The real story on China: Linda Jaivin

There is an absolute MUST READ on The Monthly right now! I have long admired Linda Jaivin’s reportage/analysis on China. See most recently Death of a hero: Liu Xiaobo 1955-2017.

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A sample from the new Monthly article.

One of the earliest slogans of the post-Mao reform years that began with Deng Xiaoping’s ascension to power in 1978 was “Look to the future.” The CCP began scrubbing its history of the awkward bits: the horror of the anti-rightist campaign that condemned hundreds of thousands to labour camps, the three-year famine that killed tens of millions, and the decade-long Cultural Revolution that began with an orgy of violence and ended with China’s society in trauma and its cultural heritage in tatters. As a result, the nearly 53% of the Chinese population (731 million people) that was born after 1976 know little of these things or even about the events of 1989, when the People’s Liberation Army crushed the massive student-led, pro-democracy protests in Beijing and elsewhere with extreme violence. They are a fortunate generation that has grown up amid a constant rise in living standards, social freedoms and economic opportunity….

The Chinese-language China Daily is a state-run English-language newspaper that
answers to the CCP. In 2016, with China’s propaganda chief and Politburo member Liu Qibao present to witness the ceremony, China Daily signed a deal with Fairfax papers to distribute China Watch, a supplement sprinkling hard nuggets of Party line through a fairy floss of panda news, upbeat economic stories and features like ‘Why I Moved to Beijing for a Comfortable Life’.

Here’s a fun translation fact: official Chinese media translated the word xuanchuan, which can mean propaganda, promotion or publicity, as “propaganda” for the first 40 years or so of the PRC – as in “Ministry of Propaganda”. By the ’90s, however, the CCP had come to realise that “propaganda” had a certain “dictatorship”-like odour in the West, and changed the official English name of its Propaganda Department to “Publicity Department”.

China Watch appears in the Washington Post and London’s Daily Telegraph

Not uncritical, as you can see, and very well-informed. Do read it all. It is essential if you are truly to make sense of the Sam Dastayari affair, much of the commentary on which has been more than tinged with hyperbole, in my opinion. Here is an outrageous example from Immigration Minister Peter Dutton:  ‘Labor can’t have a foreign spy sitting in the senate’.

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POTUS/DOOFUS — no worse, much worse

One of my former students, a writer living in Europe, posted on Facebook: “I cannot believe what he has done now. The fact that I do not need to explain what I am talking about is enough.” A commenter noted: “I yearn for the day when we never have to say his name again, or look at his face, or hear his horrible voice” and my friend responded: “Or look at his tiny hands.”

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On US site Foreign Policy: Why Trump’s most un-American moment can’t be overlooked.

As a person of Jewish parentage, I feel the danger evoked by the president’s retweets especially keenly. When I was growing up, my mother would occasionally pull out a book of family photos from the former Czechoslovakia, where both of her parents had been born. The early pages were full of well-dressed Moravian urbanites from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Then there were photos of the smiling faces of their grown children, all people who were later murdered in the Holocaust.

Yes, truly vile. See London Mayor, UK politicians open fire on US President for retweet of far-right group. As every decent Briton (or Australian) should!

Instead of bothering with the Buffoon-in-Chief’s execrable taste in retweets, which says volumes about his tact and intelligence, visit 7 questions Muslims are tired of hearing. Or Hundreds of Muslims marching against terrorism in London ‘ignored by British media‘ (2015).

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Fact is DOOFUS apparently — according to that hack spokesperson of his — didn’t know what vermin he was retweeting! If anything this makes his offence worse! We should all always know what the source of our posts/tweets actually is!

Finally, an apt Twitter exchange:

Brian Klaas Retweeted Donald J. Trump

More people were killed in the Las Vegas mass shooting than have been killed by Islamist terrorism in the UK since 2005.

Brian Klaas added,

Bye, bye Bob! And about bloody time too!

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Ah, poor Zimbabwe, potentially a prosperous nation blessed by nature. But that all went down the tube years ago, thanks to the Twerp-in-Chief. Did manage to set a record of a kind though, as I noted in 2010.

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One of my past posts follows:–

Jun 2008: Divine right of Mugabes and other illusions

Well, now we have it. The man is barking mad.

Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe says “only God” can remove him from office, as the opposition MDC considers pulling out of next week’s run-off election amid escalating violence.

“The MDC will never be allowed to rule this country – never ever,” Mr Mugabe told local business people in Bulawayo – Zimbabwe’s second largest city – referring to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

“Only God who appointed me will remove me, not the MDC, not the British.” — ABC News.

I can’t help but reflect on the sad history of good ideas gone wrong.

Mugabe is locked in to a postcolonial agenda of land reform, and given the history of Rhodesia/Zimbabwe one can see where he has come from. There was an injustice to correct. In just two decent life spans this part of the world has had amazing transformations and has lurched from one unsustainable position — white dominance — to another. The great tragedy is that the majority of Zimbabweans, whatever their ethnicity, are — if they are still in their unfortunate country — worse off in the main than they were, because Mugabe is: 1) utterly impractical; 2) corrupt, given to favouring his own house and his cronies; 3) ruthless in the very worst sense of not caring what suffering must come to achieve his “utopia”; 4) dominated by a military clique; 5) utterly mad — as I said. He is indeed, and his country is, as the Kenyan leader said recently, an eyesore in Africa.

  • See Fallen hero, Jane Fraser’s review of Dinner with Mugabe by Heidi Holland in today’s Weekend Australian:

    …Although she stops short of condemning the man completely, possibly because she lives in southern Africa and would have justified fears for her safety, the only conclusion one can come to is that he is a monster. The question that remains is whether he was born evil or was turned evil by some of the tragedies of his life…

    Holland’s first meeting with Mugabe improved her chances of getting a personal interview. He had not spoken to the press for three years when she was told to travel from Johannesburg to Harare in case he would see her. He did and the final chapter is both riveting and without hope.

    How do you reconcile his description of the way he governed and his belief that he was misunderstood. “I don’t know whether one is misunderstood. I think the people around me understand me very well,” he told her. “But it’s the world outside that doesn’t seem to understand. They don’t appreciate what our real calling was as leaders: they think we’re in politics to enhance our status. They don’t realise that for us it was a real calling. We saw people suffer. We could not accept that our country was in the hands of a colonial power. That sense of sacrifice had to be there: you had to sacrifice yourself.”

    The more you read, the more obvious it is that Mugabe has little concept of reality. He lives in a personal bubble of a world, in which he is a selfless and successful leader….

Worth reading is this from Vanity Fair, July 2008.

I am pleased that so far the overdue ouster of Mugabe has been relatively peaceful. But one does wonder about what happens next.

The man poised to replace Robert Mugabe as Zimbabwe’s president is named Emmerson Mnangagwa, but he’s known as “The Crocodile”.

He served for decades as Mr Mugabe’s enforcer — a role that earned him a reputation for being astute, ruthless and good at manipulating the various levers of power.

Among the people, he is more feared than popular, but he has friends within the military and security forces….

See also on Foreign Policy Mugabe is a Goner, But His Looting Machine is Here to Stay.

Weird things happening in Oz

Some self-appointed “patriot” had a go at Senator Sam Dastayari in a Melbourne pub, calling him a “monkey” and suggesting Sam go back to Iran. Such a genius!

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Not my idea of patriotism, not at all! See my post from last September Just a simple 70-something old patriot, me… And you may care to read Danny Tran on ABC concerning the total knobs abusing the word “patriot” these days. I note that the Revenant rather backed them up in this instance: no surprise there! Tells you everything about Pauline, and zero about Sam.

And as a telling contrast to our “patriots” read this:

The family of an eight-year-old boy killed when a car crashed into his Greenacre classroom this week say they have forgiven the driver charged over his death.
Jihad Darwiche and another eight-year-old boy – his best friend – were killed after a two-tonne Toyota Kluger crashed into their classroom at Banksia Road Public School on Tuesday morning.

And it will do you good to visit SBS’s The Mosque Next Door. I did, and am glad. Try 7 questions Muslims are tired of hearing.

Sadly, our “patriots” are so devoid of the Aussie “fair go” attitude that they are highly unlikely to look at any of those! But you should.

Back during World War 1 Australian patriotism seems to have been rather different. I have just read an excellent account of the Western Australian 28th Battalion by Herbert Brayley Collett (1877-1947). Back in the early years of last century:

The outbreak of the South African War in 1899 brought to the surface, in the people of Australia, that innate love of the Old Country which so marks the British race in whatever part of the world its members may happen to reside…

The reverses to the British arms which occurred during the opening months of the campaign roused in Australia a spirit of intense loyalty and patriotism, which was exemplified by renewed offers of assistance to the Government in London. These offers received an early response, with the result that across the Indian Ocean was maintained a steady stream of troops during the whole two and a half years of operations…

When Europe burst into the flame and smoke of war in August, 1914, Australia was unified in Government and a nation in sentiment—but still a British nation. Her offers of assistance had been expected and were graciously and gratefully accepted. The Western Australians once more responded and, this time, in their thousands. Again the quota was exceeded—reinforcements being supplied even for Eastern States’ units—and in all some 32,028 soldiers and nurses enlisted for service overseas during the period of 1914-1918. Over 6,000 of these laid down their lives for Australia and the Empire, and many thousands more were wounded and maimed….

The next weirdness concerns the ongoing saga about eligibility to sit in Parliament and dual citizenship. Core to this is the Australian Constitution, which memorably begins thus:

The legislative power of the Commonwealth shall be vested in a Federal Parliament, which shall consist of the Queen, a Senate, and a House of Representatives, and which is herein-after called “The Parliament,” or “The Parliament of the Commonwealth.”

Ties in rather with the way Collett saw “patriotism”. Now there is a curious section that has lately been interpreted quite literally by the High Court of Australia:

Australian Constitution – Section 44 – Disqualification

Any person who-

(i.) Is under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power, or is a subject or a citizen or entitled to the rights & privileges of a subject or citizen of a foreign power: or(ii.) Is attained of treason, or has been convicted and is under sentence, or subject to be sentenced, for any offence punishable under the law of the Commonwealth or of a State by imprisonment for one year or longer: or

(iii.) Is an undischarged bankrupt or insolvent: or

(iv.) Holds any office of profit under the Crown, or any pension payable during the pleasure of the Crown out of any of the revenues of the Commonwealth: or

(v.) Has any direct or indirect pecuniary interest in any agreement with the Public Service of the Commonwealth otherwise than as a member and in common with the other members of an incorporated company consisting of more than twenty-five persons:

shall be incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a senator or a member of the House of Representatives.

But sub-section iv. does not apply to the office of any of the Queen’s Ministers of State for the Commonwealth, or of any of the Queen’s Ministers for a State, or to the receipt of pay, half pay, or a pension, by any person as an officer or member of the Queen’s navy or army, or to the receipt of pay as an officer or member of the naval or military forces of the Commonwealth by any person whose services are not wholly employed by the Commonwealth.

Rather than going over the saga I refer you to Jim Belshaw and to ABC’s rolling coverage. It has indeed been all very odd. Now when I was young an Oz Passport looked like this — not that I had one!

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Indeed when the Australian Constitution was written there wasn’t actually such a thing as Australian citizenship. I was born in 1943 as a British Subject here in Oz.

At Federation in 1901, ‘British subject’ was the sole civic status noted in the Australian Constitution. The Australasian Federal Convention of 1897–98 was unable to agree on a definition of the term ‘citizen’ and wanted to preserve British nationality in Australia. An administrative concept of citizenship arose from the need to distinguish between British subjects who were permanent residents and those who were merely visitors. This was necessary for the Commonwealth to exercise its powers over immigration and deportation. Motivated by the nationalism of Arthur Calwell, the Minister for Immigration 1945–49, this administrative concept was formalised in the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948. In 1958 the Act was amended so that naturalisation could only be revoked if obtained by fraud. This prevented a naturalised person being stripped of citizenship and deported.

Throughout the 1960s, Australian citizens were still required to declare their nationality as British. The term ‘Australian nationality’ had no official recognition or meaning until the Act was amended in 1969 and renamed the Citizenship Act. This followed a growing sense of Australian nationalism and the declining importance for Australians of the British Empire. In 1973 the Act was renamed the Australian Citizenship Act. It was not until 1984 that Australian citizens ceased to be British subjects.

One could have a lot of fun going back through 20th century Australian politicians of all types trying to establish which of them may have been “ineligible” by strict application of Section 44:(i) — assuming you can work out, given the history of the concept, what exactly they were citizens of in the first place!

Updates 12 November

See Jim Belshaw’s latest: Chaos, confusion and the evolving Section 44 mess .

I also abhor what happened to Tony Abbott’s sister, Christine Forster — whose track record on the same sex marriage postal survey has been so exemplary.

Violent scenes have erupted at a Sydney fundraising event for Tony Abbott, with protesters clashing with police and guests, including the former prime minister’s sister.

Several hundred protesters outside the event in Redfern confronted invited guests, including Mr Abbott’s sister Christine Forster, whose jacket was ripped as she struggled through the crowd.

Ms Forster was forced back from the entrance until police formed a ring around her and pushed their way through the crowd.

I am not impressed with the justification of the violence from the likes of Ian Rintoul and Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon, despite the fact that on the issue of Manus Island I am rather more on their side.

Here is what is stirring Wollongong up!

In 2010 when I was returning to Wollongong one of the first wonders I discovered was:

Wollongong – free shuttle bus

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Well, no longer, if the NSW Government has its way! Thanks, Gladys!

In a fiery speech Keira MP Ryan Park delivered an ultimatum to the government – reverse the decision to charge fares on the Gong Shuttle.

And do it before Friday…

Mr Park labelled it a “dumb decision from a dumb government” and delivered a blunt message to the “bureaucrat in Sydney” who came up with it.

“Pack your bags, mate. Sign off, tap the mat and get out. Because you’ve got no place as a public servant in NSW,” Mr Park said.

Mr Park branded Premier Gladys Berejiklian “a liar” after her 2013 pledge to keep the bus “forever more”.

“My message to the Premier is very simple – you’re a liar,” Mr Park said….

I have signed the online petition.