Posts tagged ‘Twitter’

Monday, October 17, 2022

CPC’s 20th National Congress: “The Party will never degenerate”

2,300 delegates were supposed to attend in February, more precisely, according to Li Keqiang (main link) on Saturday morning, the number was 2,296, plus particular invitees (特邀代表), that would be 2,379 delegates, minus 39 delegates having asked for leave because of illness, i. e. 2,340 delegates present there.

“Major-power diplomacy with Chinese characteristics to be unfolded in a comprehensive way” was unfolded by Xi Jinping himself in his work report. You should be forgiven if you think that this is about Chinese consuls-general tweeting about how America bombs and China helps Africa, or how their tummies bulged with pride when Xi Jinping told the party’s national congress that Taiwaners had no right to be free when 1.4 million Chinese were not.

But major-power diplomacy with Chinese characteristics isn’t a diplomatic market-economy product – it was produced at home in Beijing, by the 19th Central Committee’s Sixth Plenary Session (according to their communiqué in November 2021).

Condensed self-flattery concerning the party’s “zero-Covid” policy (which probably didn’t go down as well with the audience outside the “Great Hall of the People” as other parts of Xi’s speech), and this.

We have kept nailing the nails, thus correcting and punishing the “four winds”, opposed the idea and phenomenon of privileges, stopped some unhealthy trends that hadn’t been brought to a halt for a long time, and investigated and punished obstinate chronic diseases which hadn’t been eliminated for many years. We have fought an unprecedented fight against corruption, and by “offending thousands, and living up to the 1.4 billion” [Chinese people], we have fulfilled our mission to dispel the disease and disorder. The multi-pronged struggle against corruption, by beating the tigers, swatting the flies and hunting the foxes, has achieved an overwhelming victory and overall consolidation, eliminating the serious hidden dangers within the party, the state, and the military. By uncompromising efforts, the party found self-revolution, thus escaping the historical cycle of order and chaos, of rise and fall, for a second time. This has made sure that the party will never degenerate, never change color, never change smell.
我们以钉钉子精神纠治“四风”,反对特权思想和特权现象,刹住了一些长期没有刹住的歪风,纠治了一些多年未除的顽瘴痼疾。我们开展了史无前例的反腐败斗争,以“得罪千百人、不负十四亿”的使命担当祛疴治乱,“打虎”、“拍蝇”、“猎狐”多管齐下,反腐败斗争取得压倒性胜利并全面巩固,消除了党、国家、军队内部存在的严重隐患。经过不懈努力,党找到了自我革命这一跳出治乱兴衰历史周期率的第二个答案,确保党永远不变质、不变色、不变味。

hu_jintao
No offense meant, miserable failure

If Bo Xilai had said that, it would have struck people as populism – but then, Bo never made it into the top ranks.
China’s “Communists” have announced many victories in the past. If this one is as decisive as Xi has claimed will be hard to prove or disprove as long as he remains in control of the narrative.

Just these few sidenotes for now.

Thursday, September 8, 2022

The State of Taiwan

First of all, let me come clean: like many people I know, I take sides. I believe that Taiwan’s citizens have a right to determine their future, and that China has no legitimate reasons to interfere with Taiwan’s affairs.
However, you may be aware that not everybody sees Taiwan this way. China’s Communist Party (CPC) doesn’t only want to rule Hong Kong, Macau, and “the mainland”, as the People’s Republic is often referred to by mainlanders, Hong Kongers, Macauans, and by many Taiwaners alike. Rather, the CPC wants to rule Taiwan, too.

taiwanren_are_also_chinese

“Taiwanese are also Chinese, aren’t they?” A tourist from Hong Kong visiting Taiwan on “double-ten” day, in 2009

In the end, China will most probably try to occupy Taiwan, either by laying siege – a naval blockade – to it, or by trying to invade it right away. In either case, China will probably have its way unless Taiwan’s (probably substantial) military resistance gets support from America, and maybe from Australia, Japan, and other countries. So, if lucky, China would gain control over Taiwan by military force, and that would be that (apart from a rather unpredictable Taiwanese population under occupation – Taiwaners could turn out to be rather unruly).

A. Image concerns

But success by naked force, however tempting it may be in the eyes of many Chinese citizens, isn’t the preferred means to achieve the goal of what the CPC refers to as „reunification“. That’s true for a number of economic and military (including nuclear) reasons, as even a successful invasion and a rather smooth occupation might come at heavy opportunity costs, imposed by countries that wouldn’t accept China’s annexation of Taiwan.

This is also true for image reasons, While China appears to have abandoned the idea that it could convince the Taiwanese that „reunification“ with China would be in their best interest, it apparently still hopes to achieve the goal of „peaceful reunification“ by coopting Taiwan’s economic and political elites, and by intimidating a sufficient number of Taiwan’s citizens so as to push them over.

But if the need for military action to achieve „reunification“ would arise (from China’s point of view), China would like to justify its military aggression, just as it has tried to justify its efforts to isolate Taiwan internationally (hint: the never-ending Taiwan-WHO saga, or pressure on governments of third-party  countries to threaten Taiwan’s economic lifelines.

On Twitter, you are faced with a lot of Chinese propaganda, carried forward by the CPC’s official mouthpieces as well as its useful minions (some of them may be paid by China, others may act out of mere fanatism). Some free samples:

Table 1

“Taiwan is an inseparable part of China” (Reality shows that this is not the case.)
“If Taiwan declares independence, we / China will go to war right away.” (We are looking for an excuse – we’ve decided to annex Taiwan anyway.)
“Taiwan has always been a part of China.” (Only during the Qing era, and only if the Qing cared to say that there was “one China” including Taiwan. They probably didn’t care.
“There is only one China.” (Yes, and thank God for that.)
“Taiwan is part of China because Taiwan’s official name is “Republic of China”. If so, which Congo is part of the other? There are two Congos, the “Republic” and the “Democratic Republic”.China’s logic probably prescribes that the Republic must annex the Democratic Republic, because it’s always the democratic countries that get annexed.
You / your country have committed yourselves to the one-China principle. This is probably the case in a number of bilateral declarations of China and third governments – but by no means in each of them. For example, “one-China” policy basically means that you somehow handle China’s “once-China” principle, not necessarily that you agree with it.
Besides, you can always walk away from it – it has happened before.

So, a lot, if not all of the mouthpiece talk on “social media” is hollow words, suitable for propaganda, and maybe not even that. But China has to make do with the excuses it can find to gloss over its aggressiveness.

Did I mention that China applies pressure on third-party governments to deny Taiwan international space? Well, it isn’t just the World Health Organization, or the Nigerian government who accept that pressure, because it comes with good business. Many other third-party countries do likewise, to varying degrees. We’ll have a look at the examples of America and France later on.

But first, let’s take a look at the nomenclature that is flying around when people talk about China-Taiwan relations. To that end, I might use some pseudomath (it isn’t really that scientific).

B. Chinamaths

Table 1

table_one_mainland_china

or the other way round,

Table 2

table_two_orc
Then there’s that One China – or more than one idea of what that is. But wide swathes of mainland Chinese people, plus uncertain numbers from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, will have this kind of math on their mind:

Table 3

table_three_orc

From the CPC’s perspective, it can’t be
table_must_not_exist
because that would imply that Taiwan’s political system would be the emperor of the whole Congo.
Now, when we are talking about Taiwan, we usually refer to everything that is governed from Taipei, not just the island of Taiwan itself, although that’s where Taiwan’s (or the ROC’s, etc.) citizens live.

Table 4

table_four_taiwan
That’s my definition of Taiwan, too – when you read “Taiwan” in this post, this table-4 definition is the definition of it.

C. Taiwan: one country, two positions

Position 1 (pan-Green, more or less)

It may be more than two just as well, but these are the two I can think of.
One is that, when Japan relinquished sovereignty over Taiwan, it didn’t transfer sovereignty to anyone else. Two authors, Michal Thim and Michael Turton, described that position in an article for “The Diplomat” in 2017 – they are themselves supporters of this position, I believe.
Under international law and practice, only an international treaty can settle the status of specific territories, they wrote, adding that the San Francisco Peace Treaty, and the Treaty of Taipei between Japan and the Republic of China on Taiwan fell under that category. If those two had contradicted one another on the matter of Taiwanese sovereignty, the San Francisco Peace Treaty would have outweighed the Treaty of Taipei, but both treaties were silent on the issue of who owned Taiwan, merely affirming that Japan gave up sovereignty over Taiwan.

Position 2 (pan-blue, more or less)

Another position, also widely spread among Taiwanese citizens (if they care about what might be the legal superstructure of their statehood) is the Republic of China.
Now, there are probably many sub-positions to this one, like Taiwan equals the Republic of China, or that Taiwan can somehow claim mainland China (plus Hong Kong and Macau)  as well (that would be a minority, I guess). There is also a an interpretation of what the RoC is that seeks common ground between the San Francisco Peace Treaty supporters, and the RoC guys. Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen adopted (and possibly coined) it when she ran for president for the first time, eleven years ago: the ROC, having lost all its territory in 1949, found shelter on Taiwan.

“Taiwan Independence”

In practical daily life, globally speaking, China and Taiwan are two separate countries. The rest is silly political squabble. But the silly squabble is accompanied by the clouds of war, and that’s why the rest of the world tries to take it into consideraton.
Obviously, wanting to please China (because it might be great business) is another reason to care about the “one-China” noise.

Supporters of the San-Francisco-Peace-Treaty version may argue that Taiwan is independent because Japan gave up sovereignty over it, and because there was nobody entitled to pick it up.

The “Taipei Times”, a paper from Taiwan’s “pan-green” political camp, led by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), described it this way, in 2017:

Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) changed the constitutional system and became the nation’s first directly elected president.
By “vesting sovereignty in Taiwanese,” he acknowledged that Taiwan had become an independent state via democratic elections.

This, from Taiwan’s pan-green point of view (or the “Taipei Times” rendition of it), means that Taiwan’s independence is the status quo. Taiwan is independent, and the above is the legal reason.

Position 2, the pan-blue one, basically, may be best summarized by what former Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou told an American audience in 2017:

On the question of Taiwanese independence, Ma recalled once being asked by a reporter why the island doesn’t formally declare. “Have you ever heard of a country declaring independence twice?” he replied. “We were an independent country back in 1912 — how can I declare independence again?”

1912 refers to the declaration of the Republic of China in the aftermath of the 1911 Xinhai Revolution. Ma therefore sees Taiwan as an independent state in the continuity of the mainland RoC from 1912 to 1949. That is pretty much in line with the general KMT view.

And if any version of “Taiwan independence” was palatable to the CPC in China, it would be this second one, because it is somehow about “one China”. The official reason for Beijing to be mad at Tsai Ing-wen and her DPP is that they would rather consider Lee Teng-hui the founding father of Taiwan’s sovereignty, than RoC founder Dr. Sun Yat-sen.

They ignore, however, that President Tsai’s position is somewhere between those two positions, and probably leaning towards position 2. It would be hard to ignore the RoC superstructure when you want to become Taiwan’s President – in fact, you are sworn in on the RoC’s constitution, in front of a large picture of Sun Yat-sen. That’s a tradition left behind by the KMT’s dictatorship era when there was only one legal political party on Taiwan anyway – the KMT itself. The RoC had, for many years, been a one-party state.

What is noteworthy is that both positions – pan-green and pan-blue alike – avoid another declaration of independence. What either camp would do if there wasn’t a threat of war from China is a question for another day. China’s reading of Taiwan’s status is that there hasn’t been a Taiwanese declaration of independence (yet).

How does the rest of the world deal with the “one-China” noise (mostly from China, not from Taiwan)? Let’s have a look at two third-party governments that have established diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and severed (official) diplomatic relations with the Republic of China (RoC). Some countries either switched official diplomatic relations from Taipei to Beijing at some point in time, and some others – like the Federal Republic of Germany – hadn’t had diplomatic relations with Taipei anyway, and therefore found it rather easy to establish theirs with Beijing.
The two examples I know a few things about are the American and the French positions concerning Taiwan’s status.

D. Third-government positions

Sample 1: America

The frequently-quoted Joint Communiqué of the United States of America and the People’s Republic of China (aka the “Shanghai Communiqué”), issued in February 1972 on a visit by then U.S. President Richard Nixon to China, says that

The Chinese side reaffirmed its position: the Taiwan question is the crucial question obstructing the normalization of relations between China and the United States; the Government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legal government of China; Taiwan is a province of China which has long been returned to the motherland; the liberation of Taiwan is China’s internal affair in which no other country has the right to interfere; and all U.S. forces and military installations must be withdrawn from Taiwan. The Chinese Government firmly opposes any activities which aim at the creation of “one China, one Taiwan”, “one China, two governments”, “two Chinas”, an “independent Taiwan” or advocate that “the status of Taiwan remains to be determined”.

As far as the withdrawal of U.S. forces and military installations are concerned, the U.S. appears to have obliged (although there may be varying, and unconfirmed, numbers of U.S. military staff plus equipment in Taiwan from time to time, or permanently, or whatever).

But Washington did not agree with China’s definition of Taiwan’s status – the 1972 Joint Communiqué basically says that the Americans listened to what the Chinese said about it during the talks:

The U.S. side declared: The United States acknowledges that all Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait maintain there is but one China and that Taiwan is a part of China. The United States Government does not challenge that position. It reaffirms its interest in a peaceful settlement of the Taiwan question by the Chinese themselves. With this prospect in mind, it affirms the ultimate objective of the withdrawal of all U.S. forces and military installations from Taiwan. In the meantime, it will progressively reduce its forces and military installations on Taiwan as the tension in the area diminishes. The two sides agreed that it is desirable to broaden the understanding between the two peoples. To this end, they discussed specific areas in such fields as science, technology, culture, sports and journalism, in which people-to-people contacts and exchanges would be mutually beneficial. Each side undertakes to facilitate the further development of such contacts and exchanges.

Nearly seven years later (save one month), Washington and Beijing established diplomatic relations. That was accompanied by the Joint Communiqué on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations of January 1, 1979. Here,

The United States of America recognizes the Government of the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal Government of China. Within this context, the people of the United States will maintain cultural, commercial, and other unofficial relations with the people of Taiwan.

This is followed by a bilateral reaffirmation of the principles agreed on by the two sides in the Shanghai Communiqué. Also,

The Government of the United States of America acknowledges the Chinese position that there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China.

When you have read some “legal papers” before, you’ll probably think that in the 1979 Joint Communiqué, Washington didn’t accommodate Beijing’s positions any further than in the 1972 Shanghai Communiqué. I also think so.

The United States acknowledges that all Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait maintain there is but one China and that Taiwan is a part of China (1972) only says that Washington understands that Chinese people in China and Taiwan see it that way.

The Government of the United States of America acknowledges the Chinese position that there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China (1979) doesn’t even acknowledge that an unspecified number of Taiwaners (“all Chinese”) sees it that way.

Sample 2: France

France went a step further than America in pleasing China – in 1994, that is, not in 1964 when Paris and Beijing established official diplomatic ties, and when Paris didn’t mention Taiwan at all, according to a piece by France-Info, published in August this year.

In 1994, France stated in another communiqué with China that (my translation)

The French side confirmed that the French government recognizes the government of the People’s Republic of China as the only legal government of China, and Taiwan as an essential part of Chinese territory.
La partie française a confirmé que le gouvernement français reconnaît le gouvernement de la République Populaire de Chine comme l’unique gouvernement légal de la Chine, et Taïwan comme une partie intégrante du territoire chinois.

Now, I would think that this states explicitly that Taiwan, from France’s point of view, is under China’s jurisdiction. But Antoine Bondaz, a Research Fellow and the Director of both the Korea Program and the Taiwan Program at the Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique (FRS), points out that (my translation)

France doesn’t say explicitly that Taiwan is part of the People’s Republic of China, there isn’t any such declaration.
La France ne dit pas explicitement que Taïwan fait partie de la République populaire de Chine, il n’y a eu aucune déclaration.

Sounds like logic applied by a bunch of weasels, but that’s diplomacy. And if this assessment is correct, you can be pretty sure that China’s diplomats knew that, and still didn’t squeeze France to make further concessions (because that would have meant no communiqué at all, I suppose).

E. Some cold hard facts

All this is mostly about superstructure – cream on a cup of coffee that wouldn’t go away even if there was no cream. What remains as a fact is the existence of Taiwan (and its semiconductors, of course), and a Chinese disposition towards violence against Taiwan.
So if there are two Chinas, just as there are two Congos, why would China believe that it has a right to harass, invade and/or annex Taiwan?
Former Chinese foreign minister Yang Jiechi probably said it best, at the 17th Meeting of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in Hanoi in July 2010, reportedly: “China is a big country and other countries are small countries and that is just a fact”.

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Note

Thanks to Multiburst who suggested that this topic deserved some more attention than what a few tweets would allow.

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Related

Some people, March 23, 2022
China-Deutschland, “Beijing Rundschau”, Oct 11, 2017

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Monday, August 29, 2022

Radio Pravda dlya Rossii (“Truth for Russia”) on Vacation

According to its Twitter account, Radio Truth for Russia / Радио Правда для России (Radio Pravda dlja Rossii) is currently taking a summer break. Not sure if this affects their shortwave transmissions.
hf_transmitter_radio_pravda_for_russia
Please check their Twitter feed for updates.

Information about times and frequencies of their broadcasts on shortwave – in addition to their youtube channel – vary, but 9670 kHz, 6070 kHz and 13600 kHz are often mentioned.


For a number of reasons (safety, appropriate use of donations, etc.), I wouldn’t expect QSL cards from this broadcaster.

Monday, February 28, 2022

“In a different World”

First of all, don’t worry. The world hasn’t really changed that much, but the above is a quote. As far as I’m concerned, we’ll be in a different world when the Bundestag, Germany’s federal parliament, passes a property tax to finance the rebuilding of our army, the Bundeswehr.

Also, the Chinese foreign minister says that “the cold war has long gone”.

20220226_guanchazhe_chinese_ukraine_worries

Chinese worries (“Guanchazhe”, Shanghai, Febr 26):
Is the crying man really pro-Kiev,
rather than pro-Russian?
Are the Western media lying again?

But Twitter would be a useless distraction if I didn’t keep an account of what I learn there. So here goes.

February 22 Demonstration in Prague
Thousands of people gather on Prague’s Wenceslas Squareshow their solidarity with the Ukrainian people, Radio Prague, the Czech Republic’s foreign radio station, reports the following day. Ukraine’s ambassador Yevhen Perebyinis thanks them, and says that ” it really means a lot to us because we see that we are not alone.”
February 23 “No plans to leave Kiev”
Andreas Umland, a political scientist who has lived in Kiev for about two decades, is currently in Germany, but plans to return to Kiev on Saturday, he says in an interview with Polish foreign radio’s German service, broadcast on February 23. He doesn’t expect an attack on Kiev.
February 23 “China is watching us”
Latvia’s defense minister Artis Pabriks tells a TV station that “if we weren’t members of NATO and also of the EU, we would definitely be in the positon of Ukraine now – I can guarantee that,” and that “we have nowhere to retreat, because others are watching us. China is watching us.”
February 23 “Nixon’s visit changed the world”
China is certainly watching the U.S. China policy. At 22:05 local time, party-affiliated tabloid “Huanqiu Shibao” publishes an editorial titled “Washington must not fall back from Nixon’s diplomatic legacy”, and quotes Nixon himself as referring to his visit, from February 21 to 28, 1972, as “world-changing”. The editorial speaks about “overall stability” in Sino-U.S. relations despites “ups and downs”, about “mutual benefit”, and “double-win”.
此后50年,中美关系虽然历经风雨但保持了总体稳定,成就了两个大国长达半个世纪的互利共赢。.It wasn’t true, “Huanqiu Shibao” argues, that only the USSR,considered an enemy by both at the time, had made Nixon’s initiative possible, as that alone couldn’t explain the comprehensive and rapid development, nor the amazing vitality that kept erupting once the ice between China and the U.S. had been broken. Those “old stubborns” who had “once opposed Nixon” seemed to be coming back to life, “Huanqiu Shibao” deplores.
当年反对尼克松的老顽固们仿佛纷纷复活了,历史和美国兜了一个大圈子。
February 23 Own nukes for South Korea?
Seven out of ten citizens support the idea, reports South Korea’s foreign radio station KBS World, citing a Hankook Research survey. While tensions around Ukraine are rapidly rising in Europe, North Korea, of course, keeps testing missiles which run as a kind of background noise to South Koreans daily routine.Asked froom where they see the greatest threats to South Korea now, most respondent name North Korea,followed by China, Japan, and the U.S.. Asked which country would be the gravest threat in ten years, 56 percent name China.
February 24 “Everything suggests that this is a large-scale invasion”
Austrian Radio’s Moscow correspondent states that “everything suggests that this is a large-scale invasion” (“alles deutet auf eine groß angelegte Invasion hin”). Austrian radio’s coverage in general follows this diction.
February 24 Czech arms industry prepared to supply Ukraine
The Czech Republic’s arms industry is prepared to supply Ukraine with military material if the Czech government makes a decision in favor of that, Radio Prague’s German service quotes Jiří Hynek, chairman of the country’s arms industry association.
February 24 “Pleasantries are no strategy”
Christoph Heusgen, a former foreign-policy and security-policy advisor who served Chancellor Merkel from 2005 to 2017, says that while it had been right to keep channels with Moscow open, they had always underestimated Putin’s brutality and unscrupulousness. That’s how Radio Poland’s German service quotes Heusgen in their daily press review.
February 24/25 South Korea and Taiwan will join sanctions
Both South Korea and China announce that they will join international sanctions against Russia. South Korea’s foreign ministry says on Febr 24 that “South Korea, as a responsible member of the international community, will support and participate in international efforts, including economic sanctions, aimed at curbing Russia’s encroachment and resolving the situation peacefully.”
On February 25, in a speech at National Cheng Kung University in Tainan, announces Taiwan’s participation in the sanctions, saying that “Taiwan is ready to do anything that might help achieve a peaceful resolution to the conflict”.
February 24 Finland and Sweden
“It is important for Finland and Sweden to be involved in the Nato meeting, due to the situation in the Baltic Sea region, for example,” Yleisradio’s (Finland) English website quotes its country’s foreign minister, Pekka Haavisto. He reportedly also says that “we consider it important that Nato continues its open-door policy and that we can apply for membership if we wish.”
February 24 Taiwanese citizens in Ukraine
There are still 33 Taiwanese citizens in Ukraine, reports Radio Taiwan International’s German service, despites requests from the Taiwan government to leave the country.
February 24/25 Vietnam’s reaction
Vietnam’s foreign radio station’s foreign language programs are focused on the development of a strategic partnership with Singapore where state president Nguyen Xuan Phuc is visiting.
There is a notice from a spokesperson of Vietnam’s foreign ministry however, on February 24, suggesting that substantial numbers of Vietnamese citizens are in Ukraine, and offering them help if needed.

I’ve left the well-known newsitems (SWIFT cuts, arms supplies to Ukraine from other European countries, Nordstream 2 etc. out because they are well known. Think of this blogpost as a diary entry.

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Related

Sweden’s Donation, FoarP, Febr 27, 2022
No Quadriga for Nobody, July 18, 2011

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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

China’s Hate for the Free Flow of Information: Fascism is the absolute Principle

More than fourty years ago, China started policies of reform and opening up. The latter part is often overlooked, but the Chinese authorities had to find new ways to deal with a greater flow of free information, or, as Deng Xiaoping put it, “when you open the window, you can’t stop the flies and mosquitos from coming in, too”.

Despite the ostentatious nonchalance, the party made great efforts to keep the flies out anyway. Really inquisitive international press was only available in international hotels or airports, and shortwave broadcasts from the outside world remained heavily jammed. And to this day, “Uncle Policeman” will take care of the rest of the flies.


Uncensored info, hence harmful

Shut up, we don’t care

What the CPC may not have hoped to achieve though was a fairly successful immunization program against flies. They achieved it anyway. This vaccine’s effect is that it makes most Chinese people ignorant – or nearly ignorant – of information deemed undesirable by the party. Around 2008, “Anti-CNN” propaganda rose – at least partly, it seems – from the Chinese grassroots. On the eve of the Beijing Olympic Games, Chinese people appeared to be simply fed up with bad news about Tibet or Xinjiang, no matter if true or not, and any lapse in any overseas picture editorial room was gladly taken as proof that news about uprisings in China’s Tibetan or Turkic colonies were fake news.

But the real sources for the willful ignorance lie deeper. For one, there’s a natural desire of people to be proud of their country, even if there is little reason for that, and that seems to be a particularly strong desire in some East Asian countries.

Then there was an actual source of pride: China’s rising economic and political power, and a series of economic crises in the West. In the minds of many, might made right if only it led to even more might for the motherland.

Not all Chinese nationalists deny that Tibetans or Turkics are going through hell. Rather, they believe that they deserve no better, and that “those guys” had been pampered by their Han rulers for too long.

Obviously, that kind of news isn’t fit to print or be broadcast by China’s “Global Times”, or CCTV. It is enough that people know that their party’s “toughness” on “terrorism” knows no limits, and that resistance is futile.
The latter bit is immportant, too, because Han people, too, have grievances. They must not even dream of getting a verdict in their favor, when the party says “no”. The brutal message from the top is targeting “national minorities” for now, but as Rebiya Kadeer said in 2018, “Uighurs’ today is the Han Chinese peoples’ tomorrow”.

For the more general public inside China – the news has to be more subtle.
While the faces of many of the cadres “interviewed” by CCTV about their “ethnic work” speak volumes, the message itself is that the loving care of the party for the masses earns itself enthusiastic reactions.
The essence of these domestic news: resistance is futile, but then, there’s no reason for resistance, anyway, is there? Our cultural massacres are a beautiful garden.

And for audiences outside China, plain denial is the only possible answer – if that turns out unsuccessful, you can still try to sell the camps in East Turkestan as “vocational schools”.

Shut up and join us – you are part of the United Front

What strikes me most is the wide-spread preparedness among overseas Chinese people to take part in Beijing’s disinformation work.
A desire to be proud of the motherland may be one motivation for that, just as it has been among Chinese at home and abroad since 2008.
Intimidation may be another. As Joanna Chiu noted in a recent article for the “Toronto Star”,

Beijing leaders truly feel anyone of Chinese descent is fair game and they have a right to curtail their freedom of speech years or even generations after they settled abroad.

What Joanna Chiu wouldn’t write either, but what has to be said, is that “socialism with Chinese characteristics” isn’t socialism. It’s full-blown fascism.
Let me apply some of Matthew Lyons definition (the link will take you to more paragraphs):

Fascism is a form of extreme right-wing ideology that celebrates the nation or the race as an organic community transcending all other loyalties. It emphasizes a myth of national or racial rebirth after a period of decline or destruction. To this end, fascism calls for a “spiritual revolution” against signs of moral decay such as individualism and materialism, and seeks to purge “alien” forces and groups that threaten the organic community. Fascism tends to celebrate masculinity, youth, mystical unity, and the regenerative power of violence. Often, but not always, it promotes racial superiority doctrines, ethnic persecution, imperialist expansion, and genocide. At the same time, fascists may embrace a form of internationalism based on either racial or ideological solidarity across national boundaries. Usually fascism espouses open male supremacy, though sometimes it may also promote female solidarity and new opportunities for women of the privileged nation or race.

When you encounter people on Twitter who dedicate many hours of their days to support Beijing’s disinformation work, they won’t necessarily be paid by Beijing. To think that to be the only explanation underestimates Beijing’s success in immunizing its underlings against unwelcome information. You aren’t necessarily dealing with troll factory products. You may be dealing with real-life fascists.

Shut up – you are doing it, too

To enter discussions beyond a few tweets with them may or may not be worth the trouble. In my view, it can be instructive to debate with them when you are aware that “your” side – the West, Japan, India or what have you – are no foreigners to disinformation either. But you won’t get much out of debates with fascists when you can’t stand justified criticism of racism, injustice or other deficits of the society you belong to (or feel you belong to).

On the other hand, you shouldn’t feel discouraged by such expedient “criticism”. When a reported million of Uyghurs is or was in internment camps, some individual stories that emerge internationally may indeed be fake news. China is “re-educating” its nationalities – Han included – on a massive scale, so obviously, some editor will pick the wrong photo or the wrong person.
What you should be aware of is Beijing’s nihilistic script. “You do it too, so even if we did commit atrocities (which we don’t, it’s all fake news), it would be nothing worth to be reported.”
It’s not the West that is running a massive brainwashing program against its own people, it is China that does so. It isn’t the West that is threatening war on its neighbors; it is China.

And while there are places in the West and elsewhere in the world that are rife with racism and bigotry, those aren’t usually run by the state as they are in China. Even most of the “pro-China” guys you meet on Twitter, whitewashing China’s crimes against human rights, would choose a life as a black person in the U.S., rather than an Uyghur’s life in East Turkestan, if they had to choose.

But they can’t admit that. After “a century of humiliation”, they feel that it is time for some fun. After all, they are consumers, too, and “me, me, me & now” is the absolute principle.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Wolf Warrior Diplomacy on Vacation, while Party expects Returns on Investment

Twitter can be fun, but would be a waste of time if all the information you can get passes by without some reflection on it. Learning by repetition. Here goes.

China’s recent diplomacy has been referred to as wolf warrior diplomacy (戰狼外交) in recent months – or in fact for years (as Sweden can tell) -, but it has become a much more frequently used term with the COVID-19 crisis.

As Washington and Beijing traded accusations and conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 origins during the first half of 2020, Beijing’s propaganda machine continuously switched gears between angry statements and more or less funny cartoons on “social media” platforms like Twitter, depicting Trump administration officials as dorks or hypocrites. Chinese foreign ministry (FMPRC) spokesman and communications director Zhao Lijian as well as Chinese media outlets like CCTV-English, People’s Daily in English, Xinhua news agency etc. took leading roles in “anti-American” (反美) enunciations.

But wolf warrior diplomacy apparently didn’t lead to results that would have satisfied Beijing after all. On Tuesday (August 4), China’s ambassador to the US, Cui Tiankai, told an NBC anchor and a wider online public that

The normalization of relations between our two countries and the growth of this relationship over the decades has served the interests of both countries and the world very well. It’s quite clear to all of us are still enjoying the positive outcome, the benefit of this growth of relationship. Nobody can really deny this.

Societal differences should provide opportunities for mutual learning, Cui suggested.

Cui himself didn’t have to make a u-turn to emphasize the “positive outcomes” of Sino-US relations – he had never been a wolf warrior diplomat anyway, and Washington wouldn’t have been the place to test these fruits of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era / Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy anyway. And when he made the essential swipe – there needs to be one in every Chinese representation to Americans these days, to show that the speaker is not afraid of his audience -, he smiled as if he wanted to apologize for what he was saying.

Click picture for video

His boss, foreign minister Wang Yi, didn’t have to turn everything upside down either. But to show that Xi has always been a great supporter of dialogue, he inaugurated a Research Center for the Guiding Role of Xi Jinping’s diplomatic Thought at the FMPRC on July 20.

According to “Radio Free Asia” (apparently not safely verified), fifty-centers have been told to switch their messages from “anti-American” to “double-win” (click picture for details)

Thusly illuminated, foreign minister Wang addressed an online forum of American and Chinese think tanks (including Henry Kissinger and Kevin Rudd, apparently) on July 9, Germany’s foreign minister Heiko Maas in a video conference on July 24 (not without informing his colleague in Berlin that the problems in Chinese-American relations are all created by America), and, most recently, the readers of Communist Party organ “People’s Daily”.

Chances are that US secretary of state Pompeo and his network have struck the right note in communication with Beijing during the past months, and distancing from China could become a bipartisan American policy. However, the Trump administration may not be able to take traditional allies as far along in their cause as they would like to.

Australian foreign minister Marise Payne told a press conference with US secretary of state Michael Pompeo that “we make our own decisions and we use our own language”, and that “the relationship with China is important and we have no intention of injuring it”.

Sydney Morning Herald correspondents wrote on August 1 that Joe Biden, the US Democrats’ presidential nominee, was

expected to be closer to what Australia is trying to do: transition to a multipolar region where Beijing is accommodated but counterbalanced by regional powers including Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Vietnam and the US.

At times, Trump and Pompeo’s approach seems to be an attempt to maintain the US as regional hegemon – something Canberra quietly gave up on a few years ago.

[Lowy Institute executive director] Fullilove says in some ways a Biden administration would be tougher on China and may make requests of Australia which are harder to refuse.

The correspondents also pointed out that both Japan and New Zealand, while basically following the US / Australia lines, had kept a rather low profile, thus protecting their trade interests with China.

Germany wasn’t exactly the first country either to throw a gauntlet at Beijing, or to publicly take note of China’s internment policies in East Turkestan, or its breach of international law by imposing its “national security law” on Hong Kong. Berlin’s position was further complicated as Germany’s leadership currently chairs the EU in a rotational arrangement, having to find as much common ground among Beijing-leaning EU member states and more resilient members.

Only when Hong Kong’s government announced a “postponement” of Legislative Council elections by a year, ostensibly because of the special administrative region’s COVID-19 crisis, Germany joined other countries and suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong. On August 3, French foreign ministry sharply criticized Beijing’s “national security law”, and halted ratification of its extradition treaty with Hong Kong, which had been in process since 2017.

A few days earlier, and five days after his conversation with Germany’s foreign minister, Wang Yi had been on the phone with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian,

Austrian public radio ORF‘s China correspondent Josef Dollinger arguably provided one of the more succinct summaries of European policies. Asked on July 29, the morning when the EU governments presented their agreed reaction to Beijing’s Hong Kong policy, if Washington’s chances of isolating Beijing could be successful, he said that conflicts with China could not be painless, and that while

you can ride a tiger gone wild without getting bucked off – difficult as that may be -, you shouldn’t keep shouting “I’ve got him, I’ve got him.”

Man kann zwar auf einem wild gewordenen Tiger reiten, ohne abgeworfen zu werden – auch wenn’s schwierig ist -, aber man sollte dabei nicht ständig rufen, “ich hab’ ihn, ich hab’ ihn”.

In the EU, disappointment about stalling talks on a comprehensive investment treaty with China have likely added to a hardening position.

And while America’s allies have resisted Pompeo’s calls to join them on the warpath, it does appear that China underestimated the impact of its Hong Kong policies, at least in democratic countries.

All the more, Wang Yi himself, too, tries to stick to a script that would paint China as the natural and predetermined victor to emerge from the beginning struggle. Among some double-win promises, he also threatened America with history’s pillar of shame (恥辱柱).

No matter how much, or little, pressure China may feel as a whole, Beijing’s diplomats are having a tough time of it. It is one thing to open a Xi-Jinping shrine at the FMPRC. To deliver on hard issues is another. The leadership and its personality core have significantly raised investment in diplomacy. They will expect more than just damage control in return.

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Friday, June 12, 2020

Hua Chunying: “I want to reiterate that China is the biggest victim of disinformation”

Main Links:
Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying’s Regular Press Conference on June 12, 2020 (English)
2020年6月12日外交部发言人华春莹主持例行记者会 (Chinese)

AFP: Twitter today said it removed tens of thousands of state-linked accounts used by China to spread disinformation or praise China’s response. As Chinese diplomats are becoming regular users of Twitter, I wonder what’s your comment on that?

法新社记者:推特公司今天表示,移除了数万个中方用来散布虚假信息、赞扬中国疫情应对的账号。中国外交官越来越多通过推特平台表达观点,你对此有何评论?

Hua Chunying: I’m not sure what is the basis of Twitter’s decision, but I would say that to equate plaudits for China’s epidemic response with disinformation is clearly untenable, unless we redefine what “disinformation” is. It is generally understood that disinformation should be false, untrue, or even maliciously fabricated lies and rumors. However, China’s efforts to combat COVID-19 and the results it achieved are real and witnessed by all. Recently, a white paper titled “Fighting COVID-19: China in Action” issued by the Information Office of the State Council unequivocally presents how the Chinese people have fought in unity in this great war against COVID-19 by providing a clear timeline and hard facts.

华春莹:我不清楚推特公司做出这一决定的依据是什么,但我想说,将肯定中国对疫情的应对等同于虚假信息显然是站不住脚的,除非重新定义什么是“虚假信息”。一般人理解,虚假信息应该是假的,不真实的,甚至是恶意捏造的谎言和谣言。而中国为抗击新冠肺炎疫情所做的努力和取得的成效是实实在在、有目共睹的。近日,中国国务院新闻办公室发表了《抗击新冠肺炎疫情的中国行动》白皮书,以清晰的时间线和铁一般的事实,清清楚楚地记录了中国人民团结一心抗击疫情的伟大历程。

At the same time, as you can see, since the outbreak of the pandemic, some people and forces in the international community have been almost crazy and hysterical in slandering and badmouthing China with rumors. You must have known that as exposed by the Politico website, the US National Republican Senatorial Committee has sent campaigns a 57-page memo advising GOP candidates to address the coronavirus crisis by “aggressively attacking China”. A few days ago, the same news website reported that in late March, 2.6 million tweets related to coronavirus were retweeted 25.5 million times within 10 days, and a lot of them spread rumors like “the coronavirus was a bioweapon created in China”. According to the report, an analysis of these Twitter accounts found that many of them are linked to supporters of the GOP and the right wing in the US, and had the hallmarks of “bots”.

与此同时,大家也都看到,疫情发生以来,国际上有一些人、一些势力在近乎疯狂、歇斯底里地针对中国进行造谣、污蔑和抹黑。你肯定知道,美国“政治”新闻网站曾曝光共和党参议院全国委员会向竞选机构发送57页备忘录,鼓动通过“积极攻击中国”应对疫情危机。几天前,也是美国“政治”新闻网站报道,3月下旬推特上有260万条与新冠病毒有关的推文10天内被转发2550万次,其中大量推文造谣称“病毒是中国生产制造的生化武器”。有关报道称通过分析发现其中很多推特账号与美国共和党及右翼势力支持者有关,且很多都是“机器人”账号。

If Twitter believes that those tweets praising China’s anti-epidemic efforts are “disinformation” and the accounts should be shut down, I wonder what they will do with the real disinformation which has undeniably smeared China with malicious intentions? If those who create and spread such disinformation can be allowed to go their own way and do everything in their power, then this is the perfect example of ideological prejudice, bias against China, blatant double standards, and the behavior to confuse right and wrong. What should be shut down is precisely the accounts that attack and smear China in an organized and coordinated manner.

如果推特公司认为肯定中国抗疫努力的是虚假信息并要关闭,不知道他们对于那些对中国恶意造谣抹黑的、真正的虚假信息怎么处理?如果任由他们大行其道、横行霸道、甚嚣尘上,那么什么是意识形态偏见,什么是戴着有色眼镜看中国,什么是赤裸裸的双重标准,什么是是非不分、黑白颠倒,这就是最好的例证。真正应该关掉的,恰恰是那些有组织、有协调来攻击抹黑中国的账号。

Let me reiterate that China is the biggest victim of disinformation. China always opposes the fabrication and dissemination of disinformation. The United Nations and WHO have repeatedly called on all countries to strengthen solidarity and cooperation to combat disinformation. We call on the international community to enhance solidarity and coordination, jointly reject disinformation, so that those political viruses such as rumors and slanders and the perpetrators and manipulators behind the scene will have no place to hide.

我要重申的是,中国是虚假信息的最大受害者。中方一贯反对制造和传播虚假信息。联合国和世卫组织已多次呼吁各国加强团结合作,打击各类虚假信息。我们呼吁国际社会加强团结协作,共同反对和抵制虚假信息,让那些谣言、诽谤等政治病毒及其幕后策划者、操纵者在阳光下无处遁形。

As for the more frequent use of Twitter by Chinese diplomats, I think it’s nothing strange. This is an era of new media. Just as many foreign diplomats and journalists in China use WeChat and Weibo, Chinese diplomats have taken Twitter as a channel and platform to communicate with people in other countries.

至于中国外交官越来越多使用推特,我想这很正常。这是一个新媒体时代,如同很多外国驻华外交官和外国媒体驻华记者在中国使用微信和微博一样,推特是中国外交官入乡随俗、与外国民众进行交流的一种方式和平台。

Meanwhile, some foreign media and social platforms are fraught with lies and rumors against China. In the dark and ugly world of disinformation, it is necessary for some people, including Chinese diplomats, to speak in a truthful, objective and impartial manner, like striking a match in the dark night to make some light. Anyone who is not playing deaf and dumb will be able to see the truth.

同时,现在一些外国媒体及社交平台上充斥着大量针对中国的恶毒谎言、谣言。在黑暗、丑陋的虚假信息世界里,需要一些人、包括中国外交官发出真实、客观、公正的声音,如同在漆黑的夜里擦亮一些火柴,发出一些光亮。只要不是铁了心、闭上眼、假装叫不醒的人,就能看到一些事实和真相。

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Related

A victim of disinformation, May 26, 2020

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Updates / Related

Friday morning  intrusion, June 12, 2020

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Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Radio or the Internet? It’s both or neither

Why are “social media” so successful? Seems to me that the most obvious reason is that they give you a chance to speak out publicly, to make a difference in political ways. You can compliment the actress of your choice (ahem), you can shout at your region’s members of parliament, at top politicians, or at industrial managers.

(Those who appoint the managers won’t usually do Facebook or Twitter, though. They may not even bother to hire some ghostwriters.)

Then there may be a need to network. When all people relevant for your career are on Facebook or Twitter, you may have to be there, too. There may be a real need to follow them there, if you want to succeed in your job, or in “smashing the system”, or whatever your mission may be.

If both these motivations – making yourself heard and networking – are important, this could help to explain why “social media” haven’t helped to make our societies more democratic. What they have produced is a crude dialectics, though I’m not sure if there’s a never-ending synthesis, or if synthesis is completely out when sloganeering (with some more or less original variations of peoples’ credos) is the only thing that matters.

Bertolt Brecht doesn’t come across as an optimist. He usually saw the potential in new developments, including radio broadcasting – in 1932 and one year before the Nazis seized control of it. Brecht also knew – or learned – that newly-emerging media wouldn’t necessarily help the cause that he held dear.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but this is a guy who is talking about the Internet, not radio,

writes a headphones guy in California.

Sounds logical, but it isn’t. Just as radio has become a mostly linear medium, so has the internet – at least on its commercial side, i. e. Twitter, Facebook, etc.. Yes, people can voice their opinions there. But I can’t see how they would shape things in a way different from the old days*). No matter if radio or internet, their democratic effectiveness depends on how they are organized, or how people organize themselves while using radio or the internet as their media.

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Note

*) Except for a more intense cultivation of enmity on the internet, maybe.

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Related

My first ten days on Twitter, Jan 30, 2020

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