Gas Explosion in Shiyan - Dragon Boat Patriotism - Xinjiang Push in Japan - G7 Communique

Here are the stories and pieces from the Monday, June 14, 2021, People’s Daily edition that I found noteworthy. It’s the holiday edition today; so the content is limited. I’ve done a quick scan of the reaction to the G7 communique, although this was not in PD.

Page 1: It’s the holiday edition today, given that China is celebrating the Dragon Boat Festival. But let’s begin with Xi Jinping’s comments after Sunday’s gas explosion at a market in Shiyan in Hubei province. PD reports that the blast has caused 12 deaths and 37 serious injuries. SCMP reporting via CCTV’s coverage says that 138 people were injured, with 37 suffering serious injuries. The 138 number does not figure in PD. The report instead primarily focuses on how the top leadership has swung into action. 

PD has Xi saying that officials should do our best to rescue the wounded; do a good job in supporting the relatives of those who have died; investigate the cause of the accident and “those responsible must be held to account.” He also called for “efforts to ward off major emergencies, ensure the safety of people's lives and property, maintain overall social stability, and create a good atmosphere for celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the CPC.”

The piece then has Li Keqiang’s comments and then tells us that “following the instructions, working groups from the central departments have been sent to guide the handling of the accident, while a national medical team has also been dispatched to Shiyan.”

Next, we have a piece saying that cadres should take the opportunity during the Dragon Boat Festival to carry out activities under the theme “Follow the Party Forever.” The story also talks about a number of such activities. For instance in Yuantou Village in Jiangxi Province, we have activities with kids. Here's a parent explaining an activity.

“‘On the first day of the Dragon Boat Festival holiday, not only do children feel the charm of the Dragon Boat Festival folk customs, but they can also get souvenirs when they answer the party history questions. It is really meaningful’, Yang Ming, who took her children to participate in activities, said excitedly.”

Likewise, the report informs that at the Cultural Center Theater in Xiqing District, Tianjin, there was a poetry reading activity, under the theme of celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Founding of the Communist Party of China. Another example is that in Zigui County, Hubei Province, there is a tribute being paid to poet Qu Yuan, celebrating his patriotism. You can see an English report here about Qu.

Third, a short report telling us that according to data from China National Railway Group Co, as of the end of May 2021, 39,622 trains have run between China and Europe (I guess this is for the year, because the piece doesn’t say from when.), transporting 3.541 million TEUs of goods, reaching more than 160 cities in 22 European countries. 

Page 2: We have a brief report remembering the 863 Project and celebrating the scientists who were involved in them. Next we have a report about how universities are making use of “red resources.” So for instance, Central Propaganda Group members and Shanghai Municipal Party Committee Propaganda Group members visited Fudan University to give special reports to teachers and students. “Up to now, more than 120 theoretical lectures have been conducted in schools and all units of the whole school, addressing 13,300 listeners.” 

The report also says that the university has made use of Shanghai’s red resources by organising field visits “to the revolutionary sites and the martyrs’ cemetery.” It has also steadily carried out activities under the theme ‘I do practical things for the people’ and under the theme of ‘follow the party forever.’ Some 300 practical projects have been approved and more than 4300 students have participated, according to PD. Likewise the report carries examples of activities from three other universities.

Page 3: Two reports on the page that I found worth noting. First, a report (English version) about China donating Sinopharm vaccines to Afghanistan. The report tells us that a handover ceremony was held at the Afghan presidential palace in Kabul. Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, Acting Minister of Public Health Wahid Majrooh, senior officials from the Afghan government and Chinese Ambassador to Afghanistan Wang Yu attended the event.

Next, the Chinese Embassy in Japan and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region government jointly held a video conference on June 11, with the theme “Xinjiang is a Good Place.” Over 130 representatives from Japanese politics, businesses, think tanks, non-governmental organizations and media were invited to participate, informs PD. The report says that Kong Xuanyou, China’s Ambassador to Japan, said “that in recent times, the United States and some Western media have been concocting sensational lies such as ‘genocide,’ ‘forced labor,’ and ‘compulsory sterilization’ in Xinjiang, which has created doubts among many in Japan. Xinjiang affairs are China’s internal affairs. China’s 1.4 billion people will never allow external forces to disrupt Xinjiang indiscriminately. China will resolutely defend its national sovereignty, security and development interests. He hopes that everyone can learn about Xinjiang’s development achievements through this exchange meeting, listen to the voices of Xinjiang people, and get to know Xinjiang. After the epidemic is over, more Japanese friends are also welcome to visit Xinjiang and feel the true face of beautiful Xinjiang.”

Xiao Kaiti Yiming, director of the Standing Committee of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region People's Congress said: “The United States, Britain, Canada and the European Union have imposed unreasonable sanctions on relevant organizations, enterprises and individuals in Xinjiang based on these lies and false information. This is a robber baron’s logic. The fundamental purpose of doing so is to undermine the security and stability of Xinjiang and hinder China's development and growth.” 肖开提·依明说:“美国、英国、加拿大、欧盟竟然基于这些谎言和虚假信息,对新疆有关组织、企业和个人实施无理制裁,这完全是强盗逻辑。他们这么做的根本目的,就是要破坏新疆安全稳定,阻碍中国发展壮大.”

And that’s about it for PD today. But let me quickly go through the key China-related points in the G7 communique

  • “We also call for a timely, transparent, expert-led, and science-based WHO-convened Phase 2 COVID-19 Origins study including, as recommended by the experts’ report, in China.”

  • “With regard to China, and competition in the global economy, we will continue to consult on collective approaches to challenging non-market policies and practices which undermine the fair and transparent operation of the global economy. In the context of our respective responsibilities in the multilateral system, we will cooperate where it is in our mutual interest on shared global challenges, in particular addressing climate change and biodiversity loss in the context of COP26 and other multilateral discussions.” (This sounds very vague)

  • “At the same time and in so doing, we will promote our values, including by calling on China to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, especially in relation to Xinjiang and those rights, freedoms and high degree of autonomy for Hong Kong enshrined in the Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Basic Law.”

  • “We reiterate the importance of maintaining a free and open Indo Pacific, which is inclusive and based on the rule of law. We underscore the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and encourage the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues. We remain seriously concerned about the situation in the East and South China Seas and strongly oppose any unilateral attempts to change the status quo and increase tensions.”

  • Apart from all this, it’s worth noting that there are at least 16 different direct references to the democratic nature and values of the G7 throughout the communique.

Do note this bit from Reuters, “There were few disagreements over the communique, which is going through final drafting, though Japan pushed for a tougher line on China, a diplomatic source said.”  This story from Politico, which focuses on the internal divisions and discussions in Boris Johnson’s Cabinet over China is also a good read.

While we are still awaiting China’s Foreign Ministry’s official reaction to the G7 communique, here’s Xinhua English’s story today. The piece criticises the G7’s 1 billion vaccine doses pledge, saying that “campaigners and critics feel it lacks ambition and is far too slow as it was not enough to cover the needs of these countries.” It quotes UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the WHO and Gordon Brown, who said that the summit would “go down as a missed opportunity” and “an unforgivable moral failure.” The story criticises the G7’s comments on Xinjiang, Hong Kong, etc., using the Chinese embassy in London’s statement and comments by Martin Jacques. It also quotes bits from FT’s reportage to make the case that “doubts still remain among the Europeans as to how sincere the United States is to cooperate with Europe on international issues after four tumultuous years of the Donald Trump administration.”

Another useful story to note is this: “Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said his government wants to restart dialogue with Beijing, as a series of trade reprisals from China strain the already-weakened relationship between the two countries. ‘We, of course, would like to see the dialogue that was occurring to continue again and start again,’ Morrison said at a press conference on Saturday at the G7 leaders meeting in the UK, according to a transcript sent by his office. ‘Australia is always ready to sit around the table and talk through how our partnership can be made to work’.” The report also says that the Australian Trade Minister wrote to his Chinese counterpart in January and is still awaiting a response.