Posts tagged ‘Shanghai’

Sunday, June 7, 2015

“Star of the East” Aftermath: at Ease, under the Party’s and Government’s Help

A breathless Xinhua article published online by the People’s Daily today, with coverage which reads as if the whole story had unfolded only within the past twenty-four hours.

The Xinhua article seems to be the authoritative account of what happened, and how the authorities reacted. It was announced on Saturday evening's Xinwen Lianbo.

The Xinhua article seems to be the authoritative account of what happened, and how the authorities reacted. It was announced on Saturday evening’s Xinwen Lianbo. Click picture above for video.

On June 1, at about 21:30, the “Star of the East” from Chongqing’s Dongfang Ferry Company, on its way from Nanjing to Chongqing, suddenly capsized, hit by a tornado. In the furious storm and the surging waves, 456 passengers and crew were in a desperate situation.

6月1日21时30分许,重庆东方轮船公司所属旅游客船“东方之星”轮在由南京驶往重庆途中,突遇龙卷风顷刻翻沉,狂风暴雨,巨浪滔滔,456名旅客和船员陷入绝境。

Life is greater than the heavens!

生命大于天!

Under the strong leadership of the Party’s Central Committee with Xi Jinping as the Secretary General, under the State Council’s work group’s direct command, the party committees and governments of Hubei, Hunan, Chongqing and elsewhere, the united action of the central authorities, the People’s Liberation Army’s and Armed Police and maritime authorities rapid mobilization abilities, nationwide mobilization for search and rescue action quickly unfolded.

在以习近平同志为总书记的党中央坚强领导下,在国务院工作组直接指挥下,湖北、湖南、重庆等地党委和政府,中央有关部门统一行动,人民解放军、武警部队及海事部门迅速调集力量,一场举国动员的搜救行动迅速展开。

After receiving the report, Central Committee Secretary General, State Chairman, and Central Military Commission Chairman Xi Jinping issued important instructions right away, ordering the State Council work group to go to the site to guide the rescue work, and that Hubei Province, Chongqing Metropolitan, and other work groups unfold all efforts with their adequate strength, and properly deal with the aftermath.

接报后,中共中央总书记、国家主席、中央军委主席习近平立即作出重要指示,要求国务院即派工作组赶赴现场指导搜救工作,湖北省、重庆市及有关方面组织足够力量全力开展搜救,并妥善做好相关善后工作。

Standing Politburo member and Chief State Councillor Li Keqiang immediately issued written instructions and, on behalf of the Party’s Central Committee and the State Council, and on behalf of Secretary Xi Jinping, hurried to the site by plane, directing the rescue and emergency reaction work.

中共中央政治局常委、国务院总理李克强立即批示,并代表党中央国务院、代表习近平总书记急飞事件现场,指挥救援和应急处置工作。

After the description of the political will behind the rescue work, the article goes into more technical and bureaucratic detail. Further down, the article mentions that the relevant local party committees and governments (i. e. Hubei Province, the Changjiang Maritime Bureau, Yueyang City, Shanghai, Jiangsu Province, Chongqing, Zhejiang Province, Fujian Province, Shandong Province, Tianjin Metropolitan authorities etc), on their own initiative, coordinated their actions. Support from companies with nationwide significance is also acknowledged.

The article also quotes reportedly positive coverage from the Wall Street Journal (WJS), and a Weibo message allegedly resent more than 100,000 times within a day, saying that “what most touched me is that the water level was lowered to facilitate the rescue work, with the Three Gorges Dam damming up water”.

That’s the role “social media” are meant to play in China, under the CCP’s guidance. Issuing authoritative information and news is for the authorities:

To publish authoritative news on ones own initiative is an effective medium to respond to society’s deep concerns. By the afternoon of June 6, the relevant authorites had done 13 press conferences, convened by the ministry of transport, the National Health and Family Planning Commission, the ministry of civil affairs, by the People’s Liberation Army, Hubei Province, and other people in charge who explained the situation and replied to the reporters’ questions, supplying information regarding the rescue and salvage work and the investigations in a timely, accurate, open and transparent manner.

主动发布权威信息,是回应社会关切的有效渠道。截至6日下午,有关部门已在事件现场召开了13场新闻发布会,交通运输部、卫计委、民政部、人民解放军及湖北省等相关负责人到会发布情况,并回答记者提问,及时、准确、公开、透明地传递救助、打捞、调查等信息。

After the incident, Associated Press, Reuters, CNN, BBC, and other foreign media, some 62 of them, arrived at Jianli, Hubei Province, covering the rescue work, the aftercare for the relatives, and how the aftermath was dealt with. Front command staff also organized three trips to the site for foreign media.

事件发生后,美联社、路透社、CNN、BBC等62家境外媒体先后抵达湖北监利,就事件救援、家属安置及善后处理等采访报道。事件前方指挥部还3次组织境外媒体赶赴事故现场采访。

The article’s firt page ends with the same character it started with: Xi Jinping giving an important speech on the morning of June 4, concerning the next steps of rescue work.

Assuming high responsibility for the people’s life and safety – the attitude of the party’s and state’s highest decision-making levels is distinctive!

对人民生命安全高度负责——党和国家最高决策层态度鲜明!

the Xinhua article jubilates, and concludes the first page of its online article (there are two more pages) with what it says is a quote from French daily Le Monde:

“At a time of disaster, the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party have built the image of responsible national leaders.”

“中国共产党领导人在灾难时期树立了负责任国家领导人的形象。”法国《世界报》

The following two pages are mostly a chronicle of the rescue efforts, of blood, sweat, and respect for the dead (对逝者的尊重), apparently written to evoke the readership’s national pride and trust in the authorities.

Zhu Hongmei, a survivor saved from the wreck around noon of June 2, is hospitalized in Jianli. The article’s final line:

At Jianli County People’s Hospital, Zhu Hongmei’s condition is stable. She says that with the Party’s and government’s help, she feels at ease.

在监利县人民医院,病情平稳。她说,有党和政府的帮助,心里踏实。

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Related

»Mourning the Victims, Radio Japan, June 7, 2015
» Rescuers, Families Bow in Silence, NYT, June 7, 2015
» En quête de réponses, Le Monde, June 5, 2015
» Search complete, L. A. Times, June 6, 2015
» To the Directorate for Religious Affairs, Russian Orthodox Church, June 4, 2015
» Reluctant to embrace Transparency, NYT June 4, 2015

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Saturday, February 7, 2015

CCP Influence on Education in Free Societies is a Problem – but it’s not the Main Challenge

Shoe Me Quick

Kiss Me Quick (while we still have this feeling)

Yaxue Cao of ChinaChange.org links to questions asked by U.S. Congressman Chris Smith:

Is American education for sale? And, if so, are U.S. colleges and universities undermining the principle of academic freedom and, in the process, their own credibility in exchange for China’s education dollars?

These are important questions, asked in New York University’s (NYU) cooperation with the East China Normal University (ECNU) in Shanghai. And Chris Smith, writes Cao, did not know the answer when he delivered his statement on Thursday.

There are people who think they do know the answer. Jörg-Meinhard Rudolph, a sinologist from south-western Germany, for example. In an interview with German national radio Deutschlandradio he said in the context of German universities cooperating with Confucius Institutes that

The [censoring] scissors are at work in the heads of these people. They know exactly that, if they are sinologists, for example, having cooperations or research, field research in China, they can’t do it the way Chinese, for example, can do it here. They have to cooperate with Chinese bodies. In many cases, these, too, are sub-departments of the central committee. And everyone knows what happens if you attend a talk by the Dalai Lama, for example. There are university boards who don’t go there, and they will tell you why: because they fear that their cooperations will suffer. That, in my view, is not in order. This is where you have to safeguard your independence. After all, that’s how universities came into being in Europe, during the 12th century – as independent institutions.

Every country seems to have its share of sinologists who believe – or believed in the past, anyway -, that free trade
with China would be the catalyst for political liberalism. They don’t seem to say that anymore, or maybe nobody quotes them anymore. But that doesn’t change the attitude of those who seem to believe, for whatever reason, that engagement is always better than maintaining a distance.

Cao also tends to believe that she knows the answer. She draws some conclusions that sound logical to me, and besides, she quotes Chinese stakeholders, whose statements suggest that the CCP carried the day at every stage at the ECNU negotiations with the NYU.

In fact, nobody should ever accuse the CCP of making a secret of their intentions. They discuss these intentions and drafts very openly, in the Chinese press. The problem, and here again it is time to quote Rudolph,

[…] is that the big China bestsellers in this country have all been written by people who can’t even read a Chinese newspaper.

The problem with maintaining standards – and I’m all for defining and defending some – is that political corrections come and go in waves. Campaigns, not reflection, shape the debates when it comes to how much cooperation with totalitarianism a free society can stand. When it is about the CCP infringing on freedoms, complaints usually get some media attention, because this fits into the general propaganda. When Chinese or ethnic Chinese people in Germany get censored, they get hardly any attention – it is as if the process were taking place in an anechoic chamber.

Rudolph, the sinologist quoted above, isn’t only a writer, but also a doer. He was the first president of the German Chamber of Commerce in Beijing, in 1997. And he was a “program observer” at the Chinese department of German foreign broadcaster Deutsche Welle, probably from the end of 2009 until 2014, appointed and paid by Deutsche Welle. That practice was never a matter of public debate in Germany, and no transparency either – only one news service cared to write a telling report, which only appeared in a media trade journal. At least four Chinese or Chinese-German journalists lost their contracts, apparently in conflicts over what was deemed “too CCP-friendly”. Rudolph doesn’t look like a champion of free speech to me.

The CCP is indeed unscrupulous. Its power abolishes freedom in China, and its influence endangers freedom where societies are supposed to be “autonomous”. A few weeks after Beijing and its puppet administration in Hong Kong had finished off legitimate democratic demands for universal suffrage from the Hong Kong public, Huanqiu Shibao (“Global Times”), one of the flagships of Chinese state media, warns that opposition against a mainland student running for university office at the University of Hong Kong reflected a dangerous “McCarthyite trend” in the former British colony. On a sidenote. if this conflict occured in Germany, Huanqiu might have tried allegations of Nazism instead.*)

But the CCP isn’t the core problem when it comes to its influence on academic institutions and people. When private enterprise becomes an important source of income for universities, that, too, endangers academic independence. There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

If there were clear standards, procedures and constant verification of their practice in general, and beyond this particular “communist problem”, nobody would have to fear the CCP anyway.

In that way, Beijing actually helps to demonstrate what is wrong with us. If we don’t get this fixed as free societies, don’t blame China. Don’t even blame the CCP.

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Note

*) Recent years have seen a resurgence of Nazi Skinheads in some places in Germany. Attacks on foreigners occur from time to time. The unhealthy trend of racism is also the background to a series of anti-China moves of some German mediaXinhua, in 2008, reacting to the suspension of then DW-Chinese deputy department manager Zhang Danhong.

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Related

» 不该让“麦卡锡”进校门, Huanqiu, Feb 6, 2015
» Hearing transcript, Committee on Foreign Affairs, Febr 4, 2015
» Princelings & Sideshows, March 4, 2011

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Saturday, January 3, 2015

2014: “Social Media”, “Little Secretaries”, Blogs, and the big Trend for 2015

1. Getting Started

To get started, here’s one of my most recent sketches:

And if it isn’t self-explanatory, I’ll come back to it under item #4.

2. “Social Media”

I’m not studying the annual WordPress statistics too thoroughly, but what struck me this time is that, compared with 2013, “social media”, i. e. Twitter and Facebook, have become major referring sites to this blog. that said, maybe 2013 was an exception, because in 2012, too, Facebook and Twitter mattered a lot.

That makes me feel kind of sad. Don’t get me wrong – I appreciate Tweets that link to this blog, and I appreciate links from Facebook, too, even if I usually won’t find out what you are writing about there (I’m not facebooking). But the trend seems to indicate that the internet turns from a more public into a growingly privatey-run business. That’s probably not the internet the founding fathers dreamed of.

Woeser found out in December that running an account with Facebook doesn’t make you the owner of that account – well, maybe she knew that all along, but her post came across as somewhat alarmed when she found that what she had reposted on Facebook –  a video of Tibetan Buddhist monk Kalsang Yeshe’s self-immolation that occurred on December 23 […], accompanied by an excerpted report explaining that self-immolation is a tragic, ultimate protest against repression,  had been removed by the company. At any rate, she couldn’t help but suspect that Facebook might be employing “little secretaries”, i. e. censors, just as Sina Weibo does.

Her belief that Chinese dictatorship is manipulating freedom of expression elsewhere, too – i. e. in the West – is understandable, and true to an extent. But internationally, Chinese dictatorship is only one source among several, of censorship and repression, as totalitarian as it may be.

3. Blogs

There’s still a lot of writing going on in the – what was the name again? – English-language Chinese Blogosphere. The nicest surprise this year was the return of EastSouthWestNorth. Obviously, I have no idea if the recent posts, mostly about “Occupy Central”, mark anything more than a stopover, but they are what makes the internet great: raw material, but made intelligible to every user, to work his way through, without easy answers right at his fingertips.

Then there’s Sino-NK. Articles finished and polished, but from a sober perspective, and plowing their way through the past and present of Sino-North Korean relations, rather than leaping at every headline.

Some blogs I used to like are beginning to look like mainstream media, but here is something I’d recommend, to make this three blog recommendations: China Copyright and Media. They do what really needs to be done: they look at the CCP paperwork. That’s no yadayada, that’s the decisions the party is actually taking and never fail to surprise our media when carried out, even though they’ve usually been communicated long before.

I can’t close the blog compartment of this post without a link to that blog post there in Shanghai: the Mother Teresa of the blogosphere, musing about the whereabouts of the legendary Dalai Lama of China blogging.

4. The Big Trend for 2015

It’s not terribly original, but it seems to be obvious. China’s totalitarian skeleton is being refitted with flesh, after a few years of what looks (at hindsight) like a thaw, during the days of the Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao collective troupes. This is now turning into a blend of modernization and personality cult. The slaughterhouse scene heading this post refers to the political death of Zhou Yongkang, and the Great and Impeccable Leader who brought it about. To lose your CCP membership is probably worse than death. If you are a truly faithful Communist, anyway.

Happy new year, everyone!

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.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Blog and Press Review: Budget work reports, Staying Ahead of the Enemy

1. NPC Standing Commission hears Budget and Final Accounts

Xinwen Lianbo, June 24, 2014

NPC standing committee plenary session – click picture for youtube video

In his capacity as China’s top legislator (and CCP Politburo Standing Commission memberZhang Dejiang (张德江) was present at the second plenary meeting of the 12th National People’s Congress’ Standing Committee’s 9th session, reviewing the final accounts of the 2013 budget. CCTV‘s main evening news, Xinwen Lianbo:

The second plenary meeting of the 12th National People’s Congress’ Standing Committee’s 9th session was held in Beijing at the Great Hall of the People, in the afternoon of June 24. Committee chairman Zhang Dejiang attended.

十二届全国人大常委会第九次会议24日下午在北京人民大会堂举行第二次全体会议。张德江委员长出席。

Vice committee chairman Ji Bingxuan chaired the meeting. 162 Standing Committee members were attending, and the quorum as stipulated by law was therefore met.

吉炳轩副委员长主持会议。常委会组成人员162人出席会议,出席人数符合法定人数。

On behalf of the State Council, finance minister Lou Jiwei delivered a report concerning the 2013 central final accounts. In 2013, the central government had overall revenues of 6.02 trillion yuan RMB, achieving 100.2 per cent of the budgeted amount, and an increase of 7.2 per cent over the 2012 budget. Central government expenditure was at 6.85 trillion yuan RMB, or 98.5 per cent of the budgeted amount, an increase of 6.8 per cent. In general terms, the implementation of the central budget had been good, but with some problems. The next steps will emphasize the strong advance of the fiscal and taxation system, close attention to fiscal and tax policies, measures, and implementation, tangible strengthening of local government debt management, and great efforts to consolidate financial and economic order etc..

受国务院委托, 财政部部长楼继伟作了关于2013年中央决算的报告。2013年,中央公共财政收入60198.48亿元,完成预算的100.2%,比2012年增长 7.2%。中央公共财政支出68491.68亿元,完成预算的98.5%,增长6.8%。总的看,中央财政预算执行情况良好,但也存在一些问题。下一步将 重点做好扎实推进财税体制改革,狠抓各项财税政策措施落实,切实加强地方政府性债务管理,大力整饬财经秩序等工作。

On behalf of the State Council, National Audit Office general auditor Liu Jiayi reported the 2013 central budget implementation and other revenue and expenditure audits. After reporting, item by item, central budget revenue and expenditure and final accounts drafts, central financial management, the budget implementation and final accounts at the central government authorities, government debt, key people’s-livelihood projects and mineral resources, state-owned financial institutions, state-owned enterprises and other audits as well as major clues of illegality, he made the following suggestions for the next steps in work improvement: strict financial discipline, tangible administrative achievements in accordance with the law, financial management in accordance with the law, accelerating the transformation of government functions and streamlining administration and delegating powers to the lower levels, deepening the promotion of fiscal and taxation system reform, making efficient use of assets, optimizing structures, and increasing the use efficiency of financial funds.

受国务院委托,审计署审计长刘家义报告了2013年度中央预算执行和其他 财政收支的审计情况。在逐项报告了中央财政预算收支执行及决算草案、中央财政管理、中央部门预算执行和决算草案、政府性债务、重点民生工程及矿产资源、国 有金融机构、国有企业等审计情况及查出的重大违法违规案件线索情况后,报告提出下一步改进工作的意见:严肃财经纪律,切实做到依法行政、依法理财;加快转 变政府职能和简政放权,深入推进财税体制改革;盘活存量、优化结构,提高财政资金使用效益。

The meeting heard National People’s Congress Financial and Economic Affairs Committee deputy chairman Liao Xiaojun’s report on the 2013 central final accounts review. The committee believes that the 2013 central final accounts draft reflects the good implementation of the central budget, and recommended the approval of the draft. As for the problems [the draft] also reflected, the committee suggested to accelerate the promotion of budget system reform, further standardization of budget and final accounts management, the building of a comprehensive governmental debt management system, and the strengthening of auditing and supervision.

会 议听取了全国人大财政经济委员会副主任委员廖晓军作的关于2013年中央决算审查结果的报告。财经委认为,2013年中央决算草案反映了中央预算执行情况 是好的,建议批准该草案。针对反映出的问题,财经委建议加快推进预算制度改革,进一步规范预决算管理,健全政府性债务管理制度,加强审计监督。

On behalf of the State Council, People’s Bank of China deputy governor Liu Shiyu delivered a work report concerning the strengthening of supervising and averting financial crisis. He said that in recent years, in the face of the complications and changes in the international economic situation, downward pressures in the domestic economy had become stronger, the financial crisis had led to accumulated risks, the State Council had issued a number of policies and measures conducive to averting and defusing financial crisis, safeguarding financial stability, and conducive to economic restructuring  and transformation of development methods. [The State Council] had firmly kept to the bottomline of not allowing systemic or regional financial crises. The strengthening and improvement of financial supervision and management and prudent macro-management, the continuous comprehensive promotion of macro-economic stability and a modern financial system that supports substantial economic development.

受国务院委托,中国人民银行副行长刘士余作了关于加强金融监管防范 金融风险工作情况的报告。他说,近年来,针对国际经济形势复杂多变、国内经济下行压力加大、金融风险有所积聚的情况,国务院出台了一系列既有利于防范化解 金融风险、维护金融稳定,又有利于促进经济结构调整和发展方式转变的政策举措,牢牢守住了不发生系统性区域性金融风险的底线。今后,将进一步加强和改善金 融监管和宏观审慎管理,不断健全促进宏观经济稳定、支持实体经济发展的现代金融体系。

Besides playing democracy on Tuesday afternoon, Zhang Dejiang also met the speaker of an elected parliament, Pandikar Amin Mulia from Malaysia.

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Related:

Fiscal target, Shanghai Daily, June 24, 2014
CRI, somewhere in the Budget, June 1, 2012
CRI, a pit of waste, K. Perron, ca. 2012

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2. Staying ahead of the Enemy (in Xinjiang)

Shanghai Daily, on Tuesday, quoted State Internet Information Office (SIIO) spokesman Jiang Jun as telling a press conference that terrorist forces have “turned the Internet into a principal tool for their operations.”

[…] China launched a campaign on Friday to rid the Internet of audio and video materials that promote terrorism and violence. The move is aimed at safeguarding social stability in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and long-term peace, according to the SIIO.

Meantime, authorities on the ground in Xinjiang are victorious, People’s Daily reported on Monday. 96 per cent of “terrorist gangs” had been detected during planning stage (or in their embrionyic stage, 在萌芽状态) and been wiped out (or knocked out, 打掉), “Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region” Public Security Bureau deputy director Wang Qianrong (王谦榕) reportedly told a press conference. High-pressure policing (打高压态势), attacks at first opportunity (主动进攻) and staying ahead of the enemy (先发制敌) had been instrumental in normalizing the situation.

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Related

32nd Ethnic-Unity Education Month, May 3, 2014
Keep calm and carry on, Feb 23, 2014

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3. Staying ahead of the Enemy (in Mainland and Hong Kong)

Despite what organisers called the biggest cyber attack in Hong Kong’s history, hundreds of thousands of people have been able to voice their opinion in an unofficial pro-democracy referendum that started on Friday, the BBC‘s Juliana Liu wrote in the broadcaster’s China blog on Monday. Some 689,000 ballots had been cast on June 23, by 14:00 GMT. It probably helped that 15 polling stations provided opportunities to cast one’s vote in person.

They had a choice between three candidates for the office of Hong Kong Chief Executive.  Occupy Central is the major force between these – unofficial – elections.

The Economist, obviously sympathetic to the elections, warns that in China’s most prosperous city, both sides have a lot to lose and should be looking for a way to climb down. Beijing shouldn’t alienate Hong Kongers who, in a free election, … would have probably chosen a pro-China candidate anyway, but many of whom moved towards the radicals’ camp after a senior mainland fgure talked about dealing with disorder by sending in the Chinese army.

Also on Monday, with the number of votes at 700,000 by then, Foarp notes that to put pressure on a free society [is] liable to back-fire by driving people to the other side. That said, Occupy Central could have made more of the opportunty afforded to them by Beijing’s intransigence. By giving the voters a choice between the central-government proposed system and their democratic cause, the voters’ message could have been made so much clearer.

An unfriendly interpretaton would be that maybe neither Beijing nor Occupy Central want to leave anything to chances. A friendlier one would be that Occupy simply wanted to demonstrate democratic practice. The turnout, anyway, was remarkable – too remarkable to be officially noted in China. The searchword combination 622 Referendum was censored on Sina Weibo as the Occupy referendum approached, Fei Chang Dao noted on Sunday.

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Related

White Paper on HK in full (English)
White Paper on HK in full (Chinese)

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Friday, May 23, 2014

Sino-Russian Shanghai Summit: Natural Gas Deal “supports Russia”, but simultaneous Naval Exercises indicate no Military Alliance

On Tuesday, prospects that Beijing and Moscow would get to an agreement over a natural gas supply treaty after many years of negotiations looked good, according to Victor Larin, Director of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Far East Institute. Societies in both countries were watching the negotiations closely and discussing them “warmly”, said Larin, and situations like these frequently indicated that two sides were close to an agreement. Russia was in a position to provide China with needed energy, and in turn, the treaty would provide Russia with the funding it needed for its own economic development. Larin was quoted by Economic Information Daily (经济参考报, via  People’s Daily, and so was a Russian sinologist whose name would read Bie’erge’er in Chinese. He was quoted as saying that energy cooperation could reach well beyond gas supplies from Russia, and include oil processing, Russian involvement in nuclear power plant construction in China, Russian electricity supplies into China, and cooperation in wind and solar energy development. The main obstacle the sinologist still saw was pricing.

Discussing Russia’s “Looking East”, Larin said that Russia was currently actively developing Siberia’s Far East, and Russia would only be able to make this happen with the help of Asian countries, and particularly with help from China. Russia needed Chinese investment, equipment, and Chinese human resources.

拉林在谈到俄罗斯“向东看”时说,俄罗斯正在积极开发西伯利亚和远东地区,只有依靠亚洲国家特别是中国的帮助,俄罗斯才能实现这一目标,俄罗斯在开发上述地区过程中需要中国的投资、设备和人力资源。

Sina quotes the Chinese website of RIA Novosti on Thursday as reporting that Russia was going to invest 55 billion USD in the implementation of the gas supply treaty, while china would invest 22 billion USD. According to the agreement, Russia will supply China with 38 billion cubic meters of gas over thirty years. The treaty’s overall value is 400 billion USD, RIA/Sina quote Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller.

It took almost a decade to conclude the negotiations, the Washington Post wrote on Wednesday. While Russia believes that gas supplies to China can start in 2018, the Christian Science Monitor quoted a consultant who warned that after the political declarations are made this week, and even if Putin comes home waving a huge new gas deal with China, Gazprom may prove unable to deliver the goods, and that 2020, rather than 2018, might mark the beginning of gas supplies at the earliest. The olifields that would have to serve the contract were running behind schedule, and any diversion of existing supplies to serve the expanding Chinese market risks disrupting ties with another priority customer, Japan. It could become necessary to pipe gas from more distant fields, and in the worst case, a costly measure like that could mean that Russian taxpayers are committed to subsidizing Chinese consumers well into the future.

Sino-Russian naval exercises in the East China Sea are taking place for the third time this year, but without intentions to form a Sino-Russian military alliance, a RIA Novosti report quotes both sides. The exercises began on Tuesday.

Guancha, a Shanghai-based website and therefore at the scene of the Sino-Russian summit, suggests that the 400-billion deal between Beijing and Moscow is “a blow to the West”, or rather, that this was the view of much of European and American public opinion (….. 欧美舆论大多认为,中俄走近对西方来说是个打击). The gas treaty would strengthen Russia’s ability to resist Western pressure. Guancha also quotes the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) as saying that the gas supply treaty provides Russia with support at a time when its relations with the West are worsening. While the EU was looing for gas suppliers beyond Russia, the treaty with China strengthened Russia’s position. (A word of warning: I haven’t found the quoted WSJ article online and can’t tell if Guancha quotes it correctly.)

The support the treaty offers Russia might come at a price – two WSJ reporters took the data available about the treaty on Wednesday and computed an implied price for the gas of about $350 per thousand cubic meters, which would spell a good deal for China. If true, that is – other guesswork quoted in the article suggests that Russia would nearly get 380 USD, i. e. basically what it gets from Europe, too.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Deng Xiaoping’s Southern Tour revisited: “three years after the storm”

From the script of a CCTV “Dialog” (对话) broadcast, either just broadcast or to be broacast shortly, and pre-published by “Guanchazhe” (Shanghai).

[…]

Chen Kaichi
(former chairman of the Guangzhou Consultative Conference and party group secretary):

In the morning of January 1, 1992, at five in the morning, the General Office of the Central Committee of the CCP sent a top-secret telegram to the Guangdong provincial party committee. The telegram was only one-and-a-half lines long and only said that Comrade Xiaoping wanted to come to the South to have a rest, and that the provincial party committee should prepare for a good reception and for security.

It only reached provincial party secretary Comrade Xie Fei after nine a.m., after decryption, and when he saw it, he immediately made a phonecall to ask where I was.

陈开枝(原广州市政协主席、党组书记):1992年元旦的凌晨五点,中共中央办公厅给中共广东省委发了一个绝密电报,这绝密电报只有一行半字,就说中共广东省委小平同志要到南方休息,请你们做好接待,安全工作。

这个电报呢,经过翻译,上午的九点多才送到省委书记谢非同志手上,谢非同志看了电报,就要找我,打电话问我在哪里。

Chen Weihong
(moderator):

Your position at the time was …

陈伟鸿:您当时担任的职务是。

Chen Kaichi:

… provincial party committee deputy secretary general. Back then, there were only few secretary-generals, only one secretary general and one deputy, and I said that I was in Shatou Town, Nanhai. He made me understand the situation by saying that “the old man we’ve been waiting for for so long is to come, please come here very quickly to make the arrangements.

陈开枝:广东省委副秘书长,因为当年那个秘书长很少,只有一正一副,那个我说,我在南海那个沙头镇,他用一名能够听得懂的话跟我说,我们盼望已久的那位老人家要来了,请你赶快来做出安排。

Chen Weihong:

You knew right away what he [Xie Fei] was talking about.

陈伟鸿:你当时心里一下子就明白,他说的是什么了。


Chen Kaichi:

[I knew it right away] because we had been depressed during those years, hoping that the old man would would come, and also thinking that he would come, because if he didn’t, China’s problems would not be solved.

陈开枝:因为我们这几年太压抑了,早就希望这个老人家要来了,也想到他一定要来了,不来中国的问题不能解决了。

Chen Weihong:

Depressed of what, actually?

陈伟鸿:究竟因为什么而压抑?


Chen Kaichi:

After the 1989 storm, our country was shrouded by a truly dismal atmosphere, when the thoughts from the “left” were comprehensively gaining ground. At that time, people even opposed the introduction of joint ventures, and high-ranking leaders said that joint ventures meant still more capitalism, and they didn’t want it. So, under these circumstances, I didn’t believe the words about “coming to have a rest”.

陈开枝:1989年风波以后,整个我们国家笼罩着一种非常沉闷的气氛,“左”的思想全面抬头,这个时候呢,已经有人连引进三资企业都反对,很高层的领导说多一个三资企业,就多一分资本主义,他说他们不要,所以在这样情况下,说休息,我就绝不相信是来休息的。

[…]

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Chinese Press Review: Syria, very clever

At a moment when everything had seemed to be set for a showdown, things changed dramatically, writes People’s Daily. Yesterday night, Syria officially responded to the international community and said it was willing to hand over all its chemical weapons so as to avoid American attack.  (叙利亚危机剑拔弩张的气氛出现戏剧性变化。
昨日晚间,叙利亚正式回复国际社会,叙利亚愿意交出全部化学武器以换取免遭美国打击。)

After a short account of Kerry’s sudden suggestion on a press conference in London that Syria could only avoid U.S. military strikes by handing over its chemical weapons, and Russian foreign minister Lavrov’s and Syrian foreign minister Mouallem’s statements, amounting to a Syrian willingness to do just that, plus Obama’s ABC interview, People’s Daily quotes an old diplomat and professor, Zhou Zunnan (周尊南) of the Chinese Foreign Affairs University, in an interview with the “International Financial Journal”:

Russia is very clever. They have successfully used diplomatic techniques, and the important thing is that in the current situation, with all the different parties’ interveaved interests, this is a “good move” [in a game of chess].  On the one hand, America gets under international pressure by gradually lowering other countries’ support for unilateral American war, and on the other, objectively, Russia showed support for Syria, perhaps implicating that “no matter if you use force or if you don’t, we will stand on Syria’s side.”

“俄罗斯很聪明,他们成功利用了外交技巧,重要的是,在目前各方面利益交织的格局下,这是一步‘好棋’。”老外交官、外交学院教授周尊南对《国际金融报》记者表示,“一方面,美国会陷入国际压力,进一步压低其他国家对美国单方面发动战争的支持度;另一方面,俄罗斯客观上表达了对叙利亚的支持,言外之意可能是‘不管你动不动武,我都会站在叙利亚’这边。”

People’s Daily is hedging its bets, regarding the likelihood of open American military intervention. From the Third Middle-East War (meaning the Six-Day War) to Syria’s occupation of Lebanon in 1976, and to Syria’s “flirting glances” (与伊朗保持“眉来眼去”的关系) with Iran, things had put this Middle-Eastern country’s relations with Western countries “out of sorts”, the paper writes. In the latest stage of the Syrian conflict, America had sought an “pretext” (quotation marks by People’s Daily), which was the chemical weapons.  There were several indications, People’s Daily quotes Zhou Zunnan (周尊南), still from the “International Financial Journal”, that the issue of chemical weapons was just an excuse. It would have looked bad to take military action against Syria before the UN inspectors delivered their findings, and besides, Russia had borrowed the position Kerry stated in London, Syria had cleverly strengthened its alliance with Russia, thus putting America into a difficult position. A third problem was American public opinion, according to Zhou.

And after all, the situation was complicated: Turkey would have to forget about a four-country economy including Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, if the Assad stepped down. And Russia’s only naval base in the Mediterranean was Tartus, in Syria. Syria was at the center of solving or mishandling the big Middle-Eastern issues.

Referring to further sources, People’s Daily suggests that oil prices had to be critical factors in Washington’s deliberations, too – with repercussions for the U.S economy. And still, this could also help America to replace the Middle East as the world’s center of energy sources, with an impact on countries depending on those, such as China and India. Therefore, the possibility of military action could not be ruled out. People’s Daily quotes a Russian political scientist (波利卡诺夫) who was also quoted by Xinhua a day earlier as suggesting that the military strikes were only delayed, but had not been stopped by Moscow’s and Damascus’ decisions.

Even China wasn’t on the sidelines in Syria, writes People’s Daily.  Syria had maintained close oil trade with China, and Chinese state-owned energy companies had business in Syria. A SINOPEC spokesperson is quoted as saying (again from “International Financial Journal”) that his company had temporarily closed their branch company in Syria, with most of the staff returning to Beijing, and some staying in Lebanon. Despite all the emphasis on diversification, about fifty percent of China’s crude oil imports were still coming from the Middle East, an expert from the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) is quoted.

Economics aside, People’s Daily concludes, there had also been a close Sino-Syrian relationship in other fields. Reports say that when China was treated unfairly in the international arena, it could always count on Syrian support.

This is about as far as official Chinese media go in their support for Damascus. Voicing official or semi-official positions is frequently the job of high-ranking academics, when Zhongnanhai prefers to remain silent or low-key. Zhou Zunnan’s comments in the “International Financial Journal”, which is in fact a branch of People’s Daily itself, probably play this kind of role.

On September 4, another academic, Li Shaoxian (李绍先) of the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, was quoted by Huanqiu Shibao with a rather candid statement (which may or may not mirror the official Chinese position, obviously):

Besides, Li Shaoxian believes that, when Bashar al-Assad said that China and Russia were Syria’s allies, that was the great banner used as a tiger-skin [a way to impress enemies]. China wasn’t Syria’s ally.  “Although China and Russia both insist on a peaceful solution and both oppose foreign military intervention, Russia has major actual interests in Syria to protect, while China’s interests in Syria are small.”

李绍先还认为,叙利亚总统巴沙尔说中国、俄罗斯是其盟友的说法是“拉大旗作虎皮”,中国不是巴沙尔的盟友。
“尽管中俄对坚持和平解决、反对外来军事干预是一致的,但中俄的考虑并不完全一致,俄罗斯在叙利亚有重大的现实利益要保护,而中国在叙利亚的利益很少”。

____________

Related

» Netzschau (German blog), Sept 10, 2013
» Less than 40 percent, Global Times, Dec 12, 2011

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