Cultural Data Security Standards - Mao & Xi on Art & Literature - Two Committees 两委 Elections - Shanghai COVID Situation - China-Pak Jt. Statement - Wang Attacks Indo-Pacific Strategy - IPEF Launched
Here are the stories and pieces that I found noteworthy in the Monday, May 23, 2022, edition of the People’s Daily.
Page 1: At the top of the page, there’s a report about the new guidelines for Promoting the Implementation of National Cultural Digitisation Strategy.
The document says that by the end of the 14 FYP, “a cultural digital infrastructure and service platform will basically be built, and a cultural service supply system with online and offline integration and interaction and three-dimensional coverage will be formed. By 2035, China will build a national cultural big data system - featuring physical distribution, logical correlation, fast links, efficient search, comprehensive sharing and integration emphasis - in order to present a panoramic view of Chinese culture and share the digital achievements of Chinese culture among all.” 《意见》明确，到“十四五”时期末，基本建成文化数字化基础设施和服务平台，形成线上线下融合互动、立体覆盖的文化服务供给体系。到2035年，建成物理分布、逻辑关联、快速链接、高效搜索、全面共享、重点集成的国家文化大数据体系，中华文化全景呈现，中华文化数字化成果全民共享.
The document also calls for setting up “cultural data security standards” (文化数据安全标准), which would cover data collection, processing, transaction, distribution, transmission and storage.
Second, there’s a feature report on literary and artistic works being aligned with the goal of national rejuvenation. This is a special piece written commemorating the 80th anniversary of Mao Zedong’s speech at the Yan’an Forum on Literature and Art on May 2, 1942. But really, this is more about equating Xi and Mao. (If you are interested, there’s more about the commemoration of Mao’s speech’s anniversary on Page 8.)
The PD piece says that Mao had then said that literature and art are for the masses of the people and that literary and art workers must join the workers, peasants and soldiers wholeheartedly and unconditionally. The piece then says that after Mao’s speech, literary and art workers in the liberated areas rushed to the frontlines in the Anti-Japanese War, working in the countryside, with soldiers and at factories, creating a large number of works representing Yan'an literature and art.
It says that literature and art for the people is a spiritual thread that starts from Yan’an and runs through the history of literature and art of new China. We then get a paragraph that mentions Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao, before we are told that a new page of history was turned on October 15th, 2014, when Xi Jinping presided over a forum on literature and art. From the “strategic perspective of realising the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation and the Chinese dream”, he “profoundly expounded upon and scientifically answered a series of major questions about how to develop and ensure the prosperity of socialist literature and art under the new historical conditions…” If you are interested, here is a translation of Xi’s comments back then.
The article says that:
“72 years apart, the two forums on literature and art echo each other. The same gathering of heroes, the same freedom of discourse, the same concern for the people, the same feelings of home and country. The two symposiums were in the same vein, kept pace with the times, and have become landmark milestones in the development of Chinese literature and art. 相隔72年时空，两次文艺座谈会遥相呼应. 一样的群英荟萃，一样的畅所欲言，一样的心系人民，一样的家国情怀。两次座谈会一脉相承又与时俱进，成为中国文艺发展历程中具有标志性意义的里程碑.
The rest of the piece talks about recent works and activities, which have developed based on this vision.
Third, there’s a piece of the election of the 两委 - Two Committees, i.e., the party committee and the village committee, which technically is a self-governing organisation. Structurally, the party committee, however, plays a leading role between the two. There’s a datapoint below that emphatically makes this point.
Anyway, the report tells us that the re-election of the ‘two committees’ across villages has all been completed, and 491,000 village teams have been replaced from the old to the new. I am not sure if this means that changes had taken place across all villages, because the 2021 government white paper on democracy had said that “as of the end of 2020, all the 503,000 administrative villages in China had established villagers committees.”
Anyway, the report also says that this is the first time that the term of the ‘two committees’ has been changed from 3 years to 5 years. The report adds that the representatives this time around are younger and more educated.
74% of the village two committees members have a high school degree or above, an increase of 16.7 percent
46.4% of the village party secretaries have a college degree or above, an increase of 19.9 percent
the average age of members of the two committees was 42.5 years, a decrease of 5.9 years,
the average age of the village party secretary was 45.4 years, a decrease of 3.9 years
But this stat is what clinches the Party’s control over these apparently autonomous village committees: in 95.6% of instances after the current election, the village party secretary and the head of the village committee is the same person. This is 29.5 percentage points higher than before the election. 村党组织书记、村民委员会主任“一肩挑”比例达95.6％，比换届前提高29.5个百分点.
If you are interested, there are more detailed reports about the two committees’ election work on Page 4.
Next, there’s a feature report on the development of China’s space power. I didn’t think there was anything particularly striking about this article. If you are interested, I would rather recommend reading through the January 2022 white paper on China’s space program.
If you are interested, there are more reports about space power development on Page 6.
Finally, a report informing that the Ministry of Finance has announced a 10 billion yuan ($1.5 billion) subsidy for grain farmers, to help bring down the cost of production. Earlier in March, a similar one-time subsidy of 20 billion yuan was announced. SCMP reports that the latest subsidies will be allocated to grain producers, including individual farmers, family farms, farmers’ co-operatives, agricultural enterprises and related entities, all bearing the brunt of the rising costs of agricultural materials.
Page 2: First, there’s a report about the COVID situation in Beijing. The report says that Beijing is racing against time to curb the virus’ spread. The city reported 94 new locally transmitted COVID-19 infections between 3 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. on Sunday. Seventy-seven cases were detected among people under closed-off management, and 17 were found through mass screening in communities. Eight districts were involved, including Fangshan, Fengtai and Haidian.
Second, there’s a feature piece about work resumption in Shanghai.
More importantly, there’s a report offering details regarding the phases of opening up of Shanghai over the next few weeks. This English report does a good job of explaining the policy, although even then it sounds like a really confusing game of musical chairs.
Currently, Shanghai has three types of zones - locked-down, controlled and precautionary areas. The report informs that Shanghai will gradually restore its high, medium and low-risk areas designation from next month as part of normalised COVID-19 prevention and control amid the declining number of daily infections.
“A local community, village or company will be rated as a high-risk area if at least 10 positive cases or two gathering outbreaks are reported within two weeks. If less than 10 cases or one gathering outbreak are reported in the last two weeks, the place will become a medium-risk areas, according to Shanghai Health Commission. People in the high and medium-risk areas will have to stay at home and receive a PCR test every day for two weeks. If no additional case was reported for 14 days, it will be downgraded to low risk, said Zhao Dandan, deputy director of the commission.”
In addition, note this about the current situation in Shanghai:
About 21 million residents, about 85 percent of the city’s population, are spread across 59,650 precautionary areas – communities, villages, companies and sites without a positive case in the past two weeks.
The number of residents in locked-down areas is 510,000. There are 2,051 such areas.
Around 1.77 million are spread across 9,742 controlled areas.
A locked-down area will be downgraded to a controlled area, if it reports no new infections in a week, and become a precautionary area if it reports no infection for three additional days in a row.
If new cases are detected in a precautionary area, it will be rated as a high or medium-risk area. If no new cases are reported in the precautionary area, it will become a low-risk area from next month.
Page 3: Let’s begin with Wang Yi’s meeting with Pakistani foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in Guangzhou. Xinhua reports:
“‘China appreciates the new Pakistani government’s firm commitment to developing the all-weather strategic cooperative partnership between the two countries,’ Wang said. China will as always prioritize Pakistan in its relations with neighboring countries and make China-Pakistan relations a factor for stability in the region, Wang said. Both sides reaffirmed their strong support for each other's core interests and major concerns. Wang said China will firmly support Pakistan in safeguarding sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, maintaining unity and stability, and pursuing a development path suited to its national conditions.”
“Bilawal said Pakistan is delighted to see China's great achievements, and believes that no force can stop China's future development. He said that Pakistan firmly pursues the one-China policy…Both sides agreed to enhance cooperation to implement the China-proposed Global Development Initiative and Global Security Initiative, pledging to work with other countries to focus on the development agenda, tackle security challenges, and implement the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.” Bilawal also backed China’s zero-COVID policy.
I’ve not covered the terrorism bit from the Xinhua report, because I am doing so below from the joint statement (English text), which is also published on the page. Some excerpts:
“The two sides noted with satisfaction the steady growth of economic cooperation between China and Pakistan. In this context, they agreed that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has effectively improved Pakistan's infrastructure and boosted its socioeconomic development. Both sides expressed firm resolve to synergizing development strategies, pushing forward all CPEC projects in a safe, smooth and high-quality manner, promoting cooperation in areas such as economy and trade, investment, industry, agriculture, health and science and technology, contributing to the peoples' well-being and delivering greater benefits to local communities.”
“The two sides expressed satisfaction at the growing momentum of bilateral defense cooperation and exchanges. They underlined that China-Pakistan defense cooperation was, in fact, a factor of peace and stability in the region.”
“The two sides termed terrorism as the common enemy of humanity. They once again strongly condemned the Karachi University Confucius Institute terrorist attack. Pakistan reiterated that efforts will be made to speed up the investigation, hunt down the culprits, and bring them to justice. Pakistan briefed the Chinese side on its efforts to ensure the safety of all Chinese nationals, projects, and institutions in the country. China appreciated Pakistan's commitment to the safety and security of Chinese nationals. Pakistan and China will further enhance counter-terrorism and security cooperation. The two sides called on the regional countries and the international community to form synergy and fight terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. The two sides expressed their determination not to allow anyone to damage the China-Pakistan iron brotherhood.”
“The two sides discussed the Ukraine situation, noting the necessity of being alert to the negative spillovers of the Ukraine crisis, in particular preventing its impact on developing countries, and called on relevant parties involved in the conflict to resolve differences and disputes through diplomacy and dialogue.”
“Both sides reiterated that a peaceful and prosperous South Asia is in the common interest of all parties. Given the challenges faced by the peoples of the region due to the global pandemic, soaring commodity prices, climate change and poverty, it is critical to resolve all outstanding disputes to promote regional cooperation and advance the goals of lasting peace, stability and shared prosperity. Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari briefed the Chinese side about the latest developments in Jammu and Kashmir. The two sides underlined the importance of the peaceful resolution of the dispute based on the UN Charter, relevant security council resolutions and bilateral agreements.”
“The two sides discussed the latest developments in Afghanistan and agreed that peace and stability in Afghanistan are vital for regional development and prosperity. The two sides also called upon the Afghan interim government to develop a broad-based and inclusive political structure, adopt moderate and sound internal and external policies, protect the rights of women and children, and ensure that the Afghan soil is not used against any of its neighbors. Both sides called on the international community to help avert a humanitarian crisis and earnestly honor the pledges to aid Afghanistan's economic reconstruction and future development. Both sides support the continued contribution of the mechanism of coordination and cooperation among Afghanistan's neighboring countries and expressed readiness to work with all parties to implement the Tunxi Initiative of the Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan on Supporting Economic Reconstruction in and Practical Cooperation with Afghanistan and provide all possible support for the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan. The two sides also reiterated their readiness to extend CPEC to Afghanistan in consultation with the Afghan interim government and for the mutual benefit of all parties.”
Next, a report about Wang Yi’s comments about the US’ Indo-Pacific strategy. Xinhua reports that when meeting the press after talks with Bilawal, Wang said that:
“‘The U.S. 'Indo-Pacific Strategy' is causing more and more vigilance and concern in the international community, especially in the Asia-Pacific region.’ This is because the so-called strategy has given away its intention, not only attempting to erase the name ‘Asia-Pacific’ and the effective regional cooperation architecture in the region, but also trying to erase the achievements and momentum of peaceful development created by the concerted efforts of countries in the region over the past decades...the people of the Asia-Pacific still remember the conflicts and confrontations caused by hegemony, and they want national stability and a happy life, while countries within the region don't want to take sides and hope that countries can live together in harmony and pursue win-win cooperation…Wang criticized the United States for creating the ‘Indo-Pacific Strategy’ to form small cliques in the name of freedom and openness, noting its purpose is to contain China. What is particularly dangerous is that the United States plays the ‘Taiwan card’ and ‘South China Sea card’ to bring chaos to the region, he said. The facts will prove that the so-called ‘Indo-Pacific Strategy’ is, in essence, a strategy of creating division, inciting confrontation and undermining peace. No matter how it is packaged or disguised, it will inevitably fail in the end, he said.
On the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, Wang stated China’s proposition on evaluating it:
“it should advocate free trade instead of pursuing protectionism”
“it should contribute to global economic recovery instead of undermining industrial-chain stability. Is the United States trying to speed up the recovery of the global economy, or is it trying to create economic decoupling, technological blockade and industrial disruption, and aggravate the supply-chain crisis?”
“it should promote openness and cooperation instead of creating geopolitical confrontation”
Next, there’s a piece by Margit Molnar, Head of China Desk, at the OECD’s Economics Department. She argues that there are “sufficient reasons to believe that as the current outbreaks are gradually brought under control, China’s economy will quickly get out of the ‘labour pains’ 阵痛, and have bright prospects for development. 从这个角度看，我们有足够理由相信，随着疫情逐步得到控制，中国经济将快速摆脱“阵痛”，发展前景可期.
She calls for having an “objective” view of the Chinese economy. While acknowledging that the rate of growth will slow down, she argues that “the trend of steady development of the Chinese economy will not fundamentally change. The OECD model suggests that China'’s GDP per capita will continue to approach developed country levels over the next three or four decades. In this process, China has room to make its economic development more open and inclusive, which will continue to bring huge dividends to the Chinese economy.” 对中国经济增速的评价要客观。随着经济体量不断增大，中国经济的增速自然会有所放缓，但中国经济保持稳定发展的态势不会发生根本改变。经济合作与发展组织模型显示，未来三四十年，中国人均国内生产总值将继续接近发达国家水平。在这一过程中，中国有空间进一步提升经济发展的开放性、包容性，这将继续给中国经济带来巨大改革红利.
She says that the Chinese government has made “mature and prudent macro policy decisions, striving to strike a balance between stabilising growth and controlling risks, and paying more attention to ensuring market fairness and improving long-term productivity. China still has policy space to further boost the domestic consumer market, improve the effectiveness of fiscal policy, and adjust the synchronisation of the recovery cycle with other major economies. She later supports the policy of creating a unified national market, saying that it will effectively solve the problems of economic efficiency loss caused by local protectionism and administrative monopolies, and is the key to further improve production efficiency across the country, enhance market competitiveness..” 中国政府的宏观政策选择更加成熟稳健，努力在稳增长和控制风险之间达到平衡，更注重确保市场公平和提高长期生产效率。在进一步提振国内消费市场、提升财政政策效能、调节中国与其他主要经济体复苏周期不同步问题等方面，中国仍然拥有政策空间...经济合作与发展组织的中国经济调查报告显示，中国建设全国统一大市场将有效解决地方保护主义、行政垄断造成的经济效率损耗等问题，是进一步在全国范围内提高生产效率、增强市场竞争力的关键。
And later she argues: “China is an important provider of key global goods and services, and has played an important role in maintaining the stability of the global supply chain. China has high-quality infrastructure and a large, high-quality labour force. Its important position in the global supply chain will not change, and the Chinese market will continue to maintain its global competitiveness and attractiveness.” 中国是全球关键商品和服务的重要提供者，为维护全球供应链稳定发挥了重要作用。中国有高质量的基础设施和大量高素质劳动力，在全球供应链中的重要地位不会改变，中国市场也将继续保持全球竞争力和巨大吸引力.
Finally, there’s a report about the World Health Organisation granting emergency use authorisation for the coronavirus vaccine made by CanSino Biologics.
Page 8: There’s a long piece that is essentially an excerpt from a new publication titled 百年大党面对面 - Face to Face with the Century-old Party, which was published in February by the Theory Bureau of the Central Propaganda Department. The book “focuses on the major achievements and historical experience of the Party’s century-long struggle, and provides simple answers to 13 major questions.” The introduction says that it should be used as “reading material for cadres and the masses and young students to study the Party’s history and carry out ideological and political education.”
This is the first piece in the series from the book. So I guess we should expect much more in the days and weeks ahead. This piece focuses on the need for passing the third resolution on history at the 6th Plenum of the 19th CPC Central Committee in November 2021. It says that the resolution represents “a solemn commitment to stay true to our original aspiration and fulfil our mission. It is a new starting point for us to take history as a mirror and open up a new future.” 这是初心不改、使命承担的郑重承诺，是以史为鉴、开创未来的崭新起点.
Talking about why the history resolution was needed, the piece says:
Attaching importance to history and learning from it are the fine traditions and political advantages of the Communist Party of China...At every important historical moment or juncture, our Party must review history, sum up experience, and draw wisdom and strength from it to move forward.” It adds that the past two “history resolutions, seeking truth from facts, summarised the Party’s major historical events and important experiences and lessons in a realistic manner, unified the thinking and actions of the whole Party at major historical moments, and played an important role in guiding the cause of the Party and the people. Their basic statements and conclusions are still applicable today. Now, more than 70 years have passed since the first history resolution was made, and more than 40 years have passed since the second history resolution was made. Over the past 40 years, the cause of the Party and the country has greatly advanced, and so has the Party’s theory and practice. Standing at the intersection of history and the future, the CPC, with its centennial spirit, should review the past and look forward to the future. There are both objective needs and subjective requirements to comprehensively summarise the major achievements and historical experience of the Party's century of struggle, especially those since reform and opening up. 重视历史、借鉴历史，是中国共产党在长期实践中形成的优良传统和政治优势。每到重要历史时刻和重大历史关头，我们党都要回顾历史、总结经验，从历史中汲取继续前进的智慧和力量。1945年党的六届七中全会通过了《关于若干历史问题的决议》，1981年党的十一届六中全会通过了《关于建国以来党的若干历史问题的决议》。这两个历史决议，都实事求是总结了党的重大历史事件和重要经验教训，在重大历史关头统一了全党思想和行动，对推进党和人民事业发挥了重要引领作用，其基本论述和结论至今仍然适用。现在，距离第一个历史决议制定已经过去了70多年，距离第二个历史决议制定也过去了40多年。40多年来，党和国家事业大大向前发展了，党的理论和实践也大大向前发展了。恰是百年风华的中国共产党，站在历史与未来的交汇点上，回顾过去，展望未来，全面总结党的百年奋斗重大成就和历史经验特别是改革开放以来的重大成就和历史经验，既有客观需要，也具备主观条件.
The piece then offers three specific purposes for summarising history:
Need to understand the changes over time in order to further develop the cause of the Party and country
The need for unity: “At this important juncture…, reviewing our major achievements and historical experience will help us understand the decisive significance of the ‘Two Establishments’, strengthen the ‘four consciousnesses’ and the ‘four self-confidences” and achieve the ‘two safeguards’, in order to ensure that the whole party and the people of the whole country move forward in unison.” 在百年奋斗继往开来的重要时刻，总结重大成就和历史经验，有利于深刻领会“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”，确保全党全国人民步调一致向前进.
The need to enhance skills/ability, particularly given that the future will bring a “more complex” environment, “more difficult” tasks, “more serious” risks and challenges, with significant unpredictability when it comes to ‘black swan’, ‘grey rhino’ and great white shark occurrences.
The piece then offers us an understanding of these three terms:
Black Swan events are low probability occurrences that are difficult to predict. But when one such event takes place suddenly, it has the potential to cause a chain reaction and bring massive negative effects. Such events can take place in different domains, such as nature, economy, politics, etc. Although these are accidental occurrences, if not handled well, they will lead to systemic risks and have serious consequences.
Grey Rhino events are “high-probability occurrences” that have been repeatedly ignored and may eventually lead to a major crisis.
Great White Shark events are unusual occurrences that sort of fall between Black Swans and Grey Rhinos. These are widespread in a certain range, and can be extremely destructive. These tend to be high probability events, and while one can deduce the probability of occurrence, the timing of such an event is difficult to grasp.
The next section talks about the significance of the third history resolution as a programmatic document and as an essential summary of the Party’s century-long history. It says that the resolution is ‘practical theory’ or a ‘theory of practice’ about the sinicization of Marxism and a ‘true scripture’ to guide the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. 可以说，《决议》是推动马克思主义中国化的“实践论”，是指引中华民族伟大复兴的“真经”.
It adds that “looking back on history is not to rest on our laurels, but to better open up the future from the starting point of past gains and losses.” The purpose of the resolution is to take the “history of a hundred years of struggle as a mirror, inspire strength from the great victories of the past, draw profound lessons from detours and setbacks, and enhance wisdom, unity, confidence and fighting spirit. In this sense, the Resolution" can be described as a ‘comprehensive mirror that aids governance’ (资治通鉴) in contemporary China.” 回顾历史不是为了躺在功劳簿上沾沾自喜，而是站在过往得失的起点上更好地开辟未来。《决议》立足中国共产党始终秉持的初心使命，着眼中国共产党是什么、要干什么这个根本问题，以百年奋斗的历史为镜鉴，从伟大胜利中激发奋进力量，从弯路挫折中吸取深刻教训，达到增长智慧、增进团结、增加信心、增强斗志的目的。从这个意义上说，《决议》可谓是当代中国的“资治通鉴”.
Page 20: On the international page, there’s a piece backing China’s dynamic clearing/zero-COVID policy.
Then there’s another report, which quotes WSJ’s reporting and that from the Economist Intelligence Unit to argue that supply chain reshoring to North America is not really going all that well. It cites a WSJ report from April 18, 2022, as saying that American importers attempting to shift purchases from the Asia-Pacific region to Mexico and deeper into Latin America are finding it difficult to find suppliers with the right raw materials, production quality and networks for their components. It also quotes the EIU as saying that “‘Asia’s share of global exports will continue to rise’ through 2025, reflecting the region’s continued importance in global supply chain networks.”
Finally, a report (related English report) carries comments from Belarusian Prime Minister Roman Golovchenko at a CIS Heads of Government Council meeting on May 20. Golovchenko had said that it was necessary to minimize the use of dollars and euros in mutual settlements within the CIS as much as possible.
Other Stories: This is outside of PD.
First, the Fact Sheet for the IPEF: There are a dozen initial partners: Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. It talks about “four key pillars to establish high-standard commitments that will deepen our economic engagement in the region:”
Second, Joe Biden’s comments on Taiwan during his visit to Japan. Here’s WSJ’s report:
“President Biden said the U.S. would get involved militarily to defend Taiwan if China tries to take it by force, issuing a stark warning to Beijing during his first trip to Asia as commander in chief. ‘Yes. That’s the commitment we made,’ Mr. Biden said on Monday in response to a question from a reporter about whether he was willing to get involved militarily if Taiwan came under threat. Mr. Biden stressed that the U.S. remains committed to the bedrock ‘One China policy,’ which recognizes the People’s Republic of China as the only legitimate government of China and acknowledges, but doesn’t endorse, Beijing’s claim that Taiwan is a part of China. But the president said that policy doesn’t give China the right to forcefully take over Taiwan. ‘We agree with the One China policy and all the attendant agreements we made. But the idea that it can be taken by force, just taken by force, would just not be appropriate,’ Mr. Biden said. ‘It would dislocate the entire region and be another action similar to what happened in Ukraine. So, the burden is even stronger’...’My expectation is that it will not happen,’ Mr. Biden said, adding that it’s important for world leaders to send a strong message that there will be consequences if Beijing takes such action.”
Reading through this, I think that Beijing will be annoyed with Biden saying quite clearly that the US does not endorse Beijing’s claim over Taiwan. It will call it a dilution of American commitments. It’ll also likely push back, arguing that such comments embolden “Taiwan independence” elements. But it’s worth noting that Taiwan is not part of the IPEF, despite the State Department recently again reiterating that:
“We will continue to support Taiwan’s membership in international organizations where statehood is not a requirement and encourage Taiwan’s meaningful participation in organizations where its membership is not possible, in line with our One China policy, which is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the three U.S.-China Joint Communiques, and the Six Assurances.”
Will Beijing see this as a concession? Anyway, it looks like the Taiwan issue will remain the core point of friction between the two countries for the foreseeable future.