New Xi Books - State Council on Covid, Disasters, Employment & Commodities - Wang Lectures Blinken - Demand-Supply Gap in Employment - Xi Thought Series: ‘low-level red’ & ‘high-level black'

Here are the stories and pieces from the August 17, 2021, edition of the People’s Daily that I found noteworthy.

Page 1: There’s a lot of Xi Jinping on the front page today, and there’s a report about Li Keiqang heading the State Council meeting. So I guess the beachside break is done.

First, we have a report about Xi exchanging greetings with Iran’s president on the 50th anniversary of bilateral ties. 

Second, learn that a new book on Xi Jinping’s diplomatic thought has been published. Xi Thought on diplomacy, the PD piece tells us, blends the “basic principles of Marxism with the practice of major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics.” The report tells us that with 14 chapters and nearly 100,000 Chinese characters in total, the book systematically explains the “great significance, rich connotation, core essence, spiritual essence, and practical requirements of Xi Jinping’s diplomatic thought.” Also, the Central Propaganda Department and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have issued a notice requiring all departments to study the book so as to guide their work.

But this is not the only book on Xi’s thoughts and words this week. Another story tells us that Xi’s discourses on China’s new development stage, new development philosophy, and new development paradigm have been compiled by the Institute of Party History and Literature and published by the Central Party Literature Press. This includes 72 articles by Xi. We have a detailed content breakdown of the book on Page 2.

Third, let’s look at the State Council’s weekly meeting, which took place on Monday; usually, this happens on a Wednesday. Xinhua English has a detailed story too. It says that the meeting “required effective policy implementation and strengthening of cross-cyclical adjustments in light of the new situations in economic operation, to keep major economic indicators within an appropriate range.”

The meeting noted that:

“Since mid-to-late July, extreme weather and the consequent severe flooding have hit multiple areas of the country, and new COVID-19 cases have been identified in several provinces. Commodity prices have been hovering at a high level, and the international economic situation is intricate and complex.”

Given this, the meeting set certain priorities.

  • First, focus on COVID-19 containment, flood control, disaster relief, and post-disaster recovery and reconstruction.

  • Second employment remains a high priority. The government will facilitate market-oriented job creation by the non-public sector, and enhance employment assistance and services for key populations such as college students, migrant workers and people in difficulty, to help ensure people's income and livelihood through stable employment.

  • Third, assist market entities by delivering the tax and fee cuts already introduced and curbing arbitrary charges. Financial institutions should use capital feed via RRR cuts to strengthen financial services for smaller businesses.

  • Fourth, the prices and supply of raw materials must be kept stable. Also,  the mechanism to secure the provision of daily necessities will continue to be implemented to ensure sufficient market supply.

Also, the steady recovery of consumption will be promoted. Local government special bonds will be well harnessed to spur greater effective investment. More effective opening-up steps will be taken to keep foreign trade and investment stable.

In the PD story, there’s an extra paragraph, which says that the “employment pressure is still relatively high.” 

  • strengthen the financial and monetary policies to support employment, promote the development of labor-intensive industries with strong employment absorption capacity, promote the development of online and offline integration of service industries, and promote flexible employment through multiple channels

  • strengthen entrepreneurship to drive employment

  • promote the healthy development of new industries, new business models and new jobs

  • do a good job in providing employment services for college graduates, migrant workers, retired military personnel and people out of poverty.

  • Efforts will be made to eliminate employment discrimination and strengthen the protection of the rights and interests of flexible employees and older and women workers.

  • strengthen vocational skills training, improve the skills of workers and the quality of production safety

Next a report (English report) that tells us that FDI into China has remained remarkably strong over the past two years. FDI was 672.19 billion yuan, an increase of 25.5% year-on-year (excluding banking, securities and insurance), and an increase of 26.1% over the same period in 2019. 

  • Service industry accounted for 535.57 billion yuan, 79.7% of the overall inflow.

  • Wholesale and retail trade, scientific research and technology service industry, information transmission software and information technology service industry increased by 69.3%, 49.2% and 29.1% respectively. 

  • FDI in high-tech industries increased by 34.1%, among which high-tech manufacturing and high-tech service industries saw a hike of 27.8% and 36%, respectively.

  • Investment from the countries along the Belt and Road and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations expanded 46.3 percent from a year ago.

Next a report on China’s economic data - English report:

  • Value-added industrial output rose 6.4% year-on-year in July. The figure was up 11.5% from July 2019. Average growth for the past two years to 5.6%. 

  • China’s manufacturing PMI was 50.4%, and the service industry business activity index was 52.5%

  • During the January-July period, China's fixed-asset investment increased 10.3% year-on-year, with the average growth rate over the last two years at 4.3%. 

  • The country's retail sales of consumer goods climbed 8.5% year-on-year in July; average growth was 3.6% over the past two years.

  • Surveyed unemployment was 5.1%. Total new urban jobs created 8.22 million, achieving 74.7 percent of its annual target.

  • High-tech manufacturing sector’s output expanded 15.6% from the same period last year, resulting in an average growth of 12.7% over the last two years. This was also 9.4 percentage points higher than the growth rate of the overall manufacturing industry.

  • Output of new energy vehicles, industrial robots, and integrated circuits increased by 162.7%, 42.3%, and 41.3% year-on-year respectively

Reuters report: China economy stalls as factory output, retail sales growth slow

WSJ report: China’s Economic Recovery Is Losing Steam

Finally, we have the 7th piece in the mid-year economic review series. This one talks about livelihood focus. This one focuses on employment, per capita disposable income, CPI, poverty alleviation, etc.

For instance, some data points are:

  • “In the first half of this year, the national per capita disposable income increased by 12% year-on-year in real terms, with a two-year average real growth of 5.2%. Among this, wage income increased by 12.1% year-on-year, with a two-year average growth of 7.2%.”

  • This year, the basic pension for retirees has been raised by 4.5%.

  • per capita income from social relief and subsidies increased by 9.6%

  • subsistence allowance income per capita increased by 22.8%

On employment: Zhang Yi, deputy director of the Office of the Leading Group of the State Council for the Seventh National Population Census and director-general of the Department of Population and Employment Statistics of the NBS says that: “We also need to see that the current domestic and international environment is still complex and severe, the foundation of a stable economic recovery still needs to be consolidated, some service industries are still slow to recover, there are not enough jobs in related industries, and the employment field is still under some pressure.” “我们也要看到,当前国内外环境依旧复杂严峻,经济稳定恢复的基础仍需巩固,部分服务业恢复还比较慢,相关行业就业岗位不足, 就业领域仍面临一定压力。”国家统计局人口和就业统计司司长张毅说,特别是就业结构性矛盾依然存在.

Page 2: We have a report based on the data put out by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security on demand and supply with regard to employment. So we are told that in the second quarter, employers recruited about 5.638 million people of various types through public employment service agencies, and about 3.56 million job seekers entered the market. Some industries where demand for talents have increased are:

  • In the second quarter, 38.4% of the employment demand was concentrated in the manufacturing industry. 

  • IT software and IT services employment demand increased by 47.3% year-on-year

  • Accommodation and catering industry employment demand increased by 53.8% year-on-year.

  • Some 40.7% of the market demand for employment requires to technical education and skills

  • Employment demand for senior technicians and technicians (高级技师和技师) increased significantly, up 94.9% and 59.8% respectively

The report also outlines some ratios, which I struggled to understand. But this is what I think it means. Also, it’s difficult to make sense of these in a broader sense unless one has comparative data. But anyway, here goes:

  • 从供求对比看,二季度,人力资源市场求人倍率(岗位空缺与求职人数的比率)约为1.58,同比上升0.26,环比下降0.02. In the second quarter, the ratio of job vacancies to job seekers in the human resources market was about 1.58, up 0.26 year-on-year and down 0.02 month-on-month. - So I guess this means that there is still more demand for talent than availability - so more jobs on offer than people taking them up.

  • The same ratio for senior technicians and technicians is 3.11 and 2.68 respectively - So the talent gap is way worse in these instances than the overall talent gap. 

If you have a different understanding of this or can shed more light, please do get in touch by leaving a comment.

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Page 3: Lots of reports on the page. First, MoFA’s Hua Chunying’s comments on the WHO origins tracing. She said that:

“China noted the WHO statement on advancing the next series of studies to find the origins of SARS-CoV-2. The statement stresses that the next-phase studies should be built on the first phase of studies and implement the recommendations outlined in the WHO-China joint study report; and the search for the origins of SARS-CoV-2 should be based on science, rather than be an exercise in finger-pointing or political point-scoring. These views should be followed through in relevant work of the WHO. Last week, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs held a briefing on COVID-19 origins tracing for diplomatic envoys in China to give a comprehensive elaboration on China's position, propositions and the latest work on origins tracing. I want to emphasize that the WHO is led by member states. The origins tracing is an important matter that must also be led by member states. The WHO Secretariat should act on the WHA resolution, conduct thorough consultation with member states on the global origin-tracing work plan, including the follow-up mechanism, and fully respect the views of member states. Very importantly, the plan for origin-tracing involving a particular country must be decided through consultation with the country concerned, as it provides the basis for effective cooperation to be conducted.”

Next, we have a report (English report) about Wang Yi speaking to Sergei Lavrov. Wang hit out at Japan, with Japanese politicians visiting the Yasukuni Shrine. Xinhua English says:

“​​As the major victorious nations of the World War II, China and Russia should join hands to defend the truth of history, oppose acts to whitewash or glorify militarism, check attempts to falsify history, and never tolerate overturning the verdict on the history of aggression, said Wang. For his part, Lavrov said that as the anniversary of the end of the World War II is approaching, Russia and China have launched important cooperation in defending historical truth and opposing attempts to tamper with WWII achievements.”

Third, we have a report about Antony Blinken speaking to Wang Yi about the situation in Afghanistan. Xinhua English’s report is the same. 

Here’s what it says about Blinken’s comments: “During the phone talk, Blinken expressed appreciation for China's participation in the Doha meeting on the Afghan issue, noting that the current situation in Afghanistan is entering into a crucial stage. The Taliban should announce a clean break with extremism, opt for an orderly transfer of power and establish an inclusive government, the top U.S. diplomat said, expressing hope that China will also play an important role to this end.”

Here’s what Wang said:

“Wang expounded China’s stance on the situation in Afghanistan, saying that facts have once again proved that mechanically copying an imported foreign model cannot readily be fitted to the use in a country with completely different history, culture and national conditions, and ultimately, is unlikely to establish itself. Without the support of people, a government cannot stand, and the use of power and military means to solve problems will only cause more problems, Wang said, adding lessons in this respect deserve serious reflection. Wang said that China stands ready to communicate with the United States to push for a soft landing of the Afghan issue, so that a new civil war or humanitarian disaster will be prevented in Afghanistan and the country will not relapse into a hotbed and shelter for terrorism.”

Also, Wang went on to offer a bit of a lecture:

“The hasty withdrawal of U.S. troops has had a severe negative impact on the situation in Afghanistan, and it will not be a responsible attitude if the United States created new problems in its next move, Wang said. The previous U.S. administration announced revocation of the designation of the East Turkistan Islamic Movement as a terrorist organization, and applied double standards to the counter-terrorism issue, which is dangerous and wrong, Wang said, calling on the U.S. side to start afresh to remove obstacles to the China-U.S. cooperation on Afghanistan and the international counter-terrorism cooperation.”

And here’s more on China-US ties:

“In the face of various global challenges and urgent regional hotspot issues, the two countries should carry out coordination and cooperation, which is what the international community is looking forward to, Wang added. And yet the U.S. side cannot, on the one hand, deliberately contain and suppress China and undermine China's legitimate rights and interests, and on the other hand, expects support and cooperation from China, because such logic never exists in international exchanges, Wang said. It is an objective fact that China and the United States differ in ideology, social system, history and culture, and neither side can change the other, Wang said. It is advisable for the two major countries to work together on the basis of mutual respect to find a way to coexist peacefully on this planet, he said, adding that history will surely prove that whatever the U.S. side intends to do, China-U.S. relations should eventually seek only such a future and follow only such a path, Wang said. The U.S. side should pursue a rational and pragmatic policy toward China, respect China's core interests and major concerns, strengthen dialogue and manage differences in accordance with the spirit of the phone talks between the two countries' heads of state, and push China-U.S. relations back on the right track at an early date, Wang added.”

Here’s PD’s summary of Blinken’s final comments:

“Blinken said that it is very important for the United States and China to maintain communication on major international and regional issues. I agree that achieving peaceful coexistence between the United States and China is a common goal, and hope that both sides will seek and develop cooperation. Of course, there are also obvious differences between the United States and China, which can be gradually resolved through constructive methods in the future. The US reaffirms its opposition to all forms of terrorism and does not seek turbulence in the western border areas of China. The evolution of the situation in Afghanistan once again shows that it is very important for the United States and China to cooperate on regional security issues in a constructive and pragmatic manner.”

The State Department has a one-line readout.

Fourth, we have a report about the Cambodian king Norodom Sihamoni and the queen arriving in Beijing on the 16th. No other details offered here. 

Finally, there’s a Zhong Sheng commentary on the page. This one says that for American politicians, the response is “capital first” as opposed to “life first.” Basically, the piece says that while the US talks about human rights, democracy and freedom, the response to the pandemic has shown that politicians’ focus is first on profit-seeking motivation of capital rather than the lives of the people. 

This case is made by arguing that:

“The White House COVID-19 task force cooperated with the National Security Council to prepare an epidemic response memorandum on February 14, 2020, which clearly called for a series of strict control measures. However, after learning that the relevant measures would lead to the collapse of the US stock market, the decision makers in the US government immediately rejected the memorandum. It is also reported by American media that many American congressmen were selling stocks in large quantities while concealing the challenges of the pandemic.” 据《纽约时报》网站报道,白宫新冠病毒应对工作组与国家安全委员会2020年2月14日合作准备了一份疫情应对备忘录,明确建议采取一系列严格管制措施。然而,美国政府决策层在听取相关措施将导致美国股市崩盘的判断后,立刻否决了该备忘录。同样也是美国媒体报道,美国多名国会议员一边隐瞒疫情,一边却在大量抛售股票.

Here are the two other broad points:

  • “In the eyes of American politicians, short-term economic benefits always override public health security;” this bit talks about how the rich have thrived despite the pandemic.

  • “In the eyes of American politicians, the law of the survival of the fittest in natural evolution can be used as a grand excuse for them ignoring life.”

Page 4: Just one story: Guo Shengkun spoke about learning from the first round of education and rectification work of the political and legal team. He wants efforts towards “promoting the Party’s political construction across political and legal organs, strengthen theoretical armament, carry forward the great spirit of party building, strictly observe political discipline and rules, and earnestly build political loyalty.” Guo calls for eliminating “black sheep,” rectifying “the stubborn problems of law enforcement and justice” and promoting “the institutionalization of the rectification results.” 要着力推进政法机关党的政治建设,强化科学理论武装,弘扬伟大建党精神,严明政治纪律和政治规矩,切实筑牢政治忠诚。要精准运用政策,强化上下衔接和线索核查,坚决清除害群之马。要深入整治执法司法顽疾,既整治中央和省级政法机关存在的突出问题,又研究解决系统条线的共性问题,促使整改成果制度化。要加强作风建设,打造人民满意、基层满意的政法领导机关.

Page 5: Today we have the 22nd piece in the Xi Thought series. The first question is about the significance of political construction of the Party.

It says that taking a “clear-cut stand on politics is the fundamental requirement of Marxist political parties.” All political parties are representatives of specific class interests. All political parties have political attributes and have their own political missions, political goals, and political pursuits. Taking the emancipation of the proletariat and all mankind as its own responsibility and having a clear political stand are the distinguishing characteristics of a Marxist party from other parties. As a Marxist party, our party has lofty political ideals and noble political pursuits. It has never shied away from its own political attributes and political missions. If the party’s political advancement is lost, the party’s advancement and purity will be impossible to maintain. This is the reason why we regard political building as the fundamental aspect of party building.” 旗帜鲜明讲政治是马克思主义政党的根本要求。政党是特定阶级利益的代表,任何政党都有政治属性,都有自己的政治使命、政治目标、政治追求。以无产阶级和全人类的解放为己任,把鲜明的政治观点写在自己的旗帜上,是马克思主义政党区别于其他政党的显著特征。我们党作为马克思主义政党,具有崇高政治理想、高尚政治追求,从不讳言自己的政治属性和政治使命,如果党在政治上的先进性丧失了,党的先进性和纯洁性就无从谈起。这就是我们把政治建设作为党的根本性建设的道理所在.

After a bit of history, we get to the new era:

The general requirements of party building in the new era emphasize the comprehensive promotion of the Party's political development, ideological development, organizational development, work-style advancement, and discipline construction should be comprehensively promoted and overall system development should be advanced through these with the deepening of the fight against corruption. And in this context, among these, the Party’s political construction is the most important, occupying the leading position; it is fundamental and the core. 新时代党的建设总要求强调,全面推进党的政治建设、思想建设、组织建设、作风建设、纪律建设,把制度建设贯穿其中,深入推进反腐败斗争. 这里面,党的政治建设是最重要的,居于统领地位,是核心、是根本.

The next bit talks about the work done since the 18th Party Congress and adds:

“we must be soberly aware that the political problems existing in the Party have not been fundamentally solved, and the problems of some comrades neglecting politics and downplaying politics are still quite prominent...Our party has more than 91 million party members and more than 4.6 million grass-roots party organizations. It is not an easy task to maintain and develop the political attributes of Marxist political parties. We cannot expect to completely solve the problems by having a general grasp or by concentrating our firepower on a few battles. The party's political construction is an eternal subject, which should not be slackened in the future, but must be constantly grasped.同时,必须清醒看到,党内存在的政治问题还没有得到根本解决,一些同志忽视政治、淡化政治的问题还比较突出...我们党有9100多万名党员和460多万个基层党组织,保持和发展马克思主义政党的政治属性不是一件容易的事,不能指望泛泛抓一抓或者集中火力打几个战役就能彻底解决问题...党的政治建设是一个永恒课题,来不得半点松懈,必须常抓不懈.

Then we get a very direct comparison of Xi with Mao:

During the war years, the Party Central Committee and Chairman Mao used the radio to command the whole Party and the whole army. The ‘tick-tock, tick-tock’ sound then was the voice of the Party Central Committee and Chairman Mao, which the whole Party and the whole army followed and implemented unconditionally. In the new era, we should also listen to the exciting new ticking; this ‘tick-tock, tick-tock’ sound is the voice of the Party Central Committee and General Secretary Xi Jinping; it too must be unconditionally implemented. We must resolutely maintain the position of General Secretary Xi Jinping as the core of the CPC Central Committee and resolutely maintain the authority of the Party Central Committee and centralized and unified leadership…”

It also talks about “preventing and correcting all wrong words and deeds that deviate from the ‘two maintenance.’ There’s a call to “discover and correct all kinds of ‘low-level red’ (低级红) and ‘high-level black’ (高级黑’) phenomena in time, and be highly vigilant against all kinds of ‘pseudo-loyalty or false reverence’ (伪忠诚) and ‘two-faced groups’ (两面派).”

  • This China Media Project piece explains that low-level red “now refers in official CCP parlance to language or conduct that is intended to praise the Party or government, but which ultimately has the opposite effect because it is patently false, cheap, or ill-considered.” 

  • This one explains that high-level black “refers to the act of using humorous language to criticize and satirize, or to offered exaggerated praise on the surface in what is actually an act of criticism.”

The next question asks: why are ideals and beliefs the spiritual “calcium” of Communists? The answer is that look at the CPSU... “The CPSU seized power when it had 200,000 members, defeated Hitler when it had 2 million members, and lost power when it had nearly 20 million members. The reason for this was it had lost its ideals and beliefs. “Both history and reality warn us: a political party with firm ideals and convictions will have incomparable power; if ideals and convictions are weak, it will become a mob, and it will dissipate as soon as the wind blows.” 历史和现实都告诫我们:一个政党理想信念坚定,就拥有无比强大的力量;理想信念淡薄,就会成为乌合之众,风一吹就散.

Then there’s another message to cadres:

“Ideals become ideals because of their loftiness, and beliefs become convictions because of persistence.” 理想因其远大而为理想, 信念因其执着而为信念. In this context, then there’s emphasis on ideological construction, ensuring that cadres are prepared to ensure hardships, have the courage to shoulder burdens, deal with major political trials and develop a sense of purpose. Then there’s emphasis on ideals and beliefs-linked education to ensure that these become a “beacon” that guides the hearts and minds of cadres and the party as a whole.

Other Stories:

Page 9: On the Theory page, the lead piece is by Li Jie, president of the Chinese History Society. Li basically writes about upholding the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics as the key to ensuring national rejuvenation. This is basically a defense of the Party-state governance system, with arguments that aren’t new.

Page 11: A few anti-corruption campaign related reports:

  • Wang Fuyu, former party secretary and chairman of the Guizhou Provincial CPPCC, was expelled from the party for serious violations of discipline and law.

  • Song Liang, executive vice governor of Gansu Province and member of the Standing Committee of Gansu Provincial Committee, expelled from the Party.

  • Meng Yongshan, former secretary of the party group and chief procurator of the Qinghai Provincial People’s Procuratorate, was expelled from the party and public office.

  • Liu Xinyun, former deputy governor of Shanxi Province and former director of the Public Security Department, was expelled from the party and public office.

Page 16: The lead story on the international page is about developments in Afghanistan. Another noteworthy story is about studies showing that there were likely COVID cases in the US well before January 2020.