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Scientific Socialism - Soviet-era Spirit - Zhong Sheng Commentary on 'Political Virus' - Mobilising Grassroots Organisations in Henan
Here are the stories and pieces from the July 26, 2021, edition of the People’s Daily that I found noteworthy.
Page 1: It’s a slow news day on the front page today. As I wrote that sentence, I thought about parts of China recovering from devastating floods; there are talks happening with the US; and the changes to rules for the private tutoring industry has had a massive impact in terms of valuations of firms. In the light of all of this, the front page is just incredible.
Anyway, the top half of the page has a feature story on Weifang City, Shandong Province, which is an “important production, processing and export base of agricultural products in the country.” The story makes the point that Weifang, which once took the lead in agricultural industrialization, is exploring again. This is in the context of Xi’s call that the development of agricultural science and technology should be placed in a more prominent position, and agricultural mechanization and intelligentization should be vigorously promoted. The rest of the story is about what’s being done there. Not my cup of tea. But if you are studying the use of AI and technology in agriculture, this is useful.
The other bit on the top half is a commentary about passing down the spirit of the Soviet areas. It tells us that:
“From November 7 to 20, 1931, the First National Congress of the Chinese Soviet was held in Ruijin, Jiangxi Province, which announced the establishment of the Provisional Central Government of the Chinese Soviet and wrote a new chapter in the construction of revolutionary bases and red power under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party.”1931年11月7日至20日，中华苏维埃第一次全国代表大会在江西瑞金召开，宣布成立中华苏维埃共和国临时中央政府，谱写了中国共产党领导的革命根据地建设和红色政权建设的新篇章.
It talks about how cadres should learn from the spirit of the Chinese Soviet. We get a reference to Fang Zhimin’s statement about the enemy only being able to cut off “our heads” but “not shake our spirits.” Then we get the story of Liu Qiyao who had possession of 13 gold bars that were the Party’s funds and did not abuse that authority despite having to live like a beggar at one point. It then talks about how the Communists at that time were not officials and did not fear hardships. The piece talks about the Party members of that era as having been simple people, who brought their own food to work, wore straw sandals and visited the poor.
The next part talks about how the Party has come a long way and future prospects remain bright. But it is important to not forget the original mission and vigorously promote the spirit of the Soviet area.
“We must strengthen our convictions, build the foundation of our beliefs, stabilize our thoughts, and supplement the calcium of our spirit; to be truthful and pragmatic, all work must be done practically and with tangible results; we must serve the people with one heart, and always maintain the flesh and blood of the people…” In addition, it talks about working with “selfless dedication, regardless of personal gains and losses.” 要坚定信念，筑牢信仰之基、把稳思想之舵、补足精神之钙；要求真务实，一切工作都要往实里做、做出实效；要一心为民，永远保持同人民群众的血肉联系；要清正廉洁，清清白白做人、干干净净做事；要艰苦奋斗，用汗水浇灌收获，以实干笃定前行；要争创一流，争做楷模，创造第一等工作；要无私奉献，不计个人得失，舍小家顾大家.
Third, we have a story about trains connecting China and Europe. We also have a story about Chinese athletes winning the gold in Tokyo; and Quanzhou becoming a World Heritage site at the 44th session of the World Heritage Committee held in Fuzhou. China is now home to 56 UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Page 2: We have an interview with someone from the Ministry of Education talking about the guidelines to ease the burden of excessive homework and off-campus tutoring for students undergoing compulsory education. The official basically says that the aim of the regulations is to ease the burden of students, parents and teachers. The idea is that students should be completing written assignments in school. The official talks about improving “after-school services” such as ensuring day care and support for working parents. There’s also a mention about providing incentives to teachers for these services.
The official then reiterates these key points from the document:
local governments shall stop approving establishment of new off-campus curriculum subject-tutoring institutions for students in compulsory education
existing institutions shall be registered as non-profit institutions.
curriculum subject-tutoring institutions are not allowed to go public for financing;
listed companies should not invest in the institutions
foreign capital is barred from such institutions.
Page 3: Let’s begin with a Zhong Sheng commentary lashing out at the US for “spreading the political virus” because of its “self-interest and geopolitical considerations of suppressing China.”
“Making and spreading rumors, manipulating and using the media, hyping the so-called ‘evidence’ and engaging in ‘presumption of guilt’ are the usual tactics of the US government to slander, discredit and suppress other countries.” The piece talks about US policies in Iraq and Syria, mentioning the “washing powder” lie and the “white helmets” lie. And it says that the COVID-19 origins controversy is nothing but the US “repeating its old tricks in an attempt to demonize and stigmatize China.”
“For more than a year, the spread of the political virus created by the United States has become a global public hazard. It is owing to the rumours spread by the U.S. that in the US and in some countries we are seeing the unhealthy winds of discrimination against Asians gather steam, and the violence against Asians has increased significantly. It is because of U.S. coercion that the work on the traceability of the novel coronavirus cannot move forward in a scientific, professional and objective spirit.” 一年多来，美国制造的政治病毒的传播，已成为全球性公害。正是在美方谣言的蛊惑下，美国与一些国家刮起歧视亚裔的歪风，针对亚裔的暴力事件明显增多。正是因为美国的胁迫，新冠病毒溯源工作不能以科学、专业、客观精神向前推进.
While on ties with the US, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng met with US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman in Tianjin on Monday. Here’s what Xinhua has reported so far.
“For quite some time, when talking about conflict with China and challenges facing the United States, the "Pearl Harbor moment" and the "Sputnik moment" have been brought up by some Americans, Xie said. Some international scholars, including some U.S. academics, perceive this as comparing China to Japan in the Second World War and the Soviet Union in the Cold War. It seems as if by making China an "imagined enemy," a national sense of purpose would be reignited in the United States. The hope may be that by demonizing China, the United States could somehow shift domestic public discontent over political, economic and social issues and blame China for its own structural problems, he said. It seems that a whole-of-government and whole-of-society campaign is being waged to bring China down. It is as if when China's development is contained, all U.S. domestic and external challenges would go away, and America would become great again and Pax Americana would continue to go on, Xie said.”
“In terms of the United States' ‘competitive, collaborative and adversarial’ rhetoric, Xie said this is a thinly veiled attempt to contain and suppress China. The Chinese people feel that the real emphasis is on the adversarial aspect, the collaborative aspect is just expediency, and the competitive aspect is a narrative trap, he said. The U.S. policy seems to be demanding cooperation when it wants something from China; decoupling, cutting off supplies, blockading or sanctioning China when it believes it has an advantage; and resorting to conflict and confrontation at all costs, he added.”
“China wants to work with the United States to seek common ground while shelving the differences,” he said. The U.S. side needs to change course and work with China on the basis of mutual respect and embrace fair competition and peaceful coexistence with China...”
The tone for this was set when the US sanctioned officials linked to the HK Liaison Office last week, and China responded with “reciprocal countermeasures” to “impose sanctions on seven US individuals and entity according to the Anti-Foreign Sanctions Law...”
Then on Saturday, Foreign Minister Wang Yi had made it clear that
“There is never a country that is superior to others, and there shouldn't be one, Wang stated, stressing that China will not accept any country that thinks itself more superior than others. According to him, if the U.S. is still unaware of the basic rules of interacting with other countries, China, together with the international community, bear the responsibility to teach the U.S. a lesson on how to treat other countries in an equal manner.”
Next, we have the full joint statement issued after the Chinese and Pakistani foreign ministers’ meeting. I recommend you check out my weekly Eye on China’s Region Watch section from yesterday for a breakdown of this.
Third, a short report of Wang Yi meeting with Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto in Chengdu. Xinhua English has more details. Here’s an excerpt:
“China is willing to work with Finland to uphold true multilateralism, strengthen data security cooperation, carry out third-party cooperation with Africa, and facilitate collaboration between China and Northern Europe, to promote the building of a community with a shared future for humanity, said Wang. The two sides should jointly resist the practice of politicizing the COVID-19 origin-tracing issue, promote international anti-epidemic cooperation, and make joint efforts to defeat the epidemic. Wang pointed out that there is no fundamental conflict between China and Europe. China is willing to strengthen mutual trust through candid dialogue with Europe, resolve differences through equal consultations, and promote the sustained, healthy, and stable development of China-EU relations.”
Finally on the page, PD is covering this piece from the Maldives News Network, saying that Maldives media is criticizing the US on the pandemic and origin tracing issue.
The piece in question talks about how the pandemic has also led to the spread of “a new wave for Anti-Asian hatred and rhetoric. Due to disinformation and fake news fueled by global politics, the Asians, especially China has been blamed for the COVID-19 virus. This accusation and following hysteria have been further exacerbated by some global powers such as the U.S. and its allies specifically blaming China and accusing that the COVID-19 virus originated from a laboratory in Wuhan, China.”
I don’t know what the mainstream view is in the Maldives. But the masthead of this website tells me that this isn’t about the mainstream view either.
Page 4: Some flood-related coverage on the page. First, a notice by the Central Organisation Department basically mobilising grassroots organisations as the “bastion” and “vanguard” in dealing with the ground situation. Basically, leading cadres should take the lead and grassroots organisations should be at the frontlines. Next, we have a report about typhoon In-fa making landfall in Zhejiang. The report talks about the preparations made for this as opposed to the unfolding situation.
We have a report with data from the devastation in Henan. The rains affected people from 1464 townships in 139 counties. The death toll officially is at 63 now. Five people are missing. Around 296,000 people need emergency life assistance; the affected area of crops is 876600 hectares, with 8876 houses having collapsed. Some 1.3 million people have been transferred and resettled.
The last report about the floods is essentially talking about dramatic moments and scenes of people helping each other and saving lives. This is again standard practice when it comes to disasters.
Finally, we have a piece with comments from Zhao Kezhi, speaking at the meeting of the national public security organs to deepen the reform of the police. He wants to improve integrity and efficiency along with combat effectiveness of the police.
The goal is:
“We must resolutely defend national political security, focus on preventing and resolving major stability-related risks, comprehensively strengthen public safety management, conscientiously do a good job in educating and rectifying the public security team, and do a solid job in maintaining security and stability in the second half of the year.” 要坚决捍卫国家政治安全，聚焦防范化解涉稳重大风险，全面加强公共安全管理，认真做好公安队伍教育整顿，扎实做好下半年维护安全稳定工作.
Page 5: I thought we were done last week, but today we have the sixth in the series on Xi Thought. The first part talks about why socialism with Chinese characteristics is socialism. We then get told that what China follows is scientific socialism. To say that “China is engaged in ‘capitalist socialism’, ‘state capitalism’ and ‘new bureaucratic capitalism’ is all wrong,” the author chides.
So what does scientific socialism mean?
The piece tells us that Marx and Engels once made scientific predictions and assumptions about the development process, development direction, and general characteristics of the future socialist society. They believed that the decisive differences between a socialist society and a capitalist society mainly included:
organizing production on the basis of public ownership of the means of production and satisfying the needs of all members of society as the fundamental purpose of socialist production.
Providing systematic guidance to adjust social production in a planned way
Implementing the principle of distribution of individual compensation as representative of one's contribution to the social product
transform and utilize nature in accordance with the laws of nature
Proletarian revolution is the highest form of proletarian struggle, which must be led by proletarian political parties and aimed at establishing a country under the dictatorship of the proletariat
Through the dictatorship of the proletariat and the high development of socialism, we will finally realize the transition to a communist society that eliminates classes and exploitation and realizes the all-round and free development of human beings
Then we learn that socialism with Chinese characteristics adheres to all this.
“In terms of the leadership system, the leadership of the CPC is the most essential characteristic of socialism with Chinese characteristics and the greatest advantage of the socialist system with Chinese characteristics. In the state and political system, the people's democratic dictatorship and the people's congress system are implemented; In terms of economic system, we should adhere to the common development of public ownership and multiple ownership systems; we adhere to the distribution of labor as the mainstay and the coexistence of various modes of distribution, along with this we adhere to the implementation of the socialist market economy system; In terms of ideology, we insist on the guiding position of Marxism and cultivate and practice the core socialist values; In terms of the fundamental position, we insist on putting the people at the center, continuously promoting the all-round development of people and realizing the common prosperity of all people; and so on. All these embody the basic principles of scientific socialism in the new historical conditions, and continue the genetic lineage of scientific socialism. If these are lost, it will not be socialism.”
Later, we are also told that:
“Socialism with Chinese characteristics is a scientific socialism rooted in the land of China, reflecting the wishes of the Chinese people and adapting to the development requirements of China and the times. When world socialism suffered serious twists and turns, socialist China did not fall down with the domino effect, but stood many tests, and scientific socialism rose up in the twists and turns.” -- Seriously, and everyone else has to get over their Cold War thinking.
The next question in the piece deals with the distinction that people draw between the pre-reform and post-reform periods of China.
“on the issue of how to view the relationship between the two historical periods before and after the reform and opening up, some people treat them as distinct, or juxtapose the two historical periods, or even argue that they negate each other, which is totally wrong.” 然而，在如何看待改革开放前后两个历史时期关系问题上，有的人将这两个历史时期割裂开来、对立起来，甚至相互否定，这是完全错误的.
The author says that while these two periods “had great differences in the ideological guidance, principles and policies, and actual work of socialist development, but the difference does not mean that they are distinct from each other, let alone being fundamentally opposed.” We then get an old Xi quote as saying: “The historical period before reform and opening up must be correctly evaluated. The historical period after reform and opening up cannot be used to negate the historical period before reform and opening up, and the historical period before reform and opening up cannot be used to negate the historical period after reform and opening up.”
It then points to the Party’s ability to adapt after the early foundations that were laid by the period before reform and opening up. “When the ‘shoes’ of the Soviet model did not fit, our Party led the people to start independent exploration of socialism, pioneering in the unknown and advancing through twists and turns, accumulating important experiences both positive and negative.” 在苏联模式的“鞋子”不合脚的情况下，我们党带领人民毅然开始独立进行社会主义探索，在未知中开拓，在曲折中前进，积累了正反两方面的重要经验.
My take: So basically, Xi wants people to see the period since 1949 as a continuum with the Party evolving and adapting to changing situations and needs; rather than seeing the 1949-78 and post 1978 period as being fundamentally different. Again, this isn’t new. He’s done a lot to rehabilitate Mao and paint a picture of the Party’s rule being led by a visionary grand strategy. The reality is much more complex.
Page 9: The lead piece is by He Yiting. In the body of the article, he mentions Xi Jinping 23 times! The article offers little new. It’s basically interpreting and praising Xi’s thoughts and the July 1 speech, saying that these have set the stage for the new era.