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PSC Hears Work Reports - Xi's Olympics Inspection - Plan on Market-based Allocation of Factors of Production - Robotics Plan - Wang in Kenya - COVID Criticism - Ren Ping on Energy Policy & Security
Here are the stories and pieces that I found noteworthy from the Friday, January 7, 2022, edition of the People’s Daily. Apologies for missing out on yesterday’s edition; struggling with a nasty cold.
Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress
the State Council,
the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference
the Supreme People’s Court
the Supreme People's Procuratorate
the Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee
The report quotes the readout issued after the meeting as saying that “to govern our Party, which has 95 million members, and our country, which has more than 1.4 billion people, we must uphold the Party’s overall leadership, especially the Central Committee’s centralised, unified leadership.” It said the CPC leadership’s annual hearing of the work reports has set an example for upholding the Party’s overall leadership as well as the authority of the CPC Central Committee and its centralised, unified leadership, noting that such a practice must be continued in the long term.
The report adds that upholding the leadership of the Party and the authority and centralised, unified leadership of the CPC Central Committee was the fundamental reason for the historic achievements and changes in the cause of the Party and the country since the 18th Party Congress.
The report offers a positive view on the work reports, and then calls on all the key Party groups to follow “the guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era, fully implement the spirit of the 19th Party Congress and all its previous plenary sessions, strengthen the ‘four consciousnesses’, the ‘four self-confidences’ and achieve the ‘two safeguards’, carry forward the great spirit of party building, constantly improve political judgment, political understanding and political execution, thoroughly study and understand the decisive significance of the ‘two establishments’, and always maintain a high degree of ideological and political alignment with the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core.” 全国人大常委会、国务院、全国政协、最高人民法院、最高人民检察院党组要以习近平新时代中国特色社会主义思想为指导，全面贯彻党的十九大和十九届历次全会精神，增强“四个意识”、坚定“四个自信”、做到“两个维护”，弘扬伟大建党精神，不断提高政治判断力、政治领悟力、政治执行力，深入学习领会“两个确立”的决定性意义，始终在思想上政治上行动上同以习近平同志为核心的党中央保持高度一致.
It says that Party members should be mindful of the overall situation of the strategy of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation and the once-in-century, unprecedented changes taking place in the world, closely focus on preparing and convening the 20th Party Congress, adhere to the general direction of seeking progress while maintaining stability, strengthen historical self-confidence, maintain historical initiative, enhance the sense of urgency, improve the ability to struggle, adapt and respond to the situation and carry out their responsibilities. 要胸怀中华民族伟大复兴战略全局和世界百年未有之大变局，紧扣筹备和召开党的二十大聚焦发力，坚持稳中求进工作总基调，坚定历史自信，保持历史主动，增强忧患意识，提升斗争本领，察大势、应变局、观未来，凝心聚力、担当作为，以钉钉子精神做好各项工作.
The next bit calls on the Party groups to focus on political construction and conscientiously fulfil the responsibility of strictly governing the Party in an all-round way.
Next, a report about Xi exchanging letters with his Turkmen counterpart, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, on the 30th anniversary of bilateral ties. Xinhua English reports:
“China, he noted, was the first country to establish diplomatic ties with Turkmenistan, one of the first countries to support Turkmenistan’s policy of permanent neutrality, and the first strategic partner of Turkmenistan established via the form of a political document, and is also Turkmenistan's largest trading partner of natural gas. The development of China-Turkmenistan relations has not only brought tangible benefits to the two countries and their people, but also made important contributions to safeguarding regional peace and stability, Xi said. Xi stressed that China attaches great importance to its relations with Turkmenistan, and will, as always, firmly support Turkmenistan in pursuing a development path suited to its own national conditions, safeguarding national sovereignty and national independence, and upholding its policy of permanent neutrality.”
Berdymukhamedov said, as per Xinhua: China has been a major trading partner of Turkmenistan for multiple years in a row, which vividly represents the mutually beneficial cooperation between the two sides, he said. The Turkmen side, he added, attaches great importance to the bilateral relationship and stands ready to work closely with China on the basis of the principles of equality, mutual respect and mutual accommodation of interests, and spare no effort to promote Turkmenistan-China ties to higher levels.
While in Central Asia, let me point out that there’s nothing about the developments in Kazakhstan in the paper. But here are some useful bits to note: First, MoFA’s press briefing had this interaction yesterday:
Phoenix TV: According to reports, recent protests and demonstrations in Kazakhstan sparked by a spike in the price of liquefied petroleum gas have turned into large-scale mass unrest and even led to clashes with the police. What is China’s comment?
Wang Wenbin: China and Kazakhstan are friendly neighbours and permanent comprehensive strategic partners. In China’s view, what is happening in Kazakhstan is its domestic affairs. We believe that the Kazakh authorities can properly resolve the issue. We hope the situation could stabilise as soon as possible and normal social order could be restored.
Second, here’s Global Times talking about a colour revolution. The piece says:
“Some media say the US was behind the violence, and the White House has denied the claims. By any means, though, if there is some force behind the demonstrations, the force that is strong enough to incite such nationwide turmoil, it's likely to be the West or the US. The reason is simple, Kazakhstan is a large country located in Central Asia, and it is important to the region's geopolitical security.”
Third, there are two good threads to go through.
And this one:
Anyway, back to PD. The next report is a feature piece (related English piece) drawing from Xi’s inspection of the sites of the Winter Olympics. The piece says that sport is a symbol of a country’s prosperity and national cohesion. The piece then offers details of Xi’s inspection. So for instance, when he visited the National Speed Skating Oval, or the ‘Ice Ribbon,’ in this piece, the focus is on Xi’s question about the level of localisation or local materials used. The person in charge responds by saying that some of the materials were from Hebei and some from Tianjin, and then the person jokes that this is a symbol of Hebei-Beijing-Tianjin integration.
The piece then talks about how the venues evidently showcase Chinese characteristics, i.e., they are based on Chinese design, Chinese technology, Chinese materials, and Chinese manufacturing. The next bit of the piece focuses on green and sustainable development when it comes to the venues. The idea emphasised here is that these venues should not become single-use projects. They need to be adapted for future use too. That’s what makes this investment sustainable. Also interesting to note is this bit that describes the organisation of the Games as a “systematic project” and a “comprehensive test of national strength.” There’s also a bit with Xi cautioning that managing the pandemic through the Games will be the biggest test.
Next, there’s a brief report on the new plan by the State Council and Central Committee on reforms related to the market-based allocation of production factors. The NDRC is basically in charge of this work. The English report says that:
China will promote market-based allocation of production factors including land, labor and capital, while accelerating the development of the technology market and data factors
It will support qualified local authorities to explore reform paths that can be replicated and promoted by the nation.
The country will advance pilot programs for reforms of market-based allocation of production factors in urban agglomerations, metropolitan areas and key cities with urgent reform needs, solid foundation and development potential.
By the first half of 2022, work related to the layout of pilot areas will be completed and the drawing of the implementation plan will be submitted for approval. Phased progress will be achieved in advancing pilot programs and significant breakthroughs in market-based allocation of key production factors are expected to be gained by 2023. The task of advancing pilot programs will be basically completed by 2025.
PD’s report adds that there are 8 pilot tasks related to different factors of production:
improving land allocation efficiency
promoting the rational, smooth and orderly flow of labor
promoting the development of capital to serve real economy
promoting the transformation of technology into real productive forces
exploring the establishment of data-related rules
strengthening the construction of resource and environment market system
improving factor-market governance
giving full play to the synergistic allocation effect of factors
Page 2: Just one story to note. This talks about the new plan issued by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, along with 14 other government departments, for the development of China’s robotics industry during the 14th Five-Year Plan period.
The plan sets a goal for China to become a key source of global robotic innovation, the gathering place of high-end manufacturing and the new hub for integrated application by 2025. It envisages the annual growth rate of operating income of the robotics industry to exceed 20%.
The report quotes Wang Weiming from MIIT as saying that “China has been the world’s largest consumer of industrial robots for eight consecutive years. In 2020, the density of manufacturing robots will reach 246 units/10,000 people, nearly twice the global average.”
Wang added that during the 13th FYP period, China’s robotics industry achieved breakthroughs in scale, technology and products.
In terms of scale, the operating income of the robotics industry exceeded 100 billion yuan for the first time in 2020 – with a compound annual growth rate of about 15%.
The output of industrial robots increased from 72,000 sets to 212,000 sets, with an average annual growth rate of 31%.
Also, breakthroughs have been made in key technologies and components such as precision reducer, high-performance servo drive system, intelligent controller and intelligent integrated joint
He further added that during the 13th FYP period, the application field of industrial robots covered 52 industry categories, including automobiles, electronics, metallurgy, light industry, petrochemicals and medicine.
Some other aspects of the plan, covered in this Global Times report:
By 2025, more than 70 percent of large-scale Chinese enterprises should be digitalised, and more than 500 demonstration manufacturing facilities will be built nationwide.
The technical level and market competitiveness of intelligent manufacturing equipment and industrial software should be significantly improved, with market satisfaction rates exceeding 70 percent and 50 percent respectively. The current market satisfaction rate of intelligent manufacturing equipment exceeds 50 percent.
The plan vowed to strengthen research on key technologies such as artificial intelligence, 5G, big data and edge computing.
China’s robotics industry will become a global center of technology innovation, manufacturing and application. The quality of complete robots and key components should reach leading international standards, the plan stated. China will establish three to five robotics industry zones and double the intensity of robot manufacturing.
Pandaily’s report on this from late December is also worth going through.
Page 3: There’s a lot on the page around the Olympics. I am not interested in any of those, apart from this report about Beijing Party Secretary Cai Qi meeting IOC’s Thomas Bach. The report focuses on the two parties discussing the challenges presented by the pandemic. Cai Qi is quoted as saying that he hopes the IOC will help guide all stakeholders to jointly uphold the bottom line of ensuring a safe Games and epidemic prevention and control.
Next, a report about Wang Yi’s visit to Africa. Wang’s first stop was Eritrea. Today, the report is about his second stop, i.e., Kenya. PD reports (English report) about his meeting with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. The report has Kenyatta saying that:
“China is not only a sincere friend of Kenya, but also a development partner of close cooperation, adding that the deepening pragmatic cooperation in various fields and cultural exchanges between Kenya and China have created a large number of jobs in Kenya, improved people's lives, and brought notable benefits to the people…Kenya’s development achievements would not have been possible without China’s strong support, which is imprinted on the mind of the Kenyan government and people. Every country has the right to independently choose a development path suited to its own national conditions, and bring health, prosperity and dignity to its people, Kenyatta said, adding there are always some people who like to point fingers at the country, saying that it has various problems, but China has sincerely helped Kenya solve problems and meet its needs with actions…He said he is often asked why Kenya and China cooperate so closely, and he told them, because China and Kenya respect each other and treat each other as equals.”
He added: Kenya and China share common or similar positions on international and regional issues, and Kenya is willing to strengthen cooperation with China in multilateral settings, especially at the United Nations Security Council, to jointly promote a more just and reasonable international order.
Wang Yi then talked about the three signals that his Africa trip will send:
First, China will stand firmly with Africa to fight COVID-19 pandemic with solidarity until the virus is completely defeated.
Second, China is willing to strengthen all-round cooperation with Kenya to help Kenya enhance its self-development capabilities and accelerate industrialisation.
Third, China is willing to strengthen solidarity and coordination with Kenya in international and multilateral affairs, jointly safeguard the legitimate rights of the two countries and the common interests of developing countries, and safeguard international fairness and justice.
“Wang introduced the ‘Initiative of Peaceful Development in the Horn of Africa’ proposed by China upon request. Describing this initiative as meeting the urgent needs of countries in the Horn of Africa, Kenyatta said Kenya agrees completely and is willing to play a role in this regard.” – China will be appointing a special envoy for the Horn of Africa, this Reuters report informs.
Also on the trip, Wang met with his Kenyan counterpart Raychelle Omamo. Interesting bit this: “Omamo showed pictures of ancient Chinese coins unearthed in Kenya, saying that the friendship between Kenya and China boasts a long history. The exchanges between the two countries can be traced back to more than 600 years ago when the great Chinese navigator Zheng He led a fleet to visit Mombasa.”
The report has Omamo saying that Kenya has achieved rapid economic growth and a brand new infrastructure thanks to the strong impetus of Kenya-China cooperation and the deepening cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative…that China has become an indispensable development partner of Kenya and she expects the traditional friendship between the two countries to be further revitalized.
Some other noteworthy bits:
Wang emphasized that the two sides should deepen cooperation in economy, trade, investment and infrastructure, advance the construction of key projects, and support Kenya in building economic belts and industrial parks along the railway lines to create an interconnected development effect. Kenya is welcome to make full use of the ‘green channel’ and trade financing quota for African agricultural products to enter China, take an active part in the China International Import Expo and China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo, and export more quality Kenyan products to the Chinese market. China will continue to support Chinese enterprises in investing and doing business in Kenya, said Wang.
The two sides also exchanged views on international and regional issues of common concern and agreed to…strengthen multilateral coordination and cooperation and jointly safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of the two countries and international equity and justice. Omamo said Kenya firmly adheres to the one-China policy, highly appreciates China's important influence and role in international affairs and is willing to take an active part in the Global Development Initiative.
The two sides signed six trade agreements, covering digital economy, investment, agriculture and export of Kenyan agricultural products to China. This report informs that they have also agreed to form a joint working group to address trade barriers between the two countries to reduce trade imbalances.
Two more reports on the page. First, this bit with Kyrgyz President Sadyr Zhaparov’s comments (English report) about the positive nature of China-Kyrgyzstan ties. This was at a commemorative event marking the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Kyrgyzstan and China.
Second, a report about an online event on China’s Xinjiang policies involving permanent representatives to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and officials of the body’s General Secretariat. MoFA’s Wang Wenbin spoke about this yesterday. His comments below. He calls this online meeting with select people as a visit:
“On January 5, over 40 people, including the permanent representatives to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and diplomats from 36 countries as well as officials of the General Secretariat of the OIC paid a visit to Xinjiang via videolink. Erkin Tuniyaz, acting chairman of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region attended the event and had exchanges with the delegation. The delegation took a virtual tour of places including the International Grand Bazaar, the Xinjiang Islamic Institute, mosque, grassroots community and kindergarten, had candid exchanges with trainees who graduated from vocational education and training centers and workers who found employment out of their hometown, getting a deep understanding of the situation in Xinjiang, which enjoys economic development, social stability, ethnic solidarity and religious harmony. Members of the delegation said that the development achievements in Xinjiang are remarkable, and people of all ethnic groups are leading a happy life and living in solidarity and harmony. The freedom of religious belief and all rights of the Muslims have been fully protected. Citizens of all ethnic minorities, including the Uyghurs, fully enjoy and exercise equal civil rights, and actively participate in the governance of the state and the Xinjiang region. In recent years, two OIC delegations have visited Xinjiang. This time, after the visit on the “cloud”, the OIC again spoke in an objective and just voice on Xinjiang-related issues. This fully demonstrates that the Islamic world is sharp-eyed. Certain Western countries’ lies on Xinjiang cannot cover up the facts and truth that Xinjiang enjoys stability and tranquility, development and prosperity, and ethnic solidarity and religious harmony. Friends from all countries are most welcome to visit Xinjiang through various means, including virtual and in-person tours, to feel the charm of this wonderful place.”
Page 4: Two reports to note.
First, comments by Sun Chunlan, who was very critical of the COVID-19 containment work in Xi’an. Sun, in the piece, basically calls on medical institutions to not turn away patients. She says that those who are critically ill need to be treated, regardless of whether they have a COVID test or not. This includes patients dealing with cancer, needing dialysis, pregnant women, or patients dealing with chronic ailments. Sun called on each community in Xi’an to set up designated hospitals and provide green passes for such patients.
All of this comes amid reports of multiple failings in the pandemic control effort in Xi’an, and outrage over a pregnant lady losing her child because she was denied treatment at the Xi’an Gaoxin Hospital. She didn’t have a negative COVID test. The Xi’an health commission also apologised on Thursday for negligence, and hospital officials have been sacked. Global Times quotes Liu Shunzhi, director of the commission, as saying: “On behalf of the health commission, I deeply apologise to the patient and for the poor access to medical treatment for special groups, including patients and pregnant women during this outbreak.” He also bowed to the public to express his apology.
Sun said: “That this problem arose was very heart-wrenching and I feel deeply ashamed. It showed that outbreak prevention work had problems with not being sufficiently strict or down to earth. The lesson learned was deep.”
Quick thought: It’s interesting that these failings are being acknowledged at the highest level. It’s also not surprising, however. Over the years, and particularly through the pandemic, the CCP has demonstrated its ability to be responsive to public needs and criticism. This is a key part of its claim to performance legitimacy. Responsiveness, however, is different from accountability. The latter often tends to be reflected in the form of the axe falling on local officials for such failures. But these failures are often less about individuals and more about structural issues, which tend to get swept aside.
The second story is a brief review of the supervision work related to discipline inspection and supervision cadres. No prizes for guessing that political discipline gets the top priority, along with getting rid of two-faced people and hidden dangers.
Page 5: There’s a page-long Ren Ping article, which talks about China’s energy security and energy sector development. I am not going to be able to translate the entire thing and share it here. But the author has basically helped by offering a snapshot of key elements of Chinese policy.
So the piece begins with Xi’s visit to the Shengli oilfield in Shandong. It then quotes Xi having then talked about the importance of ensuring that China’s energy supply is in its own hands. In the second section, the piece highlights key aspects of China’s energy policy under Xi. I am summarising these below:
Energy security is an overall and strategic issue
Low-carbon development of energy is related to the future of mankind
China must promote a revolution in energy production and consumption. But this is a long-term strategy.
Firmly control total energy consumption, effectively implement the policy of giving priority to energy conservation, make energy conservation an integral part of the entire process and all areas of economic and social development, firmly adjust the industrial structure, attach great importance to energy conservation in urbanisation…
Vigorously promote clean and efficient use of coal, but also focus on developing non-coal energy…
Coal remains the main source of energy. But it is important to work towards green and low-carbon development in order to achieve the goal of carbon peak and neutrality…reduce and replace in an orderly manner, and promote the transformation and upgrading of coal consumption
For the petroleum energy industry, the next step is to improve technology, continuously improve production capacity and reduce the cost, while also focussing on the goal of energy saving and carbon reduction.
Keep up with new trends on energy technology revolution; improve efficiency of energy resources; focus on development of key core technologies
build a market structure and system of effective competition, form a mechanism in which energy prices are mainly determined by the market, transform the way the government regulates energy, and establish a sound legal system for energy
Strengthen international cooperation in all aspects involved in the revolution of energy production and consumption, and make effective use of international resources.
Energy cooperation is a key aspect of BRI…create favourable conditions for common development, jointly promote sustainable global energy development and safeguard global energy security.
Adhere to strategic cooperation and promote the coordinated development of the global energy governance system. It is necessary to promote the construction of a more fair, equitable, inclusive, open and shared global energy governance system, and contribute more solutions with regard to global energy governance.
A report on Page 7 about transport infrastructure development in Tibet last year. It says that highway construction in Tibet is currently at 120,000 km. Last year, the central government invested a total of 27.7 billion yuan ($4.3 billion) in the construction of transportation networks in Tibet. Around 1,105 km of this is classified as first-grade highways. The report also says:
In addition, Tibet has made efforts to promote 15 key highway projects with a total construction mileage of about 2,782.5 km. The Golmud-Lhasa section of Qinghai-Tibet railway was expanded and transformed; the Lhasa-Nyingchi section of Sichuan-Tibet railway was opened to traffic; and the Fuxing high-speed train debuted in Tibet. Lhasa Gonggar Airport opened its newly constructed Terminal 3, connecting to 19 routes.
Also, this report from SCMP: Among the messaging from China’s propaganda machine in 2022, expect to hear a lot more of the ruling Communist Party’s latest slogan – “the two establishments” consolidating Xi Jinping’s powerful leadership status. That was the call from the party’s ideology chief, Wang Huning, at a meeting of propaganda officials in Beijing on Wednesday. “To do well in this year’s work on propaganda and thought, [we] must highlight the historical significance of the ‘two establishments’,” Wang was quoted as saying by state news agency Xinhua.