First Secretaries - Lithuania Tensions - US' 'Underlying Diseases' - Xi Thought on Economic Globalisation & Rule of Law

Here are the stories and pieces from the People’s Daily’s August 11, 2021, edition that I found noteworthy.

Page 1: Today’s front page is really thin on news. First, there’s a piece on first secretaries and the Party’s grassroots organisation and work. It tells us that “according to statistics, since 2015, a total of 518,000 first secretaries in villages and more than 3 million resident cadres have been selected nationwide. Together with nearly 2 million township cadres and millions of village cadres, they are struggling to fight poverty and build a well-off life.” The piece also reminds us that in May this year, the Party had issued a guideline on the Selection of First Secretaries and Work Teams in Key Villages, which seek to provide “organizational guarantees and support for cadres and talents to comprehensively promote rural revitalization and consolidate and expand the achievements of poverty alleviation.”

The piece basically offers different examples of how some of these first secretaries have been addressing livelihood issues and also supporting people in navigating bureaucratic requirements and even doing some really routine, basic tasks. For instance, at one point of time, the piece even tells us that these Party secretaries even provide support in terms of training people in using induction cookers at home.

My sense from reading the piece is that it describes first secretaries’ role as a cross between administrator, superhero and customer support.

“Often covered in mud and sweat, the first secretaries in the village work hard for the happiness of the masses and care for the masses. When the masses are in trouble, the first thing that comes to their mind is these individuals; every year, when there are celebrations, they will always invite the first secretaries to their homes...and when they are leaving the region, the masses shed tears to send them off…” 经常是一身泥、一身汗,驻村第一书记们用自己的辛苦努力换来群众的幸福,成了群众的贴心人. 群众遇到麻烦了,第一个想到的是他们;逢年节、有喜事,也总会拉着他们进家门,吃个团圆饭;他们要走了,群众流下热泪相送……

Anyway, what’s also noteworthy, although not surprising, about the piece is that it frames the key tasks that first secretaries are doing as guided by requirements outlined by Xi Jinping.

Next, there’s a piece about infrastructure development in Tibet over the years. It basically talks about the Lalin Railway and road-building in the region, which now has a highway mileage of 118,800 kilometers, with all villages connected to the highway, as per the article.

Third, we have another piece on development in Pudong. This one talks about financial sector development. 

The piece talks about the Lujiazui Financial City, and tells us that so far 76 internationally renowned asset management institutions from 13 countries and regions have set up 106 foreign-funded asset management companies in Lujiazui. The list also includes “9 of the top 10 asset management institutions in the world.” 

The piece talks about some key plans that are being launched:

  • The piece talks about the new Global Institutional Investor Cluster plan for Pudong. 

  • There’s also a Global Operations Program, which aims to help multinational corporations registered in Pudong expand their business scope and coverage from China to the Asia-Pacific, and even the world. So far, there are 41 enterprises engaged in this; another 53 are in talks. 

  • There’s also a Global Economic Organization Cluster that’s planned. So far, there are 10 international economic organizations that have joined in, such as the International Chamber of Commerce and the BRICS NDB.

  • It talks about the Shanghai International Artworks Bonded Service Center, which is part of the FTZ and talks about the efficiency of entry-exit processes.

  • It talks about the Intellectual Property Protection Center, which was set up in 2017. The center aims to provide companies with intellectual property whole chain services and is creating a platform integrating rights confirmation and protection, public service, talent training and other functions, as this bit tells me.

  • We also learn that in anticipating more talent migration, Pudong developed more than 70,000 sets of housing units.

The piece ends with saying that the goal is that Pudong will make better use of the role of the Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone and the Lingang New Area as a ‘testing ground’ and implement greater stress testing in several key areas, such as the offshore trading system and bulk commodity trading.

Page 3: Let’s begin with a Zhong Sheng commentary, which talks about the rising COVID-19 cases in the US. It says that the US’ difficulties in containing the pandemic is the product of the “underlying diseases” plaguing American society, i.e., polarised politics, partisanship and the contradictions of the federal system of government. It says that:

“In the endless struggle between the two parties, the United States missed the ‘golden window’ for epidemic prevention and control. Areas like nucleic acid testing, wearing masks, home isolation, vaccination, distribution of strategic reserves of medical materials, emergency relief bill and so on were all affected.” 在两党无休止的争斗中,美国错过了疫情防控的“黄金窗口期”,核酸检测、佩戴口罩、居家隔离、疫苗注射、医疗物资战略储备分配、紧急纾困法案等都受到影响.

It talks about how “partisan differences pervade the U.S. at all levels, i.e., at federal, state, and local levels, and among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches.” Internationally, the author says that the US has engaged in unilateralism, ‘vaccine nationalism’, and ‘tracing terrorism.’ 

So all this is summarised as: “American politicians continue to be obsessed with putting politics above science, putting self-interest above people's lives and health, and putting American hegemony above global cooperation in the fight against the epidemic.” 美国政客继续执迷不悟,将政治凌驾于科学之上,将一己私利凌驾于人民生命健康之上,将美式霸权凌驾于全球抗疫合作之上,不但无助于美国抗疫,也无助于治愈美国的“基础疾病”.

Next, we have an article by Nong Rong, the Chinese ambassador to Pakistan. The first half of the article talks about support for China across Pakistani political establishment and society, and pandemic cooperation. BRI, he says, has “entered a new stage of high-quality development. The two sides will complete the projects under construction in time, strive to create more employment opportunities, and strengthen cooperation in the fields of industrial parks, human resource training, poverty alleviation, medical and health, and agriculture.”

Next, a report about Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Qi Zhenhong meeting with the country’s Minister of Health Pavithra Wanniarachchi. There’s a list of medical supplies that China will be providing. But PD was interested in highlighting that Wanniarachchi opposes the politicisation of the pandemic. They agreed that origin-tracing “is a scientific issue, and politicisation will not only help solve the problem, it will also hinder countries from overcoming the pandemic.” Also, the piece highlights that 80% of the vaccines administered in Sri Lanka are Chinese vaccines.

Then, there’s a piece based on an article by Australian scholar Hugh White’s recent piece for the Lowy Institute’s website. Xinhua English has a piece that makes the point too: 

“White said that leaders such as Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison have begun to describe their contests with China ‘in starkly ideological terms, as a defence of democracy against authoritarianism’ while saying that China threatened to replace the ‘liberal international order’ with a new one. Such a narrative is problematic in that before asking whether the ideological framing is good tactics, one should understand that China does not pose the kind of threat the Soviet Union had posed, according to the scholar. Citing judgements by seasoned politicians including former Australian diplomat Peter Varghese, White stressed that there is no evidence that Beijing seeks to remodel the world in its image. China will strive to protect its own system from being undermined from without, but unlike those superpowers, the country ‘does not seem to believe that this requires the rest of the world to adopt its model,’ said White.” -- Once again, I think the idea that Beijing wants to remodel the world in its image is not the correct prism to look at this stuff about China’s model export.

Finally, we have the Foreign Ministry’s statement on the decision to recall the ambassador to Lithuania. It says:

“Recently, the Lithuanian Government, in disregard of China's repeated representations and articulation of potential consequences, has announced its decision to allow the Taiwan authorities to open a ‘representative office’ under the name of ‘Taiwan’. The decision brazenly violates the spirit of the communiqué on the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Lithuania and severely undermines China's sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Chinese Government expresses its categorical opposition to this move. China has decided to recall its Ambassador to Lithuania and demanded the Lithuanian Government recall its Ambassador to China. The Chinese side warns the Lithuanian side that there is only one China in the world and the People's Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China…”

Outside of PD, in Global Times, here’s Hu Xijin keeping China loveable: 

And here’s Gu Xinyang from Nanjing University saying that:

“As the China-US confrontation intensifies, Lithuania will not be an isolated case. Since it touches on the Taiwan question - the most core interest of China - if the Chinese government does not take action, it may leave the rest of the world a false impression that countries that offend China over Taiwan will not get punished. And this may trigger a chain reaction of some countries to upgrade ties with Taiwan authorities. Therefore, China must act.”

Page 5: Today, we have the 18th piece in the series on Xi Thought. The first question is about why counter currents or inwards looking trends will not turn back the trend of economic globalization. The piece says that:

“Marx and Engels pointed out that ‘the bourgeoisie, by opening up the world market, have made the production and consumption of all nations universal’, and ‘the more completely the primitive closed state of nations is eliminated by the increasingly perfected mode of production, by exchanges, and by the division of labour between different nations naturally formed as a result of exchanges, the more history becomes world history’. These insights and expositions by Marx and Engels profoundly reveal the essence, logic and process of economic globalization, and point out that economic globalization is not artificially created by some people or countries; rather it is the objective requirement of the development of social productive forces and the inevitable result of scientific and technological progress, and it is the inevitable path of human social development.” 马克思恩格斯指出,“资产阶级,由于开拓了世界市场,使一切国家的生产和消费都成为世界性的了”,“各民族的原始封闭状态由于日益完善的生产方式、交往以及因交往而自然形成的不同民族之间的分工消灭得越是彻底,历史也就越是成为世界历史”. 马克思恩格斯的这些洞见和论述,深刻揭示了经济全球化的本质、逻辑和过程,指明了经济全球化不是哪些人、哪些国家人为造出来的,而是社会生产力发展的客观要求和科技进步的必然结果, 是人类社会发展的必经之路。

There’s also this bit on Xi’s Thought, i.e., he has argued that economic globalisation has gone through three stages.

  • First, colonial expansion and the formation of the world market.

  • Second, the stage of two parallel world markets. This is essentially the capitalist and communist camps during the Cold War.

  • Third, a stage of economic globalisation wherein interdependence between countries has greatly improved.

Then writers argue that economic globalisation is “not a panacea, there are also shortcomings and problems” but this does not mean that it should be done away with. 

“Economic globalization was once seen as Alibaba’s cave, and now it is seen as Pandora’s box by many people. Some arguments against globalization simply blame economic globalization for the problems plaguing the world, which is neither factual nor helpful to solve the problem. For example, the international financial crisis was not an inevitable product of economic globalization, but the result of excessive profit-seeking of financial capital and serious lack of financial supervision.”同时也要看到,经济全球化并非万能灵药,也存在不足和问题,但我们不能就此把它一棍子打死。经济全球化曾经被人们视为阿里巴巴的山洞,现在又被不少人看作潘多拉的盒子。一些逆全球化的论调把困扰世界的问题简单归咎于经济全球化,既不符合事实,也无助于问题解决。比如,国际金融危机并不是经济全球化发展的必然产物,而是金融资本过度逐利、金融监管严重缺失的结果。不能从一时一己之利看待经济全球化,也不能从一城一隅之私推崇逆全球化.

The writers say that it is wrong to look at economic globalization from one’s “selfish” prism. “The ocean of the world economy, whether you like it or not, is there, and you cannot avoid it. It is impossible to artificially cut off the capital flow, technology flow, product flow, industrial flow and personnel flow of various countries' economies, and turn the ocean of the world economy into isolated small lakes and rivers. This is also not in line with the historical trend. A trade war is not desirable because there will be no winners. Economic hegemonism is even worse, because it will harm the common interests of the international community, and is akin to shooting oneself in the foot.” 世界经济的大海,你要还是不要,都在那儿,是回避不了的。想人为切断各国经济的资金流、技术流、产品流、产业流、人员流,让世界经济的大海退回到一个一个孤立的小湖泊、小河流,是不可能的,也是不符合历史潮流的。贸易战不可取,因为不会有赢家。经济霸权主义更要不得,因为这将损害国际社会共同利益,最终也将搬起石头砸自己的脚. 

It then says:

“At present, the world economy is in a deep recession, international trade and investment are shrinking sharply, and the international financial market is in turmoil. The international community is facing increasing new issues and challenges, and mankind once again stands at the crossroads of history. In the face of these problems, we should not stop eating for fear of choking (因噎废食), adopt protectionist and unilateralist measures at every turn, and adopt selfish practices of beggar-thy-neighbour. The correct choice is to adhere to the concept of win-win cooperation, trust instead of suspicion, join hands rather than wielding fists, and consultation rather than cursing. We should make full use of all opportunities and cooperation to meet all challenges, guide the direction of economic globalisation, dissipate the negative impact of economic globalisation, so that the fruits of development fairly benefit different countries and different classes of people.” 当前,世界经济深度衰退,国际贸易和投资大幅萎缩、国际金融市场动荡,国际社会面临的新课题新挑战与日俱增,人类再次站在了历史的十字路口。面对这些问题,不能因噎废食,动辄采取保护主义、单边主义措施,不能采取以邻为壑的自私做法。正确的选择是,坚持合作共赢理念,信任而不是猜忌,携手而不是挥拳,协商而不是谩骂,充分利用一切机遇,合作应对一切挑战,引导好经济全球化走向,消解经济全球化的负面影响,让发展成果公平惠及不同国家不同阶层不同人群.

The point then is that China is on the right side of history and is engaging in economic globalisation and creating opportunities.

The next question is about comprehensive rule of law being a profound revolution in national governance. The piece begins by talking about the Civil Code and then has an interesting dip into history, referencing the reign of the Tang Emperor Taizong. It talks about how the law developed at the time “laid the legal foundation for the flourishing of the Tang Dynasty and became a model for the Chinese legal system.” The piece then says that while “the overall situation of China's reform, development and stability is good,” there are problems of inadequate and unbalanced development, social contradictions, political issues within the Party, and issues of violations of law that need to be addressed. The examples cited are:

  • The 2018 Changchun Changsheng vaccine scandal

  • Lax supervision leading to illegal mining projects and hydropower stations along the Qilian Mountains National Nature Reserve

It then says that the approach to comprehensive rule of law is not just important  to address contradictions and problems related to reform, development and stability, but also from a long-term strategic perspective. “This requires us to stand at the strategic height of upholding and developing the overall situation of socialism with Chinese characteristics” but also to “provide a fundamental, overall and long-term institutional guarantee for the development of the cause of the party and the state, and to ensure that social development is both vigorous and orderly amid the profound changes that are taking place.”

Here’s more:

“From ‘rule according to law’ to ‘comprehensive rule according to law,’ from ‘socialist legal system’ to ‘socialist rule of law system’, from ‘there is a law to follow, the law must be followed, law enforcement must be strict, illegal acts will be punished’ to Scientific legislation, strict law enforcement, impartial justice, and universal compliance with the law’, the idea of building the rule of law is becoming clearer, the positioning is becoming more precise, and the initiatives are being increasingly put in place.” 从“依法治国”到“全面依法治国”,从“社会主义法律体系”到“社会主义法治体系”,从“有法可依、有法必依、执法必严、违法必究”到“科学立法、严格执法、公正司法、全民守法”,法治建设的思路越来越清晰,定位越来越精准,举措越来越到位.

Page 11: The Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate have put out a new interpretation on handling criminal cases with regard to concealment and harbouring criminals. It basically says that if knowingly one provides support in the form of accommodation, transportation, communication or financial support, then that person can be convicted and punished for the crime of harbouring in accordance with the provisions of the criminal law.