What has happened on 13 November 2015 in Paris is certainly disconcerting. This is no way to enjoy the night late on Friday. Much as we are aware increasingly of the risk of attacks that “just happen” in the post-9/11 world, nobody expected things to — boom, just happen like that.
Obviously what happened in Paris is just dreadful — it is just so totally wrong when harmless, innocent lives are taken. The fact it happened just on the opposite side of the English Channel also meant it wasn’t too from home, here in London.
World reaction, though, was just one of outright sympathy. Every city that had a major landmark lit it to the colours of the French national flag. The countries closest to me did so as well. Just as of late, Bern donned its Federal Palace the French tricolour; the same happened in Shanghai with the Oriental Pearl Tower. The news from China, in particular, that they decided to join in this, was encouraging, because hitherto I had thought China to be rather ideologically removed from the rest of the world. But it is a positive sign that the country is being taken seriously as a key player on the world stage these days.
But what took my breath away was how this was done in London. ▶
Being interviewed on the lawn at College Green in central London, right next to the Houses of Parliament, was and remained a very unique event to me. The BBC got together around six people from all walks of life — including lawyers, artists, academics, and independent journalists — and filled an entire hour of programming with discussions and debate, with the Chinese President in town.
The way we conducted the interview and the programming itself was, certainly to me, quite unlike any other. It was held in the open, right next to other “camera & mic” setups by other media outlets (such as TV stations). We had no cover, no cameras, three microphones (microphones only, since this was an audio-only show), and stood around in a circle. It was in fact none other than like a good old chat — except you handed over the mic to the person who wanted to speak. At the end, we tuned in live to the Chinese President’s address to the Houses of Parliament and gave our quick 2p on how the talk was. Consensus was we did in fact actually like it.
I myself believe that things like today’s live interview is a great way to share voices freely, a principle I stick to dearly. Everyone was given almost equal microphone access and on-air time, and every view was so different and unique. The discussion wrapped up by noting how down-to-earth the Chinese President’s comments were and how this was welcomed and made a difference. ▶
A so-called “popular initiative to keep immigrants out, and yet to enable the distribution (read: literal showering) of contraceptives outside your home country”. Can you see how flawed the logic is? It’s therefore no surprise that the so-called “Ecopop initiative” was completely defeated at the polls on Sunday, 30 November 2014.
I am happy and proud to be a Swiss citizen, as a part of a nation that knows what’s right, what’s wrong, and knows how to vote. The so-called “Ecopop initiative” was so convoluted, it was designed to be one that would be completely rejected from government, from the political parties, and from the people. ▶
I’ve been following news of the 3rd Plenary of the 18th Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party. Interestingly enough, “old media” broke the news first. Hosts both on radio and TV were a little bit slow today — for a sec I thought the report contained dynamite, so they stammered on it because the whole thing was so “new”. Nope. After 15 minutes of the reading on radio (alternating between a male voice and a lady’s voice) and the whole 20+ minute enchilada on TV (which came 30 minutes after radio, it looked like little changed. There was no clear mention about hukou reforms other than stating that farmers were not beneficiaries of a transparent system when it came to residency in larger cities. Even the Resident Permit for larger cities, floated already in a few meatier-sized metropolises, failed to materialise on a nationwide scale. Little was mentioned about the rather touchy laogai (reform through labour) policy as well.
Despite this, I’m remaining cautiously optimistic about China, but I will also be looking for further destinations for continued growth. Wherever things might next take me, that was a nice, fat 12+ years in China. I was being interviewed this morning by a lady from Tanzania. Honestly, at the age of 30-plus-something, I don’t exclude a “late-in-life” adventure to newer-still destinations. There are 200+ countries and territories on this planet. Me being to a mere 10% of that whole sum makes me look more like a guy who has never seen the world than one who is an experienced world traveller and multilingual academic. ▶