Discover more from Tracking People's Daily
May Day Holiday Economic Boost - Encouraging Private Investment in Major Projects - Qin Gang Meets Jaishankar & Lavrov - Criticising US & NATO on Ukraine War - Zhang Jun on S&T Hegemony & Bullying
Here are the key reports and articles that I found noteworthy from the People’s Daily’s edition on Friday, May 5, 2023.
Page 1: The top story on the page is around the May 1 holiday tourism and spending. I am just picking out the key data points shared in the piece.
“According to data released by the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, during the May Day holiday, the number of domestic tourist trips increased by 70.83% year-on-year, and domestic tourism revenue increased by 128.90% year-on-year; the sales of key national retail and catering companies increased by 18.9% year-on-year.”
According to data released by the Ministry of Commerce, during the May 1st holiday:
The national sales of petroleum products and automobiles increased by 24.4% and 20.9%, respectively
The sales of clothing and cosmetics increased by 18.4% and 16.5% respectively
The sales of communication equipment increased by 20.1 %
The sales of home appliances increased by 13.9% year-on-year
The passenger flow and turnover of the national demonstration pedestrian streets increased by 121.4% and 87.6%, respectively, year-on-year
The Ministry of Culture and Tourism estimates that during the May Day holiday, a total of 274 million domestic tourist trips were made nationwide, which was 119.09% when compared to 2019 data.
Domestic tourism revenue was 148.056 billion yuan, estimated at 100.66% when compared to 2019 data.
Xinhua’s report adds that the total box office of movies exceeded 1.5 billion yuan during the holiday period, as per the China Film Administration
The other noteworthy story on the page is an announcement that Vice President Han Zheng will be travelling to the UK to attend King Charles III’s coronation, following which he will visit Portugal and the Netherlands.
Finally, there’s an article on how universities have been implementing the Xi thought learning campaign. It informs that many are holding special conferences, theory study group meetings and thematic reading classes.
Page 2: A couple of stories to note. First, there’s a new set of articles that the paper is launching today. The theme is drawn from Xi’s comments about supporting the development of the private economy.
It reiterates that “private enterprises and private entrepreneurs are our own people” and calls for removing “institutional obstacles” for the private sector’s participation in “fair market competition,” thereby providing them a broader stage to concentrate on development. 民营企业和民营企业家是我们自己人。破除制约民营企业公平参与市场竞争的制度障碍，给自己人更加广阔的舞台，让他们放开手脚，轻装上阵，专心致志搞发展，中国经济将更具活力.
The piece today focuses on the potential for private sector investment in railways. The example that is cited is of the Hangzhou–Wenzhou high-speed railway line, which is under construction. This is a “social capital investment demonstration project” of the NDRC. The report informs that in June 2018, the Zhejiang government and Parkson United Group (百盛联合集团) signed a pilot agreement for the project. Subsequently, in October 2018, a joint venture firm was established with 51% investment from social capital and 49% investment from the Zhejiang government, China State Railway Group Co.,Ltd., the governments of Wenzhou, Jinhua and Taizhou. This entity was responsible for the construction of the Yiwu-Wenzhou section of the first phase of Hangzhou-Wenzhou railway. 杭温铁路是国家发改委社会资本投资示范项目。2018年6月，浙江省政府与百盛联合集团签署杭温铁路国家混合所有制改革试点协议，这是民间资本投身重大项目建设的又一突破之举。2018年10月，由社会资本方出资51%，浙江省、国铁集团、温州市、金华市、台州市出资49%，成立百盛联合杭温铁路有限公司（以下简称“百盛杭温公司”），负责杭温铁路一期工程义乌至温州段建设.
The report informs that the deal was done after a bidding process, which led to Parkson winning.
“It is estimated that the first phase of Hangzhou-Wenzhou Railway will be completed and opened to traffic next year…It is reported that the first phase project of Hangzhou-Wenzhou Railway is based on the ‘Build-Own-Operate-Transfer’ (BOOT) model. The total cooperation period is 34 years. This includes a construction period of 4 years and operation period of 30 years. After the operation expires, the project will be handed over to the government. The company’s manager informs that “during the 30 years of operation, the government will be transferring profits to the private enterprise, so that the private company can make money first.” In addition “during the operation period, the government and social capital will share risks. For example, if the actual number of trains operated does not reach the expected level, the government will provide a certain feasibility gap subsidy.” 预计明年，杭温铁路一期工程将建成通车。与此同时，以百盛联合集团为代表的社会资本也将迎来收益期。据悉，杭温铁路一期工程采用“建设—拥有—运营—移交”（BOOT）模式运作，合作期为34年，包括建设期4年、运营期30年。运营期满后，项目将移交给政府。“30年运营期间，政府将收益全部让渡给民企，让民企先赚到钱。”叶自力介绍，杭温铁路运营期间，政府与社会资本方风险共担，比如，实际开行对数没有达到预期，政府会给予一定的可行性缺口补助.
Parkson’s manager adds that “the support of the government guarantees the basic income for enterprises”; at the same time, he expresses hope that “private enterprises can enjoy the same low-interest financing conditions as central enterprises” when investing in national projects. “政府的支持，保障了企业的基本收益面。”叶自力认为，这体现了对民营企业的诚意和信心。另一方面，公司相关负责人也提出，同样是投资国家重大项目，希望民营企业可以享受和央企同样的低利率融资条件.
Also on the page is an interview with officials from the Investment Department of the NDRC. It says that in October 2022, the NDRC issued Guidelines on Further Improving the Policy Environment and Strengthening Support for the Development of Private Investment. The interview is based on these.
The first question is about the measures taken to attract private capital. The official responds with three points:
First, the aim for the NDRC is to speed up the implementation of 102 major projects identified in the 14th FYP, which entails strengthening the guarantee of funds, land and other factors.
Second, the goal is to attract private capital. As of 2022, more than 50,000 projects have been promoted in various places, of which more than 9,000 have attracted private capital participation, entailing private investment of 2.9 trillion yuan.
The third is to promote the revitalization of existing assets and form a virtuous circle of investment. The NDRC released 24 typical cases of revitalising existing assets and expanding effective investment, actively supported private investment projects such as JD warehousing and logistics through the issuance of real estate investment trust funds (REITs) in the infrastructure field, and encouraged the recovery of funds for new project construction.
The second question is about the factors inhibiting private capital participation. The official responds with three points:
First, the projects of national importance tend to have “a strong public welfare element, relatively long investment recovery cycle, and relatively low income level.” Therefore, they aren’t necessarily as attractive for private capital. In addition, some infrastructure projects tend to entail complexities for which private enterprises “lack relevant experience.” 一是国家重大工程和补短板项目参与难度较高。这些项目普遍具有较强的公益性，投资回收周期相对较长、收益水平相对较低，对民间资本的吸引力有限。在基础设施领域，部分项目建设内容多、施工难度大、运营管理要求高，民营企业缺乏相关经验.
Second, the official says that often “project-related information is not transparent enough; private enterprises tend to lack understanding of how to participate; they tend to have more concerns about how to withdraw through market-oriented mechanisms, and they lack confidence in making long-term stable returns. Some private enterprises report that while some projects have good expected returns and even if they are willing to actively participate, there are still some tangible or intangible barriers to market entry.” 二是从投资环境看，参与便利度有待进一步提高。一些项目相关信息不够透明公开，民间资本对如何参与投资缺乏了解，对如何通过市场化机制退出顾虑较多，对能否获得长期稳定回报信心不足。一些民营企业反映，有些项目预期收益较好，也愿意积极参与，但在市场进入方面还存在一些有形或无形的壁垒.
Third, private capital itself has insufficient willingness and ability to participate. In this, the official highlights “tight cash flow and insufficient reinvestment capacity” along with “the problem of difficult and expensive financing.”
The final question is about what the NDRC will be doing to address these challenges:
First, establish a mechanism to encourage private capital to participate in the construction of major projects, strengthen overall planning and system deployment, and promote key projects on a regular basis.
Second, strengthen information release and guidance.
Third, accelerate preliminary work and processes for such projects along with guaranteeing factors
Fourth, promote the revitalisation of stock assets
Fifth, “implement relevant policies and measures to create a good investment environment. In response to the problems that arise in the bidding process of project investors in various places, it is clarified that the nature of ownership should not be used as the selection criterion, and factors such as enterprise scale, registered address, and local tax contributions should not be used as the main bid evaluation criteria. When arranging all kinds of government investment funds, private capital should be treated equally. Strengthen the docking with relevant financial institutions, promote financial institutions to increase credit support for private investment projects in accordance with market-oriented principles.” 五是贯彻落实相关政策措施，营造良好投资环境。针对各地在项目投资人招标过程中出现的问题，明确不得以所有制性质作为选择标准，不得以企业规模、注册地址、当地纳税贡献等因素作为主要评标条件。在安排各类政府性投资资金时，对民间资本一视同仁。加强与有关金融机构对接，推动金融机构按市场化原则，加大对民间投资项目的信贷支持。
Next, there’s a report discussing the expansion of renewable energy in Q1. It informs that as of Q1, the installed capacity of renewable energy in China reached 1.258 billion kilowatts; In the first quarter, the power generation of renewable energy reached 594.7 billion kWh, up 11.4% year-on-year, of which the power generation from wind and photovoltaic sources reached 342.2 billion kWh, up 27.8% year-on-year. 国家能源局新能源和可再生能源司副司长王大鹏介绍，截至一季度末，全国可再生能源装机达12.58亿千瓦；一季度，可再生能源发电量达5947亿千瓦时，同比增长11.4%，其中风电、光伏发电量达3422亿千瓦时，同比增长27.8%.
Finally, there’s a report informing that tax refunds, as well as tax and fee cuts and deferrals, amounted to 367.98 billion yuan in the first quarter of the year.
Page 3: Nothing in the paper today around Qin Gang’s visit to India for the SCO Foreign Ministers’ meeting. But let me cover what Xinhua reported.
Qin met with Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar in Goa. He said that “the two most populous developing countries are both at a crucial stage of modernization” and “should learn from history and handle bilateral relations from a strategic and long-term perspective.”
“He called on the two neighbors to respect, learn from and reinforce each other, and embark on a new path of harmonious coexistence, peaceful development and common revitalization, contributing to their respective national rejuvenation and injecting stability and positive energy into world peace and development. China is willing to work with India to carry out bilateral consultation and exchange, enhance dialogue and cooperation under multilateral frameworks, and deepen coordination and collaboration on international and regional issues, Qin said. He pointed out that the current situation on the China-India borders is generally stable. Both sides should continue to implement the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries, consolidate the existing achievements, strictly abide by relevant agreements, take joint action to further ease and cool down the border situation, and maintain sustainable peace and tranquility in the border areas…Qin also said China supports India in hosting a successful SCO summit and hopes that India, as the current chair, will display the spirit of solidarity and collaboration and play a positive role in making the summit a success.”
Here’s what the Indian foreign minister tweeted:
Qin also met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Xinhua reports:
Qin “said that China is ready to join hands with Russia to implement the important consensuses reached between heads of state of the two countries and strengthen strategic communication. The two countries have conducted frequent exchanges at all levels and strengthened cooperation in various fields, said Qin. Lavrov said that Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Russia in March has injected great impetus into the development of bilateral relations. Russia is willing to jointly push forward cooperation with China in various areas and elevate bilateral ties to a new high. Both sides agreed to plan and arrange high-level exchanges and exchanges at various levels, enhance economic and trade cooperation, deepen cultural and people-to-people exchanges, and facilitate personnel exchanges. They vowed to enhance communication and coordination with other SCO member states, and maintain the SCO solidarity and cooperation so as to build the SCO into a platform for mutually beneficial cooperation. The two sides also agreed to enhance coordination and cooperation within BRICS, Group of 20, the United Nations and other multilateral frameworks, oppose all forms of hegemonism, safeguard the common interests of emerging market economies and developing countries, and uphold international fairness and justice. They agreed to strengthen communication and coordination in the Asia-Pacific region, oppose a new ‘Cold War’ and safeguard regional peace and stability. The two sides also exchanged views on the Ukraine crisis. China will continue to facilitate talks for peace and stands ready to maintain communication and coordination with Russia to make concrete contributions to a political settlement of the crisis, Qin said. Lavrov said the Russian side attaches importance to China's position paper on the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis, agrees with China's principled position and is ready to maintain close communication with China in a candid manner.”
From Goa, Qin Gang is heading to Pakistan, where he will also be engaged in the China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Foreign Ministers' Dialogue. MoFA’s Mao Ning announced the visit saying that “this will be Qin's first visit to Pakistan and an important part of the recent close and frequent interactions between the high levels of China and Pakistan.”
“During the visit, Qin will meet with the leader of Pakistan and co-chair the fourth round of China-Pakistan Foreign Ministers' Strategic Dialogue with Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. The two sides will have in-person and in-depth communication on bilateral relations and the international and regional situation…China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic cooperative partners and ironclad friends, and the friendship is time honored. China hopes that this visit will follow through on the important common understandings between the leaders of the two countries, further deepen strategic communication and practical cooperation, promote the building of an ever closer China-Pakistan community with a shared future in the new era, and contribute positive energy to the region and the wider world.”
“Noting the people of Afghanistan are still faced with severe challenges at the moment and are in dire need of more support and help from the rest of the world, the spokesperson said the international community need to step up contact and dialogue with the Afghan interim government, support its effort of reconstruction and development, and encourage it to build an inclusive government, exercise moderate governance, develop friendly relations with its neighbors and firmly fight terrorism. China hopes to exchange views with Afghanistan and Pakistan on the situation in Afghanistan and tri-party cooperation at the China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Foreign Ministers' Dialogue, so as to build up consensus, consolidate mutual trust, and jointly contribute to peace, stability, development and prosperity in the region, the spokesperson added.”
Finally on the page is an article by Dusan Prokovich, from the Serbian Institute of International Politics and Economics. He basically attacks the US and NATO for stirring the conflict in Ukraine and praises China’s policies.
He argues that “NATO, led by the United States, is the initiator of the Ukrainian crisis and is primarily responsible for reigniting the war in Europe. Since the escalation of the Ukraine crisis, the United States and other Western countries have spared no effort to exaggerate confrontation, creating obstacles to seeking a political settlement of disputes through dialogue. As a political and military bloc, NATO is the product of the Cold War. With regard to international rules, NATO has always adopted them when they agree and discarded them when they disagree. In order to safeguard its self-interest, NATO does not hesitate to trample on the recognised norms of international relations. In 1999, the United States and NATO bypassed the authorisation of the UN Security Council and bombed the then Yugoslavia for 78 days. In addition, the US and NATO have repeatedly waged wars, instigated the ‘colour revolutions’ and created regional turmoil, playing a very disgraceful role in international affairs.” 以美国为首的北约是乌克兰危机的始作俑者，对于欧洲重燃战火负有主要责任。乌克兰危机全面升级以来，美国等一些西方国家不遗余力地渲染对抗，给通过对话寻求政治解决争端制造了障碍。作为一个政治军事集团，北约是冷战的产物。对于国际规则，北约向来合则用、不合则弃。为了维护私利，北约不惜践踏公认的国际关系准则。1999年，美国和北约绕过联合国安理会授权，对当时的南联盟进行了持续78天的轰炸。此外，美国和北约还多次发动战争、策动“颜色革命”、制造地区动荡，在国际事务中扮演了极不光彩的角色.
He adds that in the case of Ukraine, the Minsk agreement had provided “a chance to maintain peace” but the “US and NATO continued to intervene in Ukrainian affairs and continued to provoke conflicts, complicating the regional situation. NATO engaged in geopolitical confrontation, which eventually led to this global security crisis. After the overall escalation of the Ukrainian crisis, what the US and NATO have wanted is not to restore peace, but to send weapons to Ukraine in a high-profile manner. They hope to weaken Russia by prolonging the conflict, thereby hindering a political settlement of the crisis. As the war continues in Europe, the US is benefitting a lot from the crisis.” 乌克兰危机全面升级前，有关各方达成的明斯克协议及国际社会展开的斡旋努力，本有机会维护和平。然而，美国和北约不断插手乌克兰事务，持续挑动矛盾，使得地区局势更趋复杂。北约搞地缘政治对抗，最终酿成了这场波及全球的安全危机。乌克兰危机全面升级后，美国和北约想的不是恢复和平，而是高调向乌克兰输送武器。他们希望通过将冲突长期化来削弱俄罗斯，这种做法阻碍了危机的政治解决。战火在欧洲持续，美国从危机中渔利颇丰。
“Western countries have imposed a series of extreme sanctions on Russia, which has had a great impact on international food prices, energy prices and financial markets, and the living standards of people in many countries have greatly regressed. The US has also coerced other countries to cooperate with its unilateral sanctions, opening up another battlefield for confrontation. Facts have shown that the dangerous actions of the West to abuse economic hegemony have not done anything to alleviate the situation, but have made the recovery of the world economy even more difficult. In the long run, the idea of trying to exclude a major country from the international political and economic system is absurd. The United States forces other countries to choose sides, and even regards countries that do not stand on its side as opponents. This is extremely abnormal in the practice of international relations and will eventually harm its own interests.” 西方对俄罗斯实施一系列极限制裁，对国际粮食价格、能源价格、金融市场造成巨大冲击，许多国家民众的生活水平大幅倒退。美国还胁迫他国配合其单边制裁措施，开辟了另一个对抗的战场。事实表明，西方滥用经济霸权的危险行动对缓解局势没有起到任何作用，反而让世界经济复苏更加艰难。从长远看，试图将一个大国排斥在国际政治和经济体系之外的想法是荒谬的。美国强迫其他国家选边站队，甚至将不站在自己一边的国家视为对手，这在国际关系实践中极不正常，最终也将伤害其自身利益.
“Intensifying confrontation is not the solution to the Ukrainian crisis; only political dialogue can restore peace. China actively promotes peace talks and is always committed to restoring peace. China's position is similar to that of most emerging markets and developing countries. China has put forward the GSI, firmly safeguarded the international system with the United Nations as the core and the international order based on international law, and used multilateral mechanisms such as the United Nations and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to promote the resolution of regional and global security issues. This is a responsible and wise approach, which has gained more and more support and recognition in the international community. The United States and NATO must realise as soon as possible that coping with global security challenges requires the joint participation of all countries, and coercing other countries to choose sides and inciting bloc confrontation will not work.” 加剧对抗不是解决乌克兰危机的出路，政治对话才能重建和平。中国积极劝和促谈，始终致力于恢复和平。中国的立场与绝大多数新兴市场国家和发展中国家有着相似之处。中国提出全球安全倡议，坚定维护以联合国为核心的国际体系和以国际法为基础的国际秩序，并利用联合国、上海合作组织等多边机制推动解决地区及全球性安全问题。这是负责任的做法，也是明智的做法，在国际上获得越来越多的支持和认同。美国和北约必须尽早认识到，应对全球安全挑战需要各国共同参与，胁迫其他国家选边站队、鼓动集团对抗是行不通的.
Interesting timing for this piece, as Nikkei Asia recently reported that NATO is planning on opening a first-of-its-kind liaison office in Japan.
Page 16: On the international page, there’s a report on China’s permanent representative to the UN Zhang Jun’s comments at the UN’s Multi-stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals.
He said that “hegemonic and bullying practices in the field of science and technology endanger the security and stability of the international production and supply chain, undermine international scientific and technological exchanges and cooperation, and interfere with world economic recovery and development, and the international community should resolutely oppose these.” 中国常驻联合国代表张军3日在论坛上发言时指出，科技霸权霸凌行径危害国际产供链安全稳定，破坏国际科技交流与合作，干扰世界经济复苏和发展，国际社会应予以坚决反对.
He added: “The international community urgently needs to enhance unity and mutual trust, jointly create an open, fair, just and non-discriminatory environment for scientific and technological development, and promote stronger, greener and healthier global development by strengthening international cooperation in scientific and technological innovation. In order to seek their own self-interest, individual countries have politicized and weaponized scientific and technological issues, engaged in ‘decoupling and building walls’ and unilateral sanctions, and unreasonably suppressed the legitimate economic and technological development of other countries.” 张军说，当前，全球范围内多重危机和挑战叠加，2030年可持续发展议程落实进展缓慢。国际社会迫切需要增进团结互信，共同营造开放、公平、公正、非歧视的科技发展环境，通过加强国际科技创新合作，推动实现更加强劲、绿色、健康的全球发展。个别国家为谋求自身私利，将科技问题政治化、武器化，大搞“脱钩断链筑墙”和单边制裁，无理打压他国正当的经济和科技发展。
He then talked about how China is willing to work with developing countries. In this, he mentioned the Belt and Road Science, Technology and Innovation Cooperation Action Plan, BRICS vaccine research and development center, and the Technology Transfer South-South Cooperation Center.
Next, there’s this exchange from the MoFA press briefing yesterday:
Xinhua News Agency: On May 4, the National Computer Virus Emergency Response Center of China and 360 Total Security jointly issued a report entitled “‘Empire of Hacking’: The US Central Intelligence Agency”. What is your comment?
Mao Ning: I have noted the report. According to the report, over the years, the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has gathered intelligence information from foreign governments, enterprises and citizens, organized, carried out, directed and supervised transboundary covert actions, and secretly conducted “Peaceful Evolution” and “Color Revolution” around the world. The Agency has provided encrypted network communication services, reconnect service of the network, and on-site command communication tools for demonstrations to conflicting parties, developed relevant software and the “Anti-censorship system”, and carried out espionage activities. The international community needs to stay on high alert against these moves. The large number of real cases in China and other countries disclosed by the report once again testifies to the CIA’s cyber attack activities around the world over the years. The US must take seriously and respond to the concerns from the international community, and stop using cyber weapons to carry out espionage and cyber attacks around the world.
This rather cautious exchange on the drone attack over the Kremlin is also worth noting.
TASS: The Kremlin Press Service said yesterday that two Ukrainian drones attempted to attack the Kremlin and were disabled by Russian radar systems. Russia views the incident as a terrorist attack and an assassination attempt targeting the Russian head of state launched by Ukraine. What’s China’s comment?
Mao Ning: We have noted relevant reports. China’s position on the Ukraine crisis is consistent and clear. All sides need to avoid taking actions that might further escalate the situation.
RIA Novosti: I also have a question on the Ukrainian government’s drone attack on the Kremlin. Will it influence China’s plan of sending the representative to visit Ukraine?
Mao Ning: About the Special Representative of the Chinese Government on Eurasian Affairs’ visit to Ukraine and other countries, we will make further announcements in due course. China will continue to work with the international community to play a constructive role for the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis.
Highlighting a few articles from outside PD.
China’s ‘Xivilizing’ Mission - Excellent article from China Media Project, discussing GCI. A key point in the piece: “Xi Jinping’s ‘New Form of Human Civilization’ is therefore one in which individuals’ rights are immaterial but nation-states’ rights are inviolable; wherein states’ treatment of their people is not open to scrutiny from within or without.”
CNBC reports that China’s service sector growth eased by remained positive in April, while the manufacturing sector contracted. “The Caixin/S&P Global services purchasing managers’ index fell to 56.4 in April from 57.8 in the previous month. That’s still the second-highest figure recorded since November 2020.” In contrast, “the Caixin China general manufacturing purchasing managers’ index fell to 49.5 in April, marking the first reading below the 50-mark in three months.”
Is India odd man out in China-dominated SCO and BRICS? - This is an interesting article, which contributes to the debate within India on the challenges that the country faces as the SCO and BRICS expand. I had a piece in the Times of India in June last year pointing to this challenge for Indian foreign policy.
Finally, some reports related to US-China ties. First, I highly recommend reading Thomas Des Garets Geddes’ Sinification substack’s latest post translating and summarising key points from Yan Xuetong’s recent speech on China-US ties. Two big takeaways for me: “US-PRC relations are in a worse state today than they were in 1978 before diplomatic relations were established” and “US-China rivalry differs from Washington’s rivalry with Moscow during the Cold War. The latter was focused on achieving dominance in what Yan calls “natural space” (自然空间 – i.e. land, sea, sky and space), whereas the former is primarily focused on cyberspace (网络空间).”
Second, Reuters reports that US climate envoy John Kerry said on Wednesday China has invited him to visit ‘in the near term’ for talks on averting a global climate change crisis. Third, do check out this interaction between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Washington Post Columnist David Ignatius.
Here’s the key part on China:
“Question: …A question that lies ahead after these months is whether there’s some effort to seek a settlement that might include, yes, the United States and Europe, but also China, which has expressed a strong interest in doing so, has a 12-point peace proposal. As I look at the 12 points, many of them are ones that we’d probably write ourselves. What do you think in principle, Mr. Secretary, about the idea of the United States working in parallel at some point down the road with China to seek a stable outcome here?
SECRETARY BLINKEN: In principle, there’s nothing wrong with that. If we have a country, whether it’s China or other countries, that have significant influence, that are prepared to pursue a just and durable peace – and I’ll come back to what that means in a minute – we would welcome that. And it’s certainly possible that China would have a role to play in that effort, and that could be very beneficial. There were elements in the plan that China put out, things that actually it had said and many others had said for some time, that were positive. But it has to begin with a couple of things. First, a clear understanding that in this instance, there’s a victim and there’s an aggressor. There’s no moral equivalence between the two positions. And I have to say, until recently, it was very unclear whether China accepted that basic principle. I’m still not sure that they do, but at least President Xi has now had a conversation with President Zelenskyy. That’s a positive thing, because it’s vitally important that China and other countries that have been seeking to advance peace hear from the victim, not just the aggressor. Second, any peace really has to be both just and durable, and what do I mean by that? Just in the sense that it has to basically reflect the principles that are at the heart of the United Nations Charter, when it comes to territorial integrity, when it comes to sovereignty. It can’t ratify what Russia has done, which is the seizure of so much of Ukraine’s territory. And it needs to be durable in the sense that we don’t want this to land in a place where Russia can simply rest, refit, and re-attack six months later or a year later. So, we have to look at all of that. But as a matter of principle, countries, particularly countries with significant influence like China, if they’re willing to play a positive role in trying to bring peace, that would be a good thing. But, it starts fundamentally with Vladimir Putin actually making that fundamental decision. We’ve not seen that yet. There is zero evidence that Russia is prepared to engage in meaningful diplomacy. To the contrary, we’ve seen the horrific onslaught, just in the past week, again, on civilian targets in Ukraine. We saw the horrific story of a father in an apartment building who, after this attack, opens the door of his children’s room to find that it’s gone and they’re gone. So, there has to be some profound change in Mr. Putin’s mind and in Russia’s mind to engage in meaningful diplomacy. (Comment: At this point, I want to refer back to the Dusan Prokovich article I shared earlier. If that’s the narrative that Beijing is continuing to perpetuate at home, then is there an appreciation of who the aggressor is and who the victim is in this war? So when Blinken says that “until recently, it was very unclear whether China accepted that basic principle”, I am not sure there is still any clarity that Beijing’s position has changed.)
QUESTION: One more quick question. We’re talking about China. You had a trip that was scheduled to China that you postponed, because of the Chinese spy balloon. And I have to ask you: In a period where there seems to be some warming of relations between the United States, beginning of a thaw, are you hopeful that you may be able to reschedule that trip this year?
SECRETARY BLINKEN: I am, and I think it’s important, as President Biden laid out in Bali when he was with President Xi at the end of last year, that we re-establish regular lines of communication at all levels and across our government. We’re in a competition with China; there’s no secret about that. But we have a strong interest in trying to make sure that that competition doesn’t veer into conflict. There’s a clear demand signal from around the world that we manage this relationship responsibly – a demand signal on us, but also on Beijing. And that starts with engagement, that starts with communicating, it starts with trying to make sure, again, that we don’t veer into conflict. If there are areas where we can actually cooperate, because it’s in the interest of our people, Chinese people and people around the world, so much the better, but at the very least we need to have a floor under this relationship. We need to have some guardrails on it. And the way to do that is through engagement.”
Finally, Reuters reports: “U.S. Senate Democrats launched a renewed effort to stave off competition from China on Wednesday, planning legislation to boost the country's ability to face up to the Asian powerhouse on issues from technology to security and threats to Taiwan. After passing a sweeping bill last year to boost competition with Beijing in semiconductors and other technology, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and Democratic committee leaders said they would write legislation they hoped to introduce in the next several months to limit the flow of technology to China, deter China from initiating a conflict with Taiwan and tighten rules to block U.S. capital from going to Chinese companies.”
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