Xi on Archeology - Poverty Alleviation Spirit - Xi's Ecological Civilisation Thought > Western Theories - Common Prosperity & Tertiary Distribution

Here are the stories and pieces from the October 18, 2021, edition of the People’s Daily that I found noteworthy.

Page 1: Let’s begin with Xi’s letter (English report) ​​on the 100th anniversary of the discovery of the Yangshao Culture and the beginning of modern archaeology in China, as Xinhua tells us. Xi said that discoveries by Chinese archeologists have “highlighted the great contributions made by the Chinese civilisation to civilisations of the world.” He also said that Chinese archeologists must “enhance their sense of historical mission and responsibility.” 

They must strive to develop archaeology with Chinese features, style and ethos to better showcase the splendour of the Chinese civilisation, as well as carry forward the fine traditional Chinese culture, thus making new and greater contributions to the realisation of the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation. -- As is the case with any of these domains, knowledge isn’t the end. Everything is an instrument serving a broader political end. 

Next, we have a commentary drawing from Xi’s speech last week on whole-process people’s democracy. I am doing a brief summary, since none of this is new.

What the commentary tells us is that Xi Jinping’s thoughts on whole-process people’s democracy have enriched the concept of socialist democracy from a theoretical and practical perspective. The commentary adds that this democracy is one in which the Party leads the people; there’s an alliance of the working class that dominates, and there is multi-party consultation, the people’s congress system, and so on. It then repeats Xi’s comment that the PRC’s whole-process democracy has achieved “unity of process democracy and results-based democracy, procedural democracy and substantive democracy, direct democracy and indirect democracy, people’s democracy and national will.”

The next paragraph emphasises the role of the people and says that in all work of the state, it is important to ensure the Party’s mass line is upheld and followed -- listen to the people, respond to expectations, address their concerns and pool their wisdom. 国家各项工作都要贯彻党的群众路线,密切同人民群众的联系,倾听人民呼声,回应人民期待,不断解决好人民最关心最直接最现实的利益问题,凝聚起最广大人民智慧和力量. The next paragraph is about the people’s congress system and how that should be the basis for “orderly political participation” by the people. “We will ensure that the people exercise their right to vote in accordance with the law, that deputies to people's congresses are democratically elected, and that the people's rights to be informed, to participate, to be heard, and to oversee the NPC's work are fully incorporated into every aspect of the NPC’s work, and that the Party and the state hear the voice of the people in all aspects of decision-making, implementation, and oversight.” 保证人民依法行使选举权利,民主选举产生人大代表,保证人民的知情权、参与权、表达权、监督权落实到人大工作各方面各环节全过程,确保党和国家在决策、执行、监督落实各个环节都能听到来自人民的声音;

Next, we have a commentary in the spirit series. This one is about the spirit of poverty alleviation. Going ahead, it calls for the following:

“In the fight against poverty, based on China’s national conditions and grasping the laws of poverty reduction, we have blazed a path of poverty reduction with Chinese characteristics and formed an anti-poverty theory with Chinese characteristics. This entails upholding the leadership of the Party and providing strong political and organisational guarantee for poverty alleviation; adhering to the people-centered development thought and unswervingly following the path of common prosperity; adhering to the political advantage that China’s socialist system, which enables us to concentrate our resources to accomplish major tasks and form a common will and concerted action to eradicate poverty; adhering to the precise poverty alleviation strategy and eliminating the root causes of poverty by means of development; persisting in mobilising the enthusiasm, initiative and creativity of the broad masses of the poor, and stimulating the endogenous motivation of poverty alleviation; adhering to solidarity and mutual assistance, and creating a strong atmosphere for the whole society to help people in need; persisting in seeking truth and being pragmatic and confronting difficulties…” 在脱贫攻坚斗争中,我们立足我国国情,把握减贫规律,走出了一条中国特色减贫道路,形成了中国特色反贫困理论:坚持党的领导,为脱贫攻坚提供坚强政治和组织保证;坚持以人民为中心的发展思想,坚定不移走共同富裕道路;坚持发挥我国社会主义制度能够集中力量办大事的政治优势,形成脱贫攻坚的共同意志、共同行动;坚持精准扶贫方略,用发展的办法消除贫困根源;坚持调动广大贫困群众积极性、主动性、创造性,激发脱贫内生动力;坚持弘扬和衷共济、团结互助美德,营造全社会扶危济困的浓厚氛围;坚持求真务实、较真碰硬,做到真扶贫、扶真贫、脱真贫.

Page 3: First, Wang Yi’s chat with Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud (English report). This is an interesting call, because Wang clearly spent time defending and balancing China’s ties with Saudi Arabia and Iran. For instance, the report tells us that Wang said, in the face of the volatile international situation, China and Saudi Arabia need to maintain close strategic communication. He then told his Saudi counterpart that China “gives priority to its relations with Saudi Arabia in its diplomacy in the Middle East” and wants to be a “long-term reliable and stable good friend and partner.” He appreciated “Saudi Arabia’s firm stand with China on issues concerning China’s core interests” and promised support “in safeguarding its national sovereignty, security and stability, and resolutely oppose any interference in Saudi Arabia’s internal affairs.”

He talked about BRI, a China-GCC free trade agreement, and a future China-Arab summit. And then, the story talks about the Iran deal.

“China upholds an objective and just position on the Iranian nuclear issue, and is committed to upholding the international nuclear non-proliferation regime as well as security and stability in the Middle East and the Gulf region without any selfish interests or geopolitical considerations. China understands and supports Saudi Arabia's legitimate concern for safeguarding national security, Wang said, adding that the comprehensive agreement on the Iranian nuclear issue is an important achievement of multilateralism. China will continue to play a constructive role in promoting the negotiations on resuming the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal.”

Xinhua says that “Faisal said the Saudi-China relationship is very important and is developing very well, adding that Saudi Arabia always regards China as a truly credible strategic partner, and is willing to work with China to deepen all-round bilateral cooperation in various fields.” It adds Faisal saying that “Saudi Arabia attaches great importance to China's unique role on the Iranian nuclear issue, and expects China to play an important role in promoting the resumption of the Iran nuclear deal and the comprehensive and lasting settlement of the Iranian nuclear issue.”

Next, we have a report about foreign media coverage of China’s new manned space mission. We also have a report about Chinese vaccine supplies to countries like Bhutan, Cambodia, Burundi, Laos, Tanzania and Iraq. The basic point in the report is to state that Chinese support has been helpful for these countries and they are appreciative of China’s support.

Finally, we have a report (English report) about the foundation stone laying ceremony for the Hungarian Section of the Belgrade-Budapest railway. The ceremony was attended by Hungary’s Minister for Innovation and Technology Laszlo Palkovics, Serbia’s Minister of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure Tomislav Momirovic and Chinese Ambassador to Hungary Qi Dayu. Ning Jizhe, deputy head of the National Development and Reform Commission of China, attended the ceremony via video link.

I like these comments below. Each side playing to the other’s interests and anxieties:

“With the renovation of the Budapest-Belgrade railway, Hungary will offer the fastest transport route for Chinese goods between Greek ports and Western Europe, becoming a logistics center in the region, according to the Hungarian minister. For his part, Ning said that the railway project will promote the connectivity between Hungary and Serbia and other European countries, help the two countries build a regional transport and logistics hub, give a strong boost to European infrastructure and economic growth along the route, and enhance the well-being of the European people.”

Page 4: We have the third commentary in the common prosperity series. This one’s about protecting legal wealth and giving back to society. It begins by talking about the role of enterprises as part of the poverty alleviation campaign, under the rubric of “Ten Thousand Enterprises Helping Ten Thousand Villages” (万企帮万村) initiative. 

The next paragraph tells us that realising common prosperity for all is the “Party’s unswerving goal.” But, in saying so, it is important to note that “due to differences in resource endowments and development base of different regions in China, common prosperity cannot be uniform and go hand in hand. Instead, it should be promoted gradually and in stages. Common prosperity is not equal to simultaneous prosperity. With regard to the path for achieving common prosperity, we need to encourage some people and regions to become rich first. They shall then lead and assist others to become rich, and thereby gradually achieve common prosperity. This, the piece tells us, is important to ensure development vitality and social equity. 实现全体人民共同富裕,是我们党矢志不渝的奋斗目标。同时也要看到,由于我国地区之间资源禀赋和发展基础不同,共同富裕不能整齐划一、齐头并进,而要循序渐进分阶段促进。共同富裕不是同时同步同等富裕,在具体的实现路径上需要鼓励一部分人、一部分地区先富起来,先富带后富、帮后富,逐步实现共同富裕.

“We must effectively protect income from labor, property rights and intellectual property rights, and legitimate wealth, along with fully mobilizing the enthusiasm of entrepreneurs, and promoting the standardized and healthy development of all types of capital. At the same time, we should also strengthen the standardized management  of public welfare and charity programs, improve tax incentives, and encourage high-income individuals and enterprises to give back more to society.” 我们要切实保护劳动所得,保护产权和知识产权,保护合法致富,充分调动企业家积极性,促进各类资本规范健康发展。同时,也要加强公益慈善事业规范管理,完善税收优惠政策,鼓励高收入人群和企业更多回报社会.

The next paragraph talks about how since the reform and opening up era, the Party has followed a policy of “allowing some areas and people to get rich first.” This led to a number of outcomes, such as the development of village and township enterprises, establishment of a “distribution system with distribution according to work as the main body and the coexistence of various modes of distribution”, the establishment of a socialist market economy system, rapid economic growth, entrepreneurship, etc, leading to the creation of opportunities for people to get rich. But since the 18th Party Congress, there have been reforms around optimizing the business environment, supporting the healthy development of private economy, and helping small and medium-sized enterprises, and legal changes to the business environment in order to “further enhancing the vitality of economic development and expanding the space for wealth creation in society.” 

This is followed by a defense of recent regulatory changes. “The series of regulatory measures, including those recently introduced, are also aimed at promoting the healthy, sustainable and long-term development of relevant industries and enterprises.” 包括近期出台的一系列监管举措,也是为了促进相关行业、相关企业更加健康、更可持续、更为长远的发展. These, the piece argues, are based on the understanding that China is still in the “primary stage of socialism” and adherence to the principle of the “two unwavering.”

“In the long run, the ultimate goal of encouraging some people to get rich first is to gradually realize common prosperity. Enterprises have not only economic and legal responsibilities, but also social and moral responsibilities. Any enterprise that exists in society is a social enterprise. Society is a stage for entrepreneurs to display their talents. Only those entrepreneurs who sincerely repay the society and earnestly fulfill their social responsibilities can be truly recognized by the society and are entrepreneurs who meet the requirements of the times. In recent years, more and more entrepreneurs have earned social recognition for their efforts in public welfare undertakings and donations in the fight against COVID-19. After private entrepreneurs become rich, they should follow the example of good people, strengthen their patriotism, shoulder their social responsibilities, assist others who are not yet rich, actively participate in and run social welfare programs, and jointly play their role in tertiary distribution. It must be noted that tertiary distribution is not to ‘rob the rich and give to the poor’ and nor is it to exact ‘forceful donations’, but rather it aims to encourage entities to give back to society on a voluntary basis. High-income groups and enterprises’ active engagement via non-governmental donations and charities will certainly ignite the light of morality, gather social warmth, and better promote the realisation of common prosperity.” -- 从长远来看,鼓励先富,最终目的是为了逐步实现共同富裕. 企业既有经济责任、法律责任,也有社会责任、道德责任. 任何企业存在于社会之中,都是社会的企业。社会是企业家施展才华的舞台。只有真诚回报社会、切实履行社会责任的企业家,才能真正得到社会认可,才是符合时代要求的企业家. 近年来,在公益事业中用心用力,在抗疫斗争中捐款捐物,越来越多企业家在回报社会中获得社会认可. 民营企业家富起来以后,要见贤思齐,增强家国情怀、担当社会责任,发挥先富帮后富的作用,积极参与和兴办社会公益事业,共同发挥第三次分配的作用。必须看到,第三次分配不是“劫富济贫”,也决不搞“逼捐”, 回报社会应建立在自觉自愿的基础上. 高收入群体和企业积极主动投入民间捐赠、慈善事业, 必将点亮道德之光、汇聚社会暖流, 更好推动实现共同富裕.

Quick Thought: This piece tells us that what we will see going ahead is still a process by which some will get rich first and these people are to help others. In essence, this means that growth is still a priority.

Second, people are being told to accept that inequality is a fact of life and it will sustain. The argument is that common prosperity is an attempt to address the degree of inequality.

Third, but there are really very few ideas so far that we’ve heard about how this will be done. This is the case across different commentaries and even Xi’s recent speech, which was published in Qiushi.

This commentary today focuses on one policy prong, i.e., the rich giving back. That brings me to the fourth point, i.e., businesses are being told that they will need to “volunteer” and spread the wealth. The key here will be to see which businesses are volunteering and who has a stake in them.

Finally, one can easily view the bits regarding not robbing the rich and volunteering with cynicism. But I don’t think this is about convincing private corporations about benign intent or making a principled argument; rather I view this as a message to authorities, particularly those at local levels, warning them against excesses.

Other Stories:

Page 9: The lead piece is by two academics from the School of Marxism at Guangdong Medical University. The key point being made is that Xi Thought on Ecological Civilisation goes beyond and is ontologically, epistemologically, and methodologically superior to modern Western environmental theory and contributes Chinese wisdom and solutions for sustainable development. 

The authors’ basic criticism is that while Western theoretical approaches do agree on the basic need to protect the ecological environment, they do not effectively explore the organic link between man and nature and neither do they go beyond an academic understanding of the issue. They critique anthropocentrism, which emphasises the dominant position of human beings, by saying that this approach calls on people to protect nature for their own benefit. They also critique nature-centered theorists for de-emphasising the role of human beings in the natural ecological system. The organic interrelation between man and nature is unexplored in these schools of thought, as per the authors. Of course, Xi Thought for them does this.

For them, Xi Thought on ecological civilisation “not only profoundly reveals the relationship between man and nature from the ontological perspective, it also clearly explains why the ecological environment should be protected, and puts forward the important concept of “green mountains and rivers green are mountains of silver and gold” at epistemological and methodological levels. These ideas offer clarity on pursuing development and conservation, which in turn provides a pathway for the harmonious coexistence of man and nature. 习近平生态文明思想不仅从本体论层面深刻揭示了人与自然的关系,讲清楚了为什么要保护生态环境的问题,而且从认识论、方法论层面提出了“绿水青山就是金山银山”的重要理念,阐明了怎样在保护中发展、在发展中保护的问题,指明了实现人与自然和谐共生的路径和方法.

The latter half of the piece basically makes the argument that China’s efforts to tackle climate change, its climate diplomacy and investments, and its carbon peak and neutrality pledges. It says that “as the world’s largest developing country, (China) will achieve the world’s largest reduction in carbon emission intensity and achieve carbon neutrality in the shortest time in the history of the world. The commitment to carbon neutrality is much shorter than that of developed countries, which fully demonstrates China’s commitment to building a community with a shared future for mankind and realising sustainable development for mankind.” 我国宣布将力争于2030年前实现二氧化碳排放达到峰值、2060年前实现碳中和,这意味着我国作为世界上最大的发展中国家,将完成全球最大碳排放强度降幅,用全球历史上最短的时间实现从碳达峰到碳中和。承诺实现从碳达峰到碳中和的时间远远短于发达国家,充分体现了我国对于推动构建人类命运共同体和实现人类可持续发展的责任担当.

The next paragraph criticises “some Western countries” for pursuing “unilateralism.” The argument is that on issues such as energy conservation and emissions reduction, they haven’t given weightage to concerns of developing countries. In terms of financial and technological assistance to developing countries, the authors charge such countries with doing little other than paying lip-service and shirking responsibilities. The piece also attacks “some Western scholars and environmentalists” for having emphasised “equality” over equity, thereby allowing the developed world to shirk responsibility. The authors also acknowledge that other Western scholars have disagreed with these folks, but their suggestions have not led to practical actions. 一些西方国家奉行单边主义,在全球生态环境建设中有利则合、无利则弃,在节能减排等问题上避重就轻,在资金、技术上对发展中国家的援助“缺斤少两”、口惠而实不至,动辄以“退群”“甩锅”推卸责任. 一些西方环境生态学者出于本国利益,片面强调“平等”而忽视公平,为个别发达国家推卸对气候变化应负的历史责任提供辩护。当然,也有一些西方环境生态学者意识到全球生态环境建设的重要性,呼吁加强各国在全球生态环境治理中的合作,加强对发展中国家在技术和资金等方面的支持力度。但受种种因素制约,这部分学者的意见难以转化为具有操作性和实际影响力的全球生态环境治理行动方案.

Page 11: There’s a long piece here on the importance of continuing to Sinicise Marxism. 

Also: External story about Q3 GDP data. We’ll get this in PD tomorrow:

  • NBS said today that Q3 GDP grew at 4.9%.

  • For the first nine months of the year, China’s GDP expanded 9.8% compared with a year earlier

  • Industrial output rose 3.1% in September from a year earlier, slowing from August’s 5.3%. 

  • Fixed-asset investment grew 7.3% in the first three quarters of the year, down from the 8.9% growth pace in the January-to-August period. 

  • Retail sales rose 4.4% in September from a year earlier, rebounding from August’s 2.5% year-over-year increase.

  • Urban unemployment rate in September was 4.9%. The rate for those aged 16 to 24 was 14.6%.

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