Party Regulations in Xi's Era - May Economic Data - Rule of Law Propaganda Plan - ASEAN Defense Ministers Plus Meeting - Criticising 'small circles' & 'group politics' & Technology Self-Reliance

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

Page 1: Let’s begin with a long piece about the achievements in the construction of the party's laws and regulations since the 18th National Congress. This is by the Bureau of Regulations of the General Office of the CPC Central Committee. It essentially talks about how Xi’s time has reshaped how the Party is governed. Towards the end of the piece, Xi’s authority is emphasised directly: 

“Xi Jinping’s thought of socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era is the ‘red line’ guiding and running through the construction of laws and regulations within the party.”习近平新时代中国特色社会主义思想是指导和贯穿党内法规制度建设的一条“红线”.

The underlying argument in the piece is also that Xi’s objective has been clear, i.e., “To govern a country, we must manage the party first, be strict with the party, and be strict with the law. To persist in governing the party by system and regulations, we must solve the problem of rules and regulations, and form a perfect system of laws and regulations within the party.” 治国必先治党, 治党务必从严, 从严必依法度. 坚持制度治党, 依规治党, 必须解决有规可依问题, 形成一个完善的党内法规体系.

This is important, as a measure of how deeply the Party is being reshaped during Xi’s tenure. 

“The Party Central Committee, in response to the major issues of the whole Party and the whole army, promptly formulated and revised 146 central party regulations, which are urgently needed in practice and are practical and useful, accounting for 69.5% of the total number of central party regulations in force…” 党中央针对全党全军全国重大问题,及时制定修订146部实践亟需、务实管用的中央党内法规,占现行有效中央党内法规总数的69.5%,实现党的领导和党的建设各方面党内法规制度的全覆盖.

Also useful data here: “as of May 2021, there were 210 inner-party regulations of the central government, 162 inner-party regulations of ministries and commissions, and 3,210 inner-party regulations of local governments.” 截至2021年5月,中央党内法规共210部,部委党内法规共162部,地方党内法规共3210部.

The report also tells us that from 2012 to 2019, in two different rounds of changes, some 866 central regulations and documents have been abolished, declared invalid, and/or amended. This is presented from the perspective of making governance leaner.

From here, the piece talks about enforcing discipline. In this context, the article talks about how the “the laws and regulations within the party truly become a ‘high-voltage line.’ Some cadres said with a deep sense of emotion: ‘Now the party discipline is a real tiger, and whoever touches it will bite’.” 党内法规制度真正成为带电的“高压线”. 有的干部深有感触地说:“现在党规党纪是'真老虎',谁碰就会咬谁.’

Then it talks about improving governance efficiency. In this context, the primary focus is on upholding the Party leadership. A bunch of key regulations are listed here. Then the focus is on cadre selection and appointment, education and assessment, etc. This is followed by strengthening the internal party regulations system. The piece tells us that:

“Across the country, 27 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities have set up research institutions or academic groups on laws and regulations within the Party, and there are 82 research institutes and research centers on laws and regulations within the Party...In the past four years, the National Social Science Foundation project guidelines have included a total of 84 research projects on party regulations...Since the 18th Party Congress, there have been 7,000 articles on the subject of party regulations, and the study of party regulations on CNKI…”

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Next, we have a report (English report and WSJ report) on NBS data regarding the economy in May. The report tells us that:

  • Industrial production rose 8.8% from a year earlier in May. This is up by 13.6% from the level in 2019. The two-year average growth rate was 6.6%. But the pace of growth has slowed from April’s 9.8%.

  • Manufacturing sector came in at 51

  • High-tech manufacturing sector's output expanded by 17.5%, with an average two-year growth of 13.1%.

  • From January to May, the national investment in fixed assets (excluding rural households) was 19,391.7 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 15.4%, and the two-year average growth rate was 4.2%.

  • In May, the total retail sales of consumer goods was 3594.5 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 12.4%; this was also a 0.81-percent monthly increase. But the pace of growth for retail sales slowed from the 17.7% year-over-year growth rate in April.

  • In May, the total value of imports and exports of goods was 3,136.1 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 26.9%. Among them, exports increased by 18.1% year-on-year, and imports increased by 39.5% year-on-year. The import and export balance, the trade surplus was 296 billion yuan.

Third, we have a report about Li Keqiang’s visit to Jilin. Xinhua English tells us that Li visited farmlands in Songyuan City and stressed effective measures to stabilize the prices of agricultural materials and keep grain prices at an appropriate level. He went to Chagan Lake, one of the largest freshwater lakes in the country, where he underscored continuous efforts to protect the water environment and promote the development of fishery and other industries with a sound ecological environment. 

Finally, he also said that “efforts should be made to deepen reform and build a market-oriented, law-based and internationalized business environment so that both domestic and foreign enterprises will be more confident in investing in northeast China.” Li also visited the demonstration zone for international cooperation between China and the Republic of Korea in Changchun. There, he talked about China’s northeast seizing “the opportunity of the regional comprehensive economic partnership agreement to strengthen regional cooperation.”

Fourth, a report (English report) on the UFD organizing a symposium to discuss the results of research done on strengthening national strategic capacity in science and technology. Xinhua English says that the research work was carried out by “relevant non-Communist parties and organizations.” So I am a bit confused. Anyway, PSC member Wang Yang attended the event. He “called on the non-Communist parties and organizations to give full play to their advantages in talent and intelligence and take an active part in implementing major national scientific projects.” PD says that:

Wan Exiang, Cai Dafeng, Chen Zhu, Wu Weihua and Gao Yunlong presented the results of the research work. Xinhua tells us that “the heads of the central committees of the participant non-Communist parties and the ACFIC pointed out the problems and obstacles in enhancing China's strategic scientific and technological strengths. They also raised suggestions on improving related legislation, accelerating public health system reforms, and supporting enterprises in leading scientific innovation, among others.”

Finally, we have a report about China launching the crewed spacecraft Shenzhou-12. This mission sends three astronauts to China’s space station core module Tianhe for a three-month mission.

Page 2: We have an interview with representatives of the Propaganda Department and Ministry of Justice on the Eighth Five-Year Plan for Publicity and Education on the Rule of Law (2021-2025). They say that:

“With regard to the main objectives, the Plan clearly states that by 2025, citizens’ legal literacy and the level of social governance will be significantly improved, and the system of universal legal popularization will be more perfect.” 在主要目标上,《规划》明确,到2025年, 公民法治素养和社会治理法治化水平显著提升, 全民普法工作体系更加健全.

Here’s more: “The Eighth Five-Year Plan strives to innovate in inheritance, paying special attention to ideological guidance, and taking in-depth study, propaganda and implementation of Xi Jinping's Thought on rule of law as the main line; pay attention to the improvement of citizens’ legal literacy; pay attention to improving quality and efficiency, and focus on improving the pertinence and effectiveness of law popularization.” “八五”普法规划力求在继承中创新,特别注重思想引领,把深入学习宣传贯彻习近平法治思想作为主线; 注重素养提升, 把持续提升公民法治素养作为重点;注重提质增效,把提高普法针对性和实效性作为工作着力点.

So what are the key tasks in order of priority under the plan?

  • First, highlight the study and publicity of Xi Jinping's thought of rule of law, and promote Xi Jinping's thought of rule of law to enter people’s minds and hearts.

  • The second is to highlight the spirit of the Constitution.

  • Third, highlight the publicity of the Civil Code.

  • Fourth, in-depth publicity of laws and regulations closely related to promoting high-quality development.

  • Fifth, publicize the laws and regulations closely related to the modernization of social governance.

  • Sixthly, the Party's internal laws and regulations should be thoroughly publicized.

一是突出学习宣传习近平法治思想,推动习近平法治思想入脑入心、走深走实。

二是突出宣传宪法,大力弘扬宪法精神。

三是突出宣传民法典,让民法典走到群众身边、走进群众心里。

四是深入宣传与推动高质量发展密切相关的法律法规。

五是深入宣传与社会治理现代化密切相关的法律法规。

六是深入宣传党内法规.

The next couple of questions are about how popularisation will be done and how the effort will be assessed.

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Page 3: First, let’s look at the ASEAN Defense Ministers Plus meeting from yesterday (English report). Wei Fenghe said that China attaches great importance to security cooperation with other countries and fully understands and respects the legitimate concerns of all countries. He also spoke about China’s “rock-solid will and determination in safeguarding its core national interests on issues related to Taiwan, Xinjiang, Hong Kong and the South China Sea.” Xinhua tells us that he also urged all parties in the region to follow a vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security for the world, and jointly build and leverage the mechanism of the ADMM-Plus.

Doing a bit extra here by also covering US and Indian statements after the meeting.

The US DoD readout says that Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III “articulated the Administration’s vision for the Indo-Pacific, underscoring the importance of allies and partners, shared principles, and multilateral approaches to security challenges, including pandemic assistance. He also highlighted unlawful PRC behavior in the South China Sea and called on Myanmar’s military to change course.”

India’s Rajnath Singh “called for an open and inclusive order in Indo-Pacific based upon respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of nations...” At the same time, he stressed on “peaceful resolutions of disputes through dialogue and adherence to international rules and laws.” The PIB readout also says this: “The Raksha Mantri reiterated India’s support to freedom of navigation, over-flight and unimpeded commerce for all in international waters in accordance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). ‘Maritime security challenges are a concern to India. The Sea lanes of Communication are critical for peace, stability, prosperity and development of the Indo-Pacific region,’ he stressed. The Raksha Mantri hoped that the Code of Conduct negotiations will lead to outcomes keeping with international law and do not prejudice the legitimate rights and interests of nations that are not party to these discussions.

Next, a short report (English version) about MoFA’s comments following the US-EU summit meeting. Zhao Lijian said that 

“China is strongly dissatisfied with and firmly opposed to such moves to groundlessly interfere in China's domestic affairs, and create and spread disinformation. The US and the EU should reflect on their own serious problems and they are in no position to lecture others. We oppose imposing one’s own interest and requirement on other countries, forming small cliques and bloc politics targeting a third party, and dividing the world with ideology as the yardstick. The US and the EU should follow the trend of the times for peace, development and win-win cooperation, abide by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, practice true multilateralism, and make their due contribution to the international community’s efforts to fight the epidemic together and meet global challenges.”

Zhao was also critical of the announcement that the US and EU have reached an agreement in the Boeing-Airbus dispute and agreed to address shared challenges from China. He hit out at Washington and Brussels’ “narrow-minded mentality,” and said that Beijing does not accept the unjustified accusation of “non-market practice.”

While we are on this, there’s a Zhong Sheng commentary criticising the formation of “small circles” and “group politics.” 

It says that “A few countries, such as the United States, have painstakingly used the G7 summit to discredit China and create a so-called ‘image of unity.’ However, the American media itself has reported that few countries have ‘shown enthusiasm’ for this. The reason is very simple. A lie is a lie, and the nature of lies will not be changed just because of the slanderous arguments of the rumor mongers.” 美国等少数国家苦心孤诣要借峰会抹黑中国,打造所谓“团结形象”,但正如美国媒体自己所称的,没有几个国家对此“表现出热情”. 原因很简单,谎言就是谎言,不会因为造谣者几句抹黑论调就改变其谎言的本质.

The commentary then pushes back on Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Taiwan, before saying that “Russian President Vladimir Putin recently expressed his support for China on issues related to Xinjiang and Taiwan; this represents the mainstream view of the international community.” 俄罗斯总统普京近日就涉疆、台湾等问题表达对中方的支持,代表的正是国际社会的主流看法.

“The noise and commotion emanating from the G7 summit has fully exposed the dangerous intention of the United States and a few other countries to try to engage in ‘small circle’ and ‘group politics’ and to suppress different development models by drawing ideological lines. There is only one system and one order in the world, that is, the international system with the United Nations at its core and the international order based on international law; there is only one set of rules, that is, the basic norms of international relations based on the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. At present, the international community urgently needs to strengthen solidarity and cooperation under the banner of the United Nations and practice genuine multilateralism. The United States and a few other countries are obsessed with confrontation, which will only attract the resentment and resistance of the international community. The unilateralism of a few countries, such as the United States, will only undermine international rules and international order.” 此次七国集团峰会传出的一些喧哗与骚动,充分暴露了美国等少数国家试图搞“小圈子”和“集团政治”、以意识形态划线打压不同发展模式的危险意图. 世界上只有一个体系、一种秩序,那就是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;只有一套规则,那就是以《联合国宪章》宗旨和原则为基础的国际关系基本准则. 当前,国际社会迫切需要在联合国的旗帜下,加强团结合作,践行真正的多边主义. 美国等少数国家执迷于搞对抗,只会招致国际社会的反感与抵制. 美国等少数国家的单边主义逆动,只会破坏国际规则和国际秩序.

The author then questions the utility and relevance of the G7 as a group, before advising them that the “US and a few other countries should cure themselves, get rid of the inertia of the Cold War mentality, abandon their attempts to restore their fragmented influence by creating so-called ‘imaginary enemies’ and rather do something for the benefit of the international community.” 美国等少数国家应好好治治自己的心病,摆脱冷战思维的惯性,摒弃靠制造所谓“假想敌”来恢复其支离破碎影响力的企图,真正做一些有利于国际社会的事情.

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Next, more than 740 representatives from nearly 100 countries, 126 political parties and friendly organizations, and ambassadors to China from more than 40 countries participated in an event themed “The Story of the Communist Party of China—The Practice of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics in Shanghai in the New Era.” The ILD was among the organisers.

Lastly, a short report (English version) about China and Russia’s aerospace authorities jointly releasing a roadmap and a guide for the International Lunar Research Station, inviting all interested countries, international organizations and partners to cooperate in the project.

Page 6: Two short stories. First, a new book “China's Science and Technology Road” has been published by the Central Propaganda Department. PD reports that “it fully reflects the magnificent development course, main achievements, key nodes and great significance of China's scientific and technological undertakings under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, and systematically summarizes the historical experience of China's scientific and technological development.”

Second, the National Art Museum of China is hosting an exhibition, showcasing Chinese painting, oil painting, printmaking, sculpture, etc, to mark the 100th anniversary of the Party. PD also tells us that “the exhibition fully demonstrates the glorious journey of the Communist Party of China leading the Chinese people to revolution, construction, and reform, and towards the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.”

Page 7: A report on a new set of thematic radio dramas around the centenary celebrations have gone on air. 

Page 13: Today’s lead piece is from Huai Jinpeng, First Secretary of the Secretariat of the China Association for Science and Technology. He too writes drawing from Xi’s speech on technology, like the pieces earlier in the week have done. It’s an interesting pattern. These pieces quote something specific from Xi’s speech and then outline what their institutes must do or have been doing. In that sense, they are interpreting what the speech means in practice. So Huai tells us that:

“Self-reliance is the basic point for the Chinese nation to stand on its own feet in the forest of nations in the world, and independent innovation is the only way for us to climb the peak of world science and technology.” 自力更生是中华民族自立于世界民族之林的奋斗基点,自主创新是我们攀登世界科技高峰的必由之路.

He adds: “We should have a deep understanding of the new opportunities and challenges brought by the unprecedented changes in the world in the past century to the development of science and technology undertakings and science and technology associations, and the importance and necessity of insisting on the core position of innovation in the overall situation of China's modernization construction, so as to earnestly enhance the sense of responsibility and urgency of realizing high-level science and technology self-reliance.” 我们要深刻认识世界百年未有之大变局给科技事业、科协事业发展带来的新机遇新挑战,深刻认识坚持创新在我国现代化建设全局中的核心地位的重要性和必要性,切实增强实现高水平科技自立自强的责任感紧迫感. 

There’s a certain optimism in Huai’s comments; in that he believes that it is possible for China “seize the opportunity” today despite “pressing challenges,” by pursuing the plan and measures outlined by Xi in his speech. He reiterates these.

He also has specific messages with regard to the institution he represents:

  • “The Association for Science and Technology should constantly improve political judgment, political understanding and political execution, unite and guide the vast number of scientific and technological workers to enhance ‘four consciousnesses’, strengthen ‘four self-confidences’, achieve ‘two safeguards’, shoulder the responsibility of connecting the party and the government with science and technology workers.” 科协组织要不断提高政治判断力、政治领悟力、政治执行力,团结引导广大科技工作者增强“四个意识”、坚定“四个自信”、做到“两个维护”,肩负起党和政府联系科技工作者桥梁和纽带的职责,把科技界思想和行动统一到习近平总书记重要讲话精神上来,勇担国家使命,切实把人才潜能转化为发展动能,把组织优势转化为治理优势,把自身发展优势转化为开放合作优势.

  • “The Association for Science and Technology should unite and lead the vast number of scientific and technological workers to grasp the power of faith from the party’s century of struggle, learn from the party’s valuable experience in leading the development of science and technology, and use the spirit of advancing with the times, the courage to innovate, and the perseverance. Contribute to the ‘14th Five-Year Plan’ and forge ahead on a new journey. 科协组织要团结引领广大科技工作者从党的百年奋斗历程中感悟信仰的力量,汲取党领导科技事业发展的宝贵经验,以与时俱进的精神、革故鼎新的勇气、坚忍不拔的定力建功“十四五”、奋进新征程. 

He then talks about attracting and retaining high-level talents in order to “ensure high-level technological self-reliance with the support of high-level talents.”

  • “We should vigorously create an environment for innovation, pragmatically build an organization home, a career home, a spiritual home and a service home for scientific and technological workers, resolutely put an end to formalism and bureaucratic activities, and jointly improve the guarantee mechanism for scientific researchers to focus on scientific research.” 我们要大力营造创新环境,务实建设科技工作者的组织之家、事业之家、精神之家、服务之家,坚决杜绝形式主义、官僚主义的种种活动,共同完善让科研人员把主要精力放在科研上的保障机制.

  • Huai also wants to focus on “jointly building a team of outstanding scientific and technological talents who are determined to strive for patriotism and be brave in innovation and creation.” 科协组织要积极开展科学家精神弘扬、学风传承行动,培育优良学风作风,强化价值引领,共同建设矢志爱国奋斗、勇于创新创造的优秀科技人才队伍.

Page 17: I am not going into the comments, but if you are interested, there are excerpts from commentators following a seminar based on the centenary and China’s foreign work. The comments are from provincial and central officials, along with folks from universities and academic institutions.