Three-Child Policy - Xi's 'Visionary' Thought - Li Keqiang on Core Technologies - Cyber Attacks Pushback - Zhong Sheng Criticism of US on COVID-19

Here are the stories and pieces from the People’s Daily’s July 21, 2021, edition that I found noteworthy.

Page 1: The incredible scenes of flooding in Henan are truly distressing. 河南加油! 

Alas, the story gets no mention on the front page of the People’s Daily today. These events will likely find space tomorrow, since Xi Jinping has today issued instructions demanding “that authorities at all levels must give top priority to ensuring the safety of people's lives and property.” In today’s edition, the flood story is on Page 7, and there, it does get decent space and coverage in terms of the authorities’ response to the situation.

Back to the front page, first up, we have the Central Committee and State Council’s decision on improving birth policies (Xinhua English report) to promote long-term and balanced population development. The document talks about the “three-child policy” in the following context:

“China’s population is expected to enter a stage of moderate aging during the 14th Five-Year Plan period, and then a stage of severe aging around 2035. This will have far-reaching consequences for economic development and society.” 预计“十四五”期间我国人口将进入中度老龄化阶段,2035年前后进入重度老龄化阶段,将对经济运行全领域、社会建设各环节、社会文化多方面产生深远影响. 

“It then says that implementing the three-child policy and supporting measures will help maintain a moderate population and labor force scale in the future, give full play to the basic, overall and strategic role of population factors, and provide effective human capital support and domestic demand support for high-quality development.” 实施三孩生育政策及配套支持措施,有利于未来保持适度人口总量和劳动力规模,更好发挥人口因素的基础性、全局性、战略性作用,为高质量发展提供有效人力资本支撑和内需支撑.

The document says that the general trend in society is to have fewer children and provide them with better education. “Economic burdens, child care and women's concern about career development have become the main factors restricting fertility.” 群众生育观念已总体转向少生优育,经济负担、子女照料、女性对职业发展的担忧等成为制约生育的主要因素. The policy aims to address these issues.

But there are other objectives too that are mentioned in the document. For instance, the document says that the policy “is conducive to further consolidating the achievements of poverty eradication and building a moderately prosperous society, guiding the reasonable distribution of population across regions, and promoting the coordinated and sustainable development of the population and economy, society, resources and environment.” 实施三孩生育政策及配套支持措施,有利于进一步巩固脱贫攻坚和全面建成小康社会成果,引导人口区域合理分布,促进人口与经济、社会、资源、环境协调可持续发展. 

The Guiding Ideology section basically talks about Xi Thought, and talks about the policy in the context of the “new development stage, the new development concept, and new development pattern.” In terms of the goals, we have the following:

  • By 2025, China will basically establish a policy system that actively supports births with better services and lower costs in childbearing, care and education. The gender ratio of newborns will be more balanced and the population structure will be improved.

  • By 2035, the country will further improve its policies and regulations securing the stable long-term population development, as well as its population structure, said the decision.

Some of the key points from the rest of the document:

  • The Population and Family Planning Law of the People's Republic of China will be amended. 

  • All fees and fines that have been imposed on couples for violating the family planning law are to be cancelled.

  • How many children an individual has will no longer be a reference when he or she registers for a household account, enrolls in school, and applies for a job. 

  • There’s a specific mention with regard to improving maternal health services, and better medical care for children.

  • It talks about research to improve fertility and regulation of assisted reproductive technology. 

  • The country will improve the public services related to family planning, particularly for children’s upbringing, care of the elderly, and enhance demographic surveillance and forecasts.

  • The document talks about using central budget funds to promote the construction of a group of convenient and accessible, affordable, and high-quality childcare service institutions, and support qualified employers to provide childcare services for their employees.

  • It talks about improving maternity leave and maternity insurance systems.

  • Promote the inclusion of care expenses for infants and children under the age of 3 as a special additional deduction for personal income tax.

  • Local governments should study and formulate preferential policies for implementing differentiated leasing and housing purchase according to the burden of raising minor children.

  • The document talks about education support and then calls to regulate the recruitment behaviors of employers, enterprises and institutions, and promote equal employment for women.

  • The current reward and assistance system and preferential policies for families with only one child and rural families with only two daughters born before the two-child policy will be continued.

Next a report about the Central Military Commission issuing the ‘Regulations on Mass Work in the Army’, which will come into effect on August 1, 2021. We know through this story that the document consists of 8 chapters and 43 articles. It says that:

“The regulations thoroughly implement Xi Jinping's thought of strengthening the army, focus on close flesh-and-blood ties with the people, build a strong foundation for winning battles, consolidate and develop military, political, military and civilian unity, and comprehensively and systematically standardize the mass work of the army in the new era.” 《规定》深入贯彻习近平强军思想,围绕密切同人民群众的血肉联系、厚植能打胜仗的力量根基、巩固发展军政军民团结,全面系统规范新时代军队群众工作. 

It also says that the PLA must: “Focus on giving full play to the advantages of the army’s mass work in connecting with local areas and dealing with the masses, improving the coordination of local support for troop training and preparation, organizing support for the army…” 着眼发挥军队群众工作联系地方、面向群众的优势,健全协调地方支持部队练兵备战、组织拥军支前、落实拥军优属政策、开展双拥模范创建活动的工作机制.

Next, we have a report about Li Keqiang speaking about basic research during a symposium at the National Natural Science Foundation of China. Xinhua English has the story. It tells us that Li’s focus was on:

  • The core position of innovation in the country's modernization, calling for stimulating the enthusiasm of the whole of society for innovation through deepening reform. 

  • Noting that the technological bottleneck in many industries mainly lies in the weakness of original innovation, Li emphasised the importance of basic research. 

  • Li called for an increased sense of urgency and said researchers should be encouraged to focus on scientific research and deepen international cooperation.

  • He also called for increased financial investment in basic research, tax benefits for enterprises and the strengthening of research on basic theoretical problems that hold back industrial development.

PD’s report tells us that “Experts such as Huang Ru, Hong Yongmiao, Feng Xue, Gao Ruiping, Dou Xiankang, Ding Lieyun, Yang Xueming, Chen Fahu, Zhang Xuemin and other experts gave speeches. Li Keqiang asked relevant departments to carefully study everyone's opinions and suggestions.”

Next, we have a report about Li Zhanshu speaking to Chuan Leekpai (English report), president of the Thai National Assembly and speaker of the House of Representatives. Li spoke about COVID-19, BRI and developmental issues, along with supporting “each other on issues regarding core interests and major concerns.”

Two more reports on the page. First, the new high-speed maglev train which promises a top speed of 600 km per hour made its public debut in Qingdao. Second, a report that tells us that from January to June this year, 36,400 old urban communities were newly renovated, accounting for 67.5% of the annual target.

Page 3: We’ve got another in a series of Zhong Sheng commentaries hitting out at the US with regard to the origins of COVID-19 and its management of COVID-19. It says that:

“The US talks about how ‘the United States is back’, but it has not stood for global unity in fighting the pandemic; rather it is keen on forming cliques, forming small circles, and suppressing other countries.” 大谈“美国回来了”的美国,并没有站到全球团结抗疫的队伍中来,而是热衷于拉帮结派、搞小圈子,打压他国.

The commentary criticises the US for “baselessly rehashing the ‘lab leak theory’, smearing China and politicizing scientific issues.” Of course, two days ago, even the Chinese foreign ministry was talking about the lab leak in the context of its Fort Detrick narrative. And Zhao had referenced the GT petition, which now has over 4 million signatures. 

The commentary also says that given that the US is the world’s largest economy, “the failure of the United States to fight the epidemic is itself a serious drag on the international community.” “In addition, the U.S. side has also played the card of ‘egoism in fighting the epidemic’, and has committed such disgraceful acts as intercepting other countries' anti-epidemic supplies and buying up drugs, acting as ‘modern-day pirates’.” 不仅如此,美方还大打“抗疫利己主义”牌,做出截留他国抗疫物资、买断药物等被斥为“现代海盗”的令人不齿的行为.

The next paragraph attacks the US for “vaccine nationalism.” It says that the US committed 80 million doses to other countries by the end of June, but as per AP, it has only provided 24 million. The delivery of these vaccines was to 10 countries and regions, a long way away from the initial commitment of supplying to 50 countries and regions.

“The United States’ endless political manipulation and undermining the overall situation in the global fight against the pandemic is a narrow-minded, short-sighted, and selfish act. It hurts others and ends up hurting oneself. I advise the United States not to go its own way, but to find its conscience as soon as possible, take more international responsibilities, and do more things that are beneficial to international cooperation.” 美国无休止地搞政治操弄,破坏全球抗疫大局,是狭隘、短视和自私自利的行径。奉劝美国不要一意孤行,还是早日找回良知,多担一些国际责任、多做一些有益于国际合作的事为好.

Next, MoFA’s pushback against the coordinated criticism of China from the US, EU, NATO and others with regard to cyberattacks. Zhao said: 

“The US ganged up with its allies to make groundless accusations out of thin air against China on the cyber security issue...the US is the world's largest source of cyber attacks. According to a report of 360, a Chinese cyber security firm, APT groups from North America have sophisticated techniques and abundant resources, and have long been targeting specific industries and institutions. According to statistics from the National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team (CNCERT), about 52,000 malicious program command and control servers located outside China took control of about 5.31 million computer hosts in China in 2020. The US and two of its NATO allies are the top three in terms of the number of computers under their control in China...The US is wiretapping not only competitors, but also its allies. Its European allies downplay US moves to use Denmark's intelligence agency to spy on their leaders, while making a fuss about ‘China’s cyber attacks’ based on hearsay evidence. This act contradicts strategic autonomy claimed by Europe.

Specifically on NATO’s statement, Zhao said:

“By introducing military alliance into cyberspace, NATO is not making itself more secure. On the contrary, this might spur cyber arms race, increase risks of cyber friction and conflict between countries, and undermine international peace and security. If NATO truly cares about cybersecurity, it should match its words with actions and defend peace in cyberspace instead of engaging in cyber military buildup.”

Next a report about Wang Yi meeting with Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune. PD’s report is limited. Xinhua English tells us that Tebboune spoke about cooperation in the areas of economy, trade, investment, energy, mining and infrastructure construction under the BRI framework. He added that “Algeria has supported China in the past, is still supporting China now, and will continue to support China even more in the future.” 

“Praising Algeria as a country of heroism and principle, Wang said Algeria has always adhered to an independent policy and upheld justice in international affairs, which has earned respect from the international community...Wang added that his visit also aimed to send out a clear message: China will continue to treat Algeria as an important partner in strengthening unity and cooperation among developing countries under the new circumstances. China stands ready to join hands with Algeria to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of developing countries and uphold international justice, he said. China and Algeria, Wang said, used to be comrades-in-arms who fought side by side and now have become partners in seeking common development and prosperity.”

Also Wang met with Alegerian FM Ramtane Lamamra. He said that China appreciates Algeria’s strong support on issues concerning China’s core interests and major concerns, and firmly supports Algeria in taking a development path in line with its own national conditions and in safeguarding its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. He spoke about COVID-19 related support and said that “China is willing to work with Algeria and other developing countries to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of developing countries, and expand their representation and voice in international affairs.” There’s much more of this line of discussion in external affairs now. I guess given the nature of global competition, we’re seeing Beijing emphasise its developing country status and leadership.

Page 4: Some pieces to note on the page. First, Huang Kunming was in Ningxia for a seminar on studying and implementing Xi Thought. In Beijing, there was an event to study Xi’s July 1 speech. This was organised by the Central Propaganda Department, the Central Party History and Documentation Research Institute, the Central and State Organs Working Committee, the Ministry of Education, the Political Work Department of the Central Military Commission, and the Beijing Municipal Committee. 

Third, with the PLA’s 94th anniversary approaching, the Ministry of Veterans Affairs and the Political Work Department of the Central Military Commission jointly issued a notice calling on all units and troops to implement Xi’s “important instructions on strengthening the unity of the military, political and military unity, and do a good job in supporting the army…” Some of the directives are to:

  • Organise meetings to study Xi’s July 1 speech

  • Use publicity campaigns around role models and July 1 medal winners

  • The aim is to encourage the military and civilians to carry forward the fine traditions and inherit the red gene

  • all departments around the country should combine holiday visits, military and political talks, military-civilian friendship and other occasions, take the initiative to understand the actual problems encountered in building combat readiness, the military’s training and reform, and promptly study and develop measures to help resolve them.

  • “extensively carry out activities such as supporting the army through science and technology, education, culture and law, so as to continuously improve the effectiveness of supporting the army and help the troops to enhance their combat effectiveness.”

  • Support training and drills of soldiers

  • As best as I understood this: “troops should widely carry out ‘send warmth, offer love’ and learn from the Lei Feng service activities,” specifically focusing on low-income urban and rural households, and families that are home to empty nesters, left-behind children and disabled people. 通知要求,各单位要广泛开展“送温暖、显爱心”和学雷锋便民服务活动,为群众特别是城乡低保、残疾人家庭、空巢老人和留守儿童排忧解难.

Finally, if you recall the Ren Zhongping article from yesterday, here’s PD telling us today that social media was very upbeat about the article.

Page 5: Today we have the third piece in our Xi Thought series. This one tells us that Xi Thought has evolved taking into account long-term and historical thinking. It “demonstrates historical consciousness, has a deep insight into and grasps the historical mission of our party, country, and nation...”

We learn that:

“General Secretary Xi Jinping has paid attention to grasping the laws of history and development trends from the prisms of history, reality and the future, thinking about the future destiny of the Chinese nation in the context of the 5000-year history of Chinese civilization, understanding the direction of the socialist movement in the context of the 500-year history of socialist development in the world, understanding the correct path for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation in the context of the history of China’s struggle for more than 180 years since modern times, and grasping the historical orientation and historical mission of the Party in the context of the 100 years of revolution, development and reform, demonstrating a political vision and historical thinking of ‘thinking a thousand years and seeing a thousand miles’.” 习近平总书记注重从历史、现实、未来的贯通中把握历史规律和发展趋势,联系5000多年中华文明史来思考中华民族的前途命运,联系500多年世界社会主义发展史来认识社会主义运动的前进方向,联系中国近代以来180多年奋斗史来理解中华民族伟大复兴的正确道路,联系100年革命、建设、改革的历程来把握党的历史方位和历史使命,展现了“思接千载、视通万里”的政治眼界和历史思维.

This, the piece tells us, is unlike Western leaders who think from a limited time-frame perspective, say one, two or five years; Chinese leaders, on the other hand, tend to think from a perspective of 50 years, 100 years, or even 200 years. The piece also says that “seeking truth from facts is the basic ideological method and working method of Xi Jinping’s socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era.” 

We are also told that Xi Thought is problem-oriented, and it lists a bunch of issues in this context. Of course, this adherence to problem orientation “embodies the superb leadership and governance skills of General Secretary Xi Jinping in understanding, analyzing, and solving problems, and embodies the bright background of Xi Jinping’s dialectical thought of socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era.” 坚持问题导向,集中体现了习近平总书记在认识问题、分析问题、解决问题中推进事业发展的高超领导艺术和执政本领,集中体现了习近平新时代中国特色社会主义思想唯物辩证的鲜亮底色.

There’s an emphasis on how Xi Thought is about grasping the strategic and commanding heights by looking at the overall situation, and calls for improving strategic thinking, historical thinking, dialectical thinking, innovative thinking, rule of law thinking and bottom line thinking. It tells us that Xi Thought “carries forward the spirit of struggle, guides the promotion of a great social revolution and a great self-revolution, and adheres to the dialectical unity of the identity and struggle aspects of contradictions.” 这一思想发扬斗争精神,指导推动伟大社会革命和伟大自我革命,坚持矛盾同一性和斗争性的辩证统一.

The next question is answered like this:

“In-depth study and implementation of Xi Jinping's socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era is the primary political task of the whole party at present and in the future, and efforts must be made to learn and understand.” The task entails understanding Xi Thought, enriching its study with historical and Marxist thinking and then integrating Xi Thought in terms of day-to-day actions.

Interestingly, the emphasis on the success of this is in terms of how well this is done by “the ‘key minority’ of leading cadres.” It says that:

“Leading cadres at all levels should improve their political standing, establish a historical perspective, strengthen their theoretical thinking, and enhance their concept of the overall situation. They should learn first and further with conviction, emotion and mission, strengthen their ideals and beliefs, transform their subjectivism, and solve practical problems in their study, so as to be righteous in mind, manner, spirit and body.” 各级领导干部要提高政治站位、树立历史眼光、强化理论思维、增强大局观念,带着信念学、带着感情学、带着使命学,先学一步、学深一层,在学习中坚定理想信念、改造主观世界、解决实际问题,做到心正、道正、神正、身正. 

In doing this, it is important to give full play to the leading role of the theoretical study center of party committees at all levels and the Central Party School, and strive to create a ‘demonstration group’ and ‘model class’ for learning Xi Jinping's Thought.

Pages 9 and 11: I didn’t find anything particularly interesting on the Theory page today. But on Page 11, there are two stories that I’d like to highlight. First, a report on burden reduction for grassroots cadres. Second, this report about Beijing planning to phase out “illegal” electric three and four-wheelers by December 2023.