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Xi-Biden Meeting - Ukraine War: China & US Oppose Nuclear Threats - China's NEV Sector Booming - 仲音 Commentary: COVID Policy Changes Not a Relaxation of Dynamic Clearing
Here are the stories and pieces that I found noteworthy in the Tuesday, November 15, 2022, edition of the People’s Daily.
Page 1: The top story today is about Xi’s arrival in Bali for the G20 summit and his 3.5-hour-long meeting with US President Joe Biden. The report says that Ding Xuexiang, Wang Yi and He Lifeng among others were in the room with Xi. Xinhua English has the detailed story too. It describes the meeting as a “candid and in-depth exchange of views.” It adds:
“The current state of China-U.S. relations is not in the fundamental interests of the two countries and peoples, and is not what the international community expects, Xi said. China and the United States need to have a sense of responsibility for history, for the world and for the people, explore the right way to get along with each other in the new era, put the relationship on the right course, and bring it back to the track of healthy and stable growth to the benefit of the two countries and the world as a whole, he added. Expounding on the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and its key outcomes, Xi said that the domestic and foreign policies of the CPC and the Chinese government are open and transparent, with clearly stated and transparent strategic intentions and great continuity and stability.”
“Pointing out that the world is at a major inflection point in history, Xi said that countries need to both tackle unprecedented challenges and seize unprecedented opportunities, adding that this is the larger context in which the two sides should view and handle China-U.S. relations. China-U.S. relations should not be a zero-sum game where one side out-competes or thrives at the expense of the other, Xi said. The successes of China and the United States are opportunities, not challenges, for each other. The world is big enough for the two countries to develop themselves and prosper together, he added. The two sides should form a correct perception of each other's domestic and foreign policies and strategic intentions, Xi said, noting that China-U.S. interactions should be defined by dialogue and win-win cooperation, not confrontation and zero-sum competition.”
“Xi said that he takes very seriously Biden's "five-noes" statement. China does not seek to change the existing international order or interfere in the internal affairs of the United States, and has no intention to challenge or displace the United States, Xi said, calling on the two sides to respect each other, coexist in peace, pursue win-win cooperation, and work together to ensure that China-U.S. relations move forward on the right course without losing direction or speed, still less having a collision. Observing the basic norms of international relations and the three China-U.S. joint communiques is vitally important for the two sides to manage differences and disagreements and prevent confrontation and conflict, Xi said, noting that it is indeed the most important guardrail and safety net for China-U.S. relations.” — There’s a warning on the Taiwan issue here. I guess this is Xi asking the US what it must do to put a floor under the relationship.
He then talks further on the Taiwan issue: “Xi also gave a full account of the origin of the Taiwan question and China's principled position. He stressed that the Taiwan question is at the very core of China's core interests, the bedrock of the political foundation of China-U.S. relations, and the first red line that must not be crossed in China-U.S. relations. Resolving the Taiwan question is a matter for the Chinese and China's internal affair, Xi said, adding that it is the common aspiration of the Chinese people and nation to realize national reunification and safeguard territorial integrity. Anyone that seeks to split Taiwan from China will be violating the fundamental interests of the Chinese nation, Xi said, adding that the Chinese people will absolutely not let that happen. China hopes to see, and are all along committed to, peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, but cross-Strait peace and stability and ‘Taiwan independence’ are as irreconcilable as water and fire, Xi said, expressing hope that the U.S. side will match its words with action and abide by the one-China policy and the three joint communiques. Noting that Biden has said on many occasions that the United States does not support ‘Taiwan independence’ and has no intention to use Taiwan as a tool to seek advantages in competition with China or to contain China, Xi said that China hopes that the U.S. side will act on this assurance to real effect.”
Xi then spoke about democracy, saying that China takes “great pride in” its whole-process democracy, which suits its national conditions. He said talks over “specific differences between the two sides can be worked out through discussion, but only on the precondition of equality.” He then added that the “so-called ‘democracy versus authoritarianism’ narrative is not the defining feature of today’s world, still less does it represent the trend of the times. The two countries take different paths with the United States practicing capitalism while China practicing socialism, Xi said, noting that such difference is nothing new and will continue to exist…For China and the United States to get along, it is vital to recognize and respect such difference, he said. Neither side should try to remold the other in one's own image, or seek to change or even subvert the other's system, he added, stressing that instead of talking in one way and acting in another, the United States needs to honor its commitments with concrete action.”
“The Chinese nation has the proud tradition of standing up for itself, Xi said, adding that suppression and containment will only strengthen the will and boost the morale of the Chinese people. Starting a trade war or a technology war, building walls and barriers, and pushing for decoupling and severing supply chains run counter to the principles of market economy and undermine international trade rules, Xi said, adding that such attempts serve no one's interests. The Chinese side opposes politicizing and weaponizing economic and trade ties as well as exchanges in science and technology, he added. Under the current circumstances, China and the United States share more, not less, common interests, and it is in both sides' mutual and fundamental interest to prevent conflict and confrontation and achieve peaceful coexistence, he said, adding that the two economies are deeply integrated, and both face new tasks in development. It is in both sides' mutual interest to benefit from each other's development, Xi said, adding that it is also in their interest to promote post-pandemic global recovery, tackle climate change and resolve regional issues through China-U.S. coordination and cooperation. The two sides need to respect each other, pursue mutual benefit, focus on the larger picture, and nurture a sound atmosphere and stable relations for cooperation, Xi said.”
Towards the end, the article talks about the outcomes from the meeting:
“The two presidents agreed that their respective diplomatic teams should maintain strategic communication and conduct regular consultations; their financial teams will continue dialogue and coordination on macroeconomic policies, economic ties and trade; and the two countries will jointly work for the success of the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.”
“They also reached common understandings on conducting dialogue and cooperation in public health, agriculture and food security, and agreed to make good use of the China-U.S. joint working group to promote the resolution of more issues. They also agreed that people-to-people exchange is very important, and pledged to encourage the expansion of such exchange in all sectors.
The two presidents also exchanged views on the Ukraine crisis. Xi pointed out that China is highly concerned about the current situation in Ukraine. He noted the four points about what must be done he had proposed soon after the outbreak of the crisis and the four things the international community must do together he had suggested recently. Xi said facing a global, composite crisis like the one in Ukraine, it is important to give serious thought to three points. First, conflicts and wars produce no winner; second, there is no simple solution to a complex issue; and third, confrontation between major countries must be avoided. Xi said China has all along stood on the side of peace and will continue to encourage peace talks. China supports and looks forward to a resumption of peace talks between Russia and Ukraine, and hopes that the United States, NATO and the European Union will conduct comprehensive dialogues with Russia.
Some of the key points from the US readout of the meeting
The two leaders discussed the “importance of developing principles that would advance” the goals of ensuring that competition between the two countries “should not veer into conflict.”
Biden “underscored that the United States and China must work together to address transnational challenges – such as climate change, global macroeconomic stability including debt relief, health security, and global food security – because that is what the international community expects. The two leaders agreed to empower key senior officials to maintain communication and deepen constructive efforts on these and other issues.”
Biden talked about Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong, and human rights. On Taiwan, he said that the US’ “one China policy has not changed” and “raised U.S. objections to the PRC’s coercive and increasingly aggressive actions toward Taiwan.”
He raised “concerns about China’s non-market economic practices.”
“President Xi reiterated their agreement that a nuclear war should never be fought and can never be won and underscored their opposition to the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine.”
Secretary of State Blinken will visit China to follow up on their discussions.
Also on Ukraine, do note this from WSJ’s reporting:
“A senior U.S. official said China is uncomfortable with Russia’s rhetoric and invasion of Ukraine, as President Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping prepared for a meeting aimed at dialing down tensions between Washington and Beijing. ‘I think there is undeniably a discomfort in Beijing about what we’ve seen in terms of reckless rhetoric and activity on the part of Russia,’ the U.S. official said in a briefing with reporters on Monday. “I think it is also undeniable that China is probably both surprised and a little bit embarrassed by the conduct of Russian military operations. The U.S. official, who declined to be identified, was characterizing comments Chinese Premier Li Keqiang made to world leaders during a closed-door summit in Cambodia over the weekend. While noting that Beijing and Moscow have significant economic ties, the U.S. official, who attended the meeting, said Mr. Li ‘spoke rather extensively about Chinese policy toward Ukraine with clear emphasis on sovereignty, on the irresponsibility of nuclear threats, on the need to ensure that nuclear weapons are not used in the way that some have suggested’.”
Quick thought: It’s useful that the two leaders have met and that the channels of conversation appear to be reopening again. But this is all about finding a new normal in the relationship rather than reverting to any earlier state in the relationship. And whatever this new normal will be, it is likely to be unstable. I guess that makes keeping channels of communication open even more important.
On Page 2, there’s a report on Wang Yi briefing the media after the Biden-Xi meeting. He sounds rather optimistic. I’ll summarise the key points below.
In response to the first question, Wang says:
The meeting “heralds a new starting point. The meeting lasted more than three hours, exceeding the pre-agreed length, and used simultaneous interpretation. The exchanges between the two heads of state were comprehensive, in-depth, candid, constructive and strategic.” 本次会晤既是迄今交往的延续，也预示着一个新的起点。会晤持续了三个多小时，超过事先商定的时长，而且使用的是同传。两位元首的交流全面、深入、坦诚，富有建设性和战略性.
He called heads of state level diplomacy as a “compass” or “anchor” for China-US ties amid the current situation, and added that while Xi said that the in the 21st century, one must “avoid repeating the mistakes of the Cold War,” Biden said that “the US respects China’s system, does not seek to change China’s system, does not seek to engage in a ‘new Cold War’, does not seek to strengthen its alliances against China, and has no intention of engaging in conflict with China or containing China.” 拜登总统介绍了美国中期选举的情况，表示美方尊重中国的体制，不寻求改变中国的制度，不寻求打“新冷战”，不寻求强化同盟关系反对中国，无意同中国冲突，无意围堵中国.
He adds that both sides “agreed to strengthen communication and exchanges and promote practical cooperation.”
On the second question, he says that the meeting “not only of great practical significance, but also will have an important and far-reaching impact on Sino-US relations in the next stage and beyond.” He says that the meeting;
Clarified the direction for ties: “China and the United States should show the world that both sides can control their differences and avoid sliding into conflict and confrontation due to misjudgment or fierce competition.” 美中应向世界展示，双方能够管控分歧，避免由于误判或激烈竞争导致滑向冲突对抗.
Sought to establish guiding principles or a strategic framework for Sino-US relations: “The two heads of state unanimously agreed upon the importance of establishing the guiding principles for Sino-US relations, conducted constructive discussions on this, and instructed the working teams of both sides to engage in follow-up consultations and strive to reach an agreement as soon as possible on the basis of the consensus reached so far.” 两国元首一致认同确立中美关系指导原则的重要性，就此进行了建设性探讨，责成双方工作团队跟进磋商，争取在迄今已有共识基础上尽快达成一致.
Called for implementing the consensus reached: In accordance with the priorities set by the two heads of state, the two teams will maintain dialogue and communication, manage differences and promote exchanges and cooperation, so as to add positive energy to China-US relations, install a safety valve, and inject stability and certainty into a turbulent and changing world.” 双方团队将按照两国元首确定的工作重点，保持对话沟通，管控矛盾分歧，推动交往合作，为中美关系增添正能量、装上安全阀，为动荡变革的世界注入稳定性和确定性.
He also, however, added that “The US should translate President Biden’s positive statements into specific policies and actions, stop containing and oppressing China, stop interfering in China’s internal affairs, and stop undermining China’s sovereignty, security and development interests, and work with China to jointly build the ‘four pillars and eight pillars’ conducive to the healthy and stable development of Sino-US relations…” 美方应该把拜登总统的积极表态切实体现到具体的政策和行动中，停止对华遏制打压，停止干涉中国内政，停止损害中国主权安全发展利益，同中方相向而行，共同搭建有利于中美关系健康稳定发展的“四梁八柱”，共同夯实中美关系行稳致远的“坚实地基”.
The third question is on Taiwan, and Wang is blunt here: “stop interfering in China’s internal affairs and respect China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.” He says that while China will “strive for the prospect of peaceful reunification,” it will act keeping in mind the Anti-Secession Law. He added that ‘Taiwan independence’ “is incompatible with peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.” Wang also said that Xi had warned Biden that the Taiwan issue was a “red line that the US cannot and should not cross.” 习主席强调，台湾问题是中国核心利益中的核心，是中美关系政治基础中的基础，是美国不能也不应逾越的红线. He also says that the US must “stop hollowing out the one-China policy” and “restrain and stop the separatist words and deeds of Taiwan independence.” 中方要求美方言行一致，恪守一个中国政策和中美三个联合公报规定，履行“不支持‘台独’”的承诺，停止虚化掏空一中政策，约束制止“台独”分裂言行，不要让局势发展到不可收拾的地步.
The fourth question is about outcomes related to multilateral cooperation. These I’ve covered in the Chinese readout earlier. The fifth one is on democracy, human rights and differences in systems. Again, Wang doesn’t add much to the earlier story. But then with regard to Ukraine, we get something more.
Wang says that Xi “emphasised that it is imperative to engage in dialogue and negotiations and resolve the crisis peacefully. Nuclear weapons must not be used and a nuclear war must not be fought. A nuclear crisis on the Eurasian continent should be prevented. We should also make joint efforts to ensure the stability of the global industrial and supply chains and avoid a larger humanitarian crisis. China always stands on the side of peace and will continue to persuade and promote talks.” 强调开展对话谈判，和平解决危机是当务之急，核武器用不得、核战争打不得，应防止亚欧大陆出现核危机，还应共同努力确保全球产业链供应链稳定，避免出现更大规模人道主义危机，中方始终站在和平的一边，将继续劝和促谈.
There’s a brief report about a new film titled Xi Jinping’s Favourite Allusions (习近平喜欢的典故) being aired in Thailand and Indonesia. Also a multilingual documentary China: A New Journey (中国，新的征程) will be aired on news stations in Sri Lanka, India, Cambodia, Laos, Nigeria, Pakistan, Turkey, etc. In India, News7 is supposed to be airing this. This is not among the big mainstream Indian networks.
Finally, there’s a report on NEVs in China.
In the first 10 months of 2022, the production and sales of new energy vehicles was at 5.485 million and 5.28 million respectively, marginally up from a year earlier.
In October, the production and sales of new energy vehicles were 762,000 and 714,000, respectively, up by 87.6% and 81.7% year-on-year. Among this, the production and sales of pure electric vehicles increased by 71.9% and 66.6% respectively year-on-year, and the production and sales of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles increased by 1.6 times and 1.5 times, respectively.
The market penetration rate of new energy vehicles reached 13.4% last year, an increase of 8 percentage points over the previous year. In the first 10 months of this year, it climbed to 24%.
In the first three quarters of this year, China has accounted for 62.9% of the global sales of NEVs, i.e., 4.567 million out of a total of 7.26 million sales.
In 2021, China exported 310,000 NEVs; In the first 10 months of this year, 499,000 new energy vehicles have been exported.
Page 3: There’s a 仲音 commentary on the dynamic clearing policy. The article basically backs up the recent changes that have been announced in China’s COVID-19 containment policies, saying that these are based on grasping the laws related to the mutation and transmission of the virus and summarising the experience of prevention and control work across various places in the past three years.” It adds that these measures are “scientific and precise”; they are “in line with China's national conditions”; and do not imply a “relaxation of prevention and control, nor is it a call to let go or adopt the ‘lying flat’ approach.” 这样的调整和优化，是对第九版防控方案的完善，是基于对病毒变异和传播规律的把握和近三年来各地防控经验的总结，是稳中求进、走小步不停步、符合我国国情、更加科学精准的举措，不是放松防控，更不是放开、“躺平”.
The piece emphasises the “four earlys” and says that “practice has fully proved that insisting on dynamic zero clearing is an inevitable requirement of adhering to the supremacy of people and life, a powerful embodiment of respect for science and respect for the law, and the best choice for timely and effective control of epidemic situation in China at this stage.” 实践充分证明，坚持动态清零，是坚持人民至上、生命至上的必然要求，是尊重科学、尊重规律的有力体现，是现阶段我国及时有效控制疫情的最佳选择.
The article then again warns that “China is a country with a large population, and with unbalanced regional development and insufficient medical resources. The risk of infection among vulnerable groups is bound to increase due to the relaxation of prevention and control. Once a large-scale rebound takes place, it will definitely have a serious impact on economic and social development, and the final price will be higher and the loss will be greater. The implementation of the dynamic zero-COVID policy, determined by the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core, is based on the nature and purpose of the Party and China’s national conditions. Adhering to the dynamic zero-COVID policy is the bottom line of epidemic prevention and control that must be kept in a country with a population of more than 1.4 billion. The more arduous the task of epidemic prevention and control and the more complicated the situation, the more important it is to keep a clear head and overcome paralysis, war-weariness, wishful thinking and a mentality of relaxation.” 我国是人口大国，加上地区发展不平衡，医疗资源总量不足，放松防控势必令易感人群感染风险加大，一旦形成规模性反弹，必将对经济社会发展造成严重冲击，最终付出的代价会更高，损失会更大. 实施动态清零政策是以习近平同志为核心的党中央从党的性质宗旨出发、从我国国情出发确定的，坚持动态清零是14亿多人口大国当前务必守住的疫情防控底线。越是疫情防控任务艰巨、形势复杂，越要保持清醒头脑，克服麻痹思想、厌战情绪、侥幸心理、松劲心态.
The piece then calls for “unswervingly implementing the general policy of dynamic zero-COVID,” emphasises speed and precision in containment, the four earlys, and adds that:
“We should concentrate our efforts on fighting the epidemic situation in key areas, take more resolute and decisive measures to tackle the problem, curb the spread of the epidemic as soon as possible, and restore normal production and living order as soon as possible. We must never wait and watch and do our own thing. It is necessary to persist in scientific and precise prevention and control, improve the effectiveness of epidemic prevention, accurately analyse the risk of epidemic situation, take more precise measures, standardise nucleic acid detection, centralised isolation, home isolation and health monitoring, accurately determine risky areas and personnel, and rectify any approach that adds extra layers of measures or one-size-fits-all approaches in order to reduce the inconvenience caused by epidemic situation to the masses.” 要集中力量打好重点地区疫情歼灭战，采取更为坚决、果断措施攻坚，尽快遏制疫情扩散蔓延，尽快恢复正常生产生活秩序，决不能等待观望、各行其是。要坚持科学精准防控，提高防疫工作的有效性，准确分析疫情风险，采取更为精准的举措，规范核酸检测、集中隔离、居家隔离和健康监测，精准判定风险区域和人员，整治“层层加码”“一刀切”，减少因疫情给群众带来的不便。
The article ends by again stating that persistence is victory! “We have the determination, ability, confidence and strength to implement the general policy of dynamic clearing until the final victory in the fight against the epidemic” 我们有决心有能力也有信心有实力落实好“动态清零”总方针，直至抗击疫情取得最后胜利.
Next, there’s a report about Hu Chunhua’s visit to Sichuan. Well, he is still vice premier, so I guess he gets covered. But yeah, this is a bit of a surprise after what happened at the Party Congress.
Page 6: Well, Hu’s all over this page too. Today’s long article talking about a specific policy domain after the 20th Party Congress is by Hu Chunhua. These are part of a series so I won’t read too much into it politically. Hu focuses on the tasks related to “building livable, industry-friendly and beautiful villages” following the 20th Party Congress. This is not my area of interest, and I am running short on time, so I am going to skip translating this piece. As always, if anyone’s interested in doing the translation and summary, please do let me know.
Page 9: There’s an article by Zhang Donggang and Lin Shangli, the Party Secretary and President of Renmin University of China, respectively. They write about grasping the five major principles of Chinese-style modernisation. There’s nothing different or new in their arguments. But if you want to get a sense of what the key ideas behind this framework are, then this is a useful piece to keep bookmarked.