Archive for ‘campaign’


Campaign to promote paying tribute to revolutionary martyrs kicks off in China


Students lay flowers to pay tribute to revolutionary martyrs during a campaign at the Museum of the War of Chinese People’s Resistance Against Japanese Aggression in Beijing, capital of China, April 4, 2019. China has kicked off a campaign to promote paying tribute to revolutionary martyrs as Tomb-sweeping Day draws near. The campaign is aimed at combining educational activities with paying tribute. Tomb-sweeping Day, also known as Qingming Festival, falls on April 5 this year. It is a traditional Chinese holiday where people pay tribute to deceased family and friends. (Xinhua/Zhang Chenlin)

Source: Xinhua


‘War’ and India PM Modi’s muscular strongman image

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures as he speaks during the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) "Sankalp" rally in Patna in the Indian eastern state of Bihar on March 3, 2019.Image copyrightAFP
Image captionMr Modi is accused of exploiting India-Pakistan hostilities for political gain

A gaffe is when a politician tells the truth, American political journalist Michael Kinsley said.

Last week, a prominent leader of India’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) appeared to have done exactly that. BS Yeddyurappa said the armed aerial hostilities between India and Pakistan would help his party win some two dozen seats in the upcoming general election.

The remark by Mr Yeddyurappa, former chief minister of Karnataka, was remarkable in its candour. Not surprisingly, it was immediately seized upon by opposition parties. They said it was a brazen admission of the fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party was mining the tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals ahead of general elections, which are barely a month away. Mr Modi’s party is looking at a second term in power.

Mr Yeddyurappa’s plain-spokenness appeared to have embarrassed even the BJP. Federal minister VK Singh issued a statement, saying the government’s decision to carry out air strikes in Pakistan last week was to “safeguard our nation and ensure safety of our citizens, not to win a few seats”. No political party can afford to concede that it was exploiting a near war for electoral gains.

A billboard displaying an image of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi holding a rifle is seen on a roadside in Ahmedabad on March 3, 2019.Image copyrightAFP
Image captionThe BJP has put up election posters of Mr Modi posing with guns

Even as tensions between India and Pakistan ratcheted up last week, Mr Modi went on with business as usual. Hours after the Indian attack in Pakistan’s Balakot region, he told a packed election meeting that the country was in safe hands and would “no longer be helpless in the face of terror”. Next morning, Pakistan retaliated and captured an Indian pilot who ejected from a downed fighter jet. Two days later, Pakistan returned the pilot to India.

Mr Modi then told a gathering of scientists that India’s aerial strikes were merely a “pilot project” and hinted there was more to come. Elsewhere, his party chief Amit Shah said India had killed more than 250 militants in the Balakot attack even as senior defence officials said they didn’t know how many had died. Gaudy BJP posters showing Mr Modi holding guns and flanked by soldiers, fighter jets and orange explosions have been put up in parts of the country. “Really uncomfortable with pictures of soldiers on election posters and podiums. This should be banned. Surely the uniform is sullied by vote gathering in its name,” tweeted Barkha Dutt, an Indian television journalist and author.

Mr Modi has appealed to the opposition to refrain from politicising the hostilities. The opposition parties are peeved because they believe Mr Modi has not kept his word. Last week, they issued a statement saying “national security must transcend narrow political considerations”.

‘Petty political gain’

But can the recent conflict fetch more votes for Mr Modi? In other words, can national security become a campaign plank?

Many believe Mr Modi is likely to make national security the pivot of his campaign. Before last month’s suicide attack – claimed by Pakistan-based militants – killed more than 40 Indian paramilitaries in Kashmir, Mr Modi was looking a little vulnerable. His party had lost three state elections on the trot to the Congress party. Looming farm and jobs crises were threatening to hurt the BJP’s prospects.

Now, many believe, Mr Modi’s chances look brighter as he positions himself as a “muscular” protector of the country’s borders. “This is one of the worst attempts to use war to win [an] election, and to use national security as petty political gain. But I don’t know whether it will succeed or not,” says Yogendra Yadav, a politician and psephologist.

Indian people feed sweets to a poster of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as they celebrate the Indian Air Force"s air strike across the Line of Control (LoC) near the international border with PakistanImage copyrightEPA
Image captionMany Indians have celebrated India’s strike in Pakistani territory

Evidence is mixed on whether national security helps ruling parties win elections in India. Ashutosh Varshney, a professor of political science at Brown University in the US, says previous national security disruptions in India were “distant from the national elections”.

The wars in 1962 (against China) and 1971 (against Pakistan) broke out after general elections. Elections were still two years away when India and Pakistan fought a war in 1965. The 2001 attack on the Indian parliament that brought the two countries to the brink of war happened two years after a general election. The Mumbai attacks in 2008 took place five months before the elections in 2009 – and the then ruling Congress party won without making national security a campaign plank.

Things may be different this time. Professor Varshney says the suicide attack in Kashmir on 14 February and last week’s hostilities are “more electorally significant than the earlier security episodes”.

For one, he says, it comes just weeks ahead of a general election in a highly polarised country. The vast expansion of the urban middle class means that national security has a larger constituency. And most importantly, according to Dr Varshney, “the nature of the regime in Delhi” is an important variable. “Hindu nationalists have always been tougher on national security than the Congress. And with rare exceptions, national security does not dominate the horizons of regional parties, governed as they are by caste and regional identities.”

Presentational grey line

Read more from Soutik Biswas

Presentational grey line

Bhanu Joshi, a political scientist also at Brown University, believes Mr Modi’s adoption of a muscular and robust foreign policy and his frequent international trips to meet foreign leaders may have touched a chord with a section of voters. “During my work in northern India, people would continuously invoke the improvement in India’s stature in the international arena. These perceptions get reinforced with an event like [the] Balakot strikes and form impressions which I think voters, particularly on a bipolar contest of India and Pakistan, care about,” says Mr Joshi.

Others like Milan Vaishnav, senior fellow and director of the South Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, echo a similar sentiment. He told me that although foreign policy has never been a “mass” issue in India’s domestic politics, “given the proximity of the conflict to the elections, the salience of Pakistan, and the ability of the Modi government to claim credit for striking back hard, I expect it will become an important part of the campaign”.

But Dr Vaishnav believes it will not displace the economy and farm distress as an issue, especially in village communities. “Where it will help the BJP most is among swing voters, especially in urban constituencies. If there were fence-sitters unsure of how to vote in 2019, this emotive issue might compel them to stick with the incumbent.”

How the opposition counters Mr Modi’s agenda-setting on national security will be interesting to watch. Even if the hostilities end up giving a slight bump to BJP prospects in the crucial bellwether states in the north, it could help take the party over the winning line. But then even a week is a long time in politics.

Source: The BBC


Law textbook pulled from shelves in China amid campaign against ‘Western influence’

  • Author Zhang Qianfan rejects suggestion his writing excessively promotes Western ideas as ‘utter nonsense’
  • Authorities have not confirmed they ordered the title to be withdrawn but it comes after government launched sweeping review of teaching materials
PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 February, 2019, 6:40pm
UPDATED : Friday, 01 February, 2019, 6:40pm

The author, Zhang Qianfan, a professor at Peking University known for his advocacy of constitutionalism and judicial reform, dismissed any suggestion his writing excessively promoted Western ideas as “utter nonsense”, and said the academic world should not be politicised.

Since taking office in 2012, President Xi Jinping has tightened the Communist Party’s control over society including the legal system and education.

While authorities have not confirmed they ordered the book withdrawn, and no reason for its disappearance has been given, it comes after the government began a sweeping review of teaching materials.

The Ministry of Education in early January launched a nationwide check on the content of all university constitutional law textbooks, according to posts on the Jiangxi and Zhejiang province education ministry websites.

Universities were told the “fact-finding” sweep was of great importance and they must accurately fill in a chart detailing titles and authors of the books they used, with “no omissions”, according to the ministry’s posts.

The campaign drew criticism from some legal academics, which was amplified by a rumour that the sweep was sparked by an accusation from a professor that certain texts were “promoting Western thinking and agitating for a Western system”.

The education ministry did not respond to a faxed request for comment.

China’s constitution promises freedom of speech, religion and assembly, but it is trumped in practice by legislation and regulations, and it is rarely invoked in legal cases.

The constitution has long been a focus for political reformers, who argue that its status should be elevated within the legal system.

Zhang’s book could not be found on China’s main online bookstores when searched by Reuters on Friday.

Zhang, in an interview published on the WeChat social media platform, rejected any suggestion his texts promoted a “Western” system over alternatives.

“To criticise purely for the sake of it and to shut our nation off to the outside world is closed-minded thinking,” Zhang said.

“Constitutional law, as an academic discipline, should not be politicised,” he said. “Any academic discipline should retain a certain political neutrality.”

“At this time, constitutional law is a ‘sensitive’ topic. As far as I can see there is basically no public discussion. It seems that everyone is scared,” he said.

Zhang’s interview disappeared soon after it was posted, to be replaced by a notice saying the content had broken “relevant laws and regulations”.

Zhang did not respond to an email seeking comment.

Many legal scholars took to social media to voice support for Zhang.

Some posted the foreword from his book, in which he stresses the importance of giving people who have suffered injustices the chance to defend themselves using the constitution.

Some voiced concern that some academics might accuse others of failing to toe the party line.

“The worst part about this incident is that in the current environment, not only are these people not inhibited, but rather they are given a channel, or even rewards,” Zhang Taisu, an associate professor of law at Yale University in the United States, wrote on Weibo, referring to the accusers.

Source: SCMP


‘Racist’ D&G ad: Chinese model says campaign almost ruined career

Dolce and Gabbana's #DGLovesChina campaignImage copyrightDOLCE AND GABBANA/INSTAGRAM
Image captionThe ad was supposed to show that ‘#DGLovesChina’

The Chinese model featured in a Dolce & Gabbana ad campaign accused of racism has said the controversy almost ruined her career.

Three videos, released in November, showed Zuo Ye struggling to eat Italian food including cannoli and pizza with chopsticks.

Widely seen as offensive it led to a severe backlash in China with several retailers pulling the brand’s products.

Ms Zuo said she felt “guilty and ashamed” but asked for understanding.

Following her statement on Chinese social media network Weibo, the debate has flared up again with some people saying they hope that she can continue her career as a model and that they understand her hands were tied working with D&G.

‘It nearly killed my career’

In a long post on Monday, Ms Zuo said that usually working for an international brand like D&G would be an exciting career step but that in this case “it nearly killed off my modelling career”.

She explains she understands that “it’s about representing the national image of China and Chinese culture” and that she “therefore feels even more guilty and ashamed”.

She also vowed to “improve my behaviour” in the future.

A Dolce & Gabbana store is pictured at Dawanglu on November 22, 2018 in Beijing, ChinaImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionConsumers called for a boycott of D&G products in China

According to her statement, she knew the shoot was about trying Italian delicacies but that she felt very awkward when she was asked to eat food like pizza and pasta with chopsticks.

The director told her to show first shock and disbelief, then roll her eyes, and eventually delight and satisfaction at the presumed tastiness of said Italian dishes, she said.

The model explains that she didn’t see the final clip before it was released.

She also writes she didn’t receive any support during the backlash, even when she, her family and agent were all targeted in widespread attacks on social media.

Support and condemnation

Since Ms Zuo’s post, opinion has been divided on Chinese social media.

While some see her as a victim of the Italian brand and sympathise with her experience, others remain critical saying she only had herself to blame.

Others again point out the problem with the powerlessness of models in the industry as a whole where they are often made to do things they might not necessarily want to do.

Screengrab of video showing Dolce and Gabbana founders apologising for the campaignImage copyrightDOLCE AND GABBANA
Image captionDomenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana asked for forgiveness

In November last year, D&G released the videos on social media ahead of a fashion show in Shanghai.

The entire campaign was accused of trivialising Chinese culture and promoting unflattering stereotypes.

“Chinese consumers are not naïve; they will spot insincerity and tokenism a mile off, and respond accordingly,” Dr Julie Bilby of the department of media and communication at RMIT University in Melbourne told the BBC.

The controversy escalated further when screenshots were circulated showing designer Stefano Gabbana allegedly insulting China in an Instagram chat.

D&G insisted the account had been hacked and apologised publicly for the controversial ad campaign.

The Italian luxury company was forced to cancel the fashion show in Shanghai and their products were removed from several Chinese online retailers.

Consumers in China also called for a boycott of the brand.

Source: The BBC

Law of Unintended Consequences

continuously updated blog about China & India

ChiaHou's Book Reviews

continuously updated blog about China & India

What's wrong with the world; and its economy

continuously updated blog about China & India