Posts tagged ‘personality cult’

Monday, December 31, 2018

2018 Headlines (2) – Xi’s First Six Years: the Majestic Journey toward the Highest Common Denominator

The following is the gist (as I see it) of an article published by Xinhua online, on December 16. It centers around events and developments from the past six years, future challenges and intentions, and the role of CCP secretary general Xi Jinping in those events and intentions.

Main Link / original title: The Actual Events of the Party’s Central Committee’s Leading Reform and Opening with Xi Jinping at its Core (以习近平同志为核心的党中央引领改革开放纪实 )
Links within blockquotes added during translation

The article, put together by eleven authors, contains about 10,000 characters, which is unusually long even by Chinese online standards, but will certainly have found interested readers. The length of an article doesn’t deter a Chinese audience. Readers who don’t read Chinese but would like to get the big picture are advised to use Google Translate – it does a surprisingly decent job when translating from Chinese into English.

The paragraphs are interspersed with slogans – such as the most solemn memory is to create more glory, the sincerest commitment to the people is indefatigable struggle (对历史最郑重的纪念,是再创辉煌 / (对人民最真挚的承诺,是不懈奋斗), or reform looks like a problem, and must dare to lead all the more, or this is the resounding call to battle (改革难字当头,更需敢字当先 /  这是高亢激扬的出征号令).

Reform is complicated and sensitive, states the resounding call to battle, so how to prepare a good overall plan for a huge essay?

The project is big indeed: this is a thought (or ideological) innovation unprecedented in history (这是史无前例的观念革新). And you better take this literally, if you are a cadre in China, or wish to score well for other reasons. There is no mention of Deng Xiaoping, let alone Jiang Zemin or Hu Jintao. There isn’t even a mention of Mao (which might be understandable, given that reform and opening wasn’t his main theme anyway). As for Deng, there is a mention of some slogans that became part of his doctrines, but usually reaching further back in history, such as seeking truth in facts or liberating thought, as used in the Deng Xiaoping Theory (邓小平理论).

But there is, of course, a defining trip to the South.

Comrade Xi Jinping’s first inspection destination after taking the position of secretary general was Qianhai, Shenzhen. Facing this homeland where the first “cannon” of reform and opening had rung out, Xi Jinping issued judgment that “our country’s reform has entered the time of storming fortifications and has entered the deep-blue sea areas. He emphasized that “reform does not pause, and opening does not halt. The China of the next forty years is set to make the world feel a whole new level of respect for its new successes!”

2012年12月,习近平同志担任总书记后首赴地方考察,第一站来到深圳前海。
面对这片打响改革开放“开山炮”的热土,习近平总书记作出“我国改革已经进入攻坚期和深水区”的判断,强调“改革不停顿、开放不止步”。下一个40年的中国,定当有让世界刮目相看的新成就!”

Praise is carefully hedged by remarks about a more complicated future, for which new approaches are being developed.

At first, the new requirements are billed.

Having passed several decades of rapid development, China has arrived at a new juncture. The degrees of complexity, hardship and sensitivity have hardly ever been comparable to these years.

经过几十年快速发展,中国又走到了一个新的关口。改革开放的复杂程度、艰巨程度、敏感程度,丝毫不亚于当年。

At home, a number of deep-seated contradictions have continuously amassed during the long period of growth, economic development has entered the new normal, and structural adjustment and kinetic energy conversion are imperative; issues of unbalanced and insufficient development stand out more and more obviously, and the people’s yearning for a fine life becomes increasing urgent.

向内看,经济长期高速增长过程中积累的一系列深层次矛盾不断积聚,经济发展进入新常态,结构调整、动能转换势在必行;发展不平衡、不充分问题日益突出,人民群众对美好生活的向往愈发迫切。

Abroad, the haze of the international financial crisis has not dispersed, regional conflicts occur frequently, the threat of extremism is spreading, international competition under the wave of new technologies revolution and industrial transformation require people to work harder, the dregs of opposition against globalization and protectionism is surfacing, and hyping and mourning [China’s development – this seems to point into this direction] lie in ambush.

向外看,国际金融危机阴霾未散,地区冲突频发,极端主义威胁蔓延;新科技革命和产业变革浪潮下的国际竞争形势逼人,逆全球化、贸易保护主义沉渣泛起,捧杀唱衰中国的论调此起彼伏。

Behind the creation of the “China’s rise” world miracle, premature ideological concepts and institutional malpractice are becoming stumbling blocks for the pace of reform and opening, helping the solidification of barriers, which is all the more an alarm siren, continuously shaking stable social development.

在创造了“中国崛起”的世界奇迹后,不合时宜的思想观念和体制机制弊端正在成为阻碍改革开放步伐的“绊脚石”,利益固化藩篱更是频频触动社会稳定发展的“警报器”。

To meet the challenges, a strong hand is needed – a helmsman who dares to speak inconvenient truths.

To make him speak again, the article revisits an interview Xi gave to Russian television, in February 2014

All the pleasant reforms are completed. The delicious meat has been eaten, and what is still on the dishes are rather tough bones.

The answer to these challenges? There are as many answers as questions, and all from the new great helmsman himself.

For one, there is the Central Comprehensively Deepening Reforms Commission (中央全面深化改革委员会), preceded by a leading small group of a similar name () or Leading Small Group for Comprehensively Deepening Reform (LSGCDR) in December 2013:

Secretary general Xi Jinping held the position of group leader, thus strengthening the central committee’s centralized and integrated leadership in comprehensively deepening reform.

习近平总书记担任组长,加强党中央对全面深化改革的集中统一领导。

There is also the courage to offend thousands, rather than turning your back on the 1.3 billion [得罪千百人、不负十三亿 – thousands of cadres, 1.3 bn Chinese people]: strictly running the party, deepening reform of party discipline and state supervision organization.

Understanding the need to vacate the cage and to replace the old birds with new ones, thus making Phoenix rise from the ashes (腾笼换鸟、凤凰涅槃), to change the way of development, to implement new concepts of development, to deepen supply-side structural reform, an economy that strives into the direction of high quality will be promoted. Also,

bearing future generations in mind, reforming ecological civilization, reforming cadre evaluation, unfolding central environmental protection, we will make the concept of Lucid waters and lush mountains enter deep into peoples’ hearts.

以“为千秋万代计”的视野,深化生态文明领域改革,改革干部考核制度、开展中央环保督察,让绿水青山就是金山银山的理念深入人心;

For whatever reason, the enumeration ends there with ellipses, and turns to another topic – the CCP’s ninteenth national congress.

The article also addresses the “one country two systems” concept (limited to the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge), Zhejiang’s one-stop service practice (最多跑一次), multiple-plans integration practice (多规合一) from Hainan and Ningxia, reform of medical care, medical insurance and pharmaceutical industry (三医联动) in Fujian province, and an internet court in Hangzhou, all referred to as innovation from the grassroots.

Reform of State-owned enterprises – a hard bone (硬骨头) – is described as the job of the top dog, and the C919 airliner, the Beidou Navigation system and the Fuxing Train group are presented are presented as state-enterprise achievements in a process of transforming “made in China” (中国制造) into “intelligently made in China” (中国智造).

Countryside development, deliberations on household registration reform (户籍制度改革的意见), and spiritual nourishment are also mentioned. As for the latter,

to let the people have rich spiritual nourishment, social efficiency must come first, unification of social and economic efficiency culture must be institutionalized day by day, modern public cultural services construction be accelerated, and the cultural project for the people [or benefitting the people – 文化惠民工程] be realized;

为让人民拥有丰富的精神食粮,把社会效益放在首位、社会效益和经济效益相统一的文化体制机制日臻完善,现代公共文化服务体系加快构建,文化惠民工程深入实施;

Here, too, an enumeration ends with ellipses (after the following paragraph).

When the people’s yearning for a good life becomes the common goal of the struggle, when everyone’s participation, everyone’s greatest efforts, and everyone sharing in the fruits of these become the highest common denominator, then reform will converge into a profound and majestic power, and continue the composition of a magnificent chapter on a new era.

当人民对美好生活的向往成为共同的奋斗目标,当“人人参与、人人尽力、人人共享”成为社会的最大公约数,改革正汇聚起深沉而磅礴的力量,续写新时代的壮丽篇章。

Now for the conclusions.

Looking at the world, there is no such governing party that can such a long-term plan as the CCP’s, there is no such country that can operate a steady process, step by step, the unremitting move toward reform’s objectives, and certainly not this nation ability to push open this great gate of opportunity, continuously turning the experience of reform into the reality of development.

放眼世界,没有哪个政党能像中国共产党这样作出如此长远的规划,没有哪个国家能像中国这样一步一个脚印,持之以恒地朝向既定改革目标迈进,更没有哪个民族能够一次次推开机遇的大门,把改革的经验不断变成发展的现实。

Confucius Institute says: if the people work 364 days, let them have one day of joy, and quench their spiritual thirst with articles like this one. However, these are solemn, but also sober times. The armed forces’ modernization gets only two paragraphs (and it’s all about what Xi has done to make it happen), and only when the world is doing fine, China can also do fine (and only if China is doing fine, the world can do fine) – 世界好,中国才能好;中国好,世界才更好.

____________

Related

Xiong’an, Wikipedia, most recent edit Nov 7, 2018
“四梁八柱”论, Baidu, most recent edit Nov 22, 2018

____________

 

Friday, December 21, 2018

2018 Headlines (1) – Vladimir Putin’s Annual Year-End Press Conference

Among other issues, the marathon Q & A session reportedly touched upon the 40th anniversary of China’s reform-and-opening policies, and on the Kuril Islands, the southernmost of which are contested between Japan and Russia.

A record number of 1,702 journalists had registered for Russian president Vladimir Putin‘s annual press conference at Moscow World Trade Center on Thursday local time, Guanchazhe online reported on the same day. This constituted a new record number. The article also contains the presidential press secretary’s revelation that Putin had set aside three days to prepare for the event, and that he had studied relevant material until late at night.

The following are excerpts from the article. Links within blockquotes were added during translation.

Main Link: Live Broadcast of Putin’s Annual Press Conference: Russia assesses China’s Reform and Opening Positively (普京年度记者会直播:俄罗斯积极评价中国改革开放)

December 18 is the 18th anniversary of China’s reform and opening. Putin said at the press conference that Russia assessed the changes positively that had happened in China.

18日,中国改革开放刚刚迎来40周年。普京在记者会上表示,俄罗斯积极评价中国发生的变化。

[Subheading]

The Xinhua reporter1) asked: “How do you evaluate the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening, and the development of Sino-Russian trade relations?”

新华社记者提问称:“您如何评价中国改革开放40周年以及中俄经贸关系发展?”

Putin said that Russia evaluated the changes and the efforts made for economic development positively. Bilateral trade between the two countries had reached 10,000,000,000 100,000,000,000 USD. The inseparably close relationship between China and Russia was useful for world peace and stability.

普京表示,俄罗斯积极评价中国发生的变化以及在经济发展上所做的努力。两国双边贸易今年达到1000亿美元。中俄两国的紧密关系对世界和平稳定都有益。

[Subheading]

Putin said that the Russian government planned to begin three-percent growth from 2021 on, and Russia’s goal was to become the world’s fifth-largest economy.2)

普京表示,俄罗斯政府计划从2021年开始实现3%的经济增长,俄罗斯目标是成为世界第五大经济体。

He also said that Russia’s 2018 unemployment rate was predicted to drop from 2017’s 5.2 percent to 4.8 percent. Russia’s gold and foreign-exchange reserves had increased by 7 percent, reaching 464,000,000,000 USD. Russia’s inflation rate in 2018 would exceed the four-percent target, reaching about 4.1 or 4.2 percent.

他还表示,2018年俄罗斯失业率预计从2017年的5.2%降至4.8%。俄罗斯黄金外汇储备增加7%,达到4640亿美元。俄罗斯2018年全年通胀率将超过4%的目标水平,达到4.1%-4.2%左右。

Putin emphasized at the same time that the country needed a breakthrough, for which resources were required. Russia’s government and administrative agencies were making efforts to this end. Therefore twelve national projects in the fields of science, education and health had been established.

同时,普京强调,国家需要突破。为此需要资源,俄罗斯政府和行政机关正致力于此,因此在科学、教育和卫生保健领域设立了12个国家项目。

[Subheading]

Concerning the matter of returning the islands contested between Russia and Japan, Putin believed that when it came to signing a peace treaty between Russia and Japan, security issues mattered most. Russia expressed worries about American deployment of anti-missile systems in Japan.

对于归还日俄争议岛屿一事,普京认为,在俄日签署和约的问题上,安全问题最为重要。俄罗斯对美国在日本部署反导系统表示不安。

According to article 9 of the Soviet-Japanese Joint Declaration, the islands of Shikotan island and the Habomei islands could be returned to Japan, but only after a peace treaty had been signed.

根据《苏日共同宣言》的第九条条款规定苏联政府同意把色丹岛和齿舞诸岛归还给日本,但条件是在签署和平条约之后才真正归还给日本。

The Soviet Union’s and Japan’s parliaments approved this declaration in 1956, but when Japan and America signed the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security in 1960, the Soviet Union cancelled the obligation to return these islands. On January 27, 1960, a Soviet government memorandum stated that only when all foreign troops were withdrawn from Japan, there would be a return of the islands to Japan.

1956年苏联和日本两国议会批准了这份宣言。但作为对1960年日本和美国签订的《日美安全保障条约》的回应,苏联取消了归还这些岛屿的义务。1960年1月27日苏联政府备忘录中写道,只有在所有外国军队撤离日本的条件下这些岛屿才将归还给日本。

ABC News reported on Thursday that

The press conference, however, is heavily curated. The Kremlin press service proposes questions beforehand, and decides who will be called on to speak. Follow-up questions are not permitted, allowing Putin to disarm all but the sharpest queries and make assertions that can’t be challenged. The audience is overwhelmingly friendly and often breaks into applause.

And RFE/RL wrote, also on the same day, that

[t]he Russian president cast Russia’s sluggish economy in a positive light, while calling for improvements.

When Putin took back the presidency (or the “candidacy” for it) from his straw man Dmitry Medvedev in 2011, now defunct foreign radio service “Voice of Russia” quoted political scientist Vyacheslav Nikonov as saying that

There were mentions of ambitious goals which are in fact not quite that ambitious, such as becoming one of the world’s five largest economies. I believe Russia will be up to that if it develops with seven per cent growth. I believe that we can become the fifth-largest global economy and the biggest in Europe by 2020.

In that light, even one of the calls for improvement seems to constitute a postponement.

____________

Notes

Footnote 1) No Xinhuareporter seems to be included in the Kremlin’s English-language transcript of the press conference. However, the Russian-language transcript does include one (English translation by Google Translate):

Вопрос: Здравствуйте, Владимир Владимирович. Я корреспондент агентства «Синьхуа».

Question: Hello, Vladimir Vladimirovich. I am a Xinhua correspondent.

Мой вопрос именно о Китае. Состоялось торжественное собрание по случаю 40-летия проведения политики реформ и открытости. На нём Председатель Си Цзиньпин призвал довести до конца все меры, связанные с реформами и открытостью. Как Вы оцениваете изменения, произошедшие в Китае за эти годы?

My question is about China. A solemn meeting on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the reform and opening up policy was held. On it, President Xi Jinping called for the completion of all measures related to reform and openness. How do you assess the changes in China over the years?

И ещё. Россия и Китай приблизились к отметке двустороннего товарооборота в 100 миллиардов долларов США, и при этом российский экспорт в Китай вырос на 44 процента и оказался на 10 миллиардов долларов больше, чем импорт из Китая. Довольны ли Вы развитием российско-китайских отношений в этом году? Спасибо.

And further. Russia and China approached the bilateral trade turnover of $ 100 billion, while Russian exports to China grew by 44 percent and were $ 10 billion more than imports from China. Are you satisfied with the development of Russian-Chinese relations this year? Thank.

В.Путин: Действительно, это знаковый рубеж. Не знаю, сможем ли мы выйти на 100 миллиардов или нет, но мы приблизились к этому. Это уже, в принципе, показатель, действительно. Надо будет посчитать в начале следующего года общий объём товарооборота, но где-то в районе 100 миллиардов он будет, и это само по себе достижение. И конечно, мы не можем не быть довольны этим результатом. Но это производный результат от состояния российско-китайских отношений, от роста уровня доверия стран между собой.

Vladimir Putin: Indeed, this is a landmark. I don’t know if we can reach 100 billion or not, but we are close to that. This is, in principle, an indicator, indeed. It will be necessary to calculate the total volume of trade at the beginning of next year, but it will be somewhere around 100 billion, and this is an achievement in itself. And of course, we can not be satisfied with this result. But this is a derivative result from the state of Russian-Chinese relations, from the growth of the level of trust between countries.

Мы работаем и в двустороннем формате, и очень надёжно, мы решили все проблемы, которые доставались нам ещё со времён Советского Союза, и двигаемся дальше. Мы работаем не только в сфере экономики, но и в сфере безопасности, мы сотрудничаем очень активно на международной арене, и российско-китайское взаимодействие на международной арене, безусловно, является фактором, оздоровляющим международную обстановку, фактором стабильности и прогнозируемости развития ситуации на мировой арене.

We work in a bilateral format, and very reliably, we have solved all the problems that have come to us since the days of the Soviet Union, and move on. We work not only in the economic sphere, but also in the field of security, we cooperate very actively in the international arena, and Russian-Chinese interaction in the international arena is undoubtedly a factor improving the international situation, a factor of stability and predictability of the development of the situation in the world.

Мы положительно оцениваем изменения, которые произошли в Китае. Я считаю, что для такой страны, как Китайская Народная Республика, с миллиардом тремястами миллионов населения, очень важна стабильность и прогнозируемость, в том числе и во внутренней политике, включая и кадровую составляющую. Председатель Си Цзиньпин принял решение, и товарищи из КПК его поддержали в этом направлении, и думаю, что Китай поступил правильно, стабильность гарантирует поступательное развитие Китайской Народной Республики.

We appreciate the changes that have occurred in China. I believe that for a country like the People’s Republic of China, with a billion three hundred million people, stability and predictability are very important, including in domestic policy, including the personnel component. Chairman Xi Jinping made the decision, and the CCP comrades supported him in this direction, and I think that China did the right thing, stability guarantees the ongoing development of the People’s Republic of China.

Footnote 2) The wording, according to en.kremlin.ru:

By the way, you mentioned the projected 2 percent growth for the next two years. Yes, in the next years, 2019–2020, two percent each, but from 2021, the Government is already planning 3 percent, and then more. Therefore, I strongly hope that we will manage to do all this. Some fluctuations are probably possible, but, I repeat, the most important thing is that we need… Do you see what we need to do? We need to join another league of economies, and not only in terms of volumes. I think that taking the fifth place in terms of volume is quite possible. We used to rank fifth in terms of the economy, in purchasing power parity, and we will do it again, I think. However, we need to ascend to another league in terms of the quality of the economy. This is what our national projects are aimed at.

____________

Monday, February 26, 2018

Chairman Unlimited

Xi Jinping‘s speech at the 19th central committee’s fourth collective study session on Sunday, rendered there by Xinhua newsagency, contained the usual buzzwords from building a modern socialist country, making the great regjuvenation of the Chinese nation real, a country ruled according to the law (依法治国), and the moderately prosperous society (小康社会). Apart from that, Xi reportedly also pointed out that “the constitution is the superstructure and must therefore suit the changes at the economic base (宪法作为上层建筑,一定要适应经济基础的变化而变化).

Xi also seems to have gone to some length to emphasize the legitimacy derived from the constitution, and from constitutional behavior. No wonder: the CCP’s politburo has sent a draft of constitutional changes to the “National People’s Congress'”  standing committee, according to the second Xinwen Lianbo newsitem last night.

The amendment that has caught most of the international attention on Sunday is actually a reduction:

14. Article 79, para 3, “The People’s Republic of China chairperson’s and vice chairperson’s terms in office are identical with the terms of each National People’s Congress, and must not exceed the duration of two terms.” The amendment reads: “The People’s Republic of China chairperson’s and vice chairperson’s terms in office are identical with the terms of each National People’s Congress.”

十四、宪法第七十九条第三款“中华人民共和国主席、副主席每届任期同全国人民代表大会每届任期相同,连续任职不得超过两届。”修改为:“中华人民共和国主席、副主席每届任期同全国人民代表大会每届任期相同。”

With me in charge, you are at ease, are you not? – click photo above for Xinwen Lianbo video

At the central committee’s collective study session, Xi, the beneficiary (and arguably author) of this amendment, was keen on pointing out how important a constitution is, provided that it contains the correct amendments:

Xi Jinping emphasized that the constitution has the highest legal status, legal authority, and legal force. Above all, our party must set an example in venerating and implementing the constitution, and by leading the people in drawing up and implementing constitutional law, and [by leading the people in] persisting in unified action with the party within the scope of constitutional law. No organization or individual must have prerogatives beyond the law. All acts that violate constitutional laws must be investigated. […]

习近平强调,宪法具有最高的法律地位、法律权威、法律效力。我们党首先要带头尊崇和执行宪法,把领导人民制定和实施宪法法律同党坚持在宪法法律范围内活动统一起来。任何组织或者个人都不得有超越宪法法律的特权。一切违反宪法法律的行为,都必须予以追究。 […..]

The constitution is a matter for the “National People’s Congress”, China’s ersatz parliament. As for Xi’s function as CCP secretary general and head of the central military commission (officially, there is one CMC by the state, and one by the party, but they are in fact identical), there appear to be no term limits anyway.

Foarp has started a discussion on his blog.

____________

Related

How safe will he be in 2023, Dec 13, 2014
Xi Jinping’s first time, Nov 29, 2012
你办事,我放心, People’s Daily, July 4, 2012

____________

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Blog and Press Review: Frugal New Year

Warning: the following translation from a classic is just my guesswork – if you copy that for your homework, the mistakes will be your fault, not mine. Links within blockquotes added during translation.

Frugal New Year: the Xi Style

The year of the dog is upon us, and it must be a dog’s life if you are a cadre in the Xi Jinping era. That’s what you might believe, anyway, if you read secretary general Xi Jinping’s spiritual nourishment for comrades. After all, in a totalitarian society, administration, legislation, crackdowns and Something Understood all need to come from the same source.

People’s Daily has published three instalments of Xi Jinping thought. The first: go and visit the poor, and ask about their suffering, find solutions to the problems and dump the worries. The second: have an affectionate reunion with your family, as a good family style promotes virtue.

For the third instalment, the sermon turns to the New Book of Tang:
奢靡之始,危亡之渐 (which means something like “what begins lavishly will move towards danger”, I suppose).

I can only find the Chinese original [no English edition] of the  New Book of Tang online, and there, in chapter 105, Chu Suiliang, an advisor with morals, tells his surprised sovereign the meaning of things that only appear to be innocent at first glance:

帝尝怪:“舜造漆器,禹雕其俎,谏者十馀不止,小物何必尔邪?”遂良曰:“雕琢害力农,纂绣伤女工,奢靡之始,危亡之渐也。漆器不止,必金为之,金又不止,必玉为之,故谏者救其源,不使得开。及夫横流,则无复事矣。”帝咨美之。

The emperor said: “Shun made the lacquer, Yu gave us the embroideries, but the remonstrances never seem to end. How can small things be evil?”
Suiliang said: “ornate artwork harms the peasantry, and embroidery hurts the working women. What begins lavishly, will indeed move towards danger. It doesn’t end at lacquerware, it takes gold, too. It doesn’t end there, but jade will be required, too. Those who remonstrate do not want to see things pass the point of no return.”

If my impression of the Chinese texts is basically correct, Xi seems to present himself as someone who speaks truth to power – which is corny at best, and quite probably populist. The latter, anyway, is a tool lavishly handed around among the Davos jetset more recently, and it probably works fine, especially at the grass-roots level, with people who routinely delude themselves.

Roar back, if you still dare, fly or tiger.

Xi Jinping probably found a lot to copy from Ronald Reagan. His May 4 speech in 2013 resembled Reagan’s endless-opportunities speech in 1984. While frequently considered risk averse when it comes to reform, optimism, a “determination … to educate his audience” and “unobtrusive and imperceptible moral influence” (OK – it depends on how much corniness you’ve grown up with) are features Xi’s propaganda style seems to share with the late US president’s.

Footnote: when it comes to education on the ground, education of the public appears to be anything but imperceptible, as The Capital in the North reported in January.

Central Europe (1): After the “Czech Reversal”

The China Digital Times has an article by a Czech academic, describing Chinese influence in Eastern Europe (although the Czech Republic is hardly “eastern” European), and more particularly about a “China Energy Fund Committee” (CEFC). Czech president Miloš Zeman, who is quoted there with some of his characteristically tasteless remarks (about Chinese eyes, before he changed his mind), has explicit opinions about journalism, too.

Central Europe (2): German Mittelstand’s Main Thing

If the German Mittelstand can’t be found in China, it’s probably because they are investing and selling in the Visegrád countries, and beyond. the Handelsblatt‘s English-language edition has a critical assessment of Mittelstand companies role in Central Europe, quoting an apolitical German trade functionary to prove its point:

Ultimately, politics is not that important for businesspeople. Order books are full: That’s the main thing.

Obviously, German politicians (and journalists, for that matter) aren’t nearly as sanguine, and following US President Trump’s attendence at a Three Seas Initiative summit in July 2017, the Economist even recorded Teutonic tremors:

Germany is already concerned about China’s “16+1” initiative with central and eastern European states, a series of investment projects that the Chinese expect will build influence in the region. The Germans are also putting pressure on the Polish government over its illiberal attacks on independent newspapers, judges and NGOs. And they are fending off Polish criticisms that their proposed “Nord Stream 2” gas pipeline from Russia to Germany will make Europe more dependent on Russia.

But the Mittelstand shows no such unease. In fact, smaller and medium-sized companies often feel easier about countries that are closer to Germany, both regionally and culturally – it takes less time to travel, less time spent abroad, less worries about intercultural competence (or its absence), and less worries about market barriers or technology theft.

Hualien, Taiwan

Most people will have heard and read about the earthquake that caused deaths and injuries, especially in Hualien, on Tuesday.

But the place should be known for its beauty, too. There’s a travel blog about the Taroko Gorge, apparently written by a Singaporean, with some practical advice which  should be quite up to date (based on a visit in November 2016). That, plus some history.

The Spy Radio that anyone can hear

No, that’s not the BBC. They’ve only produced a video about numbers stations.

But what’s the fun in them if anyone can listen? I want some numbers of my own.

____________

Related

Budapest Guidelines, in Chinese and in English, Nov 2017

____________

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Headlines 2017 (1) – Five Economic Policies

Having addressed one of next year’s headlines, these are some rough notes on China’s economic policies, i. e. this years headlines.

china.org.cn, a website operating “under the auspices of the State Council Information Office” and the China International Publishing Group, tells the world (in English) that

[t]he Chinese economy will focus on quality, a shift from the rapid growth the country has been known for over the past decades since the reform and opening up policy was introduced.

Referring to the Central Economic Work Conference’s summary, the article is mostly about parading the new normal personality cult (“Xi’s economic thought takes shape”), suggesting that

China will develop into a manufacturing powerhouse, with a shift from “Made in China” to “Created in China,” the statement said, as the country is striving to evolve from a world factory that churns out low-end products.

A Chinese-language article, published by Xinhua newsagency in Chinese one day earlier (on Wednesday, when the conference closed), is much more detailed, putting the meeting of officials and economists into the context of the CCP’s 19th national congress, and the current 13th Five-Year plan, with recurrent references to the five policies (五大政策).

In the Journal of Nanjing University’s (南京大学学报) third quarterly in summer this year, economics professor Hu Angang (and a doctoral assistant) suggested that the five policies (literally: five big policies) had afforded China the global number-one position as a high-tech industrial country, having overtaken America in 2015. The state’s visible hand had made this possible, Hu argued, adding that given that the market’s “invisible hand” wasn’t as well developed in China as it was in the US, only a sensible combination of both those hands had put China in its new position. Issues such as ways to define the scopes and goals of competition, as well as performance assessments, were also addressed both by Hu’s paper, and by the central economic work conference.

Hu suggests that there were frequent imbalances in classical economic policies, not least America’s (emphasizing innovation sometimes, or emphasizing job creation at others), while China had struck a balance between an industrial policy (产业政策 政策, the policy China started with 30 years ago), a competition policy (竞争政策), an innovation policy (创新政策), a policy of opening up (开放政策), and a “green” environment-protection policy (绿色政策).

One can’t say that the divide between advocates of a set of “balanced” policies are running right through the Pacific (i. e. between Beijing and Washington). America, too, has its share of advocates for balanced industrial policies. An example for an extremely unbalanced concept: the idea that “America should innovate” while China would manufacture was suggested in 2011, by  New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman, who said that he owed this division-of-labor concept to former Hong Kong chief executive Tung Chee-hwa. (Besides innovation, Tung also had the “green policy” on his mind. What Friedman had in mind, God knows.)

Either way, Ralph E. Gomory, an applied mathematician, pointed out that Friedman’s and Tung’s math didn’t add up:

[w]e need successful industries and we need to innovate within them to keep them thriving. However, when your trading partner is thinking about GDP rather than profit, and has adopted mercantilist tactics, subsidizing industries, and mispricing its currency, while loaning you the money to buy the underpriced goods, this may simply not be possible.

That was six and a half years ago. And obviously, China’s leadership never intended to leave innovation to America for good.

However, Hu Angang’s paper concedes that so far, while being the world’s “number one high tech manufacturing country” (为世界最大高技术产业国), China’s ability to innovate independently from foreign know-how still remains “relatively low”.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Xi Jinping’s “Press Briefing”: BBC, Guardian, New York Times giving way to Borrowed Boats?

China Global Television Network (CGTN or CCTV) published a video on Youtube on Wednesday, with the full remarks by CPC Central Committee General Secretary Xi Jinping at a press briefing at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Wednesday following the 19th CPC National Congress. The first groupies have already issued ringing endorsements:

Endorsements from all over the world - click screenshot above for Xi's speech

Applause from all over the world – click screenshot above for Xi’s speech

 

The video provides English subtitles to Xi’s speech. A written Xinhua account (in Chinese) can be found there.

Access to the show was reportedly denied to the BBC, the Financial Times, the New York Times and the Guardian, “in some cases for the first time in more than two decades”. The Guardian’s Beijing correspondent wrote on Wednesday that

[a] series of heavily scripted “press conferences” have been organised, which were attended by a large number of foreign reporters on the payroll of party-run media outlets. Many of the questions appeared to have been pre-screened.

This could refer to China’s innovative guidance of public opinion (abroad). When the Great Hall of the People’s East Hall is full of borrowed boats, access needs to be denied to some of the traditional troublemakers foreign vessels.

No wonder then that the reappointed secretary general was full of praise for the reporters in front of him:

Many of you have come afar. All of you have provided numerous and ample coverage of the congress, and aroused the global public’s attention. You have worked hard, and I give you my heartfelt thanks.

这次来了很多记者朋友,许多是远道而来。大家对会议作了大量、充分的报道,引起了全世界广泛关注。你们辛苦了,我向你们表示衷心的感谢。

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Chairman Xi – the Old Normal Cult

“How did one man come to embody China’s destiny?”, asks the BBC‘s China correspondent, Carrie Gracie. Part of the answer lies in the way the BBC designs her article – The Thoughts of Chairman Xi. Opening it, you feel as if you enter that Yan’an “cave” museum yourself. And as this is a global village, the design also resembles CCTV’s doxology.

Editors and designers – click picture above for CCTV webpage

Now, what made Xi Jingping the man who “embody’s China’s destiny”?

I’m forever a son of the yellow earth,

Gracie quotes Xi.

But the real explanation is much more simple. Xi is his father’s son. That’s not just one aspect of the story – it’s the one that really matters. The rest is useful flattery, written by the man’s hand-picked propagandists.

____________

Related

How yellow was my Hometown, Febr 14, 2015
How safe will he be in 2023, Dec 13, 2014
Towering, March 18, 2013
Cross-legged on the kang, Jan 13, 2013
How they cried, Dec 24, 2012
Outgoing and incoming dictators, Jan 6, 2012

____________

Upates

No heir apparent, BBC News, Oct 25. 2017

____________

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Everybody’s Language: North Korea’s polyglot Propaganda

KCNA’s website publishes articles and news in Korean, English, Chinese, Russian, Spanish, and Japanese. The gist is the same in all versions of KCNA’s multi-lingual rendition of Tuesday’s missile launch over Japan, but certain details appear to have been customized, in accordance with the targeted audience.

The Genius instructing the Military: this is how to launch a missile - click photo for video

The Genius instructing the Military: this is how to launch a missile – click photo for Voice of Korea video

It’s Japanese devils in KCNA’s Chinese rendition of Tuesday’s (regional time) missile launch over Japan, but it’s Japanese islanders in the newsagency’s English version. There are no permalinks on KCNA’s website, therefore, some copies and pastes will follow here.

KCNA August 30 article in English

KCNA August 30 article in English

KCNA August 30 article in Chinese

KCNA August 30 article in Japanese

KCNA August 30 article in Korean

KCNA August 30 article in Korean

If Google Translate is something to go by, the Japanese version refers to Japan as an “island nation”, rather than to “devils”:

All military officers of the Korean People’s Army Strategy Army formulated a bold strategy that the brutal Japanese island nation will be overwhelmingly surprised on August 29th of the blood on which the shameful treaty “Merger of Korea-Japan” was promulgated 107 years ago He is the most enthusiastic to the unprecedented patriot who has approved to launch a ballistic rocket from the metropolitan area and cleared up the resentment piled up in the chest of our people, the highest leader who is a hero of the nation I will send a greeting of gratitude and complete the holy mission and duty as a reliable nuclear weapon power of the Korean Workers’ Party at the head of the last Jihye who will make a total decision on anti-Empress and Anti-America confrontation fight if the party’s central order makes orders I vowed to death. – –

朝鮮人民軍戦略軍の全ての将兵は、107年前、「韓日合併」という恥ずべき条約が公布された血の8月29日に残虐な日本の島国夷がびっくり仰天する大胆な作戦を策定し、首都圏地域から弾道ロケットを発射するように承認してわが人民の胸に積もりに積もった恨みを晴らしてくれた不世出の愛国者、民族の英雄である最高指導者金正恩委員長に最も熱烈な感謝のあいさつを送り、党中央が命令を下せば反帝・反米対決戦を総決算することになる最後の聖戦の先頭で朝鮮労働党の頼もしい核武装力としての聖なる使命と本分を全うする決死の誓いを立てた。---

[Update, Oct 3: Jichanglulu‘s comment sheds more light on KCNA’s Japanese version.]

The Korean version – also if Google Translate gets it right – mentions the 107th anniversary of the 1910 Annexation Treaty, but without any reference of a Japanese (national) character:

All the soldiers of the Strategic Armed Forces of the KPA approved the launch of ballistic rockets in the metropolitan area on August 29, when bloodshed was declared a fake treaty of “Korea-Japan Merger” 107 years ago. As the most patriotic and patriotic hero of the nation, Kim Jung Eun, the most grateful leader of the Korean people, who gave us the hearts of our people, the most warm thanks to the comrade, At the forefront of the temple, the holy mission of the trusteeship of the Korean Workers’ [Google translation ends here]
조선인민군 전략군의 전체 장병들은 107년전 《한일합병》이라는 치욕스러운 조약이 공포된 피의 8월 29일에 잔악한 일본섬나라족속들이 기절초풍할 대담한 작전을 펼치시고 수도권지역에서 탄도로케트를 발사하도록 승인하여주시여 우리 인민의 가슴에 쌓이고쌓인 한을 풀어주신 절세의 애국자,민족의 영웅이신 경애하는 최고령도자 김정은동지께 가장 뜨거운 감사의 인사를 드리면서 당중앙이 명령만 내리면 반제반미대결전을 총결산하게 될 최후성전의 맨 앞장에서 조선로동당의 믿음직한 핵무장력으로서의 성스러운 사명과 본분을 다해나갈 결사의 맹세를 다지였다.(끝)

In Spanish, readers are told that

All officials and soldiers within the Korean People’s Army’s strategic forces expressed gratitude to the Supreme Leader, the unequaled patriot and the hero of the nation, who, on August 29, the bloodstained day of the thuggish Korean-Japanese annexation treaty’s publication, put into practice the courageous operation of instilling fear into the cruel reactionary Japanese, by permitting the launch of a ballistic missile from the Korean capital’s region, so as to make amends for the pent-up grudges of the Korean people.

Todos los oficiales y soldados de las fuerzas estratégicas del EPC expresaron agradecimiento al Máximo Dirigente, patriota sin igual y héroe de la nación, quien el 29 de agosto, día ensangrentado de ser publicada hace 107 años el infame tratado de anexión de Corea a Japón, practicó la operación valiente para dar el gran temor a los crueles reaccionarios japoneses y permitió en la zona de la capital el lanzamiento el cohete balístico haciendo quitar el rencor acumulado del pueblo coreano.

The Russian translation – again, according to Google Translate – doesn’t appear to make any particular mention of the Japanese at all:

Все солдаты и офицеры стратегических войск КНА преподнесли уважаемому высшему руководителю товарищу Ким Чен Ыну – выдающемуся патриоту и герою нации самую теплую благодарность за то, что он разрешил запустить в столице по плану смелой операции баллистическую ракету кровавого 29-го августа, который исполняется 107 лет со дня опубликования позорного соглашения так называемой «аннексии Кореи Японией», и сорвал злобу нашего народа. И они дали клятву выполнить священную миссию и долг как надежные ядерные вооруженные силы ТПК на форпосте окончательной священной войны, когда будет подытожена антиимпериалистическая и антиамериканская борьба, если будет приказ ЦК ТПК.

All the soldiers and officers of the KPA strategic troops presented the most warm gratitude to the distinguished senior leader, Comrade Kim Jong-un, an outstanding patriot and hero of the nation, for allowing him to launch a ballistic missile of bloody August 29th on schedule in the capital, which marks 107 years since Day of publication of the shameful agreement of the so-called “annexation of Korea by Japan”, and ripped off the anger of our people. And they took an oath to fulfill their sacred mission and duty as the reliable nuclear forces of the WPK at the outpost of the final holy war, when the anti-imperialist and anti-American struggle will be summed up, if there is an order from the TPK Central Committee.

As for the Russian-language approach – again, if this is a basically accurate Google translation -, the explanation for the comparatively polite approach towards Japan might be found in what a Chinese researcher, Cui Heng, wrote in December 2013:

Russia isn’t only prepared to develop beneficial relations with Japan for geopolitical reasons. In Russian historical memory, there isn’t much hate against Japan. During the age of the great empires, Japanese-Russian relations in the Far East were of a competitive nature. Many Russians still talk about the 1905 defeat, but the Far East wasn’t considered a place that would hit Russian nerve as hard as the crushing defeat in the Crimean war. Back then, Japan wasn’t perceived as a threat for Russia, and from another perspective, if there had been anti-Japanese feelings, there wouldn’t have been a revolution. According to perception back then, the [1905] defeat was a result of the Russian government’s incompetence, not [brought about by] a strong adversary. The outstanding achievements of the Soviet Red Army in 1945 led to a great [positive] Russian attitude, but still without considering Japan a great enemy.

And as far as the term “Japanese devils” is concerned, the Chinese version – the only KCNA version that takes the expression of sentiments against Japan that far – may intend to remind North Korea’s somewhat changeable Chinese allies of traditional common causes.

%d bloggers like this: