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China's Modernisation a 'New Form of Civilisation' - Another COVID Wave 'Unlikely' - Fiji PM meets Chinese Amb. Amid Frictions - Li's Outreach to UK Businesses - MoFA on Drug Abuse in the US
Here are the stories and pieces that I found noteworthy from the Friday, February 10, 2023, edition of the People’s Daily.
Page 1: The lead article on the page is another commentary on Xi Jinping’s speech at the Central Party School.
This one makes the rather grandiose claim that:
“looking back at the 5,000-year history of the Chinese civilisation, no other political force has promoted the development of the Chinese nation as profoundly and historically as the Communist Party of China. Only under the leadership of the Communist Party of China has our country been able to completely transform from a state of poverty and weakness to march towards the goal of modernisation, our nation was able to rise from its downfall/state of depravation to embrace the bright prospect of the great rejuvenation, and our people completely escape from a state of being exploited and oppressed and truly take control of their own destiny…History and the people have chosen the Communist Party, and the Communist Party has lived up to the choice of history and the people.” 放眼中华文明五千多年历史，没有哪一种政治力量能像中国共产党这样深刻地、历史性地推动中华民族发展进程。只有在中国共产党领导下，我们的国家才彻底改变积贫积弱的面貌、向着现代化目标迈进，我们的民族才彻底从沉沦中奋起、迎来伟大复兴的光明前景，我们的人民才彻底摆脱备受剥削被压迫的地位、真正掌握自己的命运...历史和人民选择了中国共产党，中国共产党也没有辜负历史和人民的选择.
The next paragraph emphasises the importance of the Party’s continued leadership as the “supreme force of political leadership.” “Its leadership is the root and lifeblood of the Party and the country, and the interest and destiny of the people of all ethnic groups in China.” 中国共产党是最高政治领导力量，中国共产党领导是党和国家的根本所在、命脉所在，是全国各族人民的利益所系、命运所系. It quotes Xi has having said that the Party's leadership determines the fundamental nature of Chinese-style modernisation.
The next two paragraphs reiterate this point, basically arguing that while upholding the Party’s leadership is key, the Party has also united and led the people, always grasped the historical initiative, delivered outcomes, been brave in reform and innovation, and is the “most reliable backbone” for future development. The crux of all of this is to call for everyone to
“unite more closely around the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at the core, fully implement Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, deeply understand the decisive significance of the Two Establishments, and strengthen the four consciousnesses and four confidences, and achieve the two safeguards, strengthen historical self-confidence, strengthen historical initiative, think in one direction, work hard in one direction, strive to achieve the set goals…” 向着新目标，奋楫再出发，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，全面贯彻习近平新时代中国特色社会主义思想，深刻领悟“两个确立”的决定性意义，增强“四个意识”、坚定“四个自信”、做到“两个维护”，坚定历史自信，增强历史主动，心往一处想、劲往一处使，以咬定青山不放松的执着奋力实现既定目标，沿着中国式现代化这条强国建设、民族复兴的唯一正确道路阔步前进!
Also on the page is a very long feature on the evolution of Chinese-style modernisation. This takes up most of Page 2 too.
I am not doing a full breakdown. But here are some useful parts to note:
The first section of this basically seeks to create a sense of linear historical progression from Mao and Deng’s policies to Xi’s. So Mao proposed the four modernisations in 1953; Deng coined the idea of Chinese-style modernisation, arguing that these modernisations must have Chinese characteristics; and then under Xi, movement towards Chinese-style modernisation has taken place with the new two-stage plan, and “a more complete institutional guarantee, a more solid material foundation, and a more active spiritual force for Chinese-style modernisation.”
The next section tells us that Chinese-style modernisation is a new form of human civilisation; yet it is uniquely Chinese. “Civilisations have their own characteristics; there is no making distinctions about them being good or bad or some being inferior and the others superior. However, since the industrial revolution, because the process of world modernisation began in western capitalist countries, the theory of ‘Western superiority’ and ‘Western centralism’. Some have even argued that ‘other societies can forget their own historical traditions and adopt their modern values and standards’. There is neither a one-size-fits-all model of modernisation nor a one-size-fits-all standard of modernisation. General Secretary Xi Jinping pointed out, ‘If human civilisation becomes only one colour and one pattern, the world will be too monotonous and boring!’ (of course, this does not seem to apply to the Party’s domestic policies with regard to ethnic minorities). 文明有特色之别，没有优劣之分。然而，工业革命以来，由于世界现代化进程是从西方资本主义国家开始的，“西方优越论”“西方中心论”一度喧嚣。甚至有声音认为，“其他社会可以忘掉自己的历史传统而采纳其现代价值标准和尺度”。“世界上既不存在定于一尊的现代化模式，也不存在放之四海而皆准的现代化标准。”习近平总书记指出，“如果人类文明变得只有一个色调、一个模式了，那这个世界就太单调了，也太无趣了！”
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After this, the article stresses the point that Chinese-style modernisation combines Marxism and Chinese culture. Then it says that “Chinese-style modernisation ‘provides a brand-new model of modernisation for the whole world’, ‘it transcends the theory and practice of western-style modernisation’ and ‘provides a brand-new choice for the vast number of developing countries’...” 中国式现代化“为全球提供了一种全新的现代化模式”，“是对西方式现代化理论和实践的重大超越”，“为广大发展中国家提供了全新选择”。总书记这样系统论述.
Third, there’s a report about Li Keqiang’s message to the Icebreakers 2023 Chinese New Year celebration hosted by the 48 Group Club, a London-based trade organisation named after a British trade delegation of 48 businessmen who travelled to China in the early 1950s to establish trading relations between the two countries. Xinhua reports:
“In the message, Li said that 70 years ago, visionary people in the British business community broke the ice with great courage and opened the door to China-Britain trade. At present, the international and regional situations are undergoing complex and profound changes, and geopolitics, world economy, climate change, food and energy security and other fields are facing severe risks and challenges, Li said, adding that when difficulties arise, it is all the more important to carry on the ‘icebreaking’ spirit, strengthen exchanges and cooperation with a pioneering attitude, properly handle contradictions and differences, improve people's wellbeing and achieve mutually beneficial and win-win results. Li pointed out that China unswervingly adheres to the path of peaceful development, upholds the basic state policy of reform and opening-up, and stands ready to work with all parties to safeguard world peace and promote development and prosperity. Li said both China and Britain are the permanent members of the UN Security Council and major economies in the world, and maintaining a sound and stable bilateral relationship is in the interests of both sides and the world.”
Finally, there’s also a report on the Shenzhou-15 taikonauts on board the orbiting Chinese Tiangong space station completing their first spacewalk.
Page 2: There’s a report informing that Jiangsu, Tibet and Inner Mongolia announcing plans for the second round of ecological and environmental protection inspection and rectification work. This is very limited on details.
Also on the page is a report about a new policy to boost talent movement in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. There are lots of related English reports that clarify the policy. For instance, this China Daily report says:
“The National Immigration Administration announced on Thursday that residents in the nine cities can apply for an exit endorsement starting Feb 20 and visitors through the novel channel will be granted a stay of as long as 30 days in either of the two SARs. High-end talent in six categories working in the Greater Bay Area are eligible to apply for such multiple-entry permits. They include professionals who have made outstanding contributions to the region's development, scientific research experts, arbitrators and mediators, and officially recognized high-level talent in education and medical care. The validity periods range from one to five years, depending on the candidate's category.
Global Times’ report informs:
“An eligible candidate can apply for travel endorsement to the Hong Kong and Macao SARs either respectively or together. Outstanding talent could get travel endorsement with the validity period of five years, and qualified talent from the scientific, education and health sectors could get three-year endorsement, while the one from the legal and other sectors could get one-year endorsement, according to the authorities. They may travel to and from Hong Kong and Macao SARs several times within the validity period, and stay in Hong Kong and Macao SARs for no more than 30 days each time. Excellent talents can submit the applications to any immigration management authority above the county-level in the Greater Bay Area. Currently, for individual travel endorsement, a qualified applicant can stay in Hong Kong or Macao SARs no more than seven days for each application.”
Page 3: On the page, there’s a report with the statement from the Ministry of National Defense in response to the US DoD’s claim that China declined its proposal for a phone conversation over the “civilian unmanned airship incident.”
“The U.S. side recently proposed a telephone conversation between the Chinese defense minister and the U.S. defense secretary to communicate over the incident of China's civilian unmanned airship, said Tan Kefei, spokesperson for China's Ministry of National Defense. The United States persisted in using force to attack China's civilian unmanned airship, a move that seriously violated international practices and set a very bad precedent, Tan said. Given that the U.S. side's irresponsible and erroneous move has failed to create a proper atmosphere for dialogue and exchanges between the two militaries, China did not accept the U.S. proposal for a phone call between the two defense chiefs, Tan said. China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs had made a public statement regarding the nature of the incident, he said, adding that China reserves the right to take necessary measures to deal with similar situations.” — Why speak during crises, right?
Next, there’s a report informing that President of Zanzibar, Hussein Ali Mwinyi, met with the Chinese medical team there and thanked them.
Also, there’s a report informing that Fijian Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka met with China’s new ambassador Zhou Jian. He told Zhou that “pragmatic cooperation between Fiji and China has great potential and broad prospects.” He added that “Fiji is honoured and proud to be good friends with China, and will continue to adhere to the long-term friendly policy toward China. The one-China principle is the consensus of the international community, and Fiji will continue to abide by this principle.” 斐济总理兼外长兰布卡9日在苏瓦表示，斐济同中国的务实合作潜力巨大、前景广阔。兰布卡当天会晤中国新任驻斐济大使周剑。兰布卡说，在中国共产党领导下，勤劳智慧的中国人民取得了国家建设的非凡成就，拥有许多先进的产业和技术，斐中两国务实合作潜力巨大、前景广阔。兰布卡说，中国是有世界影响力的大国，斐济对能同中国成为好朋友感到荣幸和骄傲，将继续坚持长期友好的对华政策。一个中国原则是国际社会共识，斐济将继续恪守这一原则.
This is interesting because a couple of weeks ago there was some turmoil that is worth noting. New Zealand media reported:
Rabuka “told local media that there was no need for Chinese state security personnel to continue working in the Fiji police force. His comments relate to a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Fiji police and China’s Ministry of Public Security that was signed in 2011. The agreement allowed Fijian police officers to undergo training in China and Chinese officers being deployed to Fiji on attachment programmes for three to six months. In September 2021, police co-operation efforts between Suva and Beijing reached new heights following the appointment of a Chinese police liaison officer to be based in Fiji. Rabuka said there was “no need for us to continue, our systems are different”. “Our system of democracy and justice systems are different, so we will go back to those that have similar systems with us.” However, the prime minister said officers from other countries like New Zealand and Australia could stay because their systems were similar to Fiji’s.”
This is how the Chinese embassy had said in response in late January:
“We have noticed that Hon. Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka recently stated publicly that China has come in with a blank sheet of paper and seen Fiji as just development partners. He said Fiji and China have shared friendly relations over the last 48 years, thanked China for supporting Fiji, and reaffirmed the Fiji Government’s adherence to the one-China Principle - which is a longstanding international consensus. We hope that the new Fiji Government can continue to regard China as a reliable friend and partner of Fiji, and work with China to promote continuous development of China-Fiji relations, so as to better benefit the two countries and the two peoples. China has carried out different forms of military and police cooperation with many developing countries whose systems are not same as China, all of which are premised on respecting the wishes and actual needs of the countries concerned. China never imposes its will on others. Over the past years, China-Fiji military and police cooperation has effectively enhanced Fiji's capacity building in related fields. It does not conflict with Fiji's existing bilateral and multilateral cooperation mechanisms, has not brought any harm to Fiji, and has been highly praised by the Fijian side. Taking social stability and post-COVID economic recovery as priority, the PICs refer to the international community for more support and resources. As a responsible major country, China has always been there for the PICs. We firmly believe that China-Fiji relations, including the military and police cooperation, will not be disrupted or destructed by any external force.” —
That last line is the diplomatic equivalent of:
Anyway, some other key comments from the MoFA presser that are not in the paper today are:
Bloomberg: The G7 member states are said to be discussing whether to sanction companies in China for what they believe to be providing Russia with parts and technology that have military purposes. This is according to people familiar with the matter. That plan also may include moves against Iranian and North Korean companies. What’s the foreign ministry’s response to the G7 members planning to sanction Chinese companies in relation to their activities with Russia?
Mao Ning: China’s position on the Ukraine issue is consistent and clear. We have upheld the four principles and called for joint efforts in four areas as was proposed by President Xi Jinping, taken an objective and just position, made active efforts to promote peace talks, and played a constructive role in alleviating tensions. We always oppose unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction with neither basis in international law nor a mandate of the UN Security Council. China will take all necessary measures to firmly safeguard the legitimate and lawful rights and interests of Chinese companies.”
AFP: The White House said yesterday that the Chinese balloon shot down last week was part of a fleet that have spanned five continents. Japan says it’s coordinating with the US to analyze balloon-like objects spotted over Japan in 2020 and 2021. So my question is, does the foreign ministry have any new information to add on the balloon issue today? As you’ve described, the two balloons spotted over the US and Latin America are weather balloons. Could you provide any details about the equipment on board and the entities that own the balloons?
Mao Ning: On the airship, the Chinese side has repeatedly shared its information. The unintended, unexpected entry of the unmanned Chinese civilian airship into US airspace is entirely caused by force majeure. The Chinese side has made that clear in its communication with the US side time and again, yet the US overreacted by using force. China firmly opposes and deplores this. I am not aware of any “fleet of balloons”. That narrative is probably part of the information and public opinion warfare the US has waged on China. As to who is the world’s number one country of spying, eavesdropping and surveillance, that is plainly visible to the international community. Japan should adopt an objective and fair position on the airship incident instead of dramatizing it like the US. As to your last question, I have nothing to offer.”
RIA Novosti: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday during his visit to the US that what happens in Europe regarding the Ukraine conflict today could influence China’s actions in Asia and the Indo-Pacific region later. He also said that China is increasing its intelligence gathering activity in Europe. What’s China’s comment?
Mao Ning: NATO has kept reaching beyond its traditional defense area and domain and asking its members to increase military spending and expand military build-up, yet it is now making accusations and criticisms against China. This is textbook double-standard. China is committed to the path of peaceful development and has a better track record than any other major country in upholding peace and security. We have never invaded any country. We have never started any proxy war. We have never engaged in global military operations or threatened other countries with force. What NATO should do is abandon the Cold-War mentality and ideological prejudice and reflect on itself what kind of role it has played in European and global stability, rather than stoke tension around the globe and hype up the “China threat” narrative.
AFP: Australia’s Defense Minister said today that the country will remove Chinese-made security cameras from some government buildings. This is to ensure that these buildings are completely secure. This will mainly affect cameras made by Chinese companies Hikvision and Dahua. Does the foreign ministry have any response to this?
Mao Ning: The Chinese government always encourages Chinese companies to engage in international investment and cooperation in accordance with market principles, international rules and local laws. We oppose erroneous practices of over-stretching the concept of national security and abusing state power to discriminate against and suppress Chinese companies. We hope the Australian side will provide a fair, just and non-discriminatory environment for the normal operation of Chinese companies and do more things that could contribute to mutual trust and cooperation between our two countries.
There were also questions there about Australian coal and lobster returning to China. But Mao didn’t respond with any clarity.
Page 4: A report informing that the Ministry of Natural Resources has chosen 258 counties (cities) as the first batch of demonstration counties (cities) for intensive usage and conservation of natural resources. Among them, 183 are in the category of land resources, 57 are in the category of mineral resources and 18 are in the category of Marine resources. The pilot phase runs from 2023 to 2025. 记者从自然资源部获悉：近日，自然资源部认定258个县（市）为第一批自然资源节约集约示范县（市），其中，土地资源类183个，矿产资源类57个，海洋资源类18个，示范期为2023至2025年.
“Based on PCR test results, the number of COVID-19 confirmed cases in China reached a peak (6.94 million) on December 22, 2022, then fluctuated and fell to the lowest on February 6, 2023 (9,000), the Chinese Center for Desease Control (China CDC) said. As for those taking rapid antigen tests, reported positive cases also fell to the lowest on February 6 to 784 after peaking on December 22, 2022. Chief epidemiologist at China CDC Wu Zunyou said at a press conference on Thursday that it is unlikely for the country to experience another wave of infections in the coming months as the people's immunity level is at its highest after recoveries from the previous wave. Mi Feng, the spokesperson for China's National Health Commission (NHC) confirmed to the press that the country's COVID-19 infections have become increasingly stable lately and it has not found any significant increase in the virus' transmissibility, immune escape ability and pathogenicity. According to the CDC data, the major virus strains circulating in the country are still BA.5.2 and BF.7 and their sub-variant strains. It appears that BF.7 and its sub-variants take predominance in Beijing, Tianjin and Inner Mongolia, while BA.5.2 and its sub-variants take more advantage in other provinces.”
Mi Feng from the NHC, meanwhile, talked about continuing to do a good job in prevention and control, with schools opening and spring farming continuing. “We must pay attention to the prevention and control of outbreaks in key places, such as shopping malls, supermarkets, and farmers’ markets” and “continue to adhere to the prevention and control measures at key institutions, such as nursing homes, children's welfare homes, kindergartens, and schools,” he said.
Wu Zunyou added that while small-scale outbreaks are still likely, “the possibility of a nationwide concentrated large-scale outbreak is relatively small.”
Also on the page is a Zhong Yin commentary, which basically makes the point that the Chinese system of governance was tested during the pandemic and that it has performed well. “The great practice of the anti-epidemic struggle eloquently proves that China's socialist system has extraordinary organisation and mobilisation capabilities, overall coordination and implementation capabilities, and can give full play to the unique advantages of concentrating on doing great things, difficult things and urgent things.” 抗疫斗争伟大实践雄辩证明，我国社会主义制度具有非凡的组织动员能力、统筹协调能力、贯彻执行能力，能够充分发挥集中力量办大事、办难事、办急事的独特优势。
Why does this matter? It matters because, as the piece tells us, “an important aspect to measure the success and superiority of a country's system is whether it can command all directions and organise all parties to jointly deal with major risk challenges.” 衡量一个国家的制度是否成功、是否优越，一个重要方面是看其在重大风险挑战面前，能不能号令四面、组织八方共同应对.
Page 15: On the international page, the entire document produced by the foreign affairs ministry titled “Drug Abuse in the United States” has been reproduced. There’s also a linked Zhong Sheng commentary.
The document’s conclusion is as follows:
“The drug problem of America is a long-standing and deep-rooted disease that is yet to be cured. The U.S. government has not done enough to raise public awareness of the harm of narcotic drugs; the measures it took to reduce drug demand are ineffective; and its drug control actions produce poor results. The United States should face its own problem squarely, take actions to deal with the domestic issue of prevalent drug abuse, and protect the American people's right to life and health, instead of shying away from the problem. The fight against drugs requires, first and foremost, one's own efforts. At the same time, it also needs cooperation among all countries. The United States should stop making unwarranted accusations against China and undermining China-U.S. counter-narcotics cooperation. Even less should it mislead the public and shift its responsibility for ineffective response to drug abuse at home onto others.”