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July 16 2013

Protests Crush Nuclear Complex Plans in Southern China

Following three days of continuous protests, it seems the Heshan municipal government in Jiangmen city has abandoned its plans to construct a massive nuclear fuel complex.

Some believe that this victory – confirmed in a written document  [zh] released on July 14, 2013 – is only temporary. They worry the project may simply prop up somewhere else, near the highly populated Pear River Delta in Southern China.

The Heshan government made several concessions after hundreds of local residents took to the street on July 12 enraged by the high-risk project. At first, the government tried to negotiate to extend their consultation period to 20 days. But this move failed to pacify local residents and at a press conference on July 13 they announced, “with respect to public opinion, the project would not be approved” [zh], even though the city government had already signed the initial agreement with China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC).

Protesters took to the street to oppose construction of the proposed nuclear fuel plant on July 12, 2013. Image from Zhu Kunling's weibo.

But some people are not satisfied with the government's claim. In the past, Chinese local governments have adopted delay-tactics like this to pacify people's anger. For example, in Dalian, the city government suspended the PX factory after thousands took to the streets in 2011 in the “Not-In-My-Back-Yard” campaign, but the factory was restored back to normal operations after a few months [zh].

“Little bee” (@小蜜蜂-V) and “Little Eaffen” (@Eaffen细细)'s comments on Sina Weibo:

小蜜蜂-V:看了新闻发布会,但只字没提到取消两只,只是说在社会未达共识时,不立项,不动工。认误解成取消了?

“Little bee”: Having seen the press conference, (the spokesperson) did not mention ‘cancel’, only said ‘as long as there is no agreement in the society, the project will not be approved and built. (Have we) misunderstood?

Eaffen细细:真的假的?不立项什么意思?应该明确表明以后都不会建才行!

Little Eaffen: Is it true? What does it mean by ‘not approve’? We only accept ‘not to build the plant forever’!

Some netizens spelled out that the halt is just a ‘delay tactic’ [zh]:

张二飞flyfan:又不知道哪个内陆城市要倒霉了

Zhang Erfei flyfan: Wonder if which inland city will be unlucky.

就是爱摩托:会不会过几天又宣布:鹤山核燃料项目取消,经专家研究,决定将项目迁到新会~

Damn like motorcycle: Will (the government) announce that the Heshan nuclear processing plant is cancelled, and with research from professionals, the project will be relocated to Xinhui (another Guangdong city)?

This government document is what the protesters had been longing for. It is written that Jiangmen government cancelled the plant project. (Source: Sina Weibo)

The government document on the cancellation of the nuclear plant project [zh].

With anger and distrust, hundreds of local residents continued to rally on the third day on July 14 demanding a written official document on the cancellation of the project. The city's two vice mayors arrived at the protest spot, Donghu Square [video] to reassure the public of their decision. Still people could not accept their verbal promise and they marched to the municipal government building, where the secretary of municipal Party committee showed them a written notice of the project's cancellation. They cheered and claimed victory.

However, the written document has not cleared all skepticism as the contract signed between Heshan government and CNNC involves 37 billion RMB (6 billion USD) investment. So far, the CNNC has not announced any change in its plan. Some are worried that the project will eventually find a home in the Pearl River Delta. For example, “ocean_Joe” said:

:凡事要三思而行。zf为何会引进该项目?为何不在咨询广大民众后才考虑引进?为何要在13日内决定一项可能会影响几百年甚至几千年嘅事?今日核息,明天会不会又有新花样?请不要触碰到广大江门以及珠三角人民的底线,珠三角是我家。

Ocean_Joe: We have to think carefully. Why did the government introduce the project? Why wasn't it introduced after public consultation? Why did (the government) intend to make a decision that affects our lives and our offsprings’ lives, in only 13 days? The dispute has been settled, but who will know [when or where] the project might start again in the future? Please do not test the baseline of the people of Jiangmen and Pearl River Delta. My home belongs to the Delta.

February 04 2013

Taiwan: Who Misled Chomsky?

Chomsky's support for the anti-media monopoly campaign in Taiwan has been reported as being misled by activists. [Public domain photo]

Chomsky's support for the anti-media monopoly campaign in Taiwan has been reported as being misled by activists. [Public domain photo]

The photo above, in which Noam Chomsky is holding a placard, is part of a global campaign organized by Taiwanese student against media monopoly in Taiwan. Chomsky's photo has been circulated widely online via social media since early January 2013. However, a number of news outlets recently reported that he was misled by Taiwanese anti-media monopoly activists into supporting the campaign. What has exactly happened? Who has misled Chomsky?

In the past few days, a number of mainstream media outlets run by the Want Want China Times Group in Taiwan reported that Chomsky was misled by a young Taiwanese female student, Lin Ting-An. Below is a list of translated headlines:

1. Chomsky: If I knew the campaign is against China, I would not have hold the placard [zh] – China Times 04﹣02﹣2013
2. Anti-media monopoly became anti-China campaign, Chomsky was set up [zh] – China Times 29-01-2013
3. Misled to hold the placard, Chomsky: This is series distortion [zh] – China Times 28-01-2013

In addition to the newspapers, the Citi TV channel, also controlled by Want Want China, ran a two one-hour news commentary program on January 29 and 30, 2013 dedicated to “clarify” Chomsky's position. The program accused Lin Ting-An, who invited Chomsky to hold the placard, of misleading and using the famous linguist, “the conscience of the U.S”. The commentators in the program also criticized the strategy of the media monopoly movement for singling out pro-China capital, namely Want Want China Times, for its campaign. Below is a short clip of a Citi TV interview with Chomsky:

The media reports were triggered by some email communications between a Macau based media professor Shih-Diing Liu and Chomsky in which Liu explained his understanding of the anti-media monopoly movement in Taiwan on January 27 2013:

However, I am unsure if you have realized that this anti-media monopoly movement, with its high level of participation among young people, cannot be understood as a simply a movement seeking freedom of the press and democracy on the island. The participants, speakers, and interveners (including the mainstream media, scholars, and groups who have followed along and appropriated the issue) not only focus on the issue of media resources being monopolized by capitalists but also point toward an enemy. This enemy happens to be the one that the government of your country has been cautiously dealing with. However, in the context of Taiwan and the Taiwan Strait, using the name of “defending Taiwan” to refuse, oppose, and reject all people and matters relating to China and the Chinese government is not an isolated phenomenon, and it needs to be placed in the hegemonic structure led by the United States that you have described so we can fully understand it. The slogan in your hands should also be interpreted in a specific political context.  

In response to Liu's long email Chomsky wrote a brief reply which was quoted and made public by Liu in his Facebook:

Thanks for the interesting comments, which go far beyond anything I know about. I also don’t recall a placard referring to “Chinese manipulation.” What I was shown, and held, didn’t go beyond media monopoly and freedom of press. I hope that interpretations don’t go beyond that.

Attached to Chomsky's reply is Liu's rather lengthly interpretation which was picked up by China Times on its January 28 news report and turned into a news and commentary framework among Want Want China Times’ media outlets for use against the anti-media monopoly campaign. Liu interpreted Chomsky's photo as “abduction”:

[...]如果人家喬姆斯基並不知道此一訴求,你把人家“綁架”來舉個牌子迎合你自己的立場需求,是不是也太不尊重對方了?為什麽不充分告知人家你們真正的反對中國的立場呢?為什麼牌子上,只有”反對媒體壟斷”有英文翻譯呢?你反中國的立場大可以明白表示,讓對方清楚認知考慮後再表態,不需要遮遮掩掩。是否因為怕喬老要是知道了這個立場,未必會表態支持,索性就模糊其辭,就不得而知了。但如果喬老人家根本就不知道你運動所包括的反中訴求,就把人家趕鴨子上架,這樣的做法,未免也太缺乏政治技巧了吧![...]

[…]If Chomsky did not know about this demand [anti-China factor], you have “abducted” him by asking him to hold a placard that expressed your own position. Isn't this rather disrespectful? Why didn't you explain clearly your anti-China position to him? Why was the only English translation the slogan “anti-media monopoly”? Why do you have to cover this up and not let him know your anti-China position? Are you afraid that if Chomsky knew the position, he would not have shown his support? That's why the slogan has been blurred? Of course we don't know the real intention. But if Chomsky did not know there is an anti-China factor in your movement and you placed him in the duck's window display [meaning abduction], your political tactic is very poor!

他所認定和支持的立場,針對的是反對媒體壟斷和媒體新聞自由。喬老並不希望外界的解讀,踰越這個範疇,或加油添醋。 問題是,台灣部分反中人士和媒體,卻綁架他來為自己的立場掩護。每個運動都有自己的立場訴求,但為自己的立場訴求辯護手段要經得起檢驗,要用道理說服人。
 
按此理解,如果喬姆斯基當時不是被誤導、被糊弄,就不知道怎麽回事了。那些要求他舉牌的,自己應當最清楚。人家顯然沒有被告知完整訊息,就被硬扯進來為你們自己的立場背書。你們這種暗渡陳倉、移花接木的做法,和你們口口聲聲所反對的言論壟斷和扭曲,有什麼兩樣?你們不就是打着”反壟斷”的正義旗幟,做相反的事嗎?

What he knew and supported was against media monopoly and supported media and press freedom. He doesn't want people to misinterpret and add “other favors” to his position. The issue at stake is, some anti-China people and media have abducted him to strengthen their position. Every movement has their own stand but they have to establish their position with valid means and reason.

According to such understanding, I don't know what would have happened if Chomsky had not been misled or fooled. Those who asked him to hold the placard should know exactly what had happened. It is obvious that he had not been told the compete message and been dragged to support your position. The way the messages have been hidden and transplanted is as bad as the kind of distortion and monopoly that you criticize. Under the flag of “anti-monopoly”, you are doing the opposite.

To clarify the situation, Lin Ting-An posted her email communication to Chomsky in her Facebook. The email, inviting Chomsky to join the campaign, explained in detail the background of the campaign against Pro-China media group Want Want China Times’ acquisition of Next Media, with the translation of the placard slogans:

Here is now a horrible media monopoly event happening in Taiwan: The Pro-China Want Want China Times Group chairman, Tsia Eng-meng, is going to buy the Taiwanese branch of Next Media (which was owned by Hong Kong mogul Jimmy Lai). If this purchase is approved, Mr. Tsai will control about 46% of Taiwan's newspaper market. Mr. Tsai not only owns the newspaper (China Times, Commercial Times), but also the magazine, TV channel, and cable TV service, and his turning a blind eye to Beijing's human rights violations (He denies the Tiananmen square massacre) make us become really worried about the future of Taiwanese media.

In order to against this purchase and the government ignorance, Taiwanese students have launched several protests since November and will hold another one on New Year's Eve. There is now an activity which urges global supporters to photograph themselves, holding the slogan of “Oppose Media Monopoly, Reject the black hand of China, uphold freedom of the press, I protect Taiwan in ___”, and upload it online. (I attached my photo which took at Yang Ming university, Taiwan.)

Although Chomsky has further clarified that he had not been misled by anyone and the incident was a “misunderstanding”, his statement has not had much bearing on the major media outlets.

The debate about whether or not the China Factor should be stressed in the anti-media monopoly campaign has been a debate within the movement since day one. On the one hand, activists are aware that the media liberalization policy since the 1990s has been the driving force of the capital monopoly of Taiwan mainstream media. On the other hand, the influence of mainland China capital, as well as its political agenda to take control of Taiwanese media corporations, has become more and more obvious in the Want Want China Times’ acquisition of TV Cable Network and Taiwan Next Media. Similar debates have been going on among activists for months. After the Chomsky incident, in the anti-Want Want China Times campaign page, Jiangeng Chiou raised the issue [zh] again:

我想我們應該更認真地討論「反媒體壟斷」是否該和「反中國黑手」拖勾。這波反壟斷運動已經引起大眾的廣泛注意,是個推動媒體改革的很好的契機,如果只是勾起藍綠意識和統獨議題,對於更廣的媒體問題幫助不大,非常可惜。看看公視問題,台灣有好的媒體人,受到不只中國還有其他政治和財團力量狹持。反中國黑手的同時,何不連其他政治黑手,財團黑手全部一起反一反?

I think we should discuss if the “anti-media monopoly” should go hand -n-hand with “anti-China manipulation”. Currently the anti-media monopoly has attracted the public attention and it is a golden opportunity to campaign for media reform. The blue vs green and unification vs. independence sentiment is not helping the campaign. Let's take a look at the problem faced by Taiwan Public Television Service, the pressure faced by media workers in Taiwan not only comes from China, but also other political clans and capital. Apart from China, we have to confront other political and corporate forces.

In a comment Charlene Delerk replied:

關鍵是現在想操控台灣媒體的,正是中國政府,而台灣某些特定人士則做為其手套.討論”要不要拿掉中國政府因素',那就正中了中國政府的下懷,因為支持者已經在這個問題點上內亂分化了.其實這事幾個月前就討論過了,現在還跟著中天起舞,拿出來炒冷飯,真的是都餿了.喜歡中國的就去中國,沒人攔著

The key is China government wants to manipulate Taiwanese media. Some people who have occupied special positions have become their groves [covering their black hands]. The discussion of whether or not we should delete China factor in the campaign is serving their purpose of dividing our supporters. This issue has been discussed some months ago, now people are still dancing with CitiTV and re-firing the rice that is also sour [meaning turning outdated news into news]. If they like China so much, they can go to China, no one stops them.

For those who are outside Taiwan, it is very difficult to understand the political dynamic and it seems rather inevitable that Chomsky be misled and distorted in such a media and political environment.

August 31 2012

Portuguese, a Global Language?

A community page on Facebook, Língua Portuguesa: Uma Língua Global? (Portuguese Language: A Global Language?) [pt], provides a diversity of materials to promote the debate about the expansion of Portuguese language and its consequences. Several critical issues on the policies of this language of around 200 million speakers are addressed, such as minority languages, multilinguism and linguistic colonialism.

September 15 2011

Social Media Uprising in the Chinese-speaking World

Hong Kong In-Media, a media advocacy organization based in Hong Kong has published an e-book, Social Media Uprising in the Chinese-speaking World. The preface of the book, written by Jack Qui Linchuan is posted at interlocals.net, where you can also download a pdf preview of the book.

November 19 2010

Taiwan: National dignity hurted in the Asian Games

By Portnoy Zheng

On November 17, leading Taiwanese Taekwondo athlete Yang Shu-chun got disqualified in the 2010 Asian Games during a match with a Vietnamese competitor for “wearing non-certified electronic foot equipment”, or “electronic socks”. The incident has stirred up a lot of emotions in Taiwan. It was turned into an online populist nationalistic outrage, with more than 27,000 angry Taiwanese Facebook users joining the online Anti-Rogue campaign.

The controversial referee

Engadget Chinese addresses the controversy from a technical perspective. He points out that the function of the “electronic socks” is to help the judge to record details of a successful attack in Taekwondo. Yang's “electronic socks” are an old version and may affect the recording. However, the judge could have issued a warning and asked her to change the equipment, instead of disqualifying her:

本屆亞運會規則從嚴,不符合 規定會馬上被判失去資格,與一般跆拳道比賽,選手護具、衣服、牙套出現問題,以罰分或警告處罰不同。

The rules in this Asian Game are harsh, they disqualify the athlete immediately if they made a mistake. In other competitions, if the Taekwondo athletes wear non-standard equipments, such as clothes, teeth braces or protection wears, the penalty is usually a warning or deduction of points.

A Dong collects all related video clips to show what had exactly happened during the match. Below are two video clips. The first one shows the match between Yang and the Vietnamese competitor. Arguably Yang is more skillful. The second one shows the emotional scene on how the judgment caught Yang by surprise. She kept asking what had happened and refused to leave the stage, with tears in her eyes.

To show their support for Yang Shu-chun, netizen very quickly launch an online sticker campaign:

Translation: Go go go! Yang, we are proud of you!

Su Li-wen (蘇麗文), another national female Taekwondo athlete who is considered the “light of Taiwan”, protests against the referee and believes that the event is a political framing:

當選手這麼多年第一次看到這如此離譜的抹黑!!而且我們的得分全是上端動作。
以我們世界前三的實力根本無須對差距很大的對手做這些小動作!這根本是政治抹黑!
抹煞選手的運動人格!選手的努力就為了這一刻,不管輸贏都要為台灣而戰!
就算戰死在賽場上,也沒關係。但是就是無法接受這樣的抹黑和不公平事件!
我真的氣瘋了!!台灣人不是這樣好欺負的!黃顯詠選手就證明了這一點!
往後還有三天,我們會使盡全力把你們的欺負和汙辱全部一次討回來!!
看著吧,台灣人不是好欺負的!

As a national athlete for so many years, this is my first time seeing such outrageous and vicious framing!! Especially as all our points come from our top quality actions.
We have no reasons to cheat in a fight against a competitor who is not at the same level as we are, the World Top 3! This is political framing!
It unfairly damages the athlete's sports character! All the athlete's hard work is preparation for this moment. No matter win or fail, fight for Taiwan!
It is no big deal to die in the game, but we just can never accept such framing and unfair treatment!
I am madly angry!! We Taiwanese are not for bullying! Huan Hsien-uung proved that! (Note: Huang is another female Taekwondo athlete who won Gold medal after the row)
In the remaining three days, we will use all our strength to revenge for all the bullying and humiliation.
Just wait and see, we Taiwanese will not be easily humiliated!

Who to blame?

The controversy has taken a political turn and the Sports Affairs Council of Taiwan has become a target of online criticism[zht]. Many angry Facebook users criticize the Council for not standing firmly and fighting back against the disqualification:

我們不禁要問,當多數的台灣人民看到這樣極不合理的判決而譁然時,台灣政府為何可以如此理性?我們當然不是要它跟中國政府大吵一架,或是杯葛這次的賽事,但台灣政府連最起碼的態度都不願意演一下…

We cannot but ask, when such an unfair judgment caught a majority of Taiwanese by surprise, why can the Taiwanese government be so rational? Of course we are not asking the government to fight with the Chinese government or boycott the Asian Games. But at least the Taiwanese government should appear tough…

The emotion has induced a number of racial remarks against the Korean Filippino referee and mainland Chinese. In mainland China, there are also some debates about the incident. Tianya user Big sparrow points out that other athletes from mainland China and East Timor also got disqualified in the Taekwondo Game. Another Tianya user 5218734 says:

棒子+菲律宾猴子 双重国籍的裁判整的事,你不去骂裁判,反而怪到中国头上了,还说中国阴谋论,脑残吧。。。中国亚运会拿100多个金牌分分秒秒的事,还用的着干这事? 弯弯媒体反正知道,只要是中国“打压”台湾的新闻,就等于升职+奖金大大地,让我们拭目以待,看看弯弯媒体会找到几条 “打压“的证据,只要自己输了就是老共的阴谋, 厌倦了弯弯天天喊被打压的悲情牌, 天天吵吵闹闹的, 自己作弊也说被打压, 比赛前服用兴奋剂没有查出来,比赛完后,被查出你服用兴奋剂,然后处罚你就是打压???

That Korean Filipino referee with dual nationality made the decision… instead of blaming the referee, you blame China, and accuse China of conspiracy, this is idiotic…China has won more than 100 gold medals, we are winning every second and every minute, why do we need to cheat? Taiwanese media professionals know that as long as they report news about China “suppressing” Taiwan, they can get promotions and huge bonuses. Let us see how much evidence Taiwanese media will find out about the “repression”. When Taiwan loses, they say that it is the conspiracy of the communists. I just got tired of Taiwanese media shouting “repression” everyday. They are shouting and wrangling all the time, even when Taiwanese cheated, they still said they were being repressed. You are caught after the game for doping, but not before. If you got punished for this, do you still call that a repression???

Populist politics

Very often, social media like Facebook and Plurk have become platforms for accelerating irrational hatred and nationalism in Taiwan, especially during international games. The upcoming mayoral election and the manipulations along with it also provide a lot of firewood to let all those online campaigns burn.

In fact, it is not the first time that rage against referee over controversial game results has appeared during international sports competition. Cheng Da-wei (鄭大為), an experienced and world-famous Taiwanese Taekwondo coach, referee and ex-athlete, faced fierce protests and scolding over a controversial ruling. In the 2009 East Asian Games in Hong Kong, he decided that the Korean competitor won without a foul over a controversial hit at the neck of the Taiwanese competitor. Cheng's family was harassed by raging people for “not supporting our own man” and his Korean wife left him because she could not stand the harassment anymore. Under great populist pressure, Cheng was deprived of his qualification as coach by the National Taekwondo Association for three years. Even though there was an online petition aiming to rehabilitate Cheng's reputation and job[zht] because his referee was reasonable and fair, not many people really cared.

Orbisx finds such sports related populist nationalism hypocritical:

台灣人有時候真的很假仙,平常國家國格被踐踏、國家定位不清都漠不關心,運動員被搞的時候卻又好像亡國一般,實在非常捨本逐末。

Sometimes Taiwanese people really are hypocrite. Our nation and national dignity are trampled all the time, our national identity is a mess and most of the time people don't seem to care. But when an athlete was bullied, people suddenly think that it is like the death of our country. This is just concentrating on the symptoms while neglecting the causes behind.

Some netizens, such as PipperL, are worried that the interplay between emotions in the social media and the mainstream media may amplify such irrational hatred. Is this going to be something that netizens can fix on themselves? Or will populist politics in social networking sites lead to further tribalization? We will see.

August 24 2010

Taiwan: Let’s go poking around under the rock of ECFA

By I-fan Lin

The Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) between Taiwan and China was signed on June 29, 2010 by the Strait Exchange Foundation and the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (semi-official representatives for Taiwan and China). Later on August 17, the Legislation Yuan of Taiwan approved this agreement.

The process seems smooth and efficient at the surface, but the story is not simple. Many Taiwanese have poked around under the rock of ECFA and questioned the rationality behind the agreement.

The story of ECFA began two years ago. In 2008, Ma Ying-Jeou, the president candidate of Kuomintang (KMT), was elected as Taiwan’s 12th president. After Ma sworn into office as president, his office proposed to sign CEPA (Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement) with China. platocast explained how CEPA evolved to ECFA:

馬政府一開始說要跟中國簽CEPA…大家一細查,發現全世界只有香港跟中國有簽CEPA,台灣的主權被踐踏至極。馬英九政府怕了,才改成說要簽CECA,大家又發現這換湯不換藥,痛罵馬政府,於是馬英九在二月底一急之下說改簽ECFA。

In the beginning, Ma’s office proposed to sign CEPA with China…After some background check, we found only Hong Kong and Macau signed CEPA with China. Therefore, signing CEPA with China would give away Taiwan’s sovereignty. Due to the blame, Ma’s office changed their mind and proposed to sign CECA with China. However, we found CECA was similar to CEPA and blamed Ma’s office again. At last, President Ma proposed to sign ECFA in Feb (2009).

Although Taiwan’s government started to work on ECFA in Feb, 2009, the contents of ECFA were hidden from the public until it was signed by the Strait Exchange Foundation and the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait in June, 2010. The blackbox process worried the opposition party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), and they called for a debate about ECFA with the president. Under the pressure, a televised debate between President Ma Ying-Jeou and the chairperson of DPP, Tsai Ing-wen, was held and aired on April 25th, 2010.

blackrain was disappointed that Ma failed to clarify the doubtful points in ECFA that were addressed by Tsai in the debate.

蔡英文的幾個質疑,加深了 ECFA 的可疑程度。例如:
。農產品開放項目將達到六、七百項之多,馬英九完全迴避這部份的補救措施
。馬英九完全不答有哪些產業會受到衝擊,或是他所宣稱的 17 個受影響的產業是什麼,加深了更多人的疑慮
。蔡英文點出馬英九靠攏財團、以及貧富差距的公義問題,馬英九完全無法回答
。蔡英文成功地反擊了馬英九所宣稱的「急迫性」,馬英九無法化解

What Tsai Ing-Wen questioned deepens the doubt toward ECFA. For example
(1) There are 600-700 agriculture products listed in ECFA, but Ma avoided answering if the government has prepared for the impact.
(2) Ma did not answer the question regarding the industries that will be influenced by ECFA or the details of the 17 industries that he claimed will be influenced by ECFA, which deepened many people’s suspicion.
(3) Tsai pointed out that Ma benefits the big firms and ignores the problems of the poverty gap and social justice, but Ma could not answer this question.
(4) When Tsai controverted the urgency (of signing ECFA) claimed by Ma successfully, Ma could not explain.

Later the DPP distributed a video below accusing ECFA, as CEPA, will cause social injustice:

Here is ESWN's transcription of the video:

(Cantonese voice-over)

There are lots of rich people in Hong Kong. Reports speak of the averarge income in Hong Kong, but I don't get it. There are more and more poor people; everybody works longer hours; eight out of ten street sweepers are university graduates; senior citizens have to scavenge in the streets. Actually, is the Chief Executive sent over from Beijing? It does not matter what CEPA is. It can't be a bad thing to let the people of Hong Kong make more money. But it shouldn't be this way. The rich eat shark fin, whereas the poor cannot even have a single vermicelli noodle?

(in written words) After Hong Kong signed CEPA, it has become the city with the largest wealth inequality in the world. We don't want an ECFA that let the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

After the debate, the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) requested to hold a referendum on the question: “Do you agree that the government signs ECFA with China?” However, this referendum was rejected by the Referendum Review Commission.

The decision made by the Referendum Review Commission reminded Taiwanese the problem of having this commission in their government. subing said,

公審會頂多有權力做程序審查,也就是說檢查一下連署人數足不足夠,有沒有作假,該送的文件有沒有到齊…根據台灣的公投法,公投要成案最後大約要87萬人連署,這21個人有什麼資格實質審查87萬人的意願?這根本就是違反民主基本原則,也違憲。

At most, the Review Commission should be only authorized to review the process, e.g., check if the number of people cosigned is enough or if all the documents are submitted…Based on the Law of Referendum, we will need 870000 people to cosign the referendum to pass it. Why do these 21 people (in the commission) have the right to judge the intention of these 870000 people? What this commission did violates the basic rules of democracy and violates our constitution.

Despite the dispute, ECFA was signed by the semi-official representatives for Taiwan and China on June 29, 2010. After the articles of ECFA were finally revealed, they stimulated a lot of discussions. For example, KuanMom criticized the Cross-Strait Economic Cooperation Committee mentioned in article 11,

(ECFA)第11條所成立的「兩岸經濟合作委員會」(*),完全不受任何台灣立法機關的監督,空白授權給海基海協指定任何人選, 全權負責協議的執行、解釋、爭議處理、後續所有協商的速度及廣度。ECFA第11條完全不提該委員會如何組成?對誰負責?由誰授權?受誰監督?經費何來?設置在哪?

(*)雙方成立「兩岸經濟合作委員會」(以下簡稱委員會)。委員會由雙方指定的代表組成,負責處理與本協議相關的事宜。

The 11th article (in ECFA) mention setting up the Cross-Strait Economic Cooperation Committee (*), but it does not mention how the Legislation Yuan of Taiwan can supervise this committee. In other words, the committee members assigned by the Strait Exchange Foundation and the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait without appropriate authorization will handle the execution and explanation of ECFA, the arbitration of disputes, and all the following negotiations. The 11th article in ECFA does not mention how the committee will be organized, who it should be responsible for, where its authorization comes from, who will supervise it, the funding source of it, or the location of it.

(*) Temporary translation of this article based on the available Chinese version: Both sides should set up the ‘Cross-Strait Economic Cooperation Committee’ (abbreviated as the committee). The members of this committee are assigned by both side, and these members will be responsible to the processes related to this agreement.

Despite the dispute, ECFA was sent to the Legislation Yuan. According to the video taken from the conference room, ECFA was read and passed rapidly without sufficient discussion. hehe said,

從媒體上,我們只看到了大肆報導某立委肢體衝突,但真正的暴力,恐怕是整個會議過程毫無程序正義的多數暴力。
坦白說,我個人對於ECFA簽不簽,並沒有太大的堅持,我也相信多數人和我一樣,希望的只是在一個民主程序下、透過多方意見的討論形成共識;縱使不能形成共識,至少也在各種意見可以得到充分表達的情況下,政府可以更周延的考量到不同立場或生存的人,可能受到的衝擊,而得以有好防範措施。
然而,影片中國會決定將ECFA等相關法案(其中牽涉可能數十、上百的法律條文)逕付二讀的過程,不禁令人懷疑,這樣的立法程序,我們還能期待什麼?

From the media, we only see the physical confrontations between some legislators. However, the real violence is the tyranny of the majority in the meeting without any justice.
To be honest, I do not have a strong opinion regarding signing ECFA or not. I believe most people are like me, and what we want is a consensus that is reached by discussions from different perspectives and following the rules in democracy. Even if we cannot reach a consensus, we hope the government can benefit from these discussions and protect those who will be influenced by ECFA.
Nevertheless, in this video, the way ECFA, which may include tens or hundreds of articles, was passed make us doubt that what we can expect with this kind of legislation process.

Well, we all know what will happen if we poke around the rocks–some very nasty things live under rocks.

August 08 2010

China: Visa tales

By John Kennedy

Just how how hard can it be, asks Sina blogger and freelance journalist Chen Zikun in his August 6 post, for Chinese travelers to get a visa—with Chen's answer apparently being: not too hard—in which he shares the stories behind visas for the many countries he's been to:

第一次出国办理签证前,一直喜滋滋地认为:来自一个经济快速发展的大国,特别是CCTV等根红苗正的媒体经常自鸣得意地报道“中国游客的奢侈品购买力高居世界第一”时,心里的底气就更足了。中国都已经“可以说不了!”哪个国家还敢不会笑脸相迎,顺利给予签证放行呢。

然而,事与愿违……

Until I went to apply for a visa for my first ever trip out of the country, I was always happily under the impression that, being from a country with a rapidly-developing economy, and especially with how smug red-to-the-root media like CCTV are in their frequent reports about how Chinese tourists always rank first in purchasing power of luxury goods. Couldn't have felt better. China had already learned how to say No, thus there probably wasn't any country that wouldn't greet me with a smile, never mind give me a visa hassle-free.

Then, the opposite turned out to be true…..

2003年深秋,第一次办理的出国旅游签证是申根国家的奥地利。要求我提供房产、车产、银行5万存款证明,单位介绍信,介绍信的职能是,汇报我年收入在10万人民币以上,担保我肯定如期归国、绝不滞留非法打工,当然,还要求“如实填写”八辈祖宗的详细履历……

In late fall 2003, the first overseas tourist visa I applied for was for a Schengen country, Austria. They required property ownership certificates, car ownership certificates, proof of bank balance exceeding RMB 50,000, a letter of introduction from my workplace, the purpose of which being to confirm my annual salary to be over RMB 100,000 as well as guarantee that I would return to the country and not overstay my visa to work illegally. Of course, they also needed an “accurate” record of my ancestry going back eight generations….

第二次去埃及和被欧盟一直不齿的土耳其。埃及相对简单,但先决条件也不少,本以为也遭受歧视的土耳其能够通情达理,不料,这个昔日的奥斯曼帝国,对中华人民共和国公民的态度跟欧盟国家一样的傲慢!

My second time was to Egypt and that country long despised by the EU, Turkey. Egypt was fairly simple, but which isn't to say there weren't a fair number of preconditions. Being so subject to discrimination as it is, I would have though Turkey would be reasonable about processing visas. Turns out, the former Ottoman Empire country is just as arrogant toward citizens of the People's Republic of China as it is to those of European Union countries!


话说回来,别责怪人家外国人,自家的香港、澳门也要求你先办理经过严格审核的签证,才可能放行呢。其手续与程序,同办理其别人家一样复杂好繁琐,更重要的是,日后还经常遭到导游的冷眼甚至辱骂。

Having said that, don't be too quick to judge the foreigners. Even our own Hong Kong and Macau require you to first undergo a strict process before they'll issue a visa. The paperwork and procedures involved are just as complicated and elaborate as those required by anybody else, but even more important is that once you do get it, you find yourself constantly stuck with cold glares and even abuse from tour guides.

第二次进入申根国家,是法国签证,照例又是复印一大沓资料以及银行存款等财产证明,再次发誓绝不赖在人家屋檐下,一定如期回来。

My second time applying to a Schengen country was with a visa to France. Per usual, they wanted copies of yet another stack of information as well as proof of financial statements, and again I had to swear that I wouldn't remain anywhere and that I would return on schedule.

毕竟是难兄难弟,越南明显地好客,不费心调查你是否有足够的资产和计较你是否拥有体面的工作,交钱后差不多就OK了!

We are brothers of the same misfortune, after all, and Vietnam is much friendlier, not taking the trouble to check whether or not you own sufficient assets or fixating on the suitability of your job; you pay your money and then you're more or less good to go!

太平洋上的美国托管地塞班岛,虽然有美国有亲戚关系,但美国东家知道中国人再怎么聪明,也无法把塞班做跳板蹦到美国本土,所以手续相对简单,但单位介绍信还是少不了的。

In the Pacific Ocean, Saipan, although administered by the United States, its masters know that even with as clever as Chinese are, there's no way for any of us to use the island as a springboard to land on American soil, and therefore applications are relatively straightforward, but of course that employee letter is still required.

虽然曾经体制相同,俄罗斯实际上也多次尝试给予昔日小兄弟一些宽松,但发现招惹不得,稍有松懈,中国人就非法涌入、大量滞留。屡放屡收的结果是,仅仅比苛刻的欧盟强一点,但有些公证、身份证明一样不少!

Despite the similar political system we once shared, Russia has in fact made multiple attempts to relax procedures for its former brethren, at least until it became clear that each time they did, large numbers of Chinese would flood in and end up staying. The result of this tightening and relaxing has been requirements that are only marginally more strict than those of the EU, and don't forget those notarized papers and proof of identity!

最亲密的盟国朝鲜,对于中国游客的财产证明并不看中,但对职业的审查却极为严格。记者休想进入!但以盈利为目的的旅行社自有对策,把职业一栏随便改成“教师”或“经理”就平安无事了。失望的是,签证是没有“伟大领袖”的头像和他们独自一国实行的“主体元年”年历划分日的期。

Oh-so-intimate North Korea, which doesn't place much emphasis on proof of assets for Chinese travelers; screening based on profession, however, is extremely strict. Journalists, don't even think about getting in! Travel agencies, however, in pursuit of profit, have found a way around this, by changing employment status to ‘instructor' or ‘manager'. What's disappointing is that visas don't come with a picture of The Great Leader, or stamped with the special Juche year Gregorian calendar unique to their country alone.

马来西亚除了对中国年轻女子(大量性工作者活跃在马来西亚,使所有的中国良家女子也收到牵连)审查严格外,基本网开一面。新加坡也如此,只要有足够的存款证明就成。签证是另外一张纸,不占护照页面。

Malaysia, aside from harsh screening of young Chinese women (large numbers of sex workers are highly active in Malaysia, something which implicates even upstanding Chinese women), basically has its doors wide open. Singapore is the same, although proof of sufficient bank balance is needed. Visas are issued separately, not on a page in your passport.

虽然我们把他们的外交部、国防部、行政院统统打上引号,从心理上安慰自己。但是,在“一个中国原则”下,去台湾比办理去其他国家甚至还要繁琐。至少没有正式开放前的2004年是这样。

Although we put their foreign ministry, ministry of defence and Executive Yuan in quotation marks, that's just to comfort ourselves. Under the “One-China policy”, applying to go to Taiwan is far more complicated than for other countries. At least up until 2004 when things had yet to formally open up.

台湾签证与众不同,套用李登辉的话,毕竟这是“特殊的国与国”关系。幸好我不是军人、党员和官员,审查轻易通过。但去台湾却必须从香港经由第三国才能实现。

Taiwan's visas are different from most, covered in sayings from Lee Teng-hui. After all, these are “special state-to-state” relations. Fortunately I'm not a soldier, Party member or official, so getting approval was easy. Though if you go to Taiwan, you have to go through Hong Kong or another country.

这个第三国就选择了菲律宾。这个东南亚唯一的天主教国家,没有调查我的财产和职业。

For my third country, I chose the Philippines. This the only Catholic country in Southeast Asia, and neither my assets nor profession were checked.

韩国与朝鲜的签证区别明显,首尔机场人员见到我的朝鲜签证时,惊讶地问:我可以用手机拍照吗?

The difference between South and North Korean visas is obvious. When the employee at Seoul Airport saw my North Korean visa, they asked excitedly if they could take a picture of it with their cellphone.

柬埔寨既不担心中国记者的“负面报道”,更不害怕中国黑工的“非法滞留”。甚至落地再办理签证也来得及。

Cambodia is not worried about “negative reports” from Chinese journalists, and are definitely not worried about Chinese people working or staying illegally. You can even apply for a visa upon arrival.

经常被国际社会谴责践踏人权的缅甸军政权,与朝鲜有很多相同之处——都不欢迎喜欢追求真相的新闻记者。

With a military regime so frequently criticized by the international community for its human rights situation, Myanmar has a lot in common with North Korea: neither of them like journalists coming chasing after the truth.

泰国属于少有的几个最容易签证的国家之一,即使没有红衫军闹腾。不过,去那个国家没有兴趣,只不过,首都曼谷是交通枢纽,以这里放射状地飞向缅甸仰光、斯里兰卡的科伦坡、印度尼西亚的雅加达等地。

Thailand belongs to the small group of countries whose visas are easiest to obtain, even when the red shirt army isn't creating any disturbance. Although, I have no interest in traveling there except that the capital Bangkok is a transportation hub and from there one can fly on to Yangon in Myanmar, Colombo in Sri Lanka, Jakarta in Indonesia, and other places.

2005年。印度尼西亚还不对中国公民个人发放签证,必须多花一倍的钱委托旅行社办理才成。

In 2005, Indonesia was still not issuing visas to Chinese citizens; one had to pay a hundred times the normal cost to a travel agent to take care of the paperwork.

非洲的岛国塞舌尔,同另一个印度洋岛国毛里求斯相同,破例可以让中国游客同其他各国游客那样,平等免签进入。这是出入境盖的印章。只是每逢遇到中国人入境,检验就格外严格。

The African island nation of Seychelles, quite similar to the Indian Ocean island nation of Mauritius in that, unlike nearly all other countries, exempts Chinese travelers from a visa. This is the stamp given at the Immigration crossing. When Chinese go through, however, inspection is more thorough than normal.

满以为兄弟的非洲国家一定不会如此歧视中华人民共和国的护照,不料,强国梦在黑非洲照样破灭!坦桑尼亚与肯尼亚同样铁面无私,都必须在北京的大使馆先把签证办理完毕才能动身。幸好乌干达可以“搭车”进入。目前,在东非共同体内,有其中一个国家签证就可以通行。

With Africa full of countries we think of like brothers, definitely anyone with a People's Republic of China passport will not be faced with this kind of discrimination. Nope, turns out the Superpower Dream gets destroyed in black Africa too! Tanzania and Kenya were equally strict in requiring visa processing to be completed at their embassies in Beijing before I could go. Fortunately, I was able to “truck” into Uganda. Currently, one travel throughout the EAC with a visa from any of its member countries.

更有甚者,世界上最不发达国家之一的马达加斯加,在法文的申请表上还特意用汉字注明:本人在马达加斯加期间,保证不非法打工。另一个最不发达国家之一的赞比亚,更是明令规定:包括中国在内的六个国家不能享有落地签证待遇……

In Madagascar, the least developed country in the world, they went and stipulated in Chinese on the French-language form that “this person is not allowed to work illegally during their stay in Madagascar.” In Zambia, another least developed nation, it was much clearer: “China is one of the six countries not privy to visas upon arrival”……

要想获得津巴布韦签证,请记住,同朝鲜、缅甸一样,千万不能透露记者身份!专制政权都害怕舆论开放。

If you want a visa to Zimbabwe, please remember, as with North Korea and Myanmar, do not under any circumstances reveal that you are a journalist! Authoritarian regimes all fear open discussion.

美国签证最为麻烦,要象应聘工作那样先去使馆“面试”和按手印,北京人还好说,新疆人也得不远千里,来北京的秀水街碰运气,拒签后,100美元的签证费不退!不过,我面试时,所以的财产证明人家根本没有看!

American visas are the most troublesome. Like job-hunting, you have to first go to the embassy for an “interview” and be fingerprinted (Beijingers will tell you that Xinjiangers face the same thing when they show up and try their luck at the Xiushui Silk Market), and if you get rejected, you don't get that USD 100 back! Although, when I had my interview, they didn't even bother looking at my proof of assets!

早在1989年,遭到加拿大拒签,没想到,后来竟然去了三次这个国家。不过,第二次入境时遇到麻烦,签证官反复检查护照后,不解地质问:你为什么去伊朗?叙利亚、津巴布韦、缅甸和朝鲜这样的国家?你跟他们军人有联系吗?你见过他们的领导人吗?

Back in 1989, I got denied a Canadian visa. Who knew that I'd actually end up going there three times? Although, I had a lot of trouble the second time when the visa officer, after repeatedly going through my passport and with no explanation, kept asking my: why did you go to Iran? Or countries like Syria, Zimbabwe, Myanmar and North Korea? Were you in contact with any soldiers there? Did you meet with any of their leaders?

印度需要往返机票、1万元存款证明。但只能一次入境和30天期限。最恼火的是印度大使馆很没信誉,极不靠谱,当你按规定的时间去取护照时,往往会毫无歉意地说:“没有办好呢,明天来吧。”

India requires a return plane ticket and proof of RMB 10,000 in the bank. Only one entry is allowed for a maximum of thirty days. The biggest headache is that the Indian embassy is so unreliable—this was extremely uncool—such that when you go back to the embassy at the specified time to pick up your passport, you keep getting the completely unapologetic response of “it's not ready, come back tomorrow.”

尼泊尔是对中国最友好的国家,签证免费,且两天后即可来取。大使馆外门可罗雀,不用排队直接进入使馆内填表。不要财产证明。

Nepal is the friendliest of all countries to China: visas are free and processed in two days. No line-ups outside the embassy, you can go straight in and fill out the forms. No proof of assets necessary.

虽然,我们本家兄弟台湾、香港的游客,能够在申根以及欧盟其他许多国家享有免签厚爱,但安理会五大常任理事国之一的中国,其国民却享受不到这些待遇。去北欧四国时,又带着中国银行至少10000元的存款证明、本人在职证明和年收入证明、单位的营业代码、领导或法人代表的保证签字以及其他个人财产证明等等,来到芬兰大使馆签证。

Although travelers from our own brothers of Taiwan and Hong Kong are lovingly exempted visas for Schengen as well as European Union and many other countries, citizens of China, one of the five major permanent members of the UN Security Council, are unable to enjoy such treatment. When I went through four countries in Northern Europe, I had to bring proof of at least RMB 10,000 in savings at Bank of China, proof of employment and annual salary, my employer's company code and, among other things, a signed letter of guarantee from my leader or a legal representative as well as various proofs of assets, to get a visa from the Finnish embassy.

老挝签证费用130元,条件宽松。

A visa to Laos costs RMB 130 and requirements are loose.

同卡塔尔一样,作为中东最大的中转站,阿联酋的迪拜,也不在护照上贴签证。

As was the situation in Qatar, as the largest transportation hub in Middle East, the visa I was given in Dubai, UAE, was not stamped into the passport.

伊朗是唯一要求女性入境者提供的照片必须是带头巾的国家,不知海湾其他国家有没有类似强制规定的?

Iran is the only country that requires women to wear head scarves going through Immigration, unless other countries in the Gulf have similar forced requirements.

叙利亚,又一个以色列的敌国,为此,这本护照没有用完之前,我不敢贸然去以色列大使馆办理签证。

Syria, another enemy of Israel, which is why until this passport expires, I don't dare head to the Israeli embassy for a visa.

约旦驻华大使馆的工作人员,态度粗鲁无礼,甚至比其他驻华使馆里的一些中方雇员的态度还恶劣。

Staff at the Jordanian embassy to China were quite rude, far more vile even than attitudes of some Chinese staff at any other embassy in China.

蒙古的签证官居然能够把申请者的年月日写错,害得我发现后第二次找他们纠正。

The Mongolian visa officer actually got my date of birth wrong the first time, after I noticed I had to go back and ask them to correct it.

澳大利亚尽管要求必须把逝去了20多年、甚至40多年的父母姓名“如实填写”,彻底调查清楚我的底细,但还好允许一年内多次往返。第二次再去时,免受了一次心灵屈辱。

Although Australia required the names of both parents from the past 20-40 years “written accurately” and fully investigated my ever last detail, in the end gave my a multiple entry one year visa. The second time I went, I was spared the humiliating ritual.

日本虽然不断降低签证的门槛,但中国人要想像港台同胞一样从容第出入东京,还是一个遥不可及的梦想。也难怪,每个旅行团都面临游客中途脱逃的风险,10万现金被旅行社扣押,也依然挡不住脱逃的洪流。

Although Japan keeps lowering its visa requirements, it's a dream still years in the future when Chinese will be able to go in or out as freely as their Taiwan or Hong Kong compatriots. And no wonder, ever tour group runs the risk of travelers escaping partway through; even a deposit of RMB 100,000 kept by the travel company hasn't stopped the flood of runners.

没有与中国建交的不丹,自然不会在护照上留下签证,只是出入境是盖个章而已。

Bhutan, which has yet to establish diplomatic relations with China, naturally leaves no visa in the passport, instead just a stamp when pass through Immigration.

第三次办理尼泊尔的签证,免费时代早已结束。

By the time of my third visa to Nepal, the era of free visas had long passed.

孟加拉要求提供邀请函,没办法弄邀请函,只好委托旅行社办理,费用翻番,有的黑心旅行社甚至提高4倍!

Bangladesh requires an invitation letter, and if that can't be provided the travel agent will arrange it for several times the cost. Some evil travel agents will raise the fees as high as up to four times the original cost!

How does all that that compare to your experiences traveling?

In a final note, Chen writes:

现在,想必大家发现:一个国家的国际地位、国家实力、形象与声誉到底如何,通过办理签证得到了验证。但愿“提升国家形象”的宣传片快快播放吧,别让大陆的炎黄子孙总沦为不受欢迎的三等贱民(当然,有钱有势的人都有了其他“国籍”)。

By now, everyone must have noticed that people one can ascertain the international standing and national power, image and reputation of a country through the process of applying for visas. I hope they hurry up and release that propaganda film which will “improve China's national image” so that the Yellow children of China don't have to put up with being treated like third-rate scum any longer (of course, those with money and power already have have their own other “citizenship”).

June 09 2010

Macau: Amendment of media law

By Oiwan Lam

Michelle from interlocals.net translated an article updating the free speech situation in Macau. Professional media workers are calling for media reform while the government wants to amend laws to control the Internet.

February 25 2010

Macau: Alternative public sphere

Chong from interlocals has a summary of a local research on the development of online alternative public sphere in Macau.

December 21 2009

Macau and China: The 10-year anniversary of Macau’s handover

Jottings from the Granite Studio reviewed the colonial history of Macau and the politics of historical narration by the Chinese Communist Party in the 10-year anniversary of Macau's handover.

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