Posts tagged ‘Tibet’

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Tibetan Society Abroad

Guess where that picture was taken. The landscape might look Tibetan (to untrained eyes like mine, anyway), so does the building, and, obviously, the traditionally-dressed man in front of the building, anyway. But it is a scene from the U.S. state of Minnesota, and the photo is part of a Hampshire College student’s final year project – Tibetan migrants in the USA, and how they maintain their traditional way of life, or aspects of it.

More information about the project there.

Tibetan society and culture is extremely underreported, online and in the printed press. To make things worse, when you want to read Tibetan online sources, Google Translate doesn’t offer translations. Every bit of information in English helps.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Monthly Summary: March 2015 – Death of a China Expert

Bremen, East of Central Station, March 26, 2015

Bremen, East of Central Station, March 26, 2015

1. How’s your Weibo going?

Mainland regulators say people will be able to have nicknames – they will just have to register them with website administrators first,

the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported in January.

The rule apparently took effect on March 1, but yours truly, himself running a Sina Weibo profile, hasn’t been contacted yet.(Having said that, it’s a very low profile – I’m reading there, but I’ve never posted anything myself.)

Either way, it’s »not »the »first try by the authorities to control or to intimidate the microbloggers, and time will show how serious they are this time.

Either way, ways appear to have been found to spoil much of the interest in microblogging.

2. Rectifying Political Ideology at Universities

That blog by Fei Chang Dao was posted on February 25, but it’s probably as important in March and in future. Even if you read no other China blog, make sure you read Fei Chang Dao, and China Copyright and Media, for that matter. What they cover matters much more than the not-really-uncertain fate of Zhou Yongkang – if you want to understaaaaand China.

3. Kailash Calling

Travelling Tibet can be an easy affair, or it can be cumbersome. It might depend on who you are, and where you come from. Here’s an account of scuffproof cheerfulness and patience.

4. “Two Meetings”

The annual tale of two meetings has come to its serene conclusion again this year, with China’s new normal. Just to have mentioned that, too.

5. Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)

The Economist suggested in November that

China will use the new bank to expand its influence at the expense of America and Japan, Asia’s established powers. China’s decision to fund a new multilateral bank rather than give more to existing ones reflects its exasperation with the glacial pace of global economic governance reform. The same motivation lies behind the New Development Bank established by the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). Although China is the biggest economy in Asia, the ADB is dominated by Japan; Japan’s voting share is more than twice China’s and the bank’s president has always been Japanese. Reforms to give China a little more say at the International Monetary Fund have been delayed for years, and even if they go through America will still retain far more power. China is, understandably, impatient for change. It is therefore taking matters into its own hands.

The “People’s Daily” suggests that the AIIB is intended to be complementary to top dogs like the World Bank or the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Britain, France, Germany and Italy are European countries that want to be founding members of the AIIB, the British move (which came first in Europe, it seems) angered Washington, a so far reluctant Japanese government may still be persuaded to join the Beijing-led project, and Huanqiu Shibao quotes Russian foreign multimedia platform Sputnik as quoting an analyst as saying that America, too, might still join, so as to hamper China’s influence that way.

6. In Defense of the Constitution: Are you mad?

Taiwan’s president Ma Ying-jeou appeared to question the mental faculties of a Fulbright exchange academic who had asked if the KMT couldn’t drop its claims in the South China Sea.

“Are you mad?”, asked the president – reportedly -, then adding that abandoning those claims would be unconstitutional. He’s also said to have reacted somewhat wooden in another exchange with Fulbright scholars, on the same occasion, March 19.

7. Lee Kuan Yew, 1923 – 2015

Ma’s prayers for Lee Kuan Yew‘s early recovery weren’t terribly successful either; Singapore’s elder statesman died from pneumonia after weeks in hospital. Lee had his admirers both in China and Taiwan, especially for very low levels of corruption in Singapore, and apparently, he had a admirer at the American top, too. Probably no great surprise for John McCain or the tea partisans.

According to “People’s Daily”, Lee was a China expert and a West expert. According to other sources, he appeared to be a democracy expert, too (but he denied that claim).

In an apparently rather terse statement, Benjamin Pwee (方月光), secretary general of the Democratic Progressive Party of Singapore (one of several opposition parties, but neither of them influential in Singapore’s flawed democracy) said that

all great leaders are still people, and inevitably, one can find words of praise and of contempt. But at this time of national grief, let’s remember the contributions he made for the people of Singapore, and affirm his contributions.

“所有伟大的领导人毕竟都是人,难免可褒可贬。但在这个举国哀悼之际,让我们记得他为国人做所的贡献,肯定他的贡献。”

Singapore’s authorities closed the “Speakers Corner” at Hong Lim Park on Monday, for an undefined period. Reportedly, truly “free speech” never really ruled there, anyway.

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Related

想要更多政治空間和言論自由, CNA, March 23, 2015

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Saturday, February 14, 2015

Xi Jinping’s Sentimental Tour: How Yellow was my Hometown

1. Li Keqiang, visiting the Poor

The days before Spring Festival are times to be nice: to visit old cadres and to show how much their past work is still cherished, to harmonize human existence with the surrounding environment, to transfer some bad elements to the other side of the cupboard, and to show care for the poor.

The latter two points are particularly important if you are a cadre, or a politician in a wider sense.

Hence, CCP politburo permanent member and Chief State Councillor Li Keqiang (李克强, also referred to as “premier”), reportedly headed to Liping County in Guizhou province on Friday, to visit Pudong (蒲洞村), a village with a share of 43 percent poor people, with an annual net income of 2,160 Yuan RMB, and many housewalls open to the wind from all four directions. Obviously, he didn’t come empty-handed, but handing over salted fish and other goods to a Dong family as new-year gifts – stuff he had bought in a supermarket in the morning, according to Xinhua. The high-ranking visitor tested the quality of drinking water in the village (mindful of his working report in 2014 that had promised to solve the drinking water safety issues of 60 million citizens, visited what might best be translated as the village’s hygiene room (basic medical services), enquired if public subsidies for the village medical services had actually been applied right there, discussed employment opportunities and repayment problems with students who returned to their native village after completing their studies, and worked his way through other ostensibly spontaneous items of inspection.

Xinhua article there, related pictures there, there, there, and there.

2. Xi Jinping’s Fond Memories of the 1960s

However, the task of being folksy has not completely moved from CCP secretary general Xi Jinping to Li Keqiang, who is generally considered ranking second among the members of the politburo’s standing committee. While Li travelled Guizhou, Xi visited Liangjiahe village in Shaanxi province, also on Friday.


Sina coverage: Xi Jinping and Peng Liyuan visiting the Yan’an brigade’s old base

At noon, the tranquil village of Liangjiahe suddenly began to simmer with excitement.

Xi Jinping has returned!

The secretary-general has come!

中午时分,安静的梁家河村一下子沸腾了。

“近平回来了!”

“总书记来了!”

You get the picture.

According to biography, Xi Jinping had spent about seven years there, leading a tough, simple life as a teenage worker.

The Xinhua article goes across a number of webpages and describes Xi Jinping’s bittersweet – but above all sweet, in case of a doubt – memories. How he became a real man during those years in Shaanxi. The title chosen by Xinhua: The Son of the Yellow Soil is coming Home.

All that had been part of the Down-to-the-Countryside movement and the “Cultural Revolution”. Xi Jinping’s father, Xi Zhongxun, was in jail at the time.

3. 102nd Anniversary of Tibetan Declaration of Independence commemorated

On Friday, Tibetan exiles in North America and Europe commemorate the 13th Dalai Lama’s declaration of Tibetan independence, 102 years ago, reports Voice of Tibet (VoT), a Norway-based website and shortwave radio station. More than sixty exiles and supporters held a demonstration in front of the Chinese embassy in Paris, according to the report. Demonstrations reportedly also took place on Times Square, New York, and in Toronto. The station also reported commemorative activities in Dharamsala, and in New Delhi.

Radio Free Asia (RFA) also covered the activities, and suggests that the 13th Dalai Lama’s declaration initiated a period of almost four decades of self-rule that ended when Chinese troops marched into the Himalayan region in 1949. RFA also mentions the current (and 14th) Dalai Lama’s “middle-way” policy which accepts Tibet’s present status as a part of China while regularly urging greater cultural, religious, and political freedoms for the Tibetan people.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Chinese Press Review: “a Principled Stance against Terrorism”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[…]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

中方坚决反对一切形式的恐怖主义,支持法方为维护国家安全所做努力。

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

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

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

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Footnotes

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

____________

Related

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

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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, December 17, 2014

VoT: Tibetan Student beaten to Death after Village “Elections”

A young Tibetan student was beaten to death in Dari County, southeastern Qinghai province, earlier this month, according to Voice of Tibet (VoT), a Norwegian-based radio station and website.A two-committee “election” held in Dari County on December 7 reportedly led to clashes, after Communist cadres or employees had forcibly demanded (强制要求) that Tibetans vote a Han Chinese candidate ito office, in accordance with the authorities’ prior arrangements.

Thirteen persons were arrested and interrogated. On December 10, the student was brutally beaten and died on the afternoon of December 11, in the county hospital, according to VoT.

Dari County, which is part of Golog (or Guoluo, 果洛州) Tibetan “Autonomous” Prefecture, is described by VoT as Tibetan territory. Much of Qinghai, a province established by the KMT government in 1928, was once Tibetan.

Contact, a magazine published in Dharamsala, reported on Monday that the student’s name was Karmey, and that he died aged twenty-two.

In September, the International Campaign for Tibet published what appear to be regulations issued by the Chinese authorities. These were said to be in force in Ngari Prefecture, western Tibet. Different ways of “maintaining stability” are apparently taken in different places.

Village-level “elections” are ostensible means of “democratization”, a process apparently started by Chinese central legislation in 1987.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Quick Review: Princess Cheng, the Dalai Lama, and the Motherpapers

Stay away from blogging for a fortnight, and you will miss out on a lot of news. Here are some that caught my attention during the past two weeks, without time to blog about them, let alone making a real translation of it.

1. This Land is my Land: Princess Wencheng, from Tang China to Tibet

Wang Lixiong, a Chinese tibetologist, described his take on the Tang Dynasty’s motives to get Princess Wencheng married to then Tibetan King King Songtsän Gampo.

Wang’s take is that the mere fact that you marry one of your princesses to the ruler of a distant land still doesn’t make that ruler’s land your land. If and how far his view may differ from the narratives Chinese propaganda has spread abroad successfully, would take a good translation of the entire blogpost, as published by Tsering Woeser, on October 23.

2. That Land is China’s Land: no Entry into South Africa for Dalai Lama

I’m wondering if the Dalai Lama expects to see the country of South Africa in his lifetime. Chinafile collected some links and reactions to this most recent – apparent – refusal from Pretoria to grant Tibet’s spiritual leader a visa.

Pretoria reportedly also blocked a Dalai Lama visit in March 2009. Less than two month later, then South African minister for International Relations Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said that the Dalai Lama could now visit South Africa any time he wanted.

Anyway. So far, it hasn’t happened.

one_hundred_fake_euros

3. What shall we do with the Motherpapers?

Nothing, says China Media Project (CMP), Hong Kong, a website observing the mainland Chinese media scene.

Not if it is about People’s Daily, the mother of all motherpapers, anyway. Motherpapers, writes CMP, usually get their budgets right from the Chinese Communist Party, and may also be supported by their child papers (which are more commercial, carry more advertising, and may have more interested readers). Because you can’t discuss the real challenges in China.

Personal note: I’m sometimes criticized by Chinese people for reading People’s Daily or other orthodox stuff, and for watching Xinwen Lianbo, the main CCTV news broadcast. There are so many more interesting media, they say.

Which is true. But as the CCP never invites me to their schooling sessions, not even on village level, motherpapers and CCTV is all I can get for my better information about how the party is ticking.

There’s still more stuff I (just as superficially) read during the second half of October, but I might still get round to them in some more detail.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Sunday/Monday Links: Taiwan’s foreign Trade, Scotland’s Referendum, Ilham Tohti on trial, and Taiwan’s President losing it

Off into another week (a week actually starts on a Sunday)

Off into another week (a week actually starts on a Sunday)

1. Taiwan

William T. Wilson, a researcher with the Heritage Foundation’s Asian Studies Center, and a regular advocate of “free trade”, warns that bilateral or multilateral international trade agreements tend to lock Taiwan out, and increase Taiwan’s economic dependence on China. Wilson recommends that America should launch formal discussions of a bilateral investment agreement (BIA) with Taiwan as soon as possible.

Obviously, Wilson has his eyes firmly set on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), a project often described as an impeccable motor of future global economic growth, but also frequently criticised for levering out democratic principles, not least as TPP prescribes a right for foreign companies in member countries to sue national governments under international law (which would make domestic legislation count very little).

2. The usual Suspects

Chinese internet administration has shut nearly 1.8 million user accounts in what is called a pornography crackdown, reports Reuters.

3. Scottish Referendum

Foarp breathes a sigh of relief as the United Kingdom stays united, after days of unease.

The Financial Times had celebrated the referendum as a very civilized struggle (in English on September 12) or as a civilized struggle between unity and independence (in Chinese on September 16). The author was Mure Dickie. That was too much for Beijing – the referendum was, of course, deemed an internal UK matter by official China, but Dickie got a (semi-official – my take of it) reply from Zhi Zhenfeng (支振锋) of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).

Yes, it was surprising that the UK was willing to let eight percent of the population and about a third of the territory go peacefully, and the consultative, democratic and peaceful procedure deserved praise. In 19th-century America, a referendum had been replied to by war, and the Crimea referendum in March had been carried out under very different circumstances. All that made the British tolerance displayed in the referendum a precious thing.

However, that didn’t make the referendum a great example for the rest of the world. It did reflect particular Western values, which had brought Europe huge technological and economic progress (besides religious wars and separatist chaos), but even in Europe, the referendum was a contested approach, and even within the West, not every referendum and its results had been accepted peacefully. All too often, people in the West had been unable to foresee the long-term effects of their purportedly rational choices.

4. Ilham Tohti on Trial

Ilham Tohti, an Uighur economics professor, is reportedly on trial now, according to China Change, who published excerpts of an account written by Tsering Woeser, a Tibetan writer and a friend of Ilham Tohti. Tohti had been arrested in Beijing in January this year, and his whereabouts had been unknown afterwards.

5. Ma Ying-jeou’s 19th-Plenary-Session speech on September 14

And as this collection of links starts with Taiwan, let’s take a look at what Taiwan Explorer, usually not a terribly “political” blog, has to say about Ma Ying-jeou, Taiwan’s president who has moved into the third year of his second term in office this year.

Ma is president on the KMT ticket, and his party, if his comments during the KMT’s 19th Plenary Session are anything to go by, is quite afraid of the oppositional DPP. But electoral behavior in Taiwan looks somewhat mysterious, at least to me as an outsider. Only four months after having voted Ma into office for a second term, the president’s support and satisfaction rates dropped to numbers between 15 to 22 per cent, and it seems they never really recovered since. Indeed, Ma appears to be completely unable to understand his country’s public.

Nanfang Shuo (aka Wang Hsing-ching / 王杏慶), predicted in summer 2011 that word-games were no solution for the problems that lying ahead if Ma would win a second term as president. Ma’s speech a week ago seems to suggest that he won’t abandon the word games during his remaining time in office – but by now, they appear to have become offensive.

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