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History Resolution - Xi's Explanation - Biden-Xi Meeting - Chinese Scholars on US-China Ties - 6th Plenum & Political Party Building - Maintaining the Core is 'Top Priority'
Here are the stories and pieces from the November 17, 2021, edition of the People’s Daily that I found noteworthy.
Page 1: There are two pieces on the page today, i.e., the entire history resolution passed at the 6th Plenum, and the Xi-Biden summit meeting.
To begin with, the full history resolution is available in Chinese and English. Instead of doing a breakdown of this, I thought I’d rather share the work already done by folks, which I found insightful and/or agree with. Instead, I’ll do a breakdown of Xi Jinping’s explanatory note on the resolution, which is on Page 2. (Chinese text/ English text).
But before that, here are the assessments of the history resolution that I would recommend reading through
With that done, here’s my breakdown of Xi Jinping’s explanatory note. Xi begins by talking about the importance of history resolutions.”
Why do history resolutions matter?
The 1945 resolution: “It drew conclusions on major historical issues of the Party, leading to a broad consensus among all Party members, particularly high-ranking officials, on fundamental questions pertaining to the Chinese revolution. It served to strengthen the solidarity of the Party, paved the way for the convocation of the Seventh CPC National Congress, and helped advance the Chinese revolution significantly.”
The 1981 resolution: “The resolution gave assessments of certain major events and important figures, particularly a correct appraisal of Comrade Mao Zedong and Mao Zedong Thought. It drew a clear distinction between right and wrong and corrected the erroneous “Leftist” and Rightist viewpoints existing at the time. Through the resolution, the Party came to a clear consensus and was more united than ever in support of a forward-looking approach. All this provided a strong impetus to the Party’s endeavors in reform, opening up, and socialist modernization.”
Quick thought: Essentially, the past resolutions’ assessments are being upheld and Xi telling us that these were instruments to ensure Party unity and build consensus for future policy direction. So that is precisely the reason for the current resolution too. The stuff that comes later will substantiate this.
Xi says that as the Party heads towards the second centenary goal, the Central Committee believes “it important in both a practical and historical sense to have a comprehensive review of the major achievements and historical experience of the Party.” The objective he outlines is: “This review will help build a broader consensus and stronger unity in will and action among all members and rally and lead Chinese people of all ethnic groups in achieving new and great success in building socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era.”
Xi then says that “we need to:
relive the glories of the Party and appreciate how the Party has rallied and led the Chinese people in making magnificent achievements.
review the Party’s great historical course of achieving one victory after another and the historic accomplishments the Party has achieved in the interests of the country and the nation.
revisit the Party’s century-long history in which the Party has advanced Marxism in the Chinese context by adapting the basic tenets of Marxism to China’s realities and fine traditional culture
revisit the Party’s century-long history in which the Party has maintained unity and upheld the Central Committee’s authority and its centralized, unified leadership. We need to appreciate the significance of enhancing the Party’s political development…
always bear in mind that the Party and the people are inextricably connected and rise and fall together.
never falter in exercising full and rigorous self-governance of the Party and must see this as a mission that is forever ongoing so as to make sure that the Party always remains a powerful leadership core
fully appreciate the laws and prevailing trends of history, seize the historical initiative in the cause of the Party and the country throughout our new journey in the new era…”
Xi says that it is important to look at Party history from a “concrete, objective, and holistic perspective,” and to maintain a “rational outlook,” “properly address the mistakes and setbacks” and “do better at setting things straight, taking a clear-cut stance against historical nihilism, strengthening ideological guidance and theoretical analysis, and clearing up confusion and misunderstandings over certain major questions in the Party’s history.” — This sounds like Xi telling us that the approach to history is political and instrumental, and therefore, it is important to ensure strict control.
Xi’s note then explains the priorities in drafting the resolution:
First, he says that the earlier history resolutions have “settled controversies on major issues in Party history in the period from its founding to the early stage of reform and opening up, and their basic points and conclusions remain valid.” He says since reform and opening up, “despite certain problems,” “generally speaking made smooth progress in the right direction.” This resolution must, therefore, focus on “Party’s major achievements and historical experience.”
Second, he says that this resolution must focus on the new era. Its purpose is to “fortify confidence among all Party members, focus on our current endeavors, and enable us to forge ahead on the new journey.”
Third, he says that the “previous two resolutions, along with the Party’s long list of important literature, document the major events, meetings, and figures in Party history prior to its 18th National Congress, and contain well-considered conclusions on historical issues. These points and conclusions are to be upheld in the new resolution.”
The next section talks about the drafting process, which is fascinating in that Xi is telling us that he wrote his own history and provided a glowing self-appraisal.
Xi says that the possibility of a history resolution was first proposed by the Politburo in March 2021. Following this, a working group with Xi in charge and Wang Huning and Zhao Leji as deputy chiefs was established. “The group’s membership is composed of other Party and state leaders, as well as heads of relevant central departments and localities.” On April 1, the Central Committee issued a circular seeking opinions. There was “unanimous agreement” from the focus consulted to focus the “sixth plenary session on a comprehensive review of the Party’s major achievements and historical experience.”
The working group drafted the resolution. The “text of the draft resolution was issued on September 6 to select Party members, including retired senior Party officials, for consultation. We also sought the opinions from leaders of other political parties and the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce and prominent figures without party affiliation. The feedback we have received indicates full endorsement by the consulted localities, departments, and sectors...”
Xi says that all “consulted localities, departments, and sectors agree that this resolution is a political declaration of the Chinese communists’ adherence to their original aspiration and founding mission and their commitment to upholding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era.”
“A total of 547 revisions were made to the preliminary draft following the consultations; the Politburo Standing Committee “met three times and the Political Bureau met twice “for the purpose of discussing and finalizing the draft.”
I thought this was a very useful historical reference point below:
After this, Xi provides a brief summary of each section of the resolution. He provides an overview, which is basically very positive. In the “socialist revolution and construction” period, Xi praises Mao’s leadership, but also says that this section “gives a rational appraisal of Mao Zedong Thought based on a summary of the creative theories put forward by the Party during this period.”
The reform, opening up, and socialist modernization period section “reviews the spectacular progress and resounding success the Party made in this period in leading the people in setting things right in all sectors, developing the theory of socialism with Chinese characteristics, advancing reform, opening up, and socialist modernization, effectively responding to the many risks and trials confronting China’s overall reform, development, and stability, promoting national reunification, safeguarding world peace and pursuing common development, and launching and advancing the great new project of Party building.”
Finally, the new era section focuses on “the original ideas, transformative practices, new breakthroughs, and landmark accomplishments of the past nine years.” He adds that “the great achievements the people have made under the leadership of the Party during this period provide better institutional conditions, stronger material foundations, and a source of inspiration for realizing national rejuvenation.”
For Xi, the historical significance of the Party’s leadership has been in evident in:
fundamentally transforming the future of the Chinese people;
opening up the right path for achieving rejuvenation of the Chinese nation;
demonstrating the strong vitality of Marxism;
producing a profound influence on the course of world history; and
making the CPC a forerunner of the times.
He says that this section spells out the CPC’s historic contributions to the Chinese people, the Chinese nation, Marxism, the cause of human progress, and the development of Marxist political parties. This five-point summary is rooted in China’s experience, but represents a vision for the future of humanity.” —
Quick thought: I find this fascinating. As you will see later, Xi told Biden that China doesn’t want to export its ideology or sell its development path to others. But here, he is clearly saying that China’s experience, which includes demonstrating the vitality of Marxism, is a vision for the future of humanity. You can’t have it both ways, can you?
Then Xi highlights the 10-point learning from historical experience of the Party:
upholding the Party’s leadership;
putting the people first;
advancing theoretical innovation;
following the Chinese path;
maintaining a global vision;
breaking new ground;
standing up for ourselves;
promoting the united front; and
remaining committed to self-reform.
“These 10 points form a systemic, interconnected, and indivisible whole. They are critical to the continued success of the Party and the people. They are the source of the Party’s inviolable strength, and are the very reason why the Party has always been able to seize the historical initiative. They are essential for the Party to preserve its advanced nature and integrity and always stand at the forefront of the times.”
Finally, Xi discusses the last section, which talks about adhering to the broad policy direction that is taking shape. But he also adds:
“This section reiterates the need to forever maintain the Party’s close ties with the people and the need to better realize, safeguard, and advance the fundamental interests of the overwhelming majority of the people. It reminds us that one may thrive in adversity and perish in laxity, requires us to see things from a long-term, strategic perspective, and always remain mindful of potential dangers, and inspires us to continue advancing the great new project of Party building in the new era. It stresses that we must cultivate the people who will carry on the cause of the Party from generation to generation.” — At this point, I recommend going back to Joseph Torigian’s twitter thread linked at the top of the page.
Quick takeaway before you read through the content below: There is clearly an attempt at a thaw. I had argued this when Meng Wanzhou returned to China, too. There are a few challenges, however. First. the concept of establishing guardrails necessitates deeper communication and joint action, as does the notion that both sides need to work on transnational issues. The issue is whether the structural dynamics shaping the relationship will allow for a new, stable normal to emerge. Will this effort be sustainable? These dynamics are related to domestic politics on both sides, the nature of technology/economic competition and lack of political trust on both sides, and the Taiwan issue. Second, Beijing is saying that it must be treated as an equal. Among other things, this means that the US must not expand and potentially rollback human rights-related criticism and actions. A G2 framework, whatever that means practically, is what Beijing would prefer. I wonder what such a framework would mean for Moscow? Anyway, third, there are so far only three outcomes that I’ve seen reported: One, visas for journalists; two something around arms control; three, talk about restarting multiple dialogue mechanisms.
Xinhua says that they had a “thorough and in-depth communication and exchanges on issues of strategic, overarching and fundamental importance” on bilateral ties and “issues of mutual interest.”
Xinhua’s broad takeaway from the meeting was:
“The two Presidents agreed that their meeting is candid, constructive, substantive and productive. It helps increase mutual understanding, adds to the positive expectation of the international community for this relationship, and sends a powerful message to the two countries and the world. The two sides agreed to maintain close communication in different forms and steer China-US relations back on the right track of sound and steady development, for the good of the people in both countries and around the world.”
With regard to individual comments, Xi said:
As the world’s two largest economies and permanent members of the UN Security Council, China and the US need to increase communication and cooperation, each run their domestic affairs well and, at the same time, shoulder their share of international responsibilities, and work together to advance the noble cause of world peace and development. This is the shared desire of the people of the two countries and around the world, and the joint mission of Chinese and American leaders.
China and the US should respect each other, coexist in peace, and pursue win-win cooperation. President Xi expressed his readiness to work with President Biden to build consensus and take active steps to move China-US relations forward in a positive direction.
History is a fair judge. What a statesman does, be it right or wrong, be it an accomplishment or a failure, will all be recorded by history. It is hoped that President Biden will demonstrate political leadership and steer America's China policy back on the track of reason and pragmatism.
Xi then talked about three principles, i.e.,
First, mutual respect, which talks about respecting “social systems and development paths, respect each other’s core interests and major concerns…treat each other as equals, keep differences under control, and seek common ground while reserving differences.”
Second, peaceful coexistence.
Third, win-win cooperation. “The right thing to do is to choose mutual benefit over zero-sum game or the I-win-you-lose approach.”
He then talks about four priority areas:
First, “shouldering responsibilities of major countries and leading global response to outstanding challenges.”
Second, “spirit of equality and mutual benefit to move forward exchanges at all levels and in all areas and generate more positive energy for China-US relations.” Xi talks about areas where both sides can complement each other: economy, energy, mil-to-mil, law-enforcement, education, science and technology, cyber, environmental protection and sub-national interactions. He also says that the “two sides could fully harness the dialogue channels and mechanisms between their diplomatic and security, economic and financial, and climate change teams, in an effort to advance practical cooperation and resolve specific issues.”
Third, “managing differences and sensitive issues in a constructive way to prevent China-US relations from getting derailed or out of control.” —I guess this is Xi’s version of guardrails. Here, he says “China will certainly defend its sovereignty, security and development interests. It is important that the US properly handle the relevant issues with prudence.”
Fourth, “strengthening coordination and cooperation on major international and regional hotspot issues to provide more public goods to the world.” Here, Xi talks about the need to “safeguard a fair and equitable international order.”
“President Xi compared China and the US to two giant ships sailing in the ocean. It is important for the two sides to keep a steady hand on the tiller, so that the two giant ships will break waves and forge ahead together, without losing direction or speed, still less colliding with each other.”
Xi then reportedly told Biden that “the Chinese people’s aspiration for a better life is the biggest internal driver for China’s development and an inevitable trend of history. Any attempt to stop this historical trend will be rejected by the Chinese people, and will by no means succeed. President Xi said that as China’s leader, serving the 1.4 billion Chinese people and working with them for a better life is a great challenge and a great responsibility. ‘I shall put aside my own well-being and live up to people’s expectations,’ President Xi said.”
And then: “China has never started a single war or conflict, and has never taken one inch of land from other countries. China has no intention to sell its own development path around the world. On the contrary, China encourages all countries to find development paths tailored to their respective national conditions. President Xi stressed that opening-up is a fundamental state policy and a hallmark of China. China will not change its determination to open up at a higher level. China will not change its determination to share development opportunities with the rest of the world. And China will not change its determination to make economic globalization more open, inclusive, balanced and beneficial to all.”
“President Xi highlighted China’s commitment to peace, development, equity, justice, democracy and freedom, which are common values of humanity. Drawing ideological lines or dividing the world into different camps or rival groups will only make the world suffer. The bitter lessons of the Cold War are still fresh in memory. We hope that the US side can meet its word of not seeking a ‘new Cold War’ with concrete actions.”
On the Taiwan issue, the report says that Xi “ascribed the tensions to the repeated attempts by the Taiwan authorities to look for US support for their independence agenda as well as the intention of some Americans to use Taiwan to contain China. Such moves are extremely dangerous, just like playing with fire. Whoever plays with fire will get burnt. The one-China principle and the three China-US Joint Communiqués are the political foundation of China-US relations. Previous US administrations have all made clear commitments on this question. The true status quo of the Taiwan question and what lies at the heart of one China are as follows: there is but one China in the world and Taiwan is part of China, and the Government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legal government representing China. Achieving China’s complete reunification is an aspiration shared by all sons and daughters of the Chinese nation. We have patience and will strive for the prospect of peaceful reunification with utmost sincerity and efforts. That said, should the separatist forces for Taiwan independence provoke us, force our hands or even cross the red line, we will be compelled to take resolute measures.
Xi then shared his thoughts on democracy and human rights; on the latter, the report tells us that “China is ready to have dialogues on human rights on the basis of mutual respect, but we oppose using human rights to meddle in other countries’ internal affairs.” He also spoke about the “need to uphold the international system with the UN at its core.” Finally, a quick summary of points on bilateral ties:
Economic and trade issues between the two countries should not be politicized.
China takes seriously the wishes of US business community to travel to China more easily, and has agreed to upgrade fast-track arrangement.
The US should stop abusing or overstretching the concept of national security to suppress Chinese businesses.
He wants to to jointly protect global energy security, strengthen cooperation on natural gas and new energy, and work with other countries to keep global industrial and supply chains safe and stable.
On climate change, he said: “The issue of unbalanced and inadequate development still stands out. All countries need to uphold the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, and strike a balance between addressing climate change and protecting livelihoods. What the world needs is less finger-pointing or blame game, but more solidarity and cooperation.”
On public health: “China and the US need to call for the establishment of a cooperation mechanism for global public health and communicable disease prevention and control, and promote further international exchanges and cooperation.”
Then the report talks about Biden’s comments:
The two sides need to have open and candid dialogues to enhance understanding of each other's intentions, and make sure that competition between the two countries is fair and healthy and does not veer into conflict.
Apparently, as per Xinhua, Biden said that “China has been a major power since 5,000 years ago.”
Biden reiterated that the US does not seek to change China's system, the revitalization of its alliances is not anti-China, and the US has no intention to have a conflict with China. Biden reaffirmed the US government's long-standing one-China policy, stated that the US does not support ‘Taiwan independence’, and expressed the hope for peace and stability to be maintained in the Taiwan Strait.
Afghanistan, the Iranian nuclear issue, the situation on the Korean Peninsula, and other international and regional issues of mutual interest.
The White House’s readout and transcription of opening remarks also indicates a that the meeting was positive, but nothing about Biden talking about China’s 5000-year-old history. But, I must say that there was an acknowledgement in Biden’s comments of some sense of equality, which Xi would have likely appreciated.
“As I’ve said before, it seems to me our responsibility as leaders of China and the United States is to ensure that the competition between our countries does not veer into conflict, whether intended or unintended. Just simple, straightforward competition. It seems to me we need to establish some commonsense guardrails, to be clear and honest where we disagree, and work together where our interests intersect, especially on vital global issues like climate change. None of this is a favor to either of our countries –- what we do for one another -– but it’s just responsible world leadership. And you’re a major world leader, and so is the United States.”
The readout says that:
President Biden underscored that the United States will continue to stand up for its interests and values and, together with our allies and partners, ensure the rules of the road for the 21st century advance an international system that is free, open, and fair. He emphasized the priority he places on far-reaching investments at home while we align with allies and partners abroad to take on the challenges of our time. President Biden raised concerns about the PRC’s practices in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong, as well as human rights more broadly. — Quick thought: So, basically this bit was not really emphasised in favour of cooperation.
Biden spoke about a “free and open Indo-Pacific.” On Taiwan, he said that the US “remains committed to the ‘one China’ policy, guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the three Joint Communiques, and the Six Assurances, and that the United States strongly opposes unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.” — Quick thought: There’s a clear difference on this, and it appears that the Taiwan issue will remain a serious sticking point between the two sides.
The readout says that Biden spoke about the need for guardrails and “specific transnational challenges where our interests intersect.” Health, climate change, global energy supplies are mentioned in the readout. DPRK, Afghanistan, and Iran are also mentioned.
Finally, on this, do check out US NSA Jake Sullivan’s comments at Brookings Institution on the Biden-Xi talks. He said that the two men agreed to launch a series of high-level arms control talks. This came in reference to reports of China’s two hypersonic missile tests, indications of the spread of military technology in the South and East China seas, and its nuclear arsenal expansion. Also note, China Daily first reported that:
“China and the United States will permit journalists of both countries to freely depart and return to each other's countries under strict compliance with COVID-19 protocols. Sources with the Foreign Ministry told China Daily this is one of three points of consensus…It was also agreed the US will issue one-year multiple-entry visas to journalists of Chinese nationality, and will immediately initiate the process to address ‘duration of status’ issues. Based on the principle of reciprocity, the Chinese side commits to granting equal treatment to US journalists immediately after US policies enter into force, the sources said. China and the US will issue visas to new journalists based on applicable laws and regulations, the sources added. The sources said the consensus was the outgrowth of more than a year of difficult negotiations over the treatment of media outlets in respective countries. Calling the consensus good news for journalists of both countries, the sources said it also reflected the new normal of China and the US treating each other in an equal manner.”
Page 3: First, let’s look at a report that talks about scholars and analysts interpreting the Xi-Biden meeting.
Wang Wen from the Renmin University of China, says that the meeting went over the allotted time. He says that it is very important given the current state of ties for “the two heads of state to steer the ship.” For him, the meeting demonstrated the “consensus of the two leaders on strengthening interaction and jointly pushing forward the development.”
Ruan Zongze, Executive VP of China Institute of International Studies, said that this meeting was a “major diplomatic move.” He says that this will hopefully “help enhance mutual understanding, form consensus, manage differences and bring bilateral relations back to the right track of sound and stable development.”
Wang Dong, Executive Director of Institute for Global Cooperation and Understanding and Vice President of Office of Humanities and Social Sciences of Peking University, said that this was a “frank, constructive, substantive and productive” meeting.
Su Xiaohui, Deputy Director of the American Institute of China Institute of International Studies, says that the meeting shows that “dialogue and cooperation are the right paths to solve problems.”
Most of them also reiterated the importance of the three principles that Xi mentioned.
Next, there’s a report about the publication of study materials for cadres to understand and implement the spirit of the 6th plenum. Then there’s a commentary about the importance of political Party building following the 6th Plenum. This essentially emphasises the importance of maintaining the core position of Xi Jinping, which has been the fundamental reason for China making achievements since the 18th Party Congress and is the need of the hour going forward. This is “top priority.”
The piece says that since the 18th Party Congress:
The “Party’s leadership system has been constantly improved, the Party’s leadership style has become more scientific, the whole Party has become more united in terms of ideology, politics and action, and the Party’s political leadership, ideological leadership, mass organisation and social appeal have been significantly enhanced. The historic achievements and changes in the cause of the Party and the state are fundamentally due to the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core and the scientific guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era.” 党的十八大以来，以习近平同志为核心的党中央把党的政治建设摆在首位，全力推进党的政治建设，党中央权威和集中统一领导得到有力保证，党的领导制度体系不断完善，党的领导方式更加科学，全党思想上更加统一、政治上更加团结、行动上更加一致，党的政治领导力、思想引领力、群众组织力、社会号召力显著增强。党和国家事业之所以能够取得历史性成就、发生历史性变革，根本在于有以习近平同志为核心的党中央坚强领导，有习近平新时代中国特色社会主义思想科学指引.
Establishing Comrade Xi Jinping as the core of the Party Central Committee and the core of the Party is the call of the times, the choice of history, the aspiration of the people. Resolutely safeguarding Comrade Xi Jinping as the core of the Party Central Committee and the core of the whole Party, will ensure that the Party will have an anchor and the people have a mainstay, the rejuvenation of the great ship that is China will have a helmsman. 确立习近平同志党中央的核心、全党的核心地位，是时代呼唤、历史选择、民心所向。坚决维护习近平同志党中央的核心、全党的核心地位，全党就有定盘星，全国人民就有主心骨，中华“复兴”号巨轮就有掌舵者。
Then we have a report telling us that officers and soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army and the Armed Police Force discussing the 6th Plenum outcomes. Among other things, the report has some of them talking about fully and thoroughly implementing the Chairman Responsibility System, and emphasises the need for political discipline, calling on officers to “unswervingly trust the core, be loyal to the core, maintain the core, listen to President Xi’s command, be responsible for President Xi and reassure him.” 空军哈尔滨飞行学院、联勤保障部队某部、武警云南总队官兵纷纷表示，要毫不动摇坚持党对军队绝对领导，把全面深入贯彻军委主席负责制，作为最高政治任务来落实、作为最高政治要求来遵循、作为最高政治纪律来严守，坚定不移信赖核心、忠诚核心、维护核心，听习主席指挥、对习主席负责、让习主席放心.
the “most distinctive feature” of the history resolution is to “seek truth from facts and respect history.” 党的十九届六中全会通过的《中共中央关于党的百年奋斗重大成就和历史经验的决议》最鲜明的特点是实事求是，尊重历史.
To this, he adds that the Party must:
“conscientiously study and implement the spirit of the important speech of General Secretary Xi Jinping and the spirit of the Sixth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee, adhere to seeking truth from facts, vigorously carry forward the Party’s fine tradition of attaching importance to investigation and research and constantly improve the ability to investigate and research, so that the process of investigation and research becomes the process of deepening the learning and understanding of Xi Jinping Thought on socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era, the process of maintaining flesh-and-blood contact with the people, a process of doing our own tasks well, coping with risks and challenges, and promoting career development, and making unremitting efforts to build a modern socialist power in an all-round way.” 我们要认真学习贯彻习近平总书记重要讲话精神和党的十九届六中全会精神，坚持实事求是，大力弘扬我们党重视调查研究的优良传统，不断提高调查研究能力，使调查研究的过程成为加深对习近平新时代中国特色社会主义思想学习领会的过程，成为保持同人民群众血肉联系的过程，成为干好本职工作、应对风险挑战、推动事业发展的过程，为全面建成社会主义现代化强国而不懈奋斗.