Supervising Procuratorial Organs - Commentary on H2 Priorities - Zhong Sheng: Biden's China Focus 'Misguided' & Owing to Domestic Compulsions - Xi Thought Series - China's 'Socialist Democracy'

Here are the stories and pieces from the August 3, 2021, edition of the People’s Daily that I found noteworthy.

Page 1: There are no activities of Xi Jinping to report, but we do have a long piece about Xi’s comments over time regarding making a solid start to implementing the 14th FYP. 

That said, let’s begin with the new guidelines on Strengthening the Legal Supervision of Procuratorial Organs in the New Era

The first paragraphs tells us that the guidelines are needed to strengthen supervision to meet the “new needs of the people in democracy, the rule of law, fairness, justice, security and the environment.” They are also needed in order to “further strengthen the absolute leadership of the Party on the work of the procuratorate, to ensure that the procuratorial organs perform the legal supervision duties conferred by the Constitution and the law in accordance with the law...” 进入新发展阶段,与人民群众在民主、法治、公平、正义、安全、环境等方面的新需求相比,法律执行和实施仍是亟需补齐的短板,检察机关法律监督职能作用发挥还不够充分. 为进一步加强党对检察工作的绝对领导,确保检察机关依法履行宪法法律赋予的法律监督职责,现就加强新时代检察机关法律监督工作提出如下意见.

As has increasingly become the norm, the General Requirements section of the document only refers to the guidance of Xi Jinping Thought. Also it talks about the aim of promoting the revolutionization, regularization, specialization and professionalization (革命化、正规化、专业化和职业化) of procuratorial staff, striving to improve the level of legal supervision ability, and making new contributions to upholding and improving the socialist system with Chinese characteristics and promoting the modernization of national governance system and governance capacity.

The second part of the document talks about the importance of procuratorial organs keeping in mind the overall situation and the overall national security concept in their activities, along with serving the causes of social stability and high-quality socio-economic development. Here are some of the crimes specifically mentioned in the bit on protecting national security:

  • splitting the country

  • subverting state power

  • organizing and carrying out terrorist activities

  • the fight against gangs

  • cyber crimes

With regard to development, the document calls on  procuratorial organs to “participate in the prevention and resolution of financial risks according to law, serve to consolidate and expand the achievements of poverty alleviation and comprehensively promote rural revitalization, and strengthen the judicial protection of ecological civilization.” 依法参与金融风险防范化解工作,服务巩固拓展脱贫攻坚成果和全面推进乡村振兴,加强生态文明司法保护. It also wants them to “safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of enterprises in accordance with the law. Strengthen judicial protection of intellectual property rights, and serve to protect innovation-driven development.” 依法维护企业合法权益。加强知识产权司法保护,服务保障创新驱动发展.

The next bit is about serving the people. In this, it says: “Adhere to and develop the "Fengqiao Experience" in the new era, improve the procuratorial work mechanism for complaints and appeals, improve the system for handling people's letters and visits, introduce hearings and other means to review and handle difficult cases, and effectively resolve contradictions and disputes.”坚持和发展新时代“枫桥经验”,健全控告申诉检察工作机制,完善办理群众信访制度,引入听证等方式审查办理疑难案件,有效化解矛盾纠纷. 

The last paragraph in section two talks about legal awareness in society. It emphasizes the core socialist values.

The third section talks about improving the quality and effectiveness of legal supervision to safeguard judicial justice. This is too detailed to be summarised in brief here, but I’ll share what Xinhua English says, i.e., that the guidelines called for “improvements in mechanisms of information sharing, case notification, and case transfer between people's procuratorates and law enforcement, public security, judicial, and judicial administrative organs. The guideline demanded fine-tuned supervision on filing, investigations, and trials of criminal cases, as well as civil proceedings. Procuratorial organs were also asked to push forward works on public interest litigations, among others.”

The final section in the document talks about strengthening the competence of procuratorial personnel. It’s always useful to see what parameters are used to define competence. I guess this is where we see the prioritisation between being red and expert.

The first parameter is “strengthening the party’s political development is the first priority.” It calls for improving the “political judgment, political understanding, and political execution ability of prosecutors. Carry out in-depth education on the concept of socialist rule of law to ensure that the prosecutors are absolutely loyal, absolutely pure, and absolutely reliable... carry out the education and rectification of the procuratorial team, and promote the solution of stubborn and chronic diseases.” This also emphasises the eight central regulations, supervision over procuratorial power, establishing a clean government and strengthening internal supervision to ensure “accountability of leading cadres who interfere in judicial activities and intervene in the handling of specific cases.” It is only after all this that the document talks about professionalism as the second parameter.

Next, we have a commentary on the page about the Yan’an Spirit, and why it is important today. This is the operative bit:

“On the new journey, every party member and cadre must always take the firm and correct political direction as the foundation of the Communists, be sincere and loyal to the party with firm ideals and beliefs, and constantly improve political judgment, political understanding and political execution; we must always regard emancipating the mind and seeking truth from facts as the ideological line for the Communists to accomplish great achievements, and constantly temper the ideological character and style of integrating theory with practice and seeking truth and being pragmatic…” 新的征程上,每一名党员、干部都要始终把坚定正确的政治方向作为共产党人的立身之本,以坚定的理想信念砥砺对党的赤诚忠心,不断提高政治判断力、政治领悟力、政治执行力;都要始终把解放思想、实事求是作为共产党人成就伟业的思想路线,不断锤炼理论联系实际、求真务实的思想品格和作风...

It also talks about keeping people at the heart of development and emphasizes “hard work” and “self-reliance.”

Next, there’s another commentary; this one’s based on Friday’s Politburo meeting on the economy. This one’s telling officials and cadres to keep in mind the importance of addressing “practical problems of employment, education, social security, medical care, housing, pension, food safety, and public order.” That’s because “continuous improvement of people's livelihood can not only effectively solve the worries of the masses and mobilize people’s enthusiasm for developing production, but also enhance social consumption expectations, expand domestic demand, generate new economic growth points, and provide strong endogenous power for economic development, transformation and upgrading.” 持续不断改善民生,既能有效解决群众后顾之忧,调动人们发展生产的积极性,又可以增进社会消费预期,扩大内需,催生新的经济增长点,为经济发展、转型升级提供强大内生动力.

Some of the important goals for H2 outlined here are:

  • address livelihood issues, improve public services and address shortcomings in disaster management

  • adhere to the position that houses for living, not for speculation...promote the steady and healthy development of the real estate market, accelerate the development of rental housing…

  • consolidate and expand the results of poverty alleviation

  • strengthen employment services for college graduates, unblock the employment channels for migrant workers, and improve the protection of labor rights for flexible employees

  • implement the support policies regarding the three-child policy

  • flood prevention and disaster relief measures get a mention here, as does COVID-19 prevention

Page 3: A couple of pieces to note on the page. First, do you remember the political parties summit that Xi Jinping held recently? Here’s where that sort of diplomacy comes in handy for Beijing. PD tells us that over 300 political parties, organizations and think tanks from over 100 countries and regions on Monday submitted a joint statement to the World Health Organization Secretariat, opposing the politicization of the COVID-19 origins study. Here’s an English version of the report.

The statement criticises the proposed WHO plan for origin-tracing. And it says:

“We resolutely oppose any attempt of politicization, geographical labeling and stigmatisation as well as the obstruction by any political factor and political manipulation to the research process and the international anti-epidemic cooperation... We appreciate the fact that China and other countries have taken positive moves in providing vaccines to the rest of the world, in particular to developing countries, making important contribution to the global anti-epidemic cooperation. We call on vaccine-capable countries to refrain from imposing export restrictions or resorting to excessive hoarding and to resolutely oppose vaccine nationalism so that the global immunisation gap can be narrowed, and a stronger international fence against the virus can take shape.”

I haven’t checked if the actual statement with signatories details is available online due to paucity of time; but it would be interesting to see who all has signed this.

Next, we have the 15th Zhong Sheng commentary on all of this. It begins like this:

“Faced with the reality of declining U.S. soft and hard power, both the previous and current U.S. administrations see China as a strategic competitor and major threat, and seizing every opportunity to politicize all issues such as the pandemic, trade, education, science and technology, and cybersecurity, and continue to create a public opinion atmosphere of ‘China threat’ in an attempt to suppress and isolate China's development.” 面对美国软硬实力都在下降的现实,无论是上届美国政府还是现政府,都将中国视为战略竞争对手和主要威胁,抓住一切机会,把疫情、贸易、教育、科技、网络安全等所有问题政治化,持续制造“中国威胁”的舆论氛围,企图打压孤立遏制中国发展.

The commentary criticises the Biden administration for pursuing the lab-leak hypothesis. It says that in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election, the Biden team had talked about the importance of “listening to science.” But once in power, they’ve reverted to the Trump administration’s line. So why is this the case? The author argues that this is because of domestic pressures; the challenges of addressing issues like racial divides, economic inequality, etc, and the pressures of winning the midterm elections, have led to the Biden administration turning public ire towards China.

The piece adds, while electoral compulsions - or as the author put it: “design flaws of the American electoral system” is one reason for this position on China, another is that “U.S. perception of China has gone into a misunderstanding” of viewing China’s rise as a threat. It also says that efforts to “isolate and contain China's development” will not succeed because its rise is driven by “a huge endogenous driving force, which is an inevitable trend of historical evolution. The great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation has entered an irreversible historical process, and no country or force can stop it.” Anyway, just to note: this one also mentions the term “tracing terrorism.”

Finally, a short report (English version) on the page about the foreign ministry informing that China has delivered 350 million doses of vaccines to co-sponsors of the Initiative for Belt and Road Partnership on COVID-19 Vaccines Cooperation. This initiative includes China and 28 other countries. 

“China has been actively implementing the initiative and reached cooperation agreements with co-sponsors of the initiative on a total of 775 million doses of vaccines, including in the form of concentrates, of which 350 million doses have been delivered, the spokesperson said. Chinese companies have started joint production with four co-sponsors of the initiative and are discussing joint production with other interested countries, said the spokesperson.”

Page 4: We have some coverage with regard to the floods in Henan on the page. First, we get a report based on yesterday’s press conference by officials from Henan. This confirms that the death toll from the floods was at 302. This is triple the figure of 99 that was reported last week. Most of the fatalities were reported in the provincial capital Zhengzhou.

Second, we have a report informing us of the State Council’s new investigation team to assess the responses to the devastating flood in the central Chinese city of Zhengzhou. Xinhua English tells us that the team will be headed by the Ministry of Emergency Management and include officials and experts from relevant departments. The investigation aims to summarize the experience and lessons drawn from the response and propose measures that can be taken to improve disaster prevention and relief in the future. Those who are found breaching their duties in the Zhengzhou flood will be held responsible according to the law and regulations.

Third, we have a short report on the new Opinions on Improving the Evaluation Mechanism of Scientific and Technological Achievements. The primary criteria for evaluation according to this is “quality, performance and contribution.” I am not sure about what sort of contribution is being considered as a criterion here.

Anyway, the piece tells us that it is important to “evaluate the scientific, technical, economic, social and cultural values of scientific and technological achievements.” If I understand correctly, it emphasizes peer review, application of research to industry and society, not including defense and sensitive areas. It talks about the standardization of third-party evaluation of scientific and technological achievements. It also says that it is necessary to reform and improve the reward system for scientific and technological achievements. This then talks about focussing beyond papers, titles, academic qualifications, and awards (唯论文、唯职称、唯学历、唯奖项) as markers of achievements. 

The Ministry of Science and Technology is asked to lead this. The Ministry of Education, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Academy of Engineering, the Chinese Association for Science and Technology and other relevant units should actively coordinate and cooperate.

Page 5: The 12th piece on Xi Jinping Thought is divided into two pieces today - strange sudden stylistic change. Each piece discusses a specific question.

The first question is “why do we say that great struggles, great projects and great undertakings must be carried out to realize great dreams?”

The answer is that “to realize the great dream, a great struggle must be carried out. Society advances in a movement of contradictions, and where there are contradictions, there will be struggles. The process of realizing great dreams is full of contradictions and struggles. At present, the major changes in the world are accelerating and profoundly evolving; there are an increasing number of sources of turbulence and risk points, and the external environment is complex and severe; China is facing major risks and challenges in the fields of politics, ideology, economy, science and technology, society, and party building.” It warns that the “closer we get to national rejuvenation, the less smooth it will be.” There will be risks, challenges and even stormy waves. It quotes Xi warning of “obstacles and stumbling blocks” on the road ahead and calling for carrying “forward the spirit of struggle,” enhancing “the ability to struggle,” and “continuously win new victories in the great struggle.” 实现伟大梦想,必须进行伟大斗争。社会是在矛盾运动中前进的,有矛盾就会有斗争。实现伟大梦想的过程充满矛盾和斗争。当前,世界大变局加速深刻演变,全球动荡源和风险点增多,外部环境复杂严峻;我国在政治、意识形态、经济、科技、社会、党的建设等领域都面临重大风险挑战。“看似寻常最奇崛,成如容易却艰辛。”越是接近民族复兴越不会一帆风顺,越充满风险挑战乃至惊涛骇浪。习近平总书记强调,我们前进的道路上有各种各样的“拦路虎”、“绊脚石”,面临的重大斗争不会少,必须以越是艰险越向前的精神奋勇搏击、迎难而上。要充分认识这场伟大斗争的长期性、复杂性、艰巨性,到重大斗争一线去真枪真刀磨砺,把准斗争方向,发扬斗争精神,增强斗争本领,不断夺取伟大斗争新胜利.

The piece also says that “it is necessary to more consciously strengthen the principles of party spirit, be brave in facing problems, dare to scrape the bones and cure the poison, eliminate all factors that damage the party’s advanced nature and purity, remove all viruses that erode the party’s health, so that our party will become more mature, purer, stronger and more effective.” 要更加自觉地坚定党性原则,勇于直面问题,敢于刮骨疗毒,消除一切损害党的先进性和纯洁性的因素,清除一切侵蚀党的健康肌体的病毒,使我们党越来越成熟、越来越纯洁、越来越强大、越来越有战斗力.

The last key point here is upholding the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics.

The next question is why achieving Xiaokang is a big step forward for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation? The response begins with the developments that Liangjiahe has experienced. The answer then tells us that Xiaokang is linked to the grand idea of the big dream of the Chinese nation as much as it is to the little experiences of everyday life of individuals. Achieving this, the piece says, “means that the Chinese nation has fulfilled its long-cherished wish for thousands of years.” The piece then talks about the prosperity that China has experienced. This is done not just in terms of the macro numbers but also in terms of the little things that people have experienced and material improvements in their individual lives.

“Building a well-off society in an all-round way is not only reflected in the leap in economic strength and comprehensive national power, but also in bringing tangible changes to the lives of every Chinese. From the 1950s to 1970s, bicycles, watches, sewing machines and radios were the ‘four big items that urban families longed for. After reform and opening up, color TV sets, refrigerators, washing machines and tape recorders replaced them to become the new ‘four big items.’ Now, in the new era, the old and new ‘four big items’ have already become history, and even ‘forty big items’ cannot sufficiently tell the story of the good life that the Chinese people are enjoying today.” 全面建成小康社会,不仅体现在经济实力、综合国力的跃升上,更体现在给每一个中国人的生活带来实实在在的变化上。20世纪50年代至70年代,自行车、手表、缝纫机、收音机,这“三转一响”是城市家庭渴望拥有的“四大件”。改革开放后,彩电、冰箱、洗衣机、录音机取代“三转一响”,成为新的“四大件”。进入新时代,新老“四大件”早已成为历史,“四十大件”也说不完中国人今天的美好生活.

The final bit in this is that China’s economic development and achievement of Xiaokang has “greatly improved the overall development level of human society...It is China's unremitting efforts to build a well-off society in an all-round way that has nearly doubled the number of people with per capita GDP exceeding 10,000 US dollars in the world.” 

Page 12: We have a long piece from Qiushi’s theory study division. This is about the original aspiration. It basically reiterates the points that we covered in the Xi Thought piece the other day in much more detail.. But just a quick summary of the sub-heads:

  • Party seeks “happiness for the people”

  • Popularity with the people matters. We get Mao’s quotes here about politics needing to be subservient to people’s aspirations and how cadres are “people’s servants.”

  • Adhere to the value orientation of “people first”

  • Maintain flesh and blood ties with people

Page 13: On the Theory page, we get a piece from CASS’ Vice President Wang Linggui about seeking people’s happiness, the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation and how China’s development and rise is critical for the world. I am focusing on the last bit here. It is divided into three parts:

  • China’s growth has contributed to development around the world

“In the past 20 years, China has developed into the world’s second largest economy, the largest trader of goods, and the largest recipient of foreign capital. The total tariff level has dropped sharply from 15.3% to 7.5%, far below the 10% promised when joining the World Trade Organization. China’s contribution to world economic growth has been around 30% for many years. China’s open development has brought important opportunities to all countries, injected strong impetus into economic globalization and made important contributions to world economic growth.” 20年来,我国发展成为全球第二大经济体、第一大货物贸易国、第一大外资吸收国,关税总水平由15.3%大幅降至7.5%,远低于加入世界贸易组织时承诺的10%. 中国对世界经济增长的贡献率连续多年在30%左右,中国的开放发展为各国带来重要机遇、为经济全球化注入强劲动力、为世界经济增长作出重要贡献.

  • China is providing Chinese solutions to solve common challenges faced by mankind

“China has promoted the building of a new type of international relations, the building of a community of human destiny, the high-quality development of the Belt and Road, announced practical cooperation initiatives during a series of major international occasions, put forward Chinese solutions, contributed Chinese wisdom and injected Chinese power to solve global development problems and promoted the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.” 中国推动建设新型国际关系,推动构建人类命运共同体,推动共建“一带一路”高质量发展,在一系列重大国际场合宣布务实合作举措,为破解全球发展难题、推动落实联合国2030年可持续发展议程提出中国方案、贡献中国智慧、注入中国力量.

  • China is contributing to world peace and development

“China is the largest developing country in the world. Under the leadership of the Communist Party, our country has steadfastly followed its own path, concentrated on its own affairs, made the country richer and stronger and the people happier, and injected stability and certainty into the complex and volatile world, which itself is the greatest contribution to world peace and development...We will continue to firmly support multilateralism, uphold international justice and fairness, and work with other countries to promote the democratization, rule of law and rationalization of international relations. Actively participate in the reform and construction of the global governance system and promote the cause of global poverty reduction and development. China's development has expanded the way for developing countries to move toward modernization, and provided a brand-new choice for countries and people in the world who want to speed up their development and maintain their independence.” 我国是世界上最大的发展中国家,在党的领导下,我国坚定不移走好自己的路,集中力量办好自己的事,让国家更富强、人民更幸福,为复杂多变的世界注入稳定性和确定性,这本身就是对世界和平与发展的最大贡献. 继续坚定支持多边主义、维护国际公平正义, 与各国一道共同推动国际关系民主化、法治化、合理化. 积极参与全球治理体系改革和建设, 促进全球减贫与发展事业. 中国的发展拓展了发展中国家走向现代化的途径,给世界上那些既希望加快发展又希望保持自身独立性的国家和民族提供了全新选择.

The other piece on the page that I found noteworthy is by Sang Yucheng from Fudan University. It talks about the “whole process of people’s democracy” which “embodies the essential characteristics and significant advantages of my country’s socialist democracy.” This is a “major contribution made by the Chinese Communist Party to the Chinese people’s democratic theory and practice.” 

“The whole process of people’s democracy is not only reflected in the complete institutional procedures, but also in the complete practice of participation. From the development process of modern democratic politics, a democracy in which the people can truly, effectively and widely participate is the embodiment of the improvement of democratic level and the development and progress of democracy. Capitalist democracy primarily plays out in the form of the election process, i.e., voting every few years, and the people only have the right to vote but not the right to participate extensively. They are only awakened at the time of voting and go into ‘dormancy’ after voting. In our country, people not only vote, but also actively participate in the political life and social management of the country, unifying process democracy and result democracy, formal democracy and substantive democracy, direct democracy and indirect democracy, and reflecting the important characteristics of the whole process of people’s democracy.” 全过程人民民主不仅体现在完整的制度程序上,而且体现在完整的参与实践中。从现代民主政治的发展历程看,民众能够真实有效广泛参与的民主,是民主层次提升、民主发展进步的表现。资本主义的民主,主要体现在选举环节,即每隔几年的投票选举,人民只有投票的权利而没有广泛参与的权利,只是在投票时被唤醒、投票后就进入“休眠期”,这样的民主的缺陷与弊端是显而易见的。在我国,人民不仅进行选举,还积极参与国家政治生活、社会管理,把过程民主和结果民主、形式民主和实质民主、直接民主和间接民主统一起来,体现了全过程人民民主的重要特征.