Cadre Management - Xi Thought Series: Socialist Basic Economic System - Daqing Spirit - Smart Cars Guidelines - China-Arab States Expo

Here are the stories and pieces from the August 23, 2021, edition of the People’s Daily that I found noteworthy.

Page 1: Let’s begin with a feature report that talks about the Party’s approach to cadre management. This is an interesting piece that offers a good set of examples of the tools that are deployed, such as evaluations, promotions, rewards, range of punishments, education, etc. In essence, it tells us that there’s a complex set of measures that the Party uses to keep cadres in line.

The piece begins with Xi’s July 1 speech, and the principles that he had outlined then, i.e., “upholding truth and ideals, staying true to our original aspiration and founding mission, fighting bravely without fear of sacrifice, and remaining loyal to the Party and faithful to the people.” It then talks about upholding the great party-building spirit, which the author says is embodied in these principles.

The author tells us that cadres are the “backbone” of the Party and the nation’s cause and Xi’s era has seen a policy of carrots and sticks for cadres, and the establishment of a “positive system that promotes hard work, drives them to take responsibility and encourages them, uplifting their spirits.” 建立一个积极的激励系统,提倡努力工作,推动责任,振奋精神. It also has clarified the why and how questions for cadres, the piece says.

How this was done is by first in 2018 releasing a guideline on encouraging cadres to take up new roles in the new era. In 2019, the organisation department outlined 9 specific measures for cadres to take on responsibility; this was coupled with the never-forget-original-aspiration campaign. And finally in 2020, the organisation department has strengthened speech guidance (讲话指导 - I guess this refers to interpretation of speeches/study sessions) recommended best practices through sharing of typical cases and experiences (典型做法和经验), and strengthened supervision over implementation (督促落实). 

The piece then tells us how cadres have performed in difficult circumstances or with regard to Party objectives, and the rewards that have thus been handed to them. This section focuses on cadre evaluation done across provinces. So the COVID-19 containment, 2020 flood situation and poverty alleviation campaign get mentions. 

So for instance, it tells us that in Anhui, there was a special assessment done, with some 235 cadres who had performed exceedingly during in COVID-19 containment and flood relief were promoted. 安徽制定重大斗争专项考察意见,组织力量深入省直单位、市县和基层一线,开展谈心谈话,2020年在防疫抗洪一线表现突出的235名干部得到提拔使用或职级晋升. Or say in Heilongjiang, following the poverty alleviation work, an internal assessment was done, with 10 county party secretaries of poverty-stricken counties in the province being promoted serve as deputy leaders of the higher-level leadership team.黑龙江集中开展脱贫攻坚专项考核,提拔10名担当作为的国家级贫困县县委书记兼任上一级领导班子副职. In Jiangsu, we are told there is a cadre evaluation system that comprises three broad categories: high-quality development, high-quality party building, and social satisfaction evaluation. Or for that matter the Shanghai Pudong New Area quantifies the work performance into “progress index.” 

The next section talks about building “endogenous motivation of cadres.” This is about strengthening the “ideological and action consciousness of acting in the new era.” 

It tells us that:

“Theoretical education and party spirit education in party schools at all levels in Jilin account for 80% of the total class hours. Party schools and cadre colleges in Shanghai, Anhui, Chongqing and Shaanxi have insisted on taking General Secretary Xi Jinping’s important exposition on strengthening ideals and beliefs and encouraging taking responsibility as a compulsory course.” 吉林各级党校(行政学院)理论教育和党性教育比重达到总课时的80%,上海、安徽、重庆、陕西等地党校(行政学院)、干部学院坚持把习近平总书记关于坚定理想信念、激励担当作为的重要论述作为必修课.

We are told that in Fujian, the work entails relying on red education sites, like the site of the Gutian conference. In Hunan, there’s a specific focus on the growth path of a young Mao, which is an effort to “continue the red bloodline.” This bit is then followed by a paragraph providing information about practical/professional education and seminars and lectures on capacity building and learning from experiences around governance issues like rural revitalization, modern agricultural development, and supply-side structural reform, etc. 

The next section talks about cadres selection and appointment for specific roles. It outlines certain principles and offers some examples of these being practiced at provincial levels:

  • Political standards first

  • Focus on those who work hard even in normal circumstances and with regard to major tasks - so other than emergencies.

  • Find and select cadres from the front line - so folks who are doing work at grassroots level.

  • Focus on cadres who do things and penalise inaction

The next section is about principles in cadre management, again with examples from provincial levels of this being put into action:

  • The first point is about making “rational use of cadres subject to disciplinary action.” In other words, depending on the situation, there’s rehabilitation.

  • Have some degree of flexibility in tolerating faults and provide guidelines for people to correct their errors

  • Protect cadres from false accusations and charges

The last two sections talk about supporting cadres with regard to physical and mental health, the reduction of work burdens, subsidies to support grassroots cadres, the promotion of role models that provide aspirational value and support through commendations and rewards.

Next, we have a commentary on the need to promote the spirit of Daqing, which entails “patriotism, entrepreneurship, seeking truth and dedication.” So how is this relevant to the new era?

“adhere to ‘patriotism’, and closely link our ideals with the future of the motherland and our life with the destiny of the nation, rooted in the people, dedication to the country; adhere to ‘entrepreneurship’ to promote hard work, increase scientific research efforts, enhance the ability of officers and entrepreneurs to take charge, to maintain the sharpness, vitality and courage; adhere to ‘seeking truth’, strive for progress, be realistic and pragmatic, work hard, do more tangible things, and create achievements that can stand the test of practice, people and history; adhere to ‘dedication’, and encourage the noble spirit that success is not about individual or personal gains and losses, give up the family and care for everyone, and work selflessly and contribute selflessly even in ordinary tasks.” 奋斗新时代、奋进新征程,要结合新的实际,一如既往、与时俱进地大力弘扬大庆精神,坚持“爱国”,把自己的理想同祖国的前途、把自己的人生同民族的命运紧密联系在一起,扎根人民,奉献国家;坚持“创业”,大兴艰苦奋斗之风,加大科研攻关力度,增强干事创业敢担当的本领,保持锐气、焕发朝气、增添勇气;坚持“求实”,奋发进取、求真务实、埋头苦干,多做实实在在的事情,创造经得起实践、人民、历史检验的业绩;坚持“奉献”,激扬功成不必在我、功成必定有我的崇高精神,不计个人得失,舍小家顾大家,在平凡的工作岗位上忘我工作、无私奉献.

Page 2: First, we have a report on the new guidelines for smart cars that were announced by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. These focus on data collection, data security, network security, data transfer, system upgrades, etc. One of the key points is that “important data collected and generated in China should be stored in China.” Some of the kinds of data highlighted by Liu Fawang, an expert quoted in the piece, are: “driver’s and passenger’s facial expressions, movements, gaze and voice data, but also vehicle geographic location, in-vehicle and out-of-vehicle environmental data, and vehicle network usage data.” Liu says that if this data collection, storage, etc are not regulated, it “may cause personal information leakage, abuse, and even endanger public safety and national security.”

In addition to this, Bloomberg had earlier reported that under the new rules, regulators will need to approve any data exports, and over-the-air software upgrades also have to be filed with the ministry before being implemented. Here’s more from the Bloomberg report:

“To comply with the new regulations, intelligent vehicle manufacturers have been urged to set up corporate vehicle data and security management systems. They should also implement technical measures to protect security and privacy related data with a self-check system that can report potential problems in a timely manner. Companies promoting assisted- or autonomous-driving functions should also clearly state the potential limitations and responsibilities between the driver and the control system, the ministry said Thursday.”

Next, a report on how Heilongjiang has been trying to attract more enterprises and high-quality talents to the province. Subsidies are a big part of this. Anyway, I am not going to go into details; this is the kind of stuff that needs assessments on ground because the numbers really don’t tell us anything.

Page 3: Nothing particularly interesting on the page. But let me highlight the stories covered. First, a report on the China-Arab States expo; you can check out the Xinhua English version on this. The topline figure is that around 277 deals worth an approximate total of 156.7 billion yuan (about 24 billion U.S. dollars) were signed at the expo, covering fields including electronic information, clean energy, new materials, green food, and capacity cooperation. Also, note:

  • Eight provinces or provincial-level cities, Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Zhejiang, Hubei, Henan, Guangdong, and Shaanxi, used the Expo platform to sign 12 investment projects with Arab countries and other countries along the Belt and Road with a total investment of 7.43 billion yuan.

  • Huawei, Saudi Telecom and Saudi Aramco will cooperate in the 5G oil and gas field to jointly explore the innovative applications of 5G in the oil and gas industry.

Second, Chinese COVID-19 related medical supplies such as oxygen concentrators have reached Cuba. Third, Uzbekistan has approved (English report) the registration of Chinese and Russian COVID-19 vaccines manufactured by a local pharmaceutical company. Jurabek Laboratories has agreed with China’s Anhui Zhifei Longcom Biopharmaceutical and Russian pharmaceutical company Human Vaccine on the local production of the ZF-UZ-VAC2001 vaccine and the Sputnik V vaccine. Nice touch here that the Xinhua English report talks about both Chinese and Russian vaccines; but PD only talks about the Chinese vaccine.

Page 5: We have the 26th piece in the Xi Thought series today. If you are interested, I’ve put the previous 25 pieces in this post. I’ll add the new ones there too. 

So today’s piece first talks about the socialist economic system. This was rather heavy on jargon and I did struggle. So if you think I’ve missed something significant, please do share your thoughts. 

Nevertheless, I found this entire piece really interesting because it tells us that there is a certain broadly defined goal that the Party sees as an end that its governance is aimed towards. You can call this national rejuvenation, socialist modernisation, etc. But it sees the state-owned economy as critical in achieving those goals. In fact, I would go as far as to argue that there is a sense of ideological commitment to the public sector, while there is an instrumental approach to the private sector. The latter implies that policies will change regardless of whether these changes hurt growth of the private sector, distort markets or curb competition, if they are deemed as meeting a broader national objective.

Anyway, the piece begins by telling us that in 1978, 18 farmers in Xiaogang village, in east Anhui Province, signed an agreement (“按下红色手印” - Àn xià hóngsè shǒuyìn - pressing the red handprint) to divide communally owned farmland into individual pieces called household contracts. This historically has been termed as the beginning of China’s rural reforms.

We then get a bit of an explanation about the basic economic system, which is important because it “stipulates the basic principles of economic relations, clarifies people’s position and mutual relations in terms of production, distribution, exchange and consumption, and ensures the socialist nature of the economic system.” 它规定了我国经济关系的基本原则,明确人们在生产、分配、交换和消费中的地位及相互关系,确保经济制度的社会主义属性.

We are then told that the 15th Party Congress established ‘public ownership as the main body and multi-ownership economy developing together’ as China's basic economic system, and clearly stated that the ‘non-public ownership economy is an important part of China’s socialist market economy’. 党的十五大把“公有制为主体、多种所有制经济共同发展”确立为我国的基本经济制度,明确提出“非公有制经济是我国社会主义市场经济的重要组成部分”.

The 16th Party Congress came out with the view to “unwaveringly consolidate and develop the public economy” and “unwaveringly encourage, support and guide the development of the non-public economy.” The 18th Congress said that "unwaveringly encourage, support and guide the development of non-public economy, and ensure that all systems of the economy have equal access to production factors, fair participation in market competition and equal protection under the law.” 党的十八大进一步提出“毫不动摇鼓励、支持、引导非公有制经济发展,保证各种所有制经济依法平等使用生产要素、公平参与市场竞争、同等受到法律保护”. The third plenary of the 18th Central Committee said that “both the public and non-public sectors of the economy are important components of the socialist market economy, and they are both important foundations for my country's economic and social development.” Then we come to the Fourth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee.

We then get to things as they are today, or the leadership perspective today.

“The dominant position of public ownership and the leading role of the state-owned economy are the institutional guarantee for the people of all ethnic groups in China to share the fruits of development, and also an important guarantee for consolidating the ruling position of the Party and adhering to the socialist system in China. For a long time, China's non-public economy has developed rapidly under the guidance of the party's principles and policies, and played an important role in stabilizing growth, promoting innovation, increasing employment and improving people's livelihood. The non-public economy is an important foundation for economic stability, an important source of national tax revenue, an important subject of technological innovation, an important support for financial development and an important force for sustained and healthy economic development. Public economy and non-public economy complement each other and bring out the best in each other.” 公有制主体地位、国有经济主导作用是我国各族人民共享发展成果的制度性保证,也是巩固党的执政地位、坚持我国社会主义制度的重要保证. 长期以来,我国非公有制经济在我们党的方针政策指引下快速发展,在稳定增长、促进创新、增加就业、改善民生等方面发挥了重要作用. 非公有制经济是稳定经济的重要基础,是国家税收的重要来源,是技术创新的重要主体,是金融发展的重要依托,是经济持续健康发展的重要力量. 公有制经济和非公有制经济,二者相辅相成、相得益彰.

We are then told that the system’s approach is to “give full play to the strengths of the market economy, but also the advantages of the socialist system.” Emphasising this is a quote from Xi that “we are developing the market economy under the premise of the Communist Party of China’s leadership and the socialist system. We must never forget the attribute of socialism.” 习近平总书记指出:“我们是在中国共产党领导和社会主义制度的大前提下发展市场经济,什么时候都不能忘了'社会主义'这个定语.” So while the market does have a “decisive role” in allocation of resources, what’s important is the “integration of effective markets and effective governments.”

The next question is about the role of the market and the government in the system. 

“The market economy is essentially an economy in which the market determines the allocation of resources. To improve the socialist market economic system, we must follow this rule, focus on solving the problems of imperfect market system, excessive government intervention and inadequate supervision, and give full play to the decisive role of the market in resource allocation. This requires actively and steadily pushing forward the market-oriented reform in breadth and depth, reducing the government's direct allocation of resources, reducing the government's direct intervention in microeconomic activities, handing over economic activities that can be effectively regulated by the market mechanism to the market, handing over things that the government should not manage to the market, allowing the market to give full play to its role in all fields where it can play its role, promoting resource allocation to maximize benefits and efficiency, and giving enterprises and individuals more vitality and more space to develop the economy and create wealth.” 市场决定资源配置是市场经济的一般规律,市场经济本质上就是市场决定资源配置的经济。健全社会主义市场经济体制必须遵循这条规律,着力解决市场体系不完善、政府干预过多和监管不到位问题,充分发挥市场在资源配置中的决定性作用。这就要求积极稳妥从广度和深度上推进市场化改革,减少政府对资源的直接配置,减少政府对微观经济活动的直接干预,把市场机制能有效调节的经济活动交给市场,把政府不该管的事交给市场,让市场在所有能够发挥作用的领域都充分发挥作用,推动资源配置实现效益最大化和效率最优化,让企业和个人有更多活力和更大空间去发展经济、创造财富.

With this said, do note that “the market plays a decisive role in the allocation of resources, but it does not do everything.” 市场在资源配置中起决定性作用,并不是起全部作用.

“China implements a socialist market economic system, so we must give full play to the superiority of the socialist system and the positive role of the party and the government. The decisive role of the market is from an overall perspective. We cannot blindly and absolutely say that the market plays a decisive role. In some areas, such as national defense, the government plays a decisive role. Some strategic energy resources should be firmly controlled by the government, but this can be done through market mechanisms. The duties and functions of the government are mainly to maintain macroeconomic stability, strengthen and optimize public services, guarantee fair competition, strengthen market supervision, maintain market order, promote sustainable development, promote common prosperity and make up for market failures. To give full play to the government’s role is not about the government taking a greater role, nor is it simply about issuing administrative orders. Rather it is to manage those things that the market cannot control or those that it manages poorly.” 我国实行的是社会主义市场经济体制,必须发挥社会主义制度的优越性、发挥党和政府的积极作用。市场起决定性作用,是从总体上讲的,不能盲目绝对地讲市场起决定性作用,有的领域如国防建设,就是政府起决定性作用。一些带有战略性的能源资源,政府要牢牢掌控,但可以通过市场机制去做。政府的职责和作用主要是保持宏观经济稳定,加强和优化公共服务,保障公平竞争,加强市场监管,维护市场秩序,推动可持续发展,促进共同富裕,弥补市场失灵。更好发挥政府作用,不是要更多发挥政府作用,也不是简单下达行政命令,而是要在保证市场发挥决定性作用的前提下,管好那些市场管不了或管不好的事情.

In this sense, the argument is that the role of the market and that of the government are organically linked, i.e. the “invisible hand” and “visible hand” need to work together.

Page 10: On the Theory page today, we have a piece from Zhang Anmin, the Secretary General of the Organization Department. He writes about the goals of the Party’s history learning and education campaign. This I thought was a disjointed article, but still interesting because it tells you that history-learning is not about history, but about the present. 

Zhang says that:

  • The first thing in this is to grasp the correct direction. This refers to understanding the Party’s political evolution and the centrality of Marxism to it. Of course, along with this, he talks about the Party’s struggles and hardships. “We must understand from the party’s century of struggle, how Marxism has profoundly changed China and the world, and understand the truth and practical power of Marxism...”

  • He also emphasises to cadres it is important to “improve political judgment, political comprehension and political execution,” pay attention to the Central Committee’s directives, have an overall situation awareness and keep the country’s overall interests in mind.

  • The message for cadres is also that “on the new journey, we must respect/venerate heroes, learn from heroes, persevere like model heroes, and draw inspiration to struggle like heroes.”

  • Next, he talks about integrating learning of history with the overall situation of high-quality development.

Then he talks about the need to be systematic, scientific and innovative.

  • Systemicity refers to the need for Party members to view things as a whole, rather than through narrow prisms. Marxism, he tells us, views everything as interconnected. 

  • Scientificity is a curious concept when applied to governance here. It talks about being precise in one’s approach, having clear objectives and standards, having clarity about feasibility, and promoting accurate implementation, effective supervision and so on. At a meta level, to me, it’s fascinating how in this view, governance is science and not an art form that requires experimentation.

  • But then we have the third pillar, i.e., innovation, which is where probably the art form logic lies. Zhang says that Party members and cadres should enhance their strategic thinking, historical thinking, dialectical thinking, innovative thinking, rule of law thinking and bottom line thinking abilities, and combine thoroughly understanding the spirit of the CPC Central Committee, mastering the actual situation and learning from advanced experience...They should cultivate the wisdom of change, adapt to changes and be brave in seeking change; they should actively explore and take the initiative and strive to solve development problems and build development advantages. 党员干部要增强战略思维、历史思维、辩证思维、创新思维、法治思维、底线思维能力,把吃透党中央精神、掌握实际情况、学习先进经验结合起来,既善于总结运用长期管用的经验,又善于根据新的形势任务谋划创新之举,涵养识变之智、应变之方、求变之勇,积极探索、主动作为,努力破解发展难题、厚植发展优势.

Zhang ends by emphasising the need to be problem-oriented and result-oriented, as opposed to being dogmatic.

Page 11: There’s a long piece from the Theoretical Study Center Group of the Party Committee of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 外交部党委理论学习中心组. It draws from Xi’s July 1 speech. Nothing new in there from an ideas point of view, but worth a read.