Rule of Law Guideline - SCS Commentary - Xi Thought on Socialist Rule of Law - Beijing's High-speed Test Zone for Autonomous Vehicles - XPCC Spirit - One-China Principle

Here are the stories and pieces from the People’s Daily’s August 12, 2021, edition that I found noteworthy.

Page 1: Let’s begin with Xi’s letter to young foreign participants at the Global Young Leaders Dialogue for their active efforts to visit various parts of China and deepen their understanding of the country. Xinhua English has the report. It says that the GYLD is something that Chinese think tanks have come up with. It “offers a platform for the sharing of ideas and mutual learning among young people from different countries and fields.”

Xi talks about China following its own path to development and about how national rejuvenation is the most important objective for China, which is also the Chinese Dream. He also welcomes more youth to visit the country.

Next, there’s a commentary on the spirit of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps. Basically, this talks about the creation of the XPCC in 1954; its subsequent development; and praises the dedication of cadres to the cause of frontier defense and linking Xinjiang more closely to the mainland. There are comments about XPCC cadres “not competing with the people for profits” and being “selfless” “hardworking” and “pioneering.”

“The history of development of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps is a history of inheriting the red gene and revolutionary spirit, a history of self-reliance, hard work and entrepreneurship of the Chinese Communists.”新疆生产建设兵团的发展史, 就是一部红色基因和革命精神传承史,是一部中国共产党人自力更生、艰苦奋斗创业史.

The message through all this to cadres is this:

They must “sharpen the character of selfless dedication, regardless of personal gains and losses, give up a small family for everyone, and wholeheartedly benefit the people.” They must face the tests of the new era with “sobriety and determination” and have first-hand experience of dealing with the burdens and overcoming challenges. Finally, the must maintain a “pioneering spirit.” 要砥砺无私奉献的品格,不计较个人得失,舍小家为大家,一心一意为百姓造福. 要永葆艰苦创业的作风,一茬接着一茬干,一棒接着一棒跑,知重负重、攻坚克难,以赶考的清醒和坚定答好新时代的答卷. 要保持开拓进取的精神,坚决战胜前进道路上的一切风险挑战,努力创造无愧于党、无愧于人民、无愧于时代的业绩. 

Next, we have the full guidelines for the Construction of a Government under the Rule of Law (2021-25). In Section 1, the Guiding Ideology section here mentions all previous leaders’ contributions. But before this section, the first point specifically laid out the objective of “in-depth study and implementation of Xi Jinping Thought on the rule of law.” 

The key principles for this regulation are:

  • Adhere to Party leadership

  • Adhere to the people-centered approach

  • Adhere to being problem-oriented

  • Adhere to reform and innovation

  • Adhere to the overall planning

Section 2 begins by talking about better interagency division of responsibilities and coordination. It broadly mentions the following areas regarding which government functioning must improve: “economic adjustment, market supervision, social management, public service, and environmental protection.” 

It adds that the government’s function in formulating development strategies, plans, policies and standards should be strengthened. More legal and institutional efforts should curb unjust interventions in micro-economic activities, says the document. It also specifies that the lists of power and duties of departments of the State Council should be formulated by the first half of 2022. The negative list for market access should also be strictly implemented.

The next bit talks about better coordination to facilitate growth or rather ease of business-linked processes. For instance, it mentions the reform of licenses and permits, referring to the need to implement ‘one industry, one license’ reform, and single permit system, which can be recognised across cities and provinces.

It adds:

“Summarize the experiences and practices that can be replicated and promoted in optimizing the business environment in various places in a timely manner, and upgrade them to laws, regulations and systems in a timely manner. Equal protection of property rights and independent management rights of enterprises of all kinds of ownership in accordance with the law, and effectively prevent abuse of administrative power to exclude and restrict competition.” The guideline also pledges improvements in the system of pre-establishment national treatment plus a negative list for foreign investment. It also promises strengthened enforcement of anti-monopoly and anti-unfair competition laws.

It says: “Strengthen the rigid constraints of the fair competition review system, promptly clean up and abolish various regulations and practices that hinder the development of a unified market and fair competition, and promote the formation of a unified, open, competitive and orderly market system.” 加强和改进反垄断和反不正当竞争执法。强化公平竞争审查制度的刚性约束,及时清理废除妨碍统一市场、公平竞争的各种规定和做法,推动形成制度完备、治理完善、统一开放、竞争有序的市场体系.

This section also says that the lists of power and duties of departments of the State Council should be formulated by the first half of 2022. 

Section 3 talks about the need to “adhere to scientific legislation, democratic legislation, and legislation according to law, strive to achieve equal emphasis on the quality and efficiency of government legislation, enhance pertinence, timeliness, systematicness, and operability, and strive to make all aspects of government governance system more sound and perfect.” 坚持科学立法, 民主立法, 依法立法, 着力实现政府立法质量和效率并重并进, 增强针对性、及时性、系统性、可操作性,努力使政府治理各方面制度更加健全、更加完善.

It talks about the need for legislation in domains like “national security, science and technology innovation, public health, culture and education, ethnicity and religion, biosecurity, ecological civilization, risk prevention, anti-monopoly, foreign-related rule of law and other important areas of legislation to improve the legal system urgently needed for national governance.” In addition, it talks about timely assessments of the legal structures around the digital economy, Internet finance, artificial intelligence, big data, cloud computing, etc., “to make up for the shortcomings, with good law and good governance in order to protect the healthy development of new industries and new models.”

Section 4 talks about decision-making systems. It basically outlines the responsibilities of administrators, in that they need to have some sense of participation and seek opinions. 

Section 5 talks about the law-enforcement system. There are a couple of things to note here. First, it talks about strengthening law enforcement “in key areas related to the vital interests of the people.” These include food and medicine, public health, natural resources, ecological environment, production safety, labor security, urban management, transportation, financial services, education and training.” 加大食品药品、公共卫生、自然资源、生态环境、安全生产、劳动保障、城市管理、交通运输、金融服务、教育培训等关系群众切身利益的重点领域执法力度. It talks about rectification as a response to violations, but also “punitive compensation and huge fines for serious violations.”

Second, I thought this was noteworthy too: “Extensive use of persuasion and education, persuasion and demonstration, warning and admonition, guidance and interviews,” which are referenced from the perspective of the need to “strive to achieve leniency and severity, the integration of law and reason, so that law enforcement is both strong and tempered.” 广泛运用说服教育、劝导示范、警示告诫、指导约谈等方式,努力做到宽严相济、法理相融,让执法既有力度又有温度.

Section 6 talks about improved emergency response systems, including monitoring and early warning, information reporting, rapid response, restoration and investigation and assessment of relevant events. Primary-level organizations and the public should be guided and regulated in participating in emergency response to enhance the capability of handling emergencies in accordance with the law. It adds that drills in this regard should be conducted regularly.

Section 7 talks about administrative efforts for prevention, mediation and resolution of social conflicts and disputes. Useful to note that the objective outlined here is to “promote social fairness and justice.” Section 8 deals with supervision over administrative power. It begins with the philosophy that if one has power, it must serve a certain responsibility, and if you have responsibilities, there must be accountability. The accountability defined here is largely in terms of how departments are working to 

  • “implement the “major decision-making arrangements of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council” perform

  • implement the “important work arrangements of higher-level and government at the same level”

  • based on their “performance of statutory duties” 

  • based on the administrative efficiency of subordinate departments of the government at the same level and lower-level governments

In other words, accountability is viewed from the prism of implementing orders and administrative efficiency rather than how effective these agencies have been in identifying governance concerns from the public’s perspective and addressing them. 

This section also talks about transparency in government operations. But the caveat here is that it must meet the “reasonable information needs of the people according to law.” It also talks about improving the accountability system to address dishonesty in government with specific focus on areas like “debt financing, government procurement, bidding, and investment promotion.” 

Section 9 talks about digitising governance. It talks about:

  • building a single platform for inquiries with regard to government documents and regulations of all departments under the State Council by 2022 and by 2023 for all provinces and regions.

  • Establish and improve the coordination mechanism of government data sharing...build a national integrated government big data system, and strengthen the optimization and integration of government information systems.

  • Establish and improve the system and rules of administrative management by using the Internet, big data, artificial intelligence and other technologies. While protecting national security, commercial secrets, individual privacy and personal information according to law, we will promote the open sharing of data between the government and public service organizations, and give priority to promoting the orderly opening of government data in areas such as people's livelihood security, public services and market supervision. 建立健全运用互联网、大数据、人工智能等技术手段进行行政管理的制度规则. 在依法保护国家安全、商业秘密、自然人隐私和个人信息的同时,推进政府和公共服务机构数据开放共享,优先推动民生保障、公共服务、市场监管等领域政府数据向社会有序开放.

  • Strengthen the construction of the national ‘Internet + supervision’ system, with the aim of getting this running effectively by 2022. This essentially emphasizes the importance of technology-enabled law enforcement.

Section 10 talks about strengthening party leadership.  

On the second page, there’s an interview with officials with regard to the above guideline.

Page 3: Let’s begin with the Zhong Sheng commentary on the South China Sea. Basically, this is again a reiteration of key talking points that the Foreign Ministry has expressed over the past few months. It begins by talking about China and the US sparring over the South China Sea at the UNSC dialogue on Maritime Security. There was a resolution adopted unanimously at the meeting. The commentary says that the US “groundlessly accused China of ‘coercion’ and ‘bullying’ in the South China Sea.” It adds that the Chinese representative pushed back. The author then calls the SCS arbitration case as a “political face” with the US being “the initiator and behind this farce.” The commentary then says that “China’s sovereignty and rights and interests in the South China Sea will not be affected by the ruling at all, nor will China accept any claims or actions based on the ruling.” 中国在南海的主权和权益丝毫不受该裁决影响,中国也不接受任何基于该裁决的主张或行动.

It then says that China and regional countries are capable of managing the issues with regard to the SCS and the Code of Conduct talks have “made important progress.” It accuses the US of “coercion” and “bullying” adding that “the United States is not a party to the dispute in the South China Sea. It should abide by its commitments and take no position on the sovereignty dispute.” The piece ends warning the US “not to extend its black hands to the South China Sea.”

Next, we have a report talking about a preprint research publication that says that COVID-19 was likely spreading in Italy’s Lombardy region in the late summer of 2019. Next, a report about the first batch of more than 1.7 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines supplied to Bangladesh by China through the COVAX facility reaching the country.

Finally, we have Hua Chunying’s comments with regard to the situation between China and Lithuania. Basically, she repeatedly underscores the importance of the one-China principle. Is this a sign of a hardening position? And if it is, how will it impact how others also engage with Taiwan?

Page 4: There’s just one report that I’d like to highlight, while also saying that it’s terrible how PD has covered the pandemic situation in China. There’s really nothing other than what leaders have said and where they have gone. So today, there’s a report about Sun Chunlan visiting Yangzhou. What I found interesting about the report is that it begins by saying that her visit aims to “implement the spirit of General Secretary Xi Jinping’s important instructions and the requirements of Premier Li Keqiang’s instructions.” 

Page 5: We have the 19th piece in the Xi Thought series. The first question is about why socialist rule of law is the correct system for China. In a nutshell, this is the core argument:

“The road of socialist rule of law with Chinese characteristics is the concentrated embodiment of the achievements and experience of socialist rule of law development, and the only correct way to build a socialist country ruled by law...Adhering to the people’s dominant position and equality before the law, the socialist road of rule of law with Chinese characteristics can ensure the people to manage state affairs, economic and cultural undertakings and social affairs through various channels and forms under the leadership of the Party and in accordance with the law. In essence, it is the concrete embodiment of the socialist road with Chinese characteristics in the field of rule of law...We have our historical and cultural traditions, as well as our own long-term accumulated experience and advantages...A distinctive feature of the road of socialist rule of law with Chinese characteristics is to absorb the essence of ancient Chinese thoughts such as the complementarity of morality and punishment and the combination of Confucianism and law, and always adhere to the combination of ruling the country by law and ruling the country by virtue. 中国特色社会主义法治道路是社会主义法治建设成就和经验的集中体现,是建设社会主义法治国家的唯一正确道路...中国特色社会主义法治道路坚持人民主体地位,坚持法律面前人人平等,能够保证人民在党的领导下,依照法律规定,通过各种途径和形式管理国家事务,管理经济和文化事业,管理社会事务,本质上是中国特色社会主义道路在法治领域的具体体现...我们有我们的历史文化传统,也有我们自己长期积累的经验和优势...中国特色社会主义法治道路一个鲜明特点,就是汲取我国古代德刑相辅、儒法并用等思想精华,始终坚持依法治国和以德治国相结合.

There is also a reference to how there are no guide books/textbooks on building this system and neither can there be a teacher/instructor for China in building its rule of law system.

It also adds that “there is a political position at the base of every path of rule of law, and there is a political logic in every model of rule of law. The core essence of the road of socialist rule of law with Chinese characteristics is to uphold the leadership of the Party, adhere to the socialist system with Chinese characteristics, and implement the socialist rule of law theory with Chinese characteristics, which fully embodies the socialist nature of our country and has distinct Chinese characteristics, practical characteristics and characteristics of the times. On the fundamental question of what kind of rule of law to follow, we will never copy other countries' models and practices, and never follow the western path of ‘constitutional government’, ‘three-party antagonism’ (referring to the system of checks and balances between executive, legislature and judiciary) and ‘judicial independence’. We must build up self-confidence, maintain our determination, and move forward resolutely on the road of socialist rule of law with Chinese characteristics.” 走好这条法治道路,必须头脑清醒、立场坚定。每一条法治道路底下都有一种政治立场,每一种法治模式当中都有一种政治逻辑。中国特色社会主义法治道路的核心要义,就是要坚持党的领导,坚持中国特色社会主义制度,贯彻中国特色社会主义法治理论,这充分体现了我国社会主义性质,具有鲜明的中国特色、实践特色、时代特色。在走什么样的法治道路这个根本问题上,我们决不照搬照抄别国模式和做法,决不走西方“宪政”、“三权鼎立”、“司法独立”的路子,要树立自信、保持定力,在中国特色社会主义法治道路上坚毅前行.

The second question is about fairness and justice. The response begins with talking about the mythical beast Xiezhi. Wikipedia tells me that “the Xiezhi possesses the innate ability to distinguish right from wrong, and when it finds corrupt officials, it will ram them with its horn and devour them. It is known as a symbol of justice.” 

And after this, PD says that to promote the rule of law in an all-round way, we should focus on safeguarding and promoting social fairness and justice, and pursue this value throughout the whole process and all aspects of legislation, law enforcement, justice and compliance with the law.” 推进全面依法治国,要紧紧围绕保障和促进社会公平正义来进行,把这一价值追求贯穿到立法、执法、司法、守法的全过程和各方面. 

The piece says the judicial credibility depends on a sense of fairness and integrity; and it is important that people believe this is how the system functions. Interestingly, fairness is described as ensuring protection of rights or remedial action, along with punishing illegality and criminality. In saying this, the piece also references problems such as corruption, judicial injustice, wrongful convictions, and issues with cases involving those in power, etc. The piece then talks about the need for greater transparency and judicial accountability. The aim it says is to “improve judicial credibility from three aspects: ensuring the independent and fair exercise of judicial power and procuratorial power according to law, improving the operation mechanism of judicial power and perfecting the judicial guarantee system for human rights.”

Next, and this is old really, a report that talks about Chinese scientists making breakthroughs in the field of hybrid potato research. CGTN had earlier reported that Huang Sanwen with the Agricultural Genomics Institute at Shenzhen, under the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, devised a genome design plan for hybrid potatoes and published the findings in the journal Cell on June 24. 

Page 9: The theory page today focuses on the Sinicization of Marxism. The pieces talk about the need to continue to do so and stick to the Marxist road. Nothing terribly new being argued here.

Page 10: Just one report to note. PBOC reported that China’s new yuan-denominated loans totaled 1.08 trillion yuan last month, up 90.5 billion yuan from the same period last year. The outstanding total social financing, which measures all funds moved from the financial sector to the real economy, increased to 302.49 trillion yuan ($46.64 trillion) in July, up 10.7 percent year-on-year. The outstanding renminbi-denominated loans to the real economy rose by 12.4 percent year-on-year to 185.38 trillion yuan, PBOC data showed.

The M2, a broad measure of money supply that covers cash in circulation and all deposits, increased 8.3 percent year-on-year to 230.22 trillion yuan at the end of July. M2 grew 8.6 percent year-on-year in June.

China Daily’s report on this also tells us that the PBOC's loan breakdown for the second quarter indicated that the year-on-year growth of outstanding loans to the property sector fell further to 9.5 percent at the end of June, down from 10.9 percent at the end of March.

Pages 13 & 14: I thought one report on each of these pages was worth highlighting. First, a report that tells us that a new high-speed test zone has opened in Beijing to test autonomous vehicles. A Xinhua English report last month had informed that “a 10-km expressway between the city’s fifth and sixth ring roads will be opened first. Six other expressway sections will be opened later to add another 143-km stretch to the city's high-speed testing roads for driverless vehicles, according to a workgroup overseeing the city's innovation for mobility intelligence.”

Second, the other report is about Guangzhou introducing 25 policies and measures in 8 areas to stabilize and expand employment.