Posts tagged ‘spring’

Monday, April 10, 2017

This Blog is turning Nine

I wouldn’t have been aware of it, but the WordPress stats informed me that I wrote my first blogpost nine years ago. Nine years of decline, if you go by the statistics.

No, not quite. 2011 was the maximum years in terms of clicks (they didn’t count visitors back then), and 2012 was a close second. In 2013, clicks halved, and since then, there has been a gentle descent.

And it’s a sad fact that in all these years, there hasn’t been a single reader from Greenland, from a number of African countries, and from Svalbard. Not according to these statistics, anyway.

Top-five countries: America, Australia, Germany, United Kingdom, and Taiwan.

Top-five posts: China: authoritarian or totalitarian? / China – a nation state? / Reality check: is Taiwan a province of China? / The BBC Globescan poll champion / How ugly sex and dogs can be.

WordPress is a great platform. Hopefully, it will remain the place for many good bloggers and blogs for the years to come.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Populism in China (1): The Downfall of Bo Xilai

There is no Weltinnenpolitik yet, but there are cross-civilizational trends.

The City of Red Songs

There would be no second chance. Gerhard Schröder, former chancellor of Germany, was in a hurry in June 2011, on the sidelines of a forum in southwestern China’s metropolis of Chongqing. He was therefore lacking the time to attend one of the red-song nights that were customary there. But he still pleased his interlocutors with a German proverb: Where people sing, you can settle down – wicked people sing no songs.

In full, the red-songs custom advocated by Chongqing’s party chief Bo Xilai was Singing revolutionary songs, Reading classic books, telling stories and spreading mottos. There would be nine more months of that before Bo Xilai was toppled by his CCP comrades.

A Hudong article explained the activity at the time. It was a mass concept, started in Chongqing in 2008, which was greeted with enthusiasm there, and elsewhere in China. The concept wasn’t outdated, because

if a country and a nation have no correct thought and advanced culture, it will lose its backbone. The current deep changes of the economic system, the structure of society, and the profound adjustment of interest patterns must be reflected in the ideological field. There is diversity in peoples’ minds, and although the mainstream is positive and healthy, while some peoples’ material life conditions have improved, spiritual life is somewhat empty. To change that condition, and to ensure a safe passing of the torch in the cause of the party and the country, the red flag must be righteously upheld, the ideology of Marxism must be consolidated in its guiding position within the ideological field, and the attractiveness and the cohesive power of socialist ideology must be strengthened.

一个国家和民族没有正确的思想、先进的文化,就会失掉主心骨。当前,经济体制深刻变革、社会结构深刻变动、利益格局深刻调整,必然反映到意识形态领域。人们的思想日趋多元多变多样,虽然主流积极健康向上,但一些人物质生活改善了,精神生活却有些空虚。为了彻底改变这种状况,保证党和国家的事业薪火相传,必须理直气壮地举红旗,不断巩固马克思主义在意识形态领域的指导地位,增强社会主义意识形态的吸引力和凝聚力。[Links within these lines omitted.]

According to the HuDong article, CCP politbureau member and Chongqing party secretary Bo Xilai (薄熙来) had deplored the phenomenon of young people who sang decadent songs (唱 .. 靡靡之音, chàng mímí zhī yīn), who were reading “fast-food” kinds of literature (读 .. 快餐文化, dú kuàicān wénhuà), told “low and vulgar stories” (讲 .. 低俗故事, jiǎng dīsú gùshì), and “spread pornographic or dull scripts/pieces” (传 .. 黄段子、灰段子, chuán huáng duànzi, huī duànzi).

So, apparently, there were dirty songs, too. Maybe things weren’t as simple as Schröder had believed. At least one  reader and forum commenter of China’s Huanqiu Shibao didn’t trust Schröder’s expertise and wrote:

OK, listen [to the red songs], you won’t comprehend them anyway. It will be as if you were listening to folk songs.

听吧,反正听不懂,就当听民歌了

The “Chongqing Model” was controversial, at least in the perceivable medial public of China. The party elite wasn’t entirely in love with Bo’s pretentious neo-Maoism. A vice president of Law School at China University of Political Science and Law was quoted by the English-language party mouthpiece “Global Times”:

There have been 104,000 “Red Song Concerts” in Chongqing, with 80 million participants. It cost 1,500 yuan ($231) per person for onsite renting and costume expenses, 210 million yuan in total. Adding in the offwork compensation and transportation the final cost is 270 billion [sic – probably means million – JR] yuan. Why don’t they use the money for health insurance?

Bo Xilai’s “Populism”, 2007 – 2012

At the grassroots, however, Bo’s leadership style appears to have worked (maybe it still does). The Chongqing Model wasn’t just about folklore, red or otherwise.

Chongqing (Sichuan province) residents set off firecrackers today, celebrating the execution of the provincial-level city’s former chief justice Wen Qiang (文强), cqnews.net reported in July 2010. The Wall Street Journal explained:

Wen Qiang was put to death following the rejection in May by China’s Supreme Court of an appeal of his conviction on charges including bribery, shielding criminal gangs, rape and inability to account for millions of dollars in cash and assets, according to Xinhua news agency. Xinhua didn’t say how Mr. Wen was executed.

Punching black crime and uprooting vice (拳打黑除恶) was the name of the campaign that cost Wen his life – according to the historical records as Bo would have it, he and his police chief Wang Lijun not only battled against gangs, but infiltrated cadres, too.

The now defunct website Chinageeks published an English translation of Zhang Wen, a former chief editor of the Xinhua magazine Globe:

Bo Xilai and the “northeast tiger” Wang Lijun entered Chongqing and started a war and began a “battling corruption and evil” movement that has gradually begun to spread nationwide and worldwide. This action is in line with the people’s wishes, and at the same time, also in line with what central authorities wish.

At first, the public opinion was very one-sided; no one could find any fault with Bo. The controversy and difference of opinions came with the case of Li Zhuang. Proponents of the democratic rule of law questioned and criticized the legality of Chongqing [court] proceedings, but Bo Xilai’s supporters hold that punishing lawyers who defend “bad people” is appropriate.

Bo Xilai’s wife Gu Kailai is a high-level lawyer who has been working for many years. The two have been together for many years and Bo himself was once the head of the Ministry of Commerce, and thus often negotiated international legal issues with foreign opponents. Because of this, Bo Xilai should have a solid conception and knowledge of the law.

But in the end, in the Li Zhuang case, the organs of justice in Chongqing left a bad impression that they might violate legal procedures. Precisely because of this, some people’s opinions on Bo Xilai changed dramatically. I myself once wrote an essay expressing pity that Bo Xilai hadn’t turned out to be the sort of high-quality modern politician [we had hoped].

Chongqing was a small pond for a big fish – Bo Xilai appeared to have hoped for a permanent seat in the CCP’s central politburo, but landed the job as party secretary of Chongqing instead. Chongqing wasn’t an insignificant city, but it was far from where central Chinese power was. Only an alernate politburo membership linked him to Beijing. From 2008, his Maoist song events raised nationwide attention, and even beyond China – Henry Kissinger apparently leapt at the chance Schröder had missed.

In 2011, Bo Xilai started his second campaign for a permanent seat at the CCP’s top table. While the Economist found Bo’s style refreshing, it noted nervously that

The region’s party chief, Bo Xilai, is campaigning for a place on the Politburo Standing Committee in next year’s leadership shuffle. He looks likely to succeed. Like every other Chinese politician since 1949, he avoids stating his ambitions openly, but his courting of the media and his attempts to woo the public leave no one in any doubt. Mr Bo’s upfront style is a radical departure from the backroom politicking that has long been the hallmark of Communist rule and would seem like a refreshing change, were it not that some  of his supporters see him as the Vladimir Putin of China. Mr Bo is a populist with an iron fist. He has waged the biggest crackdown on mafia-style gangs in his country in recent years. He has also been trying to foster a mini-cult of Mao, perhaps in an effort to appeal to those who are disillusioned with China’s cut-throat capitalism.

Bo didn’t appear to aim for the top job as secretary general, the Economist noted, as that position appeared to have been reserved for Xi Jinping. Indeed, Xi succeeded Hu Jintao as party secretary general in autumn 2012, and as state chairman in March 2013.

Bo Xilai’s plans didn’t work that smoothly. In November 2011, a British citizen, Neil Heywood, died in a hotel in Chongqing. Given that Chinese courts don’t work independently from the party, the circumstances of his death can’t be considered resolved. A Chinese court found Gu Kailai, Bo Xilai’s wife, guilty of killing Heywood, and after only one day in court, she got a suspended death sentence.

The BBC‘s China editor Carrie Gracie tried to shed light on the circumstances of Bo Xilai’s rise and fall, and the role Heywood’s death played in the latter, but didn’t find too many interlocutors. Instead, she presented a Rocky Horror Picture Show of elite power struggles with Chinese characteristics. Bo Xilai as the avenger of the common man, a crashing, media-savvy scourge of organized crime, who addressed the public directly, without party media filtering. That hadn’t happened since Mao’s days – “think Donald Trump”.

With support from local police chief Wang Lijun, who fancied leading roles in martial-arts television, too, Bo had exercised a regime that labeled opponents as mafiosi and not only jailed them, but expropriated them too, in favor of Chongqing’s budgets.

It isn’t contested that Bo Xilai and Wang Lijun prosecuted the real or supposed gangsters’ advocates, too, with questionable means. Gracie quotes one of these advocates, Li Zhuang (see above, Zhang Wen’s criticism of Bo Xilai), as Li describes how he was arrested by Wang Lijun personally:

The scene was so over-the-top, loads of police cars surrounding the plane, riot police in helmets and camouflage, armed with submachine guns. I asked, “Why the big show? Is it Obama’s state visit or are you capturing Osama Bin Laden?”

We were surrounded by a huge scrum of reporters. He wanted to show his authority on camera. He was in a trench coat, hands in his pockets. He said: “Li Zhuang, we meet again.”

There were admirers of Bo and Wang, there were critics and enemies, and there were people who detested the two. But at the grassroots, the fans appeared to be numerous. According to Gracie, there are still many.

Making inconvenient lawyers disappear was no unique feature of Bo Xilai, however. The party leadership with Xi Jinping at the core has been proving for years that to them, the rule of law is a theroretical nicety they may or may not care about.

Gracie reduces the causes of conflict between the noisy polit-soloist Bo Xilai and the basically “collectivist” leadership in Beijing on a personal rivalry between princeling Bo and princeling Xi.

Certainly, top politicians’ egos can hardly be overestimated, and when they are Chinese, ostentatious modesty shouldn’t fool anyone.

But Xi alone wouldn’t have gotten Bo under control. Neither with the sudden Neil-Heywood scandal – that became known as the Wang-Lijun incident in China after the police chief fled into the next US consulate and being passed on to the central authorities from there (but only after having spilled the beans). Nor otherwise.

The question suggests itself if Bo Xilai’s career wasn’t finished in summer 2011 anyway, given wide-spread disapproval among the party elite, of his egotistic leadership style in Chongqing.

“Unity is strength” was one of the “red songs” Bo Xilai had them sing in Chongqing (above: October 8, 2009). But it wasn’t only the Xi faction that saw a lack of just that on Bo’s part. Bo was putting himself forward, and that had been a taboo during all the post-Mao years.

He didn’t denigrate his leading comrades – appearances like that of Donald Trump as a campaigner, cursing fellow members of his political class, would have been inconceivable. But putting himself into the limelight (and casting it away from others) amounted to the same thing, by Chinese standards. Besides, given his anti-corruption renown, sanctimonious as it may have been, could have threatened his “comrades”. A tribun within their ranks – that couldn’t work.

Xi Jinping and his predecessor Hu Jintao are said to be rivals. But within the Hu camp, Bo’s populism didn’t seem to resonate either. On the contrary: Wen Jiabao, chief state councillor (aka “prime minister”) during the Hu Jintao era, had been a tireless, even if unsuccessful, advocate of political reform, way beyond economics or technology.

At a press conference in March 2012, after the closing ceremony of the annual “parliament” plenary sessions, Wen warned that China wasn’t immune against another cultural revolution. That John Garnaut, an Australian correspondent in Beijing, got the opportunity to talk with Hu Dehua, one of Hu Yaobang’s sons, may also count as an indication that the comparatively liberal factions in the party leadership were at least as sick of Bo Xilai’s revolutionary operas, as were the Xi supporters.

Garnaut, two weeks after Wen’s press conference, in an indirect account of his conversation with Hu Dehua*):

Hu Dehua told his father how pessimistic he felt about his country’s future. Hu Yaobang agreed that the methods and ideologies of the 1987 anti-liberalization movement came straight from the Cultural Revolution. But he told his son to gain some historical perspective, and reminded him that Chinese people were not joining in the elite power games as they had 20 years before. He called the anti-liberalization campaign a “medium-sized cultural revolution” and warned that a small cultural revolution would no doubt follow, Hu Dehua told me. As society developed, Hu Yaobang told his son, the middle and little cultural revolutions would gradually fade from history’s stage.

From there, everything went fast. Still in March, Bo was dismissed as Chongqing’s party chief. He also lost his alternate membership in the politburo. In summer 2012, his wife Gu Kailai got her commuted death sentence, and in September 2013, Bo was sentenced to life in prison – based on the usual charges for unrigged politicians: corruption.

Is there a Chongqing Heritage?

At first glance, Bo Xilai’s “populism” or “Maoism” is finished. But Bo counted as a champion of many Chinese from the political left. A comment in German weekly Die Zeit, in September 2013, saw the verdict against Bo as a signal from the top that resistance against economic reform was futile.

To assess Bo Xilai’s political heritage objectively. The CCP may be beyond the era when beaten opponents were airbrushed from all photos and records. But the question about how publicly or privately-owned China’s economy should be might impose itself with any questions about Bo Xilai, and the now seven-member standing committee of the politburo can’t use such questions.

A political scientist of Beijing University, He Weifang (贺卫方), hinted at problems in assessing the Chongqing Model’s performance, from 2007 to 2012:

It is generally believed that the so-called “Chongqing Model” is mainly shaped by three aspects: “red culture” on the political level, “targeted actions against dark and evil forces in Chongqing“, and the reduction of the income gaps between the poor and the rich. The most criticized aspects are the former two, although there is support for the two of them in Chongqing and elsewhere. The third aspect isn’t that controversial. However, all data published concerning the efficiency of the measures taken to narrow the income gap are actually issued by the Chongqing authorities, and therefore lacking neutral assessment. Also, we can see that the whole process is strongly government-led, whose focus isn’t on creating a market logic of equal opportunities. If this approach will or will not lead to mistakes in financial policies, including the rural land policies‘ impartiality, is also questionable. And then there are concerns about life today being lead on future earnings, short-term inputs being made to curry favor with the public, which may come at high future costs.

答:一般认为,所谓的重庆模式主要由三方面内容构成:政治层面上的红色文化,执法层面上的“打黑除恶”以及民生方面的缩小贫富差距。最受诟病的是前两者,虽然在重庆和其他地方,似乎也有一些人人对于“唱红”和“打黑”表达支持。第三方面内容相对较少争议。不过,那些举措究竟对于缩小贫富差距产生了怎样的效果,目前得到的信息都是由重庆当局发布的,缺少中立的评估。另外,我们可以看到整个过程是在政府强势主导下进行的,其重点并非创造机会均等的市场逻辑。这种做法是否会带来财政决策中的失误,包括重庆所推行的农村土地政策的公正性,都是大可怀疑的。还有寅吃卯粮的隐忧,短期内的高投入讨好了民众,但是却需要未来付出巨大的代价。

If Bo Xilai was a populist, one of Donald Trump’s kind, or Putin’s, or Neil Farage’s, or whoever, one has to ask oneself how much influence he has maintained over Chinese politics to this day. After all, populists like Geert Wilders aren’t ineffective, merely because they can’t lay their hands on the imperial regalia.

When looking at European populism – that’s only a snapshot, of course -, one can get the impression that populists may not be elected, but they do leave marks on politics, from Merkel’s Willkommenskultur back to the traditional Christian Democrats’ policies, and Britain’s Brexit, implemented not by its original proponents, but by Theresa May, who had used to be a lukewarm supporter of Britain’s EU membership.

Populism is hardly ever the common peoples’ business, but that of the elites. The battles are fought within the political class, as observed by Hu Yaobang in the late 1980s. That is about as true in Europe. However, these battles within the superstructure may create or intensify certain trends in the public mood – and once policies have moved sufficiently into the “populist” direction, the support for these parties wanes, and the electorate turns back to the long-established parties. After all, Joe Blow doesn’t want to look like an extremist.

When Xi Jinping announced China’s new role as a guardian of free trade at the Davos forum in January, German Handelsblatt China correspondent Stephan Scheuer hailed the party and state leader’s “dressing-down for populists”. In Davos, Xi had become “a pioneer of fair-minded globalization”.

What could be beginning to show in China is a comparatively strong Maoist component in propaganda, as long as this doesn’t come at the cost of China’s privileged, and as long as this doesn’t require substantial reallocation of means or wealth to poor classes of population, or laggard regions. But whenever the name “Bo Xilai” should appear in any token event, the exorcists will be just around the corner.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Li Keqiang’s Consolation Tour: addressing Unpaid-Wage issues

The State Council’s (or Chinese government) website carried an article about a visit by Chief State Councillor Li Keqiang to Yunnan Province, some five days ahead of Spring Festival. The article contains a photo, apparently showing Li comforting a migrant worker’s family in their home.

Homestory

Homestory

As usual during the season of hope and goodwill, Li has to take care of the darker sides of China’s economic development.

Links within blockquotes added during translation.

On January 23, Li Keqiang came to the newly constructed home of Gan Yonrong’s family, in Ganjiazhai, Ludian County, Yunnan Province. On learning that the young man, who secured a six-person family’s livelihood by working out of town, had seen his wage payments being delayed by more than a year, the chief state councillor became “angry” right away [and said]: He is the family’s main support, and to hurt him means hurting his entire family. This violates market rules, and it violates virtue and conscience even more. There is no way that migrant workers who have to leave their hometown to do hard work should have to add tears to their sweat.

1月23日,李克强来到震后重建的云南鲁甸甘家寨村民甘永荣家。得知小伙子在外打工养活一家6口,却被拖欠一年多工资,总理当即“怒”了:他是家中顶梁柱,伤害他就是伤害他全家。这既违背市场规则,更违背道德良心。决不能让农民工背井离乡流汗再流泪。

On February 3, the first working day after Spring Festival, the State Council’s standing committee was convened, and one of the topics was exactly how to solve migrant workers’ delayed payment with the establishment of an effective system. The meeting decided to launch dedicated regulation and supervision, to focus on exposing typical cases, to seriously investigate illegal behavior of wages arrears, including already recorded cases, and to resolutely strike at the illegal and criminal behavior of evil-intentioned wages arrears. In particular, cases where government project funding delays led to delays in wage payments.

2月3日,春节后的首个工作日,国务院召开常务会议,其中议题之一便是部署建立解决农民工工资拖欠的长效机制。会议决定开展专项整治和督查,集中曝光一批典型案件,严肃查处欠薪违法行为包括欠薪陈案,坚决打击恶意欠薪违法犯罪。尤其要坚决解决涉及政府项目拖欠工程款导致欠薪问题。

[…]

The standing committee’s meeting had been determined by the Chief State Councillor prior to the Spring Festival. On January 23, as Li Keqiang was inspecting post-earthquake reconstruction work in Zhaotong, Yunnan Province, several locals from the disaster area working masses had made their problems with delayed wages known to the Chief State Councillor. On the spot, Li Keqiang instructed the accompanying local and departmental officials in charge that they should help [the workers] with their legal wage demands as quickly as possible, and to investigate the problem. After the Chief State Councillor had spoken, the departments and local officials in charge helped the migrant workers within 48 hours to “discuss” an answer to the delayed wage payments.

事实上,此次常务会议的这一议题安排,本身就是总理春节前确定的。1月23日,李克强在云南昭通考察鲁甸地震灾后重建工作时,当地几位外出打工的灾区群众向总理反映他们遭遇欠薪的问题。李克强当场责令随行的地方和部门负责人,要尽快帮他们依法讨薪,并就此问题进行排查。总理发话后,有关部门和地方48小时后帮助农民工“讨”回欠薪。

“We can’t solve only a small number of cases, but we must build a long-term effective system to solve this chronic evil from the roots.” On the three-day meeting, Li Keqiang said, “governments on all levels must catch up with this over and over again, and grasp it completely!”

“我们不能光是解决几个个案就了事了,而要借此建立起一个长效机制,从根本上解决农民工欠薪这个顽症。”李克强在3日的常务会议上说,“这个问题各级政府一定要反复抓、抓到底!”

The second chapter of the article quotes Li as using the words “anger” (愤怒), “pain” (痛心), and “embarrassment (尴尬)” to describe his feelings in his encounter with the petitioners.

In Ludian, I ran into that migrant worker whose wife had been killed in the earthquake, and his family’s farmland had been lost, too. Now, there’s still the old mother, three sons, and one younger brother who attends upper-mediate school. The entire family depends on the money he earns with his work away from home. He is his family’s backbone!” Li Keqiang said: “Where is the conscience of companies who have the nerves to delay the wages of working masses from disaster areas who have to work away from their hometown?”

“我在鲁甸遇到的那位农民工,妻子在地震中遇难,家里的耕地也。现在家里还有老母亲、三个儿子,和一个正在上高中的弟弟。全家生活就靠他一个人外出打工的收入,他是一家人的顶梁柱啊!”李克强说,“这样的地震灾区的群众外出打工,企业也忍心欠薪,良心何在?”

As he was leaving the home of this migrant worker, Li Keqiang asked people at the public square of the village who had encountered problems with “delayed wages” in reconstruction work. On repeated questions from the Chief State Councillor, several migrant workers hesitantly raised their hands. One of them couldn’t hold back his tears after having spoken two sentences.

他询问大家有多少人外出打工,有多少人遇到了欠薪问题。总理反复询问下,有几位农民工犹犹豫豫地举起了手。一位农民工没说两句,忍不住抹起了眼泪。

Their work’s pay is extremely important for migrant workers. If they don’t get their money, that’s a devastating blow to them!”, Li Keqiang said passionately. “Migrant workers are an important supporting force in the several decades of our country’s rapid development. They have made an enormous contribution to the economic and social development. If their efforts don’t get their appropriate remuneration, it will not only do great damage to their families, but will also bring a vile influence on society.”

“打工的钱对于农民工来讲太重要了。拿不到钱,对他们可以说是毁灭性的打击!”李克强动情地说,“农民工是我们国家几十年快速发展的重要支撑力量,为经济社会发展做出了巨大的贡献。如果他们的辛勤付出得不到应有的回报,不仅会给他们的家庭造成巨大的伤害,也会给社会带来恶劣的影响。”

With added emphasis, he said that this issue was about fairness and justice in society. This is a bottomline which must not be crossed!

他加重语气说,这一问题事关社会公平正义。这是社会底线,决不能突破!

The article’s third and fourth chapters are basically more of the same message, but contain an interesting (to me) bit of vocabulary. Li Keqiang’s inspection tour in Yunnan is referred to as a grassroots-level consolation and inspection tour (基层慰问考察), and the issue of “delayed payment” is linked to emloyment and development policies in general (更加积极的就业政策).

Finally, the article quotes Li as advocating (or prescribing) “not only an implementation of the responsibility of governments of all levels, but to build a coordinating network without barriers between local governments”, given that many cases of wage delays among migrant workers occur “at construction projects” outside the workers’ home provinces.

“People’s Daily” republished the government website’s article, although they left out the photo.

While the government website article, designed for a domestic audience, comes across as somewhat wage (as for the actual effects migrant workers may expect from Li Keqiang’s endeavors), foreign broadcaster China Radio International (CRI) presents the State Council standing committee’s decisions in a much more positive way, at least at first glance.

____________

Related

You name the Problem, Febr 15, 2011
So together with the People, Dec 31, 2010

____________

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Tibetan New Year, and The Role of the Exiles

I’ve known many of you for a long time and now we’re all showing signs of age. I was 24 years old when our exile began and I’m nearly 79 now. Meanwhile the spirit of our people in Tibet is still strong; they have a strength that has been passed down generation to generation. Wherever we are, we shouldn’t forget that we are Tibetans. Those of us in exile number about 150,000, but what is most important is that the spirit of those in Tibet remains alive, they are the bosses. And it’s because of the hope they have placed in us that we have to keep our cause alive.

The Dalai Lama, addressing Tibetans in Los Angeles on Thursday. He is scheduled to celebrate Tibetan New Year on March 2, with the Tibetan American Foundation of Minnesota.

____________

Related

» Zhu Weiqun: keep calm, Feb 23, 2013

____________

Monday, February 10, 2014

And now for the not-so-pleasant Reform Tasks: the Fat Years are Over, Xi Jinping tells Russian TV

The following is a translation of a Xinhua article, as carried by several Chinese websites. Links within blockquote added during translation into English. the article quotes excerpts from an interview conducted between Xi Jinping and Russian television.

The closing remarks by Xi about the end of the pleasant reforms may be, but don’t have to be an indication that times could get tougher for Chinese citizens in economic terms. It may just as well suggest that the task of governing China is becoming more difficult for the leaders, or simply to understate China’s prospects in front of a Russian audience. This kind of “deep sigh” seems to run through the China-related paragraphs of the interview. Either way, the interview has now been published in Chinese online media, too.

From February 6 to 8, Chinese state chairman Xi Jinping went to the southern Russian coastal city of Sochi to attend the opening ceremony of the twenty-second Olympic Games. While in Russia, Xi Jinping also held a bilateral meeting with Russian president Putin. He also gave an interview to Russian television, answering anchor Buliliaofu’s [Chinese phonetics of a Russian name] questions about the Sochi Winter Olympic Games, Sino-Russian relations, the prospects of China’s comprehensive and deepened reform and development, and other questions.

2月6日至8日,中国 国家主席习近平赴俄罗斯南部海滨城市索契出席第二十二届冬季奥林匹克运动会开幕式。在俄期间,习近平还与俄总统普京举行了双边会晤。习近平还接受了俄罗斯 电视台的专访,就索契冬奥会、中俄关系、中国全面深化改革和发展前景等问题回答了主持人布里廖夫提问。

Q: What’s your impression of Sochi?
您对索契的印象如何?

A: This is my first visit to Sochi, but I have heard about Sochi before. When I was young, I read the novel “How the Steel was Tempered”, which Ostrovsky completed right here in Sochi. Legend has it that Prometheus was exiled to the mountains around Sochi, and Sochi has preserved many Roman and Byzantine empire remains, which should tell that Sochi is a city with a time-honored culture.

Sochi’s geographic position is special, in that it belongs to the northernmost region with subtropical climate. From what I have seen and heard here, this is all true. All four seasons of the year are green, the skies and seas are blue, with very good natural alpine ski areas. The people of Sochi are very friendly and hospitable. Sochi is very vital, charming, and the perfect place for holding the Winter Olympic Games. After the Winter Olympic Games, this place will be even better known, and many people, including Chinese tourists, will come here.

这是我第一次来索契,但我对索契早有所闻。我年轻时多次读过《钢铁是怎样炼成的》这本小说,奥斯特洛夫斯基就是在索契完成了这部著作。传说普罗米修斯曾经被禁锢在索契的群山之中,索契保留着不少罗马帝国、拜占庭帝国的遗迹,这足以说明索契是一个历史悠久的文化名城。

索 契地理位置特殊,是地球最北端唯一属于亚热带气候的地区。这次来索契,所见所闻,果然名不虚传。这里四季常绿,蓝蓝的天,蓝蓝的海,有很好的天然高山雪 场。索契人民热情好客。索契很有活力,很有魅力,举办冬奥会再适合不过了。索契冬奥会之后,这里的名声会更大,更多的人包括中国游客会慕名而来。

Q: What are your hopes for the Chinese delegation’s performance during the Sochi Winter Olympics?
您对中国奥运代表团参加索契冬奥会的表现有何期待?

A: China still lags behind in winter sports, especially when it comes to countries that are strong in these fields. In recent years, we have made rather quick progress in ice-skating, with some strengths in free-style skiing. This morning, I met some athletes and coaches of the Chinese sports delegation. The Chinese athletes have made great training efforts, they will carry forward the Olympic spirit, will overcome their selves, go beyond themselves, and develop to their best levels.

Meantime, the Chinese cities of Beijing and Zhangjiakou  have officially put forward their joint application to the International Olympic Committee to host the 2022 Winter Olympic Games. We are also here to learn from the Russian people, from the Russian athletes, from the strong Russian sports disciplines, and the successful Russian methodology in holding the Winter Olympic Games.

中国冬季运动项 目特别是滑雪项目竞技水平同冰雪运动强国相比还有较大差距。近些年,我们在滑冰项目上进步较快,在自由式滑雪空中技巧等项目上具备一定实力。今天上午,我 见了中国体育代表团部分运动员、教练员。中国运动员为参加索契冬奥会做了艰苦训练,他们会发扬奥林匹克精神,努力战胜自我、超越自我,发挥自己的最好水 平。

同时,中国北京市联合张家口市已经向国际奥委会正式提出申办2022年冬奥会,我们也是来向俄罗斯人民学习的,向俄罗斯运动员学习,向俄罗斯的体育强项学习,向俄罗斯举办冬奥会的成功做法学习。

Q: You will soon have served as China’s state chairman for a year. How does it feel to be the leader of such a big country?
您担任中国国家主席快一年了,领导中国这么大的国家,您的感受是什么?

A: China is a country with a territory of 9.6 million square kilometers, fifty-six nationalities, 1.3 billion inhabitants, with a level of economic development that isn’t very high so far, with the people’s standard of living also not being very high yet. To govern such a country isn’t easy. One has to have a long-term perspective, but be down-to-earth, too. In the past, I have worked in many different places in China. I know very well that from China’s east to its west, from the local to the central level, the differences are too big. Therefore, to be a Chinese leader, one has to understand the issues clearly, to make overall plans while taking all factors into consideration, to maintain an overlall balance, to highlight the key issues, [to mobilize what is pivotal?] , and sometimes, you have to drop small things to grasp big things, […], or figuratively speaking, it takes ten fingers to play the piano.

中国有960万平方公里国土,56个民族,13亿多人口,经济社会发展水平还不高,人民生活水平也还不高,治理这样一个国家很不容易,必须登高望远,同时 必须脚踏实地。我曾在中国不同地方长期工作,深知中国从东部到西部,从地方到中央,各地各层级方方面面的差异太大了。因此,在中国当领导人,必须在把情况 搞清楚的基础上,统筹兼顾、综合平衡,突出重点、带动全局,有的时候要抓大放小、以大兼小,有的时候又要以小带大、小中见大,形象地说,就是要十个指头弹 钢琴。

Q: Last year, when you had just become state chairman, the first country you visited was Russia. This year, right after New Year, the first country you visit is once again Russia. The Russian people feel heartened by this. What were your considerations when making this decision?
去年您就任国家主席后,出访首选国家就是俄罗斯,今年新年伊始,您出访仍首选俄罗斯,对此俄罗斯人民倍感振奋。请问您作出这样的决定有何考虑?

A: Yesterday, I looked back together with President Putin, during our meeting. I am very satisfied with the development of Sino-Russian relations. This is a time when the development of Sino-Russian relations has the most solid foundations, the highest degree of mutual trust, and the greatest degree of regional and global influence. Visits between friends narrow distance, between relatives bring closeness. Holding the Winter Olympic Games is a happy occasion for Russia, and a great event for the international Olympic movement. China and Russia are good neighbors, good friends, and good partners. I and President Putin are old friends. According to the tradition of Chinese people, when neighbors and friends have a happy occasion at their homes, one obviously wants to congratulate and to participate together with the Russian people.

昨天,我同普京总统会晤时共同作了回顾。我对中俄关系发展取得的成果十分满意。当前中俄关系发展是基础最牢、互信最高、地区和国际影响最大的一个时期。

亲戚越走越亲,朋友越走越近。举办冬奥会是俄罗斯的喜事,也是国际奥林匹克运动的盛事。中俄是好邻居、好朋友、好伙伴,我和普京总统是老朋友了。按照中国人的传统,邻居和朋友家里办喜事,当然要来贺喜,同俄罗斯人民共襄盛举。

Q: The 18th central committee’s third plenary session passed the decision to comprehensively deepen reform and on several other important issues. You are the head of the leading group [or steering group, 领导小组]. What is your governing philosophy?

中共十八届三中全会通过了关于全面深化改革若干重大问题的决定,您本人担任全面深化改革领导小组组长。请问您的执政理念是什么?

A: To focus the abilities to promote reform, we have formed the central leading group for the comprehensive deepening of reform, headed by me. The task is to unify, deploy and to coordinate some important issues. I have called this “one-tenth deployment, nine-tenths implementation”.

In a country like China with 1.3 billion people, it isn’t easy to deepen reform. After 30 years of reform, China has entered the deep water [or blue water], and all the pleasant reforms have been completed. The delicious meat has been eaten, and what is still on the dishes are rather tough bones. This requires our courage, and steady moves. Courage means to push reform even when it is difficult, and to prove worthy, to tackle the hard bones, and to enter dangerous shoals. Steadiness is about keeping to the accurate direction, driving steadily, and, above all, to avoid disruptive mistakes.

To summarize my governing philosophy, it is to serve the people and to assume the responsibilities that are my duties.

为了集中力量推进改革,我们成立了中央全面深化改革领导小组,由我本人担任组长,任务就是统一部署和协调一些重大问题,再把工作任务分解下去逐一落实。我把这叫作“一分部署,九分落实”。

在中国这样一个拥有13亿多人口的国家深化改革,绝非易事。中国改革经过30多年,已进入深水区,可以说,容易的、皆大欢喜的改革已经完成了, 好吃的肉都吃掉了,剩下的都是难啃的硬骨头。这就要求我们胆子要大、步子要稳。胆子要大,就是改革再难也要向前推进,敢于担当,敢于啃硬骨头,敢于涉险 滩。步子要稳,就是方向一定要准,行驶一定要稳,尤其是不能犯颠覆性错误。

我的执政理念,概括起来说就是:为人民服务,担当起该担当的责任。

Monday, February 3, 2014

CCTV Chunwan Gala: Probably not Doing as Bad as Reported

Global Voices had an article a few days ago, on Chinese TV’s (CCTV) New Year’s Gala show, broadcast last Thursday night local time. It’s often been said that the show is losing its former luster. That may be true. But I seem to be getting some hunches that the decline of the show is often overstated.

For one, views expressed on the internet are overstated. The Global Voices article suggests that, according to a recent survey, nearly 60 percent of the viewers were extremely disappointed in the program this year. True, but these sixty percent of viewers expressed their view on the internet, according to the source quoted there. 21,721 people apparently participated in the online survey, and they judged not the show itself, but rather the list of scheduled events during the show.

That said, the show, first broadcast on New Year’s Eve in 1983, is losing appeal, even according to a survey quoted by China Radio International (CRI). The poll in question is said to have been conducted by China Youth Daily on February 28 – i. e., also a vote on the schedule than on the show as aired. 55.4 percent found that the show was outdated. 102,791 people reportedly participated in the China-Youth-Daily survey.

I’m even suggesting that many of the young today who detest the show may get to like it as they grow older and become more conservative. From a demographic perspective, China isn’t a young country anymore, and it is greying rapidly.

All the same, Global Voices offers a summary of the gala which is worth reading. The intentions behind the production are probably interpreted fairly accurately, and two videos are included as samples.

The complete show will be somewhere on the internet.

____________

Related

» An estimated 700 mn, BBC blog, Jan 31, 2014
» How boring, “Global Times”, Jan 28, 2014
» No toothless Rocker, Jan 18, 2014

____________

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Seasons: Cool May, some Rainy Days in June

This could become a rather wet summer.

This could become a rather wet summer.

Make rain your friend ...

Make rain your friend …

... not your enemy.

… not your enemy.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Third Year of Gardening

Every year, some more square meters of the thick lawn are turning grey as I’m digging it over. Lots of couch grass in between, but I’m in no mood of using herbicides.

cat in the sun

There’s nothing like the warmth of dug-up earth …

five cats on the window ledge

… except bird-spotting from the window ledge, maybe.

____________

Related

» Spring by Day, April 3, 2013

____________

%d bloggers like this: