Discover more from Tracking People's Daily
Xi & COP15 - 'Whole-Process Democracy' - Vocational Education - Common Prosperity = Rich Pockets + Rich Minds - PLA's Ideological Education - Wang @ G20 on Afghanistan - Guiding China's Historians
Here are the stories and pieces from the October 13, 2021, edition of the People’s Daily that I found noteworthy.
Page 1: Half the front page today is dedicated to Xi Jinping’s speech at the COP15 Biological Diversity meeting (English speech) in Kunming. Again, this is in Kunming, but Xi chose to speak via video link. The headline bit from the speech is Xi’s announcement of the Kunming Biodiversity Fund, with China investing 1.5 billion yuan (about $233 million). Xi talked about building a “community of all life on Earth.”
From China’s point of view, he said that:
“China will release implementation plans for peaking carbon dioxide emissions in key areas and sectors as well as a series of supporting measures, and will put in place a “1+N” policy framework for carbon peak and carbon neutrality. China will continue to readjust its industrial structure and energy mix, vigorously develop renewable energy, and make faster progress in planning and developing large wind power and photovoltaic bases in sandy areas, rocky areas and deserts. The first phase of projects with an installed capacity of approximately 100 million kilowatts have recently started construction in a smooth fashion.”
Some other key bits that he spoke about:
“A sound ecology and environment is not just a natural asset, but also an economic asset, and it affects the potential and momentum of economic and social development. We need to speed up efforts to foster a green way of development and secure a win-win of economic growth and environmental protection, so as to build a homeland of coordinated advancement of economy and the environment.”
Amid the pandemic, “faced with the dual tasks of economic recovery and environmental protection, developing countries need help and support all the more.”
The world needs to coordinate development and environmental preservation, and “keep human activities within the limits of the ecology and environment.”
“We need to build a green, low-carbon and circular economic system, translate ecological strengths into development strengths...We also need to step up green international cooperation and share the fruits of green development among all countries.”
He spoke about “bettering people’s well-being to promote social equity and justice.” -- This resonates with the “common prosperity” pitch at home. I guess this is going to be a bit of a pitch abroad. BRI will now likely also get a fresh equity and justice coat of paint.
Of course, as is now the case in just about every address to an international forum, Xi spoke about “true multilateralism.” He wants to “take international law as the basis to uphold a fair and equitable international governance system.” This translates to arguing that “the new environmental protection targets we set need to be ambitious on the one hand and pragmatic and balanced on the other, so as to make the global environmental governance system fairer and more equitable.”
Also on the page, we have a commentary using the community of life on Earth as its lead. It basically tells us that in his speech, Xi “solemnly announced that China will continue to promote practical measures of ecological civilization construction.” It tells us that Xi’s framework of “green mountains being gold mountains and silver mountains” is a “profound” perspective on the coexistence of man and nature.
Next, we have a report informing us that Chen Mingjian has been appointed ambassador to Tanzania, replacing Wang Ke, and Xiao Junzheng has been appointed ambassador to Greece, replacing Zhang Qiyue. Then another short announcement that Xi’s speech on the 110th anniversary of the Xinhai Revolution will be available at Xinhua Bookstores.
Moving on, we have a long piece reviewing the development of “whole-process” democracy under Xi Jinping. A lot of the early part of the piece talks about the notion of people being the masters. It then goes back to the 1945 conversation between Huang Yanpei and Mao Zedong about the dynastic cycle, telling us that Mao had responded to Huang that the Party had found a way to break the cycle of dynasties rising and falling through “democracy.”
After a bit of history, the piece tells us that Xi spoke about the “whole-process” democracy during the centenary speech. It adds:
“People’s democracy throughout the whole process is a distinctive feature of socialist democracy with Chinese characteristics that distinguishes it from various types of bourgeois democracy in the West. General Secretary Xi Jinping has specified the meaning of ‘the whole process’ -- ‘China’s socialist democracy is the broadest, truest and most effective democracy that safeguards the fundamental interests of the people.’ ‘It not only ensures that the people carry out democratic elections according to law, but also ensures that the people carry out democratic decision-making, democratic management and democratic supervision according to law’. How can we ensure that the people are the masters while ensuring that China’s political life remains vibrant, stable and orderly? General Secretary Xi Jinping said, ‘The key is to uphold the organic unity of party leadership, the position of the people as masters of the country, and the rule of law’.” 全过程人民民主是中国特色社会主义民主政治区别于西方形形色色资产阶级民主的显著特征。习近平总书记指明“全过程”含义——“我国社会主义民主是维护人民根本利益的最广泛、最真实、最管用的民主.” “既保证人民依法实行民主选举，也保证人民依法实行民主决策、民主管理、民主监督”. 如何既保证人民当家作主，也保证国家政治生活充满活力又安定有序？习近平总书记字字千钧——“关键是要坚持党的领导、人民当家作主、依法治国有机统一”.
The next bit talks about ethnic groups being “co-masters” and engaging in state affairs, with the CPPCC being the key institution for this.
Then we are told that since the 18th Party Congress, the Central Committee has gained a deeper understanding of how to develop people’s democracy throughout the whole process and provided a clearer path to follow, drawing up a blueprint for the development of socialist democracy with Chinese characteristics in the new era. 党的十八大以来，党中央对发展全过程人民民主的认识更加深刻、路径更加清晰，绘就新时代中国特色社会主义民主政治发展蓝图.
And then: The Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee put forward that “we should pay more attention to perfecting the democratic system, enriching the forms of democracy and giving full play to the superiority of China’s socialist political system.” -- 党的十八届三中全会提出，“更加注重健全民主制度、丰富民主形式，充分发挥我国社会主义政治制度优越性”.
And then: The 19th Party Congress report stated that “we will improve the institutional system for the people to run the country” and “expand the orderly participation of the people in political affairs and ensure that the people exercise democratic election, consultation, decision-making, management and oversight in accordance with the law.” At the fourth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee, it was proposed to “uphold and improve the system of people running the country and develop socialist democracy.” 党的十九大报告提出，“健全人民当家作主制度体系”“扩大人民有序政治参与，保证人民依法实行民主选举、民主协商、民主决策、民主管理、民主监督”. 党的十九届四中全会提出，“坚持和完善人民当家作主制度体系，发展社会主义民主政治.”
Anyway, the piece then goes on to make a few broad points on which a lot of newsprint is spent. The first is that Party leadership is the key aspect of this system. Governance has entailed getting the people involved. The second is that the People’s Congress system has evolved and is suitable for China because it has roots in China. Also, “it has laid a solid institutional foundation for safeguarding the fundamental interests of the overwhelming majority of the people.” Third, the legislative process entails greater effort to solicit public opinion and views now. “The aspirations of more than 1.4 billion people have been incorporated into the top-level design of China’s development, and the Chinese people and all sectors of society are practicing democracy.” (14亿多人的所思所盼融入国家发展的顶层设计，广大人民、社会各界践行着沉甸甸的“民主”二字.) Fourth, this process must be result-oriented, i.e., it must meet people’s needs. “Democracy is true only when it listens to the voice of the people, responds to their expectations and works well.” (倾听人民心声、回应人民期待，好用管用的民主才是真正的民主.)
Another quote worth noting is:
“Continuously promote the development and improvement of the socialist democratic political system with Chinese characteristics, and give better play to the superiority of the political system. We have an incomparably firm confidence in the system, an incomparably strong determination to move forward, and a more solid step towards a great rejuvenation.” 不断推进中国特色社会主义民主政治制度发展完善，更好发挥政治制度优越性，我们具有无比坚定的制度自信底气，具有无比强大的前进定力，迈向伟大复兴的步伐更加坚实.
After this, we have another long review -- this is about the improvement of people’s congress system. The piece hails this as China’s “fundamental political system” and a “great creation in the history of political systems created by humans.” 人类政治制度史上的伟大创造. After a lot of history, we are told that the system “integrates the leadership of the Party, the position of the people as masters of the country, and law-based governance.”
From here, the first point made is to uphold the leadership of the Party over this system. For me, this is the operative bit of the article. Anyway, to uphold Party leadership, the piece says:
Use the Party’s “innovative theory” to guide the work of the NPC
Improve the systems and mechanisms for the Party to lead the work of the NPC. For instance, since 2015, PBSC has listened to the report on the work of the party group of the NPC Standing committee every year. This “has become an institutional arrangement,” which was made part of the guidelines on the Party’s political activities during the 6th Plenum of the 18th CC.
Formulate and amend the Constitution and ensure its implementation
It adds that Party leadership is important to ensure that the work of the NPC is accordance with requirements laid down by the Central Committee.
The next bit is about people being masters of the country. This repeats some points from the earlier piece and then talks about elections at county and township levels. Then we are told that so far, Shanxi, Hebei, Tibet, Qinghai, Xinjiang and Guangxi have successfully completed the election of people’s congresses at county and township levels. The time for the general election of the people’s congresses in the other 25 provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities) has been set. Fourteen provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities) such as Beijing will complete this within this year, and 11 provinces (autonomous regions) such as Inner Mongolia will complete this in the first half of next year. 当前，一场覆盖全国所有城镇乡村、直接面对亿万人民群众的县乡人大换届选举正在依法有序进行。截至目前，山西、河北、西藏、青海、新疆、广西已顺利完成县乡两级人大换届选举。其他25个省（区、市）县乡人大换届选举时间均已确定，北京等14个省（区、市）将在今年年内完成，内蒙古等11个省（区）将于明年上半年完成.
The next part of the piece talks about governing the country in accordance with the law, and how the people’s congress system is important for this. “The National People’s Congress and its Standing Committee are the legislative organs, as well as the supervisory organs for the implementation of laws. The important principle of the people’s congress system and the basic requirement of its design is that the power of all state organs and their functionaries should be restricted and supervised.” 人大及其常委会是立法机关，也是法律实施监督机关。人民代表大会制度的重要原则和制度设计的基本要求，就是任何国家机关及其工作人员的权力都要受到制约和监督.
The piece also talks about the importance of the constitution, and then talks about the constitutional amendment to incorporate Xi Thought and highlights some key legislation, such as Supervision Law, the Protection of Heroes and Martyrs, and the Foreign Investment Law. It ends by arguing that the system’s good and there’s tremendous confidence that it inspires.
Finally on the page, we have the full guidelines on high-quality development of a modern vocational education system. I am not doing a detailed breakdown of these. But some key points to mention. Only Xi Thought is the guiding ideology. One would assume that this would be primarily skills and employment-focussed, and while those aspects are mentioned, there is also an emphasis on moral cultivation. This must be done by promoting “the integration of ideological and political education and technical skills training.” I also found it interesting that the emphasis is on providing opportunities for people to learn and grow as per their aptitude, with the aim of creating an environment in which “everyone strives to become talented, everyone can become talented, and everyone can display their talents.” 工作要求。坚持立德树人、德技并修，推动思想政治教育与技术技能培养融合统一；坚持产教融合、校企合作，推动形成产教良性互动、校企优势互补的发展格局；坚持面向市场、促进就业，推动学校布局、专业设置、人才培养与市场需求相对接；坚持面向实践、强化能力，让更多青年凭借一技之长实现人生价值；坚持面向人人、因材施教，营造人人努力成才、人人皆可成才、人人尽展其才的良好环境.
There are goals, i.e., a modern vocational-education system should be established in China by 2025, and China's vocational education should be ranked among the best globally by 2035.
The document calls for providing formative courses in vocational education for primary and middle school students so that they can plan careers better. It also calls for:
“Giving priority to the development of a number of emerging specialties needed by industries such as advanced manufacturing, new energy, new materials, modern agriculture, modern information technology, biotechnology and artificial intelligence.”
Speeding up development in areas where there is shortage of talents, such as pre-school teaching, nursing, healthcare, etc.
In addition, it calls for upgrading a number of traditional specialties, such as iron and steel metallurgy, chemical medicine, construction engineering and textile manufacturing.
At the same time, it talks about doing away with specialties that are oversupplied, have low employment rates, or have encountered job cuts.
Finally, the document talks about optimising the policy environment for school-enterprise cooperation and improving the quality of teachers and developing innovative teaching models.
Page 3: We have the second commentary in the common prosperity series. Today’s piece links common prosperity to enriching people’s spiritual and cultural life, apart from material life, of course. In other words, common prosperity is not just about having “rich pockets but also rich minds” - “富口袋” 和 “富脑袋”. “It is necessary for every family to have enough food and clothing to improve their material living standards, and for everyone to know the etiquette of and understand honor and shame, in order to enrich their spiritual and cultural life.” 扎实推进共同富裕，一个重要方面就是要处理好“富口袋”和“富脑袋”的关系，既要家家“仓廪实衣食足”，实现物质生活水平提高，也要人人“知礼节明荣辱”，实现精神文化生活丰富，最终促进人的全面发展和社会全面进步.
So, achieving common prosperity is a process of material accumulation as well as spiritual enrichment. Both complement each other and are indispensable. Material affluence is the foundation of spiritual affluence and can provide material conditions for the construction of spiritual civilization. On the other hand, a higher level of spiritual progress can provide spiritual impetus for material progress. That’s why Chinese modernization emphasizes the coordinated development of material and cultural progress.
The next paragraph talks about enhancing the guidance of values to build spiritual strength.
“The 14th Five-Year Plan and the outline of the long-term goals for 2035 state that ‘we will strengthen the construction of socialist spiritual civilisation, cultivate and practice the socialist core values, and promote the formation of new ideological concepts, mental attitudes, cultural currents, and behavioural norms that respond to the needs of the new era.’ On our new journey, while focusing on increasing the incomes of urban and rural residents, we must also focus on meeting the cultural needs of the people, strengthening their spiritual strength, promoting common prosperity in their spiritual life, strengthening the guidance of core socialist values, and constantly meeting the diverse and multifaceted cultural needs of the people.” “十四五”规划和2035年远景目标纲要提出：“加强社会主义精神文明建设，培育和践行社会主义核心价值观，推动形成适应新时代要求的思想观念、精神面貌、文明风尚、行为规范。”新征程上，在关注增加城乡居民收入等情况的同时，也要关注满足人民文化需求、增强人民精神力量，促进人民精神生活共同富裕，强化社会主义核心价值观引领，不断满足人民群众多样化、多层次、多方面的精神文化需求.
The next paragraph says that it is necessary to “raise our level of civilisation” and “cultivate moral sentiments” and “enrich spiritual life” while “consciously resisting spiritual poverty and spiritual emptiness through correct ideals, beliefs, values and moral concepts” and “curb unhealthy practices such as money worship and vulgarity and kitsch.” 一方面，必须提升文明素养、弘扬时代新风、涵养道德情操、培育心灵家园、丰富精神生活，以正确理想信念、价值理念、道德观念自觉抵御精神贫困和心灵空虚，遏制拜金主义、低俗媚俗等不良风气. It also talks about efforts to promote “equal access to basic public cultural services so that all the people can share in the fruits of reform and development and enjoy a better life.”
Quick thought: Clearly, what is being conveyed here is that the recent actions in the cultural domain, whether related to gaming, education, entertainment, live-streaming or celebrities and potentially fashion and beauty and so on are not just about addressing specific issues in specific sectors. There is a deeper ideological impulse of shaping society in a certain way that is driving the direction of these changes.
Page 4: A bunch of reports to note. First, Wang Yang met with (English report) Cambodia’s Senate President Samdech Say Chhum. Wang urged the two countries to provide staunch mutual support on issues concerning their respective core interests, deepen cooperation in all areas, jointly build the Belt and Road, and seek common development.
Second, Li Keqiang met with (English report) Mongolian Prime Minister Luvsannamsrai Oyun-Erdene. Li spoke about COVID-19 related cooperation, expanding bilateral trade, and facilitating port clearance and increasing port throughput. Li added that China hopes the two countries will further implement cooperation in preventing and curbing desertification, and spoke about how “energy security is a matter that concerns national interests and people’s livelihoods. Though possessing abundant coal resources, China is willing to carry out diversified energy cooperation, Premier Li said, adding that China welcomes a larger volume of coal trading between the two countries to achieve win-win results. Premier Li said China encourages and supports enterprises from the two countries to actively carry out cooperation in line with market principles and business rules, and ensure a smooth and safe energy supply chain with reasonable and stable prices in the long term.
With that said, here’s Reuters’ report today:
China’s thermal coal prices surged to fresh record highs on Wednesday as recent floods in key coal producing province Shanxi worsened a supply crunch, just as new efforts by Beijing to liberalise power prices boosted demand from power generators. China, the world’s largest coal consumer, has been grappling with a growing energy crisis brought on by shortages and record high prices for the fuel. The government has taken a range of steps to boost coal production and manage electricity demand at industrial plants, while power producers and other coal users have been ramping up imports. Local governments in top coal producers Shanxi and Inner Mongolia have ordered some 200 mines to boost output, but incessant rain flooded 60 mines in Shanxi. Four mines with a combined annual output capacity of 4.8 million tonnes remained shut, a Shanxi official told a press conference on Tuesday.
And this too:
Data released on Wednesday also showed coal imports rose to their highest this year last month as users scrambled to overcome supply constraints. China brought in 32.88 million tonnes of coal in September, up 76% from a year earlier, data from the General Administration of Customs showed on Wednesday. The monthly total was the fifth largest on record, according to Reuters calculations.
He said that “the right way to get along between countries is the respect for independent choices of development paths...Imposing one’s own ideology on others, arbitrarily interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, or even resorting to military intervention will only bring about continuous turmoil and poverty, and cause serious humanitarian disasters.”
He then had a four-point proposal:
deal with the humanitarian crisis first
get Afghanistan to embark on an open and inclusive development path. This means “unilateral sanctions on Afghanistan should be lifted as soon as possible, and international financial institutions should increase their funding support of Afghanistan’s poverty reduction and infrastructure projects.”
adopt a zero-tolerance attitude to ensure that Afghanistan stays away from terror
build consensus and promote synergy among various Afghan-related mechanisms
One additional data point to note in all of this is from this AP report earlier in the week:
“An Islamic State suicide bomber struck at a mosque packed with Shiite Muslim worshippers in northern Afghanistan on Friday, killing at least 46 people and wounding dozens in the latest security challenge to the Taliban as they transition from insurgency to governance. In its claim of responsibility, the region’s IS affiliate identified the bomber as a Uygher Muslim, saying the attack targeted both Shiites and the Taliban for their purported willingness to expel Uyghers to meet demands from China. The statement was carried by the IS-linked Aamaq news agency.”
Finally, we have a report about CMC Vice Chairman Zhang Youxia speaking at a PLA ideological and political education innovation training session in Beijing. He emphasized the centrality of Xi Thought in this process of ideological and political education. He wants the training work to “explain the principles contained in the thought, interpret the great power of the thought with great achievements, and explore the root of the thought through the historical origin.” He also wants this training to help get rid of biases, outdated concepts and the inertia that persist. He then emphasised the importance of the role of leading cadres in leading by example in this regard. So, the “political responsibility of leading cadres should be tightened” and they should “grasp the learning style and teaching style” and pour “true feelings” in this process in order to capture the hearts and minds of soldiers.
Page 9: Two pieces on the page that I’d like to highlight.
First, Gao Xiang, vice president of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, writes about learning from history.
For Gao, the goal of China’s historians must be to “provide ideological support for the realization of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.” Also, “to do a good job in the study of history, we must adhere to the guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, foster correct views on history, nation, country, and culture, and ensure that our academic research results can stand the test of history and the people…” 围绕实现中华民族伟大复兴做好研史学史工作，必须坚持以习近平新时代中国特色社会主义思想为指导，树立正确的历史观、民族观、国家观、文化观，使学术研究成果经得起历史和人民检验，立之当世、传之后人.
Of course, with this caveat in mind, he wants historians to “adhere to the basic principle of seeking truth from facts in historical research” and “adhere to the principle of starting from historical reality,” “focusing on evidence,” “eliminating falsehoods from research materials.” 在历史研究中坚持实事求是的基本原则，就要坚持一切从历史实际出发, 讲证据、讲规范、讲方法，对研究材料去伪存真，找出历史发展的内在联系，得出科学的结论.
Towards the end, he talks about the need for “ideological guidance” and how there was a time when historical nihilism was prominent. The reason for this was that historiography had deviated from the guidance of Marxism. “We should hold history in awe and never ‘joke’ about it or ‘spoof’ it, still less engage in historical nihilism.” 过去曾有一段时间，历史虚无主义现象比较突出。究其原因，就是因为偏离了马克思主义所指引的方向。对待历史我们要保持敬畏的态度，决不能“戏说”历史、“恶搞”历史，更不能搞历史虚无主义。
The other piece is by Xia Linmao, member of the Standing Committee of the Beijing Party Committee and the Secretary of the Education Working Committee in Beijing. Xia basically talks about how historically Beijing had been the hub of revolutionary ideas and the evolution of the CCP. Xia adds that today “Beijing’s education system adheres to the guidance of Xi Jinping Thought, fully implements the Party's educational policy, inherits the red genes, takes on responsibility bravely, is breaking new ground and is demonstrating the spirit of being loyal to the Party and serving the country. 北京教育系统坚持以习近平新时代中国特色社会主义思想为指导，全面贯彻党的教育方针，传承红色基因, 奋勇担当、开拓进取，展现出忠诚于党和服务国家的精神品格.
And later, Xia writes: The Beijing education system insists on educating people for the Party and the country, sowing ‘red seeds’ widely and deeply, guiding the youth to integrate their personal struggle into the cause of the Party and the people, and striving to grow into a powerful generation that will build China into a modern socialist country in an all-round way.” 北京教育系统坚持为党育人、为国育才，广撒深播“红色种子”，引导广大青少年把个人奋斗融入党和人民事业，努力成长为全面建成社会主义现代化强国的强国一代.
Page 16: Finally, on the international page, there’s a piece about rising hate crimes in the US. This draws from the FBI’s recent report. It says that the number of recorded hate crimes in the United States exceeded 7,700 in 2020, reaching the highest level since 2008.
Then there’s a story about the summit meeting of the non-aligned movement. I found the fact that this was reported interesting. India is a NAM founding member, but it evokes absolutely zero interest in public discourse here. That said, MoS External Affairs Meenakashi Lekhi did go to Belgrade for the meeting.
Last thought: It’s also noteworthy that despite the war of words between India and China after the 13th round of Corps Commander-level talks in Eastern Ladakh, the issue has found no space in the print edition of the People’s Daily.
If you are unaware of the issue, you can read the two brief statements after the talks here:
India’s MEA’s statement: “The Indian side pointed out that the situation along the LAC had been caused by unilateral attempts of Chinese side to alter the status quo and in violation of the bilateral agreements. It was therefore necessary that the Chinese side take appropriate steps in the remaining areas so as to restore peace and tranquillity along the LAC in the Western Sector. This would also be in accord with the guidance provided by the two Foreign Ministers in their recent meeting in Dushanbe where they had agreed that the two sides should resolve the remaining issues at the earliest. The Indian side emphasised such resolution of the remaining areas would facilitate progress in the bilateral relations. During the meeting, the Indian side therefore made constructive suggestions for resolving the remaining areas but the Chinese side was not agreeable and also could not provide any forward-looking proposals. The meeting thus did not result in resolution of the remaining areas.
Western Theater Command’s statement: “the Chinese side made great efforts to promote the easing and cooling of the border situation and fully demonstrated China’s sincerity of maintaining overall interests of bilateral military relations. However, the Indian side still persisted in its unreasonable and unrealistic demands, which added difficulties to the negotiations.” Also this: “Instead of misjudging the situation, the Indian side should cherish the hard-won situation in China-India border areas.”
The PLA is also clearly annoyed about the coverage on the Indian side regarding events related to the incident in the Dongzhang area in the Eastern Sector on September 28.