Posts tagged ‘shock and awe’

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Weekend Links: Western Linguistic Manipulation, Destabilizing Russian Propaganda

Bicycles in Bremen-Sebaldsbrück, August 2015

“The world is upside down”,
said the wrong-way driver

1. China wants an Apology from the Japanese Emperor

That’s what Xinhua demanded on Tuesday, anyway: “Injustice has a source, a loan has a lender” (冤有头,债有主).

2. China wants North Korea to shut up

That’s because North Korea wanted South Korean loudspeakers to shut up. That has now happened, but on Monday, the loudspeaker crisis wasn’t yet resolved, and that was terrible, because South Korean president Park Geun-hye considered to stay at home in Seoul, due to the bad political weather on the Korean peninsula, rather than attending the PLA military parade on September 3.

Korean tensions won’t take China hostage, announced the “Global Times”, the quasi-Chinese parallel universe for foreigners who don’t understand Chinese, suspecting that certain forces in Pyongyang, Seoul, or outside the peninsula are gambling on this. Sino-NK compares the article in English and its – somewhat different – Chinese original.

The anger was actually understandable, as sino-narcissistic as it may have been. After all, Park’s attendance – now (re)confirmed – lends a lot of face to the parade of an army which actually had comparatively little to do with the defeat of Japanese imperialism, as Taiwanese president (and former KMT chairman) Ma Ying-jeou pointed out last month.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon can hardly be considered one of the certain forces in Pyongyang, Seoul, or outside the peninsula anyway. According to Reuters, citing Xinhua, he has defended his trip to Beijing next week to watch a military parade marking the end of World War Two following concern from Japan. Ban is scheduled to attend the sublime distortion of history, too.

Ban defended his planned attendance in Beijing next week after Japan’s foreign ministry had sent a message to the United Nations, saying that the events draw attention to the past for no purpose and that the United Nations should remain neutral, and a senior ministry official expressed strong dissatisfaction with Ban’s plan to observe the military parade in Tiananmen Square.

Tokyo’s top diplomats apparently felt an urgent need to prove that you don’t need to be Xinhua to talk like a wide-mouth frog.

3. China wants to cast off Western Linguistic Manipulation

This is what Huanqiu Shibao, translated and quoted by Fei Chang Dao, actually meant in its editorial on Thursday: a need to cast off Western linguistic manipulations and steer clear of the linguistic traps that they set when it comes to democratic concepts. CCP democratic practice proves that most “lingustic traps” are digital these days.

4. India is a Victim of such Manipulation

No, Mao Siwei, a former consul-general to Kolkata, doesn’t say that. He only suggests that India’s political system has (or leads to) problems, with all important legislation stalled in parliament. And he doesn’t even say that. He only quotes a Times of India editorial that says so.

5. How Marco Rubio would “deal with China”

On the basis of strength and example, of course, like any presidential candidate, prior to entering the White House and inheriting his predecessors desk (and files). Marco Rubio‘s first goal – repeat: first goal – would be to restore America’s strategic advantage in the Pacific. How so? By restoring the Pentagon’s budget to its appropriate level, of course:

This will allow us to neutralize China’s rapidly growing capabilities in every strategic realm, including air, sea, ground, cyber space and even outer space.


I will also promote collaboration among our allies, as America cannot and need not bear the full burden of counterbalancing China’s power.

Well, some of them will be in Beijing on Thursday, saying Hello to the victorious “People’s Liberation Army”. Maybe Rubio should first ask America’s quasi-allies in East Asia what they are going to spend on their countries’ military. Hegemony is unsustainable. Partnership might work.

6. Contested Economist Obituary of Tashi Tsering

The Economist published an obituary on Tashi on December 20 last year, and Woeser, who apparently furnished the news magazine with a photo taken by her husband Wang Lixiong ten years earlier, took issue with several points of the article. A few days after the Economist’s publication, she had recorded her objections. High Peaks Pure Earth offers an English translation. (Btw, Woeser also unveils the identity of the author of the Economist’s obituary – as a rule, authors remain anonymous there. The Economist explains why.)

7. Women can’t keep a Secret secret

Hilary Clinton can’t, Woeser can’t (see previous note, re the Economist’s Tashi Tsering obituary and its now uncovered author), and nor can Ambassador Caroline Kennedy.

Anyway, who cares. In the digital age, secrets are rapidly going out of fashion.

8. No “Russia Today” Rep Office in Latvia

According to Delfi, a Baltic online publication quoted by Euromaidan Press, the Latvian Registry of Enterprises denied permission to RT, saying that “the documents submitted by Russia Today contradict the Constitution of Latvia as well as several other laws”. Seconding the decision, the National Council of Electronic Media in Latvia reportedly alleged that the goal of the Russia Today Russian state news agency is to spread biased information in the information space to support the interests of Russia’s foreign policy.

A People’s Daily article in April suggested that the European Union was on the defensive in a “propaganda war” with Russia.

A rapid-response team to counter the destabilizing influence of Russian propaganda is now being established by the European Service of Foreign Affairs, writes Euromaidan Press.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Some of this Week’s Links: Heroes and Ultra-Vulgar Butchers

1. “All of them are Heroes” – a Soundbyte and its Story

A Hong Kong television station had a small scoop of sorts, or so it seems to feel to both the station, and to Xinhua. They [update: the HK tv station, that is] conducted an apparent surprise interview with Chinese chief state councillor Li Keqiang. This is how Xinhua reported the encounter, apparently on the same day.

According to the Weibo channel of Xinhua newsagency’s Xinhua Viewpoint program, chief state councillor Li Keqiang, on a visit to the injured at Tianjin Taida Hospital, was abruptly approached by a Hong Kong journalist who, using his cell-phone camera, asked minute questions about “unlisted firefighters”. The chief state councillor interrupted his walk and said that the active-service and non-active-service rescuers had all received training, were all fully aware that the fireground was dangerous, but had all left the danger to themselves. Their sacrifices are saddening us. All of them are heroes, and there are no “unlisted” heroes!


Unlisted apparently refers to contract firefighters.

The Nanfang also gave a description of the interview, and linked to the tv station’s video (edited or not, can’t judge that) of it. There seems to be nothing extraordinary about the interview by international standards, and the crucial soundbyte – that all of them are heroes, and there are no unlisted heroscomes at 1′ 14”. Li Keqiang also thanked the reporter “for asking this question and showing your concern for the injured”.

2. “Drawing Profits from selling Ranks and Titles (in Zhongmou)

Some estimates say that the number of rights lawyers has grown from just a handful to […] over a thousand, Yaxue Cao and Yaqiu Wang write in a China Change post published on Wednesday. Going through a July-19 article by China News Service (CNS, 中国新闻社), linked to from the China Change article, you might get the impressoin that corruption charges may not only be politically motivated when brought against party flies or tigers, but they are also weapons in efforts to smear dissidents’ reputation. That may look pretty obvious anyway, but I’ve only become aware of it when reading

For the foreign, language-learning reader, the profitable thing about official lampoons like the one from CNS is that they usually come with some proverbs or classical references. It makes an – otherwise possibly unpleasant – treatise catchy, and helps to create the impression that the propaganda were handed out by trustworthy people.

A short taster from the CNS article:

According to police information, Zhou Shifeng, Wang Yu and other persons formed criminal gangs with Fengrui Law Office as a platform. Since July 2012, they have plotted in more than forty cases and incidents, waving sensational flags about “rights”, “the public good”, etc., seizing the opportunity of becoming famous and of drawing profits from Zhongmou.


Liu Sixin, administrative assistant at said law office, explains that Zhou Sifeng usually likes to recruit three kinds of people: those who dare to speak out, those who dare to act, and those who dare to hype issues, like “ultra-vulgar butcher” Wu Gan and Zhou himself. The second kind is people who hail from the petitional system and from the media, such as Huang Liqun, Xie Yuandong, etc.. And then there are so-called “die-hard” lawyers like Wang Yu, Wang Quanzhang who like to be defenders in sensitive incidents.


The China Change post lists forteen rights lawyers and their stories.

3. Farting Snakes

And to end on a super-vulgar note today: did you know that a snake has an ass?

Now you know. Happy weekend.


» Crackdown intensifies, CS Monitor, July 13, 2015


Sunday, July 5, 2015

Refined Propaganda: China’s “National Security Law”, and PLA Exercise in Hong Kong

CCTV coverage, July 4

See what happens? – Xinwen Lianbo, CCTV, July 4.
The exercise didn’t feature
prominently in the broadcast,
and was only shown among a
collection of short news
owards the end of the program.



“People’s Liberation Army” (PLA) troops stationed in Hong Kong conducted a military exercise at Castle Peak (青山, Green Hill) on Saturday morning, China News Service (CNS, 中国新闻网) reported on the same day. More than 500 Hong Kongers “from all walks of life” were invited as guests, according to the report. An imaginary enemy was occupying twelve successive mountain hills there, according to the screenplay, looking for opportunities to infiltrate the city area and to do damage there (训练场内,依次相连的12个山头被一股假想敌占据。指挥所、迫击炮阵地、地堡工事,假想敌在高地构筑阵地,企图伺机对香港市区实施渗透破坏).  It was the PLA’s task to “annihilate them on the spot”, before they could enter the city (在他们尚未进入市区之前,解放军需要将其就地歼灭).

If the CNS report (whose audience will be mainly mainlanders) reflects what the invited Hong Kongers felt, it was as much a revolutionary opera as an exercise:

In the morning at 10:50, three signal lights rose into the air, and the long-awaited PLA-simulated naval gunfire was opened. At command, the enemy targets were shrouded in smoke.


The turns of firepower attacks didn’t stop. Armed helicopters had just taken off, when mortar bombs arrived at high speed. As the flight speed was too fast, and as the sunlight hampered the eye, the trajectories weren’t clearly visible, but explosions, one to another, could be seen on the opposite hilltop. Six rounds of ten mortars firing, and the enemy targets had suffered heavy destruction.


You can probably imagine the rest.

Either the SCMP reporter, the CNS correspondent or this blogger’s translation has got some details wrong though. According to the SCMP, it wasn’t six mortars, but six military helicopters that were mobilised fired on targets set up on the mountain from distances of about 1km.

Either way, the SCMP quotes former Hong Kong security chief Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee (叶刘淑仪) as saying that

I don’t think we need to read too much into the timing. I think the garrison has a duty to assure us that they are well-prepared and ready to defend Hong Kong if there is any threat to our security

Her comments referred to a possible link between the exercise, and a sweeping and controversial national security law, passed by China’s “National People’s Congress” three days earlier.

Apparently, the guests did the propaganda work within Hong Kong, telling the SCMP reporter that the timing of the exercise was unimportant, and that the PLA was merely trying to show Hong Kong that it had the power to protect the city.

Radio Free Asia (RFA), a US broadcaster supervised by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), points out that the exercise on Saturday had been the first time that the PLA troops stationed in Hong Kong had invited media and guests. Two of these, Regina Ip, Ma Dingsheng (马鼎盛, apparently a Fenghuang/Phoenix-affiliated miltary commentator from Hong Kong), are quoted both by the SCMP, and RFA.

The Economist points out that state security is a job for the top, conveying

the remarkable range of Mr Xi’s worries, with potential threats seen to be emanating from sources as diverse as the internet, culture, education and outer space.

While the vagueness of the “national security law passed in Beijing could be followed by detailed regulations later, it was unlikely that its key terms will ever be defined more precisely. To Mr Xi, vagueness is a useful weapon.

There could be a little relief in Hong Kong, however, the Economist adds, given that the bill would not be applied in the territory.

That said, the bill isn’t lacking ambition outside mainland China. Ît obliges not only Hong Kong or Macau, but Taiwan, too, to defend China’s sovereignty, notes the SCMP. Huanqiu Shibao (环球时报, in an article rendered here by Sina), notes that the passing of the “National Security Law” had ccaused shock in Hong Kong and Taiwan (全国人大常委会高票通过新的国家安全法,在香港和台湾引发震撼).

The Huanqiu article suggests – without becoming to specific about this question – that worries in Hong Kong that people seen as daring oppositionals like Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) could be arrested when visiting mainland China were unfounded, as the bill was not applied in Hong Kong for the time being (即使法律暂时不在香港执行).

There were, of course, many people in Hong Kong who welcomed the new state security law, Huanqiu adds. But the article also quotes BBC coverage according to which the government and the public in Taiwan (literally: the court and the commonality, 台湾朝野一致反对大陆新国安法) unanimously opposed the bill.

The propaganda approach is pretty global, and China appears to have learned a lot from the Western political class, in terms of more refined propaganda. Pretty much the way most of Germany’s mainstream media make people believe that Greece’s political class and activists are pampered (and costly, for Germans) idiots, Huanqiu fosters a climate in which mainlanders will no longer ask why the liberties customary in Hong Kong shouldn’t be applied in mainland China, but rather, why there should be “special treatment” for anyone within “Greater China”.



» One Movement, two Pictures, Nov 27, 2014


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Oh Come All Ye Faithful: Mao Zedong’s 119th Birthday

In Shaoshan, countless people sang “The East is Red” together to mark Comrade Mao Zedong‘s 119th birthday, notes People’s Daily online. Another activity on December 25 was a fitness marathon, in reply to Mao’s call to “develop sports to strengthen the people’s physical shape”. Nearly ten-thousand people from provincial departments colleges and universities, and from all over the province (i. e. Hunan Province) reportedly participated.

Follow the star over Shaoshan town.

Follow the star over Shaoshan town.

Another lot of countless people probably didn’t care, unless they absolutely had to. And the article in question was written by a fairly productive (judging by search results) trainee, or an intern.  To her glory, the short article is carried by many mainstream websites, too.

How can a party that claims have been the faithful inheritor and advocate of the outstanding traditional Chinese culture from the day of its establishment celebrate a barbarian mass killer?

There may be many reasons, but two seem to come to my mind. For one, they have to celebrate him. To admit that he had been a liability through most of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s would call the party’s legitimacy into question. After all, they enabled him.

And secondly, because maybe, Mao isn’t that much of a liability when it comes to party rule. Under the Great Helmsman’s correct leadership, 70-percent-correct leadership or whatever kind of leadership, the Communists showed the people what they were capable of. No, I’m not thinking about literacy statistics here, but about shock and awe. When a younger generation became somewhat forgetful, only twelve or thirteen years after Mao’s death, they got another – comparatively small – reminder of what the CCP can do for them.

And many people inside and outside China keep saying that the Tian-An-Men massacre in 1989 was a “necessity”.

But these two reasons alone basically seem to guarantee that China can’t develop genuine “soft power”. There may be soft power over some of our elites in Europe, for example, especially when they are tired of the cumbersome business of democracy – especially elections.

But no “ordinary people” in their right minds can subscribe to concepts like those.



» Convivial Diplomacy (2009), Febr 20, 2012
» Message to a Barbarian, June 26, 2011


Friday, November 11, 2011

When the Heavens won’t Respond: the World’s “most useless Husband”

Once in a while, when violent behavior, no matter of which kind, is criticized, I’ll disagree. Children shouldn’t be considered tin-pot if they engage in a brawl once in a while, for example. But most parents and schools teach children in ways which suggest that violence is an absolute “no”. In certain circles here in Germany, you’d rather be supposed to crap on your boss’ desk, than join a fight – even if you didn’t start it yourself.

There are more gruesome things than having a fight, of course. Stuff like this: a wife gets beaten and raped, and her husband does nothing about it.

That – reportedly – is the story of Wang Juan (王娟, pseudonym), a 29-year old woman from Bao’an District in Shenzhen, and her husband Yang Wu (杨武, also a pseudonym).

ChinaSmack has a collection of Wang’s Yang Wu’s self-criticisms. Self-criticism is the only way to deflect formal or informal anger to some extent – it is hard to tell how much of it reflects genuine feelings, and how much of it is part of the ritual.

Everyone seems to be an expert on cowardice these days (if the media are something to go by) – the asked or unasked question seems to be “what kind of people we are”, especially when the talk is about what Wang Yang Wu wanted to do to the rapist (to get a knife and hack him to death), and what he didn’t dare to do, because he was too afraid.

His wife had been beaten up by the same man before, according to Nanfang Daily, by a man who was – reportedly – a member of the Public Order Joint-Defense forces (治安联防队) named Yang Xili (杨喜利, I’m not sure if this is a pseudonym, too), and when Yang added rape to the abuse, on October 23, he had brought two accomplices with him, according to an interview Nanfang Daily did with Wang Yang Wu. All that is still under investigation, and it is rarely pointed out that Yang Xili, too, is a suspect so far, but not a convict. A blogger who did point that out also referred to Yang Wu and Yang Xili as classmates, and the bullying history is said to date back to their schooldays.

During previous attacks, Wang Yang Wu had never resisted Yang’s Yang Xili’s attacks either. On October 23, when his wife was raped, he was hiding a few meters away from the scene of the crime. He – also reportedly – called the police an hour after Yang [Xili] and his accomplices had left.

Yang Xili, the alleged perpetrator, had claimed that he was closely connected to the police, Wang Yang Wu told Nanfang Daily, and he believed what Yang [Xili] said. Resistance seemed to make no sense. Besides,

My personality is also to resign myself to abuse, always afraid of trouble ever since I was small, putting up with everything.

From what I’ve heard experts (psychologists etc.) say, this isn’t necessarily exceptional. To different degrees, human beings may be shell-shocked, or frozen with fear, and unable to act in defense of themselves or someone else when the need arises. They seem to become absolutely passive, probably as if they were cats, taken by the skin of their neck.

I don’t think that any man would want to face this kind of test. A small man may rise above himself, and a big man may shrink below his usual strength in extreme moments. Whoever tells me that he knows for sure that he’d be a better man in this kind of situation looks unreliable to me, because he simply can’t know. But maybe this worrying uncertainty is exactly why there seems to be no mercy for Wang Yang Wu. The media print big pictures of his face, with tears running from his eyes, and snot streaming from his nose. Not even China National Radio (CNR), a state broadcaster, could bring itself to do without this kind of footage.

Yet CNR tries to explain the case. The Yang Wu case is typical (杨武事件具有典型性), their topical webpage explains:

What Yang Wu’s family encountered is the tragedy of many nobodies at the bottom of our society. They are powerless, and on an occurence will frequently cry out to heaven – but the heavens won’t respond, and the earth will be impervious. Facing outrageous  people who are holding power and bully them, they can only submit to the humiliation. There is nothing untypical about this.


Plus, the case reflects the terrible deterioration of the social and legal environment (案件反应了社会法治环境的恶劣).

But even if some of the analysis is surprisingly candid, and throws much of the blame piled on the victims right back onto their neighborhood, lines about particular (or exceptional) areas where “violence management” had become an important tool for the solution to management problems (在个别地方,“管理暴力”已经成为解决一些管理难点的重要手段) seems to hail right from the recently emerged CCP concept of “social management”, which may apply to channeling public feelings when it comes to conflicts between locals and migrant workers, obstinate independent candidates who try to run for local people’s congresses, or to Granny Ji when she is in need of affordable housing, close to the city center.

A state broadcaster simply needs to depend on some advice that speaks with authority.

And if the story needs to end with lines like these –

But a healthy society’s value lies in its ability to provide comprehensive protection to its citizens

– something must be wrong with it. In every society, there will be situations where state protection isn’t available, even if its absence may only last for a short time. To train the vulnerable to take a metal pipe and to beat a perpetrator up by themselves (and to train their neighbors to join an honest neighbor once the perpetrator comes back with reinforcements) should be part of the security package, too.

That’s particularly true for a country like China. Belief in state power to protect the vulnerable there is a pipe dream. But if it’s a pipe dream there, proscription of every  kind of violence in Germany is a miscalulation. Sometimes, violence can be very healthy.



» A Shame, but not on Them, Chai Jing / ESWN, November 10, 2011
» My fearful Country, March 19, 2011
» Facing Mount Kenya (aka The Gentlemen of the Jungle), Yomo Kenyatta, 1938


Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Trip to Beijing: There and Back Again

There are rules.

There are rules.

Beijing is the place every good Chinese citizen longs for. Every good patriot (and that would be more than one billion people outside the capital), wants to stand at on Tian An Men Square, at least once in his or her life, and attend the flag-raising ceremony.

But there’s more to Beijing. With luck, a traveller may be in for an impressive demonstration of what’s going on behind the scenes.

The BBC:

A Chinese tourist was badly beaten up after being mistaken for a petitioner who wanted to lobby the authorities in Beijing, state media report.

Zhao Zhipei and three others were dragged from a hotel and bundled into a van before being dumped in their home province of Henan.

Mr Zhao was later found unconscious on a road in Luoyang city [that was back in Henan Province]. The case caused anger on China’s social media sites.

Six local officials have been punished for the beating, state media said.

According to Hangzhou Web (杭州网), five others were beaten up along with Zhao Zhipei (赵志斐), by unidentified persons (不明身份人士), who reportedly were a security company’s employees.

Police in Luoyang told Beijing News that “perhaps the wrong person was caught”.

MyLaowai, aka The Mother Teresa of the Blogosphere, would hardly agree. After (reportedly) being unfair to some fellow travellers on a plane, he defended his conduct this way:

Well, you’d be right. But this is the Chinese Way. It’s the basis upon which their entire society is structured. I merely played their own game, though of course, as a Laowai, I played it better than they did.

Hopefully, Zhao made it to the flag-raising ceremony on Tian-An-Men Square before re-epiphinating in his home province. His trip reportedly ended on the second day of his stay in Beijing, before the crack of dawn.



» Gang then, Dynasty now, May 12, 2010
» One of BeiDa’s Humorous Professors, April 11, 2009


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Date for Your Diary: China Liberation Day, August 29, 1842

John Platt: "The signing and sealing of the Treaty of Nanking", Wikimedia Commons

John Platt: "The signing and sealing of the Treaty of Nanking", Wikimedia Commons

Now that the festive days of Peaceful-Tibet-Liberation commemorations are slowly drawing to a close, let’s get prepared for August 29. On that day in 1842, a number of ancestors of whoever is going to read this dealt feudalism in China a lasting blow.

It was a day in history when the world gasped in admiration. Let us never forget that without Europe, there would be no new China – 没有欧洲就没有新中国.

This is the irrefutable truth, and a proud day to remember for all benign and progressive forces, in China and abroad.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Nuking North Korea: from Tennessee with Love

I’m not sure what to make of the smoldering war in Korea yet, but nuclear broadsides against North Korea right away if they start anything looks somewhat hasty to me. Actually, they’ve started something already, and if Glenn Reynolds (this dignified professor from Tennessee, I believe) wants to nuke them for that, it’s now time for him to produce his little black suitcase.

Lionel Beehner and Nuno Monteiro on the other hand – academics, too – would rather sleep on it for another night.


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