New Xi Book - H2 Economic Priorities - Building a 'Public Health Protection Net' - US' '3 Sins' - China's Covid-19 Proposal - China-Russia Media Partnership & Military Drills - Persisting with Marxism

Here are the stories and pieces from the People’s Daily’s July 30, 2021, edition that I found noteworthy.

Page 1: Let’s begin with the two Xi Jinping-related stories on the front page today. First, there’s a new book about Xi that’s been published. This one covers Xi’s career from 1985 to 2002. This is the time he spent working in Xiamen and then as deputy secretary of the provincial Party committee and governor in Fujian. The last paragraph of the report tells us a bit about the target audience and objectives of the book. 

So it tells us that the book showcases Xi’s “leadership style of boldness, meticulous planning and innovation” and of course, how he was someone who “pioneered” initiatives, stepped up and demonstrated through personal action, was “courageous” in taking responsibility and the book sheds light on “his sincere feelings for the people at the grassroots, the masses and issues of people’s livelihood.”

As for the target audience: The book provides “teaching material” for leading officials to study and grasp Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and improve their leadership capabilities.

《习近平在福建》一书共35篇,再现了习近平同志在福建省委和省政府工作期间大刀阔斧、精心谋划、锐意创新的领导风范,展现了他率先带头、亲身示范、勇于担当的工作作风,体现了他心系基层、心系群众、心系民生的赤诚情怀。本书为深入学习领会习近平新时代中国特色社会主义思想、为领导干部提高领导能力和领导水平提供了生动教材.

Second, we have a report on Xi and his Sierra Leonean counterpart Julius Maada Bio exchanging congratulatory messages on the 50th anniversary of bilateral ties. Xinhua English’s report is the same on this. Xi said that “no matter how the international situation changes, the two countries have always understood and supported each other on issues involving each other's core interests and major concerns, and have carried out fruitful cooperation in the fields of economy and people’s livelihood.” He spoke about COVID-19-related cooperation and then added that he wants to “promote the continuous development of the comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership” between the two sides.

Next, we have a report that’s part of the mid-year economic review series. This one says that the PD reporter visited companies and experts for a perspective on how the year has been so far. Of course, the immediate sentence after that tells us that this year so far, there has been a steady improvement in the “quality and efficiency” in development and significant enhancement in “development vitality.” The piece quotes the World Bank’s assessment that China would grow at around 8.5% this year. It says that corporate profits have improved this year. “​​The output of new energy vehicles, industrial robots, and integrated circuits increased by 205%, 69.8%, and 48.1% respectively year-on-year...The Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) was 50.9% in June. It has been expanding for 16 consecutive months.”

Interestingly, with all this said, the piece also cautions about the base effect on data this year, which is smart from an expectation setting point of view. So the overall GDP this year may show very high H1 growth, which will temper during H2.

Then quickly the piece moves from GDP to consumer prices and employment data, which it says are stable this year. We then get a quote from Yang Changyong, a researcher at the National Development and Reform Commission saying that “we must pay more attention to the indicators related to people’s livelihood such as employment, social security and common prosperity.”

The piece also warns that looking at the economy “dialectically,” it is important to be “soberly” aware that “from an international perspective, the current global pandemic continues to evolve and there are many factors that engender instability and uncertainty in the external environment. From a domestic perspective, the economic recovery is still uneven and varies among different industries and enterprises, and efforts are still needed to consolidate the foundation for recovery and development.”   辩证看经济,我们也应清醒地看到,从国际上看,当前全球疫情持续演变,外部不稳定不确定因素较多。从国内看,经济恢复在不同行业和企业间仍存在差异,巩固恢复发展的基础仍需努力.

The general argument is this: Growth will slow down in the second half, but that it is still going to remain robust. It is important to address livelihood and employment issues. And to use this moment of relative opportunity to press ahead with stabilising the economy, focussing on demand side expansion, while furthering supply side structural reform, and clear hindrances in pushing ahead with dual circulation. And doing some of this requires focussing on innovation and technology to upgrade the industrial structure.

Next, we have a report (English version) about Li Keqiang’s and Hu Chunhua’s comments during the first national human resource service development conference. Li called for supporting the “talent market and the gig market to stimulate entrepreneurial and innovative vitality and foster new growth momentum.” Hu talked about “stabilising” the job market and for more efforts to “strengthen social security for workers and protect their legitimate interests.” Thought of this story while reading the last bit: China strengthens protection for food delivery workers, in setback for Meituan, Alibaba

Finally, there’s a piece (English report) that tells us that Wang Yang led a CPPCC meeting, emphasising that a “national public health protection net with Chinese characteristics should be built by giving full play to China's advantage in politics, systems and culture.” We learn that “10 political advisors and special representatives invited to the meeting put forward their suggestions, while nearly 70 political advisors voiced their opinions via a mobile platform.” Some of the discussion points were:

  • advancing the reform of disease control agencies and improving monitoring and early-warning systems. This includes a division of administrative functions and disease control functions

  • establishing a rapid response mechanism for multi-departmental emergencies

  • efforts to make quality medical resources more accessible at the primary level

  • better development of public health disciplines at higher learning institutions

  • enhanced scientific research in public health and expanded public health international cooperation

  • giving full support to the role of TCM in infectious disease prevention and control

  • revisions to the law on prevention and control of infectious diseases and regulations on responding to public health emergencies

Page 2: First, if you recall the State Council’s executive meeting recently had discussed better facilitating cross-border trade. Today, we have a report from a press briefing from yesterday, which talks about the measures taken by the GAC, NDRC, Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Transport and other departments to further reform in this context. This is a listing of the steps adopted; so I am not going into the details.

Second, a report which tells us that Chen Xi spoke at the Central Organization Department’s video conference yesterday, talking about party building and rural revitalization. He “stressed the need to deepen the study and education of Xi Jinping’s thought of socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era, vigorously carry out training on the theme of rural revitalization, enhance the ideological understanding and practical skills of party members, cadres and masses.” 

He talked about the kinds of qualities needed in cadres in rural areas. They must be “excellent” from political, skills and styles points of view; they must also understand agriculture and love the countryside and farmers. 按照政治过硬、本领过硬、作风过硬和懂农业、爱农村、爱农民的要求,着力建强县乡领导班子和干部队伍,激励广大干部在乡村振兴中建功立业.

“We will continue to strengthen the development of the team of leaders of village party organizations, send strong first secretaries and task forces, give full play to the role of grassroots party organizations as fighting bastions and the vanguard and emphasise the exemplary role of Communist Party members; adhere to the organic combination of recruiting talents and cultivating local talents…” 持续加强村党组织带头人队伍建设,派强用好驻村第一书记和工作队,充分发挥基层党组织战斗堡垒作用和共产党员先锋模范作用;坚持招才引智和培育本土人才有机结合,积极引导各类人才投身乡村振兴;加快构建党组织领导的乡村治理体系,把党的政治优势、组织优势转化为乡村治理效能.

Page 3: I was really interested in this page today to see if there was anything about Secretary of State Blinken’s India visit. But nope. There’s nothing. What we do have is another Zhong Sheng commentary about the US’ pandemic policies.

This one says that the US representative used the discussion at the UNGA on the pandemic on July 28 to “slander” China; and of course, the Chinese representative “refuted” the charges. This took place during the UNGA meeting on the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response. The commentary says that the US is shifting blame again owing to a rebound in the number of COVID-19 cases in the country. Well, the same argument could be applied to China, with cases in Beijing also being reported now.

The commentary says that US politicians adopted “anti-science” measures and resorted to politicisation of the pandemic, which has resulted in the country struggling to contain the virus. It adds, just like Don Quixote, American politicians have spent time tilting at windmills. The piece then criticises Trump-era domestic policies around the pandemic and then highlights the strangest of conspiracies, such as one theory that the metal nose bridges in masks being a 5G antenna. I had never heard of this; the things one learns. Anyway, the commentary says that masks again have become a political issue in the US. 

Next, we get a report telling us that Kim Jong-un visited the Friendship Tower in Pyongyang, which was built to commemorate China’s role in the Korean War. He spoke about the “fighting friendship” and “spirit of sacrifice” of the Chinese forces. He said that the China-DPRK friendship is “forged in blood” and “will be passed on steadfastly from generation to generation.”

Third, we have a reproduction of Zhao Lijian’s criticism of the US in the context of the WHO’s proposed work for the next stage of COVID-19 origin tracing. The catchphrase here is the “three sins” of the US.

“For some time, the US has been fanning the flames, and gearing up political manipulation with regard to origin-tracing. The US is guilty of three sins in epidemic response and origin-tracing:” The points are quoted below:

  • First, the US has allowed the virus to spread unchecked.

  • Second, the US has hidden the truth from the world

  • Third, the US has been practicing ‘origin-tracing terrorism’

“The above-mentioned three sins are just the tip of the iceberg of the political manipulation conducted by the US. It is the universal consensus of the international community to reject political manipulation of origin-tracing issue. So far, 60 countries have written to the WHO Director-General to state their position...The coronavirus needs to be traced to its source, and so does the political virus, which needs to be thoroughly dealt with, as some takes advantage of the epidemic to shift the blame, and blatantly engage in discrimination and coercion.”

Zhao also then spoke about the Chinese proposal for the WHO. This is really important because it tells us about the political wrangling at the WHO. Beijing wants control of the process of origin tracing at every level; from determining objective, team composition, scope of research to directing findings.

  • “The joint WHO-China study report's conclusions and recommendations have been widely recognized by the international community and the science community. This should serve as the basis for the second phase of studies.” In other words, he implied that the WHO should treat laboratory origin as “extremely unlikely” in the work.

  • He then said this explicitly. “The key focus of the second phase should be on possible pathways identified as ‘very likely’ and ‘likely’ by the joint report including introduction through an intermediate host or cold chain products. Efforts should be made to advance origins study in various countries and regions across the world.”

  • “The practice, mechanisms and approaches used in the first phase should be drawn on to conduct further studies in an orderly and smooth manner...The regions to be covered by the second phase and the work plan should be determined after comprehensive assessment based on open research evidence.”

  • “The team of experts should be put together on the basis of the makeup of the first phase team with full respect for their expertise, international reputation and practical experience.”

While this is not in PD, at the MoFA press briefing, Zhao was asked about Blinken meeting the Dalai Lama’s representatives in Delhi. He said:

“Tibetan affairs are purely China's internal affairs that allow no foreign interference. The 14th Dalai Lama is by no means just a religious personnel, but rather a political exile who has long been engaging in anti-China separatist activities and attempting to split Tibet from China. China firmly opposes any form of contact between foreign officials and the Dalai Lama. Any form of contact between the US side and the Dalai clique is a violation of the US commitment to acknowledging Tibet being part of China, to not supporting ‘Tibetan Independence’, and to not supporting attempts to split China. The US side should honor its commitment, stop meddling in China's internal affairs under the pretext of Tibetan affairs, and offer no support to the ‘Tibetan independence’ forces to engage in anti-China separatist activities. China will take all necessary measures to defend its own interests.”

It’s really interesting that there was no comment by the Chinese side on the Indian Prime Minister recently publicly wishing the Dalai Lama on his birthday.

Finally on the page, we have a short report about the 14th meeting of the Media Cooperation Subcommittee of the China-Russia Humanities Cooperation Committee. Useful to note that it says that:

“both sides agreed that we should strengthen conceptual communication and strategic cooperation, and continue to support each other on issues involving core interests and major concerns.” They want to cooperate together on “agenda setting, make their voices heard in the international public opinion arena in a more proactive manner, jointly defend genuine multilateralism, and promote the common values of peace, development, fairness, justice, democracy and freedom for all mankind.” 展望中俄媒体领域下一步工作,双方一致认为,应加强理念沟通和战略协作,继续在涉及双方核心利益、重大关切的问题上相互支持。加强议题设置,以更加主动的姿态在国际舆论场发出自己的声音,共同捍卫真正的多边主义,弘扬和平、发展、公平、正义、民主、自由的全人类共同价值。双方将进一步创新合作模式,深化节目互译互播、联合制作、图书翻译出版等领域合作,办好品牌媒体项目,拓展新媒体领域合作,激发中俄媒体合作新动能.

Page 4: A couple of reports to note. First, there’s a new book which compiles inner party regulations that’s been published. This includes 183 “current and publicly issued” regulations from 1949 till June 2021. So basically, this should be all regulations that have been reported and are currently applicable, if I understand correctly. 

Second, there’s a short report based on the Defense Ministry’s monthly presser. This talks about the People’s Armed Police’s emblem. The use of the emblem is aimed at better encouraging “the officers and soldiers of the Armed Police Force to fulfill the mission and tasks of the new era and always be the loyal guards of the party and the people,” Wu Qian said. Talk about editorial picking the least newsworthy bit from the press conference. 

Let me touch upon the other things that Wu spoke about.

He confirmed that Russia and China will be holding the Zapad/Interaction-2021 exercise in the Qingtongxia Joint Tactical Training Base in Northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region from early to mid-August. This is the first joint drill that the PLA is conducting since COVID-19 struck. Global Times reports that

“the two sides will set up joint headquarters, as the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Western Theater Command and Russia’s Eastern Military District will dispatch more than 10,000 personnel, multiple types of aircraft, artillery pieces and armored equipment in exercises to test joint reconnaissance, early warning, electronic information attack and strike capabilities, Wu said. Judging from the participating troops, related equipment and exercise subjects, the Zapad/Interaction-2021 is a large-scale strategic drill featuring some of the world's most advanced weapons and equipment as well as tactics, a Chinese military expert who asked to remain anonymous told the Global Times on Thursday.”

There was also a mention of the 2021 Cobra Gold multinational military exercise in Thailand, starting today. The PLA will be participating in this via video link.

Wu also spoke about Xi’s July 1 speech. Here’s what the PLA will be focussing on:

  • Study the speech and deepen learning and education

  • Strengthen propaganda and interpretation

  • Focus on combat readiness

  • Strengthen the party’s organization

Wu criticised the US for reconnaissance activities in the South China Sea. He said that so far this year, many survey vessels of the US Navy have gone to the South China Sea to carry out operations, and have carried out reconnaissance activities nearly 2,000 times. 吴谦:今年以来,美军对华抵近侦察的活动强度持续走高,美海军多艘海洋勘测船赴南海开展作业,对华海空抵近侦察近2000次.

He also talked about how starting August eligible military personnel will begin receiving parental support benefits. This is for individuals who have one parent over the age of 60. The subsidy is RMB 600/month, if I am correct. The other subsidy is to support the spouses of active military personnel. (配偶荣誉金) This is around RMB 500/month. This is a useful link for more.

Finally, Wu also commented on the blogger who is now in hot soup for posing in the Kangxiwa Martyrs Cemetery where PLA soldiers killed in the Galwan Valley clash are buried; also the last question was about the PLA’s role in aiding the floor-relief effort in Henan.

Next, a report about Zhao Kezhi meeting Hong Kong’s Secretary of Justice Teresa Cheng in Beijing. He said that “Only by upholding the central government's overall jurisdiction over the HKSAR, and implementing the legal system and enforcement mechanisms of the HKSAR for safeguarding national security, can we ensure the steady and sustained implementation of ‘One Country, Two Systems’.”

Page 10: The 10th report in the series on Xi Thought on the page today. The first question today is: why is it said that putting people at the center is the fundamental position of the Party?

The answer is used to make a point about corruption and Party members not seeking personal gain. Of course, if foreign media outlets report about these things, they get promptly banned. But then rule by law is different from rule of law. 

Anyway, the piece talks about the fight against Japan in the 1930s, the overthrow of the Kuomintang, the development effort after 1978, and the poverty alleviation campaign as a fight for the people’s interests. 

“In the final analysis, the achievement of these achievements lies in the fact that our Party always puts the people in the highest position in the heart and engraves the happiness of the people on the milestone leading to the great rejuvenation of the nation.” 这些成就的取得,归根结底就在于我们党始终把人民放在心中最高位置,把人民幸福镌刻在通向民族伟大复兴的里程碑上.

“If you forget the people and separate from the people, our party will become a water without a source, a tree without a root, and nothing will be accomplished.” 忘记了人民,脱离了人民,我们党就会成为无源之水、无本之木,就会一事无成.

The next question is about the pursuit of a better life as an objective. This offers a glowing review of China’s development.

“After a long and arduous struggle, the life of the Chinese people has undergone radical changes. By the end of 2020, the per capita disposable income of residents increased to more than 30,000 yuan, and the middle-income group continued to expand. All rural poor people under the current standards have been lifted out of poverty. The compulsory education enrolment rate is close to 100%, the urbanization rate of the resident population exceeds 60%, basic medical insurance covers more than 1.3 billion people, and basic pension insurance covers nearly 1 billion people. The problems that have plagued the Chinese people for thousands of years, such as starvation, lack of food and clothing, and hardship in life, have generally disappeared.” 经过长期艰苦奋斗,中国人民生活发生了翻天覆地的变化。截至2020年底,居民人均可支配收入增加到3万多元,中等收入群体持续扩大。现行标准下农村贫困人口全部脱贫。义务教育入学率接近100%,常住人口城镇化率超过60%,基本医疗保险覆盖超过13亿人,基本养老保险覆盖近10亿人. 忍饥挨饿、缺吃少穿、生活困顿这些几千年来困扰中国人民的问题总体上一去不复返了.

It says the people now expect “better education, more stable jobs, more satisfactory income, more reliable social security, higher level of medical and health services, more comfortable living conditions, more beautiful environment, and richer spiritual and cultural life.” It acknowledges the gap between urban and rural development, income distribution, etc, and finally emphasises that in the past, the Party had to address the issue of scarcity, today it has to address the issue of quality.

Pages 7, 8 & 9 carry the next edition of the Xiaokang timeline. I am not going through this. It’s a listing of key events, regulations, etc.

Page 13: Two pieces that I found noteworthy on the Theory page. One is an opinion piece and the other a report. First, this one which talks about how “the Chinese Communists are loyal believers and steadfast practitioners of Marxism, and they are also loyal inheritors and active advocates of Chinese excellent traditional culture.” The core argument is about persisting with Marxism as the guiding ideology (with Xi Thought as 21st Century Marxism) and of course further Sinicizing Marxism based on Chinese culture and practice.

Here are some excerpts:

“We should understand the truth and practical power of Marxism from the extraordinary course of the Party, deepen our understanding of the theoretical quality of Marxism with Chinese characteristics, promote the creative transformation and innovative development of Chinese excellent traditional culture, organically combine upholding and developing Marxism with carrying forward Chinese excellent traditional culture, and provide ideological guidance and spiritual strength for realizing the Chinese dream of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.” 我们要从党的非凡历程中感悟马克思主义的真理力量和实践力量,深化对中国化马克思主义既一脉相承又与时俱进的理论品质的认识,推动中华优秀传统文化创造性转化、创新性发展,把坚持和发展马克思主义同弘扬中华优秀传统文化有机结合起来,为实现中华民族伟大复兴的中国梦提供思想指引和精神力量.

“Once Marxism was born, it was like a magnificent sunrise that illuminated the path of human beings exploring the laws of history and seeking their own liberation, and advanced the progress of human civilization.” 马克思主义一经诞生,就犹如壮丽的日出,照亮了人类探索历史规律和寻求自身解放的道路,推进了人类文明进步.

The piece also talks about the complementarities between Marxism and Chinese culture. 

“Marxism believes that the movement of the proletariat is an independent movement of the vast majority of people and for the benefit of the vast majority of people, and advocates that organizing production on the basis of public ownership of the means of production and meeting the needs of all members of society is the fundamental purpose of socialist production, which is in line with the spiritual pursuit of the Chinese nation to serve the common good.”例如,马克思主义认为无产阶级的运动是绝大多数人的,为绝大多数人谋利益的独立的运动,主张在生产资料公有制基础上组织生产、满足全体社会成员的需要是社会主义生产的根本目的,这与中华民族天下为公的精神追求相契合.

We then come to the future, i.e., the cause of national rejuvenation going forward. The piece talks about how going ahead what is needed are “both strong material strength and strong spiritual strength, as well as scientific theoretical guidance.” And therefore, Marxism plays a critical role; and of course, Xi Thought is 21st Century Marxism, ergo, it provides “a powerful ideological force” guiding actions and policies.

Next, a report, which tells us that the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations have published a new series of books on the overall national security concept. The six books focus on:

  • Geography and National Security

  • History and National Security

  • Culture and National Security

  • Biosafety and National Security

  • Rise and Fall of Great Powers and National Security

  • A Century of Change and National Security