Shaanxi Tour - State Council on Medical Insurance - Yang Jiechi to US Parties: Correct 'Wrong China Policies' - Wang Yi in Seoul - Xi Thought: PLA's Missions, Taiwan Policy & One Country Two Systems
Here are the stories and pieces from the September 16, 2021, edition of the People’s Daily that I found noteworthy.
Page 1: It’s an incredibly Xi-heavy front page today. Four pictures of Xi Jinping from the National Games opening to his inspection tour of Shaanxi. There’s little material to cover in the piece on the Games. But it is useful to note who all accompanied Xi as per PD: Ding Xuexiang, Liu He, Xu Qiliang, Sun Chunlan, Chen Xi, Cai Dafeng, Lu Zhangong and He Lifeng.
Also, this from Xinhua is worth noting:
“A string of anti-virus measures including vaccination, nucleic acid test, closed-loop management and health monitoring have been put in place for the safety of each participant, as it's the first major multi-sport event held in China since the COVID-19 outbreak. Games organizers have also vowed to adopt a zero-tolerance stance toward doping, and more than 200 doping control officers are expected to conduct a record number of doping tests during the Games.”
Moving on, we also have a report (English report) on the page about Xi sending a congratulatory letter to the 2021 Belt and Road Great Wall International Folk Culture and Arts Festival. In it, he says that in the 8 years since he proposed BRI, it has achieved positive results.
Xi also said that BRI aims to:
“build bridges for exchanges and dialogues among peoples, and weave ties for exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations. China upholds the civilizational vision of equality, mutual learning, dialogue and mutual accommodation, Xi said, adding that China is willing to work with other countries to jointly build the BRI, strive for harmony but not sameness and make greater contributions to the progress of human civilization.”
Finally, let’s look at the report on Xi’s Shaanxi tour (Xinhua English wrap of the visit). The headline message that is being sent to Party cadre is about “freeing the mind, carrying out reform and innovation, and making persistent efforts to usher in a new chapter of high-quality development.” But there’s also a lot in there about redness.
PD tells us that Xi traveled to Yulin City, accompanied by Liu Guozhong, Shaanxi Party Secretary, and Zhao Yide, Shaanxi Governor, Xi visited enterprises, villages, schools and revolutionary sites over a period of two days. His first stop was the Yulin Chemical Co., a chemical company under the China Energy Investment Corporation. There, he emphasised that the coal industry should follow a green and low-carbon path of development. The coal chemical industry, as a sector with huge potential and good prospects, must be transformed into a high-end, diversified and low-carbon industry. He stressed on the importance of meeting the targets of carbon peak and carbon neutrality. With regard to the coal industry, he also emphasised the importance of achieving breakthroughs in key and core technologies, and developing coal-based special fuels and coal-based biodegradable materials.
Then Xi went to the village of Gaoxigou, where he chatted with local villagers. Here’s a brief video of one chat:
Apart from Xi being a man of the people, the big message here was about “the need to integrate ecological governance with the development of distinctive local businesses.” As Xinhua reports, Xi “emphasized exploring a way to attain coordinated development between ecology and economy, and harmony between humans and nature.”
Next, we head to the revolutionary site of Yangjiagou, where Mao Zedong and the Party's central authorities stayed for over four months between 1947 and 1948. This is the place where Mao launched the land reform movement. PD tells us that “Xi visited the site of the ‘December Conference’ of the CPC Central Committee, the former residences of Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai, recalling the revolutionary history and remembering the great achievements of the revolutionary ancestors.” He emphasised the importance of adhering to Marxism. While there, he talked about the need to formulate “realistic goals, tasks, policies and strategies,” and praised Party unity.
He then talked about the need to uphold “the Party’s leadership, improve its capacity for scientific, democratic, and law-based governance, and give full play to the Party’s core role in overall planning and coordinating all parties. We must adhere to the basic tenets of Marxism and use Marxism to observe, grasp and lead the times. At the same time, we must seek truth from facts and continue to adapt Marxism to China’s conditions and adapt it to the times. Xi called for making full use of red resources and deepening the study and education of Party history to perpetuate red blood.” 要始终坚持和完善党的领导，不断提高党科学执政、民主执政、依法执政水平，充分发挥党总揽全局、协调各方的领导核心作用。要坚持马克思主义基本原理，用马克思主义观察时代、把握时代、引领时代，同时坚持实事求是，从我国实际出发，不断推进马克思主义中国化、时代化。习近平指出，要充分运用红色资源，深化党史学习教育，赓续红色血脉.
He then went to Suide county. Bloomberg’s reporting tells me that this is where Xi’s parents met while working for the party as it fought the civil war. While there, PD says that Xi talked about the older generation of revolutionaries for whom he said “the interests of the Party come first.” They stood “on the side of the majority of the working people,” he added, pointing to the importance of learning from these traits and the importance of winning hearts and minds of the people. “We must carry forward our revolutionary traditions and fine conduct, always put the people’s interests above all else, remain true to why we started out and keep our mission firmly in mind, implement the Party’s mass line, respect the principal position of the people…” 我们要继承发扬革命传统和优良作风，始终把人民利益放在最高位置，不忘初心、牢记使命，贯彻党的群众路线，尊重人民主体地位，始终同人民站在一起、想在一起、干在一起.
Then visiting a school, Xi talked about improving the quality of education while easing students' burden of excessive homework and off-campus tutoring. At the same time, he said that “we need to fully implement the Party's education policy, fulfil the fundamental task of fostering moral integrity and educating people, foster strong feelings of love for the Party, the country, the people, and socialism, and strive to train socialist builders and successors who are well developed morally, intellectually, physically, and aesthetically.” 要全面贯彻党的教育方针，落实立德树人根本任务，厚植爱党、爱国、爱人民、爱社会主义的情感，努力培养德智体美劳全面发展的社会主义建设者和接班人.
The next paragraph covers comments about culture and art; here he emphasised the importance of being guided by core socialist values. Next, he went to the village of Haojiaqiao. This has been a poverty alleviation model village. Here too, Xi visited an exhibition to look at the “glorious revolutionary history and the inheritance of revolutionary traditions” of the village. The messaging here is about ensuring a better life for people being the “unswerving mission and aspiration of the Party.”
PD says: “Ding Xuexiang, Liu He, Chen Xi, He Lifeng and responsible comrades from central departments accompanied the inspection.”
Page 2: We have a report about the latest edition of Qiushi publishing another piece from Xi. The article is a collection of Xi’s quotes over time about the importance of upholding and strengthening the Party’s leadership. The piece reiterates that socialism with Chinese characteristics implies upholding the Party’s leadership and that “the Party, the government, the military and the people, the east, the west, the north and the south, the Party leads everything and is the highest force of political leadership.” 党政军民学，东西南北中，党是领导一切的，是最高的政治领导力量. Of course, therefore, any weakening of the Party will weaken the cause of the country, as per Xi.
Page 3: We have a report (detailed English report) about the State Council’s weekly executive meeting. This one adopted the 14th Five-Year Plan for National Medical Security and made arrangements on improving the medical insurance system. We are told that during the 13th Five-Year Plan period, basic medical insurance schemes covered 1.36 billion people, with the coverage rate staying above 95 percent. The key points from the meeting were:
Universal coverage of medical insurance will be implemented. Urban employees and rural and non-working urban residents are encouraged to enroll at places where they live or work. Household registration restrictions will be lifted for the flexibly employed to participate.
benefits under basic medical insurance schemes for outpatient treatment reimbursement will be steadily increased.
Development of commercial health insurance will be supported, and insurance products targeting senior citizens and other groups diversified.
There will be coordinated reform of medical insurance and drugs. Centralized drug bulk-buying will be implemented on an ongoing basis, and the scope of such procurement of high-value medical consumables extended, to curb exorbitant prices on drugs and medical consumables.
Next, we have a report (English report) about Yang Jiechi meeting with representatives of the U.S. Democratic and Republican parties who attended the 12th China-U.S. Political Party Leaders Dialogue. Yang told them that “China hopes that the U.S. government will correct its wrong China policies, work with China to take positive actions to implement the important consensus reached by the two heads of state and bring bilateral relations back to the right track of stable development as soon as possible.”
Third, we have a report (English report) about Guo Shengkun meeting with Vietnam’s minister of public security To Lam. Guo said that “law enforcement and security cooperation between the two countries has become the focus and highlight of the bilateral ties.” He emphasised the need to focus on “cross-border online gambling crime,” “combating border crimes,” and “communication and coordination in multilateral areas.”
Fourth, we have a report (English version) about Wang Yi meeting South Korean President Moon Jae-in. As per Xinhua, Moon said that South Korea is ready to work with China to maintain the momentum of high-level exchanges, expand people-to-people exchanges and push for more fruitful cooperation in economy, trade and environmental protection. He also backed the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing and said that he “appreciates China’s contribution to maintaining peace on the Korean Peninsula.” Wang praised bilateral ties during the pandemic, adding that China was “:willing to maintain high-level exchanges with South Korea, strengthen cooperation in economy, trade, culture and environmental protection, and expand friendly people-to-people exchanges.”
SCMP tells us that Wang also met with South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong in Seoul. He lashed out at the idea of expanding the US-led Five Eyes intelligence alliance to include South Korea, berating it as an “outdated” by-product of the Cold War era. Interesting comments from Kim Heung-kyu, a professor of political science at Aju University in Suwon City near Seoul, in the SCMP story.
He says that Wang’s visit to Seoul highlights South Korea’s growing importance as a “lynch pin” in the US-led defence networks in the Asia Pacific region, backed by its growing military power and technical prowess, especially in semiconductor manufacturing. “South Korea has never been so important for both China and the United States. If China succeeds in persuading Seoul to keep a discreet distance from the expanding anti-China defence alliance in the region, it would be a significant achievement for Beijing,” he said. “We’re witnessing a great political chess game by the two superpowers being unfurled on the Korean peninsula and in the Asia-Pacific region and it is quite important for South Korea how to position itself.”
While on the topic of China-South Korea ties, there was also this media cooperation dialogue that’s worth noting.
Then we have a story about the NPC’s Foreign Affairs Committee criticising the British parliament for banning the Chinese ambassador from attending events in Parliament while sanctions remain in place against a number of MPs and peers. The Chinese embassy in London called this a “despicable and cowardly” decision that would harm both countries' interests. The NPC’s Foreign Affairs Committee promised to take “necessary corresponding measures.” Foreign Ministry’s Zhao Lijian also promised the same, adding that “China’s sanctions on a handful of anti-China parliamentarians of the UK were completely justified and reasonable. It was a necessary response to these people who spread slanderous rumors and disinformation and to the unilateral sanctions imposed by the UK side.”
Finally, we have a report about Wang Yi speaking at the 20th founding anniversary of the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association. He spoke about exploring “arms control diplomacy with Chinese characteristics that embodies the responsibility of China as a major country.” Whatever that means, given China’s record on some of this. One of the key aspects of China’s diplomacy in this domain, he said, is about “promoting global strategic stability.”
Page 5: We have the 44th piece in the Xi Thought Q&A series. The first question is about the mission of the PLA in the new era. The answer begins with referencing the August 2020 drills around Taiwan, which were aimed to “test and enhance the joint combat capabilities of multiple services.” The drills are also termed a “necessary” response to the evolving situation in the Taiwan Strait, with a number of “major powers” “sending wrong signals to ‘Taiwan independence’ forces and posing a serious threat to peace and stability.” Then quickly we transition to broader objectives outlined by Xi, i.e., the “PLA must provide strategic support for consolidating the leadership of the CPC and China’s socialist system, safeguarding national sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity, safeguarding China’s overseas interests, and promoting world peace and development.”
The next paragraph talks about political security. It says that if political security is not guaranteed, the country will inevitably fall into a state of fragmentation, and the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation will be out of the question. “After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the drastic changes in Eastern Europe, socialism around the world suffered serious challenges. At that time, there were endless arguments with regard to China, and some even predicted that China would change its colour in a few years. But Instead of collapsing, China is thriving, and scientific socialism is full of vigor and vitality in China. The most fundamental reason for this is the strong leadership of the Party and the support of the armed forces.” 如果政治安全得不到保障，国家必然会陷入四分五裂、一盘散沙的局面，中华民族伟大复兴就无从谈起. 苏联解体、东欧剧变后，世界社会主义遭受严重曲折，当时唱衰中国的论调不绝于耳，有人甚至预言中国几年内就会改变颜色。但是中国非但没有垮下去，反而蒸蒸日上，科学社会主义在中国焕发出强大生机活力。这里面最根本的原因，就是有我们党的坚强领导，有我军这个坚强柱石.
The next bit tells us that hostility from foreign forces will not abate despite China’s growing strength. In fact, “the stronger we become, the more they will intensify their infiltration, sabotage and subversion activities.” Therefore, it is important to maintain a strong armed forces and ensure that the PLA remains under the Party’s command. The PLA “must be politically competent, stand firmly under the banner of the Party, and resolutely safeguard the security of state power and system, as well as overall political and social stability.”巩固党的长期执政地位，保证社会主义江山永不变色，我军具有特殊重要的地位和作用，必须在政治上非常过硬，坚定站在党的旗帜下，坚决维护国家政权安全、制度安全，坚决维护政治社会大局稳定.
We are then told that China has a land border of over 22,000 kilometers and a coastline of over 18,000 kilometers. “China is still not fully reunified, and has disputes over territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests with many neighbouring countries.” This situation presents a “major risk and challenge.” 大风险挑战. And then this:
“We will do our utmost to strive for peaceful reunification, but we will not commit to renouncing the use of force, and we will resolutely oppose and curb any separatist acts related to ‘Taiwan independence’.” 我们要尽最大努力争取和平统一的前景，但不承诺放弃使用武力，坚决反对和遏制任何“台独”分裂行径. - I guess this is the equivalent of “all options are on the table.”
In addition, the piece promises to “strictly guard against and resolutely crack down on all forms of separatist activities” related to Tibet, Xinjiang and Hong Kong. I know this isn’t surprising after the events of the past few years, but it still is remarkable to me that Hong Kong is spoken of in the same vein as Tibet and Xinjiang. How can your policy of integration and assimilation be even remotely successful if you’ve not just added but exacerbated a new flashpoint?
Next, with regard to territorial disputes and maritime issues, the piece talks about stressing on policies and strategies 政策策略, but it says that the armed forces “must be prepared to fight hard battles at any time.” “No one should expect us to swallow the bitter fruit (苦果) of accepting any undermining of our sovereignty, security and development interests.”
The next paragraph talks about overseas interests. A useful datapoint here:
“By the end of 2019, there were more than 11,000 overseas units of central government enterprises in more than 180 countries and regions, with a total overseas assets of 8.1 trillion yuan. Where national interests develop, security must follow.” 截至2019年底，仅中央企业境外单位就超过1.1万户，分布在180多个国家和地区，境外资产总额达8.1万亿元。国家利益发展到哪里，安全保障就必须跟进到哪里.
The article then talks about threats to thee interests and attacks on Chinese citizens and assets. This, therefore, requires the PLA to develop abilities and capacities to operate across broader domains guaranteeing China’s overseas interests. The next paragraph talks about the task of international peace and development. It mentions peacekeeping operations. But the key point is that the PLA “should adapt to the strategic requirements based on the transformation of the international system and for the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.” It should also “actively fulfil its responsibilities and obligations commensurate with China’s international standing, and play a greater role in maintaining a peaceful environment internationally and in the neighbourhood.”
The next question is about one country and two systems. We are told that this is an “innovation of the socialist system with Chinese characteristics.” Just to explain what this means: It refers to a system in which “within a unified country, the main body of the country practices a socialist system, while some areas practice a capitalist system in accordance with the law.” The piece is complementary to Deng Xiaoping for this “unprecedented” and “pioneering” innovation, and tells us that the system has worked well.
We are then told, using old quotes from Xi, that with changing times, the system must adapt. And that the “root” of one country, two systems is one country. The concept of two systems is “subordinate to” the idea of one country. Or rather, one country is the foundation of the system. Then we are told that:
“The successful implementation of ‘one country, two systems’ in Hong Kong and Macao has provided a practical example for resolving the Taiwan question. However, the specific form of implementation of ‘one country, two systems’ in Taiwan will fully take into account the realities in Taiwan, fully absorb the views and suggestions of all sectors on both sides of the Straits, and fully accommodate the interests and feelings of Taiwan compatriots.” “一国两制”构想最早是针对台湾问题提出来的，“一国两制”在香港、澳门的成功实践为解决台湾问题提供了实践样本。但“一国两制”在台湾的具体实现形式，会充分考虑台湾现实情况，会充分吸收两岸各界意见和建议，会充分照顾到台湾同胞利益和感情.
The lead piece on the Theory page is by the Central Party School’s Xi Thought Research Center - let’s just say there’s a lot of calling for struggle in the piece. The current situation, i.e., the improved prospects for national rejuvenation are a product of struggle. But the new journey too demands a great struggle. And in doing this, one must overcome many risks and challenges; and these too require the will to fight and engage in a struggle. Of course, a lot of this draws from Xi’s recent speech at the Party School.
Pages 14 and 15 have a detailed report on financial aid for students in 2020.