Politburo Meeting - Xi's Gala Time - Subsidised Housing - Afghanistan Policy - Xi Thought Series: Marxism & the New Generation

Here are the stories and pieces from the September 1, 2021, edition of the People’s Daily that I found noteworthy.

Page 1: There are two stories at the top of the front page today. The first one is about the Politburo’s meeting deciding on the timing of the sixth plenary of the 19th CPC Central Committee, and the other is about Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, Wang Yang and Wang Huning joining an audience of more than 3,000 people at the Great Hall of the People to view the opening gala of the sixth ethnic minority art festival. 

I woke up in a festive mood today, so I am going to begin with the gala. Xinhua English tells us that “before the gala, the leaders met with representatives of the performers, organizers and primary-level Party members of 56 ethnic groups.” PD tells us that the gala began with the songs of unity, talking about the sons and daughters of ethnic minority groups rallying around the party (各族儿女心向党) and for everyone to unite in forging ahead in a new journey (团结奋进新征程). There were many more songs, and as PD tells us:

“The evening’s festivities heaped praise on the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core and the deep affection shown towards the people of all ethnic groups. It vividly displayed the colorful and rich connotations of Chinese culture and vividly depicted a magnificent picture of sons and daughters of all ethnic groups hugging each other tightly like pomegranate seeds and striving together. It fully reflected the firm determination and heroic spirit of the sons and daughters of the Chinese nation to build the common spiritual home of the Chinese nation, unswervingly following the Party and vigorously forging ahead on the new journey.” 整台晚会热情讴歌了以习近平同志为核心的党中央的坚强领导和对各族人民的亲切关怀,生动展现出中华文化的绚丽多彩、丰富内涵,生动描绘出各族儿女像石榴籽一样紧紧拥抱在一起共同团结奋斗的壮美画卷,充分反映出中华儿女建设中华民族共有精神家园、坚定不移跟党走、昂扬奋进新征程的坚定决心和豪迈气概...”

Some of the other key leaders mentioned in PD are: Ding Xuexiang, Sun Chunlan, Zhang Youxia, Huang Kunming, Cai Qi, You Quan, Xiao Jie, Ma Biao, and Bai Ma Chilin.

Moving on to the report about the timing of the sixth plenary; the PD report tells us that the Politburo met yesterday and confirmed that the sixth plenary will be held in November. The PB will present its work report to the plenary session, which will study the issue of comprehensively reviewing the major achievements made and the historical experiences accumulated during the Party's 100 years of endeavors. 

The PD report then foreshadows what we can expect from the PB’s work report in November in the sense that it repeats the Party’s historical narrative that we have heard through the year. So it tells us that the meeting held that the CCP since its formation made working for the “happiness of the Chinese people and the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” as “its original mission.” It tells us that the Party has “always adhered to the ideals of communism and socialism, and united and led the people of all nationalities to fight unremittingly for national independence and liberation of the people and to achieve national prosperity and people’s happiness.” It tells us that the Party has led the people in fighting “bloody battles” and “persevering” in order to create the “great achievements,” and after a hundred years of struggle, the Party and the people have written the most magnificent epic in the history of the Chinese nation for thousands of years.” 会议认为,中国共产党自1921年成立以来,始终把为中国人民谋幸福、为中华民族谋复兴作为自己的初心使命,始终坚持共产主义理想和社会主义信念,团结带领全国各族人民为争取民族独立、人民解放和实现国家富强、人民幸福而不懈奋斗,已经走过一百年光辉历程。一百年来,党领导人民浴血奋战、百折不挠,创造了新民主主义革命的伟大成就;自力更生、发愤图强,创造了社会主义革命和建设的伟大成就;解放思想、锐意进取,创造了改革开放和社会主义现代化建设的伟大成就;自信自强、守正创新,创造了新时代中国特色社会主义的伟大成就。党和人民百年奋斗,书写了中华民族几千年历史上最恢宏的史诗. 

The report also tells us that summarising historical experience is critical on the road to the new journey. It is also an important task in order to “enhance political awareness, overall situation awareness, core awareness and sense of conformity” along with strengthening the four self-confidences, and “resolutely safeguarding General Secretary Xi Jinping’s position as the core of CPC Central Committee and the whole party” and “resolutely safeguarding the authority of the centralised and unified leadership of the CPC Central Committee”...so that the Party advances in self-revolution and the Party’s ability to struggle and cope with risks and challenges is enhanced, its vitality is maintained… “The whole party should adhere to historical materialism and the correct view of Party history, understand why we succeeded in the past and draw lessons from the Party’s 100-year struggle to learn how we can continue to succeed in the future…” 会议指出,以史为鉴,可以知兴替。总结党的百年奋斗的重大成就和历史经验,是在建党百年历史条件下开启全面建设社会主义现代化国家新征程、在新时代坚持和发展中国特色社会主义的需要,是增强政治意识、大局意识、核心意识、看齐意识,坚定道路自信、理论自信、制度自信、文化自信,做到坚决维护习近平总书记党中央的核心、全党的核心地位,坚决维护党中央权威和集中统一领导,确保全党步调一致向前进的需要,是推进党的自我革命、提高全党斗争本领和应对风险挑战能力、永葆党的生机活力、团结带领全国各族人民为实现中华民族伟大复兴的中国梦而继续奋斗的需要。全党要坚持唯物史观和正确党史观,从党的百年奋斗中看清楚过去我们为什么能够成功、弄明白未来我们怎样才能继续成功,从而更加坚定、更加自觉地践行初心使命,在新时代更好坚持和发展中国特色社会主义.

The next bit talks about meeting the test of the times in the new era. 

Apart from this, the report tells us that the PB deliberated on a report on the seventh round of the disciplinary inspection launched by the 19th CPC Central Committee. Then we come to talking about education. CGTN’s English report is useful.

“The meeting said that the CPC Central Committee, with General Secretary Xi at the core, attaches great importance to educational development and significant progress and changes have been made in educational reform and development. Acknowledging the Party officials’ achievements in school running, and serving economic and social development, the meeting pointed out that there are still shortcomings in strengthening grassroots Party building.

PD says:

“There are still some shortcomings in strengthening Party building, implementing the fundamental task of cultivating morality and educating people, implementing the principal responsibility system under the leadership of the party Committee, strictly managing the party and strengthening the team and grassroots party organizations.” 在加强党的建设、落实立德树人根本任务、落实党委领导下的校长负责制、从严治党、加强队伍和基层党组织建设等方面还存在一些不足. The meeting called for improving supervision and strengthening the role of inspection tours to promote the high-quality development of higher education in the new era. 

The last paragraph is interesting too:

“The meeting stressed that it is necessary to continue to thoroughly study and implement Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, fully implement the Party's educational policy, consciously arm the mind with the Party's innovative theory, guide practice and promote work, improve political judgment, political understanding and political execution, keep in mind the ‘国之大者’ (matters of great significance to the state/national priorities), adhere to the socialist direction of running schools, and educate people for the Party and the country. It is necessary to take moral education as the fundamental task, strengthen ideological and political work and the construction of teachers’ morality, school spirit and study style, and focus on cultivating socialist builders and successors with a comprehensive moral, intellectual, physical and aesthetic grounding and a hardworking spirit...It is necessary to further promote the comprehensive and strict administration of the party in colleges and universities, conscientiously implement the party committee’s main responsibility, the first secretary’s responsibility and the discipline inspection commission supervision responsibility, transfer the pressure at all levels, strengthen the strict atmosphere, strengthen supervision and constraints on the exercise of power, investigate and deal with corruption strictly, form a strong deterrent, effectively prevent integrity risks, and promote integrated anti-corruption work so that one cannot, dare not and will not engage in corruption…”   会议强调,要持续深入学习贯彻习近平新时代中国特色社会主义思想,全面贯彻党的教育方针,自觉用党的创新理论武装头脑、指导实践、推动工作,提高政治判断力、政治领悟力、政治执行力,牢记“国之大者”,坚持社会主义办学方向,为党育人、为国育才。要把立德树人作为根本任务,加强思想政治工作和师德师风、校风学风建设,着力培养德智体美劳全面发展的社会主义建设者和接班人。要落实教育改革部署,加强高校治理体系和治理能力建设,实现内涵式高质量发展。要主动适应新时代要求,立足新发展阶段,完整、准确、全面贯彻新发展理念,服务和融入新发展格局。要深入推进高校全面从严治党,认真落实党委主体责任、书记第一责任人责任和纪委监督责任,层层传导压力,强化严的氛围,加强权力运行监督制约,严肃查处腐败问题,形成有力震慑,切实防范廉洁风险,一体推进不敢腐、不能腐、不想腐.

Next on the page is a report about Qiushi publishing a piece by Xi on the Party’s spiritual strength. The piece is a collection of Xi’s quotes over time. If you are so spiritually inclined, I did collect all the spirits in one place in July. You can see them here. I still have to flesh these out as promised. Hmmm...adding flesh to spirit, kinda wondering if I have a god complex. 

Anyway, PD tells us that the gist of Xi’s message is that only when one is strong in spirit, can a nation stand firm and upright amid the tide of history. 只有精神上坚定地站起来,一个民族才能在历史的浪潮中屹立不倒. The piece then mentions some of the spirits that I’ve referred to earlier, and then it concludes that “great causes breed great spirits, and great spirits guide great causes.” 

‘The great spirit and glorious tradition of the Party is our valuable spiritual wealth; these provide a strong spiritual impetus, inspiring us to move ahead. Today, China is in a critical period on the path to achieve the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. The prosperity of the country and the rejuvenation of the nation require the accumulation of material civilization and the sublimation of spiritual civilization. All party members should nourish and encourage themselves with the great spirit of the Party’s century-long struggle, and resolutely overcome all difficulties and risks on the way forward. Strive for new and greater victories in upholding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics!” 文章指出,伟大事业孕育伟大精神,伟大精神引领伟大事业。党的伟大精神和光荣传统是我们的宝贵精神财富,是激励我们奋勇前进的强大精神动力。当今中国正处于实现中华民族伟大复兴关键时期,国家强盛、民族复兴需要物质文明的积累,更需要精神文明的升华,全党同志要用党在百年奋斗中形成的伟大精神滋养自己、激励自己,坚决战胜前进道路上的一切困难和风险,不断夺取坚持和发展中国特色社会主义新的更大的胜利!

Next, a report about Xi condoling the passing of former IOC President Jacques Rogge. Then we have a report about Li Zhanshu speaking to Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, the speaker of Sri Lanka’s Parliament. Li spoke about enhancing political exchanges, deepening cooperation on COVID-19 response, promoting practical cooperation across the board, and cooperating on multilateral coordination. The key bit here, however, was coordination with regard to the COVID-19 origins tracing issue. One more interesting bit was this comment by Li, asking Abeywardena to work together to “approve or amend laws that are beneficial to bilateral cooperation.” 

Finally, we have a report on the CPPCC Standing Committee discussing the building of a peaceful China. The report basically mentions the different comments from different people.

Xinhua English summarises this well:

“Zhang Mao, a standing committee member of the CPPCC National Committee, suggested enforcement of anti-monopoly and anti-unfair competition laws should be improved to foster a fair competition environment. The rule of law should be upheld when planning the building of a peaceful China, solving disputes and problems, and safeguarding peace, said Zhang Shouzhi, also a standing committee member of the CPPCC National Committee. Other members also put forward suggestions about strengthening basic research, protecting the rights and interests of new-form employees, and protecting farmland. The advice also extended to enhancing self-reliance in industrial and supply chains, improving laws to safeguard and expand overseas interests, improving food and drug regulations, and cracking down on telecommunications and internet fraud.” -- None of this sounds anything different from what already appears to be policy priority. So one can either take away that consultation is more a process of consultation or not about direction of policy but about degree/specific action or just that even if there are suggestions that disagree with policy direction, these will not get reported. 

Page 2: We have a commentary on strengthening the Party’s leadership over ethnic affairs work. Next, there’s a report about the policies related to subsidised housing over the next five years. 

Wang Menghui, Minister of housing and urban-rural development, told a press conference on Tuesday that the country has built over 80 million sets of government-subsidized and renovation housing, improving the living conditions of more than 200 million people with difficulties. Wang said that through this, the needs of low-income families are basically being guaranteed and those of families in the low-middle income bracket have been improved.

Wang added that among the different types of government-subsidized housing, rental housing is built to mainly address the concerns of new dwellers and young people in big cities, while shared-ownership housing is mainly designed for people who can not afford commercial housing to improve their living conditions. During the 14th FYP, China will focus on the development of affordable rental housing, further improve the housing security system, increase the supply of affordable housing, and strive to achieve housing for all, Wang said.

On renovations, he said that from 2019 to 2020, a total of 59,000 new urban and old neighbourhoods underwent renovation, benefiting 10.88 million households. This year the aim is 53,000 old neighbourhoods, impacting more than 9 million residents; as of the end of July, work in 42,200 neighbourhoods has started. The report also stresses the principle that “housing is for living in, not for speculation.”

Some other useful data points:

  • Urbanisation in 2020 was at 63.89%

  • In 2019, urban GDP and fixed asset investment accounted for nearly 90% of the country's total.

  • In 2020, urban roads length was 493,000 kilometers, and completed mileage of urban rail transit was 7597.9 kilometers.

  • As of 2020, water supply penetration rate and gas penetration rate was at 99% and 97.9%, respectively.

Finally, a report about the State Council dispatching 16 inspection teams across the country to ensure that major policies issued by central authorities are being effectively implemented. Xinhua tells us that, 

“the priorities include the work on supporting the development of enterprises, expanding domestic demand, ensuring employment, improving people’s living standards, promoting innovation-driven development and optimizing the business environment through further reforms on streamlining administration and delegating power. Inspectors will also focus on the rectification of problems discovered in auditing, drinking-water safety in rural areas and campus security.”

Page 3: We have a commentary on the page about the US’ “political manipulation” when it comes to the COVID-19 origins tracing. This is the same argument that we’ve read for months now: US politicians are motivated by selfish interests; they don’t care about the lives of American people; they are trying to conceal their failures by politicising the pandemic; they are using this to extend hegemony; they are ignoring science; “the voice of the international community against political traceability is getting stronger and stronger,” “Virus traceability needs to be fair and just, open and transparent”; and American politicians should learn lessons “respect science, respect facts” and stop shifting blame. 

Then we have MoFA’s comments (English version) on the issue too: Wang Wenbin said yesterday that the “so-called assessment on COVID-19 origins made by the US intelligence community is a political report, a scapegoating report and a false report.” In further making his point, Wang pointed to support from Cuba, Venezuela, Russian researchers and “officials and scholars from Pakistan, Cambodia, Egypt, Brazil, Syria and other countries.”

While on MoFA’s press conference, this was interesting:

RIA Novosti: After the final withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, is China ready to recognize the Taliban as the legitimate authority in the country? 

Wang Wenbin: China’s position on the Afghan issue is clear and consistent. We hope Afghanistan can form an open, inclusive and broadly-based government, uphold moderate and prudent domestic and foreign policies, resolutely combat terrorist forces in all forms, coexist friendly with all countries, and respond to the shared aspiration of the Afghan people and the international community.

Also, while on the subject, China and Russia abstained from the UNSC resolution on Afghanistan. Here’s Beijing’s explanation for the decision

“The countries concerned circulated the draft resolution last Friday evening, demanding action to be taken on Monday. China has huge doubts about the necessity and urgency of adopting this resolution and the balance of its content. Despite this, China has still participated constructively in the consultations and put forward important and reasonable amendments together with Russia. Unfortunately, our amendments have not been fully adopted.”

“The recent chaos in Afghanistan is directly related to the hasty and disorderly withdrawal of foreign troops. We hope that relevant countries will realize the fact that withdrawal is not the end of responsibility, but the beginning of reflection and correction. Relevant countries should learn from the lessons, truly respect the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Afghanistan, and genuinely respect the rights of the Afghan people to determine their own future. It is hoped that relevant countries will effectively change the wrong practice of imposing their own models on others, and change the hegemonic practice of imposing sanctions or even using force at every turn. These countries should be responsible for what they have done in the past 20 years, and fulfill their commitments towards the peaceful rebuilding of Afghanistan. They cannot claim to care about Afghan people's welfare, while imposing unilateral sanctions, or claim to support Afghanistan's acceleration of economic and social development, while seizing and freezing Afghanistan’s overseas assets. They have left behind in the country huge catastrophe they have created but shifted the responsibility to Afghanistan’s neighboring countries and the Security Council. The actions of foreign troops in Afghanistan in the past 20 years, including the criminal activities carried out by the United States and Australian forces for the indiscriminate killing of civilians must not be wiped out, and must continue to be investigated. The United States’ recent retaliatory attack on the Islamic State have caused casualties of innocent civilians. We call on the United States to refrain from indiscriminately bombing the civilian populated areas in Afghanistan.”

“The hasty withdrawal of foreign troops is likely to have provided opportunities for various terrorist organizations to make a comeback. We hope that the security of Kabul airport can be guaranteed, the evacuation of relevant personnel can proceed smoothly, and all parties concerned can strengthen coordination to jointly prevent new terrorist attacks. Afghanistan must never again become the birthplace for terrorism or the base for terrorists. This is the bottom line that Afghanistan must adhere to in any future political settlement. It is hoped that the Taliban will honestly fulfill their commitments and completely cut off ties with all terrorist organizations. Countries should follow international laws and Security Council resolutions, and resolutely combat international terrorist organizations such as the Islamic State, Al Qaeda and the ETIM, so as to prevent any chaos caused by terrorists by gathering in Afghanistan. On the issue of counter-terrorism, there must not be any double standard or selective approach.”

Times of India’s Indrani Bagchi sums this up well in this short thread:

Finally, do note Wang Wenbin’s comments yesterday adding to the above:

“The US and some other Western countries should provide Afghanistan with urgently needed assistance for the economy, livelihood and humanitarian needs, help Afghan people overcome difficulties as soon as possible and embark on the path of peace and reconstruction at an early date. What they should not do is to simply take to their heels and leave a mess behind in Afghanistan and the region.”

Anyway, back to page 3. There is one more report to note, i.,e., a meeting between the culture ministers of China, Japan and South Korea. Here’s Yonhap’s coverage of the meeting in English, if you are interested.

Page 4: Few pieces to note, although I am not doing a deep reading of these. First, the Propaganda Department has posthumously awarded (English report) the title of “Role Model of the Times” to Qiu Jun and Sun Limei, two officials who devoted their lives to the development of rural areas. Second, the fifth in the series of commentaries on the Party’s missions and contributions paper. Third, a report with Party officials weighing in on the missions and contributions document.

Page 5: Today, we have the 33rd piece in the Xi Thought Q&A series. The first question is about the guiding position of Marxism in the field of ideology. 

“General Secretary Xi Jinping has pointed out that Marxism is like a magnificent sunrise, illuminating the path for mankind to explore historical laws and seek their own liberation. Marxism is a scientific theory, a people’s theory, a practical theory and an open theory. It profoundly reveals the universal law of the development of nature, human society and human thinking, and points out the direction for the development and progress of human society. It is a theory of ‘right’, in that it adheres to the stand of realizing people’s liberation and safeguarding people’s interests, and takes the free and comprehensive development of human beings and the liberation of all mankind as its own mission, which reflects the beautiful vision of human beings for an ideal society. It is a theory of ‘good’; in that it has a distinct practical character; it was founded to transform the historical destiny of the people, and has provided a powerful ideological weapon for the people to understand and transform the world. It is a theory of ‘action’; in that, it always stands at the forefront of the times, constantly explores new issues raised by the times and practical developments, and responds to new challenges faced by human society.  It is a ‘living’ theory, in that no matter how the times change and how science progresses, Marxism still shows the great power of scientific thought and still occupies the commanding heights of truth and morality. Under any circumstances, at any moment, we must never waver in our adherence to the fundamental system of guiding position of Marxism in the ideological field.”   习近平总书记指出,马克思主义犹如壮丽的日出,照亮了人类探索历史规律和寻求自身解放的道路。马克思主义是科学的理论、人民的理论、实践的理论、开放的理论。它深刻揭示了自然界、人类社会、人类思维发展的普遍规律,为人类社会发展进步指明了方向,是“对”的理论;它坚持实现人民解放、维护人民利益的立场,以实现人的自由而全面的发展和全人类解放为己任,反映了人类对理想社会的美好憧憬,是“好”的理论;它具有鲜明的实践品格,为改变人民历史命运而创立,为人民认识世界、改造世界提供强大思想武器,是“行”的理论;它始终站在时代前沿,不断探索时代和实践发展提出的新课题、回应人类社会面临的新挑战,是“活”的理论。无论时代如何变迁、科学如何进步,马克思主义依然显示出科学思想的伟力,依然占据着真理和道义的制高点。坚持马克思主义在意识形态领域指导地位这一根本制度,必须坚定不移,任何时候任何情况下都不能有丝毫动摇.

We are then told that Marxism is the “true scripture” 真经 of the Communists and it is precisely because of Marxism that the Party has been able to achieve so much and continued to flourish. The next bit tells us that Marxism is the Beidou 北斗 of the cause of socialism; this makes it all the more important to adhere to Marxism in the ideological field, given China’s current situation, i.e., being in a critical period on the path to achieving national rejuvenation. Then we are told that “Marxism is the soul of contemporary Chinese cultural development.” Given this, non-adherence to Marxism could lead to “ideological and cultural chaos and damage the cause of the party and the people.” 否则,就会造成思想文化上的混乱,给党和人民事业带来损害.

What makes this all the more important is that China is “undergoing extensive and profound changes, and the social and cultural ecology has become more complex”; there is an intermingling between the advanced and backward, the positive and negative are animating each other, and the national and foreign are in a tussle. We must, therefore, adhere to the fundamental system of guiding position of Marxism in the field of ideology, and ensure that China's cultural development always advances in the correct direction. 当代中国正在发生广泛而深刻的变革,社会文化生态更加复杂,先进的和落后的相互交织,积极的和消极的相互激荡,民族的和外来的相互碰撞. 必须坚持马克思主义在意识形态领域指导地位的根本制度,确保我国文化建设始终沿着正确方向前进.

The piece dismisses the foreign origin of Marxism by arguing that it is a universal theory. It also says that “we must not lose our ancestors” 老祖宗不能丢 and “we must speak new words” 又要讲新话. In other words, do not deviate from the basic tenets of Marxism but continue to evolve through practice. For instance, the piece says, Xi Thought is 21st Century Marxism.

The next question is about cultivating a new generation that will carry the responsibility for national rejuvenation. The piece tells us that “cultivating and practicing socialist core values is, in the final analysis, the construction of the human mind and soul, focusing on the creation of socialist builders with a correct world outlook on life and values.” The piece talks about the emphasis on core socialsit values at the 18th Party Congress and the decision on cultivating a new generation to carry forward national rejuvenation at the 19th Party Congress. The piece calls this effort a “major strategic task.”

Just to remind us, the piece mentions all the 12 core socialist values.

National values: prosperity, democracy, civility and harmony;

Social values: freedom, equality, justice and rule of law;

Individual values: patriotism, dedication, integrity and friendship.

It’s really useful to think about why these are graded at different levels and how these, therefore, impact the Party’s governance, regulation and evolution of law. Because, as the piece tells us, “this summary actually answers the major questions of what kind of country we want to build, what kind of society we want to build, and what kind of citizens we want to cultivate.”

Some of the traits then highlighted for the new folks is that they must have self-confidence, respect for morality, display dedication, engage in hard work and be enterprising (自信、尊道德、讲奉献、重实干、求进取). There’s an explanation for each of these.

  • Self-confidence relates to having pride in being Chinese, cultural pride, loving the party, the country and socialism.

  • Respect for morality implies “inheriting traditional Chinese virtues, carrying forward socialist morality” etc.

  • Dedication refers to having a sense of national consciousness,  fulfilling “duties to the collective, serving the society and contributing to the country.”

  • Hard work refers to “putting practice first, integrating knowledge with action, being realistic and pragmatic” working hard to create a better life and being industrious.

  • Being enterprising refers to always striving for progress; maintaining a youthful spirit and openness to innovation; or that one should be diligent in learning and brave in pioneering new things.

Towards the end the piece also emphasizes that the new generation must possess “ability and political integrity” and that’s the goal in their development into “pioneers” who are “devoted” and not afraid of hardships and obstacles.

Other Stories:

On Page 6, there’s a report about the implementation of the Guidelines related to Strengthening and Improving Ideological and Political Work in the New Era.