Qingming Festival - Shanghai COVID-19 Outbreak - Wang Yi Speaks to Ukrainian and Hungarian FMs - Media Coverage of Bucha Killings
Here are the stories and pieces that I found noteworthy from the Tuesday, April 05, 2022, edition of the People’s Daily.
Page 1: With the Qingming festival break, today too we have a smaller edition of the paper. In fact, it is Tomb Sweeping Day today. The lead story in the paper is a feature report about commemorative activities being carried out in different localities and by different departments. The other top story is about “open development” in the Xiongan New Area.
The only noteworthy story on the page is about Li Keqiang sending a congratulatory message to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on his Fidesz party’s victory in the parliamentary elections. Later in the paper, there’s a report about Wang Yi’s chat with Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjarto.
“The election result shows that the independent policy pursued by the Hungarian side is in line with the country's national conditions and the common interests of its people, and is firmly and broadly supported by the people…Wang said as the world finds itself in a new period of turbulence and changes, it is particularly valuable and important not only for Hungary, but also for other countries in Europe and the rest of the world to stay independent. Underlining the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and Hungary, Wang said that both sides should deepen cooperation, consolidate the political foundation, enhance their capacity to jointly resist risks and challenges, and safeguard each other’s sovereignty, security and development interests.”
Page 2: There are two pieces related to the current COVID-19 wave in China. First, a report which talks about the continued efforts to contain the spread of the virus in Shanghai. It says that more than 38,000 medical staff from 15 provinces rushed to Shanghai to support the containment effort. A lot of these folks are there to carry out testing, since citywide testing is currently underway. In fact, the other piece on the page is about the mass sample gathering exercise carried out yesterday. There’s also a massive effort to place symptomatic patients in makeshift hospitals. Of course, some of this has been deeply problematic.
Some international reporting on the situation in Shanghai:
Page 3: Two reports to note on the page. First, Wang Yi’s conversation with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, which is reported as a combined story with Wang’s chat with Peter Szijjarto. Xinhua reports that Wang said:
“It is China's historical and cultural tradition as well as its consistent foreign policy to safeguard peace and oppose war…On the Ukraine issue, China does not seek geopolitical interests, nor will it watch the event from a safe distance while sitting idle, or add fuel to the fire, Wang said, stressing that the only thing that China wants is peace in Ukraine. China welcomes peace talks between Russia and Ukraine, Wang said, adding that no matter how difficult the talks would be and what differences they would have, the general direction of peace talks should be held until a ceasefire and eventual peace are achieved. Wang said the conflict will eventually come to an end, and what is important is to think over the past misery and preserve sustainable security in Europe. China believes that the principle of indivisible security should be adhered to, and a balanced, effective and sustainable European security architecture should be built upon dialogue on an equal footing, Wang said, adding that based on its objective and impartial position, China is willing to continue to play a constructive role in its own way. Wang said he believes that Ukraine is capable of making choices that are in the fundamental interest of the people of the country.” — (Quick thought: If we assume that Beijing has a sense of Moscow’s thinking, none of this sounds positive. Even if it doesn’t have a sense of the thought process in Moscow, it doesn’t sound like there’s an expectation in Beijing of cessation of hostilities in the near term. There’s a UNSC meeting today. The horrific killings that have taken place in Bucha near Kyiv will be the focus of the discussion, I presume.)
While on the Ukraine war, do read this fantastic report by NYT’s Chris Buckley: Bristling Against the West, China Rallies Domestic Sympathy for Russia – China’s Communist Party is mounting an ideological campaign aimed at officials and students. The message: The country will not turn its back on Russia.
Also do note this thread about Chinese media coverage of the killings in Bucha so far:
Kathrin Hille’s story in FT - Beijing maintains silence over allegations of Russian atrocities in Ukraine - also offers a good sweep of Chinese official media and social media discourse around the killings. “
As an aside, in contrast to this, the media in India has been quick to be very critical of the killings. Here’s an example below. So it will be interesting to see what New Delhi says at the UNSC.
While we are talking about India, let me share this conversation that I was part of on France24 last Thursday ahead of Sergei Lavrov’s visit to India.
Finally, a report about Wang Yi’s chat with Panamanian Foreign Minister Erika Mouynes on Monday in Tunxi. It’s a really brief report. We learn that the two sides talked about the Ukraine war. Otherwise, Xinhua reports:
“Wang said that since China and Panama officially established diplomatic relations five years ago based on the affirmation of the one-China principle, bilateral ties have ushered in a new chapter. China is willing to take the fifth anniversary of diplomatic relations as an opportunity to facilitate political mutual trust, pragmatic cooperation, people-to-people exchanges and multilateral coordination, to foster more propellers of China-Panama friendly ties, Wang said. Noting that facts have proved that the establishment of diplomatic ties between Panama and China was the correct decision, Mouynes said that Panama values mutual trust with China and will firmly adhere to the one-China principle.”