A Tower of Babel Between CEE Countries & China?

By Jingjing Ning

China has long been known as the “world’s factory”, while Central and Eastern Europe has been called the “factory of Europe”. Will there be a new type of alignment between both factories? Or just as the old story said, the scene becomes chaotic as they cannot understand each other?
According to the latest statistics of Chinese Customs, the total trade amount of import and export between China and 16 CEE countries reached 67.98 billion US dollars in 2017, with the increase rate of 15.9% compared to the previous year. China’s exports amounted to 49.49 billion US dollars, with the increase rate of 13.1%, while imports amounted to 18.49 billion US dollars, with an increase rate of 24%.[1]

The 16+1 format is a new form of international cooperation between China and CEE countries, and also between the Western and Eastern worlds. This initiative, raised by China, aimed at intensifying and expanding cooperation with 11 EU Member States and 5 Balkan countries (namely Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, the Republic of Northern Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, and Slovenia) in the fields of investments, transport, finance, science, education, and culture in 2012.
But 6 years have passed and the echoes from two sides are still strikingly different. From the Chinese government’s side, it was said that pragmatic cooperation has been expanding which brought benefits to the 17 countries. Economic and financial cooperation has steadily increased. On the other side, the European Union and Western European countries expressed concerns about this mechanism, and the Central and Eastern European countries (especially EU countries) considered that the achievement was limited. Continue reading “A Tower of Babel Between CEE Countries & China?”

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Asian or Eurasian Century? The Emergence of a Media Trend or a Multipolar world

 

asia-map
Russia is the world’s largest country in landmass and China the largest in population

Daniele Carminati

The Asian Century is a debated concept which posits the idea that the 21st century will be led by the Asian continent from an economic, political, and cultural perspective. Supposedly, the previous 19th and 20th centuries, have been the British (European) and the American centuries respectively. The Asian Development Bank is so confident of such an accomplishment that it published a report in 2011 titled “Asia 2050: Realizing the Asian Century.”

The plausibility of such development is disputed, especially when considering that the main actor of this transformation, China, appears to be experiencing an economic downturn for the first time in quite a number of years.

The implications are plentiful and, unsurprisingly, global. Yet this article aims to move one step beyond the above discussion. Over the past few weeks, several articles have focused on the possibility of a shift of power in Eurasia, from different angles. The first piece, “Black Wind, White Snow: Imagining Eurasia” by Casey Michel was published on The Diplomat website, which referred to a recently released book reflecting on the Russian concept of “Eurasianism.” The notion was apparently coined, or at least, co-opted by the Kremlin and surrounding bodies as a way to promote and promise a brighter future to the disillusioned post-Cold war generations. The outcome of this attempt at normative construction has been mixed, according to Michel, but an overall aura of pessimism is perceivable across the book, suggesting that the imagined Eurasia may stay in the Kremlin’s mind.

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Military Parade in Russia’s Kremlin

Still, due to its strategic position and regional influence, it is crucial to consider the role of Russia in any potential Eurasian ‘coalition’.

The second and third articles tackle the issue from a more inclusive perspective and, perhaps startlingly, depict two opposite scenarios. The first one is from George Friedman, an expert in intelligence and international geopolitics, who wrote an article for Forbes claiming that the “Last time Eurasian Instability Was This Bad Was Before World War II”, describing several factors to justify such a dire prediction. A few examples are the supposed failure of the European Union, followed by the Russian and Middle Eastern crisis, in addition to the aforementioned slowdown in both China and Japan’s economies. The only exception, according to the author, is India, but that country alone will not be able to stop a ‘grand’ destabilization affecting the whole Eurasian continent.

Such a vision, in my opinion, is rather unconvincing, especially when considering the economic and geopolitical self-interest of the majority of the Eurasian countries. Their goal is, mostly, to pursue peaceful means of gain, being well aware that armed conflicts can bring far more disadvantages than benefits. A notable exception may be North Korea, for obvious reasons.

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Russia is by far the EEU’s biggest player and maybe its biggest benefactor

The last article, which I particularly enjoyed, provides a more optimistic view on the phenomenon. Graham E. Fuller, a former senior CIA official, wrote for The World Post (partner of the renowned Huffington Post) an article entitled “The Era of American Global Dominance Is Over.” Such a bold statement from an American citizen may sound preposterous to some. Yet it is another piece covering the position of Eurasia, seen as an increasingly relevant one in this article. The author recognizes that the term itself may remind the readers of a geographical feature more than a political one, Eurasia as a sole, vast landmass. The author sees it as more than that. The central reason why Fuller thinks that the US is failing to deal with Eurasia is its stubbornness in ignoring the mega-continent “rising force” which is attracting more and more nation-states to its sphere. The article then mentions several economic, military and political reasons that support the author’s well-articulated stance. Nonetheless, the recurring theme is that the current century has seen the demise of Western global dominance and that the US should accept it now in order to take advantage of such power shift, while is still happening.

obama-putin
Barrack Obama, President of the United States of America meets Putin at the G20 Summit in China

This last article appears to be the most convincing when you look to the latest global developments. A change is indeed happening, and although it does not mean that the US is not going to occupy a predominant position, their position is certain to be less hegemonic.

The above articles may not follow a common pattern and they likely originated from different pitches. Still, they have all been published in the past few days which may be a peculiar coincidence or a hint of an upcoming geopolitical trend. Regardless of that, it is unquestionable that the current European situation may benefit from additional transcontinental collaborations and a more balanced, multipolar power redistribution may benefit all the global players in the long run.

Click here for more by Daniele Carminati.

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Who Polices the Internet? Content Removal v. Freedom of Speech

 

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Napalm Girl, an iconic image of the Vietnam war

Julia Mason

Can we continue relying on internet hosts to be solely responsible for taking down offensive content or hate speech?

Last week’s headlines traced the scuffle between Norway and Mark Zuckerberg when one of Norway’s largest newspapers, Aftenposten, criticised Facebook for removing their photos of the ‘napalm girl’ on account of child nudity. The photo of the ‘napalm girl’ or Phan Thị Kim Phúc, from Vietnam and now a Canadian citizen, was taken  on 7th June1972 during the Vietnam War. It shows her as a nine year-old-child, running away from a South Vietnamese napalm attack which left her severely burned. Taken by Nick Ut of the Associated Press, the image is world famous for its depiction of the violence of the Vietnam conflict. Zuckerberg later reneged on his decision to remove the photo and acknowledged the iconic status of the historical image. Whilst this incident might primarily raise alarm bells about the power that Facebook wields over our modern lives, it is also symptomatic of the arbitrariness of online content monitoring.

Alongside its status as one of the most democratic exercises in information sharing, the internet is home to an increasing body of offensive content and unchecked manifestations of hate speech. Whilst some self-censuring is taking place, (for example in the form of ‘NSFW’ indications and ‘content notes’), such warnings are essentially used in a humorous manner. If there’s to be a concerted effort to tackle hate speech and offensive material which transcends the old adage of turning a blind eye, how is this to be achieved?

Should governments and the international community have a role to play?

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The European Court of Human Rights

Simply put, the answer from the European Convention on Human Rights is a resounding no. Article 10 ECHR guarantees freedom of expression for all and goes on to say that:

 ‘This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.’

This freedom is extended to internet users and the Secretary General of the Council of Europe has confirmed that ‘the state [must] not exercise surveillance over Internet users’ communications and activity on the internet except when this is strictly in compliance with Articles 8 and 10 of the Convention.’ The Court’s case law confirms a support for freedom of expression, even if the article does allow some margin of appreciation for states to take restrictive measures, as was the case in Delfi v. Estonia [2015], where the court held that there had not been a violation of Article 10.

Similarly, Article 11 of the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights provides that ‘Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers’.

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This is inherently a good thing. Of course there are some countries in Europe where the systematic blocking of whole websites has severely reduced freedom of expression and access to internet material to an unacceptable level. Consider the recent ECHR case, Cengiz and others v. Turkey, where the court unanimously held that there had been a violation of article 10 due to the blocking of access to Google over a long period(Ahmet Yıldırım v. Turkey [2012]). And yet, the question we must ask ourselves is, if governments aren’t checking online content, then who is?

Net neutrality: a commercial myth?

Net_Neutrality.png
One of the many images associated with the campaign for net neutrality, but is there more to it than open internet?

The hands-off approach taken to internet monitoring by national governments (as advised by the Council of Europe and EU) results in a two-fold problem:

  1. this leaves internet providers and website hosts – i.e. private companies in charge of monitoring content;
  2. these companies are sensitive to legal threats, as well as their reputation among their users and end up haphazardly take down content without serious reflection.

In the case of the former, the crux is this: when we leave it to web hosts to decide what is suitable content and what isn’t, we are allowing organisations with their own commercial, social and political agendas to act as the moral arbiters for all society. Is this democratic?

And in the case of the latter, this is exactly what happened with Facebook napalm incident. Is this double burden of total freedom and total responsibility not actually counter-productive to freedom of expression online? As the 2016 Annual report on state of human rights, democracy and rule of law in Europe concludes:

‘the fact that internet intermediaries fear being held liable for the content they transmit may have a chilling effect on the freedom of expression online.’

If we’re serious about blocking hate speech and inappropriate content, we need more explicit guidelines from governments and IOs. As it stands, we hail our freedom from government censorship but are trapped in an online game where private web hosts write their own rulebooks.

Click here for more by Julia Mason.

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“The EU’s Game of Thrones: Who Will Be The Next President of the European Parliament?” Bastian Bayer introduces us to the contestants in this game and gives us insight into the rise of Martin Schulz.

“All hail President Trump: How Brexit will lead to Trump’s Victory in November” Emily Burt shows us how the Brexit referendum has Trumped Clinton’s bid for the Presidency.

Mandarin – The Transformed Evil Chinese

wong tsz mandarin combine 1.jpg Wong Tsz

“A true story about fortune cookies: they look Chinese, they sound Chinese, but they’re actually an American invention, which is why they’re hollow, full of lies and leave a bad taste in the mouth.”

This is a quote from Mandarin in the opening of Iron Man 3, the final episode of Iron Man trilogy movie series.

Mandarin is a notable figure in Iron Man, both the comic and the movie versions. He was first created in 1964 in the Tales of Suspense as the ultimate rival of Tony Stark (Iron Man). Since Mandarin has been created for over 40 years already, the description of the transformation of Mandarin could be a far-flung journey. Instead of biting off more than it can chew, this article simply aims to compare the two different Mandarins from 1964 Marvel Comic to 2013 movie figure. I note here that Mandarin refers not only to the actual figure in Iron Man, but may also refer to the Bureaucrat which represents China, as well as the Chinese language and culture; to avoid confusion, I refer Mandarin hereon to the Marvel figure only, not the others.

“Who is Mandarin?”

Who is Mandarin? Mandarin as a fiction character is described to have been born around 1920 in China. His father was a Mongolian nobleman descended from Genghis Khan[1], and his mother was an English aristocrat[2]. Raised by his embittered aunt after his parents’ death, he became an important member of the Kuomintang Party before the Communist’s rule over China in 1949. Throughout his own discovery of mysterious power, he found a wreckage of a starship of the reptilian Kakaranatharian, or Makluan, extra-terrestrial race; there he found 10 rings with mysterious powers. Aimed to conquer the whole of China, and then the whole world, Mandarin set his base in China, and later also in Hong Kong. With his teleport technology derived from the Kakaranatharian spaceship, he could travel anywhere anytime. Mandarin also engaged in conflicts with other Marvel figures[3].

WongTsz 1

(Fig. 1 Mandarin’s first appearance in Tales of Suspense, 1964[4])

In the original Marvel comic, Mandarin never regarded himself as a terrorist or a teacher as he was described in the 2013 movie. Although one may find some resemblances of Mandarin with earlier evil Chinese figures found in western culture, namely Fu Manchu and Yellow Claw: long moustache, chinky eyes, and quasi-oriental outfit, Mandarin can be perceived very differently in many ways when compared with the previous Chinese villains. In fact, although according to Marvel’s official information Mandarin holds Chinese citizenship; he was never meant to be an equivalent to Fu Manchu or Yellow Claw; nevertheless, he is partially Chinese, therefore it should not be overlooked that Mandarin’s half Chinese half British origin gives great space of alteration of the character.

Wong Tsz 2

(Fig.2 Ben Kingsley as Mandarin in Iron Man 3, 2013[5])

What we find in Iron Man 3, however, is a completely different Mandarin.

Played by the Oscar-winning British actor Ben Kingsley, Mandarin is no longer the superpower evil which may control over almost everything. Yes, he was wearing 10 rings, but is without any superpower at all. To be more precise, he was just a puppet, a puppet of the real villain, Aldrich Killian. With sunglasses, Kingsley’s Mandarin looks more like a hip-hop star rather than a Chinese villain. In other words, the 2013 Mandarin shows almost no resemblances to Chinese at all.

The dilemma here I find on identifying Mandarin, or attempting to identify who Mandarin really is, is that, Mandarin is half British and half Chinese, which means Mandarin could be both ‘Western’ and ‘Orient’ at the same time. Thus, the proportion of ‘Chineseness’ or ‘Britishness’ may vary.

Mandarin’s Ten Rings

As I mentioned earlier, both Mandarins represent an evil figure from the Orient. Thus, the question is where exactly is the Orient? I reckon that the meaning of Orient changes when Mandarin himself changes. Considering the fact that the USA was engaged in wars during the time where both Mandarins were created. The first Mandarin was created in the 60s during the war with Vietnam. The latter was created in the early 21st century during the wars in the Middle East. One can see how Mandarin transformed from a Far-East villain to a Middle East villain. This can be proven by the changes in Mandarin’s ten rings:

Wong Tsz 3

(Fig. 3 Mandarin’s Ten Rings, 1964[6])

Ten Rings to which Mandarin and all other evils in the Iron Man 1-3 movies are connected to. The Ten Rings group is based in Afghanistan, and led by Mandarin[7]. The organization’s flag, symbol, as well as the dress code of its terrorist, are all highly associated with the Middle East:

Wong Tsz 4

(Fig. 4 Flag of the Ten Rings terrorist group, 2008-2013[8])

Wong Tsz 5

(Fig. 5 Tony Stark captured by Ten Rings in Iron Man 1 movie, 2008[9])

As I could see from the Iron Man movies, Mandarin’s magical ten rings were transformed into a terrorist group, Ten Rings, where all members wear one of the ten rings as a symbol. And here’s where the point of attention shifts: from Mandarin as an important figure to a terrorist group, the Ten Rings organization. In other words, Mandarin’s evil standing in the movie is strongly weakened.

And here’s something else.

More than the shift of focus and thus the ‘weakened’ Mandarin, the over-stretching ‘Orientalness’ in Mandarin’s character also gives fuel for further discussions. I consider the invention and reinvention of Mandarin as a reflection of the changing villain who Iron Man has been fighting against, hence, the evil ‘Others’. Both the 1964 Mandarin and the 2013 Mandarin show a lot of ambiguities. Yet, as I have demonstrated, despite the shift of characteristics in Mandarin himself, Mandarin was, at least partially, Chinese.

The perception of Iron Man 3 in China, especially by the Chinese audience, is therefore highly worthy of attention. To avoid the film from being banned by Chinese film authority, the name of Mandarin was changed to Man Daren (滿大人); the term Mandarin bears heavy association with Chinese ethnicity, whereas Man Daren does not. ‘Man’ is a very uncommon family name in China, and ‘Daren’ refers to a senior male. Such efforts in minimizing the Chineseness of Mandarin in the Chinese market, is done to avoid the racist connotation regarding this Chinese figure, regardless if he is evil or not[10]. More than that, in order to suit the huge market of Chinese audience, Iron Man 3 has a 4-minute-longer version tailor-made for Chinese audience, featuring famous Chinese actor and actress together with the Hollywood cast[11]. As a result, the opening box office in China made a record-high 21 million US dollars[12]. But what may be more profitable than the box office: both the original and Chinese version of Iron Man 3 embedded various Chinese brands into the movie for commercial promotions[13]. The slight awkwardness of embedding Chinese movie stars and brands with Hollywood cast in the 4-minute-longer Chinese versions was not very well received among all the Chinese audience[14]. However the effort of minimizing Mandarin’s Chineseness seems to have paid off, the overall perception of Iron Man, as well as Mandarin was mainly positive on the Chinese market.

Conclusion

When Mandarin first appeared in the Marvel comic in 1964, the USA was experiencing fierce civil right movements. On 11 June 1963, President John F. Kennedy addressed the nation on the milestone Civil Rights Act, and later in 1964, the Act was enacted on 2 July; the African-American civil rights leader Martin Luther King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize the same year. One may thus argue that Mandarin could be regarded as a more ethnic-conscious figure under the tide of the civil rights movements. I noted previously that during the 1950s and the 1960s, the USA was in military conflict with communist regimes in Korea and Vietnam, where China also dispatched military interventions against the USA. One may thus assume that there might be parallel between staging Mandarin as an Oriental villain and actual Oriental enemies of the USA to that time.

Like Mandarin, China has undergone significant changes since the 1960s, and is now considered an important economic and political partner of the USA. My article serves only a glance of the transformation of Mandarin; the invention and reinvention of the character. Yet, despite all the differences, one may still find considerable ambiguities in both the old and new Mandarin. One shouldalso not forget, that Mandarin, or Man Daren, was, and still is, partly Chinese. Yet how the Western audience sees Mandarin, and how the Eastern sees Man Daren, could be something quite different.


[1] ’Biography for The Mandarin (Character) from Iron Man 3 (2013)’, Internet Movie Database,  http://www.imdb.com/character/ch0036533/bio

[2] ‘Mandarin’, Marvel Universe Wiki, http://marvel.com/universe/Mandarin

[3] For a full-biography of Mandarin, please refer to ‘Mandarin’, Marvel Universe Wiki, http://marvel.com/universe/Mandarin

[4] Picture from ‘Hero Complex’, Los Angeles Times, http://latimesherocomplex.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/mandarin1.jpg?w=396

[5] Picture from ‘New Iron Man 3 Poster: The Mandarin’, Imagine Games Network, http://www.ign.com/articles/2013/02/23/new-iron-man-3-poster-the-mandarin

[6]  Picture from ‘Could Use A Nail Trimmer’, The Powerless Power of Comics, http://peerlesspower.blogspot.de/2013/05/could-use-nail-trimmer.html

[7] ‘Ten Rings’, Marvel Cinematic Universe, http://marvelcinematicuniverse.wikia.com/wiki/Ten_Rings

[8]  Picture from ‘Ten Rings’, Marvel Cinematic Universe, http://marvelcinematicuniverse.wikia.com/wiki/Ten_Rings

[9] Picture from ‘How does the Mandarin fit into Iron Man 2?’, Comic Book Movie, http://www.comicbookmovie.com/fansites/Poniverse/news/?a=15697

[10] ‘Iron Man shows Hollywood’s bent to take on China censors’ steely grip’, Reuters India, http://in.reuters.com/article/2013/04/30/film-iron-man-china-idINDEE93T05P20130430

[11] ‘For a Bigger Chinese Box Office, Hollywood Hires Chinese Actors’, Bloomberg Businessweek, http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-05-22/for-a-bigger-chinese-box-office-hollywood-hires-chinese-actors

[12] ‘Iron Man 3 smashes opening box office record in China’, CNN, http://edition.cnn.com/2013/05/03/business/iron-man-china

[13] ‘The Biggest Differences In China’s Version Of Iron Man 3’, Yahoo! Finance, http://finance.yahoo.com/news/heres-different-chinas-version-iron-145800812.html

[14] ‘Why Many in China Hate Iron Man 3’s Chinese Version’, Tokaku, http://kotaku.com/why-many-in-china-hate-iron-man-3s-chinese-version-486840429

If you liked Wong Tsz’s article, also read https://euroculturer.eu/2013/04/11/gangnam-style-decoding-transculturalism-in-pop-music/

Wong Tsz new profile Wong Tsz, Contributing Writer

Wong Tsz, from Hong Kong, moved to Europe for MA Euroculture (2010-12) after obtaining his BA in Language and Translation. Currently, he’s a PhD student in Musicology under DFG Research Group ‘Expert Cultures from the 12th to the 16th Century’. Wong Tsz played in various orchestras in Hong Kong and in Europe, including the Hong Kong Youth Symphony Orchestra, Open University of Hong Kong Orchestra, Göttingen University Orchestra, Groningen Students’ Orchestra MIRA, and currently in Academic Orchestra Göttingen AOV. He’s not only keen on playing music but is actively engaged in academic research. His Master’s thesis gives an in-depth study of Gustav Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde under the scope of Orientalism theory by Edward Said. His current PhD project ‘Matteo Ricci in East West Music Exchange’ gives a detailed analysis to trace the early models of music exchange between China and Europe in 16th century.

Contactwongtsz@gmail.com

President Xi’s “Chinese Dream”

For ordinary Chinese citizens, political reform is an important step to achieve their “Chinese dream”. It is only a matter of time until the leadership faces the challenge and takes significant steps to meet global standards.

Source: english.sina.com
Source: english.sina.com

Yu Xichao│yuxichao@yahoo.com.au

China successfully completed its leadership transition to the “fifth generation” in the recent Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) “Two Sessions”[1]. The meeting formally appointed Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang as the new President and Premier of the People’s Republic of China. Thus, Xi became the most influential man in the world’s most populous nation, and he will govern this huge, complex and increasingly powerful state for the next ten years. In the conclusion of his speech to the National People’s Congress (NPC), he urged the nation to pursue and achieve the “Chinese dream”.

So, naturally, the question everyone is asking is what is the “Chinese dream”? And how can it be achieved?

President Xi said “The Chinese dream is a dream of the whole nation as well as of every individual”. According to Xi, the “Chinese dream” is based on two levels: the national level and the individual level.

On the national level, the new government promises to strive for “great renaissance” by making the country militarily and economically strong without seeking “hegemony”. China, under the previous Hu-Wen leadership, accomplished the so-called “economic miracle” with an average of nearly 10% GDP growth annually. A long period of “peaceful rise” resulted in China’s global-power status. Now, China plays a significant role in shaping the global political and economic order. Meanwhile, China is also demonstrating more confidence in its foreign policies.

China’s remarkable economic growth benefited from Deng’s “Reform and Opening up” policy of 1978. Xi confirmed Deng’s economic reform as essential to the achievement of the “Chinese dream” and thus stressed the importance of continued economic development.

Fuguo Qiangbing (literally meaning “To enrich the country, strengthen the military”) is an ancient Chinese wisdom, originated about 2,500 years ago, which hints that growing economic power should necessarily be accompanied by growing military strength. So, Xi urged China’s military to improve its ability to “win battles and… protect national sovereignty and security”. Xi’s words have realistic meaning, implying the emerging challenges in today’s surrounding environment of China, in particular the escalation of tensions with Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines over territorial disputes.

As China becomes stronger, it does not mean that China will seek hegemony. The concepts of Confucianism are deeply rooted in Chinese society, whose virtue of peacefulness is strongly embedded into Chinese culture. Nevertheless, China’s bitter experience in the modern period, particularly after the Opium War of 1840, has proven that the country needs a powerful military strength to protect itself from external forces that it does not desire.

China’s rise is based on its peaceful development policy. So, there is an unwavering commitment to continue this policy and to benefit from it. Meanwhile, Chinese leaders have continued to stress the country’s unshakable commitment to safeguard the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The “Chinese dream” and “great renaissance of the Chinese nation” cannot be achieved if they cannot protect the country they live in.

In terms of the “Chinese dream” on the individual level, Xi promised to incessantly bring benefits to the Chinese people. It is true that Hu-Wen’s government achieved remarkable economic success, but the majority of Chinese citizens have not yet enjoyed the benefits of their country’s economic development. It is only the ruling elites and interest groups that have benefited from the economic accomplishment that every Chinese citizen participated in.

Meanwhile, many social problems have emerged, threatening the stability of society. The environmental crisis,  the wealth gap between the elite and the poor majority, food safety, and corruption have become real, urgent social issues. Under these circumstances, many Chinese people have reason to believe that their living conditions are getting worse.

As the new leader of this fast-changing state, Xi understands these difficult challenges within society. Therefore, he proclaimed that “the Chinese dream, after all, is the dream of the people”. Thus, “all Chinese people deserve equal opportunities to enjoy a prosperous life, to see their dreams come true and to benefit together from the country’s development”.

In reality, Chinese people are well aware that their country’s political development is far behind its  economic development. They have been calling on their new leaders to bring about political and social reforms to meet global standards, especially in the fields of democratization and freedom.

Every political reform is risky and needs a strong and powerful leader to implement it, especially in the case of China because it could involve conflict with vast interest groups. No doubt, there will be far-reaching consequences and billions of people’s lives will be affected.

For ordinary Chinese citizens, political reform is an important step to achieve their “Chinese dream”. It is only a matter of time until the leadership faces the challenge and takes significant steps to meet global standards.

Now, China is also facing historical change. The question is: will President Xi successfully lead the nation to achieve the “Chinese dream”?

Source: sina.com
Source: sina.com

[1]“Two sessions” or “Lianghui” refers to the National People’s Congress (NPC) and the People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). They are held once a year in March. NPC is the highest state body and the unicameral legislative house in the People’s Republic of China. CPPCC is a political advisory body consisting of delegates from a range of political parties and organizations, as well as independent members.

Eminaldo profileYu Xichao, Contributing Writer

Xichao originally comes from Dalian, China, and completed his BA in International Relations at Australian National University in Canberra, Australia. He is currently studying MA Euroculture at the University of Göttingen as a home university, and the University of Strasbourg as a host university. His research interests include international relations, modern history, Asian studies and EU affairs

Mr. Help – Being an Asian girl in Europe

Dear Mr. Help,

We are girls from South Korea, Mainland China and Hong Kong. We’ve encountered several problems while living in Europe as students of MA Euroculture and need your help.

1. Just call my name, correctlySouth Korea (Eunjin Jeong, Euroculture 2011-13)

Mr Help Eunjin
If only I could be called correctly…

Hello, Mr. Help. My name is Eunjin. I have a problem with people not knowing how to say my name correctly. I’ve tried many things and even told them to call me “Engine”. But how long do I have to be the compartment of a car? I do not want to use an English name like some do because I want to keep my Korean identity intact. It was okay until I went to Sweden for my third semester of MA Euroculture. Then, disaster began. They started to call me “Eunyin” and, very painfully, I’ve received several emails with the title “Mr. Jeong”. Should I give up being called correctly in Europe?

2. Could we have a heart to hear talk? – Mainland China (Lili Jiang, Euroculture visiting student from Sichuan University, 2011-12)

Mr.Help Lili 2
If only we could be all cool…

Hello, Mr. Help. My name is Lili. My problem is different – it’s about the social life of my Chinese friends. I have the feeling that most of my Asian friends don’t like hanging out with European students, as they are afraid of the cultural differences. China is no different in this matter. Every time I invite my Chinese friends to a party, they always ask me if there will be other Chinese friends or Asian friends. But, on the other hand, I know that they are also looking forward to making new friends, getting to know different cultures and fitting in to the university. They once told me that their language skills are sufficient for communicating with European friends, but it’s just very hard to advance to heart to heart talks after small talk. I think it’s a big loss for both sides. What could be the solution to really help my Chinese friends to overcome this?

3. It was just noodles!!! – Hong Kong (Au Yeung Shek Ling Hilary, Euroculture 2010-12)

Mr Help Hilary 2
If only I could cook freely…

Hello, Mr. Help. My name is Hilary. I also have a problem. When I tried the WG or flat share culture in Europe, I was nervous at first but enjoyed it very much later: my flat mates taught me how to live in the local way which was great. But nothing is perfect. Well, as a home food lover, yes, I cooked food from Hong Kong for myself and my friends very often. But is it really necessary to give me negative looks when I cook food from my home? I know that European and Asian eating habits are very different but I had eaten lots of European specialties during my stay in Europe: venison, escargot, lapin, etc. If I love European food or not is not important: that I tried them is important. (Actually, I love them, especially escargot!) It really upsets me when my flat mates make disgusted faces and criticise my food without even trying a bite. IT WAS JUST NOODLES!! What can I do about this?

We look forward to hearing from you.

Desperate Eunjin, Lili, and Hilary.

Dear Desperate Eunjin, Lili, and Hilary,

mr helpHi, Eunjin. I really understand your problem. For Europeans it is difficult to pronounce your name correctly. Even if we try, it probably doesn’t sound correct to your ears. I suggest you choose a nickname for your time in Europe. It should be a nickname which fits your personality and feels like it belongs to you. Your problem with being mistaken for a male is quite easy to solve. I would suggest putting an e-mail signature beneath your e-mails in which you call yourself Ms. Jeong.

And Lili, I know exactly what you mean. I often had the same experience when walking around campus, meeting Asians or being in Asia as a European. I think there are several reasons for this. One reason might be that the party habits of Europeans and Asians are quite different. As I noticed, Asian parties generally start earlier and the biggest part is eating. For us Europeans, it starts late and is mostly about drinking, which I think probably makes a lot of your friends quite uncomfortable if they are not used to it. Another reason might be that it takes a lot of courage to overcome the initial shyness of meeting somebody who might not understand everything you say. But I can assure you that it is that way for both sides. A possible solution for you might be to combine the Asian and European way of doing something together. You could organise a culture evening where you first start with an Asian meal and afterwards go out to a party. You should especially tell your friends that most European students would love to talk to an Asian person about a lot more than just superficial small talk. Maybe a good way to get in to a ‘deeper’ conversation is to ask a question about something in European culture that you don’t understand.

Finally, Hilary. I think it is the biggest plus of the WG culture to learn something new about whoever you live with. So maybe your flat mates didn’t understand that part about living together. Of course they don’t have to love everything you cook and, as a person who knows Asian food, I can even understand if they think it looks or smells strange, but I cannot understand why they wouldn’t want to at least try it. You could invite them to a dinner where you cook some Asian food? I know from experience that most Europeans love Kung bao ji ding (Kung Pao Chicken) and Asian noodles, but need somebody to tell them what it is and what kind of taste they should expect.

Mr. Help is from Germany.