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Xi Announces Global Civilisation Initiative - Xi's Article on Building a Strong Agricultural Country - PLA & PAP Called to Support 'People’s Leader' Xi
Here are the key reports and articles that I found noteworthy from the People’s Daily’s edition on Wednesday, March 16, 2023.
Page 1: The top story on the page is Xi Jinping’s speech (Full English text) at the CPC in Dialogue with World Political Parties High-Level Meeting. The report says that leaders of more than 500 political parties and political organisations from more than 150 countries attended the meeting. I am just going to go by the English text.
In this speech, Xi introduced a new initiative, the Global Civilisation Initiative. I’ll first share the key extracts from the speech and then discuss GCI.
“Humanity's modernization process has once again reached a crossroads of history. Polarization or common prosperity? Pure materialistic pursuit or coordinated material and cultural-ethical advancement? Draining the pond to catch the fish or creating harmony between man and nature? Zero-sum game or win-win cooperation? Copying other countries' development model or achieving independent development in light of national conditions? What kind of modernization do we need and how can we achieve it? Confronted with these questions, political parties as an important force steering and driving the modernization process are duty bound to provide answers. Here, I wish to share some of my observations.”
put the people first and ensure modernization is people-centered; “Modernization is not only about indicators and statistics on the paper but more about the delivery of a happy and stable life for the people. With a focus on the people's aspirations for a better life and further progress of civilization, political parties should strive to achieve material abundance, political integrity, cultural-ethical enrichment, social stability, and pleasant living environments so that modernization will better address the concerns and meet diversified needs of the people.”
uphold the principle of independence and explore diversified paths towards modernization. “Modernization is not ‘an exclusive patent’ of a small handful of countries, nor is it a single answer question. It cannot be realized by a cookie cutter approach or simple ‘copy and paste’. For any country to achieve modernization, it needs not only to follow the general laws governing the process, but more importantly consider its own national conditions and unique features. It is the people of a country that are in the best position to tell what kind of modernization best suits them. Developing countries have the right and ability to independently explore the modernization path with their distinctive features based on their national realities. We must develop our country and our nation with our own strength, and we must maintain a firm grasp on the future of our country's development and progress. We should respect and support the development paths independently chosen by different peoples to jointly usher in a new prospect for humanity's modernization that is like a garden where a hundred flowers bloom.”
uphold fundamental principles and break new ground and ensure the continuity of the modernization process. “We should work together to reform and develop the global governance system and make the international order more just and equitable as we advance humanity's modernization in an environment of equal rights, equal opportunities and fair rules for all.”
help others to succeed while seeking our own success and ensure all can enjoy the outcomes of modernization. “The frontrunners should sincerely support other countries in their development. One will not be seen in a more favourable light after blowing out others' lamp; nor will they go farther by blocking others' paths. We should share opportunities, create a future together and make the pie of humanity's modernization bigger to ensure more people enjoy the outcomes of modernization in a fairer way. We stand firmly opposed to the practice of preserving one's own development privilege by suppressing and containing other countries' endeavor to achieve modernization.” — Comment: Although this is not a new argument, it’s fascinating how the common prosperity narrative at home is adapted to the international arena to make this point.
forge ahead with enterprise and ensure firm leadership over modernization. “Modernization does not fall into our lap automatically. It is the result of hard work with the strong historical initiative. Political parties are the leading and driving force for modernization. Their values, ability to lead and govern, ethos, willpower and character have a direct bearing on the orientation and future of the modernization process…Political parties should integrate party building with national modernization, forge ahead with enterprise and resolve, and excel themselves. In this way, they will have the confidence, determination and capability to respond to the challenges and questions presented by the times, meet people's expectations, and steer the course and marshal strength for the modernization cause.”
Next, Xi spoke about Chinese-style modernisation:
“Chinese modernization is one of a huge population, of common prosperity for all, of material and cultural-ethical advancement, of harmony between humanity and nature, and of peaceful development. It is rooted in our national conditions and also draws on the experience of other countries. It carries the imprint of history and traditional culture and also contains modern elements. It delivers benefit to the Chinese people and also advances common development of the world. It is a sure path for us to build a stronger nation and realize the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. It is also a path we must take to seek progress for humanity and harmony for the entire world. We will stay committed to the right direction, right theories and the right path. We will not veer off course by changing our nature or abandoning our system. As our own future is closely connected with that of other countries and peoples, we will strive to provide new opportunities for world development, add new impetus to humanity's exploration of paths towards modernization and make new contributions to the theory and practice of humanity's modernization as we make new progress in Chinese modernization.”
He then said the CPC will “accelerate the building of a new development paradigm that promotes high-standard opening up and steady expansion of market access.” It will “continue to support and help developing countries in their pursuit of faster development, industrialization and modernization and offer Chinese solutions and strength for narrowing the North-South gap and achieving common development. The CPC stands ready to work with political parties of all other countries to advance high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, accelerate the solid implementation of the Global Development Initiative, foster new drivers for global development and build a global community of development.”
“The CPC will continue to safeguard international fairness and justice and promote world peace and stability. In advancing modernization, China will neither tread the old path of colonization and plunder, nor the crooked path taken by some countries to seek hegemony once they grow strong. What China pursues is the right course of peaceful development. We seek to settle differences through dialogue and resolve disputes through cooperation. We firmly oppose hegemony and power politics in all their forms. We advocate solidarity and win-win mentality in handling complex and intertwined security challenges to set up a fair and just security architecture that is built and shared by all. The world does not need a new Cold War. The practice of stoking division and confrontation in the name of democracy is in itself a violation of the spirit of democracy. It will not receive any support. What it brings is only endless harm. A modernized China will strengthen the force for world peace and international justice. No matter what level of development China achieves, it will never seek hegemony or expansion.”
Then he introduced the Global Civilization Initiative. He said that it entails the following:
“We advocate the respect for the diversity of civilizations. Countries need to uphold the principles of equality, mutual learning, dialogue and inclusiveness among civilizations, and let cultural exchanges transcend estrangement, mutual learning transcend clashes, and coexistence transcend feelings of superiority.
We advocate the common values of humanity. Peace, development, equity, justice, democracy and freedom are the common aspirations of all peoples. Countries need to keep an open mind in appreciating the perceptions of values by different civilizations, and refrain from imposing their own values or models on others and from stoking ideological confrontation.
We advocate the importance of inheritance and innovation of civilizations. Countries need to fully harness the relevance of their histories and cultures to the present times, and push for creative transformation and innovative development of their fine traditional cultures.
We advocate robust international people-to-people exchanges and cooperation. Countries need to explore the building of a global network for inter-civilization dialogue and cooperation, enrich the contents of exchanges and expand avenues of cooperation to promote mutual understanding and friendship among people of all countries and jointly advance the progress of human civilizations.
We are ready to work together with the international community to open up a new prospect of enhanced exchanges and understanding among different peoples and better interactions and integration of diversified cultures. Together we can make the garden of world civilizations colorful and vibrant.”
He ended with this: “Let us leverage the strength of a new type of party-to-party relations for the building of a new type of international relations and expand global partnerships by fostering stronger partners with world political parties. The CPC stands ready to share governance experience with political parties and organizations of other countries so that together we can make big strides on the path to modernization toward the goal of building a community with a shared future for mankind.”
Comment: My brief, and very early, take on GCI is that this is new packaging for existing propositions. For instance, since 2017, China has held three South-South human rights dialogue forums. Also, in 2019, Beijing hosted the first Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations. So, we’ve encountered these ideas before, and a lot of it has to do with ensuring international support for the Party’s policies at home and resisting Western pressure on political issues and human rights. Perhaps, this new packaging is aimed at not just external audiences but also the system at home to come up with tangible ideas/projects/investments of some kind. For instance, one could see funding going into promoting the “common values of mankind”. I am speculating here — perhaps, one could see a democracy project, which extols and legitimises systems as different forms of democracies; or there could be research, media and TV projects to this effect; or more importantly, building some sort of coalition with common understanding to resist what may be seen as Western pressure on human rights at the UN. Basically, let’s see when there’s any money being put behind this and to what effect.
Essentially, the key component of GCI appears to be to push back on the values narrative against the US. Xi was much more direct in making this case in this speech than he was at the forums I’ve mentioned above. This is reflective of how quickly the sense of competition with the US has worsened. It is also timely given the US is scheduled to hold the second edition of its democracy summit later this month. Xi appears to be making the case that China is comfortable with heterogeneity, does not desire to interfere in the internal affairs of countries and wants a more level playing field and opportunities for developing countries. In principle, this message will be well-received in the developing world. It all sounds much better than getting lectures from Western visitors. But the reality is that as China’s interests and influence expand, so too is its interference in the domestic politics of countries. Just look around the Indian subcontinent. China is a key component of domestic political discourse and electoral politics in Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives. So, there’s a limit to which this rhetoric works.
Moving on, at the top of the page is a report on Qiushi publishing Xi Jinping’s article on the modernisation of agriculture and rural areas. This basically excerpts Xi’s comments at the Central Rural Work Conference in December 2022. I’ve tried to capture the key points from the actual text of the article.
The first section is about building a strong agricultural country.
“Promoting rural revitalisation in an all-round way, basically realising agricultural modernisation by 2035 and building a strong agricultural country by the middle of this century are the strategic arrangements made by the CPC Central Committee with a view to building a comprehensively modern socialist country.” Xi says that: “Without building a strong agricultural country, there will be no modernisation; without agricultural and rural modernisation, socialist modernisation will be incomplete. We must deeply understand the strategic deployment of the Party Central Committee, and put accelerating the construction of an agricultural power in an important position in building a modern socialist country.” 没有农业强国就没有整个现代化强国；没有农业农村现代化，社会主义现代化就是不全面的。我们必须深刻领会党中央这一战略部署，把加快建设农业强国摆上建设社会主义现代化强国的重要位置.
He then calls agriculture the “foundation” for building strength. “No matter how high the degree of social modernisation is, the stable supply of food and important agricultural products for a population of more than 1.4 billion is always a top priority.” 无论社会现代化程度有多高，14亿多人口的粮食和重要农产品稳定供给始终是头等大事.
“Agriculture is an industry that employs nearly 200 million people, and rural areas are the permanent homes of nearly 500 million farmers. Only when agriculture and rural areas are successful and farmers live and work in peace and contentment can they have an adequate sense of gain, happiness and security. High-quality development cannot be achieved without agricultural development.” 农业是近两亿人就业的产业，农村是近5亿农民常住的家园，只有把农业农村搞好了，广大农民安居乐业，他们才有充足的获得感、幸福感、安全感。实现高质量发展，也离不开农业发展.
“Agriculture is also the basis of national security. Agriculture protects the safety of life and survival, and is extremely important for national security. In today's world, the major changes unseen in a century are accelerating, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have an impact, external suppression and containment are constantly escalating, and various uncertain and unpredictable factors have increased significantly. When agriculture goes wrong, the rice bowl is held by others and the people will have to rely on others for food, then what modernisation will we be talking about? Only when agriculture is strong and food security is fully guaranteed, can we have sufficient confidence and strategic initiative to stabilise the overall situation, adapt to challenges and open up new avenues.” 农业还是国家安全的基础。农业保的是生命安全、生存安全，是极端重要的国家安全。当今世界，百年未有之大变局加速演进，新冠疫情反复延宕，来自外部的打压遏制不断升级，各种不确定难预料因素明显增多。一旦农业出问题，饭碗被人拿住，看别人脸色吃饭，还谈什么现代化建设？只有农业强起来，粮食安全有完全保障，我们稳大局、应变局、开新局才有充足底气和战略主动.
Xi then talks about the sector, saying that what plagues it is insufficient per capita resources, weak foundation, and historical debts. He adds:
Agricultural production efficiency is relatively low, agricultural labour productivity is only 25.3% of non-agricultural industry
China’s agricultural output is not as competitive internationally; the prices of domestic grain and other agricultural products generally exceed that of the international market
Rural infrastructure and public services lag behind those in cities; the income ratio of urban and rural residents was 2.5∶1, and the consumption expenditure ratio was 1.9∶1
He then says that the “strong agricultural country we want to build and the agricultural modernisation we want to achieve not only share common features with the agricultural modernisation of other countries but must also be based on Chinese characteristics and our own national conditions.” “The so-called common feature is to follow the general law of agricultural modernisation and build an agricultural power with strong supply guarantee, strong scientific and technological equipment, strong management systems, strong industrial resilience and strong competitiveness. The so-called Chinese characteristics are based on China's national conditions, the resource endowment of having a large population and limited arable land, the historical background of farming civilisation and the requirements of the times of harmonious coexistence between man and nature, taking its own path and not simply copying a foreign model.” 建设农业强国，基本要求是实现农业现代化。我们要建设的农业强国、实现的农业现代化，既有国外一般现代化农业强国的共同特征，更有基于自己国情的中国特色。所谓共同特征，就是要遵循农业现代化一般规律，建设供给保障强、科技装备强、经营体系强、产业韧性强、竞争能力强的农业强国。所谓中国特色，就是立足我国国情，立足人多地少的资源禀赋、农耕文明的历史底蕴、人与自然和谐共生的时代要求，走自己的路，不简单照搬国外现代化农业强国模式.
He then the breaks down the Chinese characteristics into the following aspects:
rely on their own strength to hold on to their rice bowls
rely on the two-tier management system to develop agriculture
develop ecological and low-carbon agriculture
continue to nurture China’s “splendid and time-honoured farming civilisation
steadily advance common prosperity
On the method for carrying out this work, Xi says that the pathway is to:
Strengthen top-level design
Make gradual and steady progress because building this agricultural power is a long-term and arduous historical task
Adapt to local conditions and pay attention to practical results. “All localities should base themselves on their resource endowments and development stages, give full play to their own advantages, serve the needs of the overall situation, make due contributions, and start with the practical problems that are most urgent for local agricultural and rural development and most strongly reflected by farmers. Fully mobilise the enthusiasm, initiative and creativity of the rural masses to carry out projects one by one, instead of engaging in lofty/高大上 or face-saving projects that are divorced from reality.” 三要因地制宜、注重实效。各地要立足资源禀赋和发展阶段，发挥自身优势，服务大局需要，作出应有贡献，从本地农业农村发展最迫切、农民反映最强烈的实际问题入手，充分调动农民群众的积极性、主动性、创造性，办一项是一项、办一件成一件，不要一股脑去搞脱离实际的“高大上”或面子工程的东西.
The second part of the article discusses the importance of food security. In this, Xi warns that in the wake of the war in Ukraine, “more than 30 countries around the world have restricted food exports, resulting in social unrest and even regime change in some countries.” 今年乌克兰危机爆发以来，全球30多个国家限制粮食出口，部分国家因此社会动荡甚至政权更迭.
Xi emphasises the importance of ensuring “the supply of grain and important agricultural products.” “At present, the demand for grain is growing rigidly, and there is great pressure to secure the rice bowl. We must consolidate the foundation of food security in all aspects, not only by grasping the material foundation, strengthening the storage of grain in the land and technology, but also by grasping the mechanism guarantee, so as to improve production capacity, optimise structure, enhance resilience, ensure income and consolidate responsibility. 农业强，首要是粮食和重要农产品供给保障能力必须强。这些年，我们依靠自己的力量端稳中国饭碗，14亿多人吃饱吃好。现在，粮食需求刚性增长，端牢饭碗的压力大。必须全方位夯实粮食安全根基，既要抓物质基础，强化藏粮于地、藏粮于技，也要抓机制保障，做到产能提升、结构优化、韧性增强、收益保障、责任压实.
Xi says that improving grain production capacity is the primary task, and this relies on improving two factors, i.e., land and seeds. In addition, he talks about systematically addressing possible risks in production, processing, circulation, reserve and trade to be prepared during emergencies. He also calls for support for farmers by improving the mechanism for ensuring farmers’ incomes, and ensuring support via the three-in-one policy system of prices, subsidies and insurance. He ends this bit by saying that “neither grain-producing farmers nor large grain-growing counties should be allowed to suffer financially.” 既不能让种粮农民在经济上吃亏，也不能让种粮大县在财政上吃亏.
He then talks about reducing waste. This is interesting, because he talks about food production waste and consumption waste. “According to estimates by relevant agencies, the annual loss and food waste is more than 22.7%, or around 920 billion jin. If half of this loss could be recovered, it would be enough to feed 190 million people for a year.” 据有关机构估算，每年损失浪费的食物超过22.7%，约9200亿斤，若能挽回一半的损失，就够1.9亿人吃一年. “The per capita consumption of Chinese residents edible oil and red meat exceeds the dietary guideline recommendation standard about 1 and 2 times, respectively. Food conservation is an effective way to reduce pressure on supply and reduce resource use. It is necessary to establish the concept that saving and reducing waste is to increase production…”我国居民食用油和“红肉”人均消费量，分别超过膳食指南推荐标准约1倍和2倍。食物节约减损既可有效减轻供给压力，也可减少资源使用，善莫大焉。要树立节约减损就是增产的理念...
Xi ends this section saying that “party committees and governments at all levels must take food security as 国之大者/strategic national priority. Assessing the competence or capability of leading local cadres is not simply based on GDP growth, or whether they have attracted a few major projects. The key thing to look at is whether or not the new development concept is being implemented completely, accurately and comprehensively in accordance with the requirements of the Party Central Committee, whether the local is serving/obeying the whole, and whether major issues assigned by the CPC Central Committee such as food security are handled well. The requirements for the responsibility of the party and government for food security are very clear. The key now is to strictly assess and urge all localities to truly shoulder their responsibilities.” 各级党委和政府务必把粮食安全这一“国之大者”扛在肩头。衡量一个地方领导干部得不得力、合不合格，可不仅仅看GDP、能不能抓上几个项目，更主要看是否按照党中央要求，完整、准确、全面贯彻新发展理念，局部服从整体，把粮食安全这类党中央交办的大事要事办好办妥。粮食安全党政同责要求很明确，现在关键是要严格考核，督促各地真正把责任扛起来.
The third section of the article discusses rural revitalisation. The two key parts in this are “industrial revitalisation,” which Xi describes as “the top priority” for rural revitalisation. He also talks about building on the achievements of poverty alleviation. The fourth section calls on focussing on science and technology and reform to accelerate the development of a strong agricultural country. The reform bits of this deal with the relationship between farmers and land. The fifth section deals with rural modernisation, which deals to public utilities and autonomy in rural governance. The final section deals with strengthening Party leadership over rural work and cultivating talents.
Moving on, also on the page is a commentary drawing from Xi’s NPC speech. This one reiterates the points that Xi made with regard to prioritising high-quality development. Also on the page is a report with positive responses from cadres to Xi’s NPC speech.
Page 2: There’s a report on a notice by the General Office of the Central Military Commission, requiring the PLA and PAP to study the spirit of the first meeting of the 14th NPC and study and implement Chairman Xi’s important speeches.
Among other things, the notice calls on everyone to understand that “Xi’s unanimous election as the country’s president and the chairman of the Central Military Commission is as per the aspiration of the Party, the hope of the people and people’s expectations.” It also calls on the PLA and PAP to “understand the decisive significance of the Two Establishment more deeply, and further strengthen the trust and support for the Party's core, the people’s leader and the commander of the armed forces. 要认真抓好大会精神学习贯彻，把学好习主席重要讲话精神突出出来，充分认清习主席全票当选国家主席、中央军委主席是党心所向、民心所盼、众望所归，更加深刻领悟“两个确立”的决定性意义，进一步强化对党的核心、人民领袖、军队统帅的信赖拥戴；
Most of the inner pages in the paper are carrying these two documents in full. I am linking the English texts.
Page 17: On the international page, there’s a Zhong Sheng commentary on the Fukushima wastewater discharge issue. It argues that:
“Japan should face up to the legitimate concerns of all parties, faithfully fulfil its international obligations, conduct full and meaningful consultations with stakeholders, dispose of nuclear polluted water in a scientific, open, transparent and safe manner, and effectively protect the marine environment and the health rights and interests of people of all countries. Japan should not start the discharge of nuclear-contaminated water into the sea without full consultation and agreement with its neighbours and other stakeholders and relevant international institutions.” 日方应正视各方合理关切，忠实履行国际义务，同利益攸关方进行充分、有意义的协商，以科学、公开、透明、安全的方式处置核污染水，切实保护海洋环境和各国民众健康权益。在同周边邻国等利益攸关方和有关国际机构充分协商并达成一致前，日方不得擅自启动核污染水排海。
The article says that “over the past two years, the international community has been strongly questioning and opposing the unilateral and wrong decision of the Japanese government to discharge nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean.” It mentions discussions at the UN, criticism from the leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum, and public criticism in Japan.
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