Mark Siemons, who is rapidly becoming one of my favorite correspondents in Beijing, has another piece in yesterday’s Frankfurter Allegemeine Zeitung. Ironically entitled “Deutschland ist eigentlich ein zweites China in Europa [Germany is truly a second China in Europe],” it reveals a few things of note.
Foremost, the Chinese domestic media gave less attention to Wen Jiabao (and his 13 fellow ministers) in Berlin “than it would for a state visit to Central Asia.” With virtually nothing in the Huanqiu Shibao (which Siemons calls “one of the most influential papers on transnational affairs”), a scribble in People’s Daily, and a blurb in a local Beijing paper, the visit to Germany was in the eyes of the Chinese propaganda apparatus nothing worth discussing. Certainly there was no mention of Ai Weiwei, and why would there be? With the giant red orgasm of the CCP’s 90th anniversary about to explode — the harmonious imposition of what the Tagezeitung calls “a unified community of belief” — why would Angela Merkel’s subtle notice about more regular and open dialogue about human rights have any traction whatsoever?
The Party thus celebrates itself in the immense bubble of humanity that is China.
Far more interesting in Siemons’ article is the notion of “Germany as a second China in Europe.” Here Siemons characterizes his conversation with a group of Chinese intellectuals who have been keyed into this notion by writings of one particular scholar (one whose name now escapes me) at the Center for International Studies in Beijing. The idea, according to Siemons, is rooted strongly in 19th-century notions of global power and competition, and projects a future in which Germany “leaves Europe” to unite with Scandanavia and divide the world, essentially, among itself and the U.S. and China. Such a notion, Siemons notes, is not only tremendously fanciful, it virtually ignores Germany’s European orientation and forgets completely about the huge reluctance of Germans to strive for global power. It seems the Chinese intellectuals have become far more Nietzschean than any German, in other words.
Finally, Der Spiegel wins the prize for the best picture caption: “The East is Red: Ferrari Red.”