Building a Cyberspace Civilisation - Xi Thought: A World-Class PLA & Party's Control Over PLA - Wang meets Singapore's Lee - Student Loans - Economic Data
Here are the stories and pieces from the September 15, 2021, edition of the People’s Daily that I found noteworthy.
Page 1: Much of the front page today is dedicated to the National Games. The opening ceremony for the Games will be held today in Xi’an. Of course, Covid-19 is a challenge; so perhaps there are lessons from the measures adopted for this event which will provide learnings ahead of the Winter Olympics next year. In fact, the editorial on the front page says that the Games will allow to “accumulate valuable experience for the successful hosting of the 2022 Winter Olympics.” PD confirms that Xi Jinping will be attending the opening ceremony of the Games, which works out well since he is already on an inspection tour in Shaanxi Province. There’s also a long piece on the page about how much Xi and the Central Committee care about sports. At one point the piece praises Chinese Olympians in Tokyo of having ensured zero doping cases and zero Covid-19 cases.
Moving on, the page also carries a report on the guideline issued by the Central Committee and the State Council on developing a more civilised and well-regulated cyberspace environment or rather the Opinions on Strengthening the Development of Cyberspace/Network Civilisation. The report tells us that as per the guideline “strengthening the development of cyberspace civilisation is an inevitable requirement for promoting the development of socialist spiritual civilisation and improving the degree of social civilisation.”《意见》指出，加强网络文明建设，是推进社会主义精神文明建设、提高社会文明程度的必然要求…
We are told that the guideline emphasises adherence to Xi Jinping’s thoughts on cyber power and the “construction of spiritual civilisation” while calling for the vigorous promotion of core socialist values and development of a civilised cyberspace and for civilised use of cyberspace. And in order to do so, the document calls for shaping ideological concepts, cultural trends, moral and behavioural norms along with the requisite legal environment. 《意见》强调，加强网络文明建设要坚持以习近平新时代中国特色社会主义思想为指导，贯彻落实习近平总书记关于网络强国的重要思想和关于精神文明建设的重要论述，大力弘扬社会主义核心价值观，全面推进文明办网、文明用网、文明上网、文明兴网，推动形成适应新时代网络文明建设要求的思想观念、文化风尚、道德追求、行为规范、法治环境、创建机制，实现网上网下文明建设有机融合、互相促进，为全面建设社会主义现代化国家、实现第二个百年奋斗目标提供坚强思想保证、强大精神动力、有力舆论支持、良好文化条件.
Then we learn that one of the clear aims of the document is to consolidate the guiding status of Marxism in the ideological cyberspace sphere, foster a common ideology among the whole Party and the Chinese people, and internalise core socialist values. The report says that as per the document, “the ideological and moral quality of Internet users has been significantly improved. There is a stronger online trend toward kindness, honesty and mutual assistance. The Internet literacy of young Internet users has been continuously improved, and the main responsibility of online platforms and self-discipline of the industry have been effectively implemented. The effectiveness of governance has been improved, the cyber ecosystem has improved, the rule of law in cyberspace has been further promoted, and the ability to combat, prevent, and manage cyber crimes has been continuously improved.” 道德建设迈出新步伐，网民思想道德素质明显提高，向上向善、诚信互助的网络风尚更加浓厚；文明素养得到新提高，青少年网民网络素养不断提升，网络平台主体责任和行业自律有效落实；治理效能实现新提升，网络生态日益向好，网络空间法治化深入推进，网络违法犯罪打击防范治理能力持续提升…
The next paragraph emphasises that “ideological guidance in cyberspace should be strengthened” and that Xi Thought must guide Internet content. This is followed by commitments to enhance theoretical discourse and create more online propaganda products. There’s a statement to enhance support for mainstream media outlets, while promising to adhere to a mobile-first strategy. 深入推进媒体融合发展，实施移动优先战略，加大中央和地方主要新闻单位、重点新闻网站等主流媒体移动端建设推广力度. I guess that perhaps will mean more money for state media and more games like “Clap for Xi.”
The next paragraph talks about the importance of core socialist values leading the development of online culture. “We will carry out in-depth online study and education of Party history, popularise the great achievements of the Party in revolution, development and reform, promote the great spirit of the Party and the people formed in the course of the struggle, and take a clear-cut stand against historical nihilism.” 深入开展网上党史学习教育，传播我们党在革命、建设、改革各个历史时期取得的伟大成就，弘扬党和人民在奋斗中形成的伟大精神，旗帜鲜明反对历史虚无主义. The paragraph also talks about developing high-quality cultural products.
The next paragraph talks about strengthening moral development. This entails promoting role models, outstanding volunteers, the most beautiful people, exceptional deeds and actions, etc. The aim is to create an environment in which morality and virtue are respected. This paragraph also talks about strengthening network integrity 网络诚信.
It emphasises the need to “advocate the values of honesty and trustworthiness” and “encourage and support Internet enterprises and platforms to improve their internal network integrity norms and mechanisms, and create a good atmosphere for running the Internet in accordance with the law and using the Internet with integrity.” 深化网络诚信建设，举办形式多样的线上线下品牌活动，大力传播诚信文化，倡导诚实守信的价值理念，鼓励支持互联网企业和平台完善内部诚信规范与机制，营造依法办网、诚信用网的良好氛围. There’s also talk about carrying out online public welfare projects and activities.
The next bit says that behaviour online should be well regulated, and ethics and codes of conduct in cyberspace must be line with core socialist values. All regions and departments should put out cyberspace civilisation standards in accordance with their own characteristics and these should also eventually reflect in industry management norms. In addition, there’s a call to regulate Internet slang. Also, the government, schools, families and society will work together to educate minors so that they can use the internet properly and be well prepared for online risks. And, attention will be paid to improve the mechanisms to prevent young people from becoming addicted to the Internet and prevent online bullying. It also calls to
“strengthen the responsibility of online platforms, strengthen the construction of community rules and user agreements, and guide online platforms to enhance national security awareness. Strengthen self-discipline in the Internet industry, adhere to the value orientation of placing equal emphasis on economic and social benefits, and urge Internet enterprises to actively fulfil their social responsibilities.” 强化网络平台责任，加强网站平台社区规则、用户协议建设，引导网络平台增强国家安全意识。加强互联网行业自律，坚持经济效益和社会效益并重的价值导向，督促互联网企业积极履行社会责任.
The next paragraph talks about strengthening ecological governance in cyberspace; this relates to the nature of online content. The document also talks about establishing a national rumour dispelling mechanism/or a “national mechanism to stop and prevent disinformation” as Xinhua English put it. This is to be based on the 中国互联网联合辟谣平台. I must admit that I am a little confused here. The Xinhua report that I have linked which was launched in 2018. This paragraph also promises a bunch of specific actions:
crackdown on online crimes
addressing “uncivilised problems” with public accounts, live streaming related to e-commerce, and false information
it promises to improve the mechanism for “complaints and reports” while mobilising users “to actively participate in oversight.”
it also promises to “carry forward core socialist values throughout all links of online legislation, law enforcement…”
Finally, this paragraph talks about ensuring implementation of existing laws on personal information and data security and accelerating the formulation and/or revision of other specific legislation.
The document tells us that the offices of the Cyberspace Administration of China 网信办 at all levels and the Civilisation Office 文明办 should take the lead in this effort. Towards the end, the document also calls on the private sector to extend “financial and material support” for the construction of a cyberspace civilisation.
Next on the page we have a report (English report) about Li Keqiang’s visit to Peking Union Medical College Hospital. The report tells us that Li convened a seminar with medical experts and listened to their advice on the development and innovation of the healthcare sector. Li underscored the importance of medical ethics, and added that as people’s living standards improve and healthcare demands increase, medical personnel should put patients first, respect and safeguard people’s lives, and perform their professional skills with a benevolent and humanitarian spirit. He also emphasised the importance of enhanced international exchanges and cooperation to innovate new medical techniques, medicines, and methodologies. Finally, he wants high-end hospitals to play a leading role in the construction of regional medical centres and medical associations, promote the upgrading of medical institutions in the central and western regions, at the grassroots levels and within communities, so that patients in in remote areas can enjoy quality medical services.
Finally, a short report about the intelligent container ship Zhi Fei undergoing sea trials.
Page 2: One report to note. This one draws on a new notice issued by the ministries of finance and education, the People’s Bank of China and the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission. It says that starting this autumn semester, undergraduate students can apply for a maximum loan of 12,000 yuan per person each year. This is up from the previous limit of 8000 yuan. Postgraduate students can apply for up to 16,000 yuan each year, up from 12,000 yuan.
China Daily has a report on this in English. It informs that:
“the loans should be mainly used to cover tuition and accommodation, and any extra money can be used for daily expenses, the notice said, adding that the new policy has been implemented since the start of the autumn semester. Students do not need to pay the principal or interest while they are still in college and can apply for a five-year probation period after graduation, during which they only pay the interest, said Assistant Finance Minister Ou Wenhan. The maximum period of a loan is 22 years, Ou said at a news briefing organized by the State Council Information Office on Tuesday.”
The PD report also informs that in 2020, a total of 36.78 million students received support through various higher education funding policies, with the total amount of funding support being around 124.4 billion yuan.
Page 3: We have a report (English version) about Wang Yi meeting with Singapore’s PM Lee Hsien Loong. Wang appreciated Singapore’s “rational and objective perspective towards China's growth.” He also said that he hopes “to further enhance mutually beneficial cooperation in various fields, and contribute to regional and global peace, stability and development.” As per Xinhua, “Lee said that China has achieved great success over the past four decades, and consequently its international responsibilities have risen as well.”
“Wang noted that China would continue to consolidate ties with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries, speed up the consultations on the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea, uphold the regional framework with ASEAN at its core and facilitate regional development and prosperity.
Although it’s not in PD, Wang also met with Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan. Apart from COVID-19-related cooperation and RCEP, “Wang also noted that the two sides should work together to push forward the joint construction of the Belt and Road with high quality, give full play to the role of the new land-sea route, synergize the new land-sea route with the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Mechanism, tap the cooperation potential in the fields including E-commerce business, artificial intelligence, mobile payment and big data so as to add new impetus to the development of bilateral ties.” On SCS Code of Conduct, Xinhua has Balakrishnan saying that Singapore supports the acceleration of consultations.
Later in a joint press conference, Wang said that “both sides should give full play to the ‘in-the-same-boat’ spirit and discard the zero-sum mentality. China is willing to join hands with Singapore to firmly uphold the UN-centered international system and promote multilateralism of win-win cooperation so as to usher in a new era of common development.”
Next, there’s a report (English version) about the conclusion of the 12th Sino-US Political Party Dialogue. It says that during the talks, the two sides shared in-depth views on “their respective domestic situations and prospects for bilateral relations.” The Chinese press release says that “The two countries should implement the important consensus reached by the two heads of state, adhere to mutual respect, treat each other as equals, take care of each other’s core interests and major concerns, enhance mutual understanding and mutual trust, and continue to deepen exchanges and cooperation through the dialogue and other channels.” It also underscores that “the CPC will adhere to the people-centered development philosophy, comprehensively deepen reforms and expand opening-up, promote Chinese-style modernisation, and provide new opportunities for the world, while advancing the construction of a community with a shared future for humanity.”
The US side, as per the report, says that China and the US have “significantly increased their competition with each other at present, but the two countries still have broad common interests in responding to climate change, fighting the pandemic, encouraging economic recovery, and dealing with issues of global concern.”
A couple of other reports on the page. First, the Chinese embassy and Xinjiang government held an event (related English report) talking about the positive social and economic development in the region, “refuting fallacies of anti-China forces in the West.” Second, a press conference with Chinese officials speaking about the new human-rights action plan. This comment below from Li Xiaojun, Director of the Propaganda Division of the Human Rights Bureau of the State Council Information Office, reminded me of Joey.
“The United States, Canada, France, Germany and Japan have yet to draw up any national human rights action plans. We call on these countries, which are loud advocates of human rights, to draw up national human rights action plans in accordance with international human rights standards as soon as possible and do something practical to protect the human rights of their own people.” 美国、加拿大、法国、德国、日本等国迄今仍未制定任何国家人权行动计划，呼吁这些人权喊得震天响的国家尽快按照国际人权标准制定国家人权行动计划，真正做些保障他们自己国家老百姓人权的实事.
Page 4: We have a report about new rules from the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security on managing staff working at off-campus tutoring institutions. The rules state that primary school, secondary school and kindergarten teachers will not be permitted to work concurrently in off-campus tutoring institutions.
Also, they propose setting up a blacklist of offenders. There are 11 offences that have are identified as “red lines.” These include words and deeds
that hurt the authority of the CPC Central Committee
violate the Party’s line, principles and policies
hurt national interests
seriously hurt social public interests
In addition, these include actions that discriminate against or insult students, and those who physically abuse minors.
Also on the page we have a report (English report) about Huang Kunming attending the 28th Beijing International Book Fair. He said that “Chinese publishing must continue to be guided by Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, using quality books to tell the world good stories about China and the CPC. With more publications that fully represent Chinese characteristics, spirit and wisdom, publishers can contribute to presenting a reliable, admirable and respectable image of China.” Also note that Routledge and Commercial Press will be co-publishing a China National Governance series.
Page 5: We have the 43rd piece in the Xi Thought Q&A series. The first question today is about building the PLA into a “world-class” force. We are told that since the 18th Party Congress, the Central Committee with Xi as its core has “made strategic arrangements for adhering to the path of strengthening the army with Chinese characteristics and comprehensively promoting the modernisation of national defense and the armed forces.”
Some of the key attributes of being world-class are being a force that obeys to the party’s command, can win victories and has an excellent work style. The piece talks about the need to “persist in building the armed forces through politics, strengthening the army through reform, science and technology, development of talents and administering the army according to law” along with “accelerating the integration and development of mechanisation, informatization and intelligentization,” while “comprehensively strengthen training and preparing for war.”
We then go back to the October 2014 meeting in Gutian, with the emphasis being on political work in the armed forces. This is termed as the “foundation” and “lifeline.” It says that “over the past few years, the armed forces have adhered to the spirit of rectification to promote political consolidation and training, focusing on the rectification of thought, personnel, organisation and discipline, revitalising the military’s political discipline and purifying its political ecology, thereby realising a new start for a new team on a new journey.” 几年来，全军坚持以整风精神推动政治整训，着力整顿思想、整顿用人、整顿组织、整顿纪律，重振我军政治纲纪、纯正我军政治生态，实现了新征程上的新整队新出发. ---This is perhaps as direct a statement about Xi’s control over the military as any.
And there’s always more to come. For instance: “Practice has shown us that at no time and under no circumstances can we slacken the principle of building the political armed forces, and that our political work can only be strengthened, not weakened.”实践昭示我们，政治建军这一原则在任何时候任何情况下都不能有丝毫松懈，政治工作只能加强不能削弱.
The next paragraph talks about reform and innovation. This goes back to the reforms initiated in November 2015. Back then, we are told, three big battles/campaigns 三大战役 were initiated. These refer to the reforming the leadership and command system, reforming the size, structure and force composition, and reforming the military policy system. The piece talks about the process of moving away from the MR system to building of theatre commands and the shift away from the “long-standing land warfare and homeland defense-oriented force structure and force deployment.” This process, we are told, has resulted in the establishment of a “a basic framework for socialist military policies and institutions with Chinese characteristics.” The paragraph ends by saying “it is necessary to push forward the revolution of military management, speed up the transformation and development of different services and armed police force, strengthen strategic strength 战略力量 and new domain and new quality combat forces 新域新质 作战力量, and build a high-level strategic deterrent and joint operations system.” 要推进军事管理革命，加快军兵种和武警部队转型建设，壮大战略力量和新域新质作战力量，打造高水平战略威慑和联合作战体系.
The next bit is about strengthening the armed forces through science and technology. It says that in recent years, China has built a “national defense science and technology innovation system, making great efforts to break through key core technologies.” So PLA Navy development is highlighted; PLAAF’s is entering the “20s” era, i.e., referring to the use of J-20 and Yun-20 aircraft. In addition, the piece says that it is important to keep up with “the development trend of the new global revolution in military affairs, focus on independent and original innovation in defense science and technology, accelerate the development of strategic cutting-edge and disruptive technologies, accelerate the upgrading of weapons and equipment and the development of intelligent weapons and equipment, significantly improve the level of science and technology in training, and enhance the scientific and technological literacy of officers and soldiers.”
The next paragraph is about talents. It says that since the 18th Party Congress, the party has followed the “strategy of building a strong army through personnel training, giving more prominence to the training of cadres and talents, concentrating on gathering outstanding talents in all aspects who are committed to building a strong army and winning, and promoting the overall improvement of personnel development. It is necessary to implement the policy of military education in the new era, give full play to the integrated role of college education, military training and military vocational education, and build a team of high-quality and professional military personnel to provide strong personnel support for building world-class armed forces.” 党的十八大以来，我军大力实施人才强军战略，把培养干部、培养人才摆在更加突出的位置，着力集聚矢志强军打赢的各方面优秀人才，推动人才建设水平整体跃升。要贯彻新时代军事教育方针，发挥院校教育、部队训练实践、军事职业教育综合育人功能，锻造高素质专业化军事人才方阵，为建设世界一流军队提供坚强人才支撑. -— The lack of any explicit statement about the political integrity of talents was a bit of a surprise for me. But I guess it tells us something about the reality of having an advanced force; one needs skills if one has to operate all the high-tech equipment that’s being developed. Ideology or political loyalty won’t teach those.
The next paragraph tells us that under Xi, there has been an effort to build “a systematic, rigorous and efficient system of military laws and regulations” along with an effort to implement them and enhance supervision. It is necessary to strengthen the armed forces’ belief in and thinking about the rule of law, the piece says. The final paragraph in this answer reiterates key goals of 2027, 2035 and 2049. It also calls to “accelerate the modernization of military theory, organizational structure, military personnel, and weapons and equipment, improve the quality and efficiency of the modernization of national defense and the armed forces…”
The next question is about the importance of the Party’s absolute leadership of the armed forces. We have an old comment from Xi that the “Party’s absolute leadership over the armed forces is an essential feature of socialism with Chinese characteristics, an important political advantage of the Party and the country, and the foundation and soul of building a strong people’s army.” We are told that the Party’s absolute leadership of the PLA “did not come out of thin air”; rather, it was “won at the cost of blood and through arduous exploration.” At the 19th Party Congress, the Party “elevated the party’s absolute leadership over the people’s armed forces as a basic policy for upholding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era.”
Following this, we are provided a brief description of the two “historic meetings” in Gutian, i.e., the 1929 meeting and the October 2014 meeting. The next paragraph tells us that “upholding the "Party’s absolute leadership over the people's army is a fundamental magic weapon for the party and the country to maintain long-term stability.” The example cited here is of the Soviet Union, wherein efforts to de-politicise the military resulted in the armed forces “standing by idly” as the Party went through its crisis. In contrast, the piece says, while the the PRC has faced efforts to besiege it, contain it, and interference and destruction by hostile forces, it has sustained. This is because of the army being loyal to the Party and the people, the article says.
The next paragraph says that upholding the Party’s leadership is also key to the PLA maintaining “strong cohesion, centripetal force, creativity, and combat effectiveness.” 坚持党对人民军队的绝对领导，是人民军队始终保持强大凝聚力、向心力、创造力、战斗力的根本保证. The answer ends with a call to ensure ideological and political loyalty not just to the Party, the Central Committee and the CMC but also to Xi himself.
China's fixed-asset investment went up 8.9 percent year on year in the first eight months of this year. FAI amounted to over 34.69 trillion yuan (about 5.38 trillion U.S. dollars). This is significantly slower month-on-month growth. For the January-July period, fixed-asset investment had been up by 10.3 percent. However, FAI in manufacturing and infrastructure gained 15.7 percent and 2.9 percent year on year, respectively.
China’s retail sales grew at 2.5% in August from a year ago; this is way down from the 8.5 per cent increase in July.
Industrial production, a gauge of activity in the manufacturing, mining and utilities sectors, grew by 5.3 percent in August from a year earlier after a 6.4 percent gain in July.
Unemployment rate is at 5.1%; the rate for workers aged 16 to 24 fell slightly to 15.3%.