Posts tagged ‘public diplomacy’

Saturday, February 25, 2017

February 28: one Incident, different Interpretations

Links within blockquotes added during translation — JR


1. Chinese State Council “Taiwan Affairs Office”, Febr 22

State Council Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman An Fengshan told a regular press conference on February 22 that the February 28 incident which occured seventy years ago was the Taiwanese compatriots’ resistance against dictatorship, a righteous movement to obtain basic rights, and part of the Chinese peoples’ struggle for liberation. Ever since a long time ago, this incident has been intentionally used by “Taiwan independence” splittist forces on the island who distorted historic facts, incited contradictions in their province of citizenship [Update, Febr 26: or between citizens with different provinces of origin], to tear apart the Taiwanese community, to create antagonism withinn society. Their despicable intention to carry out separatist “Taiwan independence” activities was absolutely despicable.

国务院台办发言人安峰山2月22日在例行新闻发布会上应询表示,发生在70年前的“2.28”事件是台湾同胞反抗专制统治、争取基本权利的正义行动,是中国人民解放斗争的一部分。长期以来,这一事件被岛内的“台独”分裂势力别有用心地利用,他们歪曲历史事实,挑拨省籍矛盾,撕裂台湾族群,制造社会对立,为进行“台独”分裂活动张目,其用心是十分卑劣的。


2. Chinanet, Febr 8, 2017 (Excerpts)

The Taiwan Affairs Office holds a regular press conference on the 8th of February (Wednesday) at 10 in the morning, at the Taiwan Affairs Office press conference room (6-1, Guang’anmen South Road, Guang’an Building). There will be a live broadcast online, please follow it closely.

国务院台湾事务办公室定于2月8日(周三)上午10:00在国台办新闻发布厅(广安门南街6-1号广安大厦中门四层)举办例行新闻发布会。中国网现场直播,敬请关注!

[photographic records / 图片实录]

Transcript / 文字实录

[…]

Xinhua reporter: Two questions. First question, this year is the seventieth anniversary of the 2-2-8 incident, may I ask if there will be related mainland activities? Second question, the “Taiwan Solidarity Uion” is currently announcing that they plan to invite “Xinjiang independence” element Rebiya Kadeer to visit Taiwan and hope to effect a meeting between her and Tsai Ing-wen. I would like to ask how the spokesman has [spokesman being addressed in the third person] comments on this?

新华社记者:
两个问题。第一,今年是“2·28”事件七十周年,请问大陆方面会否举行相关的纪念活动?第二,“台联党”日前宣布,计划于3月份邀请“疆独”分子热比亚访台,并希望促成她与蔡英文会面,想请问发言人对此有何评论?
2017-02-08 10:45:21

An Fengshan: Concerning your first question, it is understood that the relevant mainland departments are going to hold a number of commemorative activities at the scheduled time. Concerning your second question, as is well known, Rebiya Kadeer is a ethnic group splittist element, a leading figure of the “East Turkestan” separatist force. We are firmly opposed to an arrival of Rebiya Kadeer at Taiwanese activities in any form.  “Taiwanese independence” forces inviting such a person to visit Taiwan, intending to manufacture disturbances, is bound to harm cross-strait relations.

安峰山:
您的第一个问题。据了解,大陆有关部门届时会举办系列纪念活动。
第二个问题,众所周知,热比亚是一个民族分裂分子,是“东突”分裂势力的头面人物。我们坚决反对热比亚以任何形式到台湾活动。“台独”势力邀请这样一个人物到台湾访问,意图制造事端,势必会损害两岸关系。
2017-02-08 10:45:38

[…]

____________

Related

Massacring the Truth, Taipei Times, Febr 25, 2017
Rebiya Kadeer cancels Taiwan visit, UAA, Febr 14, 2017
Jiang attends Xinhai Commemoration, Oct 9, 2011

____________

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Mayor Carmena, the Scuttling Dalai Lama, and the Inseparably close Sino-Spanish Links

The following is an online article published by Voice of Tibet, a broadcaster from Norway.

Main Link (1):
→ Madrid considers inviting Dalai Lama to take part in Peace Conference – Communist China Overseas United Front Organization: this Hurts the Feelings of the Chinese People

Voice of Tibet, Febr 17, 2017 – The mayor of Madrid has met the American film star and Tibet supporter Richard Gere and mandated him to invite His Holiness the Dalai Lama to attend a peace forum in April. Communist Chinese organization “→ China Council for the Promotion of Peaceful National Reunification”, immediately expressed protest towards the Madrid city government, saying that the Dalai Lama was a “defector”, and demanding that Madrid should not “hurt the dignity of  Chinese people, nor hurt Chinese feelings”.

【西藏之声2017年2月17日报道】西班牙马德里市市长会见美国援藏影星理查•基尔,拜托他邀达赖喇嘛尊者出席4月的一场和平论坛。中共海外统战机构“中国和平统一促进会”立即向马德里市政府表达抗议,称达赖喇嘛是“叛逃者”,并要求马德里市不要“伤害中国人的尊严,伤害中国人的感情”。

A number of Spanish media have concurrently reported that American film star Richard Gere visited Madrid. The website “Think Spain” reported on February 15 that on February 14, Madrid mayor Manuela Carmena had met with Richard Gere.

西班牙多家媒体近日均报道了美国影星理查•基尔到访马德里市的新闻。ThinkSPAIN网站 15日报道说,14日当天,马德里市女市长卡梅娜(Manuela Carmena)与理查•基尔见面。

Carmena mandated Gere to deliver an invitation to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, hoping that His Holiness would take part in the “Forum on Violence and Education for Peace”, to be held in Madrid from April 17 to April 19. It is reported that mayors from various big cities worldwide, political leaders, and social science experts are going to attend.

卡梅娜拜托基尔向达赖喇嘛转达邀请,希望尊者能够参加定于4月17日至19日在马德里举行的“暴力与和平教育论坛”(Forum on Violence and Education for Peace),据悉将有世界各大城市的市长、政治领袖,以及社会科学专家出席。

In an article published on their official website, the CCP-United-Front-led “China Council for the Promotion of Peaceful National Reunification” pointed out that members of the Spanish [secton of the] “China Council for the Promotion of Peaceful National Reunification” had, “for the first time, taken action, and convened leadership meetings for that very night”, and with their efforts during that night, they had drafted “a protest letter, seriously protesting the Tibetan independence ‘separatist Dalai Lama’s participation’ in the ‘Madrid Peace Forum’.”

由中共统战部指挥安排的“中国和平统一促进会”17日于官网刊文,指西班牙中国和平统一促进会成员“第一时间行动起来,连夜召开骨干会议”并且在“连夜努力下”起草了一封“严重抗议‘藏独’分裂者达赖喇嘛出席‘马德里和平论坛’”的抗议信。”

Members of said organisation handed the protest letter to Madrid city government staff, demanding that it should be handed to the mayor. According to their statements, Communist Chinese embassy officials also made representations to the city government.

该组织几名成员将抗议信交给马德里市政府工作人员,要求转交市长。而据他们的新闻声明,中共驻西班牙大使馆的官员也向该市政府就此进行了交涉。

In their protest letter, the Chinese Communist United Front organization “China Council for the Promotion of Peaceful National Reunification” [abreviated by VoT author]  vilified the Dalai Lama as someone who had defected abroad, carrying out activities [intended to] split the motherland … attacking the Tibet policies of the Chinese central government and Tibet’s development and progress … inciting believers to create violent incidents and to damage stability in the Tibetan region …”

在抗议信中,中共海外统战机构“统促会”诋毁达赖喇嘛“叛逃国外,进行分裂祖国的活动……攻击中国中央政府的西藏政策和西藏的发展进步……并煽动信众制造暴力事件,破坏藏区稳定……”

The “China Council for the Promotion of Peaceful National Reunification” [abreviated by VoT author], just as other Chinese Communist organizations “representing” the common Chinese people, said they hoped that the Madrid city government “won’t hurt the dignity of Chinese people, or hurt their feelings.”

统促会并如其他中共机构一般“代表”了中国百姓,称希望马德里政府“不要伤害中国人的尊严,伤害中国人的感情。”

Recently, University of California San Diego branch university’s invitation to the Dalai Lama to attend the graduation ceremony raised protest from its overseas Chinese student groups. The management didn’t change their decision, and the overseas Chinese student groups modified their protests to demanding that it should be ensured that the Dalai Lama’s speech should not touch upon politics.

近日,美国加州大学圣地亚哥分校因计划邀请达赖喇嘛出席毕业典礼,而引起该校中国留学生团体的抗议。校方未改变决定,留学生团体便转为要求确保达赖喇嘛的讲话不牵涉政治。

Columbia University Contemporary Tibetan Studies Institute director Professor Robert Barnett pointed out in an interview with INSIDE HIGHERED that everyone should be aware of this kind of foreign governments’ bullying against academic institutions. He praised the university for not withdrawing from an important position, but also suggested that it should immediately open opportunities for dialogue between the Chinese students and the Dalai Lama, such as arranging a private meeting between them and the Dalai Lama.

哥伦比亚大学现代西藏研究所所长罗伯特•巴内特(Robert Barnett)接受媒体INSIDE Highered采访时指出,各方应该关注此类学术机构被外国政府霸凌的现象。他赞扬校方没有后退是一个重要的立场,但也提议校方立刻打开与中国学生对话的机遇,比如安排他们与达赖喇嘛之间的私下会面。

The VoT article adds a photo apparently first posted by the “reunification council”, taken by the latter as they “ran into” Chinese embassy staff at the Madrid city government premises as they taking their protest letter there.

VoT’s online article apparently refers to → this online posting by the “reunification council”. Here goes:

Main Link (2):
→ Madrid City Mayor invites Dalai Lama participation in “Madrid Peace Forum” – Spanish [section of] the China Council for the Promotion of Peaceful National Reunification hands Letter of Protest to Madrid City Government

On February 15, Madrid city mayor Manuela Carmena met with famous visiting American film star Richard Gere, and expressed her hope that she could invite the Dalai Lama through Gere, to attend the Madrid “Concerning Municipal Violence and Peace-handling Forum of the Educational World”. Richard Gere is a believer in Tibetan Buddhism, and a faithful follower of the Dalai Lama.

2月15日,马德里市长Manuela Carmena会见了到访的美国著名影星Richard Gere,表达了希望能够通过他邀请达赖喇嘛参加马德里城市“关于城市暴力与和平相处教育世界论坛”。Richard Gere是藏传佛教的信徒,也是达赖喇嘛的忠实追随者。

As the news had burst out, it immediately caught the attention of Chinese people travelling Spain. Ever since the Dalai Lama’s defection in 1959, the establishment of a “exile government” and the drafting a bogus constitution, he has carried out actions to split the motherland.

新闻爆出之后,立即引起了旅西华人的关注。达赖喇嘛自从1959年叛国以来,建立“流亡政府”,制定伪宪法,进行分裂祖国的活动。

Once the news was reported, and everyone became aware of the situation, the Spanish [section of] the China Council for the Promotion of Peaceful National Reunification under the leadership of chairman → Xu Songhua, took action for the first time, immediately in the same night, convening a leadership meeting. At the meeting, all unified their ideology, pooled knowledge for everyone’s benefit, and reported to related parties. In the end, a protest letter, bilingual in Chinese and Tibetan, ‘”seriously protesting ‘Tibetan independence’ divider Dalai Lama’s attendence at the ‘Madrid Peace Forum’ was drafted.

新闻一经报道,大家在得知这样的情况后,西班牙中国和平统一促进会在徐松华主席的带领下,第一时间行动起来,立即连夜召开的骨干会议。在会议上大家统一思想、集思广益,并且向有关方面做了汇报。最终起草了一封“严重抗议‘藏独’分裂者达赖喇嘛出席‘马德里和平论坛’”的中西文双语抗议信。

The letter was completed with the efforts of everyone during that night, and early next morning, under the leadership of Chairman Xu Songhua – together with → Fundación Orient chairman of the board and Council for the Promotion of Peaceful National Reunification senior consultant Julia Zhang, deputy chairman Liu Guangxin and Xu Zhenhai – was handed to Madrid city government.

信件在大家连夜的努力之下起草完毕,并且在第二天一早在徐松华主席的带领下,一同诚信基金会董事长、西班牙中国和平统一促进会高级顾问Julia张女士,副主席刘光新和徐振海交于马德里市政府。

When the four arrived at Madrid city government, time was nearing closing time, and in the end, the four handed the letter to city government staff, to have them pass it on to mayor Carmena, and expressed their severe protest. As they were leaving, they ran into Chinese embassy’s [title] Huang Yazhong and spokesman Ji Dengyun. The two had just made serious representations to the Madrid city government on behalf of the embassy in Spain, concerning the matter. Having bumped into each other, the two sides exchanged their views and opinions, expressing anger and strong protest against mayor Carmena’s mistaken practice of hurting the friendship between the peoples of China and Spain.

一行四人抵达马德里市政府已经接近下班时间,最终四人将信件交给市政府的工作人员,让其转交给马德里市长Carmena女士。并表达了严厉的抗议。四人一出市政府门口,迎面碰上驻西大使馆公参黄亚中和新闻发言人吉登云。他俩代表驻西使馆就此事件刚刚也向马德里市政府严重交涉过。在此一碰,双方交换了意见看法,对卡梅拉市长伤害中西人民友谊的错误做法表示愤怒和强烈抗议。

The protest letter’s complete wording:

抗议信件全文如下:

Seriously protesting “Tibetan Independence” Separatist Dalai Lama’s Attendence at “Madrid Peace Forum”

Respected Madrid City Mayor Ms Carmena:

尊敬的马德里市政府市长卡梅拉女士:

[no translation found]

春祺不一。

We thank Madrid mayor and Madrid city government for their participation in the Chinese Spring Festival activities, their support and help. We appreciate it.

感谢市长和马德里市政府在庆祝中国春节活动中的参与,支持与帮助。我们予以积极评价。

Yesterday, at the shocking news that you wanted to invite the Dalai Lama through American film star Richard Gere, from April 19 to 21, at the Madrid “Concerning Municipal Violence and Peace-handling Forum of the Educational World”, we felt shock and disbelief. Therefore, we send you a letter to cancel this mistaken decision.

昨日,惊悉您通过美国影星李察?基尔,欲邀请达赖参加四月十九曰至二十一日,在马德里召开的”关于城市暴力和平相处教育世界论坛”,我们感到震惊,不可思议。所以,致函您取消这一错误決定。

What kind of man is the Dalai Lama? He is one of the → Gelug school‘s Living Buddhas. Ever since he defected abroad in 1959, he established of a “exile government”, drafted a bogus constitution, and has carried out actions to split the motherland. Under a banner of “peace”, “non-violence”, and “human rights”, he scuttles to every place, spreading rumors, building up international public opinion, gaining uninformed peoples’ sympathy, attacking the Tibet policies of the Chinese central government and Tibet’s development and progress. He deceives, bewitches, bribes, utilizes and incites some believers  to create all kinds of disturbances and uses every opportunity to damage stability in the Tibetan region to achieve his delusional ideas of splitting up China.

达赖喇嘛是何许人?他是藏传佛教格鲁派活佛之一。自1959年叛逃国外以来,他建立“流亡政府”,制定伪宪法,进行分裂祖国的活动。打着“和平”,“非暴力”,“人权”旗号四处窜访,散布谣言,制造国际舆论,获取不明真相人们的同情,攻击中国中央政府的西藏政策和西藏的发展进步。欺骗,蛊惑,收买,利用和煽动一些信众制造各种事端和暴力事件,利用一切机会破坏藏区稳定,以实现他分裂中国的痴心妄想。

In recent years, after the real face of the the Dalai had been exposed, meetings between foreign leaders and the Dalai Lama has become less and less frequent, and the international news world’s interest in the Dalai Lama has become ever lower. The Chinese government has invested an enourmous energy in the building and development of Tibet, and Tibet has maintained stable development these years, with ever closer ethnic unity and religious relations. Tibetan development, the support from the entire nation for Tibet, and the implemenation of various projects and policies have continuously improved Tibet’s situation, with the Dalai Lama’s international status going down, and ever fewer places to go to. Ever since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Spain several decades ago, the two sides have continuously strengthened their exchanges in the fields of politics, economics, culture, etc., with ever deepening friendly cooperation. Especially in recent years, the momentum in Sino-Spanish economic and technical cooperation has been good, and Spain has become an important trade partner of China, within the European Union, with Sino-Spanish technological trade continuously improving, bilateral investment continuously expanding, and a big increase in Chinese tourists travelling to Spain. Currently, economic and trade exchange between China and Spain, with China’s “one belt one road” development strategy, have become inseparably close, and have added strong power to the two countries’ economic prosperity. Friendship between the two countries has continuously deepened and developed.

近年来,达赖真面目暴露之后,外国的国家领导人和达赖喇嘛见面的越来越少,国际新闻界对达赖喇嘛的关注度越来越低。中国政府对西藏建设和发展投入了巨大的精力,西藏这些年来持续不断地保持稳定发展,民族团结越来越好,宗教关系越来越好。西藏的发展、全国人民对西藏的支持以及各项政策措施的实施,使西藏的局面越来越好,而“藏独”分裂者达赖喇嘛在国际上的身价越来越低、越来越走不动。中西两国建交几十年來,双方在政治、经济、文化等方面的交流不断加强,友好合作关系不断深化。特别是近年来,中西经济技术合作势头很好,西班牙已成为中国在欧盟的重要贸易伙伴,中西技术贸易不断发展,双边投资合作不断扩大,到西旅游中国旅客大幅增长。当前,中西两国的经贸交流,在中国提出的“一带一路”发展战略上紧密对接,为中西两国的经济繁荣注入了强劲动力,两国之间的友谊在不断深化和发展。

We hope that the Madrid [city] government will uphold the friendly relations between China and Spain, and that it will not harm the dignity and the feelings of the Chinese people.

我们希望马德里政府,维护中西两国的友好关系,不要伤害中国人的尊严,伤害中国人的感情。

As Chinese immigrants living far from their native land, we respect Spanish dignity and traditional culture, abide by Spanish law and regulations, and hold Spanish liberties, democracy, and peace in high esteem. With sincere hopes for long-lasting Sino-Spanish friendship!

作为侨居西班牙的中国移民,我们尊重西班牙的民族尊严和传统文化,遵守西班牙的法律法规,崇尚西班牙的自由、民主与和平。衷心希望中西友谊长存!

[Spanish section of] the China Council for the Promotion of Peaceful National Reunification, Febr 16, 2017

西班牙中国和平统一促进会
2017年2月16日

On February 9, Richard Gere had met with German chancellor Angela Merkel, in his capacity as chairman of the International Campaign for Tibet. Radio Berlin-Brandenburg (RBB) → noted that the meeting, scheduled to take 30 minutes, had lasted for three quarters of an hour. No information about the content of their discussions was given.

____________

Related

→ Imagen de la Reunión, Febr 14, 2017
→ Rising China, Rotten Diplomacy, Jan 11, 2013

____________

Friday, January 20, 2017

Xi Jinping in Davos: the Warming Sunshine of Economic Globalization

“Davos: China’s president Xi Jinping argues for a liberal economic order”, German business paper “Handelsblatt” titled on its front page on Wednesday. (Not quite the headline, though – that was a news article on Theresa May‘s Brexit speech.) The paper also quotes incoming US president Donald Trump‘s advisor, Anthony Scaramucci, as saying that the US didn’t want a trade war, “but we want fair trade”, and that Trump’s attacks on NATO and EU had been misinterpreted.

The editorial in the same edition is enthusiastic: Xi Jinping‘s Davos speech had been “a dressing-down for populists”, argues Handelsblatt editorialist Stephan Scheuer, and provided “a keynote for discussions of the coming years”. Xi’s unambiguous message was that China would “not close its doors, but open them further for the world.”

Scheuer’s Wednesday editorial seems to confirm the impression of a Chinese government researcher, Zhao Jinping (赵晋平), who was quoted by “People’s Daily” as saying that reactions to Xi’s speech had been sympathetic (共鸣).

Gulliver in Smurfland (Xinhua artwork)

Gulliver in Smurfland (Xinhua artwork)

While Zhao pointed out that globalization remained the international mainstream consensus, Xi Jinping himself found more flowery words to express the same belief (as quoted in another “People’s Daily” article):

“The global economy’s vast sea, if you like it or not, is there, and you can’t avoid it.” Xi Jinping pointed out that a desire to artificially cut every national economy’s capital flows, technology flows, flows of products, industries, and people, and to shrink the vast sea of the global economy to an isolated small lake, or a small river, was impossible, and would not be in correspondence with the historic trend. When facing economic globalization’s opportunities and risks, the right choice is to make full use of the opportunities, to cooperate to respond to challenges, and to guide the direction of economic globalization well.

“世界经济的大海,你要还是不要,都在那儿,是回避不了的。”习近平指出,想人为切断各国经济的资金流、技术流、产品流、产业流、人员流,让世界经济的大海退回到一个一个孤立的小湖泊、小河流,是不可能的,也是不符合历史潮流的。面对经济全球化带来的机遇和挑战,正确的选择是,充分利用一切机遇,合作应对一切挑战,引导好经济全球化走向。

And:

Protectionism is like locking oneself into a dark room, as if one wants to avoid the hardship, but also the warming sunshine. The result of trade wars would only bring harm to both sides.

搞保护主义如同把自己关进黑屋子,看似躲过了风吹雨打,但也隔绝了阳光和空气。打贸易战的结果只能是两败俱伤

But not everyone appears to have become fully convinced this week that the hero now lives in Beijing, and that the villain is going to reside in the White House. Frank Sieren, a columnist who had been accused by his former Deutsche Welle colleague Su Yutong of being too nice to Beijing more than two years ago, reminds his readers that Xi, no less than Trump, would stand against those who are currently lauding him – whenever that makes sense for him. And both Xi and Trump would have to pursue goals of their own: China would have to get more integrated with the world to be successful, and America would need to produce more goods at home, without making the products more expensive for Americans.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Fond Memories and Grinding Teeth: AM Closures in Australia and France

——–

Radio Australia leaves Shortwave by End of January

Radio Australia is signing off with the end of January, if things keep going in accordance with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation‘s (ABC) schedule. A press release on December 6 quoted the head of ABC’s radio section as saying that

“While shortwave technology has served audiences well for many decades, it is now nearly a century old and serves a very limited audience. The ABC is seeking efficiencies and will instead service this audience through modern technology.”

20161209_radio_australia_message_received

There are people in Australia who disagree. There are others who support the decision. In an interview with Richard Ewart, co-host of Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat, former Australian High Commissioner to Fiji and the Solomon Islands, James Batley, defended the closure of shortwave transmissions to the Pacific, but came across as somewhat unprepared for that role:

Batley: The shortwave transmissions have had a very long and distinguished history. But I suppose I can’t help thinking now that … I guess this is a thing of technology really overtaking that form of broadcasting. And it’s a very different world these days, than sort of the heyday of shortwave broadcasting in past decades. But it’s a pity, because I guess we’ve all got fond memories of tuning in to Radio Australia by shortwave radio in the past.

Ewart: Isn’t one of the key elements of this decision, though, that the risk that it may pose, particularly during times of emergency? We’ve seen two huge cyclones strike in the Pacific over the last couple of years, and during an emergency like that, a shortwave broadcast could be a life-saver.

Batley: Yeah, look, I think the whole media and communication scene has really changed pretty dramatically, over several decades, in the Pacific, and there are now … I think there are more options available for public broadcasters, for governments’ communities, to access information. So I certainly … you know … there will be some people who still listen on shortwave, but I think it is a diminishing audience. I think you’d have to say that. And certainly, people of my acquaintance, fewer and fewer people would use shortwave radios.

Ewart: But what about those who continue to rely on shortwave, particularly, for example, in rural areas of Papua New Guinea, the numbers, we understand, are pretty high for those who can’t access digital technology. They would rely, still, on shortwave to get any sort of broadcast coming out of Radio Australia.

Batley: Yes, look, I don’t actually know the numbers. I’m not sure what the figures are. […] But like I said, I think there are a lot more options available these days, for governments, for broadcasters. And I think there is a sense in which shortwave may be a technology that’s been, perhaps, superseded.

Ewart: Our understanding is that accurate figures are in fact being gathered by the ABC right now, which makes me wonder why would they make this decision if they don’t already have that information. Could it be a little bit precipitate?

Batley: Well, look, it’s not for me to question the management’s decision on this. I’m not sure what considerations they may have taken. I don’t know all those numbers.

[…]

Wavescan, Adventist World Radio‘s (AWR) media magazine, compiled a number of voices and programs from Australia, New Zealand, and the Asia-Pacific region in December, including the a/m interview with James Batley. It starts in the ninth minute of the podcast dated 18/12/2016 (currently available for download).

In an interview with ABC, Batley said that the money saved by abandoning shortwave broadcasts should be re-invested in a more robust FM transmitter network and increased regional content. The issue was also touched upon in the a/m Radio Australia interview. The shutdown is said to save some 2.8 million Australian Dollars a year.

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France Inter no longer on 162 kHz

This January 1rst must be a happy day for controllers at Radio France: the demise of longwave broadcasts on 162 kHz is said to save the broadcaster six million Euros per year, Sud-Ouest, a French regional newspaper, wrote on Friday. The longwave broadcasts ended last night, around midnight. During 2016, Radio France had already saved seven million Euros, also according to Sud-Ouest, thanks to switching off the medium wave transmitters carrying France Bleu and France Info programs.

Some five to seven percent of the audience, or some 500,000 people, had still been listeners to the longwave broadcasts, writes Sud-Ouest, suggesting that teeth were grinding among the more nostalgic listeners.

The end of the longwave broadcasts also marks the end of the meteorological service being carried to adjacent and more distant waters, writes the paper. They had been part of the daily programs, every evening after the 20-h journal, and had been dropped on FM much earlier, in 2009.

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Related

France Inter / RFI history, May 31, 2014

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Friday, December 2, 2016

Is the Truth losing in Today’s World? (And if Yes: How so?)

That’s what Richard Stengel, currently undersecretary for public diplomacy at the State Department, believes, according to a Washington Post article:

“We like to think that truth has to battle itself out in the marketplace of ideas. Well, it may be losing in that marketplace today,” Stengel warned in an interview. “Simply having fact-based messaging is not sufficient to win the information war.”

And, adds the author of the WaPo article, David Ignatius:

How do we protect the essential resource of democracy — the truth — from the toxin of lies that surrounds it? It’s like a virus or food poisoning. It needs to be controlled. But how?

Fascinating stuff – fascinating, because it feels like a déjà vu to me (and I’m wondering for how many others who have a memory of some decades).

The Genius leads the spectators: engineering of consent in its early stages in applauding his works.

The Genius leads the spectators: engineering of consent in its early stages.

When I studied and worked in a fairly rural place in China, I had a number of encounters with – probably mainstream – Chinese worldviews. That was around the turn of the century, and these were probably the most antagonistic, and exciting, debates I ever had, as the only foreigner among some Chinese friends. Discussions sometimes ended with the two, three or four of us angrily staring at each other, switching to a less controversial topic, and bidding each other a frosty good-bye.

But there was a mutual interest in other peoples’ weird ideas. That’s why our discussions continued for a number of weekends. At at least one point, I felt that I had argued with overwhelming logic, but my Chinese interlocutor was unimpressed. I blamed Chinese propaganda for his insusceptibility, but apparently, propaganda was exactly his point: “If propaganda helps to keep my country safe, I have nothing against propaganda,” he replied.

I found that gross. The idea that propaganda should just be another tool, something you might volunteer to use and to believe in, so as to keep your country and society stable, was more alien to me than any Chinese custom I had gotten to know.

The idea that truth is, or that facts are, the essential resource of a (working, successful) democracy looks correct to me. Democracy can’t work without an informed public. But when it comes to German mainstream media, I have come to the conclusion that they aren’t trustworthy.

I agree with the WaPo article / Richard Stengel that the US government can’t be a verifier of last resort. No government can play this kind of role. The Chinese party and state have usurped that role, but China is known to be a low-trust society – that doesn’t suggest that they have played a successful role as official verifiers. While many Chinese people do apparently think of their government as the ultimate guardian of national sovereignty and individual safety from imperialist encroachment, they don’t seem to trust these domestic public security powers as their immediate neighbors.

And the ability of any Western government to be a verifier ends as soon as an issue involves state interests, government interests, or governing parties’ interests.

The US government as a verifier of last resort concerning the Syria war? That idea isn’t even funny.

The German government as a verifier of last resort when it comes to foreign-trade issues (within the European Union, or beyond)? Bullshit.

But what about the American media? I don’t have a very clear picture of how they work, but it would seem to me that US television stations usually address the issues that earn them most of the public’s attention. If that is so, it should be no wonder that Donald Trump profited more from media attention, than Hillary Clinton.

But if tweets, rather than platforms, become the really big issues, the media must have abandoned the role that has traditionally been ascribed to them.

German (frequently public-law) media are strongly influenced by political parties, and apparently by business-driven foundations, too.

I don’t know if something similar can be said about American media, but even if only for their attention-seeking coverage, they can’t count as well-performing media either.

What about “social” media? According to Stengel, as quoted by the Washington Post, they give everyone the opportunity to construct their own narrative of reality.

Stengel mentions Islamic State (in 2014) and Russian propaganda campaigns as examples. In the latter’s case, he points to the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and other political organizations during the elections in particular.

I believe that Stengel / Ignatius may have half a point. Russia – provided that they were indeed behind the leaks – only targeted Clinton’s campaign, not Donald Trump’s.

But then, wouldn’t it have been the task of the US media to unearth either campaign’s dirty secrets? Russian propaganda performed, even if only selectively, where US media had failed. It exposed practice in the Democratic Party leadership that was hostile to democracy, but acting under the guise of defending it.

How should citizens who want a fact-based world combat this assault on truth, Ignatius finally asks, and quotes Stengel once again, and addressing the role of “social media”:

The best hope may be the global companies that have created the social-media platforms. “They see this information war as an existential threat,” says Stengel. The tech companies have made a start: He says Twitter has removed more than 400,000 accounts, and YouTube daily deletes extremist videos.

Now, I’m no advocate of free broadcasts for ISIS videos. But if the best hope is the removal of accounts and videos by the commercial providers, it would seem that there isn’t much hope in human power of judgment, after all – and in that case, there wouldn’t be much hope for democracy as a model of government.

Ignatius:

The real challenge for global tech giants is to restore the currency of truth. Perhaps “machine learning” can identify falsehoods and expose every argument that uses them. Perhaps someday, a human-machine process will create what Stengel describes as a “global ombudsman for information.”

Wtf? Human-machine processes? Has the “Global Times” hacked the WaPo?

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Related

Why Wikileaks can’t work, Dec 1, 2010

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Monday, October 31, 2016

German FM Vietnam Visit: Counter-Balancing China?

“Vietnam is Germany’s important strategic partner”, Nhan Dan‘s Chinese edition quoted German foreign minister Frank Walter Steinmeier, in one of its headlines on October 29. Nhan Dan is the organ of Vietnam’s Communist Party central committee.

German foreign minister Frank Walter Steinmeier left Berlin on October 29 to begin a trip intended to strengthen the two countries’ strategic partnership.

德国外交部长弗兰克-瓦尔特·施泰因迈尔10月29离开柏林,开始启程对越南进行访问,旨在加强两国战略伙伴关系。

German foreign minister Steinmeier is leading a delegation with members in charge of economic and cultural affairs.

德国外长施泰因迈尔率领负责经济和文化事务代表团对越南进行为期三天的访问。

The German foreign minister sees Vietnam as Germany’s important economic, political, cultural and strategic partner. The head of Germany’s federal parliament, Norbert Lammert, visited Vietnam in March 2015, and Vietnam [then] state chairman Trưong Tan Sang’s visit to Germany in November 2015 strengthened the two countries’ relations further.

德国外交部将越南是为德国重要的经济、政治、文化战略伙伴。德国联邦议院议长诺贝特·拉默特2015年3月对越南进行访问和越南国家主席张晋创2015年11月对德国进行访问为两国关系增添了新动力。

In the framework of the two countries’ strategic-partnership action plan, Germany’s and Vietnam’s cooperation activities are developing further, in a variety of fields, with new projects being added every year. One of these important projects is the “German House”, under construction in Ho Chi Minh City, which is going to be a headquarter for German organizations and companies in Ho Chi Minh City.

在两国战略伙伴行动计划框架内,德国与越南合作活动在各领域上继续向前发展,每年都有新的合作项目。两国重要合作项目之一是在胡志明市兴建 “德国屋”,这里将成为在胡志明市德国组织和企业的总部。

Bilateral trade between Vietnam and Germany amounted to 10.3 billion USD in 2015, with German imports from Vietnam at eight bn, and exports to Vietnam at 2.3 bn USD. Major export products from Vietnam are footwear, textiles, farming and seafood products, electronic components, wooden furniture, etc.. Major import products from Germany are machinery, transport, vehicles, chemical products, and measurement instruments, etc..

越德两国2015年双边贸易金额达103亿美元,德国自越南进口80亿美元、对越南出口23亿美元。越南对德国主要出口产品是鞋类、纺织品、农海产品、电子零件和木家具等;越南自德国进口主要产品是机械、运输车辆、化学物品和化学仪器等。

On Sunday, Nhan Dan reported a visit by Steinmeier to a German company’s investment site in Haiphong. According to the newsarticle, the gypsum production site, built by German gypsum producer Knauf, is one of the biggest investment projects in Haiphong.

Vietnam’s foreign broadcaster Voice of Vietnam‘s (VoV) German service adds a short description of the Phu Lac wind farm.

Betram Lang, a MERICS researcher, wrote earlier this month that

[i]n times of rising diplomatic tensions in the South China Sea, the European Union (EU) tries to bolster the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) as a counterweight to China in the region. To this end, the EU has offered generous financial support to foster the regional integration process and sponsor the still politically toothless ASEAN secretariat. It almost tripled previous financial commitments to 196 million EUR between 2014 and 2020.

That however was proving difficult: While Cambodia has been positioning itself as China’s closest ally in South East Asia since at least 2001, other ASEAN countries have recently sought their own kind of ‘privileged relationship’ with the PRC as well.

China’s online media apparently don’t report Steinmeier’s Vietnam visit – most of the Chinese-language coverage appears to be from Vietnamese sources.

Before heading for Vietnam, Steinmeier reportedly called on Vietnam’s leadership for political reforms in Vietnam, an issue that Vietnam’s state-controlled media didn’t cover (not in Chinese, anyway).

In a speech at the opening ceremony for a German and European Law program of study at Hanoi Law University, Steinmeier came back to the topic of political reforms. Successful modernization required the rule of law, and a strong civil society, he said.

Steinmeier also addressed the South China Sea conflict – in a diplomatic way -, plus ASEAN:

For us, but for Vietnam with its important and further growing role in ASEAN and the United Nations, one thing is clear: Peace can only be secured when international law and politics work together. International law aims at guide power within tracks, and the powerful in politics must accept these tracks. The latest decision, based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, was an important legal step. What matters now is that the groundbreaking elements of the decision will gradually be turned into practice of international law.

Für uns, aber auch für Vietnam mit seiner wichtigen und weiter wachsenden Rolle in ASEAN und in den Vereinten Nationen ist jedenfalls eines klar: Frieden wird nur gesichert, wenn Völkerrecht und Politik zusammenspielen. Das Völkerrecht zielt darauf ab, Macht in Bahnen zu lenken, und die Mächtigen in der Politik müssen diese Bahnen akzeptieren. Der jüngste Schiedsspruch, basierend auf der Seerechtskonvention der Vereinten Nationen, war ein wichtiger rechtlicher Schritt. Jetzt kommt es darauf an, dass die wegweisenden Elemente des Schiedsspruches Schritt für Schritt auch völkerrechtliche Praxis werden.

Vietnam’s opposition to China’s naval strategy in the South China Sea has been stronger than that of other ASEAN nations. But geostrategic considerations are only one aspect of Germany’s Vietnam policy. Vietnam’s economy keeps growing fast, and East Germany and Vietnam in particular share a history of economic cooperation.

Deutsche Welle, once Germany’s foreign radio station, in a March 2015 report, commemorating fourty years of German-Vietnamese ties:

When that country [East Germany] collapsed, almost all its Vietnamese workers suddenly lost their jobs. They did not want to return to Vietnam because the employment prospects in their home country were very poor. The Vietnamese economic boom was yet to come.

Even so, the majority of these Vietnamese were still repatriated because they did not have a residence permit.

The conflict over contract workers and the regulation of old debts strained the German-Vietnamese ties for several years, according to Gerhard Will. “Only during the course of negotiations, it became clear to both countries what they could offer a lot to each other,” writes Will, who has been a Vietnam expert and worked at the German Institute of International and Security Affairs in Berlin.

[…]

In 2011, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung signed the “Hanoi Declaration” to establish a “strategic partnership” between the two countries. The two leaders expressed the desire to continue economic partnership and cooperate in the areas of development policy, environment, education and science. The German-Vietnamese University in the city of Ho Chi Minh, founded in 2008, is considered a model project in terms of bilateral cooperation.

There is also a West German-Vietnamese history. 33,000 immigrants may not sound like a big number these days, but it did in the 1970s and 1980s.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Dalai Lama: there’s a Chinese Constitution

Whereever I go, I do not wish to create trouble for politicians in charge. No worries. Actually, the purpose of my visits isn’t to meet politicians in charge, but to meet the public, or people. I have nothing to tell to the officials. I prefer to talk about happiness.

Should I stay or shoud I go?

Why, surely you aren’t here to stirr trouble?

That’s how French daily Le Monde quoted the Dalai Lama, on September 10. Tibet’s spiritual leader did, however, have something to say to the Chinese leadership:

We don’t seek independence, we demand all the rights that are written down in the Chinese constitution.

It’s funny to be reminded that there is actually such a thing in China – a constitution.

According to Voice of Tibet (VoT), a Norway-based radio station and website, the custodians of the Chinese constitution were kept busy by the Dalai Lama’s visit to France, from September 12 to 18:

His Holiness’, the Dalai Lama’s visit to France received close attention from China. A joint photo with hotel staff and the Dalai Lama, posted by a Hyatt Group Hotel, immediately met with resistance from Chinese netizens who demanded that the hotel remove the online post. Also, students at Sciences Po protested against the recent cancellation of a speech by his Holiness and emphasized “the need to respect free speech”.

达赖喇嘛尊者访法行程受到中方密切关注,凯悦集团旗下饭店在网上刊出员工与尊者的合影后,立即有中国网友提出抗议,要求饭店删除该则贴文。另外,巴黎高政学生则对校方日前取消尊者演讲而表达抗议,强调“言论自由”应受到遵守。

Official receptions for the Dalai Lama on overseas trips from his exile in India have increasingly vexed the Chinese government, writes Radio France Internationale (RFI English service). But that is hardly accurate – efforts to isolate Tibet’s paramount monk have been part of Beijing’s policy ever since the beginning of his exile in India. And depending on China’s clout overseas, such efforts are sometimes highly successful.

The Dalai Lama didn’t get a visa to visit South Africa in 2009. A few weeks later, South African foreign minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said that the Dalai Lama could visit South Africa anytime he wanted.

Anytime, except October 2014, of course. (Maite Nkoana-Mashabane was still South Africa’s foreign minister.)

As for the protests against the Hyatt hotel welcome for the Dalai Lama in Paris, VoT writes:

There were Chinese netizens unaware of the facts, who used propaganda content that had been directed against the Dalai Lama by the Chinese Communist Party for decades. They demanded that the removal of the online photo and said that if Hyatt wanted to continue business in China, they should not actively be in touch with this “splittist element”.

有不明真相的中国网友在该则贴文下,使用中共数十年来对西藏议题与达赖喇嘛尊者的不实宣传内容,向饭店表达抗议并要求删除这张照片,更表示:若凯悦集团希望在中国继续经营下去,就不该去主动接触这位“分裂份子”。

Today, on September 17, [the hotel] removed the text and photo from its Facebook page.

今天17日巴黎旺多姆帕悦酒店已从官方脸书上撤下该则贴文和照片。

Apparently, the Collège des Bernadins wasn’t quite that afraid of Beijing. On September 14, they hosted a meeting on inter-religious dialogue with the Dalai Lama.

(Maybe they’ve got a nice auberge for him, too, next time he visits France. He could be in need of one.)

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Updates / Related

» China threats after EU Parliament visit, Reuters, Sep 19, 2016
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Sunday, April 3, 2016

Germany: Is “The Ivan” Back?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Notes

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

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

I peeled my apple.

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

I ate my apple.

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

Ich  schälte meinen Apfel.

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

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