Saturday, November 18, 2017

US’ anti-China report deserves retaliation

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Another anti-China report has been issued by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission. The commission, created by Congress, has in past annual reports proposed extremely negative policies towards China. This year is no exception.

The commission's report recommends that the US invite Taiwan to participate in military exercises and re-implement the US-Hong Kong Policy Act passed in 1992.

The commission's report also calls for expanding reviews of Chinese investment in key US sectors and making Chinese State media representatives register as foreign agents.

From China's perspective, the commission is one of the most hostile US organizations. It was set up before China joined the WTO in 2001 to monitor the possible impact of China-US trade on US national security.

But from the very beginning, the commission has opposed China-US exchanges and those who draft its report obviously hold fixed prejudices against China.

The policymaking mechanism in the US differs widely from that in China. Those who draft the annual report do not place US national interests first. They work to advance their own faulty views, even when they know their extreme suggestions will not be adopted. It's disconcerting to see US policies formulated in the fog of political infighting.

These anti-China reports seem designed only to generate a negative image of China, which in turn creates a preset bias against China among members of Congress and the American public. The most anti-China views percolate out of the US Congress.

Such anti-China sentiments, aided by inflammatory reports from the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, could be exploited by those with ulterior motives.

The US system allows the country to lash out at China in any direction. US President Donald Trump has just concluded his China trip with clear and abundant results, while Congress and some media accuse Trump of "kowtowing" to China. Meanwhile, the existing US mind-set toward China prevents the president from truly standing up for his achievements.

Some Chinese people have suggested communicating more with the Americans to help them better understand China, while others believe American society is too complex for this to provide meaningful results. And this is the crux of the long-term impasse in China-US relations - while China sticks to principles and normal diplomacy, US diplomacy is at sixes and nines.

It's not known if this year's report will have any impact on the US' China policy. Ignoring the report may allow the report to generate its desired effect, while a strong reply may negate its vitriol. No matter what the reaction, there are those in the US who will continue to try to contain and disrupt China.

Nonetheless, what determines the trajectory of Sino-US ties is the strength and wisdom of the two countries. After the report's release, there will be more hearings and struggles between different interest groups, all of which only serves to consume US time, energy and resources.

Given the realistic need to deal with the West, China should encourage public diplomacy to open on a new track. In the face of a provocateur like the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, the best way to deal with it is to pay it back in kind.

Veterans’ Stories: ‘Cold War Warrior’ worked as Voice of America broadcaster

By Ludvik Cizinsky / as told to Abby Weingarten,

Cizinsky image from article

Czech Republic-born Ludvik Cizinsky grew up under communist leadership before escaping to the United States as an adult. A longtime radio listener, he found a successful career as a broadcaster with Voice of America (VOA) in Washington, D.C. He considers himself a “Cold War warrior” as he helped illuminate many issues people were facing abroad while living under terrifying rule. He is multilingual (Czech, English, Slovak, German and Russian) as well as an avid art collector and traveler. Now 76, Cizinsky is retired and lives in Venice with his wife, Carolyn, of 43 years.

“Although I never participated in any military conflict, I consider myself a veteran of the Cold War. For 25 years, I fought with words behind a microphone as a VOA broadcaster, bringing the hope of freedom to millions of oppressed listeners in former Czechoslovakia. When this mission was successfully accomplished in the late 1980s, the VOA was recognized as one of the major contributors. This year, the VOA celebrates 75 years of being on the air, still bringing the hope of freedom to millions of oppressed people around the globe. It remains the most effective weapon of U.S. public diplomacy in promoting personal freedom, democratic institutions and American life and values.

I started to listen to VOA broadcasts in Czech and Slovak languages in the 1950s, during the Cold War, in a small town in northern Bohemia. I was about 10 years old. It was shortly after the communist government came to power (February 1948). Free speech and democratic institutions were banned, and misinformation took over. It was illegal to listen to Western radio stations. If you were caught by a communist informer, you would face jail time. Still, we were taking chances because it was our only trustworthy source of information. It also gave us hope that, one day, Americans might come again (Americans liberated the western part of Bohemia from Nazi occupation in May 1945).

When I gave up on waiting for liberation from the communist dictatorship, I escaped and made it to America. My intention was to continue my teaching career, so I enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley. I befriended a librarian of Polish origin who was a regular contributor to the VOA’s Polish broadcasts. He suggested I contact the Czechoslovak service and offer to be a California stringer. A full-time position came about six months later, and I started on July 2, 1970, as a writer/announcer.

There were so many memorable moments. I witnessed the fall of communism and the return of freedom in former Czechoslovakia in November 1999. I witnessed free elections in Czechoslovakia after 42 years of communist dictatorship. During my assignment at the Cultural Forum in Budapest, western delegations criticized Czechoslovak authorities for suppressing human rights, freedom of speech and publishing. They criticized the treatment of Nobel Prize Laureate for Literature Jaroslav Seifert (whose works were banned) and a dissident group called The Jazz Section that secretly published samizdat literature. In my broadcasts, I dedicated several features to their plight.

Notable people I have interviewed: Christopher Dodd, John McCain, Madeleine Albright, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Walter Stoessel, Edward Albee, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jager, Martina Navratilova, Paul Anka, The Fifth Dimension, Johnny Cash and Michael York. I retired from the VOA in 1994 as the editor-in-chief and director of Czech language broadcasting. What years before had seemed like an impossible dream became a reality and 25 years of an extremely rewarding career.”

'Too early to say if there's Trump effect on tourism business'

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US President Donald Trump's travel ban and immigration policies might have not gone down well in some parts of the world but Caroline Beteta, the Visit California President and CEO, says it's too early to gauge the effect on travel business in the Golden State following such action.

"It's little too early to say that because we do our inbound international research long-term. The benefit is California is far away from Washington, it's the other side of the country. Also, people around the world know that California has different culture and vision about embracing diversity and inclusiveness and why it is made for such a strong economy and spirit about California that resonates with everyone," Beteta told IANS during her second India visit here.

Visit California, the destination marketing organisation for California, has brought a CEO Mission to India this month. This delegation consists of 11 CEOs of cities and attractions and is being led by Beteta.

She was also the former Vice-Chairperson and Chairperson of Brand USA, where she provided strategic direction for the projected $200 million global programme.

California commands 27.5 per cent of the market share from Indian outbound travel market to the US, accounting for 319,000 visitors who spent $706 million in 2016 in the Golden State. Also, according to Visit California, spending by travellers totalled $126.3 billion in 2016 in California, generating 1.1 million jobs in the state and $10.3 billion in state and local tax revenues.

Beteta feels California as travel industry has a message of authenticity and inclusiveness and that's what they are focussing on.

"We know that we will connect with people around the world. Also when it comes to safety and security of people, everybody wants to make sure they are given full attention when they are visiting any destination, just like India. So we make sure that we take care of people from all around the world," she said when asked about reports that stated some officials in US are concerned about tourism business going down in the days to come.

She also feels that the recent meeting between Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the ASEAN summit in Manila will help the travel business of both the countries.

"Anytime heads of state gather, it's good for the facilitation of international travel," she said.

"Travel promotes understanding and I think we are the biggest form of public diplomacy in the form of hospitality industry and bringing peace to this world so a meeting between heads of state definitely helps," she added.

For her, India holds an important place for tourism growth in California.

"We have seen healthy growth and it has increased over the years. We are expecting six-to-seven per cent increase soon and what we have seen is high prospect of growth in next several years... may be about 40 per cent between now and 2021," said Beteta.

"With the growing middle class in India, we just feel that we have a lot of connectivity and experiences that would be highly appealing to the Indian market," said the CEO who appeared excited about her trip to Agra to visit Taj Mahal.

After the Pivot [:] The Outlines of Trump’s Asia Strategy

Daniel Blumenthal,

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The President’s Asian trip sketched out a smart approach to containing North Korea, competing with China, and rebuilding trust with allies. Now comes the time to fill in the blanks.


Getting Back in the Information Game

Heather Nauert, spokesperson for the United States Department of State since April 2017.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Heather Nauert
Heather Nauert official photo.jpg
Spokesperson for the United States Department of State
Assumed office
April 24, 2017[1]
PresidentDonald Trump
Preceded byMark Toner (Acting)
Personal details
BornHeather Ann Nauert
January 27, 1970 (age 47)
Rockford, Illinois, U.S
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Scott Norby (m. 2000)
Alma materPine Manor College
Mount Vernon Seminary and College
Columbia University
Heather Ann Nauert (born January 27, 1970) is an American journalist who has served as the spokesperson for the United States Department of State since April 2017.[2] She is a former co-host of Fox & Friends and Fox & Friends First, and was previously a correspondent for ABC News.

Early life and education[edit]

Nauert is a native of Rockford, Illinois.[3] Her father, Peter Nauert, was an executive in the insurance industry. She has three brothers: Justin, Jonathan, and Joseph.[4]
She attended Pine Manor College in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications from Mount Vernon College for Women. She received her master's degree in Journalism from Columbia University.[5]



In 1996, Nauert was a reporter for the syndicated weekly business program, First Business. She worked for Fox News from 1998 to 2005, first as a contributor for three years then as a correspondent for four years. During her time as a correspondent she regularly contributed to The Big Story.[5]
From 2005 to 2007, Nauert held positions at a number of different news organizations, including ABC News as a general assignment correspondent, where she contributed to World News TonightGood Morning America and Nightline. While there, she received an Emmy nomination for her work on the special series, 13 Around the World.[5]
Nauert has done newscasts Good Day Early Call and Good Day New York Wake Up with co-anchor Steve Lacy weekday mornings, for Fox owned-and-operated station WNYW in New York City. In October 2012, Nauert left Good Day Wake Up.[6]

Nauert poses with a visitor to the Fox News headquarters in New York City in October 2003.
In 2007, Nauert returned to Fox News as co-host with John Gibson of the weekday edition of The Big Story.[5]
Nauert has also worked as a government affairs consultant on issues including health insuranceSocial Security and taxes. She was also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.[5]

Nauert attends Regional Media Day at the White House on July 25, 2017

State Department[edit]

On April 24, 2017, the U.S. State Department announced that Nauert would be the new State Department spokesperson.[7] She held her first press briefing in that role five weeks later, on June 6, 2017.[8] Afterward, she tweeted that she felt honored to work with "such talented, dedicated staff and distinguished journalists."[9]

Personal life[edit]

Nauert is married to Scott Norby, an investment banker who works at Goldman Sachs. They have two sons, Peter (born October 2009), and Gage (born December 2010).[10][11]She is of German, Danish, and English descent.

Part I: Trump's Big Fail (So Far) at the BBG/VOA

Dan Robinson, see also [thank you TL].

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Nearly two years ago, in the midst of the 2016 presidential campaign, I put forward the controversial notion that shutting down Voice of America (VOA) and possibly other parts of the U.S. government-funded media structure should be considered. (CPD Blog: “Shut Down the Voice of America?”)

After Donald Trump's victory, I followed up, asking this question: "Will Trump and his team be able to ascertain the truth about the broken [Broadcasting Board of Governors] BBG? Or will they be hoodwinked by the smoke screen of happy talk emanating from the permanent BBG bureaucracy?" (CPD Blog: “What’s a President-Elect to Do…With the BBG?”)
Regardless of where you stand on the future of the BBG—whether you're among those who see it as some vital tool of the U.S. in the new information wars or if you’re among increasing numbers who see the agency as a prime example of government dysfunction that should be shuttered—it's time for an update. 
One thing is clear: the Donald Trump who came to power promising to drain the D.C. swamp has so far not done much when it comes to the well-known quagmire at the BBG.
The Trump Landing Team
In January of 2017, two former Trump campaign workers, Matt Ciepielowski and Matt Schuck, were sent to 330 Independence Avenue, headquarters of the BBG and VOA.
A memo from the Obama-appointed BBG CEO John Lansing said Ciepielowski and Schuck would be working with staff "to ensure an open, transparent and seamless transition" of the agency to the Trump administration.
A wave of media hysteria ensued, with articles and segments in various mainstream outlets (notably Politico, The Washington Post and MSNBC) warning about an alleged plan by Donald Trump to seize control of the BBG, specifically VOA, and questioning the two Trump team members’ qualifications.
Based on how they were portrayed on the January 25 edition of MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” and by a February 1 article in Media Matters, Ciepielowski and Schuck knew where things were headed. The Media Matters article title blared, “Here Are the Hacks in Charge of Broadcasting Trump’s Propaganda Internationally.”
Using what looked like old video of the two, Maddow presented what amounted to a scare story. She asserted erroneously that the two (described as "20-something political operatives") had actually physically taken over the CEO's office at the BBG.
Wow… A big mistake. The BBG contacted “The Rachel Maddow Show” to request a clarification. Although it’s now mentioned in the print version of the story, the original video giving the impression that a federal agency was being taken over by two kids from the Trump campaign is still up there on MSNBC’s and other websites.
What the two Trump representatives must have viewed as hit pieces continued at a slower pace through the year. (It should be noted that both Politico reports were written by someone who had once worked at VOA. MSNBC has a former VOA reporter on staff.)
In April, a New Republic piece asked, “Will the Voice of America Become the Voice of Trump?” stating “Trump is poised to turn the government news service—which reaches a global audience of 236 million every week through its radio and TV broadcasts—into a mouthpiece for his personal brand.”

What assessments were made of the agency's effectiveness—or lack of the same, legendary morale problems—and their recommendations are unknown.

In June, Politico reported that an apparent Trump choice to head the BBG, Michael Pack, was an ally of former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, warning that Pack could hold “sweeping new powers…[in] the position [that] would oversee public media reaching 100 countries.”
It’s hard to argue with facts about the backgrounds of Ciepielowski and Schuck —they brought very little heavyweight experience to their assignment at the BBG. However, both were subjected to some truly vicious attacks, AND the takeover hasn’t happened. 
Indeed, agency officials, from Obama-appointed CEO John Lansing on down, maintained that there were no attempts by the White House to manipulate VOA or other programming.
The Trump Team's Recommendations to the White House
As 2017 ticked by, little was heard about the activities of Ciepielowski and Schuck, aside from occasional sightings reported by VOA employees.
It was clear they had received minimal direction from the White House as to their actual mission, at least as of the time they were being sent to the BBG.
Their report about the agency is believed to have been submitted over the summer, when Breitbart operative Steve Bannon was still an adviser to Trump with an office in the White House.
What assessments were made of the agency's effectiveness—or lack of the same, legendary morale problems—and their recommendations are unknown. Was the report given to Lansing and other officials at the BBG/VOA and other broadcast entities?
In early 2017, the belief was that the two would assess and report findings then depart from the BBG, rather than occupy permanent positions in the agency. I was surprised to learn that there was a possibility they could be given full-time positions.
According to his Facebook page, Schuck now holds the title of special communications adviser for the BBG. It's unclear whether this is temporary or permanent and what that role entails.
Ciepielowski, whose background was so viciously attacked in the Media Matters article, left the BBG last summer, reportedly for the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Neither Ciepielowski nor Schuck responded to a list of questions sent to them for this article.
Obama Holdovers Still in Charge at the BBG/VOA
What also has not occurred is any change in the BBG's top leadership.
As noted, President Trump was reported to have settled months ago on Pack, head of conservative think tank the Claremont Institute, to replace Lansing. 
Responding to a question for this article, Amanda Callanan, director of communications for the Claremont Institute, said, "Out of respect for the selection and nomination process, which is still ongoing, Mr. Pack would like to refrain from comment at this time."
Meanwhile, VOA director Amanda Bennett and her deputy Sandy Sugawara —both also Obama holdovers —remain in place, with Bennett facing ongoing criticisms of her leadership.
The China Controversy
One major controversy involved the truncating of a previously arranged multi-hour Facebook Live program with Chinese billionaire and whistleblower Guo Wengui (aka Miles Kwok).
The government in Beijing communicated to VOA its anger over the interview in April, among other things, calling in the VOA Beijing correspondent for a chat.
With backing from Lansing, Bennett dismissed as "baseless" the charges that the interview was cut short due to pressure from China. VOA management launched an investigation into five Mandarin broadcast employees who remained on indefinite administrative leave for months.
Among whatever is left of its audience in China, VOA's reputation suffered, with thousands of people writing in to criticize VOA and assert that VOA management caved to pressure from the Chinese government.
As this article was being finalized, news arrived that three VOA Mandarin employees were fired by the BBG for what the agency calls "insubordination." They have the right to appeal, but as of this writing, it's unclear where things will go.
The BBG's Office of Public Affairs did not respond to my email seeking further information about the firings, but an internal document from Bennett says the agency declines comment on ongoing personal matters "to protect the privacy of the individuals involved."  
Bennett says an investigation, conducted by a law firm on retainer with the agency, along with a University of Maryland, Philip Merrill College of Journalism expert hired by the firm, found that "VOA management's actions were not in any way driven by pressure from the Chinese government but instead were intended to enforce best industry-wide journalistic practices."
In August, four Republican lawmakers—Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ed Royce (R-CA), Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Robert Pittenger (R-NC)—demanded an investigation by Steve A. Linick, inspector general for the U.S. State Department and the BBG.
As of this writing, it's not clear whether the four lawmakers will continue to insist on an investigation by the Office of Inspector General.
Note from the CPD Blog Manager: This article is Part I of a two-part essay regarding recent events involving the Broadcasting Board of Governors' oversight of Voice of America.

CPD Blog Contributor

Former Senior White House Correspondent, Voice of America

Friday, November 17, 2017

Time to Make Friends with the Promised Land

Arman Navasardyan Nov 17, 2017, Modern Diplomacy

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Armenian-Israeli cooperation can develop in the format of multilateral diplomacy. Diaspora capacities of both countries could play a huge role here if state and public diplomacy, as well as soft power is implemented. ...