由。但是另一派认为,中国的政权根本没有发生变化。

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Related

Garden of Growing Imams, Sept 17, 2014
Retired Pope’s unachieved Dream, Mar 13, 2013
Certifying Living Buddhas (in Chinese), Garze Daily, Dec 2010

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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Korean Peninsula: no Pain, no Denuclearization

North Korea’s “Historical Moment”

On February 7, North Korea launched a missile. Pyongyang referred ot it as a satellite launch, and that’s how they had registered it with the International Maritime Office in London, a few days earlier.

But the world appeared to be in disbelief. One month earlier, on January 6, North Korea had conducted a nuclear test, and given that space rockets’ and ballistic missiles’ technological platforms are quite similar to each other, it is believed that Pyongyang chose the space option (a three-stufen rocket) rather than a (two-stufen) missile so as to circumvent UN Security Council restrictions on its missile program.

Beijing, too, expressed disbelief and “regretted” the satellite launch which, as the foreign ministry spokesperson emphasized, had been based on ballistic-missile technology.

Pyongyang’s claim that it had tested a hydrogen bomb was met with skepticism in the West, in Japan, and South Korea, and at least semi-officially – via the world of Chinese science, as usual – Beijing expressed doubt, too.

He wouldn’t rule out that North Korea mastered a bit of hydrogen-bomb technology already, PLA Academy of Military Science researcher Du Wenlong told CCTV, but the available data “didn’t support a ‘hydrogen-bomb test’”.

There were no such doubts about North Korean television’s wonderweapon: “Heaven and earth are shaking because of the historical moment”, announced Ri Chun-hee, a veteran presenter, re-emerged from retirement for the festive occasion.

South Korea’s Reaction

And South Korea’s leadership was steaming with anger. If it was up to the South’s foreign minister, Yun Byung-he, the North Korean leadership would be entering a world of pain:

“I believe it is time for the international community to show zero tolerance to North Korea’s uncontrolled provocations”, he told the Munich Security Conference in Munich on Thursday, and: “it is time now to inflict unbearable pain on Pyongyang, to make them take the right strategic decision, as Iran has done.”

South Korea sees itself affected by Pyongyang’s nuclear test more immediately as other neighbors or opponents taking part in the six-party talks on the Korean peninsula’s denuclearization. Different from the world outside the peninsula, reunification of the two Koreas is on the agenda, even if outside the South Korean government, considerable doubts are expressed concerning the use and feasibility of such unification.

There was a special relationship between South Korea and Germany, because of the painful experience of division, South Korean president Park Geun-hye said during a visit to Berlin, in March 2014.

Her demand that “meticulous preparations” should be made for making Korean unity happen was probably meant seriously then, and still is. Basically, the situation on the Korean peninsula isn’t that different after the North’s fourth nuclear test, anyway: America and China can agree to a common denominator concerning sanctions against Pyongyang, but no sanctions that would call the continuation of the North Korean regime into question.

Besides, flashes of official Korean anger – northern or southern – might be considered a ritual. As German sinologist Oskar Weggel observed decades ago, student protests in [South] Korean cities always took the same shape and followed the same script, while life continued as normal just next to where young people were battling it out with the police. 1)

But for some South Korean companies, life may be anything but normal now. An industrial park jointly run in Kaesong, by North and South Korea, has ceased operation last week. On Thursday, Pyongyang deported all the South Korean employees to the South, after South Korea had stopped production. The South Koreans’ apparent attempt to take their assets and stock across the border to the South reportedly didn’t succeed: according to Radio Japn news on Friday, the North Korean committee for reunification announced that South Korean assets in Kaesong would be frozen, and also on Friday, China Radio International’s Mandarin service reported that the South Koreans had only been allowed to take personal belongings with them. The industrial park had been sealed off as a military zone – chances are that this halt will last longer than a previous one in 2013.

Valued more than 500 million USD in 2015, inter-Korean production in Kaesong may be considered less than decisive, in macro-economic terms. However, according to South Korean broadcaster KBS’ German service, South Korean opposition criticized the production halt in Kaesong as the governing party’s “strategy” for the upcoming parliamentary elections in April. Also according to KBS, Seoul feels compelled to take relief measures for companies invested in Kaesong. All companies residing in the industrial park are granted a moratorium on loan repayments, and companies who took loans from an inter-Korean cooperation fund may also suspend interest payment.

Chinese-North Korean Relations

China had “total control” of North Korea, Donald Trump claimed in a CNN interview – there would be nothing to eat in North Korea without China. If you go by statistics, Trump appears to have a point.

From 2009 to 2011, North Korean exports (imports) to (from) China rose from 348 mn (1.47 bn) USD to 2.5 bn (3.7 bn) USD. In total, North Korea’s exports (imports) reached a value of 3.7 bn (4.3 bn) USD.2) Even after a contraction of North Koran-Chinese trade in 2014 and 2015 to 2.3 bn (2.6 bn) USD by 2015, there’s hardly a way to reject the notion of North Korean dependence on China.

North Korea also depends on China in military terms. An American-led attack on Pyongyang – be it to occupy the North, be it for the sake of “regime change”, is hardly conceivable – directly or indirectly, Beijing’s nuclear umbrella protects the regime.

All the same, it is wrong to believe that Beijing wielded substantial influence over Pyongyang’s behavior. Neither economic nor military support from Beijing has been able to satisfy Pyongyang. Given Chinese reform and opening up “to the West”, or to international markets, since 1978, China’s leaders are considered weaklings by North Korean peers, despite some private-economy tries of their own. To consider oneself an economic or military dwarf, but a giant of ideological purity vis-à-vis China has some tradition in Korea.

That China has joined several initiatives – resolutions and sanctions – against North Korea hasn’t been a confidence-building measure for the neighbor and ally either.

That Pyongyang, under these circumstances, keeps striving for nuclear arms, come what may, is only logical – at least by the regime’s own interest –, and not negotiable, unless the regime falls. There are no conceivable guarantees – be it from Beijing, be it from Washington – that could make the North Korean political class abandon their nuclear goal.

American-Chinese Relations

No matter if there ever was or wasn’t a Western “guarantee” to the former USSR not to expand NATO eastward: a precondition for any feasible arrangement of that kind – in east or west – would be a situation where all parties involved would see themselves in a position to enter a non-aligned status, or to maintain one. There is no way that this could currently be done in East Asia. Even as there is no structure comparable to NATO in East Asia – and South-East Asia, for that matter -, none of China’s neighbors will discard the option to play America and China off against one another, thus increasing its own leeway – neither North Korea as China’s current “ally”, nor any other state within the former Chinese imperial state’s range of influence. And neither America nor China – strategic rivals of one another – would abandon the option to establish or to maintain alliances in Asia, based on partnership or on hegemony.

If the North Korean regime collapsed, there would be no guarantees for China that a North Korean power vacuum wouldn’t be filled by South Korea and the United States. And if China invaded Korea’s north preemptively, it wouldn’t only violate its own attitude of non-interference, but it would risk war, or at least a crash in its economic relations with America and many other countries. Not least, a Chinese invasion would harden an antagonism against China that already exists among former tributary states.

From China’s perspective, there is therefore no convincing alternative to the incumbent North Korean regime. The status quo costs less than any conceivable alternative scenario.

America knows that, too, and a newly lected president Trump would get real very quickly, or America would lose a great deal of influence in the region.

Frustrations

Last week’s developments will be most frustrating for the South Korean government, particularly for president Park. Her public-support rate will hardly depend on national reunification drawing closer, but it will depend on a reasonably relaxed co-existence with the North, including at least a few fields of cooperation, as has been the case in the Kaesong Industrial Park. The South Korean opposition’s accusations against the government to have stopped production carelessly or intentionally, it’s exactly because levelling such accusations can damage the government’s reputation with the electorate.

A phone call between Park and Chinese party and state leader Xi Jinping didn’t provide Park with good news either, let alone progress in her efforts to influence the North through international channels. China was still “not prepared” to change its …. Toward North Korea, an editorialist for South Korea’s Yonhap newsagency stated cautiously, adding a quote from Jonathan Pollack who had emphasized how Park had made efforts for good relations with Beijing, even by attending the Chinese military parade in September, commemorating the end of World War 2.

Pyongyang is hardly at risk to suffer from unbearable pains, as demanded by South Korea’s foreign minister in Munich.

But Beijing, too, can’t be happy with the situation. It offends face-conscious Chinese people to be fooled, on the world stage, by a gang – that’s how many Chinese view North Korea’s “elites”. The effects of North Korea’s behavior also strengthen the hand of the US in the region. Just as Pyongyang helps itself to a Chinese military umbrella without much cost (if any), most other neighbors afford themselves, to varying degrees, an American umbrella. Even Japan and South Korea, facing North Korean nuclear armament, might work to defuse mutual antagonism, as feared by Chinese military professor Zhang Zhaozhong, in 2010. Preparedness to improve Japanese-South Korean relations appears to be on the increase.

Besides the – aggressive indeed – role played by China in the South China sea, North Korea’s attitude remains another strong anchor point for America’s military and political presence in the Far East.

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Notes

1) Oskar Weggel: “Die Asiaten”, Munich 1989, 1994, 1997 p. 148
2) FAO/WFP Group and Security Assessment Mission to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Rome, Nov 28, 2013, p. 7

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