Posts tagged ‘world war 2’

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Wang Yi on American-Chinese Relations: “Bows in a Cup are considered Snakes, every Tree looks like an Enemy Soldier”

The following is a translation of a talk given by Chinese state councilor and foreign minister Wang Yi to a “China-US Think Tanks and Media Online Forum” on Thursday, organized by the China Public Diplomacy Association, the Peking University, and the People’s University of China (aka Renmin University).

Links added during translation.

“Sino-American relations’ most serious challenge”

Main link: Unvaveringly defend what is right, keeping up with the times, safeguarding the correct direction of Chinese-American relations

Dear guests, dear friends, hello everyone! First, I would like to convey my sincere best wishes to this forum‘s opening and pay tribute to and thank people from all walks of life who have, for a long time, dedicated their efforts to Sino-American relations. I would also like to thank Dr. Henry Kissinger for supporting this forum. Every time I have a discussion with him, it makes me feel his deep strategic reflections about the world and Sino-American relations.

各位来宾,各位朋友:大家好!
首先,我谨对本次论坛的召开表示热烈祝贺,并愿向长期致力于中美关系的各界人士表示敬意和感谢。我还要感谢基辛格博士对此次论坛的支持,每次同他对话,都让我感受到他对这个世界以及中美关系深入的战略思考。

Today‘s forum is absolutely important, because at just this time, the new corona pneumonia epidemic continues to rage and wreak global havoc, all countries and peoples lives are under serious threat, the global economy is getting caught in a deep recession, global cooperation suffers powerful counter-currents, unilateral bullying behavior is rampant, and the international system is facing the risks of disorder.

今天的论坛十分重要。因为就在此时,新冠肺炎疫情仍在全球肆虐,各国人民生命受到严重威胁,世界经济陷入深度衰退,全球合作遭遇强劲逆流,单边霸凌行径大行其道,国际体系愈发面临失序的风险。

Still more alarming is that Sino-American relations, which are among the world‘s most important bilateral ones, are also facing the most serious challenges since the establishment of diplomatic relations. Some people on the American side, because of ideological prejudice, spare no efforts to make China an opponent or even an enemy, thinking about all kinds of ways to contain China‘s development, and unscrupulously obstruct relations between China and America. During the next steps, the decision about whether or not this huge ship of Sino-American relations which has been sailing for more than fourty years now will stay its correct course isn‘t only closely connected to the interests of these two countries‘ peoples‘ interests, but concerns the world‘s and humankind‘s common future.

更令人警惕的是,中美关系这对世界上最重要的双边关系之一,也面临建交以来最严重的挑战。美方一些人,出于意识形态的偏见,正不遗余力地把中国渲染成对手甚至敌人,想方设法遏制中国的发展,不择手段阻碍中美之间的联系。下一步,中美关系这艘已经航行了四十多年的巨轮能否继续保持正确航向,不仅与两国人民利益密切相连,也关乎世界与人类的共同未来。

How can Sino-American relations bring order out of chaos, return to the right track, and truly achieve long-term healthy and stable development? I would like to focus on three points:
Firstly, neither China nor America should be trying to change the other, but jointly explore the road of peaceful coexistence of different systems and civilizations.

中美关系如何才能拨乱反正、重回正轨,真正实现长期健康稳定发展?我想重点谈三点意见:
首先,中美双方不应寻求改造对方,而应共同探索不同制度和文明和平共存之道。

Every country‘s road is based on the experience it has accumulated in terms of its cultural tradition and history. China stays on the road of socialism with Chinese characteristics which corresponds with China‘s national situation and needs. It is the choice of the Chinese people itself. The achievements testify that this road has not only made 1.4 billion Chiese people leave poverty and backwardness behind them, but also made the Chinese nation make another major contribution to the cause of human progress. International polling institutions‘ repeated opinion polls have shown that the Chinese people‘s support for the Chinese Communist Party and government is among the strongest rates worldwide. There isn‘t any force in a position to reject other countries‘ chosen paths, and no country will change its system in accordance with the likes or dislikes of others. Ultimately, system and path, they may be right or wrong, must be decided by a country‘s own people.

每个国家所走的道路,都基于各自文化传统和历史积淀。中国坚持的中国特色社会主义道路,符合中国的国情需要,是中国人民自己的选择。实践已经证明,这条道路不仅使14亿中国人民摆脱了贫困落后,也让中华民族再次为人类进步事业作出了重大贡献。国际民调机构多次民意测验显示,中国人民对中国党和政府的支持都高居全球榜首。任何势力都没有资格去否定其他国家选择的道路,任何国家也都不会按照别人的好恶来改造自己的制度。归根到底,制度和道路是对还是错,应该由本国人民来决定。

In recent years, there have been certain views saying that the success of China‘s path created a shock or threat against the West. This way of putting things is neither factual, nor do we acknowledge it. China, a product of 5,000 years of civilization, has never had the genes of invasion of expansion, we do not copy foreign countries‘ models, we do not export China‘s model, and never require other countries to copy China‘s ways of doing things. In the words of a Chinese sage 2,500 years ago, “all things can coexist without harming each other, and roads proceed in parallel without running counter to each other.” This is the philosophy of how Easterners conduct themselves in society, and until today, it continues to enlighten people.

近年来有种论调,称中国道路的成功将对西方造成冲击和威胁。这一说法既不是事实,我们也不认同。因为5000年文明孕育的中国从来没有侵略扩张的基因,我们不照搬外国模式,也不输出中国模式,从不要求别国复制中国的做法。2500年前的中国圣贤就主张:“万物并育而不相害,道并行而不相悖”。这是东方人的处世哲学,至今仍给世人以启迪。

Americans, too, have always sought for equality, tolerance and pluralism. This world shouldn‘t be seen in colors of black and white, and institutional differences should not lead to zero-sum games. China won‘t and can‘t become another America. The right attitude is to respect one another, mutual appreciation, mutual learning, and mutual success. Ever since reform and opening up, China has learned a lot from the experience of developed countries, just as some of China‘s successful work methods have helped many countries to solve their problems of the moment. In this richly colorful world, China and America, even with different social systems, don‘t need to run counter to one another at all. They can coexist peacefully.

美国人民也历来把平等、包容、多元作为不懈追求。这个世界不应非黑即白,制度差异也不应导致零和。中国不会也不可能变成另一个美国。正确的态度是,彼此相互尊重、相互欣赏、相互借鉴、相互成就。改革开放以来,中国从发达国家学到了很多有益经验。同样,中国的一些成功做法也对许多国家解决当下的问题不无启发。在这个丰富多彩的世界中,中美虽然社会制度不同,但完全可以并行不悖,和平共存。

Secondly, China‘s policy toward America hasn‘t changed. Based on goodwill and sincerity, we still want to develop Sino-American relations further.

第二,中国的对美政策没有变化,我们仍愿本着善意和诚意发展中美关系。

In the wake of China‘s development, some American friends have growing misgivings about China or become even wary of it. I would like to reiterate that China has never intended to challenge America or to replace it, nor to get into comprehensive antagonism with America. What we care about most is the welfare of our own country‘s people, what we attach most importance to is to bring bout the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, and our greatest expectation is world peace and stability. To this end, China‘s America policy maintains a high degree of stability and continuity with no desire to clash with America or to get into confrontation with it, and with a desire for mututal respect and mutually profitable cooperation [aka win-win], building a relationship with America on the keynotes of coordination, cooperation and stability.

随着中国的发展,有些美国朋友对中国怀有越来越多的疑虑甚至戒惧。在此我愿重申,中国从来无意挑战或取代美国,无意与美国全面对抗。我们最关心的是提高本国人民的福祉,最重视的是实现中华民族的复兴,最期待的是世界的和平稳定。为此,中国的对美政策保持着高度稳定性和连续性,愿意与美不冲突不对抗、相互尊重、合作共赢,构建以协调、合作、稳定为基调的中美关系。

To achieve this goal, there is a need for China and America to advance by meeting half-way1), each of them respecting international law and rules, and to open an equal dialog and consultations. America shouldn‘t hope to nearly run amok to encircle, block and intercept China on the one hand, create rumors and slander China with almost no bottomline, interfere with China‘s internal affairs without any restraint, and on the other hand expect, and on the other hand demand that china would understand and support America in bilateral and global affairs. China, as an independent sovereign country, has the right to protect its sovereignty, security and development interests. It has the right to safeguard the fruits earned by the Chinese people‘s hard work, and to reject any bullying and unfairness against China.

而要实现这一目标,需要中美双方相向而行,需要各自尊重国际法和国际规则,需要开展平等的对话协商。美国不应指望一方面在全世界近乎疯狂地围追堵截中国、毫无底线地造谣污蔑中国、肆无忌惮地干涉中国内政,另一方面又要求中国在双边和全球事务中给予美方理解和支持。中国,作为一个独立自主国家,我们有权利维护自身的主权、安全和发展利益,有权利保卫中国人民艰苦奋斗获得的劳动成果,有权利拒绝任何对中国的霸凌和不公。

Thirdly, we must view the historical experience of Sino-American relations correctly and adhere to the road of dialog and cooperation.

第三,要正确看待中美关系发展的历史经验,坚持走对话合作之路。

Recently, some people in America have said that the policy of being in touch2) with China has been a failure. And that America has been at a disadvantage. This way of putting things doesn‘t respect history and isn not in accordance with the facts.

近来,美国国内有人提出,过去几十年的对华接触政策是失败了,美国在对华合作中吃亏了。这种说法既不尊重历史,也不符合事实。

China and America were allies, fighting shoulder to shoulder, in World War 2. In the last century‘s 70s, the two sides opened the great door of diplomatic relations again, under the premise of respecting each other‘s different systems. The dialog and cooperation between the two countries has lasted until today, merging the political wisdom and unremittent efforts of several generations of people, and reflect the intrinsic patterns and inevitable trends in the development of the two countries‘ relations.

中美两国二战时曾是并肩作战的盟友。上世纪70年代,双方在尊重彼此不同制度的前提下重新打开建交大门。两国对话合作走到今天,凝聚着几代人的政治智慧和不懈努力,也反映了两国关系发展的内在规律和必然趋势。

Ever since the establishment of diplomatic relations 40 years ago, China and America have amply given play to their complementary advantages, and they have formed an amalgamated mutually beneficial community. China‘s success has drawn benefit from open cooperation with every country in the world including America, and China‘s development has provided America with force for sustained growth and huge markets. From handling regional hotspots to counter-terrorism and nonproliferation, from reacting to the international financial crisis to epidemic control, Sino-American cooperation has been beneficial to both sides, and to the great global cause.

建交40年来,中美充分发挥互补优势,已经形成相互融合的利益共同体。中国的成功得益于对包括美国在内世界各国的开放合作,而中国的发展也为美国提供了持续增长的动力和巨大的市场空间。从处理地区热点问题到反恐、防扩散,从应对国际金融危机到疾病防控,中美合作已经办成了很多有利于双方、有利于世界的大事。

There are people who say that Sino-American relations are not what they were in the past, but this does not mean that history can be ignored and a new separate kitchen be set up. Even less would it mean that the reality can be ignored and ties be cut forcibly. Instead, we should connect the past and the future3), and keep up with the times. Everyone may notice that despite the current epidemic shock, 74 percent of American companies in China still state plans to expand their investments in China, that 191 farmers‘ organizations, in a joint letter to the American president, have called for continued implementation of the phase-one economic and trade agreement, that many American universities publicly support strengthened Sino-American educational exchange, that the leaders of many countries also call on China and America to strengthen dialog, and to avoid confrontation and division. These are voices China and America should listen to, and even more so the direction of the two countries‘ efforts.

有人说,中美关系已回不到过去,但这并不意味着可以无视历史另起炉灶,更不意味着可以不顾实际强行脱钩。而是应当继往开来,与时俱进。大家可能注意到,即使在当前疫情冲击下,74%的美国在华企业仍表示计划扩大对华投资,191个农业团体联名致信美国总统呼吁继续执行第一阶段经贸协议,多所美国大学公开支持加强中美教育交流,多国领导人也呼吁中美加强沟通对话、避免对抗分裂。这些都是中美双方应当倾听的声音,更是两国共同努力的方向。

Dear friends, Chairman Xi Jinping has emphasized this many times: we have a thousand reasons to do a good job with Sino-American relations, and not one reason to bungle them. As long as both sides have the vigorous desire to improve and develop Sino-American relations, we will be able to get Sino-American relations out of the predicament and put them back onto the right track. I will put forward three suggestions for everyone‘s reference:

各位朋友,习近平主席多次强调:我们有一千条理由把中美关系搞好,没有一条理由把中美关系搞坏。只要双方都有改善和发展中美关系的积极意愿,我们就能够推动中美关系走出困境,重回正轨。我在这里提出三点建议,供大家参考:

One is to activate and open up all dialog channels. Currently, America‘s China policy is based on strategic misjudgement because of lacking factual evidence, full of emotional steam being let off and McCarthy-style bigotry. America‘s completely unfounded suspicion and jealousy of China have reached a stage where bows in a cup are considered snakes and where every tree looks like an enemy soldier. Almost every Chinese investment seems to embody political goals, every overseas student seems to come with an espionage background, and every cooperation proposal seems to have special designs. If America lacks self-confidence, openness and tolerance like this, the artificial kinds of “China threats” are likely to become “self-realized prophecies”.

一是激活和开放所有对话渠道。当前美国的对华政策基于缺乏事实依据的战略误判,充满情绪化的宣泄和麦卡锡式的偏执。美方对中国的无端猜忌已经到了杯弓蛇影、草木皆兵的地步。似乎每一项中国投资都包含政治目的,每一位留学人员都带有间谍背景,每一项合作倡议都别有所图。如果美国如此缺乏自信、开放和包容,人为制造各种“中国威胁”,最终很可能导致“自我实现的预言”。

Only exchange can stop lies, only dialog can avoid misjudgment. Discrediting others is no proof of one‘s own innocence, and invariable fault-finding doesn‘t solve any problems. I would like to reiterate that China‘s great door to dialog is wide open. As long as America is willing, we can always resume and reopen dialog mechanisms on all levels and in every field. Any issue can be put on the table for discussion, and any disagreement be appropriately handled through dialog. At the same time, as long as America sets no limits, we are also willing to actively promote exchange and interaction between all departments, in every place and every field of our two countries, for mutual understanding and acknowledgment between the peoples of our two countries.

只有交流才能阻止谎言,只有对话才能避免误判。抹黑别人证明不了自己的清白,一味指责解决不了任何问题。我愿重申,中方对话的大门是敞开的。只要美方愿意,我们随时可以恢复和重启各层级、各领域的对话机制。任何问题都可以拿到桌面上来谈,任何分歧都可以通过对话寻求妥善处理。同时,只要美方不设限,我们也愿积极推动两国各部门、各地方、各领域的交流互动,让两国人民更加相互了解、彼此认知。

Another point is to sort out and to agree to a list of contacts. All issues between China and America are mutually interwoven, tangled and complicated. The two sides can sit down and smooth out the problems one by one and establish three lists. The first one is about cooperation, with clear-cut items where China and America must and can cooperate in bilateral and global matters. The longer the list becomes, the better it is, and it should not be interfered by other issues. The second one is a dialogue list, with problems that both sides wish to resolve despite differences, to be incorporated into the existing dialog mechanisms and platforms. The third is a control list, with a smaller number of issues on which agreement is difficult to reach, to be used as a control list of issues to be sought common ground upon, while holding back differences, to reduce, to the maximum possible extent, the shocks and damage they can do to the bilateral relationship. As for the three lists, think tanks from both countries can do research on them in advance.

二是梳理和商定交往的清单。中美之间各种问题相互交织,错综复杂,双方可以一起坐下来把问题捋一捋,形成三份清单:第一份是合作清单,把中美在双边领域及全球事务中需要而且能够合作的事项明确下来,这份单子越长越好,而且不应受到其他问题的干扰;第二份是对话清单,把双方尽管存在分歧但有望通过对话寻求解决的问题列出来,尽快纳入现存的对话机制和平台;第三份是管控清单,把少数难以达成一致的难题找出来,本着求同存异的精神搁置并管控好,尽可能减少对两国关系的冲击和破坏。对于这三份清单,两国的智库可以先行研究。

The third is to focus on and to unfold anti-epidemic cooperation. Nothing is more valuable than life, and nothing is more urgent than to save people. We feel deeply for the adversities suffered by the American people, and large quantities of urgently needed medical treatment goods have been supplied to America. As we are facing the epidemic, cooperation must come first. We are willing to share epidemic-control information and experience with America, and unfold still more extensive and thorough communication on diagnosis and treatment plans, vaccine research, and economic recovery. But America should immediately stop the politicization of the epidemic and the virus-labeling, and it should work together with China to promote global anti-epidemic cooperation to rescue more lives worldwide and to shoulder the international responsibility as two major powers should.

三是聚焦和展开抗疫合作。没有什么比生命更宝贵,没有什么比救人更紧迫。我们对美国人民在疫情中遭受的不幸深表同情,已经向美国提供了数量庞大的急需医疗物资。疫情当前,合作为先。我们愿同美方分享防控信息和抗疫经验,在诊疗方案、疫苗研发乃至经济复苏等领域开展更加广泛深入的交流。而美方应当立即停止将疫情政治化、把病毒标签化,并与中方一道推动全球抗疫合作,共同挽救这个世界上更多的生命,共同担负起两个主要大国应当承担的国际责任。

Dear friends, there is a saying in China: “The power of action advances knowledge, and deepening knowledge advances your achievements.“4) With extremely important bilateral relations worldwide, Chinese-American relations must send more positive messages and release more positive energy. Hopefully, America will build a more objective and cool-headed cognition of China, and establish a more reasonable and pragmatic China policy. Doing so is in line with the fundamental interests of the Chinese and American peoples, and also in tune with every country‘s expectations toward both China and America.

各位朋友,中国有句古话,“行之力则知愈进,知之深则行愈达”。作为世界上至关重要的一组双边关系,中美关系有待发出更多的积极信息,释放更多的正能量。希望美方构建更为客观冷静的对华认知,制定更为理性务实的对华政策。这样做,既符合中美两国人民的根本利益,也顺应世界各国对中美双方的期待。

Thank you!

谢谢大家!

[Notes re editors, source, and copyright]

栏目主编:秦红 文字编辑:卢晓川 题图来源:新华社 图片编辑:徐佳敏
©上观 版权所有 所有文章均为上观所有 不得转载 保留所有版权

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Notes

1) According to this Twitter discussion, it should be “meeting half-way”, but that may not be carved in stone either.
2) More frequently referred to as engagement policy among Americans
3) Also used by Deng Xiaoping in 1981: 我国正处在继往开来的重要历史时期
4) It may appear as if China‘s Great Leader appears only once in Wang‘s speech, but that isn‘t so. See footnote 7 there – 『行之力则知愈进,知之深则行愈达』is a classical quote, but also one used by Xi Jinping in 2018.

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Related

FMPRC press conference, July 9, 2020
Greatest Humanitarian Relief Operation, June 10, 2020
Someone has falsified our account, May 26, 2020

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Saturday, November 17, 2018

Abe’s Visit to Darwin: Kneeling PM, Crouching PM

ABC coverage, Nov 16, 2018

Guanchazhe online (Observer), a news website from Shanghai, publishes a report, referring to Reuters newsagency coverage, writing that Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe and Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison held a ceremony at Darwin Cenotaph on Friday, commemorating the dead from Japan’s air raids on Darwin during WW2, 76 years ago. The article also mentions discussions concerning strengthened trade and defense cooperation between the two leaders.

The article refers to a liquid natural gas (lng) investment project in Darwin, with a planned Japanese investment of 54 billion Australian dollars (about 274.7 billion RMB), with INPEX Holdings Inc. as the main shareholder and operator, as one of the cooperation projects.

Without comment, Guanchazhe also quotes Morrison as saying*) that

Australia and Japan remain consistent about the importance of sholving the South China Sea dispute. Both Japan and Australia strongly oppose any behavior that could intensify the tense situation in the region.

莫里森还表示,他期待与日本加强合作,维护地区的海上安全。两国领导人在会晤后表示,他们希望明年年初就加强两国防务合作达成协议,包括举行更多的联合军事演习。

Both Guanchazhe and Haiwainet (the latter is the online portal of People’s Daily‘s overseas edition) feature a photo showing the two prime ministers laying wreaths at the cenotaph, but Haiwainet points out the obvious in writing: “The Australian prime minister kneels, Abe crouches.”

ABC (video at the beginning) discusses Japan’s and Australia’s motivation to strengthen military cooperation.

According to reports earlier this year, an Australian dockyard, ASC Pty Ltd, is reportedly set to build nine Hunter class frigates from 2020 (designed in Britain), with the first of them to be operational by 2027. In a report this summer, ABC referred to the project as Australia’s largest peacetime warship building program.

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Note

*) as quoted by AP newsagency: “Australia and Japan also stand united on the importance of resolving disputes in the South China Sea, peacefully and in accordance with international law, and we are strongly opposed to any actions that could increase tensions within the region.”

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Thursday, August 9, 2018

Heilongjiang Daily: Li Min, 1924 – 2018

The following is a translation of an article from Heilongjiang Daily (黑龙江日报). Links within blockquotes added during translation.

There are (or were) at least two prominent women named Li Min. Second from left is deceased Li Min; second from right is Mao Zedong’s daughter Li Min. Photo: Kremlin.ru, President Medvedev’s 2010 visit to China, CC BY 4.0

Main Link: Farewell Ceremony for late Comrade Li Min’s Remains held in Harbin

This papers news of July 29 (Guo Minghua and Sun Jiawei reporting) — Quiet funeral music filled the air, grief knew no limits, and people from all walks of life were in incomparable sorrow, saying their last farewell to Comrade Li Min who was lying peacefully among fresh flowers and incense cedar. The farewell ceremony for Li Min, former vice chairperson of the China People’s Political Consultative Conference’s Heilongjiang Provincial Committee, and warrior of the Northeast Anti-Japanese United Army, was held at Harbin Tianheyuan Funeral Parlor. Nearly one-thousand cadres and members of the masses had rushed there to deeply mourn this outstanding member of the Chinese Communist Party, this time-tested, loyal warrior of Communism.

本报29日讯(记者郭铭华孙佳薇)哀乐低回、哀思无限,各界人士怀着无比沉痛的心情,向安卧在鲜花翠柏中的李敏同志作最后告别。29日上午,中国人民政治协商会议黑龙江省委员会原副主席、东北抗联老战士李敏同志遗体告别仪式在哈尔滨天河园殡仪馆举行,近千名干部、群众赶来,深切悼念这位中国共产党优秀党员、久经考验的忠诚的共产主义战士。

Comrade Li Min died in Harbin, on July 21, at 03:39 hours, from illness, aged 951).

李敏同志因病于7月21日3时39分在哈尔滨逝世,享年95岁。

Provincial leaders Zhang Qingwei, Wang Wentao, Huang Jiansheng, Chen Haibo, Wang Changsong, Li Haitao, Gan Rongkun, Wang Aiwen, Zhang Yupu, Wang Zhaoli, Jia Yumei and Du Heping attended the farewell ceremony.

省领导张庆伟、王文涛、黄建盛、陈海波、王常松、李海涛、甘荣坤、王爱文、张雨浦、王兆力、贾玉梅、杜和平出席告别仪式。

Du Yuxin, Song Fatang, Zhang Zuoji and others also attended the farewell ceremony.

杜宇新、宋法棠、张左己等也出席了告别仪式。

At 08:30 hours, the farewell ceremony began. Tianheyuan Funeral Parlor had been decorated in a dignified and solemn manner, with Comrade Li Min’s portrait at the center. Li Min’s body was covered with the CCP’s flag, and with the sound of the funeral music, everyone stood solemnly, with people tearfully observing a moment of silence.

8时30分,遗体告别仪式开始。天河园殡仪馆观天厅布置得庄严肃穆,正中悬挂着李敏同志的遗像。李敏同志的遗体上覆盖着中国共产党党旗,在哀乐声中,全场肃立,人们含泪默哀,深情缅怀李敏同志的光辉业绩和崇高风范。

Comrade Li Min was born in Heilongjiang Province, Tangyuan County, Wutonghe Village, on November 5, 1924. In 1936, she joined the Northeast Anti-Japanese United Army, and she joined the CCP in January 1939. She was sent to the USSR for studies in 1940, and after instruction travels within the Anti-Japanese United Army, she became a political instructor at the communications operations, and deputy party branch secretary in 1942, and received the military merit medal. In August 1945, after entering the Northeast with the Soviet Red Army, she took part in Suihua Prefecture‘s government building, army building, women masses, and other work. From November 1982 to 1993 she served as vice chairperson of the China People’s Political Consultative Conference’s Heilongjiang Provincial Committee.

李敏同志1924年11月5日出生于黑龙江省汤原县梧桐河村,1936年参加东北抗日联军,1939年1月加入中国共产党。1940年被派往苏联学习,1942年抗联部队编为教导旅后,在通讯营任政治教员、党支部副书记等职,被授予战斗功勋奖章。1945年8月随苏联红军进入东北后,参加绥化建政、建军、妇女群众等工作。1982年11月至1993年任黑龙江省政协副主席。

As a Northeastern Anti-Japanese United Army veteran, Li Min vigorously propagandized the Northeastern Anti-Japanese United Army history, promoted the Northeastern Anti-Japanese United Army spirit, propagandized and promoted the spirit of patriotism. She received the Order of Stalin medal, the Soviet War of National Defense Victory order, the remembrance medals of the 60th and 70th anniversaries of the Chinese People’s Victory in the Anti-Japanese War, as well as the Red Army Long March Victory’s 80th Anniversary commemorative medal – more than thirty medals in total. Comrade Li Min put forward that fourteen, instead of eight years of the Chinese People’s Glorious Anti-Japanese War should be included in China’s nation-wide primary and middle school textbooks, a proposal which was adopted2). Comrade Li Min whole life was a revolutionary life, a glorious life, and a huge life.

作为东北抗联老战士,李敏同志大力宣传东北抗联历史,弘扬东北抗联精神,宣传弘扬爱国主义精神,她生前曾荣获斯大林勋章、苏联卫国战争胜利勋章,中国人民抗日战争胜利60周年、70周年纪念章,以及红军长征胜利80周年纪念章等三十余枚奖章。李敏同志提出了关于将中国人民抗日战争光辉历史由八年改为十四年并纳入全国中小学教科书的建议被采纳。李敏同志的一生是革命的一生,光荣的一生,也是伟大的一生。

Leaders and comrades of the Provincial People’s Congress standing committee, the Provincial government, the Provincial Political Consultative Conference’s and military region, garrisoned troops, military police, from Harbin, and other provincial-level comrades, lifetime friends of Li Min, relatives and others also took part in the farewell ceremony.

省人大常委会、省政府、省政协和省军区、驻军、武警及哈尔滨市领导同志,其他副省级老同志,李敏同志生前友好、亲属等也参加了告别仪式。

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Notes

1) Depending on how you count birthdays. As Li Min was born in November 1924, she was 93 years old when she died.

2) [Update, Aug 10] The textbook revision ascribed to Li Min was reported by the Guardian in January 2017, but without a mention of any particular activism leading to this step. Chinese media reported in 2010 that in a local or regional northeastern event, a “Longjiang Internet Media Conference”, Li Min had advocated a revision of this kind, arguing that Chairman Mao fully recognized the Northeastern Anti-Japanese United Army’s role and achievements in the entire Anti-Japanese War, and [he also] pointed out that the war of resistance against Japan began in 1931.

However, no mention of Li was made in a Xinhua report in January 2017.

The revision, Xinhua wrote, had been made after serious expert studies, organized by the ministry of education. In fact, in recent years, historians and educationalists have made active efforts to guide the young generations to a more real, more comprehensive understanding of the War of Resistance. The revision also crushed some foreign forces’ distortions of the organic links between the eight and the fourteen years of war of resistance, and removed the arbitrary blotting of the Chinese Communist Party’s role as the Chinese nation’s tower of strength.

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Related

李敏 (黑龙江省政协副主席),Wikipedia, acc 20180808

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Saturday, November 19, 2016

People’s Daily: “Little NATO” drawing nearer as Japan and South Korea initial Intelligence Sharing

South Korean parliamentary opposition leader Woo Sang-ho of the main oppositional Minjoo Party said on Monday that they would impeach or dismiss the defense minister if the government went ahead with plans to sign a General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA).

Chinese Communist Party organ People’s Daily wrote on Wednesday or Thursday that if signed, this would be the first military cooperation agreement between the two countries after World War 2, and criticized the tw0 governments’ moves indirectly, by quoting a military expert.

→Link

On November 14, South Korea’s and Japan’s initialled a “Military Intelligence Protection Agreement”. If officially signed, this would be the first military cooperation agreement after the second world war. Military expert Zhang Junshe said in an interview with People’s Daily online that if the agreement in question was signed, the two countries would bypass America and exchange intelligence directly. This was significant good news for Japan and America, but for South Korea, this was like drinking Zhen poison to quench its thirst, or to allow the wolf into the house. The agreement could damage peace and stability on the Korean peninsula, and negatively affect peace and stability in the entire North-East Asian region.

14日,韩国和日本政府草签了《军事情报保护协定》。如该协定正式签署,这将是两国自第二次世界大战结束后签署的首份军事合作协定。军事专家张军社在接受人民网采访时表示,若该协定正式签署,日韩两国将绕过美国直接共享情报,这对日美两国是重大利好消息,但对韩国而言则如同饮鸩止渴、引狼入室。该协定可能破坏朝鲜半岛的和平稳定,对整个东北亚地区的和平稳定也会带来不利影响。

According to a report by South Korea’s “JoongAng Ilbo” on November 15, South Korea hopes to use Japan’s reonnaissance satellites, radar, and other advanced equipment to gather intelligence, while Japan could make use of intelligence gathered by traditional Korean manpower.

据韩国《中央日报》15日报道,韩国希望利用日本的侦察卫星和雷达等尖端装备获取情报;而对日本来说,则可利用韩国传统人工收集的情报。

Currently, there are separate “Military Intelligence Protection Agreements” between South Korea and the US and Japan and the US respectively, but the exchange of military intelligence between South Korea and Japan needs to go through America as a “connecting airport”, with no “direct flight”.

目前,韩美、日美之间分别缔结有《军事情报保护协定》,不过韩日两国交换军事情报需要通过美国这个“中转站”,双方之间并无“直航”。

Zhang Junshe pointed out that Japan had advanced military technology at its disposal and could rely on advanced reconaissance satellites, radar, and other first-class equipment to gather information concerning North Korea’s nuclear tests, missile launches etc., while South Korea, owing to its geographical advantage, could gather first-hand intelligence gathered by agents and spies. If Japan and South Korea signed the “Military Intelligence Protection Agreement”, the two sides could bypass America and exchange intelligence directly.

张军社指出,日本具有先进的军事科技,可凭借其先进的侦察卫星和雷达等尖端装备获得朝鲜核试验和导弹发射等情报信息,而韩国凭借地理优势,可获得更多由特工、间谍人员等获得的第一手人工情报。日本和韩国一旦签署《军事情报保护协定》,双方将可以绕过美国直接交换军事情报。

Some media reports point out that military cooperation between South Korea and Japan was a sensitive issue, because of the history of Japanese colonial rule over South Korea from 1910 to 1945 on the one hand, and also because of territorial disputes between the two sides. With historical and territorial issues unresolved, the South Korean government has always faced continuous resistance. On June 29, 2012, the South Korean government even brought a signing to an “emergency halt”, right on the scheduled day of signing.

有媒体报道指出,军事合作在韩日两国合作中属敏感范畴,一方面缘于日本1910年至1945年在朝鲜半岛推行殖民统治的历史,另一方面缘于双方现在的领土争议。在历史和领土问题均未解决的情况下,韩国政府推动签署军事情报方面协定一直面临重重阻力。2012年6月29日,韩国政府甚至在原定协定签署日当天“紧急叫停”。

This time, South Korea and Japan have signed the “Military Intelligence Protection Agreement” at tremendous speed, and South Korea said that it had only taken about a dozen days to conduct and intitial the agreement. Reportedly, the two sides will also work hard to sign the agreement by the end of November, after completing domestic procedures.

此次日韩两国“火速”草签《军事情报保护协定》,从韩方宣布重启有关协定谈判到协定草签仅用了十几天。据称,双方还将力争在完成国内手续后,于11月底前正式签署协定。

How could a agreement that had been stalled for years be settled in a dozen days? The background factors are providing food for thought.

一个多年无法的协定如今为何在短短十几天便得以尘埃落定?背后缘由耐人寻味。

According to Zhang Junshe, Japan has, after the end of World War 2, never profoundly reflected on the crimes it committed to the countries of North-East Asia. While America and Japan had made efforts all along to facilitate the signing of the “Military Intelligence Protection Agreement”, the opposing domestic voices in South Korea had always been very strong. The South Korean masses fear Japanese militarism’s rise from the ashes, so as to trample over the Korean peninsula once again. There are various reasons for Japan and South Korea to rush the initialling of the “Military Intelligence Protection Agreement”. From South Korea’s perspective, with president Park Geun-hye’s “Choigate” scandal almost inescapable for the government, the country is facing a serious domestic crisis. By signing military cooperation with Japan, domestic sight can be shifted and passed on to the crisis, thus easing the pressure on Park Geun-hye’s government because of “Choigate”. Also, as South Korea’s agreement to the American deoployment of the “THAAD” anti-missile system had led to a deepening of contradictions with China, Russia, and other neighboring countries, South Korea’s choice to deepen previous cooperation with Japan can also, to a certain degree, ease pressure from neighboring countries. In addition, America is very positive about facilitating the Japanese-South Korean signing of the “Military Intelligence Protection Agreement”. America has always hoped to strengthen military cooperation between its two Asia-Pacific allies, but for historical reasons, Japan and South Korea have, for a long time, given an appearance of unity while being divided in fact. If Japan and South Korea officially sign the “Military Intelligence Protection Agreement” at last, this undoubtedly spells an important result for America’s “Rebalance to Asia and the Pacific”, conducive to pulling Japan and South Korea together for the formation of a “small NATO” concept.

据张军社介绍,二战结束以来,日本从未对其在二战期间对东北亚各国所犯下的罪行作出深刻反省。虽然美、日方面一直在努力促成日韩签订《军事情报保护协定》,而韩国国内的反对声音一直十分强烈。韩国民众唯恐日本军国主义死灰复燃,再次践踏朝鲜半岛。此次日韩“火速”草签《军事情报保护协定》,原因是多方面的。从韩国方面看,目前朴槿惠政府深陷“闺蜜门”事件难以自拔,韩国内部面临着严重的政治危机。韩国此时与日本签署军事合作,可以转移国内视线,转嫁危机,减轻“闺蜜门”事件给朴槿惠政府带来的压力。此外,由于韩国同意美国在韩部署“萨德”反导系统,导致韩国与中国、俄罗斯等邻国矛盾加深,所以韩国选择加强与日本之前的合作,某种程度上也能减轻周边国家对其造成的压力。另外,美国对促成日韩签署《军事情报保护协定》非常积极。美国一直希望它的两个亚太盟友加强军事合作,但日韩两国因为历史问题长期貌合神离。若日韩最终正式签署《军事情报保护协定》,无疑是美国“亚太再平衡”战略的重要成果,有利于实现美国拉日韩两国构建东北亚“小北约”的构想。

Ma Yao, special researcher with the School of International Relations and Public Affairs at Shanghai International Studies University, told media that for a long time, the main obstacle for building trilateral US-Japanese-South Korean military cooperation had been in South Korea, and the progress in South-Korean-Japanese military cooperation meant that the obstacle for trilateral military cooperation was reduced and might never return. This was a “watershed” in South-Korean-Japanese cooperation in the military field.

上海外国语大学国际关系与公共事务学院特约研究员马尧在接受媒体采访时表示,长期以来,美国构建美日韩三边军事合作的主要障碍在韩国,而韩日军事合作方面的进展意味着三边军事合作的障碍或将不复存在,这是“韩日在军事领域合作的分水岭”。

For Japan and America, it would clearly be significant good news if Japan and South Korea signed the “Military Intelligence Protection Agreement”.

日韩若签署《军事情报保护协定》,对日本和美国而言,显然都是重大利好消息。

Zhang Junshe pointed out that under the guise of the North Korea crisis, Japan could take advantage of the situation and get involved in the affairs of the Korean peninsula, broaden its right to discourse, thus increasing its influence in Northeast Asian affairs. For America, closer military cooperation between Japan and South Korea is conducive to advancing its control of the two allied countries further, to serve its “Rebalance to Asia and the Pacific” strategy, to achieve its goal of controlling North East Asia, and to advance and achieve the protection of its regional hegemony.

张军社指出,日本未来可以以朝鲜危机为幌子,趁机介入朝鲜半岛事务,扩大其在朝鲜半岛事务中的话语权,进而提升其在东北亚局势中的影响力。对美国而言,日韩两国更紧密的军事合作有利于其进一步控制这两个盟国,为其“亚太再平衡”战略服务,实现其控制东亚的目标,进而实现维护其地区霸权的目的。

The next paragraph translation is a stub (or whatever). It apparently refers to undoing the limits put on Japan’s military power after WW2, and the Shinzo Abe government’s goal to “normalize” Japan’s military policies.

You can contribute to a translation.

In March 2016, Japan’s new military legislation was officially implemented, allowing Japan to go from ordinary times to “有事”时, from its own ground to freely using force abroad.

2016年3月,日本新安保法正式实施,使日本获得了从平时到“有事”时、从本土到周边再到全球自由对外使用武力的权限,从而使日本绕过和平宪法束缚,初步实现长期追求的“军事正常化”目标。

If Japan and South Korea sign the “Military Intelligence Protection Agreement”, this will open a channel for Japan to get involved in matters of the Korean peninsula. For South Korea, this undoubtedly means  drinking Zhen poison as a thirst quencher and allowing the wolf into the house, turning South Korea into the biggest victim. Zhang Junshe says that South Korea’s government, in order to shift the pressure from “Choigate” and to respond to America’s call, to resist China’s and Russia’s resistance against the “THAAD” deployment in South Korea, and to involve Japan, presents itself, on the surface, as retaliation against North Korea, it actually helps America to form a military alliance system in the Asia-Pacific region, and provides the conditions for Japan to step into the Korean peninsula.

若日韩签订《军事情报保护协定》,“则为日本介入朝鲜半岛事务打开了一个通道,这对韩国而言无异于饮鸩止渴、引狼入室,韩国将成为最大的受害者。”张军社如是说,韩国政府为了转移“闺蜜门”事件的压力,同时响应美国的号召,抵抗中国和俄罗斯对“萨德”入韩的反对,将日本拉拢过来,表面看是为了对付朝鲜,实际上是在帮助美国在亚太构建军事同盟体系,为日本插足朝鲜半岛提供条件。

Zhang Junshe also said that the main goal of the Japanese-South Korean “Military Intelligence Protection Agreement” was to strengthen shared intelligence about North Korea, and that this kind of military alliance directed against third countries was an expression of cold-war mentality that would cause fierce reactions from North Korea. It could damage peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and negatively affect peace and stability in the entire North East Asian region. As North Korea’s closest neighbor, China could therefore also face more security threats.

张军社还说,日韩《军事情报保护协定》主要目的就是要加强有关朝鲜情报的共享,这种针对第三国的军事同盟是冷战思维的表现,必然引起朝鲜方面的激烈反应,可能破坏朝鲜半岛的和平稳定,对整个东北亚地区的和平稳定也会带来不利影响。中国作为朝鲜半岛的近邻,也可能因此面临更多安全威胁。

South Korean Arriang News TV reported on Friday that the agreement could become effective without parliamentary approval in South Korea (where the government lost its majority in April this year). However, 59 percent of the public disapproved of the agreement.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Obama’s Visit to Hiroshima

A carefully thought-out and written → article there. Quoting single lines or paragraphs wouldn’t provide an accurate account of James Fallows‘ reflections on U.S. President Barack Obama‘s planned Hiroshima visit.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

America, Japan: a more equal Relationship?

US President Barack Obama gave NHK an exclusive interview ahead of his arrival in Japan, reports NHK, emphasizing that Obama would be the first sitting US President to visit the atomic-bombed city.

A full account of the interview doesn’t seem to be available online yet. NHK provides a video with excerpts from the interview.

News like this doesn’t make much sense without context. US-Japan relations, frequently dubbed one of the closest alliances worldwide, were contentious in 2009, according to the New York Times. At the time, Japan had just seen its first transition of power from one political party to another, and the Hatoyama government – in short – called for a more equal relationship with the United States, with a number of possible ramifications.

The departure from the usual Liberal-Democrats rule in Japan was only an interlude. And a nation’s foreign policies are usually bi-partisan, or meta-partisan – in Japan, too.

From the Middle East to Ukraine, questions are being asked about the U.S. ability and willingness to maintain peace. If it cannot or will not, who will fill the void?,

the Nikkei Asian Review asked in May 2015.

Japan sees its future more within Asia, the NYT quoted Eswar S. Prasad back then. That, however, doesn’t necessarily benefit Sino-Japanese relations, as suggested by the NYT six years earlier. Rather, Japan appears to be warming to Russia.

Japan and Russia have especially found ample opportunity to conduct a coordinated response to the most recent security crisis in North Korea. Japan and Russia have also sought to increase their economic and financial ties, which are particularly important for the development of the Russian Far East,

Anthony Rinna of the Sino-NK research group noted in March this year. The Russian pivot to the East – possibly with a lot of help from Tokyo – was hampered by two obstacles however, Rinna cautioned: the long-standing dispute over the Kuril Islands, and Japan’s alignment with the West over the Ukraine crisis.

And while

the containment of China remains the primary purpose of the Japan-U.S. defense apparatus, U.S. strategic containment of Russia also continues to be an important factor in the Japan-U.S. alliance, which comprises one key flank of the American strategic posture in Asia,

Rinna added.

But being part of an alliance doesn’t mean that Japan would forgo foreign policies of its own. When Obama (reportedly) tried to talk Japanese prime minister Abe out of a meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin, his appeal was unsuccessful.

It’s not only Japan who needs to take existing alliances into consideration. The same is true for Russia – but less so than Japan. Russian obligations toward China can’t be compared to Japan’s obligations toward America. That may not be a general opinion in China, but observers who watch the developments probably wouldn’t be caught by surprise if Russia and Japan were to sign a peace treaty in the not too distant future.

In December 2013, Cui Heng (崔珩) of the East China Normal University’s Russia Research Center in Shanghai, published an opinion on the China Internet Information Center (中国网) website. Titled “Russia won’t keep away from Japan because of Russia-Chinese relations”, Cui’s article pointed out that Russia’s preparedness to be considerate of China was limited, even though Sino-Russian relations were “at their best in history”.

Abe’s generation in particular had, because of their country’s economic successes, developed a sense of national greatness, and were seeking normalization for Japanese statehood. The economic revival after Abe’s taking office [there was a revival indeed, three years ago] had added to this conscience among Japanese politicians, Cui wrote. Ending the official state of war with Russia would be part of normalization. Even if hardly relevant in military terms, the status quo weighed heavily in terms of in terms of symbolism.

By coming to formally peaceful terms with Russia, Japan could also shed its status as a defeated country, Cui argued, and then addressed a factor that made Russia’s perception of Japan different from both China’s, and America’s:

Russia isn’t only prepared to develop beneficial relations with Japan for geopolitical reasons. In Russian historical memory, there isn’t much hate against Japan. During the age of the great empires, Japanese-Russian relations in the Far East were of a competitive nature. Many Russians still talk about the 1905 defeat, but the Far East wasn’t considered a place that would hit Russian nerve as hard as the crushing defeat in the Crimean war. Back then, Japan wasn’t perceived as a threat for Russia, and from another perspective, if there had been anti-Japanese feelings, there wouldn’t have been a revolution. According to perception back then, the [1905] defeat was a result of the Russian government’s incompetence, not [brought about by] a strong adversary. The outstanding achievements of the Soviet Red Army in 1945 led to a great [positive] Russian attitude, but still without considering Japan a great enemy.

By visiting Hiroshima, Obama appears to make a concession to Tokyo’s desire for “normalization”. Of course, few decisions are made for only one reason – they are part of a network, or hierarchy, of objectives. One objective was stated by Obama himself – that we should continue to strive for a world without nuclear weapons.

There is no great likelihood that Japan would shift away from the alliance with Washington. Japan’s distrust of China probably outweighs even America’s. That’s a stabilizing factor in US-Japanese relations.

But Tokyo is certainly trying to put its relations with America on a more equal footing – not just formally, but by creating diplomatic and economic facts that will help to further this aim.

Russia’s Far East is nothing to disregard, in terms of its economic potential. Japan can do business with Ukraine, and with Russia, and is likely to cooperate with both.

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Related

Shared Concern, Nov 11, 2015
Greater Contributions, April 25, 2014

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Friday, April 15, 2016

Monument Policies (1): Poland

As Poland celebrates 1,050 years of Christianity in Poland, the country’s right-wing government is pushing the country’s European heritage as the EU steps up its criticism, writes Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international media platform. The news article seems to reflect the general angle of the German press on Polish current affairs quite well, although  milder than some German-language reports, even at DW itself, where a headline in February read Polen: Muslime unerwünscht (“Muslims unwelcome”, a choice of words that triggers memories of “Jews unwelcome”, a notice on many German doors, especially once the Nazis had come to power. Dirty German history at Poland’s expense, in only two words.

Coverage on Poland

DW: How ugly of you, Poland

Not all is well between Brussels and Warsaw, as an article by DW correspondent Barbara Wesel reflected in December, after the Polish government’s attack on the country’s supreme court, and its state media:

Polen is the biggest net recipient of EU funding in all of Europe. And Warsaw is wrong if only sees the European capital as the main cashier’s window. From there, obligations accrue, too. The number one obligation is to observe the rules of the club. If Jarosław Kaczyński believes he can impudently defy them, he needs to be disabused. Unfortunately, there are barely ways of imposing official financial sanctions, but maybe all sorts of mistakes can be found in future Polish project proposals… Rudeness like that of the Law-and-Justice party chief needs to be answered with rudeness.

Polen ist der größte Netto-Empfänger von EU-Fördermitteln in ganz Europa. Und Warschau irrt, wenn es in der europäischen Hauptstadt nur die Hauptkasse sieht. Daraus erwachsen auch Verpflichtungen. Erste Pflicht ist auf jeden Fall, die Regeln des Clubs einzuhalten. Wenn Jaroslaw Kaczynski glaubt, er könne sich frech darüber hinweg setzen, muss er eines Besseren belehrt werden. Leider gibt es in der EU kaum Möglichkeiten, offiziell finanzielle Sanktionen zu verhängen. Aber vielleicht finden sich ja allerhand Fehler in künftigen polnischen Projektanträgen… Auf einen so groben Klotz wie den polnischen PiS-Parteichef gehört ein grober Keil.

This kind of creative anger – probably indicative of the general mood among the political class in the City of Brussels – is a somewhat unpleasant sight, especially when Germans wield the financial club. Nothing is forgotten in Poland: no pressure, no words, which above all shouldn’t come from German mouths, will dissuade us, German news magazine Der Spiegel quoted Jarosław Kaczyński in January.

Kaczyński’s policies may be facing widespread opposition in Poland by now – but with comments like these, he may be able to reach some of his opponents, too.

Brussels and Berlin seem to understand that. While wide swathes of German press coverage is pulling Polish policies to pieces, German and EU diplomacy remain … well … diplomatic.

And the real dark clouds, from Warsaw’s point of view, are gathering in the West, from the direction of another complicated neighbor. That would be Russia. When it comes to the Katyn massacre, for years, “the blame for the killings was alternately attributed to the Germans and the Russians”, a Radio Poland continuity announcement informed the station’s listeners on Wednesday (7th minute), Poland’s official day of remembrance. The report that followed the announcement was more accurate, stating that the Soviet Union (the Soviet NKVD) had been responsible.

In the same broadcast, German journalist Boris Reitschuster is interviewed (20th minute) about his latest book (to be published on Friday, April 15) about Putin’s Secret Army. (Whatever may be said about the book (in terms of reliability or otherwise), conservative press people appear to be fans, while liberal and leftist publications don’t display nearly as much fascination.)

There was no official mention of the tragedy in Poland during the communist rule nor much was said in the West, which is also guilty of concealing evidence of the Stalinist crime,

Radio Poland said on Wednesday.

Maybe it’s this mood that defines the current mission of Polish remembrance policies: 500 monuments to the Soviet soldiers, who drove the German Wehrmacht out of Poland in 1944/1945, are scheduled to be demolished (CNBC) or removed (Newsweek).

It’s not the first action of this kind, but it is now reportedly the Polish state Institute for National Remembrance (INR) that calls on regional authorities to dismantle the monuments. It could become a comprehensive measure.

And at the same time, Polish media discuss the positive symbols that shall replace those from the communist era. A Radio Poland press review, still on April 13:

Back to Rzeczpospolita now which claims that President Lech Kaczyński, who was killed in the plane crash in Russia six years ago, deserves a dignified memorial in the Polish capital. Having in mind, however, deep divisions in Polish society surrounding the circumstances of the crash, it is not a good idea to erect such a memorial in front of the presidential palace, as is proposed by the Law and Justice Party. The Rzeczpospolita columnist thinks that hospitals, schools and libraries built from public funds and named after the late president would be a better way of remembering President Kaczyński, and of bridging the divides within Polish society.

The presidential palace in Warsaw may have to wait for its copy, but this what the presidential memorial might look like.

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Notes

纪念“卡廷惨案”受害者的橡树, CRI, April 14, 2016
Instructions Importantes, CRI, April 12, 2016
Lech Kaczyński, 1949 – 2010, April 10, 2010

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Sunday, April 3, 2016

Germany: Is “The Ivan” Back?

The Russians are coming was a standard line when I was a child. Sometimes, everyone into the blockhouses would be added. it was meant to be fun, but there was an underlying fear in it.

Another term for Russians in general would be The Ivan*) (probably an echo from “Ivan the Terrible”). At least in West Germany, fear of Russia was part of collective post-war identity – much more so than in Britain or France.

There may be many possible explanations for this, and I tend to believe that it was a combination of several factors (Germany being subject to allied, including Soviet, control being one that lasted particularly long) was one of them. West Germany’s existence and raison d’être as a frontline state was another. And then, there was a widespread inclination among many Germans to see their country as a victim in the first place, rather than as an initiator of Nazism and boundless war.

By 1983, it had become evident, at least in certain quarters, that the USSR had lost most of its expansionary power. In terms of soft power, Moscows message had become about as attractive as athlete’s foot, and in military terms, the “Evil Empire” was grossly overestimated.

But there was a narrative, and as usual (when the narrative is well crafted), it prevailed over facts. On March 31, 1983, US president Ronald Reagan told a Los Angeles World Affairs Council Luncheon that

In the last 15 years or more, the Soviet Union has engaged in a relentless military buildup, overtaking and surpassing the United States in major categories of military power, acquiring what can only be considered an offensive military capability. All the moral values which this country cherishes-freedom, democracy, the right of peoples and nations to determine their own destiny, to speak and write, to live and worship as they choose—all these basic rights are fundamentally challenged by a powerful adversary which does not wish these values to survive.

Der Spiegel, back then a center-left and liberal German newsmagazine, took issue with Reagan. While the USSR was certainly no paper tiger, and while it was true that Soviet military had seen a huge push during two decades under Leonid Brezhnev (with American military budgets being  reduced by some 2.5 percent per year during the Nixon, Ford, and Carter presidencies), the USSR’s military power wasn’t as strong as first reported.

Shortly before a paper was published by US secretary of defense, Caspar Weinberger (also in March 1983, and supportive of Reagan’s March-31 remarks), the CIA had retracted all its US statements concerning Moscow’s military budget:

military expenditures had been overestimated by fifty percent. Rather than by three, four, or more percent, there had been growth by a maximum of two percent since 1976.

Such subtleties, however, didn’t put Ronald Reagan off-message. His story remained the same; the Soviet Union was about to put an end to [a]ll the moral values which this country cherishes.

Fourty-year-old statistics like those debted in the early 1980s are hard to verify (or falsify). But in at least one respect, the Spiegel authors, in 1983, were wrong: contrary to what they believed (quoting “experts”), America proved able to finish the USSR off in a gargantuan arms race, and the factors that lead to the Soviet Union’s demise in 1991 were pretty much the weaknesses that the Spiegel authors themselves had pointed out less than a decade earlier.

The rest, as they say, is history. The world, from Alaska to Siberia (the long way round, of course), and from Pole to Pole, happily awaited huge peace dividends. After all, we had reached the end of history.

But Russia felt squeezed by NATO – understandably, the Baltic nations and Poland had felt rather urgently that they needed a strong reassurance against potential future Russian expansionism. (Not everyone appeared to trust the story about the end of history, and besides, a democratic society doesn’t necessarily live in a peaceful, unaggressive state.

Germans have viewed Russia – and the Soviet Union – differently since the mid-1980s. By 1987, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev had overtaken Ronald Reagan, in terms of popularity here. That didn’t change after the USSR’s demise: while Gorbachev was seen as a failure, or even a “sellout” of sourts, among many Russians, Germans considered him “the” man who had made German unification possible. And Boris Yeltsin‘s Russia, even if not looking terribly respectable at the time, certainly didn’t look like something to fear either.

In an article in Germany’s weekly Die Zeit, a Moscow correspondent stated in May 1994 that once again, a majority of Russians considered the end of the USSR a greater calamity than its beginnings, and that Russian reformers had not been successful in “learning from the West”, as stipulated by Yeltsin two and a half years earlier.

Yeltsin had to accept that the safeguarding of authority, which had for centuries been based on expansion rather than on enlightenment, could not be redesigned with a new constitution alone.

Jelzin hat einsehen müssen, daß Herrschaftssicherung, die seit Jahrhunderten durch Ausdehnung statt durch Aufklärung erfolgte, mit einer neuen Verfassung alleine nicht umgestaltet werden kann.

Only pacts and compromises with conservative forces could save the “autumn” of Yeltsin’s presidency, the correspondent wrote.

In economic terms, a Stratfor paper dating from November 1999 suggested that veterans of perestroika, such as Prime Minister Vladimir Putin or former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, could strip the oligarchs of their wealth and influence, and enact more centrist policies.

To quite an extent, this seems to be what Vladimir Putin‘s presidency has done. In its early years, it continued the ideological consolidation started by Yeltsin himself, and his administration began to implement a policy that the “Zeit” Moscow correspondent described as west-oriented as a matter of principle, but moving away from America in particular. […] In America, however, the “Zeit” article quoted Yeltsin, forces were concentrating that would like to keep Russia in a state of controllable paralysis. That said, Putin  – in the eyes of investors – may have arrived at a point similar to Yeltsin’s, by now. Too little appears to move, economically.

When reading the press these days – certainly the German press -, you might be forgiven if you think that Russian policies had fundamentally changed since the 1990s. But they haven’t. There has been a remarkable Russian continuity – and a tendency in the West to disregard realities in Russia, and in its remaining sphere of influence.

When late German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle told Moscow in December 2013 that it was “not appropriate” for the EU “to ask third parties for permission before inviting the Ukraine to develop into Europe’s direction”, this represented widespread western- and central European illusions.

Russia, too, is a European country – most Russians live on the European continent, and Moscow, Saint Petersburg, and Volgograd not least, are European cities. The discriminatory – and self-centred – approach of equating Europe with the EU has done much to its recent crises, be it on its eastern, be it on its northwestern boundaries.

There is an important difference to make: it would have been unethical if NATO had refused Polish or a Baltic country’s accessions, and it would have been particularly unethical if Germany a main author of Polish partition and loss of the Baltic states’ sovereignty,- had demanded such a refusal.

But in Ukraine, there had been no consensus to join an alliance with the West. In a row, administrations closer to Moscow or closer to the West had been elected, but there had been no continuity. There was Russian intervention, but there had been unwarranted Western interference prior to that. I have no doubt that any Russian leader, be it Putin, Yeltsin, or Gorbachev, would have reacted just the way Putin did. That was no matter of conviction; it was a matter of geopolitics.

Now, Germany’s federal government intends to counter Russian espionage, propaganda, and disinformation in Germany, writes German daily Die Welt. What they mean is, that Russian and pro-Putin publications have blown several issues in the news – issues that have recently troubled many Germans – out of proportions, or given them a slant that favored narratives from the fringes, rather than the much-conjured “center” of German society.

If the German public can be persuaded by domestic propaganda to swing back from a rather “russophile” (since the 1980s) to a rather anti-Russian attitude again (as from the 1940s to the 1970s) remains to be seen. But if the political class have their way, it is going to work that way.

That said, there are surprises, once in a while. In May 2015, Joachim Gauck, not particularly famous for being a friend of the Russian people, gave a speech in the Westphalian town of Schloß Holte-Stukenbrock, a prisoner-of-war campsite during World War 1 and, more notoriously, World War 2. What Gauck said, was this:

We have gathered here today in Schloß Holte-Stukenbrock to recall one of the worst crimes of the war – the deaths of millions of Red Army soldiers in German prisoner-of-war camps. They died in agony without medical care, starved to death or were murdered. Millions of prisoners of war for whose care the German Wehrmacht was responsible under the law of war and international agreements.

Saying that was laudable, especially as most Germans I know aren’t even aware of this chapter in their history. But there is a catch: to say something only once hardly changes anything. Only regular repetition – as anyone with just a faint idea of how propaganda works can tell you – will make sink inconvenient truths like these sink in. Most Germans I know aren’t actually aware of the scale of German warcrimes against Soviet war prisoners. And to make the warprisoner story sink in isn’t deemed desirable: neither by most of Germany’s media, nor by the German population in general, many of whom would like to see a Schlußstrich, a “final stroke” underneath the complete chapter of Nazism.

Some time in the early 1980s – prior to Gorbachev’s tenure as Soviet party secretary -, the West German foreign office published a booklet for use in school classes. Our school was a rather conservative environment, but the booklet made it into our classroom anyway. Titled “Aufrüsten-Abrüsten” (Armament-Disarmament), it was a try to educate us in foreign politics, and I don’t remember much of it. But there was a remarkable line in it which basically said that, no matter to which conclusions we, as school students, might come concerning the Soviet Union’s role in Europe, we should develop some sympathy – even if not necessarily acquiescence – in the light of the past.

I guess that this booklet had much to do with the man at the helm of the foreign office at the time – Hans-Dietrich Genscher, German foreign minister from 1974 to 1992, who died on Thursday. As phobic as West German feelings against the “East” might have been back then, there seemed to be an understanding, at least in some substantial quarters of the political class, that you can’t have peace without trying to understand those who may (or may not) become your foes, and that your own decisions may matter in the process.

This understanding may no longer be here, and I’m wondering how much misery it may take before we will regain some common sense.

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Notes

*) Max Frisch, in his novel “Homo Faber”, raised a modest monument for German anti-Russian sentiment, in the shape of an, as it turns out later, otherwise/actually/mostly quite likeable German philistine:

No German desired re-armament, but the Russian forced America into it, tragically, which I, as a Swissman […], couldn’t judge, because I hadn’t been to the Caucasus, he [the German] had been in the Caucasus, he knew the Ivan, who could only be taught a lesson with weapons. He knew the Ivan! He said that several times. Only possible lesson through weapons!, he said, because nothing else would impress him, the Ivan —

I peeled my apple.

Distinction between Herrenmenschen and Untermenschen, as advocated by the good Hitler, was, of course, nonsense; but Asians remained Asians —

I ate my apple.

Kein  Deutscher  wünsche  Wiederbewaffnung,  aber  der  Russe zwinge  Amerika  dazu,  Tragik,  ich  als  Schweizer   (Schwyzzer, wie  er mit Vorliebe sagte)  könne  alldies  nicht   beurteilen,  weil  nie im Kaukasus gewesen,  er sei  im  Kaukasus gewesen,  er  kenne den Iwan, der nur durch Waffen zu belehren sei. Er kenne den Iwan!
Das  sagte  er mehrmals. Nur durch Waffen zu  belehren!  sagte  er, denn alles andere  mache  ihm keinen Eindruck,  dem  Iwan   –

Ich  schälte meinen Apfel.

Unterscheidung   nach  Herrenmenschen   und   Untermenschen, wie’s  der  gute  Hitler  meinte, sei  natürlich  Unsinn;  aber  Asiaten bleiben Asiaten –
Ich  aß meinen Apfel.

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