Posts tagged ‘public diplomacy’

Monday, September 24, 2018

Seeking “Discourse Power”, Taipei plans to merge Radio Taiwan International, CNA, and Public Television

Note: Links within blockquotes added during translation.

A short article on the website of Public Media Alliance, an international, UK-based association of public broadcasters, reported early this year that Taiwan’s ministry of culture was drafting legislation to integrate the country’s public television services (PTS), the Central News Agency (CNA) and Radio Taiwan International (RTI) “into one independent organisation”.

Radio Taiwan International QSL, 2018

The draft appears to be taking shape now, and rapidly so: CNA reported on Thursday last week that

Since minister of culture Cheng Li-chun‘s appointment, a review of public broadcasting corporations have been conducted, and so far, the ministry of culture has, after communicating, consulting and engaging in dialog with Public Television Service Foundation, Chinese Television System, Central News Agency, Radio Taiwan International‘s boards of directors, labor union representatives, and experts and scholars, reached a consensus, completed a legislative draft, and announced it to the public today.

文化鄭麗君部長上任以來,即啟動公廣集團發展之檢討,自106年7月迄今,文化部已跟公視基金會、華視、中央通訊社、中央廣播電臺的董事會、工會代表及專家學者們召開十幾場諮詢會議,經過不斷地內外溝通、協商、對話後取得共識,完成修法草案並於今天對外公告。

CNA also emphasized that union representatives were “invited to jointly participate in formulating the approach to integration, and actively protect the employees’ rights and interests” (將邀集工會代表共同參與整合辦法的訂定,積極保障員工權益).

This isn’t a particularly clear-cut definition of what union representatives may or may not be entitled do to exert influence in the process, but contary to Taiwan’s private sector, where they are extremely weak, unions do have a role to play in public institutions.

That said, the base for unionised work in those institutions may be much weaker than what mere numbers suggest. For example, the only permanent employee at RTI’s German-language service in 2013 was the head of the department herself, according to the station’s German listeners club, while a number of further members of the department were freelancers.

Taiwan’s Commercial Times (工商時報) reported on Friday that the draft should be sent to the Executive Yuan (basically the cabinet of ministers and chief commissioners) in October, reach the Legislative Yuan by the end of the year, and pass its third reading in June next year.

Overall, about 1,400 employees will be affected, of which 800 work for public television, with revenues of 2,000,000,000 two billion NT dollars for public television, 500 million NT dollars for Central News Agency and Radio Taiwan International combined, and 1.4 billion NT dollars for Chinese Television System. The combined budget was nearly 3.6 billion NT dollars last year.

The Commercial Times:

Cultural minister Cheng Li-chun emphasized that as Taiwan was facing the digital age and market competition, it lacked a cultural propagation strategy on a national level. Also, the existing content was lacking propagation channels, and there was a serious imbalance for incoming and outgoing international culture. Similarly, because of insufficient budgets, legislature and integration, public media were unable to play their propagation role, let alone mastering the power of speech [or discourse power] internationally. Therefore, the ministry of culture wanted to promote the “public media law” for the integration into a public media platform, following NHK’s [Japan’s public radio and television] role as an up-and-coming Asian public broadcaster.

文化部長鄭麗君強調,面對數位匯流時代與市場競爭,台灣缺乏一個國家級的文化傳播戰略,且有內容也缺乏通路,目前國際文化內容輸出入嚴重失衡;同樣在公共媒體方面,因為預算、法制、整合皆不足,也沒有發揮公共傳播的角色,更無法在國際上掌握話語權。所以文化部希望推動《公共媒體法》,讓公媒平台大整合,繼NHK之後成為亞洲新興公共媒體。

Indeed, according to the CNA article on Thursday, the ministry of culture intends to

[…] further promote cultural propagation in the digital age. The public media can provide information domestically, serve different ethnic groups, strengthen cultural affirmation. Internationally, they will not only be able to share Taiwanese culture with the world, but can also become the world’s most trusted newly emerging public media in Asia.

[…..] 進一步推動數位時代的文化傳播。公共媒體對於國內可以提供公共資訊、服務多元族群、強化文化平權;而面對國際,不僅可以與世界分享台灣文化,也能夠成為最受國際信賴的亞洲新興公共媒體。

Apart from the domestic services, NHK also runs Japan’s international media units. Under the name of “NHK World – Japan”, they “intend to establish wider global recognition for the service’s Japanese roots in advance of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games”.

China has taken a similar approach earlier this year, blending domestic broadcasting with international broadcasting.

In its report on Thursday, CNA claims that board members of the media organisations, managers, and union representatives involved had all expressed approval and support 贊同與支持) for the draft at an information meeting on the same day. That could be true: journalists tend to be fans of reflecting ethnic diversity and affirmation, and the ministry of culture also offers more features in its draft that may be convincing. Apart from (apparently) including some kind of labour director in the planned new board, the term of every board member is said to be four years, with appointments*) of half of the body every two years.

If that helps to avoid resignations of the kind reported in October 2008, when the Ma administration took office, that should help to build trust among employees, and the public.

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Notes

*) to be suggested by the executive, and approved by the legislative yuan

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Wednesday, July 4, 2018

The Heroes’ Hero – a newsitem and a background story

 

1. KCNA News

English Chinese
Pyongyang, July 3 (KCNA) — A delegation of the China Dongfangyi Tuozhan Association led by Chairman Guo Yi arrived here on Tuesday. -0- 朝中社平壤7月3日电 中国东方毅拓展文化协会会长向朝鲜最高领导人金正恩赠送了礼物。正在率团访问的中国东方毅拓展文化协会会长过毅3日向有关部门干部转达了礼物。(完)
Source: KCNA, July 3, 2018

 

2. Baidu/Baike online encyclopedia

Baike-Baidu – click picture for source

Main Link: Dong Fangyi Introduction, Baidu/Baike, accessed July 4. 2018

Dong Fangyi, originally named Guo Yi, non-governmental strategist, Tuozhan Cultural Association’s president, and actually in control of FGC Group. Main writing is “Hero Master and Expansion”. Born in He County, Anhui Province, in 1962. He County is situated in central Anhui Province, the place where Xiang Yu of Western Chu committed suicide.

东方毅,原名过毅,中国民间政略家、拓展文化协会会长、未来集团实际控制人。主要著作有《雄主与拓展》。
1962 出生于安徽省和县。和县位于安徽省中部,西楚霸王项羽自刎之地。

His father is/was a Resist US Help North Korea soldier.  After demobilization, he stayed in the Great Northern Wilderness. Growing up with his father in Raohe County, Heilongjiang Province (the county where Zhenbao Island is located), the land reclamation of the Great Northern Wilderness, the military and forest environment, military people, and the iron will of demobilized servicemen had a profound influence on him. Under the influence of his parents’ generation, he acquired a belief that loved the party and the country.

父亲是抗美援朝的军人,复员后留驻北大荒。从小随父亲在黑龙江饶河县(珍宝岛所在县)长大,北大荒的军垦、军林环境,军人、复转军人的钢铁意志,对其产生了深远的影响。在父辈的熏陶下,从小树立了爱党爱国的信念。

In 1982, after graduating from the Changchun Institute of Geology, he went to northern Shaanxi to work there for many years. He has deep feelings for the motherland’s north-western region. Since childhood, Dong Fangyi has loved learning, diligently thinking, he has become good at strategy, continuously learned the Mao Zedong Thought, and studied Chinese history, especially the Spring and Autumn and Warring States history, the history of the CCP, as well as the Resist US Help North Korea and the Resist US Help Vietnam records. His process of thinking has been influenced by Mao Zedong Thought and China’s outstanding traditional culture, notably legalism.

1982年,从长春地质学院毕业后,赴陕北、大西北工作多年。对祖国的西北地区有着深厚的感情。
东方毅自幼爱好学习,勤于思考,善于谋略,不停的学习毛泽东思想,学习中国历史尤其是春秋战国史,学习中共党史,抗美援朝与抗美援越纪实。思想历程深受毛泽东思想和中国优秀传统文化特别是法家思想的影响。

The Baidu/Baike article drops a number of names: Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, Kim Il Sung, Ho Chi Minh, Kim Jong Il, Castro, Che Guevara, Li Kenong, Jiang Zhuyu, Huang Jiguang, Qiu Shaoyun, Wang Wei (马克思、恩格斯、列宁、斯大林、毛泽东、周恩来、金日成、胡志明、金正日、卡斯特罗、切·格瓦拉、李克农、江竹筠、黄继光、邱少云、王伟), and then moves on to Dong’s current status and activities, i. e. to the expansion of cultural thought (拓展文化思想), and his determination to disseminate and internationalize the expansion of Chinese culture (自此立志传播中华拓展文化并使其国际化), his dedication to the cause of Chinese great unification (立志献身中华大一统事业), to striking back at new cultural imperialism (反击新文化帝国主义), with never-ending persistence (literally: no remorse after going through nine deaths, 九死不悔).

经过多年亲身的实践整合,东方毅始创了拓展文化思想。自此立志传播中华拓展文化并使其国际化,立志献身中华大一统事业,反击新文化帝国主义,九死不悔!

If it hasn’t come to the reader’s mind so far that the personality himself, or his fans, have built a encyclopedic monument here, this is where the idea occurs to this blogger.

Expansionism is a wonderful integration of Marxism-Lenism, Mao Zedong Thought and Chinese culture. An expanding spirit is a powerful spiritual force for rescue in a chaotic international world, making people re-establish three beliefs: in the goal of Great Unity, trust in our central authorities, and trust in our country. Regaining confidence in the future.

拓展主义是马列主义、毛泽东思想和中华文化的奇妙综合,拓展精神是拯救混乱的国际世界的强大精神力量,使人们重建三信:信仰大同目标,信任我们的中央,信任我们的国家。重拾对前途的信心。

To disseminate and to implement the China expansion cultural thought, Dong Fangyi has, since 80s of the past century, established the Future Group [FGC Group, see first para of this Baidu translation] and the Dong Fangyi Tuozhan Cultural Company (东方毅拓展文化公司), to broadly enforce talented people in society, and to lead them to strive untiringly for the cause of Chinese expansion!

为了能更好地传播和践行中华拓展文化思想,东方毅从上世纪八十年代起先后创建了未来集团和东方毅拓展文化公司,广纳社会英才,并带领他们为中华拓展事业不懈奋斗!

Expanding culture is a forceful undertaking for the powerful Chinese traditional culture, with power philosophy as its foundation, with the core values of breaking new ground, development, forging ahead, and going on the offensive. Its spirit is about four words: power, expansion. Confidence in expansion, belief, conviction that promotes martial spirits, sublime literature, and peace.

拓展文化是对强势的中华传统文化有力的承扬,以力量哲学为基础,以开拓、发展、进取、进攻为核心价值观。它的灵魂就是四个字:力量,拓展。拓展的信心、信念、信仰就是尚武、崇文、和平。

Dong Fangyi believes that the masses create history by the medium of heroes. Heroes are extremely important, with the hero master being the heroes’ hero. The hero master must master the masses and military force. The hero master is the king of military force, financial resources and of intellect. He believes only in power. Everything of the hero master is achieved in huge battles. Big war is comprehensive and taking place in many fields, including political, military, economic, cultural, psychological and other fields. The hero master formulates his grand strategy from the perspective of big war, the core principle of which is national great security, the nation’s great development, and the world’s great integration.

东方毅认为,人民群众是通过英雄来创造历史的。英雄至关重要,雄主则是英雄中的英雄,雄主必须掌握民众和武力。雄主是武力、财力、智力之王。雄主只相信力量。雄主的一切都将在大博战中实现。大博战是全维的、多域的,包括政治、军事、经济、文化、心理等诸多领域。雄主从大博战的角度来制定大政略,其核心原则是国家的大安全、民族的大发展、世界的大融合。

Expansionism emphasizes human identity and is [a/the] main impartial [or objective] interactive philosophy. Subjectivity leads objectivity, the process of practice transforms the objective world, and also the subjective world. What expanding culture strives for is the huge transformational force of theory versus reality. These theories are symbolized in Dong Fangyi’s expansion thoughts by “Hero Master and Expansion”. In this book, there are thorough, detailed and comprehensive elaborations, and since its publication, “Hero Master and Expansion” has received broad support from the circles of the party, government, military, and academics.

拓展主义强调人的主体性,拓展主义是主客观互动哲学。主观统领客观,实践的过程改造客观世界,也改造主观世界。拓展文化追求的是理论对现实的巨大改造力量,这些理论在东方毅拓展思想的代表作《雄主与拓展》一书中有详尽全面的阐述,《雄主与拓展》一书自出版以来,在党政军学界都得到了广泛的支持。

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Related

Left for home, Rodong Sinmun, May 21, 2018
University of Fine Arts, DPRK Today, May 18
Chinese Personage, naenara, May 18
Ryu Mi-yong, 1921 – 2016

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Friday, June 29, 2018

Beijing’s Reaction to Indo-Pacific Strategy: “China’s Rise isn’t isolated but heralds the Rise of the Asian Continent”

The following is a Huanqiu Shibao editorial, published online on Thursday, May 31. It may indicate a pattern of argument currently used by Chinese officials and “public diplomats”, in discussions with Indian counterparts – reminding the unloved southern neighbor of the need to restore Asia’s glory (and to put those small differences aside).
Links within blockquotes added during translation.

Original title
Editorial: Indo-Pacific Strategy wants to bury both China and India

社评:印太战略,想既埋中国又埋印度的坑

America announced on Wednesday that the United States Pacific Command will be renamed Indo-Pacific Command.
This is a plan that has been taking shape for a long time, but has given the common people a running gag when discussing America‘s Asian strategy. Washington now welcomes this attention.

美国星期三宣布将太平洋司令部改名为印度洋-太平洋司令部,这是早已透出的计划,但还是提供了世人谈论美国亚洲战略的一个噱头。华盛顿现在很欢迎这样的关注。

Apart from analyzing how much symbolic or practical significance this kind of renaming may have, many media follow American guidance, looking at it as Washington‘s emphasis on uniting with India, as one of the steps aimed at exerting more pressure on China.

除了分析这种改名有多少象征意义和多少实际意义,很多媒体顺着美方的引导,将这看成华盛顿重视并联合印度,向中国施加更大压力的步骤之一。

This is, of course, an important momentary American strategic consideration. However, we believe that Washington is looking at the next, bigger game. The Indo-Pacific strategy has two long-term objectives. One is to make China and India, the world‘s two largest emerging countries with a population of more than a billion, neutralize each other strategically. The second is to respond to and to plan ahead for the inevitable rise of India, and to make American control of the Indian
Ocean happen in time, thus keeping India from becoming a new challenge.

这当然是美国当下的重要战略考量。不过我们认为,华盛顿在下一盘更大的棋。印太战略有两个长远目标:一是要促成中印这两个世界上十亿人口以上新兴大国的长期相互战略消耗;二是为应对必将到来的印度崛起未雨绸缪,将美国加强对印度洋的控制提前变成现实,防止印度成为新的挑战。

China‘s rise is nothing isolated, but heralds the rise of the Asian continent. When history will look back at the 21rst century, the Sino-Indian rise will most probably be seen as two consecutive waves in the same major event. The nature of China‘s and India‘s rise is identical, with two underdeveloped countries moving to the front of global development, thus driving fairer rules for global economics and politics, and allowing people who have long found themselves trailing
behind to enjoy the benefits of modernization.

中国崛起不是孤立的,而是亚洲大陆崛起的先声。历史回望21世纪时,中印崛起很有可能被看成一个大事件的先后波次。中印崛起的本质都是一样的,那就是后发国家走向世界发展的前台,促使世界的经济和政治规则更加公平,让长期处在落后、贫困中的人们分享现代化的红利。

No matter if it is about China‘s or India‘s development, Westerners‘ true feelings are complicated. In the current stage, Western public opinion more supportive attitude towards Indian development at this stage comes from strategic thought that restrains taking advantage now. As India will continuously earn economic successes, Western public opinion‘s dislike of Indian development will surface in the end.

无论对中国发展,还是对印度发展,西方人的真实情感都很复杂。现阶段西方舆论对印度发展给予了更多支持,是地缘政治思维压住了利益计算的临时心态。随着印度不断获得经济成功,西方舆论对印度发展的反感终将浮上水面。

India‘s diplomacy may be sailing with tailwinds in the smoothest seas, but this won‘t last very long. If India‘s development turns out to be rather smooth, relations with the West will become highly complicated.

现在是印度外交最顺风顺水的时候,但这个时间不会很长。如果印度的发展比较顺利,或许20年后它与西方的关系就将高度复杂化。

For America, helping India and controlling China and promoting the mutual strategic neutralization of the two, is its best countermeasure to deal with Asia. Agitation for the Indo-Pacific strategy and American containment of China are two thoughts that raised their heads at about the same time. They are two aspects of almost the same strategic consideration. It can even be said that Washington and its main Asia-Pacific allies are working diligently and tirelessly at this. Also, this dream of theirs was almost put into reality at the Doklam standoff in summer 2017.

对美国来说,拉印制华,促使中印相互战略消耗,是其最佳的亚洲对策。鼓吹印太战略与美国遏制中国思维的抬头差不多同时发生,它们几乎是同一战略考量的不同侧面。华盛顿及其主要亚太盟友可谓对此孜孜以求,而且它们的这一愿望在2017年夏天的洞朗危机期间几乎就要实现了。

The Indian Ocean is increasingly turning into global navigation‘s center of gravity, but this area‘s structure of military strength is simple nevertheless. In future, more forces will enter this area, but provided that China and India maintain normal relations, the outstanding competition will probably not be Sino-Indian. America will inevitably play the leading role here, and also go to any length to act as the director, excluding any side that would share in the power.

印度洋越来越成为全球海上交通的重心,但该地区的军事力量格局则相对简单。未来会有更多力量介入该地区,但是只要中印保持正常关系,印度洋上最为突出的安全竞争就不太可能是中印之间的,美国必将是那场竞争的第一主角,而且它将竭尽全力充当主导者,排斥任何一方与它分享权力。

China has no military bases in the Indian Ocean, Indian public opinion is alerted by China‘s participation in building harbors in Sri Lanka and Pakistan. However, the Indian Ocean‘s only significance for China is in passage, while to America, it is a new front in consolidating its global hegemony. A far-sighted view can see the main contradictions on the Indian Ocean inevitably occurring between America and India.

中国在印度洋没有军事基地,印度舆论目前对中国在斯里兰卡、巴基斯坦参与港口建设充满警惕。然而印度洋对于中国的唯一意义是通道,但它是美国巩固全球霸权的新的主阵地。往远了看印度洋上的主要矛盾必将在美国和印度之间发生。

The importance of America‘s military base on Diego Garcia will continuously become more obvious. That base doesn‘t make China feel threatened in any way, but it will probably soon cause India increasing unease.

美国在印度洋上迪戈加西亚军事基地的要性将不断凸显出来,那个基地并不让中国感到什么威胁,但是印度方面大概很快就会对那个基地地位的提升而感到不安。

The Asian continent is facing two different prospects. One is that China and India will be successfully split by America, clash with each other, constitute restrictions on one another, neutralize each other, thus delaying their respective rise to different degrees. The second is that the two countries successfully resolve their disputes or set them aside, jointly promote an irreversible global trend of rising new emerging markets, which allows human society‘s development to obtain a fairer distribution, with Asia as a whole gradually entering modernization.

亚洲大陆面临两种前景:一是中印被美国成功分化,相互冲突,形成彼此牵制、消耗之势,双方的崛起都不同程度地延后;二是两国成功化解或搁置纠纷,共同推动新兴市场的崛起成为不可逆转的世界大势,使人类社会的发展权利得到更加公平的分配,亚洲作为一个整体逐渐步入现代化。

The Indo-Pacific strategy is a big pit, dug by America. Washington wants to bury both China‘s and India‘s rise in there. The anticipation of some American elites is to help India to push China into the pit and India helping to fill it, just to kick India into the next pit.

印太战略是美国挖的一个很大的坑,华盛顿想在这一个坑里同时埋葬中国崛起和印度崛起。一些美国精英的如意算盘是,先拉着印度一起把中国推到坑里,印度跟着填土,然后再把印度也踹进坑里。

Of course, this is the anticipation some Americans are dreaming of. From India‘s reactions to the Indo-Pacific strategy so far, it can easily be seen that there is an awareness in New Delhi that India will, in the end, earn very little from this strategy.

当然了,这是一些美国人梦一般的如意算盘。从印度迄今对印太战略的反应中不难看出,新德里是存了一个心眼的,印度最终被美国这一战略俘获的可能性很小。

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Related

“Confluence of the Two Seas”, East-West Center, May 9, 2018
(Shorter) GT English version of Huanqiu article, May 31, 2018

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Saturday, May 19, 2018

East-West Relations: “Not the Partner” (1)

The Economist‘s title story on March 3 this year was about “how the West got China wrong”. In some more detail, the same edition explored as to how China is “not the partner you were looking for”.

As a public, we seem to have a tendency to categorically idealize and devalue relationships – even between nations and civilizations. This is how Max Frisch, a late Swiss author and playwright, put cooling love affairs into an exemplary gloomy dialog:

“You are not,” says the disappointed he or she, “who I thought you were.” (“Du bist nicht”, sagt der Enttäuschte oder die Enttäuschte, „wofür ich Dich gehalten habe.”)

Now, I’m not thinking of West-East relations as a love affair, and Max Frisch was describing the feelings of individuals. But the quote applies all the same (even if Frisch would certainly disapprove of putting it into this East-West context). Propaganda shapes “collective identities”, and according to Jacques Ellul, it offers man “a remedy for a basically intolerable situation” – the impossibility of grasping “the world’s economic and political problems”.

Both Western and Chinese narratives about a disappointing relationship are beginning to take shape. Both are top-down propaganda – people at the grassroots, this blogger included, can only draw information from mainstream and alternative media, blogs (which frequently turn newspaper steaks into hamburger meat without changing the substance), and individual contacts. That’s no great competition for propaganda – rather, it’s part of it. I don’t claim to be able to escape from it, either. I’m experimenting. I’m still blogging because it’s fun.

During this summer, I might try to depict “how the West got China wrong”, and “how China” (or uncertain shares of  Chinese public opinion, anyway) “got the West wrong”. It may also be interesting to speculate about how we will continue to get each other wrong, or which of the mainstream narratives, if either of them, will prevail – or how they may have to take realities into account in order to prevail.

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Related

The Primacy of Politics, June 13, 2010

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Saturday, May 5, 2018

Trier: the Statue stands and divides, but Marx isn’t the Problem

This is a sad day in Trier, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. The city where Karl Marx was born in 1818 has accepted a Marx statue as a gift from the Chinese state. As news magazine Der Spiegel wrote in March 2017, 42 members of the city parliament supported the idea of taking the statue, seven opposed it, and four abstained. The statue is scheduled to be unveiled this morning.

The BBC quotes Trier’s mayor Wolfram Leibe as saying that “[w]e have accepted it as a gesture of friendship and this statue should encourage people to deal with Karl Marx,” and that “[m]aybe some judgements and prejudices will be revised.”

Katrin Werner, representing the Left Party, argued in 2017 that “Trier should rise to the occasion and “stand by one of its best-known children.”

But this is missing the point. A “present from the PRC” is a present from the regime. A Green deputy put it best, a year ago: “by accepting a gift, you honor the one who makes the present,” he reportedly said. By refusing to take it, Trier could make a case for human rights.

In an interview unrelated to the Trier statue, but about Marx, Gregor Gysi, former head of Germany’s Left Party from 1989 to 1993, and currently president of the Party of the European Left, when asked why Marx’ ideas deserve attention, given that regimes around the world had justified dictatorship and human rights violation with his ideology, suggested that state socialism had abused Marx. What should be striven for was a freedom-based socialism “that picks up the things capitalism does well, that leaves out what capitalism can’t do well, but only with the support of a popular majority”, plus separation of powers.

But while acknowledging that state socialism was a failure, he also pointed out that all (three) attempts to date to establish genuine democratic socialism – the Paris Commune, the Prague Spring, and in Chile – had been struck down by the military.

When it comes to the Greek Chinese gift, even mainstream German media can see some good in Marx: according to Friedrich Engels, he once said that “all I know is that I’m not a Marxist”. After Marx’ death, Engels ascribed this to Marx, in a critical letter to Paul Lafarge, an opponent to reformism.

Leftists may tend to idealizing democratic socialism – as far as I can see, Salvador Allende, one of the democratic socialists cited by Gysi, did not really have a mandate of a majority for “radical” policies.

But many who take gifts from China – even professorships and statues – aren’t terribly interested in Marx anyway – they are interested in Marxists (provided that those are wealthy and generous). In Lower Saxony, the same cabinet that oversaw the delayed award of citizenship to a British-Italian applicant in 2009 (it became a protracted affair, because she was a member of the left party), sounded happy tunes about China’s financing of one-and-a-half professorships at Göttingen University, in 2010.

Marx? God forbid. But money doesn’t stink. And avoiding offense to the CCP spells business for Trier. The feelings of Chinese tourists must not be hurt.

Marx isn’t the problem. But there are still a few problems in his country – his native land, which once forced him into exile.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Taiwan cuts Shortwave Broadcasts in French and Spanish – here is why it shouldn’t

Cutting Shortwave broadcasts in French and Spanish

The French and the Spanish programs of Radio Taiwan International (RTI) are no longer broadcast on shortwave. On March 5, Radio Berlin-Brandenburg‘s (RBB) Radio Eins media magazine reported that RTI would terminate its broadcasts in German on March 25, i. e. the day when the current international shortwave frequency plan (A-18) came into effect1).

A notice was added by the Radio Eins editors a few days later, saying that RTI’s German service kept denying this information. However, Radio Eins did not name the source or sources of their information, citing rather general “trade circles” (Branchenkreise).

On March 9, in a regular mailbag program, RTI’s German service reacted to listeners’ questions concerning the shortwave issue, and stated that while the Spanish and French departments were indeed to exit shortwave with effect from March 26, the German service’s shortwave broadcasts would continue.

Seventeen days later, the German service’s denial proved correct – its broadcasts have been continued, now on their traditional summer frequency of 6185 kHz, as predicted on March 9.

In its report, Radio Eins also pointed out that Radio France Internationale (RFI) had terminated its shortwave broadcasts for Asia years ago, and that this had also put an end to Radio Taiwan International’s once lower-cost access to transmissions from France (with transmitters located at Issoudun, central France). The two international broadcasters appear to have exchanged airtime in the past.

On its website, RTI hardly (if at all) communicates the decision to terminate the shortwave broadcasts in Spanish and French. However, a month before Radio Eins wrote about RTI’s shortwave closures, shortwave-watching website swling.com had quoted from an RTI email saying that the station’s French and Spanish services would “unfortunately stop broadcasting on shortwave”. There appears to have been no mention of the German programs at the time.

Following a Trend …

RTI is following a trend among foreign radio services from industrialized countries2). As noted by Radio Eins, Radio France Internationale ended its shortwave broadcasts to Asia years ago. German foreign Radio, Deutsche Welle (DW), terminated its shortwave broadcasts in Chinese with effect from January 1, 2012. Three months earlier, DW had ended its shortwave broadcasts in German.

Earlier in 2011, the BBC and the Voice of America (VoA) had announced their Chinese programs’ withdrawals from shortwave (the VoA later reversed the decision, but BBC Mandarin kept to their exit).

One of the more contested decisions to abandon shortwave was Radio Australia‘s. It took effect by the end of January, 2017. The station made a – not terribly successful, it seems – effort to communicate the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s (ABC) decision.

Radio Australia’s (now abandoned) role in informing Pacific islanders about emergency situations via shortwave was deemed essential by some critics, and Radio New Zealand (RNZ), Radio Australia’s only existing competitor on shortwave in the Pacific region, leapt at the gap left by the Australians.

But funding public diplomacy is hardly popular in most free societies. Slashed budgets may irritate or infuriate the trade or the immediate users of an abandoned service, but they will hardly become known to a wider public. After all, the (noticeable) remonstrators are usually just some listeners abroad, and apart from that, they are no voters.
In RTI’s case, the question – from the audience perspective – seems to be how prepared the target areas are for the termination of shortwave broadcasts. As for France and Spain, the answer seems to be easy: industrialized, reasonably good internet connections, and with only a few people (probably) who would still listen on shortwave anyway.
But there are drawbacks. In general – this goes for countries with a highly developed internet infrastructure and Latin America or North Africa alike – it is much harder to gain new listeners, than to retain existing ones.
RTI’s management (or the lords of their budgets) may have drawn inspiration from reports like ECLAC’s 3), discussing sharply increasing internet use and access in Latin American countries, and the Caribbean.

But the ECLAC, while optimistic about the development and prospects of the internet in Latin America, also notes that no country in the region has at least 5% of its connections with speeds of more than 15Mbps, compared to 50% in advanced countries, and there is a difference of 41 percentage points in Internet penetration between urban and rural areas in the country that has the greatest gap in the region.And a report (apparently published online in December 2016) by Statista, a Hamburg-based market research company, saw the region’s average monthly internet usage at 18.6 hours in 2016. When you leave Brazil – the leading country in terms of monthly internet usage – out of the calculation, the rate will be even lower.

If the trends indicated by the two papers continue, there may be a time when switching off shortwave makes sense (at least when considering the costs, and the pressures from the broadcasters’ funders). But the data suggests that RTI’s decision to do so came too early.

… but neglecting the Facts

One of the reasons that international broadcasters stop using shortwave frequencies is that radio is a medium used by the poor, rather than by the affluent and influential. That’s not how they communicate their decision (if there is communication at all), but the trade’s high-flown jargon suggests just that.

In a press release of May 18, 2011, less than a year before abandoning shortwave broadcasts in Chinese, German (its native language) and Hindi, Deutsche Welle wrote that by focusing on the internet in many regions of the world, “info seekers” would be reached more effectively,

… especially those who are or will be influential in their countries’ public opinion, and people who actively campaign for democracy, civil liberties and progress in authoritarian states, thus strengthening civil society.

… insbesondere insbesondere jene, die Einfluss auf die öffentliche Meinung eines Landes haben oder zukünftig haben werden, sowie Menschen, die sich in autoritären Staaten aktiv für Demokratie, Freiheitsrechte und Fortschritt einsetzen und so die Zivilgesellschaft stärken.

But nobody knows who will call the shots in a target area, ten or twenty years from now. In Venezuela, it’s an ex bus driver now. Brazil’s president from 2003 to 2011, Lula da Silva, reportedly only learned to read at the age of ten, and worked as a peanut seller and shoe shine boy as a child. Bolivia’s president, Evo Morales, was born to a subsistence farming family and started his political career as a rural labor unionist.

If they had been born ten or fifteen years ago, none of them would be a likely regular internet user.

Shortwave radio may not matter as a medium, when it comes to commercial viability, as the owner of a North American shortwave radio station admitted in 1991. In that light, Facebook could be a more or less “real” alternative to shortwave radio.

But on “social media”, a foreign radio station is just one “friend” among many. There may be no studies available, but if there were some, they would probably show that shortwave listeners are a much more dedicated audience than internet users.

In short: shortwave radio remains a crucial medium, especially for Taiwan. The country will almost inevitably lose all or most of its remaining “diplomatic allies” in Latin America, as it has lost official diplomatic ties with nearly every country worldwide already. If shortwave remains crucial in Taiwan’s communications with European countries may be debatable, but to maintain Taiwan’s visibility in Latin America, there can be no doubt that shortwave would be worth the (quite manageable) costs.
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Note

1) While KBS World’s German service via Woofferton, England, is announced under the broadcasting station’s name (Korean Broadcasting Station), Radio Taiwan International’s name is ommitted. Instead, the HFCC states the operator’s company name (Babcock Communications) there. The KBS frequency is also operated by Babcock, and also from Woofferton.
2) Japan may be the only exception.
3) The UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. The report linked to is dated September 12, 2016.

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Related

Inclusive Internet Index, Economist Group, 2018
Abandoning Shortwave & Opportunities, Oct 3, 2014
A bottomless pit of waste, PCJ, around 2014

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Thursday, March 22, 2018

Argentine Radio to the World: “Universal Topics”

As part of its “National People’s Congress 1rst plenary session” coverage, China Radio International (CRI) also quotes Adrián Korol, director of RAE, Argentine Radio Nacional’s international radio station.

CRI online, Yin Xiaotong and Li Mingqi reporting — On 13th of March, the “People’s Republic of China Supervision Law (draft)” has been proposed for the National People’s Congress first plenary session’s consideration. As an important environment for national legislation against corruption and for deepening the national supervision organizational reform, the supervision law (draft) deliberations haven’t only lead to heated debate at home, but have also attracted foreign media attention.

国际在线报道(记者尹晓通、李明其):3月13日,《中华人民共和国监察法(草案)》提请十三届全国人大一次会议审议。作为国家反腐败立法和深化国家监察体制改革的重要一环,监察法(草案)的提审不仅在国内引发热议,同样也吸引了外国媒体人的关注。

The director of Argentine National Radio’s foreign broadcasting station, Adrían Korol, believes that corruption has become one of the problems faced by all mankind. China’s supervision law offers important experience for Latin American countries to learn from. “I believe that (this proposed draft) is absolutely necessary, and marks another important step by China on its road of fighting against corruption. Undoubtedly, corruption is currently one of the major issues for all humankind to confront.”

阿根廷国家电台对外台台长阿德里昂•克罗尔认为,腐败已成为全人类共同面临的难题之一,中国的监察法对拉美国家具有重要的借鉴意义,“我认为(这项草案提交审议)是非常有必要的,标志着中国在反腐败道路上又迈出了重要的一步。毫无疑问,目前腐败是全人类共同面临的重大问题之一。

“For many years, corruption has pervaded all aspects of life in most Latin American countries. Fighting against corruption is very important, because corruption has globalized. All countries need to learn other countries’ innovative and efficiently carried-out experience, and match these with their own realities. To propose this supervision draft to the Natonal People’s Congress will undoubtedly be influential.  It will become a sample of how to confront, strike and defeat corruption, it offers important experience for Latin America and countries in many other regions to learn from.”

很多年来,腐败问题已经渗透到拉美绝大多数国家的各个领域。反腐败斗争非常重要,因为腐败已经实现全球化,各国需要学习其他国家具有创新性的、行之有效的反腐经验,再与自身实际相结合。提交到全国人大审议的这份监察法草案无疑将产生重要影响,它将被作为如何面对、打击和战胜腐败问题的样本,对拉美地区和很多其他国家都具有借鉴意义。”

Korol visited China and had cooperation talks with China Radio International earlier this month.

RAE programs are broadcast via WRMI (Florida, USA) and Kall-Krekel (Germany), and through the internet. If sent by ordinary mail, reception reports on shortwave broadcasts are confirmed with a special QSL card in Argentina’s national colors – click picture for more info.

RAE carries a short podcast by Korol, as he addresses RAE listeners from Beijing. My Spanish is rather poor – translation errors are therefore not unlikely, and corrections are welcome:

Hello, friends of Radio Argentina to the World, and greetings from China. I’m Adrián Korol and I’m here on invitation by CRI, Radio China International, to talk personally on a cooperation agreement on which we are working, and about our country, its people, and culture. These are important days here in the People’s Republic of China, for what is called the “two sessions”, a series of meetings of the representatives of the people, where proposals on issues are dealt with which are fundamentally important for life in this country. The two sessions also deal with many universal topics, such as the environment, or the struggle against corruption, something very visible in many parts of Latin America and the world. A topic that catches attention, and positively so, is the eradication of poverty, which happens quite rapidly. There’s also the reform of the constitution as another major issue in the two sessions which are taking place here in Beijing.

Korol also refers to cooperation talks already underway between Argentine television and China’s ministry of communications, and points out three major points of (envisaged) cooperation between RAE and CRI:

[…] content, training, and technology. These topics will have an important effect on RAE, our international service, which completes its sixtieth year this year.

According to some written context added to the podcast, RAE writes that Radio Nacional’s executive director Ana Gerschenson appointed Korol to try to get RAE included into Argentine Television’s (RTA) cooperation with China Central Television (CCTV).

Korol was also quoted by China Daily‘s Chinese online edition (中国日报网), along with media workers from Angola, Australia, and Pakistan:

In an interview, Argentine National Radio’s reporter Adrián Korol said: “I’m from Argentina, and therefore very interested in the direction of relations between China and Latin America. China has left a deep impression on me, and I want to understand the future development between China and Argentina.”

阿根廷国家广播电台记者阿德里昂克罗尔在接受采访时说:“我来自阿根廷,所以我非常关心中国和拉丁美洲的关系走向。中国给我留下深刻印象,我想了解中阿的未来发展方向。”

Asked about his impression of foreign minister Wang Yi, Adrián Korol said that he liked him.

在被问到对外交部长王毅的印象时,阿德里昂克罗尔表示,自己很喜欢他。

Adrián Korol also said that he liked China, and even though he had only come from the other side of the world for the first time, he felt a warmth as if he was at home.

阿德里昂克罗尔进一步表示,他很喜欢中国,虽然是第一次从地球的另一端来到这里,但就感觉跟待在家里一样温暖。

Huanqiu Shibao also carried the story.

Korol’s remarks to CRI about the “two sessions” (see beginning of this post) were duly posted under CRI’s “Our new Era – NPC and CPPCC’s 2018 All-China Two Sessions” category. China’s media habitually collect favorable foreign commentary on events in China, while suggesting that China doesn’t care when reactions abroad are less favorable.

On Wednesday, Xinhua newsagency also quoted extensively from foreign punditry (which can probably best be summed up as “strong China, sunny world”). The report quotes a Japanese professor, a Palestinian economist, an Indonesian think tank’s chairman, a global security expert from South Korea, an Argentine China researcher, another Japanese professor, a researcher at Russia’s “Valdai Club”, a publisher from the US, a Cuban international politics researcher, another researcher from Russia, and a French China expert.

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Note

RAE programs are broadcast on shortwave via WRMI (Florida, USA) and Kall-Krekel (Germany), and streamed on the internet. If sent by ordinary mail, reception reports on shortwave broadcasts are confirmed with a special QSL card in Argentina’s national colors.

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Related

Entrevista al embajador de Argentina, CRI, March 6, 2018

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Thursday, January 25, 2018

Shortwave Logs: Radio Romania International (RRI)

If you are looking for a European broadcaster on shortwave, the BBC World Service may come to your mind – or Radio Romania International (RRI). The latter’s range of program languages is quite diverse: English, Chinese, French, Romanian, Ukrainian, Russian, Arabic, Spanish, Italian, and German. One a week, on Sundays, there’s a broadcast in Hebrew, too, with a review of the week1).

— Some history

According to the station’s website, first experimental radio programmes for target areas beyond Romania’s borders were aired in 1927. Broadcasting became official on November 1, 1928, on 747 kHz (401.6 meters) – apparently targeted at a domestic audience, in Romanian only. French and English programs followed in 1932, “to inform the diplomatic corps in the Romanian capital city”, and weekly programs in French and German were targeted at central and western Europe. Before the second world war, all foreign broadcasts depended on medium wave transmitters. When the first shortwave transmissions began, the focus appears to have been on the Balkans, and the Middle East. According to RRI, [i] t seems that the first letter received from abroad came from Egypt.

It’s a detailed account of RRI’s history (and that of its preceding organizations, all headquartered in Bucharest’s General Berthelot Street), and will most likely contain some information that is new to the reader.

Olt County's coat of arms, 1985 and post-1989

Olt County’s coat of arms, as depicted on a QSL card of December 1985, and as of these days (click picture for Wiki entry)

— Languages, Programs, Contraditions

RRI provides news, background reports and some cultural coverage. Much of the content is the same in English, German, and Chinese, but focus may differ somewhat. While there is news, some background information and cultural programming in all these languages, listeners’ preferred topics seem to count, too. German listeners frequently enquire about European and social issues – something that appears to be of less interest to Chinese listeners. The scope of Chinese programs may also be somewhat limited by air time: thirty minutes per broadcast in Chinese, rather than sixty, as is the case with some of the broadcasts in English, French, and German.

When it comes to international exchange or openness, RRI certainly can’t be accused of discrimination. The Institut Francais is shown among their partners on the French service’s web pages, and a link to the “Confucius Institute” in Bucharest adorns the Chinese-language main page, side by side with one to the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (with no specified status).

According to RRI’s English service’s website, RRI’s Chinese service, which first went on air on October 1, 1999, benefited from […] Chinese language experts […] as well as our colleagues from Radio China International, the Romanian language department […].2)

Given the kind of “news” being broadcast by China Radio International (CRI), this kind of cooperation doesn’t look appropriate.

Some caveats: undue Beijing’s influence isn’t limited to RRI in particular, or to southeastern Europe in general3) (as suspected by some German quarters). A number of German universities have opted for cooperation with the agency from Beijing, for example, and areas of cooperation are hardly less sensitive.

Also, RRI’s news broadcasts in Chinese don’t appear to differ from those of the English or German departments. When Chinese listeners hear about Romanian citizens who take to the street, opposing changes to the country’s legal system, or Japan’s prime minister emphasizing liberty, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law as Japan’s and Romania’s shared values and principles, it may be met with more open minds, than if broadcast by a source that is deemed hostile by its audience.

All the same, turning October 1, 1949 into common ground between the audience and the station’s first broadcast in Chinese (October 1, 1994) spells a major contradiction, when suggesting at the same time, on a different history page, that RRI services turned towards the future, towards once again building a bridge between Romania and the democratic world and re-establishing the link between Romanians living abroad and those back home, a link that had been weakened on purpose by the totalitarian regime.

— Audience

RRI doesn’t offer detailed statistics – few international broadcasters do. It seems likely, however, that a presence on shortwave makes a difference for the better. I wouldn’t hear or read much about the country, if its signals didn’t come in handy. I’m suspecting that within Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, you can listen to RRI with a pressing iron (any appliance with spiral coils should do).

What has kept this blogger from giving feedback to the station is their online policy. It seems that everything that is mentioned in their listener’s-feedback programs goes right online, as a transcript. Facebookers probably won’t mind, but more traditional listeners may be a different story.

Either way, RRI certainly has its fans, and its multipliers.

— Shortwave

Shortwave plays an important role, at least when it comes to middle-aged and old listeners. For one, there’s the technical aspect. Nobody is encouraged to disassemble and reassemble his smartphone, or to boost its transmission power or its sensitivity. Use of shortwave, however, involves technical aspects, and people interested in some DIY. And while an app user may brush any source of information away after a few seconds, shortwave listeners’ attention span is likely to be sturdier.

It would seem to me that among a number of other aspects (sound not least – I find digital sound ugly), shortwave broadcasting signals respect for the listeners. It is more costly than web-based communication, it doesn’t provide broadcasters with as much information about how “efficient”, in terms of listener numbers, their productions actually are (which means that even the invisible listener matters), and it doesn’t ask if a listener lives under circumstances that allow for internet access – be it for economic or censorship reasons.

Shortwave is therefore a unique RRI feature. Bulgaria abandoned its shortwave transmissions years ago, so did Radio Poland, Radio Ukraine International, and Radio Prague (except for some airtime on German or American shortwave stations respectively). Radio Budapest, once one of the most popular Eastern European external broadcasters, is history.

— Recent RRI logs

Broadcasts in Chinese, German, and Hebrew
Time UTC Lang. Date Freq. S I N P O
07:00 German Jan21 7345 5 5 5 4 4
13:30 Chinese Jan21 9610 4 5 5 3 4
17:05 Hebrew Jan21 9790 4 5 5 3 4

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Footnotes

1) RRI’s website states 19:05 hours as the beginning of the transmission, which is standard time in Romania, and in Israel (17:05 GMT/UTC).
2) The Romanian department at CRI still exists, with an online presence, and medium/shortwave transmissions.
3) The “Spiegel” interview in German.

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