Party Control in Tibet - Li in Henan - China & Arab States - Wang's 'Three Whethers' on Afghanistan - US & Human Trafficking - Xi Thought Series: Party's Approach to Deal with Corruption

Here are the stories and pieces from the People’s Daily’s August 20, 2021, edition that I found noteworthy

Page 1: The lead story on the page is the celebration event in Lhasa with Wang Yang in attendance. People’s Daily tells us that some “20,000 cadres and masses from all walks of life in Tibet gathered in Potala Palace Square to warmly celebrate the 70th anniversary of Tibet’s peaceful liberation.” Xi Jinping wrote inscriptions “building a beautiful and happy Tibet and together fulfilling the great dream of national rejuvenation” on congratulatory plaques presented at the event.

The PD story is fairly formulaic. It doesn’t really go into the details of Wang’s speech; rather it mentions the major messages of the Party’s view of positive changes in Tibet, along with points about the ‘four consciousnesses’, the ‘four self-confidences’ and the ‘two maintenance.’ It also talks about others who were in attendance and spoke at the event. Wang’s full speech is on Page 2, (English version here) however; and key snippets from that are available in Xinhua English.

Here are the key points that Wang made:

  • “The peaceful liberation of Tibet in 1951 was a major victory for the cause of the Chinese people’s liberation and the cause of the reunification of the motherland...Since then, Tibet has embarked on a path from darkness to brightness, from backwardness to progress, from poverty to prosperity, from autocracy to democracy, and from closeness to openness.”

  • He then talked about how “old Tibet practiced a reactionary and barbaric feudal serfdom system...We completely expelled the imperialist forces, set off magnificent democratic reforms, ended the history of the unity of religion and politics, i.e., theocratic control of power, and established a people’s democratic government.

Wang then listed developmental achievements of Tibet under the Party. None of this was new, but some of it I found interesting. For instance, 

  • At present, Tibet has over 35,000 deputies of people's congresses and over 8,000 CPPCC members at various levels, 90 percent of whom are ethnic minorities, Wang said.

  • Wang said separatist and sabotage activities committed by the Dalai group and hostile external forces have been crushed.

  • More than 1,700 temples in Tibet have full access to water, electricity, the Internet, fire fighting and other facilities. All of the 46,000 monks and nuns are covered by the government’s social security scheme.

  • He also spoke about support for “a national demonstration zone for ecological civilization construction.”

Wang said officials and the general public of all ethnic groups should be mobilized to forge an ironclad defense against separatist activities. He also called for efforts to ensure that religions in China are Chinese in orientation and guide Tibetan Buddhism in adapting itself to socialist society. “No one outside China has the right to point fingers at us when it comes to Tibetan affairs,’ Wang said. ‘Any attempt or maneuver designed to separate Tibet from China is doomed to fail’.”

Also, this is useful to note, since it tells us that he assimilationist project is still work in progress.

It is necessary to promote the cause of national unity and progress based on forging the consciousness of the Chinese nation as a community as the main line.

What this entails is:

“Efforts to raise public awareness of ethnic unity and progress should go hand in hand with efforts to raise awareness of core socialist values, of patriotism, of struggle against separatist activities, of contrast between old and new Tibet, and of the Marxist views of country, history, ethnicity, culture and religion. Such efforts will enable people of all ethnic groups to strengthen their faith in our great motherland, the Chinese nation, the Chinese culture, the CPC and socialism with Chinese characteristics, thus solidifying the cultural foundation for ethnic unity. A shared cultural identity underpins ethnic unity.”

All-round efforts should continue to be made to teach standard spoken and written Chinese language. We should foster and share Chinese cultural symbols and images of the Chinese nation among all ethnic groups, and thus create a source of inspiration for the entire Chinese nation.”

Coverage of Tibet over the past few weeks, along with the events of this week and Xi’s visit earlier, tells me two things. First, there’s a greater emphasis on Xi’s personal direction of policy. Here’s a visual example of this below:

Second, as I had written after the Symposium on Tibet Work last year, the CCP’s policy in the region entails a mix of persuasion, development, connectivity, indoctrination and coercion.

Also on the front page is a message from the Central Committee, Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, State Council, National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, and Central Military Commission. And on the second page, we have a story describing the performances at the gala.

Moving away from events in Tibet to other front page stories. We have a report about Xi calling for greater BRI cooperation between China and Arab States. This came in the form of a letter that Xi sent greeting the opening of the fifth China-Arab States Expo, which opened Thursday in Yinchuan. Some important data points from the Xinhua English report on this are:

  • “As one of the expo’s major events, the Belt and Road Investment Promotion Conference held on Thursday afternoon witnessed the signing of 13 cooperation projects under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), involving a total of 4 billion yuan, or about 617 million U.S. dollars.”

  • “In 2020, the total trade volume between China and Arab states was 239.8 billion U.S. dollars. Arab states' imports from China reached 122.9 billion U.S. dollars, up 2.1 percent year on year despite the impact of the pandemic.”

  • “China has donated and exported more than 72 million doses of vaccines to 17 Arab states and the Arab League.”

  • “The expo features exhibition areas with themes including the digital economy, clean energy and cross-border e-commerce.” - New growth areas as the piece calls them.

Next, a report about Li Keqiang’s visit (English report) to Henan. This is Li providing a sense of central control over the situation, offering a healing touch and assurances about accountability to folks who have been badly hit by the floods.

PD tells us that Li visited flood-hit people in Yuanzhuang Village, Hebi City. He promised government support. He also visited the tunnel of Zhengzhou Metro Line 5. Do recall that the tunnel had become the site of a disaster; and the line saw displays of public grief. There, he spoke about the need to “rectify the hidden dangers of urban facilities, improve construction and safety standards, and enhance the management level,” along with improving early warning mechanisms. While there he also said that it was important to “seek truths from facts” and “hold accountability for any dereliction of duty and misconduct.” This he said was important in order to “respond to the concerns of the masses and warn future generations.” Li also visited locals and called for a probe to assess the flood damage in people’s homes and provided assurances on supplies of daily necessities. He also spoke about pandemic control and ensuring support for post-disaster reconstruction.

Finally, we have a commentary calling on cadres to channel Jiao Yulu’s spirit as part of their work. Nothing new in this from what I’ve covered before.

Page 3: First, Wang Yi’s chat with Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on the situation in Afghanistan and China-Britain relations (English report). On Afghanistan, Wang began by saying that:

  • “the Afghan people yearn for stability and do not want another war or chaos” - I guess this is a message that forces opposing the Taliban should not get Western support, although it’s not a message against some sort of a political, power-sharing deal internally.

  • the governance model imposed from the outside has not been supported by the Afghan people, and lacks social foundation

  • “The situation in Afghanistan is yet another negative example, and if the United States does not learn from the painful lessons, it will suffer new ones.”

Then he pointed to what I am going to call the three whethers:

  • first, whether the Taliban can unite the Afghan people, establish an open and inclusive political structure in line with the country's conditions, pursue moderate policies, and avoid triggering new conflicts or even a civil war.”

  • whether Afghanistan can draw a clear line from terrorism, resolutely crack down on all kinds of terrorist organizations and avoid becoming a gathering place for terrorists again.

  • whether the international community can “refrain from a predetermined mindset and exceeding one’s duties to meddle in others’ affairs, and not turn Afghanistan into an arena of geopolitical games.”

Linked to the last whether is this comment by Wang that the international community should “encourage and guide” the international community “in a positive direction, instead of exerting excessive pressure.” This, said Wang, is conducive to the early political transition by the Taliban and other political forces in the country, the stabilization of the domestic situation in Afghanistan, and the reduction of the impact of refugees and immigrants.

Before I get to Wang’s comments on ties with the UK, let me quote Hua Chunying on Afghanistan from yesterday’s press briefing. She said that as per the Taliban spokesperson:

“the Afghan Taliban would act responsibly to protect the safety of Afghans and foreign missions in Afghanistan, build good relations with all countries and never allow anyone to use the Afghan territory to threaten other countries. China has taken note of these positive statements and signals...We encourage the Afghan Taliban to follow through its positive statements, unite with all parties and ethnic groups in Afghanistan, establish a broadly-based, inclusive political framework that fits the national conditions and wins public support through dialogue and consultation as soon as possible, and adopt moderate and prudent domestic and foreign policies. That's what we hope to see...I noticed that some people have been saying they don't trust the Afghan Taliban. I want to say that nothing stays unchanged. When understanding and handling problems, we should adopt a holistic, interconnected and developmental dialectical approach. We should look at both the past and the present. We need to not only listen to what they say, but also look at what they do. If we do not keep pace with the times, but stick to fixed mindset and ignore the development of the situation, we will never reach a conclusion that is in line with reality.”

Back to the Wang-Raab chat now. With regard to China-UK ties, Wang spoke about “positive signs”; Wang said that the “premise of cooperation between countries is mutual respect, especially in each other's path of development and core concerns.” Some of the concerns that Wang talked about were origins tracing, vaccines, and the trend to “politicize sports and hype up ‘boycotting’ the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.” 

Two reports based on comments from MoFA. First, this one was about the Meng Wanzhou case. Hua said:

“China has stressed from the start that the Meng Wanzhou case is purely a political incident. The US government concocted the incident not for legal reasons, but to keep Chinese high-tech companies down and obstruct China's scientific development. This has been fully proved by more facts and fully recognized by more people. The Canadian side has been acting as an accomplice for the US side and can never shirk its responsibility...Ms. Meng Wanzhou has not violated any Canadian law but has been groundlessly detained by Canada for close to 1,000 days. Ms. Meng Wanzhou is a daughter to an elderly father, and a mother to young children. The Canadian side, acting as an accomplice for the US, has been disregarding the fact that Ms. Meng has not violated any Canadian law and has groundlessly and arbitrarily detained her...We urge the Canadian government to heed these voices for justice seriously, uphold the spirit and courage for independence, immediately correct mistakes, release Ms. Meng Wanzhou and ensure her safe return to the motherland as soon as possible.”

Second, a report on Zhao Lijian’s comments about the US planning to release its intelligence assessment on COVID-19 origins. Zhao said: 

“The words of senior US officials, as revealed in the reports, that ‘the investigation is not the purpose and that launching the investigation itself bears its meaning’ is in itself a confession of the US manipulation for presumption of guilt. What the US cares about is not facts and truth, but how to consume and malign China. Isn't the US’ malicious intention of political manipulation evident enough?”

There’s also a Zhong Sheng commentary on the page, which criticises the US on human rights, arguing that it does not have the authority to stand in judgement of others. The argument begins in the context of the ​​Trafficking in Persons Report. The report this year talks about state-sponsored trafficking in persons and specifically about forced labor in China’s Xinjiang region, among other things. The commentary says that the US report downplays its own problems with regard to human trafficking. It goes back to slavery and Thomas Jefferson owing slaves and data from the Polaris Project and UN report on trafficking in persons. “The issue of human trafficking is only the tip of the iceberg of the United States’ own human rights issues…” The commentary mentions white supremacy and “systematic discrimination faced by minorities, natives, refugees, and immigrants.”

On a related note, more than half of the international news page today is dedicated to a list of the “History of Human Trafficking Crimes in the United States.

Page 4: Two reports to note. First, there were 4.086 million doctors in China as of 2020. The number of physicians per 1,000 population is 2.9. Second, new State Council appointments. 

  • Yang Xiaowei has been appointed as the deputy director of the State Administration of Radio and Television. 

  • Huai Jinpeng is now appointed minister of education. 

Also I want to highlight new legal changes, although these are not on the page. Below are Xinhua English reports:

Page 5: We have the 25th piece in the Xi Thought series. The first question is about corruption. This talks about why is the approach to ensure that officials “dare not, can not, will not be corrupt?

It begins by talking about the Sky Net campaign, and then says that “Corruption is a social cancer and the greatest threat to our Party.” 腐败是社会毒瘤,是我们党面临的最大威胁. The piece emphasizes that the fight against corruption must be comprehensive and strict. It quotes Xi as saying that “if you don't offend hundreds of corrupt elements, you will end up offending more than one billion people.” 习近平总书记斩钉截铁地指出,不得罪成百上千的腐败分子,就要得罪十几亿人民,这是一笔再明白不过的政治账、人心向背的账. 

The piece talks about an organic unity between tasks in terms of the goals of “dare not, can not, will not be corrupt.” This is not something that’s a reference to stages of tackling corruption.

In essence, the argument is that first, there has to be a deterrence effect, which was established by taking out tigers; second, there must be institutional safeguards and processes, scientific approach to allocation and exercise of power, and effective supervision and accountability; third, i.e., the will not, refers to education on ideals and beliefs and the Party’s spiritual inheritance. 

This is important going ahead:

At present, the fight against corruption has achieved an overwhelming victory, but the severity and complexity of the situation can not be underestimated at all. Despite repeated orders from the Party Central Committee, some cadres still do not stop and do not restrain themselves, continuing to act in a contrary manner. 当前,反腐败斗争已经取得压倒性胜利,但对形势的严峻性和复杂性一点也不能低估。尽管党中央三令五申,一些干部仍然不收手、不收敛,心存侥幸、顶风作案.

The second question is about the new development concept opening up a new dimension of the socialist political economy with Chinese characteristics. I am not going into this here because it’s basically similar to pieces explaining the concept earlier. If you are interested, do check out my breakdown of the April 9 Ren Ping commentary on the NDC and the May 11 ​​Ren Lixuan piece on it.

Page 9: On the Theory page today, the lead piece is by Wu Yingjie, ​​Secretary of the Party Committee of Tibet Autonomous Region. He repeats some of the broad talking points that I’ve covered earlier about CCP rule in Tibet, and then talks about development of the socialist system there.

“The construction of socialist democracy and rule of law has achieved fruitful results, and 152 local laws and regulations and resolutions have been formulated successively, covering economic, political, cultural, educational and other aspects.” 社会主义民主法治建设硕果累累,先后制定152件地方性法规和具有法规性质的决议,内容涉及经济、政治、文化、教育等各个方面.

He writes that “the overall social situation is becoming increasingly harmonious and stable.” But then adds that it is important to “firmly establish the overall national security concept, focus on safeguarding the motherland’s reunification and strengthening national unity, and seek long-term policies and actions to consolidate the foundation. It is important to extensively mobilize the masses to participate in the struggle against separatism, steadily promote innovation in social governance, and comprehensively strengthen the development of a peaceful Tibet and a Tibet ruled by law. We will make every effort to ensure border defense to consolidate border security and ensure that the overall social situation continues to be stable, and the people’s sense of satisfaction and security is constantly improving.” 社会大局日益和谐稳定。牢固树立总体国家安全观,坚持以维护祖国统一、加强民族团结为着眼点和着力点,谋长久之策、行固本之举。广泛发动群众参与反分裂斗争,扎实推进社会治理创新,全面加强平安西藏、法治西藏建设。全力确保边防巩固边境安全,社会大局持续稳定向好,人民群众安全感满意度不断提升。

He then talks about infrastructure development in Tibet:

  • Railway mileage of 1,400 kilometers

  • All counties and villages are accessible by roads, with a mileage of 118,800 kilometers

  • 5 civil airports have been built and 140 international and domestic air routes have been opened

  • 99% of villages have 4G connectivity

  • All border defense villages have been completed

He then talks about livelihood and incomes and then about Sinicization of religion. All this seems like a report card to the bosses. So the tone is that the promised work is being done well. 

“100% of the members of the ‘two committees’ in the village (neighborhood) are party members. The majority of grass-roots party organizations listen to the party’s words and follow the party...the ruling foundation of the Party in Tibet is being continuously consolidated.” 村(居)“两委”班子成员100%是党员,广大基层党组织听党话、跟党走,善团结、会发展,能致富、保稳定,遇事不糊涂,关键时刻起作用,党在西藏的执政基础不断巩固. 

Going ahead, he talks about prioritising:

  • Consolidating Party’s rule in Tibet

  • Adhering to the overall national security concept - this in Tibet emphasises “carrying out the anti-separatism struggle deeply.”

  • Addressing livelihood issues

  • Forging the sense of community of the Chinese nation

  • “We should carry out in-depth publicity and education on the history of the Party, New China, reform and opening up, and socialist development, and carry out in-depth education on the history of relations between Tibet and the motherland, so as to guide the people of all ethnic groups to establish correct views on country, history, nationality, culture and religion.” 我们要深入开展党史、新中国史、改革开放史、社会主义发展史宣传教育,深入开展西藏地方和祖国关系史教育,引导各族群众树立正确的国家观、历史观、民族观、文化观、宗教观。

  • “Carry out the anti-secession struggle in depth, expose and criticize the Dalai clique's political plot with a clear-cut stand, and firmly grasp the initiative in the anti-secession struggle.” 深入开展反分裂斗争,旗帜鲜明揭批达赖集团的政治图谋,牢牢掌握反分裂斗争主动权。

  • Developing a “beautiful Tibet,” i.e., environmental/ecological objectives

The two other pieces on the page are about ideological and political work in colleges and universities and about Marxism being the Party’ soul and banner, by Li Yi from the Central Party School. 

Other Stories: