Beijing Stock Exchange - Jiang Chunyun's Funeral - Kerry Meets Han & Yang - EU-Taiwan Report Pushback - Xi Thought: Media Control & Culture - Propaganda Dept on Entertainment Sector Crackdown

Here are the stories and pieces from the September 3, 2021, edition of the People’s Daily that I found noteworthy.

Page 1: Xi Jinping dominates the front page again today. The lead story is his speech to the Global Trade in Services Summit of the 2021 China International Fair for Trade in Services. He promised:

  • opening up by implementing across the country a negative list for cross-border services trade and by exploring the development of national demonstration zones for the innovative development of trade in services

  • scaling up support for the growth of the services sector in Belt and Road partner countries

  • building demonstration zones of digital trade

  • setting up a Beijing Stock Exchange as the primary platform serving innovation-oriented SMEs

Next, Xi sent a congratulatory letter (English report) to the Forum on the 20th Anniversary of Juncao Assistance and Sustainable Development Cooperation. Third, we have a brief note that Xi will attend the opening of the sixth Eastern Economic Forum on Friday via video link from Beijing at the invitation of Vladimir Putin.

Then we have a report (English version) about former Chinese vice-premier Jiang Chunyun being cremated in Beijing. Just about all of Page 4 is dedicated to his life. Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, Li Zhanshu, Wang Yang, Zhao Leji, and Han Zheng attended the funeral at the Babaoshan Revolutionary Cemetery. Also note that Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, Li Zhanshu, Wang Yang, Wang Huning, Zhao Leji, Han Zheng, Wang Qishan, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao had either visited Jiang Chunyun when he was in hospital or offered their condolences to his family after his death.

Jiang was hailed in a statement as “a time-tested and loyal communist soldier, a proletarian revolutionary, and an outstanding leader on China's economic development front and in the development of socialist rule of law.”

Finally, we have commentary drawing from Xi’s speech at the Central Party School. This begins with Xi’s calls for self-cultivation, daring to fight, taking responsibility, etc. The next bit talks about the belief in Marxism and maintaining the lofty ideals of Communism. The commentary then says “once the fire of ideals and beliefs is ignited, it will produce tremendous spiritual power.” In this context, the commentary emphasizes loyalty and keeping in mind the original aspiration. 

Also:

Cadres “should take the belief in Marxism and socialism with Chinese characteristics as our lifelong pursuit, work hard in their respective posts, and constantly push forward the practice of striving for lofty ideals.” 要把对马克思主义的信仰、对中国特色社会主义的信念作为毕生追求,在各自岗位上顽强拼搏,不断把为崇高理想奋斗的实践推向前进.

Then we are told that loyalty to the Party is a measure of whether cadres have nurtured their ideals and beliefs. 衡量干部是否有理想信念, 关键看是否对党忠诚。Here are the metrics outlined for assessing loyalty:

  • upholding the Party’s leadership

  • resolutely safeguarding the authority of the CPC Central Committee and the centralised and unified leadership

  • maintaining a high degree of consistency with the CPC Central Committee in ideological and political actions

  • implementing the party’s theory, line, principles and policies

  • implementing the decision-making arrangements of the CPC Central Committee without compromise

  • abiding by the party’s political discipline and political rules and being honest

  • upholding the cause of the party and the people above all else

  • implementing organizational decisions and obeying organizational arrangements

比如,能不能坚持党的领导,坚决维护党中央权威和集中统一领导,自觉在思想上政治上行动上同党中央保持高度一致;能不能坚决贯彻执行党的理论和路线方针政策,不折不扣把党中央决策部署落到实处;能不能严守党的政治纪律和政治规矩,做政治上的明白人、老实人;能不能坚持党和人民事业高于一切,自觉执行组织决定,服从组织安排,等等,都是对党忠诚的直接检验.

Page 2: Two reports on the page. First, we have a report about John Kerry meeting with PSC member Han Zheng, who said that China has always kept its words and deeds on the issue. For Han, China-US cooperation on climate change “must be based on trust.” He “hoped that the United States will create a good atmosphere for bilateral cooperation on climate change in accordance with the spirit of the telephone conversation between the two heads of state.” Han spoke about the Paris Accord being the “foundation” for such cooperation and both sides working to implement the “China-U.S. Joint Statement Addressing the Climate Crisis.”

Xinhua tells us that Kerry wants both sides to “maintain constructive contacts and jointly deal with global challenges.”

I am covering it here, but this is on page 3 of PD. Kerry also met with Yang Jiechi, who urged the United States to adopt rational and pragmatic China policies to work with China in bringing ties back on track as soon as possible. Yang said, as per Xinhua, that, for some time China-U.S. relations have faced severe difficulties due to a series of erroneous acts by the United States to interfere in China’s internal affairs and undermine China’s interests. “China is strongly opposed to and even more resolute in countering such practices.” 

Yang talked about climate change, COVID-19, and economic cooperation, saying that “such cooperation must be two-way and mutually beneficial.” He also added that China respects other countries' rights to development and choice, and the rights to development and choice of China must be respected as well.

Next on the page, there’s a report telling us that China’s Internet and related service enterprises saw a two-year average growth of 20.5% in business revenue. From January to June, revenue was 886.9 billion yuan, operating profits were 84.29 billion yuan, and R&D investment was 40.79 billion yuan.

Page 3: A few stories to note on the page. First, we have a report (English report) about the remains of 109 more Chinese soldiers killed in the 1950-53 Korean War being returned to China. Just for background, “in 2014, South Korea agreed with China to repatriate the remains of fallen Chinese soldiers according to international law and humanitarian spirit, the ministry said. From 2014 to 2020, South Korea returned the remains of 716 CPV martyrs killed in the Korean War: 437 in 2014, 68 in 2015, 36 in 2016, 28 in 2017, 20 in 2018, 10 in 2019 and 117 in 2020.”

There’s also a commentary on the page around this, which begins by saying that a loyal soul never perishes and the spirit of heroes will continue to live on. 忠魂不泯, 浩气长存. We then get some information on the Korean War; for instance, over 197,000 Chinese people had died in the War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid Korea. Then we are told that since the 18th Party Congress, the Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core has attached great importance to the protection of heroes and martyrs. 

“We should respect heroes, learn from heroes, cultivate patriotism, strengthen our ambition to be a strong country, and serve the country. We must make national prosperity, rejuvenation, and happiness of the people our unrelenting pursuit, embark on a long march in the new era, and contribute even more to the realization of the second centenary goal.” 学习英雄,培养爱国之情、砥砺强国之志、实践报国之行,把国家富强、民族振兴、人民幸福作为不懈追求,走好新时代的长征路,为实现第二个百年奋斗目标贡献更大力量.

It ends saying:

“Let us unite more closely around the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core, persevere like heroic role models, struggle like heroic role models, be brave and of strong spirit as we continue to forge ahead toward the goal of building a modern socialist power in an all-round way and fulfilling the Chinese dream of realizing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.” 让我们更加紧密地团结在以习近平同志为核心的党中央周围,像英雄模范那样坚守、像英雄模范那样奋斗,雄赳赳、气昂昂,向着全面建成社会主义现代化强国的第二个百年奋斗目标,向着实现中华民族伟大复兴的中国梦,继续奋勇前进!

The rest of the page is about criticism of the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs. The report is titled the EU-Taiwan political relations and cooperation. The report hails “Taiwan as a key EU partner and democratic ally in the Indo-Pacific that contributes to maintaining a rules-based order in the midst of an intensifying rivalry between the great powers in the region.” The report talks about preparing for a Bilateral Investment Treaty with Taiwan and expresses “grave concern over China’s continued military belligerence, pressure, assault exercises, airspace violations and disinformation campaigns against Taiwan. It urges the EU to do more to address these tensions and to protect Taiwan’s democracy and the island’s status as an important EU partner.”

Now, here’s the reaction:

  • NPC Foreign Affairs Committee: The scope of cooperation seriously violates the one-China principle and undermines China-EU mutual trust and cooperation...The statement emphasized that the Taiwan issue is China's internal affair and involves China’s core interests. The determination of the Chinese people to realize the reunification of the motherland is unshakable. We urge the European Parliament to fully understand the high sensitivity of the Taiwan issue and be cautious in its words and deeds on Taiwan-related issues to avoid affecting the political foundation of China-EU relations and mutual trust between the two sides.

  • State Council’s Taiwan Affairs Office: Spokesperson Zhu Fenglian said that the one-China principle is the universally recognized norm of international relations and the universal consensus of the international community. Relevant committees and members of the European Parliament should abide by the one-China principle and correct the wrong words and deeds.

  • China’s EU Mission: It stressed the one-China principle and added that “these moves exceed far beyond the scope of normal nonofficial economic and trade cooperation and cultural exchanges between the EU, its member states and Taiwan, constitute serious violations of the one-China principle and undercut mutual trust and cooperation between China and the EU...We urge the relevant committee and relevant members of the European Parliament to appreciate the sensitivity of the Taiwan issue, immediately correct their wrong words and actions, and play a positive and constructive role in upholding the political foundation of China-EU relations.”

  • CPPCC Foreign Affairs Committee: Similar points as above; again emphasises “one-China principle”

Page 5: We have the 35th piece in the Xi Thought Q&A series. The first question is about the Party’s control over news and public opinion work. The response begins with Xi’s February 2016 visit to the offices of the People’s Daily, Xinhua and CCTV. He had then termed news and public opinion work as an important part of the Party’s work, and underscored its importance for governing the country, ensuring stability and security. 习近平总书记强调,党的新闻舆论工作是党的一项重要工作,是治国理政、定国安邦的大事。

He talked about ensuring political direction and maintaining Party control over publicity, ideology, and the media. He talked about political control over running of news platforms so that the “Party’s ideas become the strongest voice of the times.” 做好党的新闻舆论工作,要始终把政治方向摆在第一位,坚持党性原则,坚持党管宣传、党管意识形态、党管媒体,坚持政治家办报、办刊、办台、办新闻网站,让党的主张成为时代最强音.

Then we get a clear statement with regard to the view on journalism; the point begins with the argument that China is a socialist country and the Party is a Marxist party.

“As an integral part of the Party’s cause, journalism must unconditionally accept the Party’s leadership and must fully reflect the Party’s will and propagate the Party’s ideas. Our media is the media of the Party and the people, the mouthpiece of the Party and the people, not a private media, not is it a newspaper run by co-workers, which is essentially different from the media in Western countries.” 新闻事业作为党的事业的组成部分,必须无条件接受党的领导,必须充分体现党的意志、宣传党的主张. 我们的媒体是党和人民的媒体,是党和人民的喉舌,不是私人媒体,不是同仁办报,这与西方国家的媒体有着本质区别. -- The entire paragraph that houses this bit basically talks about the media serving the party.

The next paragraph talks about upholding Marxist standpoints; it ends by saying “we must recognise the essence of the so-called ‘freedom of the press’ in the West, and consciously resist the influence of the western news view and other erroneous views.” 在这里要特别强调的是,必须认清西方所谓“新闻自由”的本质,自觉抵制西方新闻观等错误观点的影响. This provides fodder for the next argument that for a long time, a “small number people” have been using the argument of press freedom to speak about “major political principles and openly attack the leadership system” of the Party and the socialist system of China. 

The author then says that if one examines Western press, one will find that while there are some negative reports about events there, these are superficial in nature. This is because there is little “discussion on serious topics related to the capitalist system” in these negative reports. “However, if street protests or even violent terrorist activities occur in other parts of the world, particularly those parts of the world that do not share the Western ideology, Western media will spare no effort to term them as fights for ‘democracy’, ‘freedom’, ‘human rights’, and ‘resistance against tyranny’. 表面上,西方媒体也有很多负面报道,但仔细看看,这些负面报道中涉及资本主义制度根本的严肃话题报道和讨论微乎其微. 但如果世界其他地方特别是同西方意识形态不同的地方发生街头抗议事件,甚至暴力恐怖活动, 西方媒体就会将其描绘为争取“民主”、“自由”、“人权”、“反抗暴政”的行动,不惜版面、时间进行渲染.

This is meant to “discredit” and “demonize” China; therefore, it is important to understand that all “news and opinion has distinct ideological attributes, and there is no abstract absolute freedom.” 所以说,任何新闻舆论都有鲜明的意识形态属性,没有什么抽象的绝对的自由. Statements claiming objectivity, neutrality, and the non-partisan nature of news are nothing but “beautiful lies” 美丽谎言.

Then we get into what is good and bad public opinion work:

“Good public opinion can become a propeller of development, a barometer of public opinion, a glue that binds society and a weathervane of morality, while bad public opinion can become 迷魂汤-Míhúntāng for the people, a separator of society, a soft knife killing the people and the catalyst for unrest.” 好的舆论可以成为发展的“推进器”、民意的“晴雨表”、社会的“黏合剂”、道德的“风向标”,不好的舆论会变成民众的“迷魂汤”、社会的“分离器”、杀人的“软刀子”、动乱的“催化剂”

Towards the end of the answer, we are told that profound changes are taking place in the public opinion ecology, which requires that: “We must uphold the correct direction on public opinion, adhere to the basic principle of unity, stability, encouragement and positive publicity...infuse positive energy, expand and strengthen mainstream ideological and public opinion, and improve the dissemination, guidance, influence and credibility of media and public opinion.” 要坚持正确舆论导向,坚持团结稳定鼓劲、正面宣传为主的基本方针,唱响主旋律,弘扬正能量,做大做强主流思想舆论,提高新闻舆论传播力、引导力、影响力、公信力.

The next question is about Chinese culture and preserving it as a spiritual lifeline. The basic argument is that despite the many changes over time and despite the many hardships faced by the Chinese people, “Chinese culture has provided strong spiritual support for the Chinese nation to overcome difficulties and thrive.” The argument here is that there are certain “basic cultural genes” which have evolved over time that distinguish the “Chinese nation and the Chinese people” from others. 这些最基本的文化基因,是中华民族和中国人民在修齐治平、尊时守位、知常达变、开物成务、建功立业过程中逐渐形成的有别于其他民族的独特标识.

We are then told that Chinese traditional culture is an important source of the core values ​​of socialism, and that culture also provides a key “soft power” tool and “unique advantage.” The piece ends by saying that cultural fate is linked closely to the destiny of the nation.

Next on the page, there’s a report about a notice by the Central Propaganda Department with regard to the entertainment sector. It talks about promoting “the healthy development of the film and television industry.” It says that steps have been taken to strengthen supervision of network content, crack down on the “sky-high remuneration of stars,” deal with “yin-yang contracts”, which essentially conceal the actual value of transactions, crack down on tax evasion, etc.

However, the report says that some of these issues have made a resurgence; it specifically mentions 饭圈 - Fàn quān - fan circles in this context. The argument is that illegal and immoral actions within this perspective, “have a negative impact on society, especially young people, and seriously pollutes the social atmosphere.” 违法失德言行时有发生,对社会特别是青少年产生不良影响, 严重污染社会风气,人民群众反映强烈. With all this in mind, the notice:

  • Emphasises the “guidance of socialist core values” with the aim of addressing
    “both symptoms and root causes” in order to effectively curb “bad trends in the industry.”

  • Emphasises corporate social responsibility and encourages “benign interaction between capital and industry.” The aim is to “curb unhealthy capital gains, resist sky-high remuneration, rationally allocate the proportion of costs, severely investigate and deal with tax evasion, and effectively maintain market order.”

  • In order to maintain a “good ecology” the notice pushes against I guess what seems to be clickbait culture or a culture of focussing on views/eyeballs/traffic. 打击流量至上,维护行业良好生态. In this context, it talks about regulating recommendation algorithms and fan groups, while warning of penalties for non compliance by websites.

  • The next bit is about supervision and rules regarding variety shows, promising a “special rectification.” The participation of minors in variety shows is strictly prohibited. It talks about auditing gaming content and enhancing the cultural connotation of gaming; it also talks about real-name verification and anti-addiction work.

  • The notice promises strengthening of the entertainment industry from the perspective of celebrity endorsements, penalties for “artists who violate the law and lose virtue.” This bit is sort of like state-mandated cancel culture for artists who find themselves on the wrong side of the Party’s aims and objectives. And it’s not just about individuals but agents and studios are also going to face the heat. 

  • The next bit says: “Enrich the means of education and training for employees, strengthen ideological and political guidance, and make clear the red line and bottom line. We will strengthen ideological and moral education among young people, and encourage schools, families and society to work together to foster correct values. Minors in compulsory education are prohibited from participating in fan groups and offline assistance activities.” 

  • Then this: “Strengthen positive publicity and guide employees to respect morality and art. We will strengthen supervision by public opinion and create a favorable environment. Give full play to the role of literary criticism and guide correct aesthetics.”

  • The next bit talks about “incorporating the comprehensive governance of the cultural and entertainment field into the ideological work responsibility system” of the Party.

Also on Thursday, the National Radio and Television Administration released a plan. SCMP has helpfully put down the 8 points of this plan:

1. Boycott illegal or immoral personnel. When selecting entertainers and guests, radio, television and internet platforms should not employ people who have an incorrect political stance, break laws and regulations, or speak or behave against public order and morals

2. Boycott “traffic only” standards. Idol selection shows cannot be shown, as well as shows starring the children of celebrities. Shows should strictly control voting, cannot induce and encourage fans to shop or buy membership in order to vote for their idols.

3. Boycott an overly entertaining trend, promote traditional culture, establish a correct beauty standard, boycott “sissy idols”, boycotting daunting wealth, gossip or vulgar internet celebrities.

4. Boycott high pay in the entertainment industry. Strictly regulate payment for guests, encourage celebrities to participate in charity shows, punish fake contracts and tax evasion.

5. Regulate showbiz staff. Enforce licensing television hosts, provide professional and moral training. Entertainers should not use their profession and fame to gain profit.

6. Promote professional commentary in the entertainment industry, insist on correct political direction and values, criticise the fake, ugly and evil values.

7. Entertainment associations should provide more training and establish mechanisms for industry regulation, as well as criticise bad examples.

8. Regulators need to be more accountable, listen to the people and respond to their concerns, fill public space with positive and mainstream shows.

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