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Xi & Gig Economy Workers - Foreign Trade Data - Qin Gang's Germany Visit - Preview of China-Central Asia Summit - Japan-ROK Ties - Ministries Implement Xi Thought Campaign
I wanted to share two things before we get to today’s edition. First, a new research output that is the product of collaboration between my colleagues at the Takshashila Institution and researchers at the National Security College at Australian National University.
The document proposes that the Quad countries establish a biomanufacturing hub in India to capitalise on the economic potential of the biomanufacturing industry and address potential vulnerabilities. Each Quad country brings together a unique set of capabilities that can be capitalised on to promote innovation and strengthen supply chain resilience.
You can read the full document here.
Second, I am sharing herewith the latest episode of our All Things Policy podcast, where I discussed Qin Gang’s visit to India for the SCO meeting and his subsequent visit to Pakistan.
Here are the key reports and articles that I found noteworthy from the People’s Daily’s edition on Wednesday, May 10, 2023.
Page 1: Today’s edition again reminds us that this paper and its editorial isn’t about the news. Otherwise, yesterday’s developments in Pakistan, the raid on Capvision or the spat with Canada would be the leading stories. Instead, at the top of the page is a brief report on Xi Jinping’s message of condolence to his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame over the heavy rains in the country leading to loss of lives and property.
Below that, there’s a report on the appointment of new ambassadors to Cote d'Ivoire, Dominican Republic and Venezuela. In the meantime, do note that China does not have an ambassador in the US, since January 2023; India, since October 2022; and Pakistan, since November 2022. So, there are some important positions vacant.
Next, there’s an article discussing Xi Jinping’s views on the protection of labour rights when it comes to those working in the gig economy or flexible employment. The article informs that as per the Ninth National Survey on the Status of the Workforce, around 84 million workers are employed in new employment forms in China. That’s around 21% of the total number of workers in the country.
It says that “in recent years, the ‘reservoir’ and ‘stabilizer’ functions of new forms of employment have become increasingly apparent.” It has “greatly increased” employment opportunities in China, and played “a huge role in resisting the impact of the pandemic.”近年来，新就业形态的“蓄水池”和“稳定器”作用日益显现，大幅提升了我国经济运行的就业承载力，特别是在抵御疫情冲击中发挥了巨大作用.
Of course, the piece also informs that Xi Jinping is concerned about the “future and destiny of every worker” engaged in new employment forms. To make this point, there is an example of Xi discussing the challenges facing truck drivers in a meeting with Long Bing in September 2020. After this, the report says that several steps were taken, including building 1,300 pit stops/’drivers’ homes’ and building a freight information platform.
The piece then mentions that the lack of social security for those engaged in new forms of employment is something that Xi has been concerned about. It says: “Strengthening the protection of workers' rights and interests in the new employment forms has become a livelihood question that needs to be answered in detail in the new era and on the new journey.” 加强新就业形态劳动者权益保障，成为新时代新征程上需要细致解答的一道民生考题.
Focusing on safeguarding the legitimate rights and interests of new employment groups, such as couriers, online contract workers and truck drivers, the General Secretary has repeatedly stressed that ‘the social security system for multi-channel flexible employment should be improved’, pointing out that ‘the supporting laws, regulations, policies and measures should not be delayed’ and reminded to ‘do a good job in ideological guidance and cohesive service for new employment groups’.” 围绕维护好快递员、网约工、货车司机等新就业群体的合法权益，总书记反复强调“要完善多渠道灵活就业的社会保障制度”，指出“相配套的法律法规政策措施也不能姗姗来迟”，同时提醒要“做好新就业群体的思想引导和凝聚服务工作”.
Then we finally get some data on what steps have been taken towards this effect. The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security recently issued the Guidelines for the Establishment of Labour Contracts and Written Agreements for Workers in New Employment Forms (Trial), which details an occupational injury protection system. Previously, the Guidelines on Safeguarding the Labor Security Rights and Interests of Workers in New Employment Forms was promulgated in July 2021 (my coverage of this document from 2021). 人社部新近发布的《新就业形态劳动者劳动合同和书面协议订立指引（试行）》，明确将职业伤害保障制度写入文件，解决新就业群体的职业隐忧。此前，2021年7月出台的《关于维护新就业形态劳动者劳动保障权益的指导意见》，将新就业群体纳入劳动保障基本公共服务范围.
Since then, in Shanghai, couriers and delivery persons can take part in social security net, as per the law; in Wuhan, ride-hailing drivers have mobile party branches…In today’s China, new job groups have dignity, security, and development. 在上海，快递员、外卖员可以按规定参加社保了；在湖北武汉，网约车司机有了流动党支部；在山东济南，暖心驿站还能提供法律援助、政策咨询、职业技能培训等服务……实实在在的便利，让新就业形态劳动者感受到越来越多的温暖。今日中国，新就业群体有尊严、有保障，更有发展.
Moving on there’s a report on how different ministries and departments are implementing the Xi thought education campaign. I’ll list the first three below; but basically, key central institutions that have been listed in this.
the NDRC has been holding reading group sessions and expert tutorial sessions;
the Ministry of Science and Technology is presenting holding a seven-day reading session, which entails exchanges and thematic days, all focussing on carrying out in-depth discussion focusing on the new mission and tasks of science and technology work; 目前，科学技术部正在举办为期7天的读书班，安排了重点研读、交流研讨、主题党日、专题辅导等多项内容，聚焦科技工作新使命新任务开展深入研讨.
the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has been holding in-depth discussions and has detailed concrete cases and experiences in applying the Party’s innovative theory to solve practical problems, educated and guided Party members and leading cadres to rectify ideological roots, consolidate the basic development, and practise the first phalanx of ‘two safeguards’. 集体学习、个人自学、专家辅导、座谈交流……工业和信息化部通过多种方式加强理论学习，列出若干专题，深入研讨、交流运用党的创新理论解决实际问题的具体案例和体会，教育引导党员领导干部从思想上正本清源、固本培元，走好践行“两个维护”的第一方阵.
Finally, there’s a report on foreign trade data. It says that in the first four months of the year, the country’s total foreign trade was 13.32 trillion yuan (about 1.92 trillion U.S. dollars), a year-on-year increase of 5.8%. Among this, exports were 7.67 trillion yuan, an increase of 10.6%; imports were 5.65 trillion yuan, an increase of 0.02%. In April, total foreign trade was 3.43 trillion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 8.9%.
Some more context on this from Reuters’ report: “Inbound shipments to the world's second-largest economy fell 7.9% year on year in April, extending the 1.4% decline seen a month earlier, while exports grew 8.5%, easing from the 14.8% surge in March, customs data showed on Tuesday.”
Key data points:
In the first four months of the year, China-ASEAN trade expanded by 13.9 percent to reach 2.09 trillion yuan; China-EU trade was at 1.8 trillion yuan, an increase of 4.2% year on year; China’s trade with five Central Asian countries increased by 37.4 percent; and China’s trade with Belt and Road countries jumped by 16 percent year on year to 4.61 trillion yuan in the first four months of the year.
One important data point is that: China’s exports and imports with the US stood at 1.5 trillion yuan ($216.65 billion) from January to April, down 4.2 percent from the same period last year. The share of the bilateral trade dropped to 11.2 percent of China's total foreign trade volume from the 12 percent seen in 2022. (This was not included in the PD report.)
In the January-April period, private enterprises saw a fast growth rate as imports and exports increased by 15.8 percent to 7.05 trillion yuan, accounting for more than half of the country’s total.
Exports of mechanical and electrical products expanded by 10.5 percent to account for 57.9 percent of the total exports. Automobile exports soared 120.3 percent year on year, to 204.53 billion yuan, during the period.
Page 3: There is no coverage of the diplomatic dispute between China and Canada and there’s also no coverage today of Qin Gang’s visit to Germany. The latter, however, will get covered tomorrow, I am certain. But the readouts are available, so I am covering it today.
Anyway, what we have today first is a piece on the deepening economic cooperation between China and Central Asian countries. The article begins by talking about the availability of fruit juice from Kazakhstan, mineral water from Uzbekistan, and traditional embroidered handbags from Tajikistan in Chinese markets indicating the “vitality” of economic cooperation between China and Central Asian countries. The piece mentions the joint statement issued after the summit last year, pointing out that the document emphasised strengthening e-commerce cooperation via a China-Central Asia E-commerce Cooperation Dialogue Mechanism and by developing Silk Road E-commerce. Essentially, the promise is to open China’s market to products from Central Asian countries.
Some useful data points:
By the end of 2022, China's direct investment in five Central Asian countries was nearly $15 billion, and a number of cooperation projects in the fields of oil and gas mining, processing and manufacturing, connectivity and digital technology had been jointly implemented, bringing tangible benefits to people of all countries. 截至2022年底，中国对中亚五国直接投资存量近150亿美元，共同实施了一批油气采矿、加工制造、互联互通、数字科技等领域合作项目，给各国人民带来了实实在在的利益。
In February, the six countries held the first-ever forum on industry and investment cooperation in Qingdao, eyeing greater collaboration in the digital economy, energy and agriculture.
China's trade with Central Asian countries reached $70.2 billion in 2022.
The second section of the article talks about BRI cooperation. Some key projects mentioned are:
China-Kazakhstan crude oil pipeline
China-Central Asia natural gas pipeline
China-Uzbekistan Pengsheng Industrial Park
The third and final section of the article talks about agricultural cooperation.
“China supports countries in the Middle East in upholding strategic independence and taking their destiny into their own hands, and welcomes Syria's return to the big family of the Arab League, Wang said. China will continue to contribute to security and stability in the Middle East and world peace and development, Wang added. Zolghadr said Iran attaches importance to enhancing exchanges of governance experience with China and hopes to strengthen international cooperation and safeguard international fairness and justice.”
“China and Germany are both among the major countries with global influence, Qin said, noting that the two countries should strengthen dialogue and cooperation under the current international situation featuring interwoven turmoils. The two sides should join hands to make a good preparation for the seventh round of China-Germany inter-governmental consultation, accumulate achievements and make comprehensive plans for practical cooperation in various fields in the future, he added. Facing various global issues and challenges, countries should cooperate rather than confront, should mutually respect rather than finger-point at each other, Qin said. China and Germany should stick to the right path and jointly oppose the ‘new Cold War’ and ‘decoupling economies or severing supply chains,’ and inject confidence and impetus into world peace and prosperity.”
“The two sides exchanged views on the Ukrainian issue. Qin elaborated on China's position, stressing that China's consistent position is to facilitate talks for peace, and to promote the international community to form the greatest common denominator for a political solution to the crisis. European countries were urged to address both the symptoms and the root causes of the crisis, and make efforts for the restoration of peace and security.”
Next, the two foreign ministers met the press. The Chinese readout from the press briefing says:
“Qin Gang emphasised that China and Germany, as the world’s major economic powers and all-round strategic partners, should proceed from the fundamental interests of the two peoples and the long-term well-being of all mankind, adhere to strategic autonomy, enhance mutual political trust and strengthen unity and cooperation. China is ready to work with Germany to promote global economic recovery, uphold world peace and stability and safeguard the post-war international order. The two sides should maintain and develop existing cooperation, create a good environment and stable expectations for the cooperation between enterprises of the two countries, and provide stronger growth momentum for the global economy. Europe has experienced two world wars and the Cold War. Achieving common security and lasting peace was the dream of German thinker Immanuel Kant, and lasting peace is the important goal of building a Community of Shared Future for Mankind. China and Europe should jointly build a bright future of lasting peace and universal security. Taiwan's return to China is an integral part of the post-World War II international order. Any party that sincerely hopes for peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and is sincerely committed to maintaining international order should earnestly abide by the one-China principle and resolutely oppose all ‘Taiwan independence’ acts.” 秦刚强调，中德作为世界上主要经济大国和全方位战略伙伴，应从两国人民的根本利益和全人类的长远福祉出发，坚持战略自主、增进政治互信、加强团结合作。中方愿与德方一道，做全球经济复苏的推动者、世界和平稳定的维护者，战后国际秩序的捍卫者。双方应维护和发展好现有合作，为两国企业合作营造良好环境和稳定预期，为全球经济提供更强大增长动能。欧洲经历过两次世界大战和冷战。实现共同安全永久和平是德国思想家康德的梦想，持久和平是构建人类命运共同体的重要目标，中欧应共同建设持久和平、普遍安全的美好明天。台湾回归中国是二战后国际秩序的组成部分。任何真心希望台海和平稳定的一方，真心致力于维护国际秩序的一方，都应该切实恪守一中原则，坚决反对一切“台独”行径.
Qin Gang said that the Ukrainian issue is highly complicated, and simplification and emotionalization are not the solution. The only way out is to keep calm, maintain rationality and create conditions for a political settlement. China is neither the creator of the conflict nor is it a participant; rather it is an advocate of peace and a promoter of peace talks. It is hoped that Germany will play a leading role and put forward specific plans for building a balanced, effective and sustainable European security framework.” 秦刚表示，乌克兰问题高度复杂，简单化、情绪化不是解决方案，只有保持冷静理性，为政治解决创造条件，才是出路。中国不是冲突制造者，也不是冲突参与方，而是和平的倡导者，和谈的推动者。希望德方发挥引领作用，为构建均衡、有效、可持续的欧洲安全框架提出具体方案.
In the final paragraph of the readout, Qin backs European strategic autonomy.
In response to a reporter’s question about possible EU sanctions on Chinese companies for alleged cooperation with Russia, Qin said that “China does not sell weapons to parties involved in the Ukraine crisis, and handles the export of dual-use items prudently and in accordance with laws and regulations…Normal exchanges and cooperation between Chinese and Russian enterprises should not be affected…China resolutely opposes long-arm jurisdiction and unilateral sanctions against other countries based on one's own laws, and will take necessary actions to resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese enterprises.”
Another specific readout from MoFA details Qin’s response to a question about Germany’s policy of de-risking. Qin said “one should first think about what risks are and where they are. China does not export its system, adheres to the road of peaceful development, adheres to the pursuit of mutual benefit and a win-win strategy of opening, adheres to and maintains the international order based on international law, opposes hegemony and bullying practices, and will never do something like the destruction of the Nord Stream II pipeline. China is willing to join hands with other countries to tackle challenges and build a community of human destiny. China exports opportunities rather than crises, cooperation rather than confrontation, stability rather than turbulence, and insurance rather than risks.” 针对记者问及德方、欧方提出对华合作“去风险”，秦刚表示，谈论“去风险”，首先要思考什么是风险，风险在哪里。中国不输出自己的制度，坚持走和平发展道路，坚持奉行互利共赢的对外开放战略，坚守和维护以国际法为基础的国际秩序，反对霸权霸道霸凌行径，绝不会干类似破坏“北溪”二号管道的事。中国愿同各国携手应对挑战，构建人类命运共同体。中国对外输出的是机遇不是危机，是合作不是对抗，是稳定不是动荡，是保险不是风险.
The formation and development of the international industrial and supply chains is the result of economic globalisation and the role of market economy, both of which are strongly promoted and supported by European countries. Over the past 40 years of China's reform and opening up, Sino-German and Sino-European economic, trade and investment cooperation has achieved fruitful results, and all three parties, China, Germany and Europe, have gained huge benefits. Facts have proven that China and the EU are two major markets for common development and two major partners for win-win cooperation. China is committed to high-quality development; it will continue to open wider to the outside world at a high level, will continue to welcome German and European companies to explore the Chinese market and foster a market-oriented, law-based and international investment environment for foreign companies.” 国际产业链供应链的形成和发展是经济全球化和市场经济作用的结果，两者都是欧洲国家大力推崇和推动的。中国改革开放四十多年来，中德、中欧经贸投资合作取得了丰硕成果，中德欧三方都获得巨大的利益。事实证明，中欧是共同发展的两大市场，是合作共赢的两大伙伴。中国正在致力于实现高质量发展，将继续扩大高水平对外开放，继续欢迎德国和欧洲企业到中国开拓市场，将为各国企业营造市场化、法治化、国际化的投资环境.
“We appreciate the German and European side’s statement that they will not decouple from China, but we are also concerned about the European side’s claim of ‘de-risking’. If we do de-Sinicise in the name of ‘de-risking’, we are de-opportunizing, de-cooperating, de-stabilizing and de-developing. Both China and Germany and the EU should abide by international trade rules and the spirit of contracts, remain open to each other, and refrain from politicising normal economic, trade and investment cooperation or artificially interfering in the market.” 我们对德方、欧方不搞对华脱钩的表态表示赞赏，但也对欧方声称的“去风险”表示关切。如果以“去风险”之名行去中国化之实，那就是在去机遇、去合作、去稳定、去发展。中德、中欧双方都应该遵守国际贸易规则和契约精神，保持相互开放，不要把正常的经贸投资合作政治化，不要人为干预市场行为.
“It is worth noting that some countries are waging a ‘new Cold War’, undermining international rules, fomenting ideological confrontation, engaging in camp confrontation, ‘decoupling and breaking chains’, abusing the monopoly position of their currencies to impose long-arm jurisdiction and unilateral sanctions on other countries, and also exporting their own inflation and financial crisis, resulting in serious spillover effects. These are the real risks that need to be taken seriously! Once this ‘new Cold War’ breaks out, it will not only harm the interests of China, but also sacrifice European interests. A recent study by an Austrian think tank estimated that if Germany were to decouple from China, its GDP would fall by 2% a year, equivalent to a loss of 60 billion euros. We must firmly oppose ‘decoupling and breaking chains’, stay on high alert against a ‘new Cold War’, and work together to maintain a stable and unimpeded global industrial and supply chain.” 值得注意的是，有的国家正在发动“新冷战”，破坏国际规则，煽动意识形态对立，搞阵营对抗，“脱钩断链”，滥用本国货币的垄断地位对别国实施长臂管辖、单边制裁，还对外输出本国的通胀、财政危机，造成严重的外溢效应。这些才是需要重视的、真正的风险！一旦这场“新冷战”打起来，损害的不仅是中国的利益，也会牺牲欧洲的利益。最近奥地利一个智库发表一份研究报告，估算如果对华脱钩，德国一年GDP将下降2%，相当于损失600亿欧元。我们必须坚决反对“脱钩断链”，对“新冷战”保持高度警惕，携起手来，共同维护全球产业链供应链稳定畅通.
Page 4: There’s a report on the 2023 China-Pacific Island Countries Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers Meeting in Nanjing on Tuesday. The report (English report) is essentially about remarks by Vice Premier Liu Guozhong. Liu said that “under the strategic guidance of leaders of the two sides, China and Pacific island countries have achieved fruitful results in agriculture and fishery cooperation. This meeting is of great significance for the two sides to ensure food security, strengthen marine protection and sustainable use, and accelerate agricultural modernization. China stands ready to deepen practical cooperation with Pacific island countries in agriculture and fishery, enhance economic and trade cooperation, strengthen multilateral coordination, jointly boost economic development, and improve people's livelihood.”
“We give credit to members of the Resistance who bravely fought Nazism as well as the troops of the allied armies of the United States, Great Britain and other countries. We remember and honour the feat of Chinese soldiers in the fight against Japanese militarism.”
And this quote is reported: “I strongly believe that the experience of solidarity and partnership during the years of fighting a common threat is our invaluable heritage and a secure foothold now when the unstoppable movement is gaining momentum towards a more just multipolar world, a world based on the principles of trust and indivisible security, of equal opportunities for a genuine and free development of all nations and peoples.”
But there is nothing in here about Putin saying that “our civilisation is at a crucial turning point. A real war is being waged against our country again but we have countered international terrorism and will defend the people of Donbass and safeguard our security.”
What, however, was interesting was that all Central Asian countries’ leaders were in Moscow for this parade. So they all were in Russia days before the summit with Xi Jinping. As per the Kremlin, Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, President of Kyrgyzstan Sadyr Japarov, President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon, President of Turkmenistan Serdar Berdimuhamedov and President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev were in attendance.
Outside of PD, BBC reports that “China has expelled Canada's consul in Shanghai in retaliation for Ottawa sending home a Chinese diplomat accused of trying to intimidate a Canadian MP. On Monday, Canada declared China's diplomat Zhao Wei "persona non grata" and ordered her to leave the country. In response, China on Tuesday ordered the removal of Jennifer Lynn Lalonde, Canada's diplomat in its Shanghai Consulate. "China reserves the right to further react," Beijing said in a statement. Both diplomats have five days to exit the countries. The censures mark a significant deterioration in relations between Ottawa and Beijing following reports of alleged Chinese political interference in Canada. Canada had accused China of targeting its opposition lawmaker Michael Chong and his relatives in Hong Kong after Mr Chong accused China of human rights abuses. Last Thursday, Canada summoned China's ambassador to reiterate that Canada would not tolerate interference in its affairs.”
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s recent visit to South Korea saw the two countries work to move past historical challenges. Kishida is the Japanese leader to visit Seoul in 12 years. One of the key outcomes from the visit includes the invitation to South Korean experts to visit Japan to better grasp the plan to release treated radioactive water into the sea from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. Japan Times reports that:
“Tokyo and Seoul have in recent weeks followed through on pledges made at that meeting, with Japan saying late last month that it would return South Korea to a preferred trade partner list after Seoul made a similar move. In March, Japan also eased export controls on three key semiconductor manufacturing materials bound for South Korea in response to Seoul retracting its complaint with the World Trade Organization over the controls. On the security front, South Korea also said it would work to “normalize” the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) intelligence-sharing pact with Japan amid nuclear-armed North Korea’s repeated missile launches. Although no joint statement was released after Sunday’s meeting, the two leaders did agree to continue to work together on security issues related to North Korea, with Yoon even saying that he did not rule out Japan joining a recently agreed to nuclear-planning framework with the U.S.”
“The US, Japan and South Korea are seeking to link their radar systems to better track missiles from North Korea and accelerate their response to any launch, a move that has the potential to anger China as well as Pyongyang. A broad agreement on the plan is likely to come during a joint defense meeting in Singapore in June, the Yomiuri newspaper reported Tuesday, citing government officials it didn’t identify. A recent warming of ties between Seoul and Tokyo, which included a resumption of shuttle diplomacy scuttled for about a dozen years over political tensions, has helped advance the arrangement, it said. Under the agreement, the command-and-control centers used by the militaries of Japan and South Korea, as well as US forces in both countries, would be fed through the US Indo-Pacific Command in Hawaii, the paper said. This would help provide instantaneous data on missile flights, while keeping some political distance between South Korea and Japan, which each have a military alliance with the US but are not mutual allies, it added. The arrangement would be one of the most tangible efforts to improve joint efforts to keep track of North Korean missiles as a part of the recent rapprochement between Seoul and Tokyo.”
Staying with South Korea, Beijing is annoyed with President Yoon Suk-yeol terming the Taiwan issue a “global issue.” In an interview with Reuters Yoon had said: “After all, these tensions occurred because of the attempts to change the status quo by force, and we together with the international community absolutely oppose such a change…The Taiwan issue is not simply an issue between China and Taiwan but, like the issue of North Korea, it is a global issue.”
Finally, do check out CNN’s reporting on the Capvision raids. This is Beijing shooting itself in the foot. It’s quite amazing that Qin Gang says that China will provide a law-based, market-oriented and international business environment while such targeting of foreign firms continues.
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