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COVID Policy Change 'The Right Choice' - Sichuan's 2023 Agenda - Foreign Investment in R&D - Wang Xiaohong Wants Police's Political Loyalty - New Year Online Rectification Campaign - New PLA General
Here are the stories and pieces that I found noteworthy from the Thursday, January 19, 2023, edition of the People’s Daily.
Page 1: There are just two stories on the page today. The main article is about Xi Jinping’s video chat with the general public from across the country ahead of the Spring Festival. So there was no new year inspection tour, but a video chat instead. Xi actually addressed this in his comments, saying that usually this time of the year he would be to the grassroots level. But this year the video system was chosen so that he could “see more places, east, west, north and south.”
Xi spoke with medical workers at a hospital, senior citizens in a welfare home, workers on an outlying oilfield, travellers and staff members at a high-speed railway station, vendors and customers at a wholesale market, and people in an ethnic minority village. One of the big messages from the chat was Xi’s defence of the changes to China’s COVID policy.
Xinhua English has a clear summary of this bit.
“Speaking with medical workers and an elderly patient at the First Affiliated Hospital of Harbin Medical University in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, Xi said that facing this latest wave of COVID-19 infections, medical workers have worked long hours under heavy pressure and with an excessive workload to treat patients. Acknowledging their great contributions to protecting people's lives and health, Xi extended festive greetings to medical workers across the country. ‘We have now entered a new phase of COVID-19 response. Tough challenges remain, but the light of hope is right in front of us. Perseverance means victory,’ he said. The country had made ‘the right choice’ to deal with the COVID-19 epidemic with strict measures over the past nearly three years, Xi said, adding that China has thus withstood several rounds of outbreaks of virus mutations. China has lowered the proportion of severe cases and the case fatality rate to the greatest extent possible, protected people's lives and health, and bought precious time for the later moves to optimize response and downgrade the management of COVID-19, Xi said. The focus of the current COVID-19 response has shifted from infection prevention to medical treatment, with protecting people's health and preventing severe cases being the priority, said Xi, noting that hospitals are now undertaking more arduous tasks. Xi demanded efforts to increase medical resources and the supply of medical services and drugs, and to prepare for medical treatment of severe cases in particular.”
Next, speaking to the elderly residents and staffers at a welfare home in Fuzhou, Xi emphasised that “the elderly are the top priority of epidemic prevention and control at present, and the measures for the protection and health management of personnel in nursing homes, welfare homes and other institutions should be stricter than those in other places to prevent outbreaks.” 老年人是当前疫情防控的重中之重，对养老院、福利院等机构人员防护和健康管理的措施，要严于其他场所，严防发生聚集性疫情.
He also talked about China’s ageing population and argued for the importance of developing old-age care undertakings and industries, public old-age care institutions and inclusive old-age care services, and strengthening the bottom-up protection for the elderly who are extremely poor, have low-incomes, or are disabled. 我国社会老龄化程度越来越高，一定要让老年人有一个幸福的晚年，要大力发展养老事业和养老产业，发展公办养老机构和普惠型养老服务，特别要强化对特困、低保、高龄、失能老年人的兜底保障。要适当组织开展文体活动，丰富老年人精神文化生活，让老年朋友过一个欢乐、健康、祥和的春节.
Xi then spoke to employees of the Tarim oilfield in Xinjiang. Xinhua English summarises the key points in this bit:
“‘Energy security concerns the overall economic and social development of our country. It is one of the most important security issues,’ Xi (said)…Noting that winter is the peak season for energy use in China, Xi said that no efforts should be spared to ensure the supply of coal, electricity, petroleum and natural gas, and to keep their prices stable. He stressed the importance of being fully prepared to deal with possible extreme cold waves, guaranteeing energy supply and ensuring people stay warm this winter. Noting the important role of state-owned enterprises directly under the central government, Xi asked them to make all-out efforts to increase output and ensure supply to meet the energy consumption needs of economic and social development.”
Next, he spoke to passengers and staff at Zhengzhou East Station. “He urged efforts to ensure safe and sound trips.” After this, he spoke to vendors and customers at the Xinfadi wholesale market. Xinhua captures the key messages from this too. “To his delight, Xi heard that the food price was stable and the provision of various produce was sufficient.” He also called on party committees and governments at all levels to ensure food supply for people.
The final set of people that he spoke to were villagers and tourists in Shiyi Village in Sichuan Province. Xinhua reports: “Xi said he was primarily concerned about rural areas and rural residents after the country adjusted its COVID-19 response measures. Xi stressed efforts to improve medical care for those most vulnerable to the virus in rural areas, and ensure the health of rural residents and their normal running of work and life to the maximum extent possible.”
Anyway, the piece ends with Xi saying that the “past year was extraordinary but not easy.” “We have overcome all kinds of difficulties and challenges, making new achievements on all fronts.” He added that 2023 was the first year for the implementation of the guidelines of the 20th Party Congress. He called for concerted efforts to make progress in this regard.
The other article on the page is a report on the promotion of Huang Ming, commander of the PLA’s Central Theater Command, to the rank of general.
Page 2: There’s a report on the State Council’s new measures encouraging foreign investment for the establishment of R&D centres in China. The report says that the document proposes 16 policy measures in 4 areas.
First, support scientific and technological innovation. Under this, it talks about improving scientific and technological innovation services, encouraging basic research, promoting collaboration between industries, universities and researchers, supporting the establishment of an open innovation platform, improving financial support for scientific and technological innovation, and easing the channels for participation in government projects. 一是支持开展科技创新。优化科技创新服务，鼓励开展基础研究，促进产学研协同创新，支持设立开放式创新平台，完善科技创新金融支持，畅通参与政府项目渠道.
Second, improving R&D convenience. In this, it calls for supporting the cross-border flow of R&D data according to law, optimising the management process of intellectual property transfer and technology import and export, optimising the customs clearance and supervision process of research materials, and supporting the extension of the re-export period for key R&D equipment and test vehicles temporarily brought into China for R&D purposes by foreign-funded R&D centres. 二是提高研发便利度。支持研发数据依法跨境流动，优化知识产权对外转让和技术进出口管理流程，优化科研物资通关和监管流程，支持对外资研发中心出于研发目的暂时进境的研发专用关键设备、测试用车辆等按规定延长复运出境期限。
Third, encourage the introduction of overseas talents. It says that China will facilitate the long-term and permanent residence of overseas talents in China, optimise the process of handling work permits, strengthen overseas talents' incentives and subsidies, and promote the convenience of overseas talents' cross-border funds receipt and payment. 三是鼓励引进海外人才。允许以团队为单位，为海外人才在华长期居留、永久居留提供便利，优化办理工作许可流程，鼓励海外人才申报专业人才职称，加强海外人才奖励资助，推动海外人才跨境资金收付便利化。
Fourth, improve the level of IPR protection. In this, it says that China will accelerate the improvement of the system of rules for the protection of trade secrets, strengthen the building of intellectual property protection centres, raise the level of intellectual property law enforcement, fully implement the system of punitive damages for intellectual property infringement, and strengthen the enforcement of administrative rulings. 四是提升知识产权保护水平。加快完善商业秘密保护规则体系，加强知识产权保护中心建设，提高知识产权执法水平，全面落实知识产权侵权惩罚性赔偿制度，加大行政裁决执行力度.
Page 3: A couple of reports to note. First, Li Keqiang met with foreign experts in China. Xinhua reports that after extending new year greetings and talking about the “reasonable economic growth” achieved by the Chinese economy in 2022, Li said the following:
“China is committed to giving top priority to development, staunchly pursuing market-oriented reform, better protecting the rights and interests of foreign investors, boosting the confidence of private enterprises, and fostering a market-oriented and law-based international business environment. He said China remains committed to its basic state policy of opening-up, and it will open up its domestic market further and expand market access for foreign investment. ‘China is ready to learn from advanced technologies and management experience, continue extensive international cooperation with other countries, respond to common challenges facing the international community, and safeguard world peace, stability, development and prosperity,’ he added.”
Second, Han Zheng extended new year greetings to members of China’s polar and ocean expeditions. Xinhua reports that Han spoke to representatives of the research icebreaker Xuelong, the Zhongshan Station and Great Wall Station in the Antarctic region, and the research vessel Dayang. He then said “China has made remarkable progress in deep-sea and polar scientific research, and significantly enhanced its capability to understand, protect and utilize both deep-sea and polar regions.”
Third, a brief report on the visit of Chen Zhou, Vice Minister of the International Liaison Department, to Sri Lanka. This basically says that the delegation that Chen was leading held a special presentation on the spirit of the 20th Party Congress for people from all walks of life in Sri Lanka.
Fourth, there’s a report on comments by the Speaker of Pakistan's National Assembly, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, praising CPEC. He made these comments at the launch of the Sustainable Development Report 2022 of the All-Pakistan Chinese Enterprises' Association. Pakistan’s economy is in a complete mess at present.
Finally, there’s a Zhong Sheng commentary that again lashes out at “Western media” for “smearing” China’s COVID policy adjustment.
“A number of foreign media have reported that with the optimisation of epidemic prevention and control measures in China, the lively scene of ‘China on the move’ came to the fore. However, some western media reports on the adjustment of epidemic prevention policies in China are always far from the truth and the mainstream feelings of the people in China and the international community. In the narrative weaved by these media, China’s anti-epidemic policy ‘changed too fast and without adequate preparation’, which is totally prejudiced hype and political manipulation with ulterior motives.” — 多家外国媒体纷纷报道，随着中国优化疫情防控措施，“流动中国”的热闹景象跃然眼前。然而，也有个别西方媒体对中国防疫政策调整的报道始终离事实真相很远，离中国民众和国际社会的主流感受很远。在这些媒体编织的叙事中，中国抗疫政策“转得太快，没有准备”，这完全是充满偏见的炒作抹黑和别有用心的政治操弄. Basically, this says that one must report about the positive things rather than the challenges of policy shifts.
Later the article says that today “many places have passed the epidemic peak, and production and life are returning to normal at a faster pace. Latest data show that the number of patients treated in fever clinics across the country has continued to decline, as has the number of patients infected with COVID-19 and severe cases. Beijing, Zhejiang, Henan, Guangdong, Chongqing and Sichuan have declared that they have passed the peak of the first wave of COVID-19 infections.” 近一段时间以来，中国各地区各部门平稳有序推进实施新冠病毒感染“乙类乙管”方案，全力保障群众生命健康安全，不少地方已度过疫情高峰，生产生活正在加快恢复正常。最新监测数据显示，全国发热门诊诊疗量呈持续下降趋势，在院的新冠病毒感染者和重症患者数量也呈现连续下降趋势。北京、浙江、河南、广东、重庆、四川等多地宣布已平稳度过新冠病毒感染第一波高峰期.
After this, the article basically makes the case that China is prepared to deal with the challenges of COVID-19.
It says that the Chinese government has made meticulous preparations. In this, the author talks about improved medical capacity, coordination across the medical system and vaccination. “We will continue to expand the vaccination coverage in COVID-19 and establish an adequate immune barrier to cope with COVID-19.” 不断扩大新冠疫苗接种覆盖面，建立起足够的免疫屏障以应对新冠病毒.
China has “sufficient capacity reserves.”
The organisational structure is strong to deal with the challenges.
“Although there is a gap between China and developed countries in terms of per capita medical resources and medical technology, the rate of severe illness and mortality of COVID-19 infection in China remains at the lowest level in the world. While the global Human Development Index has declined for two consecutive years, China has moved up six places in the index ranking. At an average annual growth rate of about 4.5 percent over the past three years, China ranks high among the world's major economies and far outpaces the performance of countries that chose to lie flat. Practice has fully proved that the optimisation and adjustment of epidemic prevention policies in China has been not only a timely and necessary for scientific prevention and control, but also a strategic and long-term move for efficiently coordinating epidemic prevention and control and economic and social development and safeguarding the fundamental interests of the overwhelming majority of the people” 尽管中国的人均医疗资源、医学技术水平与发达国家相比有一定差距，但从全球范围看，中国新冠病毒感染的重症率、死亡率都保持在全球最低水平。在全球人类发展指数连续两年出现下降的情况下，中国人类发展指数排名提升了6位。中国3年平均经济增速约为4.5%，稳居世界主要经济体前列，远超一些“躺平”国家的表现。实践充分证明，中国防疫政策的优化调整既是科学防控的及时、必要之举，也是高效统筹疫情防控和经济社会发展、维护最广大人民根本利益的战略、长远之举.
Page 4: There’s a report on Minister of Public Security Wang Xiaohong’s comments at a national conference on the construction of a clean and honest government in the context of public security organs across the country. Wang said that:
“It is necessary to thoroughly study and implement the important speech made by General Secretary Xi Jinping at the second plenary of the 20th CCDI and the spirit of the plenary session, deeply understand the decisive significance of ‘Two Establishments, strengthen four consciousnesses and four self-confidences and achieve the two safeguards…adhere to the problem orientation, maintain strategic focus, carry forward the thorough spirit of self-revolution…adhere to a strict tone, strict measures, and strict atmosphere for a long time, persevere in promoting comprehensive and strict control of the Party and the police, and strive to forge an iron army of public security that can bear the heavy responsibility of the times.” 中共中央书记处书记、公安部部长王小洪18日在全国公安机关党风廉政建设电视电话会议上强调，要深入学习贯彻习近平总书记在二十届中央纪委二次全会上的重要讲话和全会精神，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”，牢记“两个永远在路上”，坚持问题导向，保持战略定力，发扬彻底的自我革命精神，永远吹冲锋号，把严的基调、严的措施、严的氛围长期坚持下去，持之以恒推进全面从严管党治警，着力锻造堪当时代重任的公安铁军.
The report adds: “Wang Xiaohong demanded that we deepen political police building and strengthen political loyalty, and we must resolutely obey the orders of General Secretary Xi Jinping and the command of the Party Central Committee at any time and under any circumstances. We must persevere in implementing the spirit of the eight central regulations, and thoroughly correct the unhealthy tendencies…” 王小洪要求，要深化政治建警，筑牢政治忠诚，在任何时候任何情况下都要坚决听从习近平总书记命令、服从党中央指挥。要锲而不舍落实中央八项规定精神，深入纠治群众身边的不正之风。要切实把纪律建设摆在更加突出位置，让每一名民警都感受到纪律无处不在、监督就在身边。要注重标本兼治，一体推进不敢腐、不能腐、不想腐。要坚持系统观念，完善制度机制，健全全面从严管党治警体系。In this context then, he talks about discipline construction and dealing with corruption strictly.
Next, there’s an interview with Sichuan Party Secretary Wang Xiaohui on the province’;s economic agenda for the year. Wang says that the province's economy rebounded rapidly from the shock and downturn last year, with GDP growth at 2.9%. The provincial GDP at the end of 2022 was 5.6 trillion yuan.
In terms of the 2023 agenda, in the first response, he basically talks about adhering to Xi’s thought, implementing the spirit of the 20th Party Congress, implementing the guidelines of the CEWC, focusing on the Chengdu-Chongqing circle, focussing on innovation-driven development, the new development concept and new development pattern, insist on green development with ecological priority, persist in deepening reform and expanding opening up, mobilise the enthusiasm of various market players, and enhance the motivation and vitality of economic and social development.
The second question is about how Sichuan will be promoting high-quality development. Wang says:
“At present, Sichuan is in a critical period of cultivating new growth drivers and shaping new advantages for development. Faced with the double squeeze of increasingly tight resource and environmental constraints and obviously rising factor costs, we must shift the foothold of promoting development to improving quality and efficiency. We will conscientiously implement the new development concept, actively serve and integrate into the new development pattern, and take solid steps to promote the comprehensive construction of socialist modern Sichuan with the actual results of high-quality development. Highlight innovation-driven development, accelerate the development of the Chengdu-Chongqing Comprehensive Science Center, the Western Science City, and the China (Mianyang) Science and Technology City, and build major science and technology infrastructure clusters with high standards. Give priority to green development, continue to fight hard to protect blue skies, clear waters and clean land, vigorously develop green and low-carbon industries, and speed up the green transformation of our development model. Push forward the work of achieving carbon neutrality, ensure that the energy conservation targets set by the state are met, resolutely curb the blind launch of ‘two high and one low’ projects, and never gain economic growth at the cost of the environment.” 王晓晖：当前，四川正处于培育发展新动能、塑造发展新优势的关键期，面临资源环境约束日益趋紧和要素成本明显上升的双重挤压，必须把推动发展的立足点转到提高质量和效益上来。我们将认真践行新发展理念，积极服务和融入新发展格局，以高质量发展的实际成效推动全面建设社会主义现代化四川迈出坚实步伐。突出创新驱动发展，加快成渝（兴隆湖）综合性科学中心、西部（成都）科学城、中国（绵阳）科技城建设，高标准打造重大科技基础设施集群。做实生态优先绿色发展，持续深入打好蓝天、碧水、净土保卫战，大力发展绿色低碳优势产业，加快发展方式绿色转型。推进碳达峰碳中和工作，确保完成国家下达的节能目标任务，坚决遏制“两高一低”项目盲目上马，决不以牺牲环境为代价换取一时一地的经济增长.
In the next question on the industrial system, Wang talks about focussing on upgrading and expanding the “six advantageous industries of electronic information, equipment manufacturing, advanced materials, energy and chemical industry, food, textile, and medicine and health”; the “the transformation of traditional industries such as steel and petrochemicals”; “actively seizing the advantage in new industries such as new displays”; and promoting the “deep integration of the digital economy and the real economy.” 重点把发展特色优势产业和战略性新兴产业作为主攻方向，聚焦推动新型工业化，实施电子信息、装备制造、先进材料、能源化工、食品轻纺、医药健康六大优势产业提质倍增计划，加快改造提升钢铁石化等传统产业，积极抢滩新型显示等产业新赛道，促进数字经济与实体经济深度融合。
Later in the interview, Wang talks about persisting with opening up, and then specifically with regard to the “two unwaverings,” he says:
“At present, the focus is on introducing more substantive policies and taking more solid and effective measures to address the difficulties faced by private enterprises and comprehensively boost confidence in the private sector.” 当前，重点是针对民营企业面临的困难，出台更有含金量的政策、采取更扎实有力的举措，全面提振民营经济信心.
He talks about three changes in this regard:
First, unify the information and data with regard to credit, tax payment, energy consumption and administrative punishment related to private enterprises from across various departments in order to achieve an accurate picture of the credit situation and then create a ‘white list’ with the true credit information, so that banks dare to lend, are willing to lend and can lend.
Second, formulate a ‘positive list’ and a ‘negative list’ of political and business exchanges, comprehensively review and repeal all policies and regulations that prevent the private sector from participating in fair competition, and vigorously carry out special campaigns to clean up overdue accounts of private enterprises and rectify illegal charges against enterprises.
Third, intensify efforts to implement the five-year action plan for the cultivation of private enterprises. This covers training, guidance and subsidies.
In the final bit, he talks about promoting consumption recovery and effective investment, along with addressing livelihood requirements.
Also on the page are personnel confirmation reports from different organisations and provinces.
Page 7: There’s a report on the publication of the Q4 2022 China Good People List - 中国好人榜 - by the Central Civilisation Office. 152 people were on the list. This is basically celebrating desirable behaviour in society and promoting the “core socialist values.” So one of the persons on the list is someone who found 200,000 yuan on the street and approached the cops to find the owner (clearly, this is a better person than me 🙂). There’s a son-in-law from Shaanxi who took good care of his mother-in-law who had a stroke.
“College students and graduates remain the focus of this year's work, and priority is given to students majoring in science and engineering, and those with skills needed for combat readiness. Targeted-recruitment and pre-recruitment are encouraged, as well as enhanced information platform construction. Rules and regulations for clean enlistment shall be implemented strictly, said the meeting. Recruitment for the first half of 2023 will last from Feb. 15 until March 31, while that for the second half of the year will run from Aug. 15 to Sept. 30, according to the conference.”
The PD report adds that “according to the meeting, outstanding young people who have performed well in disaster relief and reconstruction, children of martyrs - soldiers who died in the line of duty - brothers and sisters of soldiers and children of active servicemen who meet the qualifications would be given priority to enlist. Areas where ethnic minorities live in concentrated communities should recruit more young ethnic minorities who are bilingual, highly educated and have good comprehensive quality to join the army. The old revolutionary base areas should recruit more descendants of the old Red Army and the old demobilised soldiers to join the army.” 会议指出，在抢险救灾和灾区恢复重建中表现突出的优秀青年，烈士、因公牺牲军人、病故军人的子女、兄弟姐妹和现役军人子女，符合条件的应当优先批准入伍。少数民族居住集中地区应当多征集懂双语言、文化程度较高、综合素质好的少数民族青年入伍。革命老区应当多征集老红军、老复员军人后代入伍。
Also on the page is a report about the Cyberspace Administration of China launching its Spring Festival online clean-up campaign. There are six types of online discourse that will be the focus of this campaign:
consolidate the achievements made in the rectification of ‘fan circles’ to maintain a sound ecology for culture and entertainment on the internet
seriously investigate and punish those who show off their wealth on the internet, promote overeating or extravagance, to avoid the spreading of unhealthy values
cracking down on online gambling, online fraud and other illegal acts
cracking down content that promotes and hypes up feudal superstitions and bad practices, and deal with those who provide illegal fortune-telling services as well
crack down on cyberbullying, internet addiction and other issues related to adolescents to strengthen protection of minors
crack down on false information and other problems to prevent negative emotions from being exaggerated
Global Times’ story on this also says:
“The campaign will also focus on the rectification of all kinds of problems of unscrupulous ‘online influencers’ and seriously deal with problematic celebrity vloggers who hype up bad deeds, including those who show off their experiences in jail and glorify the prison life. Strict management will be posed on those who wear revealing clothes and make seductive actions to create a publicity stunt, profiting from advertisements or selling products.”
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