Posts tagged ‘Russia’

Friday, January 9, 2015

Chinese Press Review: “a Principled Stance against Terrorism”

Huanqiu Shibao has an editorial about the attack on the Charlie Hebdo editorial staff:

The bloody terrorist attack in Paris has been condemned by many countries’ governments. However, in some non-Western societies, notably in Islamic ones, real popular reactions may be much more complex. But although values are diverse, we believe that under conditions like these, the condemnation of terrorism should be unconditional. In the face of a major issue of right and wrong, any other choice would be out of line with the common interest of humankind.

巴黎《查理周刊》编辑部遭血腥恐怖袭击,多国政府予以一致谴责。然而在一些非西方社会、尤其是伊斯兰社会里,民间的真实反应却可能复杂得多。尽管价值观是多元的,我们认为,在这种时候谴责恐怖袭击应是无条件的。在这一大是大非面前的任何其他选择,都不符合人类的共同利益。

When terrorist attacks occurred in China in the past, the position of Western public opinion was often not firm enough. After official findings in China, Western mainstream media put the descriptions of bloody terrorism in Xinjiang between quotation marks, saying that China claimed it to be “terrorist” incidents. This made Chinese people very angry.

以往在中国出现恐怖袭击时,西方舆论的立场经常不够坚定。西方主流媒体会在中国官方已做出定性后,给发生在新疆那些血腥袭击的恐怖主义描述打上引号,说那是中国声称的“恐怖主义”事件。它们那样做往往让中国人很生气。

The article suggests that Chinese society should do does better and reject double-standards.

We strongly hope that the China’s, Russia’s and other countries’ attitude will ultimately influence the West, and won’t be “adapted” to [its] geopolitical considerations.*)

消除恐怖主义有赖于国际社会的高度团结。这些年西方社会突发恐怖袭击,世界的公开表态总是一致的。中俄等国发生恐怖袭击,西方舆论往往闪烁其词。我们强烈希望中俄等国的坚定态度能最终影响西方,而不是西方对恐怖袭击的地缘政治考虑把我们“改变”。

[…]

Of course, one can debate about strategies to combat terrorism. We notice that the leaders and mainstream media of many Western countries, when commenting on the “Charlie Hebdo” incident, all purposely expressed “support for freedom of information”. We find this debatable.

当然,反对和打击恐怖主义是可以讲策略的。我们注意到,西方多国领导人和主流媒体在评论《查理周刊》事件时,都刻意突出了“对新闻自由的支持”。我们认为这是值得商榷的。

Western freedom of information is part of its political system and social shape, and also one of the core values of Western society. But in the era of globalization, if related Western practice and the core values of other societies collide, there should be a Western will to ease conflicts, as it is not suitable to put ones own values into the center and to increase frictions with a zero-sum attitude.

西方的新闻自由是其政治体制和社会形态的一部分,也是西方社会的核心价值之一。但在全球化时代,当西方有关做法同其他社会的核心价值发生冲突时,西方应当有缓解冲突的意愿,而不宜以自己的价值为中心,以零和态度推动摩擦升级。

An English-language article, much of it identical with or similar to the Chinese version, is also available online, but there are some differences, too. The paragraph with the line I can’t translate properly is entirely missing in the English version.

The idea of enemies of China feasting on calamities within the country is a recurring theme in domestic Huanqiu Shibao articles, from the Dalai Lama‘s alleged indifference and his cliques’ cold and detached gloating after the Wenchuan earthquake 2008 to complaints from the Xinjiang CCP branch about a lack of compassion from Washington after the Bachu County incident in April 2013. In the English edition – which differs greatly from the Chinese one in terms of content anyway -, there’s a tendency to drawing a more positive and self-confident image of China.

While Huanqiu, a paper focused on international affairs, carries at least two Charlie-Hebdo-related stories on its main page online, and the above editorial topping the page, Tianjin’s official news portal Enorth published a list of the twelve victims in a less prominent article today, one that had previously been published by China News Service (中国新闻网, CNS).

In another Enorth article, also originally from CNS, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei is quoted as saying that China had made its position clear on the attack, stating shock and condemnation and expressing condolences to the victims and their relatives:

China is opposed to all forms of terrorism and supports French efforts to safeguard state security.

中方坚决反对一切形式的恐怖主义,支持法方为维护国家安全所做努力。

Hong Lei said that China’s foreign minister had sent a message to French foreign minister Fabius expressing condolences, and emphasizing China’s principled stance against all forms of terrorism.

洪磊说,中国外交部长已经向法国外长法比尤斯致慰问电,向遇难者表示哀悼,并强调了中方反对一切形式恐怖主义的原则立场。

Also today, Enorth republished an article by the Beijing Times (京华时报), with a detailed account of the attack and its victims.

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Footnotes

*) This may also point to active use of terrorism by the West to “alter China”, but I’m not sure if that would be an accurate translation.

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Related

» ‘Made to eat’ at Ramadan, BBC Blog, July 11, 2014
» Chinese Press Review: Kunming Attack, March 3, 2014

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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Deutsche Welle Updates: “Mindless Competition”

Combative Director, Annoyed Politicians, December, 2014

German politicians reacted with resentment last month, to an announcement by Deutsche Welle (DW) director Peter Limbourg to cease programs in German and other important languages if there was no significant increase in the broadcaster’s funding. “I’m thinking of the cutting of the German language as an unnecessary threat posture to get more funding. A Deutsche Welle that does without the German language and doesn’t broadcast in rare languages misses the mark and damages its reputation”, the main representative of the Christian Democrats in German parliament’s foreign affairs commisson, Roderich Kiesewetter, told a German paper, the Handelsblatt, around December 15.

Tabea Rössner, media spokesperson for the Greens in German federal parliament and quoted in the same article, also criticized Limbourg’s policy. The decision to adjust the broadcaster to the English language was “fatal for Deutsche Welle’s future”, Handelsblatt quoted Rössner. The multi-language character of DW was its core competence and its unique selling point. “Thus, a source of information, with broad great esteem for its reliability, is lost for the broad population.”

Kiesewetter had been positive about Limbourg’s idea to “counter” Russia Today (RT) television, some two months earlier.

Some 600 DW employees took to the streets in Berlin’s government quarter on December 15, according to Frank Überall, treasurer of German journalist association DJV. They reportedly protested against Limbourg’s plans. DW would only remain a success story if further developed in close cooperation with the employees and politics, and Limbourg should know that, Überall told his organisation’s website, djv-berlin.de, in December.

Members of the two biggest groups in German federal parliament’s lower house, the Bundestag, had stated in November that they had recognized the problem of structural underfunding at DW. On December 18, three days after the demonstrations in Berlin and in a debate of DW’s Aufgabenplanung (task planning), federal state minister for culture Monika Grütters and spokes persons of all parliamentary groups said that DW should get more funding on a regular basis. Above all, rising labor costs needed to be taken into account. All parties seem to have agreed that far.

The Christian Democrats, their Bavarian sister Party and the Social Democrats (SPD) – i. e. all bigger parties and all of them forming the current federal government – agree with Limbourg that DW English-language television needed to be strengthened. Martin Dörmann (SPD) pointed out that while the German television program reached only 250,000 viewers, the English program had an audience of 30 million. Members of parliament from the governing parties also suggested that DW “countered” frequently propagandistic coverage from other foreign broadcasters, from countries like Russia and China. That’s where the opposition disagreed.

The Left Party and the Greens, currently the only oppositional parties in federal parliament with only a fifth of all mandates there, oppose the idea, if it leads to closing down departments in other languages. Rather than entering a mindless competition with the English-speaking television stations of other countries, DW needed to strengthen their core competences.

In a motion for a Bundestag resolution, the Greens also addressed a paragraph from Germany’s co-determination law for federal institutions, the Federal Staff Representation Act (Bundespersonalvertretungsgesetz), § 90. The paragraph in question states that only permanent employees (with indefinite as well as temporary contracts) are eligible to elect members of the employee committees or to be elected. Non-permanent employees should be represented by the employee councils, too, according to the motion, which was turned down by the CDU/CSU/SPD majority.

The motion, if accepted, wouldn’t have greatly strengthened the position of non-permanent DW employees when defending themselves in the labor court against sackings, but it would have allowed – and obliged – the employee councils to pay closer attention to such issues.

Member of parliament Marco Wanderwitz (CDU) rejected criticism from Green member Tabea Rössner that Limbourg had taken DW employees hostage in order to get more money. However, Monika Grütters (also CDU) acknowledged that Limbourg’s move to threaten the closure of the German service had been wrong.

As many other departments, too, the German radio service was closed down during the past decade.However, there are still German-language television programs and a German-language internet website run by DW.

Foreign-language Service “from a German perspective”, January 2015

From the the [German] foreign office’s press release:

the foreign office and Deutsche Welle have agreed to establish a new multi-medial foreign-language service to promote international coverage of Germany abroad. The news agency dpa will contribute content, and the foreign office will support the project financially.

The new multi-medial foreign-language service shall spread current news and background from a German perspective to media partners and end-users all over the world. News from Germany and topics that shape discussions in the German public are at the center. The foreign-language service will be produced in German, English, Spanish, and Arabic, and fitted with regionally relevant topics respectively.

German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (Social Democrat) is quoted in the press release as saying that the new service offers the opportunity to spread news from and about Germany in a contemporary way and at high standards, thus shaping Germany’s image abroad in a positive way.

Limbourg, also according to the press release, said that the offer contributes to put Germany’s global political and economic weight into a medial context. Lasting partnerships can only evolve with cultural understanding. We want to promote this understanding with an honest, independent view onto Germany.

A press release by Deutsche Welle (in English) also mentions a budget from the foreign office, but does not become more specific than the foreign office either.

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Related

» Phoenix/DW, press release, Dec 19, 2015

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Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014: Memorable Shortwave Logs

1. Russia

One memorable listen would be the Voice of Russia (VoR or, in its dying days, Radio VR). Last time I listened to the station on shortwave was on March 27, from about 06:30 to 08:00 UTC on 21800 kHz (probably Irkutsk transmitting site). Shortwave transmissions from what had been Radio Moscow until the early 1990s, and Voice of Russia since then, were terminated this year, apparently by the end of March.

2. Northwestern Germany

I came across a low-powered shortwave station (one to ten kW) in northwestern Germany in April, Radio HCJB Weenermoor. HCJB used to be the callsign of a shortwave station in Ecuador, has a history of more than eight decades there, and much of their operations has been shifted to Australia after the construction of an airport near Ecuador’s capital Quito which led to the closure of the big HCJB’s transmission site there.  HCJB’s German department, now named “Vozandes Media”, launched the Weenermoor transmission site in June 2012. Even earlier, apparently in 2009, the German department had installed a shortwave transmitter and an antenna on Pichincha Mountain near Quito. It’s for the local and regional population (programs in Quechuan and Spanish), but can frequently be heard in North America and Europe as well, on 6050 kHz.
Most of the programs aired from Weenermoor aren’t my cup of tea, but they do broadcast a half-hour media magazine several times every Saturday – interesting stuff for German-speaking shortwave listeners.
Many of the first-generation German broadcasters at HCJB were apparently Mennonites. At least three of them, Sally Schroeder, Maria Hübert, and Peter Hübert, were emigrants – or refugees – from the former USSR. Mennonites with a USSR history are frequently referred to as “Russian Mennonites”.

3. Sweden

Then there was the Radio Nord revival. The legendary offshore radio station “Radio Nord” came into life years before yours truly did, but a number of fans in Sweden have established the tradition of making annual broadcasts to commemorate the station. They are also blogging. Their broadcasts in August this year caught my attention, and that was the first time in years that I heard a shortwave signal from Sweden at all (except for ham radio signals, obviously).

4. Northern Germany

Hamburger Lokalradio QSL card, November 2014

Hamburger Lokalradio QSL card: a one-kW transmitter in Göhren (near Schwerin), and studios in Hamburg. 6045 kHz (Wertachtal) is outdated – the Wertachtal transmitter site was » blown up in November.

Almost next door: Hamburger Lokalradio. They are broadcasting mostly on FM in Hamburg (96.0 MHz) and on the internet (see bottom of this page). The station also appears on shortwave (at least) three times a week. Own observation: on Wednesdays at 12:30 UTC or earlier, until 15:00 UTC (or later), on 7265 kHz, and on Sundays, from 14:00 UTC (or earlier) to 14:30 UTC (or later), on 9485 kHz. They broadcast in English, too: Glenn Hauser‘s World of Radio audiomagazine is aired on Saturdays at 07:30 and 15:30 UTC on 7265 kHz, and on Wednesdays, also at 07:30 and 15:30 UTC, on the same frequency, according to this BCL News notice. If you understand German, their culture programs are definitely worth listening to.

5. Ukraine / USA

First time in many years that Radio Ukraine International (RUI) appeared on shortwave again – not from Ukraine, but from Okeechobee, Florida, aired by WRMI. Not an ideal time of day here in central Europe, at 23:30 to 24:00 UTC (and I’m not sure if RUI will stay on the air from Florida with the beginning of this new year), but it’s fun while it lasts. The signal varied during the ten times I listened this year, from good to nil – it was probably much better in North America, the main target area.
I did catch a signal right from Ukraine in May and July, Radio Dniprovska Hvylya, but all in Russian or Ukrainian language.

6. Taiwan

Voice of Guanghua, transmitting from Guanyin or Kuanyin District, Taoyuan City, northwestern Taiwan. Their programs are in Standard Chinese (guoyu), apparently without being jammed. At any rate, it came in pretty well on 9745 kHz at daytime UTC, on December 19 and 26. Japanese tourists seem to have done the usual thorough research and took a photo of the station’s transmitter site, some time during the past ten years.

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Related tag: »shortwave

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

German Television Interview with Deutsche Welle director: Aha, the Russians do Propaganda

After facing many inconvenient questions about the editorial independence of his multimedia broadcaster during the past months, from the media, from politics, and from Reporters without Borders, Deutsche Welle (DW) director Peter Limbourg got airtime this month with much nicer questions. On November 16, Berlin Direkt, a primetime political magazine on Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (ZDF), one of Germany’s two national – domestic – television channels, interviewed Limbourg.

Q:   Russia currently upgrades its foreign television, and other [media] – internet, radio – incredibly, and also invests a lot of money into these. Is the restructuring of Deutsche Welle an answer to that offensive?
A:   I think that it [DW restructuring] has to do with that, because we simply noticed that very many broadcasters, internationally, spend a lot of money for their purposes, and that we obviously have to see to it that the German perspective and German values for which we stand, i. e. democracy, freedom of the press, freedom of opinion, that these are heard in the world. Therefore we have, of course to enter this competition to a degree, even if that is quite expensive.
Q:   And even if this will immediately lead to the accusation that aha, the Russians do propaganda, but Deutsche Welle spends more money, too, so Deutsche Welle, too, does propaganda?
A:   No, I think that in our place, that’s nothing to do with propaganda or counter-propaganda, but we want to score with enlightenment, and this means that we won’t explicitly try to work against someone, but we work for our values, and I think that it explains itself, that  when you stand for democracy, freedom of the press, and pluralism, that precisely therefore, we have nothing to do with propaganda, but on the contrary: we try to represent plurality of opinion. That means, too, of course, that we listen to other opinions such as opinions of the Russians, and work with these.
Q:  How is Deutsche Welle positioned in Russia, and how are you received there?
A:  We have a correspondent bureau in Russia and we have, of course, a very strong and, during the past months, yet strengthened, Russian and Ukrainian service which are in very, very high demand. The numbers of users have tripled or quadrupled. But we wouldn’t be able to launch a broadcaster in Russian in Russia; you don’t get a licence from the government for that.

I didn’t watch Berlin Direkt on television. On the ZDF internet pages, you can access both the interview and a report that provides some background information about Deutsche Welle’s Russian competitors – ZDF certainly portray Russia Today television, Radio Sputnik, and Russia’s umbrella organization for foreign media, Rossiya Segodnya, as competitors for Deutsche Welle. The Berlin Direkt report starts right from the first minute here, and there may not be a great deal of information about Russia’s foreign propaganda around at German television. “Recently, German is spoken, too”, the ZDF anchor suggests in his lead-in.

In fact, the first program by Radio Moscow that ever targeted a foreign audience was in German. That was in 1929. The German programs continued through the years of the 2nd World War, and when Radio Moscow was reorganized as the “Voice of Russia” in December 1993, the German-language tradition – many hours a day, seven days a week – continued. It still does.

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Update/Related

Putin’s side of the story, …

… in an interview with the other main German tv channel, ARD, Nov 17.

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Main tag: Deutsche Welle

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Saturday, October 4, 2014

Deutsche Welle projects: “cooperating” with CCTV, “countering” Russia Today


Main link: Druck auf die Deutsche Welle, October 1, 2014

1. News article: “Pressure on Deutsche Welle”

Deutsche Welle (DW) director Peter Limbourg advocates a role for the foreign broadcaster as an English-language counterweight to Russian propaganda outlet Russia Today, according to an article published by Kölnische Rundschau, a paper from Cologne, on October 1. “It’s not about responding to massive Russian propaganda with ‘counter-propaganda’, but about conveying our free democratic concept by means of good journalism, in accordance with Western standards, the paper quotes Limbourg.

The two parties that have formed Germany’s federal government in a “grand coaliton” since December 2013 differ about the idea. While Roderich Kieswetter, a member of parliament from chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Party (CDU), likes the idea that someone “counters with medial elucidation”, the Social Democrats’ (SPD) parliamentary budget commission member Johannes Kahrs is skeptical: “I don’t think much of propaganda”. He added that “to state our values should be as much a matter of course as paying the DW employees in accordance with tariffs”.

Neither CDU nor SPD have committed themselves to increasing DW funds so as to enable the station to counter Russia Today.

Either way, Kölnische Rundschau writes, Limbourg is “under heavy pressure”, “on several fronts”. German news magazine Der Spiegel had reviewed DW’s China coverage critically – ever since freelance journalist Su Yutong had been fired, a constant stream of accusations that Limbourg had “kowtowed” to Beijing kept flowing, and Limbourg’s cooperation plans with Chinese state television CCTV had been “another step on a course that was being criticized as precarious”. Christian Mihr, head of the German section of Reporters without Borders (RSF), had told conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) that his organization “sharply condemned” the cooperation, and the Green-leaning paper taz pointed out that CCTV had broadcast several “public confessions” of journalists and bloggers. Markus Löning, the federal government’s human-rights commissioner, criticized Limbourg’s plans as “dangerously naive”.

Kölnische Rundschau also points out that some 200 employees have lost some or all of their work at DW. Freelancers are said to be particularly affected by saving measures.

2. Assessment

Are Limbourg’s plans doomed already? Not necessarily. While recent decisions are controversial, Limbourg might still see them through – or back down in certain, but not all fields, depending on how support and opposition develop. When it comes to “cooperation” with party mouthpieces from China, there’s probably a lot of silent support in Germany that isn’t always reflected in the media. At least some circles in German business, the Asia-Pacific Committee of German Business (APA), criticized German media this summer for being “inaccurate” in their China coverage, according to a report by Deutsche Presseagentur (dpa),:

It was “the common task of governments and companies on both sides to promote a good reputation of Chinese companies in Germany”, the recommendations, on hand at dpa newsagency in Beijing on Tuesday [July 8], say. This was about a “fair and accurate” presentation. Background [of these recommendations?] is Chinese criticism of German media which “irresponsibly and inaccurately report about Chinese human rights and political issues”, a position paper still in progress says.

APA chairman Hubert Lienhard, talking to journalists, resolutely denied the existence of this paragraph in the raft. However, only a week ago, a draft of the paper containing this criticism circulated in the German embassy in Beijing. Accusations like these were, however, not adopted in the recommendations to the two heads of government, recommendations the APA commission does not want to publish. […]

It is this kind of climate where business interests gain weight, and where principles go down. That said, at least publicly, the German federal government wasn’t sympathetic towards the APA recomendations.

While former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder, chairman of the board at Nord Stream AG, a consortium for construction and operation of the Nord Stream submarine pipeline between Vyborg in Russia and Greifswald in Germany, tirelessly advocates cooperation with Russia, Moscow doesn’t appear to have nearly as much sway over German published opinion or business as Beijing.

This doesn’t seem to suggest that countering Russian propaganda should be a priority. But it’s an easier target than Chinese propaganda.

And many Western “opinion formers” have apparently felt haunted by Russian propaganda, or by what they consider to be the effects of it, right at home.

Confucius Institutes are apparently much less offensive.

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Related Tag

» Deutsche Welle

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Related

» Chinesische Rochade, FAZ, Sept 26, 2014
» Weichgespült, DJV, Sept 15, 2014

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Deutsche Welle Task Plan: “Germany must not fall behind”

According to a press release on Wednesday, Deutsche Welle (DW) director Peter Limbourg handed the broadcasting station’s task plan to Norbert Lammert, president of German federal parliament or Bundestag, on Tuesday. The plan (Aufgabenplanung 2014 – 2017) is both a to-do-list and project description, and a request to parliament to fund the projects it contains. On the DW photo, Limbourg manages to look like Lammert’s rich and benevolent uncle with lots to offer.  The photo was shot by Jan Röhl, a freelance photographer in Berlin, who has made photos for DW every now and then and whose website says that every theme should be photographed in a way that makes the beholder wish to experience the displayed situation or to buy the product (das jeweilige Motiv sollte so fotografiert werden, dass der Betrachter den Wunsch verspürt, die dargestellte Situation zu erleben, das Produkt zu erwerben).

“We want to face up to international competition better. To do that, DW has initiated an ambitious course of reorientation”, the director said during the presentation of DW’s strategy for the coming four years. “The interest among global decision makers and opinion formers in our country continues growing. Especially during international crisis and conflicts, the German positions are sought for. Germany’s medial voice in the world communicates it – multi-medial and in thirty languages.”

„Wir wollen uns dem internationalen Wettbewerb besser stellen. Dazu hat die DW einen ambitionierten Kurs der Neuausrichtung eingeleitet“, sagte der Intendant bei der Überreichung der DW-Strategie für die kommenden vier Jahre. „Das Interesse der globalen Entscheider und Meinungsbildner an unserem Land wächst weiter. Gerade in internationalen Krisen und Konflikten sind die deutschen Positionen gefragt. Deutschlands mediale Stimme in der Welt vermittelt sie – multimedial und in 30 Sprachen.“

To the Bundestag president, Limbourg pointed out the enormous efforts made by other states as they strengthened  their global soft power. Russia, for example was advancing the launch of its foreign television program Russia Today’s German program. China, too, was strengthening its medial foreign representation. With this task plan, “we want to convince German politics that Germany must not fall behind in this field”, the director said.

Gegenüber dem Bundestagspräsidenten wies Limbourg auf die enormen Anstrengungen hin, die andere Staaten zur Stärkung ihrer Soft-power in der Welt unternehmen. So treibe Russland den Start eines deutschsprachigen Programms seines Auslandsfernsehens Russia Today voran. Auch China baue seine mediale Außenrepräsentanz aus. Mit der jetzt vorgelegten Aufgabenplanung „wollen wir die deutsche Politik überzeugen, dass Deutschland hier nicht ins Hintertreffen geraten darf“, so der Intendant.

Bundestag President Lammert said: “During these times of current crises, Deutsche Welle fulfills the growingly important task to inform impartially and to explain things. The German program of Deutsche Welle should continue to play an important role.

Bundestagspräsident Norbert Lammert sagte: „Gerade in diesen Zeiten aktueller Krisen erfüllt die Deutsche Welle die immer wichtiger werdende Aufgabe, objektiv zu informieren und aufzuklären. Dabei sollte das deutsche Programm der Deutschen Welle weiterhin eine wichtige Rolle spielen.“

The German program should continue to play an important role. Hear, hear.

Either way, the press release points out that English is meant to become the “flagship” (of DW content, apparently). The focus on English isn’t new, nor is the stated requirement that all content would be planned consistently multi-medially, and interlocked with each other. Interaction with global decisionmakers (“globale Entscheider”) and participants in the formation of political opinion (“Teilnehmer an der politischen Meinungsbildung”), not least by means of “social media” is also emphasized.

Parliament President Lammert should be careful what he wishes for. If German programs should indeed continue to play an important role at DW, chances are that the German language will be savaged by dead sheep. The Germish used in the press release sounds like a washing powder commercial – only less succinct.

Persil washes whiter.

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Related

If Congress will pay, July 5, 2012
Trying to Pigeonhole, Feb 19, 2012
Opinion Leaders, May 20, 2011

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Deutsche Welle: Invincible in the Labor Courts, vulnerable in Propaganda Wars

In an interview with dissident website Boxun (rendered here by Beijing Spring), Su Yutong (苏雨桐) spoke about her dismissal by German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW):

Personally, I think this isn’t necessarily a good thing to happen, because but this incident may provide a glimpse on many things, it may lead to further debate, such as to which degree have Western media been infiltrated? Is the personal freedom of speech of people at the media protected or not? When you look at it from this perspective, [my dismissal] is an absolutely positive thing to happen. This is the opposite case of the one we had after the Zhang Danhong incident. We can also, from one side, verify the reach of the hands of the Chinese Communist Party to every corner of the world. How Western democratic societies can resist the Chinese autocratic pattern, which comes with money, needs to be reflected upon.

对于“被离职”,苏雨桐向博讯记者表示:“我觉得于我个人来说,未必是一件令人高兴的事情,但这个事件可以窥见很多东西,也可能会引起接下来的讨 论,西方媒体被渗透的程度?媒体人的私人言论自由受不受保护?从这个意见上来说,完全是一件积极的事情。这是自张丹红事件后,与之相反的一个案例,也可以 从一个侧面印证中共的手伸到世界各个角落。更大的思考在于,西方民主社会如何抵抗带着金钱袭来的中国独裁模式。”

Boxun asked about “similarities and differences” between how Su and Zhang Danhong (张丹红), in 2008, had been treated by DW.

Su Yutong said that this was absolutely not comparable. “I was dismissed, and Zhang Danhong was not. She was moved to another department. That’s one difference. The other is that Zhang Danhong spoke in favor of an autocracy. This touched upon a bottomline of values. But DW still wouldn’t dismiss her, and only found that her position and her values weren’t suitable for her work as deputy chief editor at DW Chinese department. So she was transferred to another department. But I was dismissed, based on a technicality (the so-called leaking of DW internal information), for opposing a columnist who defended an autocracy.

苏雨桐表示,这根本没有可比性。“我是被离职,而张丹红从未被离职,是调职,这是第一。第二,张丹红为专制辩护,触到提价值底线,但德国之声并没 有辞退她,而是认为她的立场和价值观不适合做中文部副主任,调职。而我是因为反对为专制辩护的专栏作者,被以技术性原因(所谓的泄露德国之声内部消息)为 由被离职。”

There aren’t only differences at Deutsche Welle’s Chinese department. According to a DW editor who spoke with German daily Junge Welt in May this year, on condition of anonymity, said that they were compelled to refer to the Crimea referendum in March as the “illegal” or “so-called” referendum.  And more in general, editorials about Russian president Vladimir Putin were only written by editors deemed “suitable” for the topic. What if the anonymous editor would not write in conformity with the prescribed terminology? Answer:

I hope I will never know what happens in such a case. Many try to circumvent the requirements by using less problematic synonyms. It is, after all, fertile soil for censorship when you need to support a family with two children, working on a fixed-term contract. Eventually, you’ll find yourself censoring yourself – because you want to keep your job, you write in a way that won’t cause offense. There are many good journalists at DW, but I haven’t seen great rebels there yet.

Ich hoffe, daß ich nie erfahren werde, was in einem solchen Fall passiert. Viele versuchen die Vorgaben zu umgehen, indem sie z.B. weniger problematische Synonyme benutzen. Es ist halt ein fruchtbarer Boden für die Zensur, wenn man als Journalist eine Familie mit zwei Kindern ernähren muß und auf Basis von Zeitverträgen arbeitet. Irgendwann ertappt man sich bei der Selbstzensur – weil man seinen Job behalten will, schreibt man so, daß es keinen Anstoß erregt. Gute Journalisten gibt es bei der DW massenweise – große Rebellen sind mir bisher aber nicht aufgefallen.

The problem here is that getting rid of quasi-employees is easy for Deutsche Welle. Strictly speaking, based on labor-law terms, Su Yutong wasn’t even dismissed. Su’s contract “expires” next year, and won’t get “renewed”. The same was the case with Wang Fengbo (王凤波) and some of his colleagues at DW whose contracts expired in 2010 or 2011. But for whatever reason, Boxun apparently didn’t ask Su Yutong questions about similarities with these former colleagues’ cases.

Deutsche Welle appears to have become nearly invincible in the labor courts. But on the other hand, the management’s apparent influence on content has also made the organization an ideal battleground for propaganda wars – when there is a lack of professional principle, everything becomes possible. Beijing and the dissidents have apparently seized these opportunities first. But other players will keep succeeding – until Deutsche Welle becomes a believable source for news again, or until German parliament lays the station to rest forever.

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Related posts under the Deutsche Welle tag.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Deutsche Welle: the Pendulum Swings back (and strikes again)

While a comparatively early report by Guanchazhe (Shanghai) came across as sort of neutral, a report by Huanqiu Shibao (the Chinese-language sister of the “Global Times”) on Monday used the Su Yutong vs Deutsche Welle story for a bit of domestic nation-building. Using purported netizen comments, Huanqiu criticizes Su for being “naive”:

“You are reporting negative news about China all day long and think Germans will like you for that? Naive! You are planning to sue Deutsche Welle for violating local labor laws? What a joke. You don’t understand Germany and German law. When you leak a company’s internal information, the company has every reason to discharge you”, some netizens said.

“你整天报道中国的负面新闻,德国人就喜欢你?幼稚! 还准备起诉德国之声违反当地劳动法?笑话。太不了解德国和德国的法律。光泄漏企业内部的信息,企业就完全有理由开除你。”有网友说。

The paper leaves much of the criticism to “netizens”, but adds some message of its own, too. According to a BBC survey [probably Globescan], China’s image in Germany had been deteriorating for a decade, and 76 percent of Germans currently held a negative view of China, writes Huanqiu. That journalists like Su Yutong, from important positions, were blackening China’s name had something to do with the country’s negative image. When Chinese people badmouthed other Chinese people, ordinary people abroad tended to believe them.

We, too, hate some dark phenomena in our country, but we also hope and believe our motherland will improve. Reasonable overseas Chinese people will be happy and proud about China’s economic construction and development during the past thirty years. China has its shortcomings and you can criticize them, but not with a maximum zoom, and opposition against everything.

我们痛恨自己国家的一些阴暗现象,但更希望并坚信,我们的祖国会越来越好。任何一个有良知的海外华人,都会对中国这30多年来的经济建设发展感到万分的庆幸与骄傲。中国有缺点可以批评,但不能无限放大,更不能逢中必反。

The article also describes the development of Sino-German trade and adds that during the sanctions on and from Russia, Germany’s economy had shrunk by 0.2 percent during the second quarter this year. And using comments on overseas-Chinese social media, Huanqiu suggests that “constant negative headlines at Deutsche Welle about China wouldn’t help bilateral cooperation”.

The Asia-Pacific Committee of German Business (APA) would probably agree. When German chancellor Angela Merkel visited China during summer, the APA had recommendations for the two heads of government, Merkel and Li Keqiang, concerning a better climate for Chinese investment in Germany. Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa) reported:

It was “the common task of governments and companies on both sides to promote a good reputation of Chinese companies in Germany”, the recommendations, on hand at dpa newsagency in Beijing on Tuesday [July 8], say. This was about a “fair and accurate” presentation. Background [of these recommendations?] is Chinese criticism of German media which “irresponsibly and inaccurately report about Chinese human rights and political issues”, a position paper still in progress says.

APA chairman Hubert Lienhard, talking to journalists, resolutely denied the existence of this paragraph in the raft. However, only a week ago, a draft of the paper containing this criticism circulated in the German embassy in Beijing. Accusations like these were, however, not adopted in the recommendations to the two heads of government, recommendations the APA commission does not want to publish. […]

The APA doesn’t need to be “behind” the most recent events at Deutsche Welle, and if the links are as crude as suggested both by Huanqiu Shibao and some of Su Yutong’s supporters remains an open question. But there seems to be a trend towards cozying up to Beijing – and the pendulum that hit Zhang Danhong in 2008, and four more of her colleagues at the DW Chinese department in 2010 on its way to more “China-unfriendly” coverage, now seems to have hit Su Yutong, on its way back to more “China-friendly” coverage.

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