Posts tagged ‘Radio Taiwan International’

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Tsai Ing-wen: “We do not provoke, but we uphold our Principles”

The following  is my off-the-cuff translation of a statement made by Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen this afternoon, in response to remarks made by Chinese State Chairman Xi Jinping earlier today (all local time). This translation may contain errors.

One expression has remained untranslated; it had apparently been used by Xi Jinping earlier, and I don’t know its meaning – 心灵契合.


udn video (聯合影音), Jan 2, 2018

Main Link: President answers to Xi Jinping’s Remarks (full text), published by Radio Taiwan International (RTI)

After Chinese State Chairman Xi Jinping’s remarks on the 40th anniversary of the “Message of Compatriots in Taiwan” [on January 1, 1979], President Tsai Ing-wen answered personally, at the presidential palace, this afternoon (January 2). The wording is as follows:

在中國國家主席習近平發表「告台灣同胞書」40週年的紀念談話後,蔡英文總統今天(2日)下午也親自在總統府做出回應,全文如下:

Compatriots, friends from the media, good afternoon to everyone.

國人同胞,各位媒體朋友,大家午安。

This morning, Chinese State Chairman Xi Jinping made a so-called “Message of Compatriots in Taiwan” 40th-anniversary speech, proposing a one-country-two-systems plan and related content for Taiwan. As President of the Republic of China, I would like to explain our position concerning this matter.

今天上午,中國國家主席習近平,發表了所謂《告台灣同胞書》40 週年的紀念談話,提出了探索一國兩制台灣方案等相關內容,身為中華民國的總統,我要在此說明我們的立場。

First of all, I must seriously point out that we have never accepted a “92 consensus”. The basic reason is that this is a “92 consensus” defined by the authorities in Beijing. In fact, it just means “one China” and “one country, two systems”. What the leader on the other side of the Taiwan Strait said today has confirmed our misgivings. From here, I want to reiterate that Taiwan will not accept “one country, two systems”, and the overwhelming majority of Taiwanese public opinion also resolutely opposes “one country, two systems”, and this is also the “Taiwan consensus”.

首先,我必須要鄭重指出,我們始終未接受「九二共識」,根本的原因就是北京當局所定義的「九二共識」,其實就是「一個中國」、「一國兩制」。今天對岸領導人的談話,證實了我們的疑慮。在這裡,我要重申,台灣絕不會接受「一國兩制」,絕大多數台灣民意也堅決反對「一國兩制」,而這也是「台灣共識」。

Next, we are willing to sit down and talk, but as a democratic country, any political consultations and talks touching upon cross-strait relations must be authorized and supervised by the people of Taiwan, and conducted in a government-to-government mode. Under this principle, there are no people, no organizations who would have the authority to represent the Taiwanese people in political consultations.

其次,我們願意坐下來談,但作為民主國家,凡是涉及兩岸間的政治協商、談判,都必須經過台灣人民的授權與監督,並且經由兩岸以政府對政府的模式來進行。在這個原則之下,沒有任何人、任何團體,有權力代表台灣人民去進行政治協商。

The development of cross-strait relations – I said that very clearly in my new-year remarks yesterday – is that China must face up to the existing facts of the Republic of China on Taiwan rather than deny the democratic state system the people of Taiwan jointly established. Secondly, they must respect the adherence of the people of 23 million to freedom and democracy, and must not intervene in the Taiwanese people’s choices in a splitting and luring manner.

兩岸關係的發展,我在昨天的新年談話,說得很清楚,那就是中國必須正視中華民國台灣存在的事實,而不是否定台灣人民共同建立的民主國家體制;第二,必須尊重兩千三百萬人民對自由民主的堅持,而不是以分化、利誘的方式,介入台灣人民的選擇;

Thirdly, there is a need to handle the differences between the two sides in a peaceful manner among equals, instead of using pressure and threats in attempts to  make the Taiwanese yield. Fourthly, it has to be governments or legal mechanisms authorized by the governments who sit down to talk. Consultations unauthorized and unsupervised by the people cannot be considered “democratic consultations”. This is Taiwan’s position and the democratic position.

第三,必須以和平對等的方式來處理雙方之間的歧異,而不是用打壓、威嚇,企圖讓台灣人屈服;第四,必須是政府或政府所授權的公權力機構,坐下來談,任何沒有經過人民授權、監督的政治協商,都不能稱作是「民主協商」。這就是台灣的立場,就是民主的立場。

We are willing to conduct orderly and healthy cross-strait exchange on the foundations of “democratic consolidation” and “strengthening national security”. I would also like to reiterate that we must urgently establish a three-lane protection network for the safety of people’s livelihood, information security, and institutionalized democratic supervision mechanisms.

我們願意在「鞏固民主」以及「強化國家安全」基礎上,進行有秩序的、健康的兩岸交流,我也要重申,國內亟需要建立兩岸交流的三道防護網,也就是民生安全、資訊安全以及制度化的民主監督機制。

Cross-strait trade should be mutually beneficial, for both sides to prosper. However, we oppose the economic united front with Beijing’s method of “using gain as a lure”, with “benefiting only China” at the center, attracting Taiwanese technology, capital and talent “going to the mainland”. With all our efforts, we will promote the strategies and measures of “strengthening Taiwan”, consolidate Taiwan’s economic development route as the priority.

兩岸經貿應該互惠互利,共榮發展;但我們反對北京以「利中」為核心,以利誘及吸引台灣技術、資本及人才「走進中國大陸」的經濟統戰。我們將全力推動「壯大台灣」的各項策略跟措施,鞏固以台灣為主體、台灣優先的經濟發展路線。

Over the past two years, has carefully met its obligations as a member of the region, and actively contributed to cross-strait and regional peace and stability. We do not provoke, but we uphold our principles. We have endured pressure, but we have never abandoned our basic positions and promises concerning cross-strait relations. I would like to remind the Beijing authorities that big countries must act as big countries, with the responsibility of big countries, and that the international community is watching if there is change in China or not, and if it can turn into a partner who obtains trust. The “four musts” are the most basic and crucial basis on which cross-strait relations [must show if they] will or will not move towards positive development.

過去兩年來,台灣善盡區域成員的義務,積極貢獻於兩岸及區域的和平穩定。我們不挑釁,但堅持原則,我們飽受各種打壓,但我們從未放棄對兩岸關係的基本立場與承諾。我要提醒北京當局,大國必須要有大國的格局,大國的責任,國際社會也正看著中國能不能有所改變,成為受到信任的夥伴。「四個必須」正是兩岸關係能否朝向正面發展,最基本、也最關鍵的基礎。

The so-called 心灵契合 must be established on mutual respect and understanding, and on pragmatic handling on both sides of issues concerning the welfare of the people. For example, the most urgent issue of swine fever. Pressure on international companies to altering Taiwan’s name can’t bring about 心灵契合, buying Taiwan’s diplomatic allies won’t 心灵契合 either, and nor will military aircraft, warships that rotate around.

所謂的心靈契合,應該是建立在彼此的相互尊重與理解,建立在兩岸政府務實處理有關人民福祉的問題上。例如,眼前十萬火急的豬瘟疫情。施壓國際企業塗改台灣的名稱,不會帶來心靈契合;買走台灣的邦交國,也不會帶來心靈契合;軍機、軍艦的繞台,更不會帶來心靈契合。

Finally, I would like to reiterate that the nine-in-one regional elections that Taiwan’s grassroots public opinion would abandon sovereignty, or concessions concerning Taiwan.

最後,我要重申,九合一地方選舉的結果,絕不代表台灣基層的民意要放棄主權,也不代表在台灣主體性上做出退讓。

Democratic values are values and a way of life cherished by the people of Taiwan, and we call on China to bravely enter the democratic road. Only by doing so, they can really understand the Taiwanese peoples’ mindset and perseverance. Thank you.

民主價值是台灣人民所珍惜的價值與生活方式,我們也呼籲中國,勇敢踏出民主的腳步,也唯有如此,才能真正理解台灣人的想法與堅持。謝謝

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Related

New Year Address, ROC Presidential Office, Jan 1, 2019

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Wednesday, January 2, 2019

2018 Headlines (3) – Tsai Ing-wen’s Presidency after the November Municipal Elections

Radio Taiwan International (RTI) aired interviews with two political scientists on December 21, Lin Chong-pin (林中斌) of Tamkang University and Yu Chin-hsin (or Yu Ching-hsin, 游清鑫?) of National Chengchi University, discuss Taiwan’s November municipal elections and Tsai’s chances to get re-elected as president early in 2021, and the future of Tsai’s mainland policies.

Lin Chong-bin discussing Trump Kim meeting, South China Sea, on July 1, on VoA Haixia Luntan (click picture for video)

Lin Chong-bin discussing Trump Kim meeting, South China Sea,
on July 1, on VoA Haixia Luntan (click picture for video)

Born in 1942, Lin Chong-pin is a rather familiar face in Taiwanese and North American media. According to Wikipedia, he became a geologist around 1970, after studies at National Taiwan University and Bowling Green State University, and started political studies in 1978, at Georgetown University.

He served as an assistant to then US ambassador to the UN, Jeane Kirkpatrick, and returned to Taiwan in 1995. He became a member of the Mainland Affairs Council in 1996, served as an advising member of the National Security Council from 2002, and as deputy defense minister from 2003 to 2004.

The Wiki entry also contains a list of books he authored, in English and in Chinese, and a gist of his views and assessment records of international politics.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

“Deep-green,” but not the DPP’s candidate: Taipei’s Mayor wins another term

Taiwan’s municipal elections ended in a mostly blue (KMT) night, with the DPP apparently winning only in six cities or counties, and losing their stronghold in Kaohsiung to the KMT.

And the DPP people may still consider themselves lucky. After all, they had done their best to hand Taipei over to a KMT government, too, by nominating a DPP candidate instead of supporting independent candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) as they had done four years earlier. Taipei’s election result has been extremely narrow. According to Wikipedia (as accessed today), Ke got 580,820 votes, compared with 577,566 for Ting Shou-chung (丁守中), his KMT competitor, and only 244,641 for the DPP contender.

Taiwan’s Central News Agency (CNA) points out that Ting lost to Ko with a difference of only 3,254 votes, i. e. less than 3 per mill, and that in accordance with the law, a sequester of the ballots and a check of the vote-counts accuracy can be requested from a court. (根據台北市選舉委員會的資料,尋求連任的市長柯文哲獲得58萬820票,當選台北市長。丁守中輸柯文哲3254票,差距小於有效票數的千分之3,依法可向法院聲請查封及驗票。)*)

CNA:

After a deadlock of ten hours, Ke Wen-je won with 580,820 votes (41.05%) over Ding Shouzhong’s 577,566 votes (40.82%), with only 3,254 votes separating the two, which made this result the closest ever since the 1994 Taipei mayoral elections.

歷經逾10小時僵持,柯文哲以58萬0820票、41.05%得票率,擊敗丁守中的57萬7566票、40.82%,2人差距僅3254票,為1994年台北市長選舉以來,勝負雙方差距最小一次。

Ke Wen-je arrived at Four-four South Village at 2:35 in the morning, accompanied by Hsieh Ho-hsien‘s song “Taiwan’s Future.”

柯文哲在凌晨2時35分抵達四四南村,在歌手謝和弦「台灣的未來」歌聲下慢慢走到舞台,沿途獲得支持者熱烈歡迎與歡呼,而他的妻子陳佩琪、柯爸柯承發、柯媽何瑞英也在台上陪伴。

Not just Taipei’s, apparently. If the DPP would endorse him (on a national level) is a different question. Ko is still an independent, and – according to a Taiwan-based blog – about as gaffe-prone as Pasuya Yao. But either way, Pasuya Yao, not Ko, was the DPP’s candidate for the Taipei mayoral elections.

Ko’s relationship with the DPP has been somewhat uneasy recently, although “being deep-green is” his background.

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Note

*) According to Radio Taiwan International‘s (RTI) English service, Ting Shou-chung, the KMT candidate, is contesting the election results.

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Related

Tsai steps down as DPP chair, RTI, Nov 24, 2018

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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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Monday, August 6, 2018

Radio Taiwan International (RTI) Shortwave Transmissions from Tamsui

Radio Taiwan International QSL card, 2016

RTI’s 2016 QSL, showing the broadcasting station’s central building (top left) and two of the Tamsui transmission towers (bottom left)

Radio Taiwan International’s German service announced that test transmissions from Tamsui, NW Taiwan, will be aired this coming Thursday, August 9. According to RTI, there will be two broadcasts with analogue signals, and two with DRM signals. Airtime: about five minutes each – see tables below.

Analogue transmissions

day time (UTC) frequencies
Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018 17:00 – 17:05 11,990 kHz
Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018 18:00 – 18:05   9,700 kHz

DRM transmissions

day time (UTC) frequencies
Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018 17:15 – 17:20 11,990 kHz
Thursday, Aug 9, 2018 18:15 – 18:20   9,700 kHz

Later in August and September, they are planning for twelve one-hour broadcasts – see “Geplante Sendetermine und Frequenzen” on their website – which are subject to change.

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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Monday, December 25, 2017

Shortwave Logs, December 2017: Germany’s annual Public-Radio High-Frequency Broadcast

“Gruß an Bord” is one of the oldest programs1) carried on German public radio, and the only one among these that is still broadcast on shortwave. Once a year, that is. The program starts at 19:00 UTC and runs through 23:00 UTC, i. e. Midnight central European time (see table there).

Christmas Eve on Sunday was that one night a year when a public German-language radio broadcaster returns to shortwave: “Gruss an Bord” is a program where sailors’ relatives and friends send greetings to their loved ones on board, wherever on the seven seas they may be2).

From Norddeich Radio to Deutsche Welle

“Gruß an Bord” first went on air in 1953. Back then, according to Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR, northern German radio), coastal radio station Norddeich Radio beamed the wistful messages across the seas.

It hasn’t been aired every year since, according to an NDR press release of 2009, which provides no notes about at which times there had been interruptions.

Some time after its inception, Germany’s public foreign broadcaster Deutsche Welle must have taken the task of broadcasting “Gruss an Bord” internationally, while NDR has always been in charge of the content.

Haus der Schiffahrt (House of Shipping Companies), Leer (archive)

Norddeich Radio has been defunct since the 1990s, and Deutsche Welle terminated their German-language broadcasts on shortwave in 2011. “Deutschland schafft sich ab” (Germany does itself in), an angry seafarer reportedly wrote in a protest letter.

From Deutsche Welle to Media Broadcast

It appears that the program was limited to VHF/FM and medium wave in December 2011, but in 2012, NDR bought airtime from Media Broadcast, a company that operates the Nauen transmitter station ( a site formerly used by Deutsche Welle). They also coordinate with other broadcasting sites in Europe.

NDR is a public broadcaster operating in the federal states of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Schleswig-Holstein, Hamburg, and Lower Saxony. (As Bremen was part of the American occupation zone in post-war Germany, the city state runs a broadcasting station of its own, Radio Bremen.)

The first hour – and some of the second – of this year’s broadcast were recordings made earlier in December, at Hamburg’s Duckdalben international seamen’s club (or Seemannsmission), a place operated by Germany’s evangelical church. Some time during the second hour of this year’s program, recordings from Leer, a town in Eastern Friesland, Germany’s far northwest, were broadcast. Leer is only a small town, with some 30 to 35 thousand population, but it is a place with a lot of history, and a navigation school. Probably not least thanks to the latter, Leer is considered the place with the second-largest number of shipping companies in Germany, after Hamburg.

In Leer’s “Kulturspeicher”, the NDR’s Lower Saxony broadcasting house also made some recordings, on December 10, to televise a few minutes of them within the state on December 23, in a 3’19” report. (The video should remain online for a few weeks.)

The show felt a bit as if it was from a different era, trade magazine website Radioszene noted four years ago. That’s hard to deny, when you look at the cozy arrangements captured by the NDR cameras.

But then, even in 1979, Werner Bader, head of Deutsche Welle’s German programs at the time, observed that

A minority keeps criticizing, sometimes wittingly, that the two programs [“Gruß an Bord” and “Grüße aus dem Heimathafen”, another sailors’ program] were unctuous. But a majority advocates to carry them forward.
(Eine Minderheit kritisiert immer wieder, in beiden Sendungen gebe es Rührseligkeiten, und sie tut es manchmal auch geistreich witzig. Aber die Mehrheit plädiert für das Wunschkonzert und die “Grüße aus dem Heimathafen”.)

The Audience: families, the wider public …

“Gruß an Bord” is aired by a public broadcaster, and at the same time, it is about family – two rather different target audiences. An NDR editor interviewed in the December 23 report from Leer, tries to match the two:

If this is about feelings, the broadcast is still needed. If someone says that most of the German ships have been equipped with internet for a year now, and that families can skype or text each other, or use Whatsapp – but then, people may sit alone in their bunk, on Christmas Eve, before and after their meals, that’s not the same as if you join everyone else in the mess deck, listening to this broadcast together.
Wenn es um Gefühle geht, dann braucht man die Sendung noch. Wenn jetzt jemand sagt, die deutschen Schiffe sind seit einem Jahr weitgehend mit Internet ausgerüstet, und dann können die Familien miteinander skypen und sich eine SMS schicken oder per Whatsapp kommunizieren, aber da sitzen vielleicht die Leute allein in ihrer Koje am Heiligen Abend, vorm Essen, nach dem Essen, bekommen ihre Whatsapps, das ist ja nicht so, als wenn  man gemeinsam in der Messe sitzt und dann vielleicht gemeinsam diese Sendung hört.

Or as put by an (apparent) senior sailor in a television report from the Hamburg event, the program is

special, because you get the impression that – even if you can be reached by email, smartphone etc. -, the public is aware of you.
Das Besondere an der Sendung ist, dass man eben tatsächlich den Eindruck hat, dass man – auch wenn man über Email, Handy erreichbar ist, trotzdem auch im Bewusstsein der Öffentlichkeit ist.

… and the friends of the high frequencies

I recorded all of the program, and listened to some of it. It remains a reverend institution, and worth listening to. But I think I liked the final twenty-five minutes best. There, letters and emails were read out from an ordinary broadcasting studio – well-structured and carefully thought out messages, rather than improvised talk into microphones.

I have no idea how many people listen to the programs, and where. But when listening to the mails and letters being read out, you realize that a substantial share (if not the majority) of those who listen to the shortwave transmissions must be shortwave aficionados, rather than seafarers:

Bernd Ottenau from Ottenau sends greetings to all members, honorary members and friends of the Radio Taiwan International listeners’ club Ottenau, as well as the international shortwave programs’ German-language editorial offices.
(Bernd Ottenau aus Ottenau grüßt herzlich alle Mitglieder, Ehrenmitglieder und Freunde des Radio Taiwan International Hörerclubs Ottenau, sowie die deutschsprachigen Redaktionen der internationalen Kurzwellenprogramme, und wünscht gesegnete Weihnachten sowie ein gutes neues Jahr 2018.)

A thing Germany has in common with countries like China, India, or Japan are its pasttime associations, and its shortwave listeners’ associations not least. They, too, may be an explanation as to why a radio institution like “Gruß an Bord”, allegedly from a different era, remains on air – at least once a year.

The 6155 kHz relay transmission from Armenia – offering the best signal among all the sites rebroadcasting “Gruß an Bord” – goes off air a few seconds after 23:00 UTC. CPBS Beijing emerges on the same frequency, informing me that it’s the eighth day of the lunar calendar’s  eleventh month today.

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Notes

1) The “Hafenkonzert” is even older – see Related underneath – “Soundscrapes of the Urban Past”
2) Then again, maybe not exactly on all the seven seas. The Pacific Ocean isn’t among the target areas stated by NDR.

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Related

Soundscrapes of the Urban Past, 2013

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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Obituary: Yu Guanzhong, 1928 – 2017

Taiwanese poet and university teacher Yu Guangzhong (余光中) has died in Kaohsiung  on Thursday. According to Radio Taiwan International (RTI), quoting  a statement by aohsiung Medical University hospital,  Yu had been hospitalized late in November, after a stroke. His condition deteriorated due to heart failure and lung condition pneumonia, according to the statement.

Wikipedia has entries about Yu, in Chinese and in English.  He was born in Nanjing, in 1928.

One of his poems, as published by Singtao Ribao‘s Canadian edition, on Thursday (Wednesday Vancouver local time):

小时候,乡愁是一枚小小的邮票,我在这头,母亲在那头。
During childhood, homesickness was a small postage stamp, with me here and my mother there.

长大后,乡愁是一张窄窄的船票,我在这头,新娘在那头。
After growing up, homesickness was a worn sea passage ticket, with me here and my bride there.

后来啊,乡愁是一方矮矮的坟墓,我在外头,母亲在里头。
Later on, homesickness was a small grave, with me outside and my mother inside.

而现在,乡愁是一湾浅浅的海峡,我在这头,大陆在那头。
But now, homesickness is a strait of shallow waters, with me here and the mainland there.

A book published in 2008 offers  an interpretation.

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