Olympics Success - Zhong Sheng: Asia Doesn't Need a 'Teacher’ or ‘Saviour’ - New Era Reform Needs Crossing the River by Feeling the Stones & Top-Level Design

Here are the stories and pieces from the August 9, 2021, edition of the People’s Daily that I found noteworthy.

Page 1: An interesting front page today. It’s basically about the Olympics. First, a message from the Central Committee and the State Council congratulating China’s Olympic delegation. 

Towards the end this says: “Your outstanding performance has further stimulated the patriotic enthusiasm of Chinese people at home and abroad, and injected spiritual strength into the whole Party and people of all ethnic groups on the new journey of building a socialist modern country in an all-round way.” 你们的出色表现进一步激发了海内外中华儿女的爱国热情,为全党全国各族人民在全面建设社会主义现代化国家新征程上团结奋斗、凝心聚力注入了精神力量.

The last paragraph calls on the athletes to “take Xi Jinping Thought of socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era as the guide, keep in mind the original mission, continue to carry forward the glorious tradition of Chinese sports, guard against arrogance and rashness, and make persistent efforts to further enhance the comprehensive strength of China’s competitive sports…” 希望大家以习近平新时代中国特色社会主义思想为指导,牢记初心使命,继续发扬中国体育光荣传统,戒骄戒躁,再接再厉,进一步提升我国竞技体育综合实力,提高为国争光的能力

Next on the page, we have a piece looking ahead to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. This talks about how Xi has prioritised sports development and discusses the four concepts of “green, sharing, openness, and integrity” that are driving the preparations for the Games. For instance, the story tells us that all Beijing 2022 venues will be powered 100% by green electricity, and some 2.14 million square meters of ecological restoration work has been completed in the Yanqing competition area. On the Games being clean, it says that it is important to ensure that the “work is clean and efficient; adhere to the principle of economy and avoid extravagance and waste.”

The piece talks about the Fitness Day and new plan, and the it says this:

“Sports is an important symbol of social development and human progress, and an important embodiment of comprehensive national strength and national soft power. Physical education is an important means to improve people's health, and it is also an important part of realising the Chinese dream; it can provide a powerful spiritual force for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.” 体育是社会发展和人类进步的重要标志,是综合国力和国家软实力的重要体现. 体育是提高人民健康水平的重要手段,也是实现中国梦的重要内容,能为中华民族伟大复兴提供凝心聚气的强大精神力量.

There’s also a front page editorial to go with all this. The piece talks about the Tokyo Games, saying that “We must vigorously promote the fighting spirit shown by our athletes”  to march ahead for national rejuvenation. It then says that “successfully hosting the Beijing Winter Olympics and Paralympics is a major event for the Party and the country, and is our solemn commitment to the international community.”

Next, the National Culture Park Development Leading Group has issued documents on the Great Wall, the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal and the Long March culture parks. The piece basically offers a bit of a preview into the work that’s needed for each and the number of provinces that are going to coordinate.

Page 2: There’s an interview with Hubei Party Secretary Ying Yong, discussing the new guidelines for High-quality Development of the Central Region. The first question is about technological development. Ying talks about the establishment of seven new laboratories in Hubei, which cover fields like telecommunications, aerospace and aviation, bio-pharmaceuticals, optical sciences and biological breeding. He talks about opening up the linkages between researchers and enterprises. He talks about addressing chokepoint technologies. And he talks about the 51020 industrial system. This entails five pillar industries valued at RMB 1 trillion ($154.8 billion), 10 advantage industries valued at RMB 500 billion, and 20 characteristic industrial clusters valued RMB 100 billion, which are being developed.

The interview also deals with urban-rural development, the environment, health, etc.

Page 3: First, a piece that tells us that government officials, politicians, experts and scholars from many countries are speaking out against the politicisation of COVID-19 origins tracing. Second, we have a Zhong Sheng commentary, which lashes out at the US for its diplomacy during the East Asia Summit and ASEAN meetings.

The piece says that the US used the meetings to “hype the so-called ‘China threat’ and engage in “unprovoked attacks to discredit China,” which shows that the “so-called ‘importance’ of ASEAN to the United States is just a cover.” “It is not about cooperation and development, the real purpose is to create division in the region, trying to turn ASEAN countries into a pawn to serve its strategic goal of containing and suppressing China.” 然而,从美国频频炒作所谓“中国威胁”、无端攻击抹黑中国可以看出,美国所谓“重视”东盟不过是幌子,它无关合作与发展,真实目的是在地区制造分裂,企图将东盟国家变为服务其遏制打压中国这一战略目标的棋子.

Alas, this will not succeed, the piece tells us. China’s ties with ASEAN countries have expanded significantly; the article talks about trade, pandemic cooperation and RCEP. It then says:

“It is in the common interest of regional countries to accommodate the demands of all parties, accommodate the interests of all parties, promote common security, and achieve long-term stability in the region. The U.S. behavior exposes the region to the risk of a geopolitical backlash, which naturally does not have the support of ASEAN countries. Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong recently stressed that even American allies and partners want to build broad ties with China and the United States. The U.S. has turned a blind eye to this, still wishfully thinking that it still has the power to force an ‘encirclement’ of China in the region, once again revealing U.S. arrogance and paranoia, and once again proving that the Cold War thinking that the U.S. has clung to is long out of date. The series of foreign ministers’ meetings, where the foreign ministers of regional countries have echoed their support for China’s position, fully demonstrate that times have changed and there is no longer a ‘teacher’ or a ‘saviour’ in the region. The fate of regional countries is in their own hands, and the future of the region is in the hands of all countries.” 兼顾各方诉求,包容各方利益,促进共同安全,实现地区长治久安,符合地区国家的共同利益。美国的行为使本地区面临地缘政治回潮的风险,自然得不到东盟国家的支持。新加坡总理李显龙日前强调,即使是美国的盟友和伙伴也都希望与中美两国共同建立广泛的联系。美国对此视而不见,仍然一厢情愿地以为自己还有号召力在地区强行打造一个对华“包围圈”,再次暴露出美国的傲慢与偏执,再次证明美国所固守的冷战思维早已不合时宜。系列外长会上,地区国家外长纷纷呼应支持中国立场充分显示,时代已经改变,本地区不再有“教师爷”,也不需要“救世主”,地区国家的命运掌握在自己手中,地区前途由各国共同开创.

It ends like this:

“The United States often claims to deal with China ‘from a strength position’, but neither the domestic reality nor the international reality of the United States can support this so-called ‘position of strength’ of the United States. The United States cannot change China, nor can it stop or interrupt China's modernization process. It is the common need of the world for China and the United States to find a way through dialogue for the peaceful coexistence and even mutual benefit of two large countries with different systems, different cultures and different stages of development. The US side should change its course as soon as possible and choose to move in the same direction as the Chinese side, respect each other, compete fairly, and live together peacefully.” 美国动辄声称“从实力地位出发”与中国打交道,但无论是美国国内现实还是国际现实都已无法支撑美方所谓的“实力地位”。美国改变不了中国,也不可能阻挡和打断中国的现代化进程。中美双方通过对话找到一条不同制度、不同文化、不同发展阶段的两个大国和平共处乃至互利共赢之道,是这个世界共同的需要。美方应尽快改弦易辙,选择与中方相向而行,相互尊重,公平竞争,和平共处.

Next, the Foreign Ministry and HKMAO criticised President Joe Biden for signing a memorandum authorising the government to “take appropriate measures to defer for 18 months the removal of any Hong Kong resident who is present in the United States.” 

HKMAO “strongly opposed and condemned the U.S. intervention in Hong Kong affairs.” It added:

“When the U.S. government said that it wanted to stand with people in Hong Kong, it obviously wanted to stand with those few anti-China forces seeking to disrupt Hong Kong, the spokesperson said. The U.S. government wanted to recreate turbulence in Hong Kong and hoped the anti-China forces seeking to disrupt Hong Kong would continue working for it, the spokesperson said. Sponsoring Hong Kong-related organizations, and adopting Hong Kong-related bills and administrative measures, the U.S. government wanted to disrupt Hong Kong and contain China, instead of defending democracy, human rights and freedom or safeguarding the principle of ‘one country, two systems’ as it claimed, the spokesperson said.”

The Foreign Ministry said:

“The so-called memorandum blatantly defames and attacks the Law of the PRC on Safeguarding National Security in the HKSAR and China's Hong Kong policy, which is another embodiment of the US side's vile behaviors in grossly interfering in China's Hong Kong affairs. The Chinese side deplores and firmly rejects this and has lodged solemn representations with the US side...The US claim of offering "safe haven" for Hong Kong residents is completely groundless. Its real purpose is to endorse anti-China, destabilizing forces in Hong Kong, undermine Hong Kong's prosperity and stability and curb China's development.”

Page 5: We have the 16th piece in the series on Xi Thought. The first question is about comprehensively deepening reform. More specifically, it is about the “direction,” “position” and “principle” of reform and opening up. 

This begins with Xi’s visit to Guangdong after becoming General Secretary. He had visited a park with Deng’s statue. That was a sign that “we want to show that we will unswervingly advance reform and opening up, and strive to make new progress in reform, opening up and modernization…” It was also then, the piece tells us, that Xi said: “Our reform and opening up has a direction, a position, and a principle.”

Interesting point this: “As early as the early stage of reform and opening up, Comrade Deng Xiaoping clearly pointed out that reform must adhere to the direction of socialism, and without the premise of socialism, reform and opening up will lead to capitalism.” 早在改革开放初期,邓小平同志就明确指出,改革必须坚持社会主义方向,没有社会主义这个前提,改革开放就会走向资本主义.

“Today, comprehensively deepening reform is facing a profound and complicated international and domestic environment, and various ideas and interests are stirring each other. In order to take the pulse of reform from the complex appearance of things, and to prescribe a good reform prescription amid the diversity of opinions, we must adhere to the right direction.General Secretary Xi Jinping has emphasized that our direction is to continuously promote the self-improvement and development of the socialist system, not to change the socialist system.” 今天,全面深化改革面临深刻复杂的国际国内环境,各种思想观念和利益诉求相互激荡. 要从纷繁复杂的事物表象中把准改革脉搏, 在众说纷纭中开好改革药方,必须坚持正确方向. 习近平总书记强调,我们的方向就是不断推动社会主义制度自我完善和发展,而不是对社会主义制度改弦易张.

The next bit talks about the position of reform and opening up. This says that “to deepen reform comprehensively, we must always stand firm on the people’s position and adhere to the people-centered reform.” The task of reform and opening up is to “enable the people to live a good life. If it cannot bring tangible benefits to the people and create a fairer social environment, the reform will be meaningless and cannot be sustained.” The piece also emphasises that reform must “continuously promote social fairness and justice, and enhance people’s well-being.” Think of this in terms of the recent technology sector shake-up, and policies with regard to delivery workers and the private tutoring industry. That’s what this means tangibly, I guess.

Amid this, the piece reminds us that:

“Regardless of what is changed or where it is changed, the party’s centralized and unified leadership over reform cannot be changed, the overall goal of perfecting and developing the socialist system with Chinese characteristics, and promoting the modernization of the national governance system and governance capabilities must not be changed, and the value orientation of people-centered reform cannot be changed..” 无论改什么、改到哪一步,坚持党对改革的集中统一领导不能变,完善和发展中国特色社会主义制度、推进国家治理体系和治理能力现代化的总目标不能变,坚持以人民为中心的改革价值取向不能变.

Here’s more:

“What direction, position and principle should be adhered to in the reform is a fundamental issue. For a period of time, some hostile forces and people with ulterior motives have been waving flags and shouting and have been trying to shape public opinion and confuse the public, by arguing that reform essentially implies moving in the direction of the Western political system, or else it is not reform. They are ‘Xiang Zhuang dancing with the sword, with the intention being to target the Duke of Pei.’ General Secretary Xi Jinping has emphasized that Western theories and viewpoints should not be mechanically applied to oneself in order to cater to the applause of some people. It is necessary to keep an open mind, maintain political firmness, define political orientation, and have firm determination. We must resolutely reform what should and can be changed; we must resolutely not reform what shouldn't and cannot be changed." We must never make subversive mistakes on fundamental issues. We will always adhere to the road of socialism with Chinese characteristics, the basic socialist system and the leadership of the Party.” 改革要坚持什么方向,坚定什么立场,坚守什么原则,是带有根本性的问题。一段时期以来,一些敌对势力和别有用心的人在那里摇旗呐喊、制造舆论、混淆视听,把改革定义为往西方政治制度的方向改,否则就是不改革。他们是“项庄舞剑,意在沛公”。习近平总书记强调,不能为了迎合某些人的“掌声”,把西方的理论、观点生搬硬套在自己身上。要洞若观火,保持政治坚定性,明确政治定位,有主张、有定力。该改的、能改的我们坚决改,不该改的、不能改的坚决不改,决不能在根本性问题上出现颠覆性错误,始终坚持走中国特色社会主义道路不动摇,坚持社会主义基本制度不动摇,坚持党的领导不动摇.

I did some digging into this idiom: “项庄舞剑,意为裴公” - Interesting story and usage; conjures up such a sense of lethal deceitful behaviour.

The next question asks why comprehensively deepening reform requires not just crossing the river by feeling the stones but also top-level design. In a nutshell, the answer is that “strengthening top-level design and crossing the river by feeling the stones are dialectically linked.” 加强顶层设计和摸着石头过河是辩证统一的.

Anyway, the first part of the answer supports the Dengist approach to reform. It says that “gradual reform avoids social unrest caused by unclear situation and improper measures, and provides a guarantee for steadily advancing the reform and smoothly achieving the goal. On the other hand, some countries engage in so-called ‘shock therapy’, which results in violent political turmoil and social unrest. This is a profound learning. 这种渐进式改革,避免了因情况不明、举措不当而引起的社会动荡,为稳步推进改革、顺利实现目标提供了保证. 反观有些国家搞所谓“休克疗法”,结果引起了剧烈政治动荡和社会动乱,教训是很深刻的.

Okay, then why is top-level design needed? The answer is a bit convoluted. The argument is that “comprehensively deepening reform involves a wide range of major reform initiatives that may affect the whole body”; therefore, one must be careful and cautious. 

Then as best as I understood, it says that:

“The so-called top-level design refers to the overall design of the economic system, political system, cultural system, social system, ecological civilization system and party building system, etc. It is a process that strengthens research into and assessment of the relevance of various reforms; it strives to match the overall situation with the local one; it combines the root cause and cure, and promotes gradual progress and breakthrough. Comprehensively deepening reform is a complex systems project; it involves the whole situation of the Party and the State, both the productive forces and the relations of production, both the economic base and the superstructure, and all fields of economic and social development, involving many major theoretical and practical issues. For this reason, more attention must be paid to top-level design and overall planning. Only by strengthening top-level design, the promotion of reforms in economic, political, cultural, social, and ecological civilization, and the promotion of theoretical innovation, institutional innovation, technological innovation, cultural innovation and other innovations can be organically connected and promoted as a whole.” 全面深化改革不仅需要摸着石头过河,也必须有一个施工图,需要进行顶层设计. 所谓顶层设计,就是要对经济体制、政治体制、文化体制、社会体制、生态文明体制和党的建设制度等作出统筹设计,加强对各项改革关联性的研判,努力做到全局和局部相配套、治本和治标相结合、渐进和突破相促进. 全面深化改革作为一个复杂的系统工程,涉及党和国家工作全局,既涉及生产力又涉及生产关系,既涉及经济基础又涉及上层建筑,涉及经济社会发展各领域,涉及许多重大理论问题和实际问题. 为此,必须更加注重顶层设计、整体谋划. 只有加强顶层设计,把推进经济、政治、文化、社会、生态文明等各方面改革有机衔接起来,把推进理论创新、制度创新、科技创新、文化创新以及其他各方面创新有机衔接起来,整体推进,重点突破,才能防止畸重畸轻、单兵突进、顾此失彼,才能保证各项改革的相互促进、良性互动, 形成推进改革的强大合力.

Page 9: On the Theory page, the lead piece is by Jin Nuo, secretary of the Party Committee of Renmin University of China. This starts from Xi’s July 1 speech and talks about Party history, the multiple spirits, theoretical innovation of the Party, self-revolution and ends with a call to move ahead towards national rejuvenation. It’s a long piece that says little new.

Page 16: The lead story on the international page is about the socio-economic status of the Native American community and the challenges they face in modern America.