Posts tagged ‘Obama’

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Emphasizing District-Level Cooperation and Mass Work: Xinhua reviews Xi Jinping’s State Visit

The following is a translation of an article published by Xinhua news agency on Tuesday. Links within blockquotes added during translation.

Chairman Xi Jinping’s first [update/correction: state] visit to America has been successfully concluded. It hasn’t only brought the nervous talk about qualitative changes in Sino-American relations to an end, but it also provided the global economy with positive expectations, successfully managed differences and risks, and to the Asia-Pacific and even to the world’s peace and stability, it has brought positive energy.


This shows once again that the new type of big-power relations between China and America are possible, feasible, and projectable. On the road of building [these relations], some indications can be found:


— From the bottom to the top. America’s elites, particularly its strategic elites, are worried about China, talk negatively about the direction of Sino-American relations, while the the district levels and common people are less affected by ideological and national-security interference, with a positive development for Sino-American relations. As for American diplomacy, Chairman Xi therefore particularly emphasized regional and local cooperation and doing mass work, to explore how the roads of the Chinese dream and the American dream are interlinked.


— Adding to the existing quantities. Bilateral Sino-American trade is at an annual average of six-hundred billion US dollars, and Chinese investment in America is expected to rise to 200 billion US dollars by 2020. American diplomacy constantly digs into the potentials of economic cooperation, [no translation found]. The Sino-American Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) is considered important by both sides.


— Shelving smaller differences from common ground. China and America are the world’s leading powers, and interest conficts are inevitable. What matters is mutual respect, to follow the principles of no clashes and no confrontation [or antagonism], to strive for common ground while setting small aside differences. For example, in the previous stir about internet hacking issues, the theft of trade secrets was a small [legal] case, while the common ground is about rules for an open internet, with great peace and security. Having grasped this trend, through the U.S.-China Internet Industry Forum and other activities, and the promotion of network cooperation, had become a highlight of Chairman Xi Jinping’s visit to America. Arriving at consensus concerning the joint statement on climate change and other issues, and having built a solid foundation for the United Nations Climate Change Conference to be held in Paris at the end of this year, are commended by the world.


[Global order issues / One-Belt-one-Road initiative / U.S. concerns alleviated]

[global governance]

The Chinese and American path of establishing new-type big-power relations is constantly explored further. Chairman Xi Jinping’s visit to America has provided an example for this kind of exploration, directing the focus on the future development of Sino-American relations, and an example for the new-type big-power relations of the 21rst century.




» Safe for democracy, Wikipedia, acc. Oct 6, 2015
» Safe for authoritarianism, FP, June 4, 2015
» No meeting without substance,Oct 2, 2015
» Your sea is our sea, July 16, 2015


Friday, October 2, 2015

Leadership Styles: No Meeting without Substance

The Taipei Times compared Pope Francis‘ and Xi Jinping‘s leadership styles: the Chinese traveller to America was outwardly strong and internally weak, while the Roman-Argentinian was the exact opposite, the paper wrote in an online article on Tuesday. As a man who kept close to the public, was met with large crowds of people wherever he went and held Mass for almost 1 million people, the Pope had been a perfect example of soft power.

That was a bit like lauding a model mineworker for churning out tons of coal every day, and criticizing a goldsmith for not doing likewise – or vice versa.

Soft power abroad? Quite a number of Chinese people – especially Chinese people with some exposure to foreign cultures and hurt feelings – may long for it, and the Economist logically threatened Xi with something worse than criticism: neglect. But the politburo could care less. As long as the results are satisfactory – and as long as people at home can be made believe that Americans (not just at Boeing) could hardly wait for the Chinese visitor, everything is staying the desirable course.

But what are the results?

The two sides reached broad consensus and achieved a number of positive results, Ta Kung Pao (Hong Kong) wrote on Sunday:

According to a list published by the Chinese ministry of commerce on September 26, the major consensus and results reached by the two sides can be counted as 49 points, fitting into five big categories. Obama, on his own initiative, reiterated that America maintained the one-China principle and did not support “Taiwan independence”, “Tibet independence”, “Xinjiang independence”, and that America would not get involved in Hong Kong affairs.*)


According to Xinhua reports, Xi Jinping made important suggestions concerning the next stage of Sino-American relations, emphasizing the need to promote Sino-American relations that would always develop along the correct track. The two sides agreed to continue efforts to build Sino-American great-power relations of a new type. He [Xi] also emphasized that the Chinese nation was highly sensitive about matters concerning China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. He hoped that America would scrupulously abide by the relevant promises, not to support any action aimed at harming China’s unity and stability.


In this regard, Obama, on his own initiative, reiterated that America maintained the one-China principle, scrupulously abided by the principles of the three Sino-US Joint Communiqués, and that this position would not change. America did not support “Taiwan independence”, “Tibetan independence”, and “Xinjiang independence”, and would not get involved in Hong Kong affairs. This is the second time after denying American connection to Hong Kong’s “Occupy Central”, during the APEC summit last year, that Obama stated his position.*)


The 49 projects, results and consensus concern the five great fields of Sino-American great-power relations of a new type, practical bilateral cooperation, Asia-Pacific affairs, international affairs, and global challenges. Among these, nearly twenty negotiation points pertaining to financial and trade cooperation and the Sino-American Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT), awaited by all circles, have made progress. The information published by the Chinese ministry of information pointed out that both the Chinese and American leader had reiterated that to reach a high-level investment agreement was “the most important economic issue between the two countries”, and that both sides had agreed to strongly push the negotiations and to accelerate the work.


The Chinese achievement list unequivocally mentions: “The two countries’ leaders reiterate that to reach a high-level investment agreement is “the most important economic issue between the two countries”, and both sides agree to “strongly push the negotiations and to accelerate the work, so as to reach a mutually beneficial, double-win, high-level investment agreement”.


China Institute of International Studies researcher Yang Xiyu says that this position [held by] the two heads of state was of historical significance, meaning that the world’s biggest developed and the world’s biggest developing country could, as fast as possible, achieve BIT, and that the world’s two biggest economic entities achieving BIT will raise the long-awaited effects, further solidifying the foundations of mutual trust in trade.



Within the list of achievements, several points of consensus have been reached concerning Sino-American network security cooperation, such as China and America agreeing that each country’s government must not engage in, or knowingly support, the stealing of intellectual property rights, including trade secrets, and other classified trade information. China and America committed themselves to jointly define and promote appropriate standards of international society conduct on the internet, and to establish a high-level, joint dialogue system between the two countries, to strike at cyber crime and related issues. A number of American experts said that this was an important outcome of this [Xi] visit, and that strengthening cooperation about network security was a really important field of work in Sino-American relations. Indiana University professor and high-level Council of Foreign Relations network security researcher David P. Fidler believes that the two countries’ having achieved this consensus is “of major significance, and welcome news”.


The two sides will also strengthen anti-corruption cooperation, strengthen high-speed rail cooperation, strengthen cultural exchange cooperation, and reach consensus in reaction to global challenges, broaden practical cooperation on bilateral, regional and global levels, and manage and control differences and sensitive issues in a constructive manner, continuously achieving new positive results.


A benevolent label for these outcomes could be progress, and an accurate one would be unverifiable progress. It’s sort of obvious that Washington and Beijing wouldn’t issue a snafu statement at the end of the talks. What Beijing might consider a real achievement, however, is the prevention of an exchange of sanctions in the wake of the “network security”, i. e. hack-and-spy, controversies. That doesn’t go without saying – news coverage during late summer pointed to a chance that this could happen.

Hong Kong website Fenghuang (or Ifeng), in an article on September 22, attributed much of the success in defusing the conflicts to a visit by a delegation to Washington from September 9 to 12:

China attaches great importance to Sino-American relations and their future development, and does not ignore the concrete problems that occupy America.


From September 9 – 12, politburo member and the central committee’s political and judicial committee secretary Meng Jianfu visited America in his capacity as Xi Jinping’s special envoy, together with [a delegation of] responsibles at offices for public security, the judiciary, network communication, etc.. He had talks with secretary of state John Kerry, homeland security secretary Jeh Johnson, national security adviser Susan Rice, and other central [US] authorities, to exchange views about cyber crime and other outstanding problems, and to achieve important consensus. Meng Jianzhu’s trip broke with old habits. Under Xi Jinping’s leadership, China’s diplomacy has become more direct and more practical.

9月9日至12日,中共中央政治局委员、中央政法委书记孟建柱以 习近平特使身份,率公安、安全、司法、网信等部门有关负责人访问美国,同美国国务卿克里、国土安全部部长约翰逊、总统国家安全事务助理赖斯等核心部门举行 会谈,就共同打击网络犯罪等突出问题深入交换意见,达成重要共识。中央政法委书记作为特使,打破以往惯例,习近平治下的中国外交更加直接务实。

That, and some more soothing soundbytes from Beijing, appeared to have had their effect on Washington, suggests Fenghuang:

On September 16, Obama made remarks about cyber security again, but according to Reuters, America will not impose sanctions on so-called “cyber attacks” before Xi Jinping’s visit, and maybe not afterwards either.


After all, the main goal of the Obama administration had been to put pressure on Beijing, and to address domestic complaints, the Fenghuang article believed.

What looks credible – because it’s said to be long-established practice anyway – is that whatever consensus was indeed there between Washington and Beijing had been reached before Xi Jinping even set foot on American soil.

When he reached the American West Coast from Beijing, he meant business, not soft power – although there’s probably something charming to a 300-aircraft order form, at least among the stakeholders. The traditional microcosms were also conscientiously cultivated, even if Winston Ross of Newsweek was not convinced:

[Xi Jinping’s] handlers, who had corralled me and the reporters from the Associated Press, Bloomberg and the Los Angeles Times for the previous hour in anticipation of this exchange, apparently assumed we all spoke Mandarin. The Times reporter shot me a bewildered look. I shrugged. Xi said something to Oregon Governor Kate Brown that she found hilarious. We asked for a transcript of his remarks. We were not given one.

That occasion, Xi’s first stop – i. e. the meeting with American governors and Chinese provincial governors -, wasn’t (much) about substance, Ross alleged. He could have known better, even without translation: maintaining contacts between many layers of business and politics – not just the top echelons – is both a Chinese move to keep contacts going even if top-level relations between China and another country should deteriorate. Besides, while Confucius Institutes and other means of  indoctrination soft power may face some scrutiny at federal or central governments of democratic countries, regional authorities may lack the resources that such scrutiny would require.

Chinese central leaders waste no time with unsubstantial meetings. They waste no time with soft-power ambitions either. It’s the technology, stupid.



*) VoA has a somewhat different take on this: according to their newsarticle on Wednesday, Obama referred to both the Three Joint Communiqués, and the Taiwan Relations Act, and that had been the only public remarks made about Taiwan during Xi’s state visit in Washington. Ta Kung Pao omitted the mention of the TRA.



» Joint Press Conference, White House, Sept 25, 2015
» Six-point proposal, Xinhua, Sept 25, 2015


Thursday, July 30, 2015

Ma Ying-jeou: “A Considerable Threat Continues to Exist in the Taiwan Strait”

Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou spoke about cross-strait relations in an interview with the BBC‘s Carrie Gracie this month. There is a three-minutes’ video on youtube, and Radio Taiwan International‘s (RTI) Chinese service has a transcript of the interview.

I have based my following translation – not necessarily accurate – on the RTI transcript. Links with in the following Q & A were inserted during translation.


[Asked what his feelings are about China being both an important trading partner and a cause of security threats]

A: We are only some 100 nautical miles away from mainland China, and to us, China is a big risk risk, and also a big opportunity. Any leader of the Republic of China should learn to reduce risks and to expand opportunities, and what I have done during the past seven years is exactly that.


Our economic relations with mainland China, (language and culture), coincide in fairly many ways, while the developmental stages of both sides aren’t identical. Over the past decades, our trade volume with mainland China has continuously risen, and our trade surplus has been huge. The goods we sell to mainland China can be processed further there, be sold to Europe and North America, and this stage has been of mutual benefit in the past.


Of course, mainland Chinese threats stem from the military and the political field, and some people believe that deepening trade and investment relations with mainland China leads to excessive dependence on mainland China. To consider and weigh political and military threats, the mode our government adopted has been to find some consensus that is acceptable to both sides, and to shelve differences. In terms of the economy and trade, obviously, Taiwan can’t avoid some dependence on mainland China, but since I took office, dependence on mainland China has actually decreased, because the government has started the work of market diversification, leading to Taiwan’s trade dependence on mainland China not increasing further, but rather slightly decreasing.


[Asked if he believes that China is moving towards democratization, in a long-term trend]


A: During the past few years, I have constantly reminded the mainland Chinese authorities that if you want to narrow the psychological gap between the Taiwanese and the mainland Chinese people, freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law, these core values of Taiwan, are important factors.  If mainland China were more active concerning these issues, the distance could be narrowed, but also, if there wouldn’t be more positive activity, the distance could also widen. In the past few years, the trends and changes in the psychological gap have also clearly reflected the actual attitude of mainland Chinese authorities in recent years.


On these issues, mainland China has seen good and bad times, sometimes somewhat better, sometimes worsening somewhat, thus remaining in a state of uncertainty.

When I was running for re-election four years ago, mainland Chinese people were able to watch our elections on the internet, which was unprecedented. But recently, we have also seen many arrests of human rights activists, making everyone feel worried about mainland China’s human rights situation. Therefore, the feelings their situation causes us are sometimes good, sometimes bad.


[Asked if he feels angry about not having had an opportunity to met Xi Jinping after his efforts to improve relations]

A: Since I assumed office, one can say that cross-strait relations have improved, no matter if we look at economic aspects, cultural aspects, etc.. Therefore, a meeting between the leaders of the two sides would be a natural thing.  During the last two years, we have thought about the APEC summits as an opportunity to meet, but always without success, and of course, that’s a pity. Our current position is to neither rule a meeting out, nor to insist.


[Asked if he thinks that not to meet is Xi Jinping’s personal decision, taken from a too arbitrary  (過於獨斷) position]

A: We don’t know their decision-making process, of course, but certainly, the final decision lies with Mr. Xi. Maybe some of our views just differ, because we feel that in the process of developing cross-strait relations, some encounters on international occasions are unavoidable, but mainland Chinese leaders may try their best not to appear with us on international occasions, as they worry this could be against the so-called “One-China policy”. But what I would like to emphasize is that we have said clearly on many occasions that when we reached the “1992 consensus”, it just meant that the two parties both maintain the “One-China principle”, but the meaning we give to it is not identical. Only with this flexibility, the two parties can establish better relations. However, once it comes to international occasions, mainland China remains very unflexible in this regard.


[Asked if Xi Jinping’s statement that the cross-strait issue couldn’t be dragged from generation to generation constitutes a threat to Taiwan]

A: I believe that this way of putting it, makes things look as if they had been delayed for a long time. In fact, the two sides having relatively close and friendly relations has only been going on for these seven years. I often say that seven years can’t count as a generation. Patient handling is required. The two sides have been apart for more than sixty years. The atmosphere can’t be changed over night. We believe that cross-strait relations should be promoted patiently and diligently, to let the fruits gradually emerge.


In fact, the fruits brought about by the cross-strait relations’ development during the past seven years have already surpassed those of the previous fifty years which is very fast, but in the view of the Taiwanese people, they do not wish to move too quickly but to gradually achieve the goal of improved relations.


[Asked if recent mainland Chinese military exercises and their use of the Republic of China’s presidential palace as an imaginary target made him feel uneasy]

A: According to intelligence we’ve collected in the past, they have used mock objects for simulated attacks for a long time. When we conduct military exercises, we also put out defense against such designs. [Mainland Chinese] action of this kind just reminds us that in the Taiwan Strait, in the military field, a considerable threat continues to exist, against which we must prepare.


[Asked if the threat against Taiwan doesn’t rise with mainland Chinese military and economic strength]

A: In fact, the balance across the Taiwan Strait, in military terms, has tilted in favor of mainland China, beginning in 2005. Because very year, at a pace of double-digit numbers, and even at a pace of twenty per cent, they increase their national defense budget. It would be difficult for us to engage in an arms race with the mainland in this regard. Therefore, our principle in defense combat is to create a bilateral situation in which any party that wants to use one-sided, non-peaceful means to change the status quo must pay a price it doesn’t want to pay. That’s the only feasible major principle to prevent a cross-strait military conflict. Peace and prosperity have always been the goals of our efforts.


What I mean is that cross-strait relations exist into all kinds of directions. As for military threats, we must think about ways to reduce them, but in non-military fields, we also want to think about ways to increase them. Therefore, in our dealings with mainland China, we will always see these different directions.


What we prepare for our annual Han Kuang military exercises is just that kind of defense operations, and we have exactly these points in the Han Kuang military exercises. I’m sorry that we can’t disclose these to you. I can’t disclose related details, but we do prepare for conflict scenarios.


[Asked if he feels unsatisfied with this.]

A: Of course.


[Asked if given mainland Chinese military budget increases, and American strategic ambiguity concerning Taiwan, America shouldn’t be more clear about its attitude towards Taiwan, or guarantee support for Taiwan under certain circumstances – and if Obama would be in a position to do this]

A: As for America, the “Taiwan Relations Act” regulations are plain. Of course, we cannot rely on American law and regulations, but on our own preparedness. And our preparations aren’t just about adopting defense measures, but we should, by means of politics and cross-strait relations, eliminate chances for this situation [of military conflict] to occur. Therefore, as for the Taiwanese defense lines against mainland China that I’ve just mentioned, the first line is not about aircraft and artillery, but about reconciliation [or amicable settlement], and thus reducing the risk of conflict erupting, and only this is one of the highest strategies. This is also exactly what Sunzi’s “Art of War” means when saying that  the highest form of generalship is to balk [or counter-attack] the enemy’s plans”.


[Pressed on whether he would hope for a clear American presidential defense statement in favor of Taiwan if attacked by mainland China]

A: In fact, this problem has always existed during the past sixty years. But during the past seven years, America didn’t need to issue these statements, but could also make the Taiwan Strait maintain peace. The most important key is that this risk is reduced after improving relations with mainland China. The official in charge of cross-strait relations in the U.S. State Department has repeatedly reiterated that stable development of cross-strait relations is an important factor of maintaining constructive relations with Taiwan. In other words, simply relying on America to come to our help to fight this battle. Rather, by lowering this risk to the lowest possible level, by reducing the risk of conflict to a minimum, that’s the highest strategy, and also exactly about “balking the enemy’s plans”.


Monday, May 11, 2015

China’s Press commemorates WW2: Criticizing the Impenitent by Lauding the Remorseful

This was the commemoration of VE day, but the military parade in Moscow on Saturday rather looked like VJ Day. Chinese party and state leader Xi Jinping took the seat that had been US president George W.Bush’s ten years earlier, and proably would have been Barack Obama’s, hadn’t he stayed away, as most Western leaders did, as a reaction to Russia’s Ukraine policies.

Xi Jinping's Moscow Mercedes: Germany's leaders boycotted the parade, but the German-made car pool didn't

Xi Jinping’s Moscow Mercedes: Germany’s leaders boycotted the parade, but the German-made car pool didn’t (CCTV/Xinwen Lianbo coverage, click picture for Youtube video)

Also, for the first time ever, according to Chinese media, a Chinese guard of honor took part in the parade. Xinhua celebrated the great moment:

Greeting the air of spring in Moscow and marching to the “Katyusha” theme, the 102-strong People’s Liberation Army guard of honor, full of high spirits, passed Moscow’s Red Square, showing military prestige, and manifesting national power. On the reviewing stand, Chairman Xi Jinping stood and waved to them.


But they didn’t only attract the world’s attention for their gallant formation and morale, and not only for their distinctive arrangement rhythmic marching pace, and also not only this was the first time that this was the first time China dispatched a guard of honor to take part in a Red-Square military review.


The Chinese troops on Moscow’s Red Square attracted millions of peoples‘ attention. This guard of honor, representing the Chinese troops‘ image, vigour and strength made people remember the sacrifices made by the Chinese and Russian armies in the world’s just war against and victory over fascism, manifested the strategic and coordinated relationship between the Chinese and the Russian armies, taking the common mission of their two countries to maintain the peaceful development of the world.


As China’s military passed across Moscows Red Square, the sound of their footsteps expressed the solemn promise of forever remembering history.

当中国军人走过莫斯科红场,铿锵的足音里,表达出铭记历史的庄严承诺。 […]

Forgetting history spells betrayal (忘记历史就意味着背叛), writes Xinhua. Probably, this does not refer to the way the article itself celebrates what was the CCP’s Red Army at the time of World War 2, and ignores the role of the KMT’s – then regular – Chinese troops.

To commemorate war means avoiding war. Seventy years ago, Chinese and Russian did immortal deeds in the world’s war against and victory over fascism. In this 21rst century, the two countries are permanent members of the United Nations‘ Security Council, and bear a great responsibility for the protection of the fruits of victory in World War 2 and international fairness and justice, for the promotion of the international order taking a more just and reasonable direction, for regional and global peace, security, and stability.


Kind of naturally, the mainstream Western press is taking a less cordial look at the parade and its supposed implications.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has used the anniversary to whip up patriotism and anti-Western sentiment; at a parade in Kiev, President Petro Poroshenko said Moscow was trying to hog the credit for the World War Two victory at Ukraine’s expense,

says an article published by the Daily Telegraph on Sunday, and concerning Russian-Chinese cooperation, the Guardian’s foreign affairs commentator Natalie Nougayrède wrote on March 26 that

China has a 2,500-year history of strategic thinking driven by a deep distrust of external players. Don’t expect a People’s Daily front page proclaiming a new era of Chinese openness towards the west. Nor should Vladimir Putin’s Russia think that it will find an amenable partner in Xi’s China if it continues to turn its back on Europe. China sees Russia as a declining power that can eventually be transformed into an economic colony – reduced to the role of oil and gas provider. China believes it can make strategic gains if Europe and Russia continue to clash.

While German chancellor Angela Merkel, just as the majority of Western leaders, boycotted the military parade on Saturday, she did meet with Russian president Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Monday, to hold talks after they had laid down a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier together. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) refers to Merkel as having acted as the West’s chief interlocutor with the Kremlin throughout the Ukraine crisis, which might serve as one explanation why Merkel didn’t avoid meeting Putin altogether. But in its English broadcast on Monday, Radio Japan added another interpretation:

Merkel and other Group-of-Seven leaders cited the Ukrainian crisis for their absence from Saturday’s parade in Moscow, marking seventy years since the victory over Nazi Germany. But Merkel attended a wreath-laying ceremony in an apparent attempt to show that Germany has faced up to the responsibility for the Nazi atrocities.

That, however, didn’t keep Merkel from unusually plain talk at a joint press conference with the Russian leader. While Putin referred to Germany as a partner and friend, and, according to Süddeutsche Zeitung, even suggested that Germany had been the first victim of the Nazis, Merkel said that German-Russian cooperation has suffered a grave setback by Russia’s criminal annexation of Crimea, in violation of international law, and the military conflict in Ukraine (hat durch die verbrecherische und völkerrechtswidrige Annexion der Krim und die militärische Auseinandersetzung in der Ostukraine einen schweren Rückschlag erlitten).

On May 6, in a speech at Schloss Stukenbrock, a prisoner-of-war camp in western Germany’s state of Northrhine-Westphalia, German president Joachim Gauck, known as a fiery anti-communist, made a speech which took many political observers, at least in Germany itself, by surprise. He addressed a fact that is frequently unknown or hardly known among Germans, and particularly West Germans (thanks not least to what China’s media might have criticized as cooked history textbooks, if West Germany had been Japan):

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.

These prisoners were forced on long marches, transported in open goods wagons and sent to so-called reception or assembly camps that provided almost nothing at the start – no shelter, not enough food, no sanitary facilities, no medical care. Nothing. They had to dig holes in the ground and build makeshift huts for shelter – they tried desperately to survive somehow. Huge numbers of these prisoners were then forced to do hard labour which, in their weakened and starving condition, they often did not manage to survive.

The Beijing Evening News (北京晚报) combined a rendition of Gauck’s speech with another laudably self-critical one by Germany’s permanent representative at the United Nations, and a much less laudable one (at least according to the paper itself) by Japan’s permanent representative:

In contrast [to the German permanent representative’s speech], Japan’s permanent representative at the UN, Motohide Yoshikawa, only said: “Our behavior created misery for the peoples of the Asian countries. We must not close our eyes to this.” After that, he made big words about Japan’s “contributions to international peace, and Japan’s support for the United Nations”.



» China invites Russian Troops, Kyiv Post / Reuters, May 11, 2015
» Even closer, The Atlantic, May 10, 2015
» Wo sind die Nachtwölfe, Telepolis, May 10, 2015
» India’s Grenadiers join Parade, Telegraph India, May 9, 2015


Friday, March 27, 2015

Monthly Summary: March 2015 – Death of a China Expert

Bremen, East of Central Station, March 26, 2015

Bremen, East of Central Station, March 26, 2015

1. How’s your Weibo going?

Mainland regulators say people will be able to have nicknames – they will just have to register them with website administrators first,

the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported in January.

The rule apparently took effect on March 1, but yours truly, himself running a Sina Weibo profile, hasn’t been contacted yet.(Having said that, it’s a very low profile – I’m reading there, but I’ve never posted anything myself.)

Either way, it’s »not »the »first try by the authorities to control or to intimidate the microbloggers, and time will show how serious they are this time.

Either way, ways appear to have been found to spoil much of the interest in microblogging.

2. Rectifying Political Ideology at Universities

That blog by Fei Chang Dao was posted on February 25, but it’s probably as important in March and in future. Even if you read no other China blog, make sure you read Fei Chang Dao, and China Copyright and Media, for that matter. What they cover matters much more than the not-really-uncertain fate of Zhou Yongkang – if you want to understaaaaand China.

3. Kailash Calling

Travelling Tibet can be an easy affair, or it can be cumbersome. It might depend on who you are, and where you come from. Here’s an account of scuffproof cheerfulness and patience.

4. “Two Meetings”

The annual tale of two meetings has come to its serene conclusion again this year, with China’s new normal. Just to have mentioned that, too.

5. Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)

The Economist suggested in November that

China will use the new bank to expand its influence at the expense of America and Japan, Asia’s established powers. China’s decision to fund a new multilateral bank rather than give more to existing ones reflects its exasperation with the glacial pace of global economic governance reform. The same motivation lies behind the New Development Bank established by the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). Although China is the biggest economy in Asia, the ADB is dominated by Japan; Japan’s voting share is more than twice China’s and the bank’s president has always been Japanese. Reforms to give China a little more say at the International Monetary Fund have been delayed for years, and even if they go through America will still retain far more power. China is, understandably, impatient for change. It is therefore taking matters into its own hands.

The “People’s Daily” suggests that the AIIB is intended to be complementary to top dogs like the World Bank or the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Britain, France, Germany and Italy are European countries that want to be founding members of the AIIB, the British move (which came first in Europe, it seems) angered Washington, a so far reluctant Japanese government may still be persuaded to join the Beijing-led project, and Huanqiu Shibao quotes Russian foreign multimedia platform Sputnik as quoting an analyst as saying that America, too, might still join, so as to hamper China’s influence that way.

6. In Defense of the Constitution: Are you mad?

Taiwan’s president Ma Ying-jeou appeared to question the mental faculties of a Fulbright exchange academic who had asked if the KMT couldn’t drop its claims in the South China Sea.

“Are you mad?”, asked the president – reportedly -, then adding that abandoning those claims would be unconstitutional. He’s also said to have reacted somewhat wooden in another exchange with Fulbright scholars, on the same occasion, March 19.

7. Lee Kuan Yew, 1923 – 2015

Ma’s prayers for Lee Kuan Yew‘s early recovery weren’t terribly successful either; Singapore’s elder statesman died from pneumonia after weeks in hospital. Lee had his admirers both in China and Taiwan, especially for very low levels of corruption in Singapore, and apparently, he had a admirer at the American top, too. Probably no great surprise for John McCain or the tea partisans.

According to “People’s Daily”, Lee was a China expert and a West expert. According to other sources, he appeared to be a democracy expert, too (but he denied that claim).

In an apparently rather terse statement, Benjamin Pwee (方月光), secretary general of the Democratic Progressive Party of Singapore (one of several opposition parties, but neither of them influential in Singapore’s flawed democracy) said that

all great leaders are still people, and inevitably, one can find words of praise and of contempt. But at this time of national grief, let’s remember the contributions he made for the people of Singapore, and affirm his contributions.


Singapore’s authorities closed the “Speakers Corner” at Hong Lim Park on Monday, for an undefined period. Reportedly, truly “free speech” never really ruled there, anyway.



想要更多政治空間和言論自由, CNA, March 23, 2015


Monday, August 18, 2014

Dempsey Visit: China People’s Broadcasting Station explains US-Vietnamese Partnership

Huanqiu Shibao had a rendition on a China People’s Broadcasting Station (CPBS, aka China National Radio) on Sunday. The following is a translation of the rendition.

Main Link:

China People’s Broadcasting Station Net (CPBS Net), Beijing, August 17 – According to the Voice of China’s “CPBS News”, the war that lasted for twenty years, from 1955 to 1975, gave both America lasting pain. After the end of the war, the two countries started opposing each other for twenty years, until the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1995.

央广网北京8月17日消息 据中国之声《央广新闻》报道,1955年到1975年,历经20年的越战给美越两国人民造成了永久的伤痛。越战后,美越两国开始了长达20年的对抗,直到1995年,两国才正式建立外交关系。

But after a family feud of half a century, and during the nineteen years of U.S.-Vietnamese relations that followed, tremendous changes have taken place. Just this month, on August 13, and for the first time after 43 years, an American Chief of Staff, Martin Dempsey, visited Vietnam, the highest-level military visiting Vietnam. Also, America will remove some parts of the arms embargo that had been in place for thirty years. Some Analysts believe that the warming up [in the two countries’ relations] is food for thought. [Voice of China’s] “Global Mandarin Broadcasting Network” America observer Yu Hao explains:

然 而,这长达半个多世纪的“家仇国恨”,在随后的十几年美越交往中发生着翻天覆地的变化。就在本月13号,时隔43周年后,美军参谋长联席会议主席登普西访 问越南,成为越战后首访越南的美国最高军事长官;而历经30年后,美国也将解除对越南部分武器禁运。有分析称,美越此时的“暧昧”关系值得深思。《全球华 语广播网》美国观察员余浩介绍:

What is the reason for the U.S. to lift the arms embargo against Vietnam right now? Most American media are looking at this with the background of rebalancing American forces towards Asia-Pacific, and Dempsey also emphasized in Vietnam that America didn’t want Vietnam to choose between the two big countries of America and China.*) In recent years, both America and Vietnam have become wary about China and have strengthened military cooperation. One by one, American secretary of defense and secretary of state visited Vietnam, even exploring the possibility of American warships calling at Cam Ranh Bay, and this time, Dempsey hinted that the arms embargo against Vietnam could be lifted, and one could say that this was boosting U.S.-Vietnamese military cooperation. The ultimate success depends on U.S. Congress approval. However, during this year, many members of Congress have visited Vietnam, like Senate heavyweight John McCain who visited only a few days ago and said that at the earlierst, a partial removal of the arms embargo could be achieved by September this year.

余 浩:为何美国在这个时候要解除对越南的武器禁运呢?美国的媒体大多是将其放在美国亚太再平衡和南海主权争端中越关系紧张的大背景下来观察,登普西在越南也 强调,美国并没有让越南在美中两个大国之间进行选择。近年来美国和越南这两个对中国同样有戒心的国家强化军事合作关系,美国国防部长、国务卿相继访问越 南,甚至探讨美军军舰在金兰湾停靠的可能性,登普西此次放风解除对越南武器禁运,可谓是给美越军事合作加油打气,最后能否成功还取决于美国国会是否批准, 不过今年以来美国议员密集访问越南,重量级参议院麦凯恩前几天刚刚访问过越南,并且称解除对越武器禁运,最快有可能于9月份部分实现。

While America and Vietnam established diplomatic relations, military exchange between the two sides has only been superficial, but when it comes to trade cooperation, it is almost comprehensively in full bloom, having reached leapfrogging style.


In 1994, one year before the establishment of diplomatic relations, U.S. president Clinton lifted the economic embargo against Vietnam, and the two countries’ trade grew quickly. On December 10, 2001, the U.S.-Vietnamese bilateral trade agreement came into effect, and since then, trade relations have boomed. From January to July this year, Vietnam has exported goods to the U.S. totalling 16 billion U.S. dollars, a year-on-year increase of 24 percent. A forecast by the American Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam says that bilateral trade relations will reach 336 billion Dollars in 2014. Currently, Vietnam’s exports to America are the third-largest among ASEAN states, second ony to Malaysia’s and Thailand’s.

1994年暨美越建交前一年,美国总统克林顿宣布取消对越南经济的禁运政 策,当年两国的双边贸易便实现了快速增长,2001年12月10日,美越双边贸易协定生效,自此,美越经贸关系发展迅猛,今年1到7月,越南对美国货物出 口额为160亿美元,同比增长24%,越南美国商会预测,2014年越美双边贸易额将达到336亿美元,目前越南对美出口额在东盟国家中位居第三,仅次于 马来西亚和泰国。

Looking back at the Vietnam war, and exactly because of that war, America implemented a comprehensive arms embargo against Vietnam as early as in 1984. PLA National Defense University professor Li Li explains:


In 1984, America officially passed this kind of law, banning all further supplies of military equipment. This included two levels, one about military high-tech, the supply of which wasn’t only prohibited for American companies, but also the entire European Union, countries the EU had relations with, had to join the ranks. This included some important advanced material technology, some electronic devices, or high-precision lathes the supply of which wasn’t allowed either. Adding to this, the definition of combat-class equipment is really broad, including missile equipment, these things are untouchable. It was a comprehensive limitation, and done very thoroughly.

李莉: 1984年美国是正式通过这样一个法律,禁止以后再继续向越南民主主义人民共和国出售所有相关军事装备的物品,包括两个层面,一个就是军事高技术,他不仅 自己不允许向越南提供,此外要求整个欧盟,包括所有和他有关系的国家,都参与到这个行列当中,包括新的一些重要的材料技术,包括一些信息技术、一些电子仪 器、精密的车床加工的这些技术都不允许提供。 此外,就是战斗类的装备是非常宽泛的,涉及陆海空,包括导弹类的装备,这些东西更是碰都不允许碰的,是全面的一个限制,做的是非常彻底。

By following two previous U.S. secretaries of defense and visiting Vietnam, too, joint chief Dempsey almost stirred a “Vietnam-mania”. According to one point of view, American intervention in the South China Sea is no longer just a posture, but some kind of real action. When secretary of state Kerry had just left Vietnam, Dempsey entered, so how come that currently, high American officials, one after another, visit Vietnam, especially a high-level military official? Xu Liping, director of the Chinese Academy of Social Studies’ China Network for the Asia-Pacific Research analyzes:

继此前两任美国防长访问越南,参谋长联席会议主席登普西也前往河内,美 国军方似乎掀起了“越南热”。有观点认为:美国对南海的干预,不再仅仅是一种姿态,而是一种实际的行动。美国国务卿克里前脚刚离开越南,登普西就紧随其 后,那么美国高官为什么会选择此时陆续访越,尤其是美军方高层?中国社科院亚太研究所文华研究室主任许利平分析:

I think that one should say that Dempsey’s visit to Vietnam is an important part of a close U.S.-Vietnamese relationship. Because we know that last year, Vietnam’s state chairman Truong Tan Sang visited the U.S., and Vietnamese-U.S. relations were raised to a level of comprehensive partnership. This is a very important point of view, because as we know, America’s relations with south-east Asian nations like Indonesia have also been raised to the level of comprehensive partnership. One could say that this is a new form of American relations with Asian countries. To strengthen economic relations with them is also an important part of the American rebalancing strategy towards Asia-Pacific, so I believe that Dempsey’s visit is another aspect of this component.

许利平:我想登 普西访问越南的话应该来说是越南和美国密切关系的一个重要组成部分,因为我们知道,去年越南国家主席张晋创也访问了美国,把越南和美国的关系提升为全面伙 伴关系,是一个非常重要的转折点,因为我们知道美国和东南亚的国家比如说印度尼西亚也提升为全面伙伴关系,应该来说也是美国和亚洲国家一个新型的伙伴关 系,强化这些亚洲国家在经济上面的联系,也是美国亚太再平衡战略的一个重要的组成部分,所以我觉得登普西访问也是这种组成部分的一个方面。

The highlight of Dempsey’s Vietnam visit is the strengthening of the two countries’ military cooperation, and a focus on maritime security. Some experts believe that this could put pressure on China.


Xu Liping: One should say that this is a breakthrough in U.S.-Vietnamese relations. America hopes that lifting the arms embargo will increase American arms exports which is, in fact, important for the U.S. economy. From a Vietnamese perspective, all arms imported by Vietnam have come from Russia, and that makes it a rather single market, and if America lifts the arms embargo, I guess this would increase Vietnam’s defense capabilities. Both sides can thus take what they need. Thirdly, and personally, I believe that of course, America’s strengthening of relations with Vietnam also includes considerations about the South China Sea. In fact, America wants to turn Vietnam into a chess piece for disputes with China, but their cooperation with Vietnam on the South China Sea issue is limited because on the one hand, Vietnam still has many misgivings about the U.S., and on the other hand, America, domestically, isn’t too relaxed about Vietnam either. So I think the cooperation between the two will be of a rather limited kind.

徐利 平:这应该来说是美越关系的一个突破,美国希望解除武器禁令扩大美国的武器出口,实际上也是对美国经济的吃紧,对越南方面来讲,由于历史上的原因越南一直 的进口武器都是来自于俄罗斯,应该来说市场是比较单一的,如果美国武器的禁运的解禁我估计会提高越南的这种国防能力,双方是一种各取所需,第三,我个人认 为美国强化和越南的这种关系,当然也有南海方面的考虑,实际上美国也希望把越南作为中国在南海争端方面的一个棋子,但是实际上美国在南海问题上跟越南的合 作我觉得他是有限度的,因为一方面的话越南对美国还是有很多的疑虑的,第二个美国国内也并不是对越南很放心,所以双方之间我觉得是一种有限度的合作吧。

We have noted that year-on-year, Vietnam’s exports to the U.S. have risen by 24 percent from January to July. In these contacts with a superpower, and in political or economic terms, Vietnam hardly incurs any disadvantages. What do you believe is Vietnam’s mentality in this commitment to contacts with America – what are the values they are choosing?


The fact that America and Vietnam establish this kind of comprehensive partnership, that they strengthen economic cooperation and that both sides take what they need is part of a Vietnamese objective to implement a rebalancing strategy in its foreign relations, in its diplomacy. Vietnam’s actual overall goal is to establish this kind of strategic partnersip with all great powers. In fact, Vietnam’s foreign ministry has said that it wants to establish strategic partnerships with all five permanent members of the UN Security Council, but America remains as a scond choice, and to establish this kind of comprehensive partnership and rebalancing is something Vietnam hopes to use to increase its regional influence. Actually, Vietnam doesn’t want to side with just one great power, and I believe that this, too, is an important part of Vietnam’s strategy of balancing great powers.

许利平:美国和越南建立这种全面伙伴关 系,加强经济的这种合作,各取所需,实际上越南的对外外交的一个思路是要实现一种对外的这种平衡的战略,实际上他的总体战略是要和所有的大国建立这种伙伴 关系,越南的外交部其实已经提出了要和五大常任理事国都要建立这种战略伙伴关系,但是和美国只是退而求其次,建立了这种全面的伙伴的关系,实际上越南是希 望通过这种大国的平衡的战略来突出越南在这个地区的影响力,实际上越南也不可能想要任何的大国一边倒,我觉得这也是越南的这个大国平衡战略的一个重要的组 成部分。

An hour and twenty minutes after publication, 44 Huanqiu readers had expressed anger at the article (or what it describes), four readers are delighted, one is bored, and 22 feel that what they’ve read is ridiculous.

Huanqiu, a paper and website with a rather nationalist readership, also reported on Martin Demsey’s visit during the past days, all in a rather noncommittal mode – something also frequently practised by Chinese media during the 1980s/1990s when covering (controversial) foreign issues, but quite different from the often stirring ways Huanqiu articles were written around 2008/2012.



*) “to choose between being a friend of the United States and a friend of China”, AFP, Aug 16, 2014

Similar statement:

“The Cold War is over. It ended. Russia’s not our enemy. The people of the Czech Republic don’t have to choose between being a friend of the United States or a friend with Russia, you can be both. We don’t believe in a zero sum world,” President Bush said today in Prague

Wall Street Journal, June 5, 2007



» Help to counter China, USA Today, Aug 18, 2014
» US urged to lift ban, VoV, Aug 14,2014
» 首次访问越南, Huanqiu, Aug 14, 2014
» Australia-US ties, BBC News, Aug 13, 2014
» 王毅晤越南副总理, Huanqiu, Aug 9, 2014
» Low-class nationalism, May 19, 2014
» Vo Nguyen Giap, October 4, 2013
» Giving away the Store, US News, July 23, 2013
» Syria & South China Sea, Aug 5, 2012
» Nothing to deploy, July 30, 2012
» Don’t get burned, June 21, 2012
» Communiqué, Oct 16, 2011
» Five Questions to a Hegemon, Aug 18, 2010
» Threat of an Invasion, April 29, 2009

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Monday Start-of-Work Links: Kim Jong-un “not the real Actor”?

1. A Deity doesn’t need to have a mind of his own,

argues Korhonen Pekka, a Finnish political scientist, in a post for Sino-NK. Nor does Kim Jong-un, he writes. Pekka interprets Kim’s reign as rather ceremonial, and that the bureaucracy is calling the shots. That however doesn’t appear to bode well for the future.

2. Lawyers should not Overestimate their Political Clout,

Fei Chang Dao quotes an editorial by Shan Renping (which is the pen name of Huanqiu Shibao‘s editor-in-chief, Hu Xijin). Fei Chang Dao (there appears to be a lawyer behind the blog) also explains the differences between the Chinese version of the article, and one published by Huanqiu’s sister edition in English, the “Global Times”. More recently, Fei Chang Dao explores how June-4 related searchwords are censored.

3. Public Diplomacy and its Limits

Obama’s Policies on Syria and Egypt, as well as on intelligence operations of U.S. administrations as revealed by Edward Snowden […] will have serious impacts on U.S. popularity in the world, Kilic Kanat, a political scientist, wrote on May 12, in an article for the English-language Daily Sabah from Istanbul. If Obama kept following his current policies especially on Syria and Egypt, […] the U.S. may face another downward trend in its standing. Under those circumstances, public diplomacy campaigns will only waste money on U.S. foreign policy.

Russia, Ukraine, or the Far East don’t seem to matter at all.

4. Meantime, on Capitol Hill …

… American senators and retired propaganda apparatchiks are trying to make sure that money spent on public money gets wasted indeed, by demanding that the language of Voice of America’s mission [..] explicitly state that the outlet has a role in supporting American “public diplomacy” and the policies of the government. To bring it down to a round figure, Fulbright scholarships are apparently being targeted by budget cuts.

No need for international exchange when you can broadcast linear propaganda, be it on shortwave, be it on “social media”.

This is the Voice of America, signing on. Hello World, shut up and listen!



» Umstrukturierung des US-Auslandsfunks, Radio Eins, April 5, 2014


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Norway: “appeasing China seems to take precedence”

Norway’s prime minister and foreign minister are not going to meet the Dalai Lama when he visits next month, as part of an effort to ease tensions with the world’s second-largest economy, Bloomberg reported on April 23. Views and News from Norway wrote on April 9 that Parliamentary President and a long-time supporter of Tibet, Olemic Thommessen, said he would not be meeting with the exiled spiritual leader because it was more important to repair relations with China. Relations between Oslo and Beijing had been frigid ever since Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010, reports the Norwegian English-language website. It was Norway’s – now ruling – Conservative Party, including now prime minister Erna Solberg, who spoke up for human rights issues and Tibet in 2008. The Dalai Lama himself is a Nobel  laureate and visits on the 25th anniversary of being awarded the peace prize.

According to the Views and News report,

Olav Gunnar Ballo, another former leader of the Tibet committee, said it’s a shame Norway’s leading politicians haven’t come out in support of the Dalai Lama, and it’s cowardly that appeasing China now seems to take precedence over human rights issues that were so actively brandished in the past.

According to the Voice of Tibet, a Norway-based broadcaster and website operator, demonstrators protested, on Wednesday, against high-ranking politicians’ decisions not to meet with the Dalai Lama. Among the demonstrators – about 400 according to News and Views -, were Liberal Party leader Trine Skei Grande, MP Rasmus Hansson of the Green Paerty, and rock musician Lars Lillo-Stenberg. Norway should not cave in to force and threats, one of the organizers reportedly told Norway’s public broadcaster NRK. According to Views and News, Liberal Party leader Grande said that

the Dalai Lama would not be received “in the basement” […] but would be brought to parliament to meet “as many politicians as we can manage to scrape together. We will show that people are concerned about the cowardice shown.”

These are strong words of criticism – and as they come from Norwegians, these words are laudable. But before Europeans elsewhere join the condemnations easily, they should pause and think what they or their countries were doing while Norwegian business was kept in the cold by Beijing. In fact, Oslo resisted the pressures for a remarkably long time.

But it is also true that the Nobel Peace Prize committee in Oslo – independent from government in formal terms, but not when it comes to membership and influence – has made a joke of itself in recent years. Awarding Liu Xiaobo was a brave choice, but the award that had preceded it a year earlier – to Barack Obama -, and the one that followed in 2012,  to the European Union, were silly (to put it mildly).

Are the current (small-scale, but still bigger than elsewhere) protests only the last echoes from Norway’s better days? Or are they an indication that civil society is picking up important issues where the elites are failing? The Dalai Lama himself has turned more to people-to-people diplomacy in recent years, at least formally.

That’s where the future is.



» press conference, FMPRC (English), April 28, 2014
» press conference, FMPR (Chinese), April 28, 2014
» Dalai Lama in Oslo, schedule May 7-9
» Out of the Flames, Woeser/High Peaks, April 15, 2014



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