State Council Wants Local Govts to Tighten Belts - UFWD Meeting on Development - Wang Yi at SCO - India-China Talks - Pakistan 'Attack'

Here are the stories and pieces from the July 15, 2021, edition of the People’s Daily that I found noteworthy. Today’s edition was really thin on news. I’ve, therefore, tried to cover some of the diplomatic developments in Dushanbe based on official releases/statements. These weren’t necessarily reported in PD.

Page 1: Looking at the front page today, the first thought that came to my mind was how hard the editors have tried to find Xi Jinping-related content that they could feature. So we have a story about three books, Xi’s On History of the Communist Party of China, one about poverty alleviation in villages under Xi’s guidance and another of stories of poverty alleviation shared by Xi all being published in Hong Kong and Macau. Next a short story about Xi’s speech at the Political Parties summit is being published separately. Third, we have a feature piece drawing from Xi’s July 1 speech and talking about the 100 years of the CCP. 

Some of the points chosen in this piece are interesting. The first bit talks about Xi personally leading the poverty alleviation campaign. Then the piece talks about two statistics released during the centenary. First, that the Party has over 95 million members; second, that since the 18th Party Congress, nearly 400 leading cadres above the provincial ministerial level and more than 20,000 cadres at the department and bureau levels have been investigated, and a large number of ‘black sheep’ have been removed from the Party. ——党的十八大以来,立案审查调查省部级以上领导干部近400人、厅局级干部2万多人,一大批“害群之马”被清除出党.

Looking at the anti-corruption campaign, the author writes that “the new face of the Party has led to unprecedented changes in the face of the country, the face of the people, the face of the army and the face of the Chinese nation.” 党的面貌为之一新,带动国家的面貌、人民的面貌、军队的面貌、中华民族的面貌发生了前所未有的变化.

Next, we have a report about the State Council’s weekly meeting (English version). The report tells us that the aim was to discuss how to fix problems discovered in audits on central budget implementation, and other financial revenues and expenditures. It says that when problems are found in the audit, relevant localities and departments should pay close attention to forming rectification ledgers, strictly implement responsibilities, and carry out solid rectification. 会议要求, 一是对审计查出问题, 有关地方和部门要抓紧制定整改台账, 严格落实责任, 扎实整改到位. 

In addition, it called for:

Governments at all levels should continue to tighten their belts...efforts should not be relaxed on reducing spending on official overseas visits, government-procured vehicles, and official receptions...More work should be done to fully implement policies and measures benefiting businesses and the people, such as cutting taxes and fees, stabilizing jobs, expanding employment, and providing financial support to the real economy, especially micro and small businesses. The meeting also urged proper management and use of funds for elderly care, education, medical care, and housing and strictly prevent embezzlement.”

The meeting also discussed measures to improve the rural delivery and logistics systems.

Next, Wang Yang led a meeting of the UFWD on building a new development pattern. Some of the parties spoke about implementing the strategy of opening up the country along the border, building a unified domestic market, giving full play to the leading advantages of key areas of dual circulation, strengthening the enabling effect of digital technology on real enterprises, and some talked about customs clearance efficiency.

This was interesting:

“Non-party personages suggest that the national strategic scientific and technological forces and market forces should be used as a whole, and the supporting role of finance in the development of industrial chain should be paid attention to, and two markets and resources should be used at a higher level to strengthen innovation chain and upgrade the talent chain.” 党外人士建议,统筹运用国家战略科技力量和市场力量,重视金融在产业链发展中的支撑作用, 更高层次运用两个市场、两种资源,强化创新链、升级人才链.

Page 2: We have a Zhong Sheng commentary drawing from the new Xinjiang White Paper (Chinese text on Page 5/6). The argument here is that the Chinese government has “upheld a people-centered approach to human rights protection and Xinjiang has made steady progress in this regard over the past 70-plus years.” The commentary repeats this from the white paper that China has “carried out preventive counter-terrorism measures, including the establishment of vocational education and training centers, to protect basic rights. For more than four years since the end of 2016 there has been no terrorist incident in Xinjiang. The infiltration of extremism has been effectively curbed, and the right to life of people of all ethnic groups has been fully protected.”

And so is this largely repeated: “From 1955 to 2020, Xinjiang’s GDP soared from RMB 1.2 billion to RMB 1.4 trillion, and its per capita GDP rose from RMB 241 to RMB 53,593, a notable increase of about 160 times and 30 times at constant prices. From 1978 to 2020, the per capita disposable income of urban residents rose from RMB 319 to RMB 34,838, and that of rural residents from RMB 119 to RMB 14,056, both representing an increase of over 100 times.” In addition, the poverty alleviation data is shared.

This is all followed by criticism of the West for “distorting facts” and “hyping-up” Xinjiang-related issues and “lies.”

Next, we have a report (English report) about Sun Chunlan meeting with Tokyo-bound delegation of Chinese athletes in Beijing.

Page 3: A report about the 47th session of the UNHRC ending, and China’s engagement during the session. It says that “during the conference, the Chinese delegation told Chinese human rights stories and introduced Chinese human rights concepts through speeches at the conference and video side events, and promoted international human rights cooperation, international fairness and justice through practical actions, and promoted the formation of a more just, rational and inclusive global human rights governance.” 会议期间,中国代表团通过大会发言、举办视频边会等形式讲述中国人权故事,宣介中国人权理念,以实际行动促进国际人权合作、维护国际公平正义,推动形成更加公正、合理、包容的全球人权治理.

It says that “on issues related to Xinjiang and Hong Kong, China introduced the real situation and responded to the slander by the West, which won wide support from the international community.”

The story talks about a video conference on the Xinjiang issue, another one about Hong Kong and the national security law. On HK, the report says that “China's position is universally supported by the international community.” 中方立场得到国际社会普遍支持. To support this argument, it says that “Belarus made a joint statement on behalf of more than 60 countries…; the 6 member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council collectively sent letters to support China’s position; and more than 20 countries supported China in the form of individual statements...; a total of more than 90 countries have expressed their understanding and support for China's just position in different ways.”

It says that on broad issues of principles, China has called on countries to “adhere to the principle of sovereign equality, practice true multilateralism, and respect the development path of human rights independently chosen by each country based on its own national conditions.” There’s also talk about vaccines and poverty. There’s a mention to a Beijing-sponsored resolution called “The contribution of development to the enjoyment of all Human Rights.” 

The piece then says:

“on June 22, China made a joint statement on behalf of nearly 20 countries, saying that the work of the Human Rights Council should follow the principles of universality, impartiality, objectivity and non-selectivity, and constructive international dialogue and cooperation. Under the banner of democracy and human rights, some countries attempt to impose their own values ​​and models on others, and even use human rights as an excuse to implement military intervention and unilateral coercive measures, which have caused great suffering to the people of other countries. Such actions severely undermine the sovereignty and political independence of other countries and severely undermine international human rights cooperation. The international community should jointly oppose them.”

The last few paragraphs are about activities that China has led and participated in, in terms of criticising racial discrimination in the West, US immigration detention centers, hipocracy and privacy violations, etc.

Next, we have a report (more detailed English version) about Wang Yi meeting Tajik President Emomali Rahmon. Wang said that China-Tajikistan relations “are at a historic level.” Wang says that the “two sides should firmly support each other in safeguarding their core interests and guard against interference and sabotage by external forces.”

This was fascinating: “Tajik’s strong support for China on issues concerning China's core interests is also defending international fairness, justice and basic norms governing international relations...China will, as always, firmly support Tajikistan's domestic and foreign policies and Tajikistan's efforts to safeguard national sovereignty and security.”

Wang wants to “consolidate political mutual trust, deepen cooperation in various fields, build a high-quality and deep common development community and an unbreakable security community, safeguard the common interests of the two countries, and contribute to regional peace and development.”

And then this: “As the situation in Afghanistan is rapidly evolving, China and Tajikistan should carry out more substantial security cooperation, fend off together risks and challenges, and jointly guard against external interference.”

Some other foreign affairs news to talk about here, but this is not covered in PD today.

First, Wang Yi’s five-point proposal at the SCO meeting. He said that:

  • SCO members should pursue solidarity and coordination, and further cement the political foundation for cooperation. This entails supporting “each other on issues concerning each other’s core interests and major concerns, and coordinate efforts against external interference, risks and challenges.”

  • Countries should share responsibility for security and ensure long-lasting peace and order in the region. This means the “three evil forces” and drug control, border protection and security, and coordinate positions and actions regarding major issues including data security, biosecurity and outer space security. He also spoke about the Global Initiative on Data Security “to create a cyberspace of peace, security, openness and cooperation.”

  • Opposing “vaccine nationalism” and “reject slandering other countries under the pretext of origin tracing.”

  • He wants an “alignment of development strategies.”

  • He wants members to “jointly resist unilateralism upheld by some countries in spite of the basic norms of international relations” and “resolutely object to power politics and reject the imposition of so-called rules formulated by a ‘small clique’.”

Two China-Pakistan stories to note. First, Wang Yi’s meeting with Shah Mahmood Qureshi. Wang said that “as all-weather strategic cooperative partners, China and Pakistan unwaveringly support each other on issues concerning their respective core interests, and they should carry on such a good tradition.” He promised COVID-19-related support. Xinhua English says that they “had an in-depth exchange of views on the current situation in Afghanistan, believing that it presents both challenges and opportunities.” 

The report adds that they want to “prevent a resurgence of terrorist forces, facilitate the resumption of intra-Afghan talks, (and) build a broad and inclusive political framework.” They want that “more attention should be paid to the role of Afghanistan’s neighboring countries…”

Then they also spoke about the incident yesterday in which nine Chinese citizens working on the Dasu Hydropower Project in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province were killed. The Chinese embassy in Pakistan said that they died after the bus that they were traveling in “was hit by a blast on its way to the construction site.” The embassy statement added: “The Chinese Embassy expresses its deep condolences to the victims and sympathy for the injured, and will do its best with Pakistan to properly deal with the aftermath. The Chinese Embassy in Pakistan reminds Chinese citizens, enterprises, and projects in Pakistan to stay on alert, pay close attention to the local security situation, strengthen security protection, take strict precautions, and stop going out unless necessary.” The indication here is, of course, that this was a terrorist attack of some kind. 

The Pakistan Foreign Office later said: “This morning a bus carrying Chinese workers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, plunged into a ravine after a mechanical failure resulting in leakage of gas that caused a blast.” 

Wang and Qureshi talked about the incident. Xinhua tells us that:

the Chinese side was shocked by the incident, hoping that the Pakistani side could quickly find out its cause, conduct rescue and treatment work at all costs, deal with the aftermath in time, and prevent similar incidents from happening again, Wang said. If it is a terrorist attack, the criminals must be immediately arrested and severely punished, he added. Lessons should be learned from the incident, and the security measures for China-Pakistan cooperation projects should be further strengthened to ensure the safe and smooth operation of the projects, Wang said.”

To this, Qureshi replied that:

Preliminary investigation showed that it was an accident and no background of terrorist attacks has been found...Pakistan will spare no effort to treat the wounded, thoroughly investigate the truth of the incident, lose no time in sharing the progress of the investigation with China, and do its utmost to ensure the safety of Chinese personnel in Pakistan.”

Finally, we had Wang Yi meeting India’s S Jaishankar. The Indian MEA readout said that they “had a detailed exchange of views on the current situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh and also on other issues related to the overall India-China relations.” It adds:

“EAM pointed out to State Councilor that the successful disengagement in the Pangong Lake Area earlier this year had created conditions for resolving the remaining issues. It was expected that the Chinese side would work with us towards this objective. EAM noted however that the situation in remaining areas is still unresolved .EAM recalled that both sides had agreed that a prolongation of the existing situation was not in the interest of either side. It was visibly impacting the relationship in a negative manner.

They both agreed to hold the 12th round of Corps Commander-level talks. No dates yet, however.

The Chinese readout says that Wang told Jaishankar that after the Galwan Valley and Pangong Tso disengagement, “the situation in the border areas between China and India has generally been easing.” He recognized the issues in the bilateral relationship, adding that “China’s strategic judgment on Sino-Indian relations has not changed. The orientation of China-India relations should still be that they do not pose a threat to each other and rather provide opportunities for development. The two countries are partners, not rivals, still less enemies.” 中国对中印关系的战略判断没有改变。中印关系的定位仍然应该是互不构成威胁,都是发展的机遇。这两个国家是伙伴,不是对手,更不是敌人.

He said that the key “principle” underpinning Sino-Indian relations “should still be mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other's internal affairs and mutual respect for each other’s core interests.” 

In saying all this, he reiterated that the responsibility for the events that unfolded along the LAC last year “does not lie with China.” 

The two sides should put the border issue at an appropriate position in bilateral relations and create favorable conditions for resolving differences through negotiations by expanding the positive aspects of bilateral cooperation. It is necessary to consolidate the disengagement achievements, strictly follow the agreement and consensus of both parties, and refrain from taking any unilateral actions in sensitive disputed areas, so as to avoid repeated situations caused by misunderstanding and misjudgment. It is necessary to take a long-term view and gradually shift from emergency response to normal control, so as to prevent border-related incidents from causing unnecessary interference to bilateral relations.”  双方应把边界问题放在双边关系的适当位置,通过扩大双边合作的积极方面,为通过谈判解决分歧创造有利条件.  要巩固脱离接触成果,严格遵循双方的一致意见和共识,避免在敏感争议地区采取任何单方面行动,避免因误解误判导致的反复情况. 要从长计议,逐步从应急转向常态化管控,防止涉边事件对双边关系造成不必要的干扰.

My thoughts: None of this sounds encouraging from a disengagement point of view. It seems to me that the PLA is not going back and rather Beijing wants to talk about protocols to maintain stability, cementing the new reality on the ground. What’s more, Wang’s comments suggest that the Chinese side is telling India that restoring normalcy in other areas of the relationship is now a prerequisite to addressing issues on the LAC.

Page 4: After that bit of a detour, let’s get back to PD. We have the announcement of 322 national moral model candidates. The rest of the pages are used to publicise the list.

That’s it for PD today. Of course, there was no mention of the rain/flooding situation in the country. None of the really controversial foreign affairs issues were covered. Some I’ve mentioned above; others, like say, the tensions with Japan have had no reference at all.

But check out these reports:

What’s also found no mention in PD, at least as far as I have seen, is the upheaval in China’s technology sector. For instance, SCMP reports that:

“Companies providing online products and services must report the discovery of any weaknesses in their systems within two days to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), according to a notice on Tuesday by the country’s cyberspace watchdog. This regulation, which sets out how to handle cybersecurity loopholes, was developed by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), the MIIT and the Ministry of Public Security (MPS). It will take effect on September 1. It provides detailed guidelines for enforcing China’s Cybersecurity Law. Implemented in June 2017, the law vaguely stipulates how providers of internet products and services should report system vulnerabilities to their users and ‘related regulators’.”