Climate Summit - Party Building in Universities - Strategic Competition Act

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

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Page 1: The lead story on the page is about Xi attending the Climate Summit last night. The report says that Xi called for fostering “a community of life for man and nature with ‘unprecedented ambition and action’.” State media has picked up the phrase “Community of life,” as the buzzword from the speech. Here’s more from his speech:

  • We need to “ride the trend of technological revolution and industrial transformation, seize the enormous opportunity in green transition, and let the power of innovation drive us to upgrade our economic, energy and industrial structures.”

  • Xi wants “systemic governance” keeping the entire ecology in mind.

  • “We need to look for ways to protect the environment, grow the economy, create jobs and remove poverty all at the same time, so as to deliver social equity and justice in the course of green transition...”

  • “We need to uphold the UN-centered international system, comply with the objectives and principles laid out in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Paris Agreement, and strive to deliver the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

  • “In this process, we must join hands, not point fingers at each other; we must maintain continuity, not reverse course easily; and we must honor commitments, not go back on promises.”

  • “We must be committed to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.”

Xi reiterated the plan to peak carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060. He also added that China will “strictly limit the increase in coal consumption over the 14th Five-Year Plan period and phase it down in the 15th Five-Year Plan period.” 

Finally, this:

“China has done its best to help developing countries build capacity against climate change through various forms of results-oriented South-South cooperation. From remote sensing satellites for climate monitoring in Africa to low-carbon demonstration zones in Southeast Asia and to energy-efficient lights in small island countries, such cooperation has yielded real, tangible and solid results. China has also made ecological cooperation a key part of Belt and Road cooperation.”

Second, a report on the new regulation by the central committee on the work of grassroots organizations in colleges and universities. It calls for party committees to focus on party building in colleges and universities and improve the party’s organizational system, institutional system and working mechanism there. Party committees should promote the “deep integration of party building and the development of higher education.” They should also “promote colleges and universities to educate people for the party” while cultivating talents for the country.

There’s much more on this on Page 4. First, we have a press conference with officials from the Organization Department of the Central Committee and the Ministry of Education. They explain that the first such regulations date back to 1996, after which they were revised in 2010, with Xi Jinping then a member of the PSC under Hu Jintao, leading the effort. They then ran through the entire process of revision since Xi became General Secretary. They mention Xi attending the two National College Ideological and Political Work Conferences in December 2016 and September 2018. Then there’s a process of soliciting opinions from grassroots committees and framing new guidelines. These were cleared by the PSC and Politburo in February and then issued on April 16.

While the primary goal of the regulations is party building, there are certain key principles to do this.

  • First, “adhere to the guidance of Xi Jinping’s thoughts on socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era.”

  • Second, “adhere to the Party constitution as the fundamental basis and the party’s political construction.” This, of course, is a good time to remind everyone of what the additions to the constitution were in October 2017.

  • Third, “adhere to the problem orientation, focus on solving the problems of weakening of party leadership in some colleges and universities...”

Some of the new amendments in the regulations pertain to:

  • Improving the guiding ideology, objectives and principles for the work of grassroots party organization. This relates to the goal of creating “socialist builders and successors.”

  • Organisational restructuring to improve overall Party control over these committees

  • Improving the leadership system and mechanism for discipline inspection.

  • Strengthening political education and party history education among the rank and file

  • Building “a loyal and clean team of high-quality professional cadres, and strengthen(ing) the political guidance and political absorption of talents.”

  • Strengthen the ideological and political work of party organizations in colleges and universities and to lead the mass organizations.

  • A separate chapter on leadership and guarantee was added to consolidate the work responsibilities of party committees at all levels and strengthen assessment ideological and political work teams.

The rest of the presser delves into greater detail one these areas.

Also, there’s a commentary about all this on Page 4. Here are some excerpts:

“To strengthen the construction of the Party in colleges and universities in the new era, we must adhere to Xi Jinping's thought of socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era as the guide, adhere to and strengthen the Party's leadership over colleges and universities, comprehensively implement the Party's educational policy, adhere to education to serve the people, serve the governance of the Communist Party of China, serve the consolidation and development of the socialist system with Chinese characteristics, serve the reform and opening-up and the construction of socialist modernization....”

The next paragraph focuses on political construction; it adds:

“Universities should take the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China as an opportunity to consolidate and deepen the results of education on the theme of "not forgetting the original intention and remembering the mission", to better study and implement Xi Jinping's thought of socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era, and to carry out the leadership of the Party and the construction of the Party throughout the whole process of running and managing the university.”

The next paragraph talks about the “principal responsibility system,” i.e.,

“the party committee of the university should assume the main responsibility of managing the party and running the university, and perform the leading duties of setting the direction, managing the overall situation, making decisions, grasping the team, leading the team and ensuring the implementation.”

Third, a commentary on Xi’s speech at Bo’ao Forum. It’s really nothing new; this is repetitive material praising and interpreting Xi’s comments. And I guess after the rectification report that I covered yesterday, we know why such numbers matter.

Finally, a very short report on the publication of reports after the fifth round of inspection of 35 central and state organs and party organisations. Basically, it says that as per the reports, they all seem to have effectively enhanced the sense of responsibility and mission, adopted refined measures, transmitted political responsibilities at all levels, formed a joint force for rectification and achieved initial results. Again, all reports of individual institutions are available here.

Page 3: Two comments from the Chinese side on the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee clearing the Strategic Competition Act of 2021. You Wenze, a spokesperson for the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National People's Congress, said the U.S. bill is full of Cold War mentality and ideological bias and wantonly distorts and attacks China's development strategies as well as its domestic and foreign policies. It has grossly interfered in China's internal affairs.

MoFA’s Wang Wenbin added that the act “also exposes the hegemonic idea of the US to pursue supremacy and deprive others of the right to development. China strongly deplores and rejects this. Relevant acts talks nothing other than China being an opponent of the US. Is the sole purpose of the US development to out-compete China? Such a distorted and narrow-minded mentality is beneath the US in its capacity as a major country. I would like to reiterate that China is committed to developing China-US relations featuring non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation. That said, we will continue to resolutely safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests.”

Next, Wang Yi spoke about the situation in Myanmar with Don Pramudwinai, Thai deputy prime minister and foreign minister, and Erywan bin Pehin Yusof, second minister of foreign affairs of Brunei. They talked about the upcoming ASEAN meeting taking up the issue of the coup in Myanmar. Wang said:

  • The ASEAN meeting “should be conducive to promoting political reconciliation in Myanmar.” He, however, added that “whether the Myanmar issue can be properly resolved mainly depends on the country itself.”

  • He “hopes that the meeting can encourage the Myanmar side to put first the overall interests of the country and the people, and send out signals on peaceful reconciliation, with all concerned parties exercising restraint and moving toward each other.”

  • He wants ASEAN “to stick to the ‘ASEAN way’ featuring unity, inclusiveness and consensus through consultations” when discussing Myanmar.

  • And he wants that “the meeting should be conducive to fending off external interference.” Of course, China giving advice like this is not external interference.

  • Finally, he said that China “expects this meeting to make a good start for the ‘soft landing’ of the situation in Myanmar.”

Page 6: A couple of reports to note. First, the State Council has announced (English version) the establishment of a “general support mechanism for covering outpatient medical bills under the employee basic medical insurance.”The idea is to cover some amount of outpatient expenses for chronic or special diseases. I am not sure what ailments are covered, but earlier reports inform of ailments like blood pressure and diabetes. The reimbursement ratio will start from 50 percent and will be tilted in favor of retirees as appropriate, the State Council says. 

Second, the NPCSC has released its legislative plan for the year. NPC Observer has a good piece detailing this. Some of the interesting bills pending are:

  • draft Data Security Law [数据安全法]; 

  • draft Personal Information Protection Law [个人信息保护法]

  • draft Law on the Protection of the Status, Rights, and Interests of Military Personnel [军人地位和权益保障法];

Also, some key other  bills for review are:

  • Scientific and Technological Progress Law [科学技术进步法]

  • Anti-Monopoly Law [反垄断法]

And among the new bills, these two sound interesting:

  • Public Health Emergency Response Law [突发公共卫生事件应对法] 

  • Land Borders Law [陆地国界法] - if anyone has any information on this legislation, please do get in touch.

Page 11: A report on the Ministry of Public Security’s “anti-vice and pornography” work. It says that public security organs across the country have cracked more than 600 related criminal cases and arrested more than 700 criminal suspects as of April 20. Second, a piece on the Supreme People's Procuratorate releasing typical cases of public interest litigation for personal information protection. The piece says that “if an Internet enterprise fails to fulfill its personal information management and protection obligations, the procuratorate will require it to bear the responsibility for public welfare damage through public interest litigation.”

Page 16: On the international page today, there are a few pieces to note. First, there’s a commentary on BRI under the name Zheng Guichu (郑归初). Zheng argues that “no major projects have been shut down due to the epidemic, and projects such as China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and China-Laos Railway have made steady progress...Last year, the trade volume of goods between China and countries along the route was 1.35 trillion US dollars, and non-financial direct investment to countries along the route reached 17.79 billion US dollars. Enterprises in countries along the route are also optimistic about China's development opportunities, with more than 4,200 new enterprises in China and direct investment exceeding 8 billion US dollars.”

The author calls this a new “international public good” and something that originated in China, but is meant for the world, and so on.

Second, a short report on Egyptian Holding Company for Biological Products and Vaccines (VACSERA) and Chinese biopharmaceutical company Sinovac signing an agreement to manufacture the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine in Egypt. 

Finally, a report on the global carbon trading markets. This report is based on research published by the International Carbon Action Partnership. It says that “at present, there are 24 carbon trading systems in the world, and 22 countries and regions are considering or actively developing carbon trading systems.”

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