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Xi in Russia - Sky Net 2023 Launched - New Report Criticising American Democracy
Here are the key reports and articles that I found noteworthy from the People’s Daily’s edition on Tuesday, March 21, 2023.
Page 1: The front page is largely about Xi Jinping’s visit to Moscow. The Chinese leader landed yesterday and had a brief meeting with Vladimir Putin. There will be more substantive talks today.
The top story on the page describes Xi’s arrival to much fanfare, with a military band playing the two countries’ national anthems. The report also includes Xi’s comments (full English text) about his expectations from the visit.
Xi said that “Both being major countries in the world and permanent members of the UN Security Council, China and Russia play important roles in international affairs. In a world of volatility and transformation, China will continue to work with Russia to safeguard the international system with the UN at its core, the international order underpinned by international law, and the basic norms of international relations based on the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. China will work with Russia to uphold true multilateralism, promote a multi-polar world and greater democracy in international relations, and help make global governance more just and equitable. During my visit, I look forward to having an in-depth exchange of views with President Putin on the bilateral ties and major international and regional issues of shared interest, to draw a blueprint for China-Russia strategic coordination and practical cooperation in the new era. I am confident that the visit will produce fruitful results, and inject fresh impetus into the sound and steady growth of the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for the new era.”
Cai Qi, Wang Yi and Qin Gang are accompanying Xi, as per the report.
The other leading story on the page is on Xi’s talks with Putin. This is where Xi Jinping endorsed Putin’s 2024 presidential election bid, even though Putin is yet to run. Xinhua reports: “Xi said that over the past 10 years, he and Putin have stayed in close touch, and expressed his appreciation to Putin for immediately sending him congratulatory messages on his reelection as general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) by the 20th CPC National Congress and on his reelection not long ago as Chinese president. He noted that Russia will hold the presidential election next year, and under Putin's strong leadership, Russia has made good progress in development and rejuvenation. Xi said he is confident that the Russian people will continue to give firm support to Putin.”
The next paragraph is mandatory for the folks imagining a split.
“Xi Jinping emphasised that the development of China-Russia relations to today has its profound historical logic. As the largest neighbours and comprehensive strategic partners of coordination, China-Russia relations occupy a priority position in their respective overall diplomacy and foreign policies. China has always pursued an independent foreign policy. Consolidating and developing China-Russia relations is a strategic choice made by China based on its own fundamental interests and the general trend of world development. The general direction of strengthening strategic cooperation between China and Russia is unswerving. Both China and Russia are committed to national development and rejuvenation, both support world multi-polarization, and both promote the democratisation of international relations. The two sides should further deepen practical cooperation in various fields, strengthen coordination and cooperation at multilateral platforms such as the United Nations, help their respective countries develop and rejuvenate, and be the bulwark of world peace and stability.” 习近平强调，中俄关系发展到今天，有其深刻的历史逻辑。作为最大邻国和全面战略协作伙伴，中俄关系在各自外交全局和对外政策中都占据优先地位。中国历来奉行独立自主的外交政策。把中俄关系巩固好、发展好，是中方基于自身根本利益和世界发展大势作出的战略抉择。中方同俄方加强战略协作的大方向坚定不移。中俄都致力于实现国家发展振兴，都支持世界多极化，都推动国际关系民主化。双方要进一步深化各领域务实合作，加强在联合国等多边平台的协调配合，助力各自国家发展振兴，做世界和平稳定的中流砥柱.
Putin also talked up the relationship, praising Xi’s “outstanding” and “strong” leadership.
On Ukraine, Xi said “that voices for peace and rationality are constantly building. Most countries support the easing of tensions, advocate promoting peace and talks, and oppose adding fuel to the fire. Historically, conflicts have always been resolved through dialogue and negotiation. Not long ago, China issued a position paper calling for a political solution to the Ukrainian crisis, opposing the Cold War mentality and unilateral sanctions. We believe that the more difficulties there are, the greater the need to keep space for peace. The more acute the problem is, the more important it is not to give up efforts for dialogue. China is willing to continue to play a constructive role in promoting the political settlement of the Ukrainian issue.”
As per Xinhua, Putin said: “Russia appreciates China for consistently upholding an impartial, objective, and balanced position and standing for fairness and justice on major international issues. Russia has carefully studied China's position paper on the political settlement of the Ukraine issue and is open to talks for peace. Russia welcomes China to play a constructive role in this regard.”
I haven’t been able to locate a Russian readout. The Kremlin website only offers the initial comments by both men. On Ukraine, Putin said: “We have carefully studied your proposals on resolving the acute Ukraine crisis and we will have an opportunity to discuss this matter. We know that you are guided by the principles of justice and respect for the fundamental provisions of international law and indivisible security for all countries. You are aware as well that we remain open to negotiations. We will, of course, discuss these issues, including your initiatives, which we certainly respect.”
Moving on, there’s a commentary drawing from Xi Jinping’s NPC speech. This one focuses on the theme of ensuring the Party’s overall leadership. The key message from the article is this:
In governing a big Party like ours, nothing can be achieved without ensuring the authority of the centralised and unified leadership of the CPC Central Committee, and without the unity of thought and pace of the whole party and the whole country. 治理我们这样的大党大国，如果没有党中央权威和集中统一领导，如果没有全党全国思想统一、步调一致，什么事也办不成.
“On the new journey, as long as we unswervingly uphold and strengthen the Party's overall leadership, resolutely safeguard the authority of the centralised and unified leadership of the CPC Central Committee, implement the Party’s leadership in all aspects of the cause of the Party and the country, and make the Party always the most reliable backbone of all the people when storms strike, we will certainly be able to ensure the correct direction of China's socialist modernisation, ensure strong political cohesion of united struggle, develop self-confidence, and unite the majestic power of building a strong country and national rejuvenation.” 新征程上，只要坚定不移坚持和加强党的全面领导，坚决维护党中央权威和集中统一领导，把党的领导落实到党和国家事业各领域各方面各环节，使党始终成为风雨来袭时全体人民最可靠的主心骨，就一定能确保我国社会主义现代化建设正确方向，确保拥有团结奋斗的强大政治凝聚力、发展自信心，凝聚起强国建设、民族复兴的磅礴伟力.
In this context, the piece talks about furthering the Party’s self-revolution and, of course, understanding the decisive significance of the Two Establishments and achieving the two safeguards.
Page 2: There’s a report on enthusiastic responses in Russia to Xi’s article.
There’s also an interview with the president of the Russian Gazette. Among other things, he says that in the article Xi talked about how “there is no superior country in the world, there is no universal national governance model, and there is no international order in which a certain country has the final say. This important conclusion is thought-provoking, so that the world can see clearly who really wants peace and who is provoking disputes.” 涅戈伊察表示，习近平主席在署名文章中强调，世界上不存在高人一等的国家，不存在放之四海而皆准的国家治理模式，不存在由某个国家说了算的国际秩序。这一重要论断发人深省，让世人看清，是谁真正希望和平，又是谁在挑起争端.
And on the page is an article with Yury Tavrovsky, deputy chairman of the Russian-Chinese Friendship Society and head of the expert council at the Russian-Chinese Committee for Friendship, Peace and Development. Tavrovsky praises Chinese-style modernisation. He also says that “what is even more commendable is that China does not impose its own values and models on others.”
Finally, there’s a report on the meeting between Latin American and Caribbean missions in China and the International Bamboo and Rattan Organisation (INBAR) in Beijing. The Chinese government has used its experience in utilising bamboo resources to develop training programs for countries. The piece talks about 200 senior officials and technicians from Ecuador. The report talks about China imparting bamboo and rattan weaving skills for farmers in Peru, helping them make bamboo furniture for sale. It also talks about the “bamboo instead of plastic” initiative launched last year.
Page 3: There’s a report on a press conference on China’s foreign trade. GAC’s Yu Jianhua said that “in 2022, China’s total foreign trade value exceeded 42 trillion yuan. The national customs supervised the import and export freight volume of 4.8 billion tons, 13 million freighters, planes, trains and other means of transport (racks and ships), and supervised 320 million pieces of cross-border express mail. At present, there are 1.85 million import and export enterprises registered with the customs, which is three times that of 10 years ago. In 2022, the national customs intercepted 580,000 species of harmful organisms, supervised the import and export of 590 million tons of dangerous chemicals, returned and destroyed 2,900 batches of unqualified food and cosmetics, and seized 1.2 million pieces of contraband and 2.8 tons of drugs.” 2022年，我国外贸总值超过42万亿元。全国海关监管进出口货运量达到48亿吨，货轮、飞机、火车等运输工具1300万辆（架、艘），监管跨境邮快件3.2亿件。目前在海关备案的进出口企业达185万家，是10年前的3倍。2022年，全国海关截获有害生物58万种次，监管进出口危化品5.9亿吨，退运、销毁不合格食品、化妆品2900批，查获各类违禁品120万件，毒品2.8吨.
He also promised that at present, customs officials are evaluating 23 support measures and studying new policy measures aimed at addressing pain points, difficulties and blocking points faced by enterprises. First, smooth import and export logistics, through smart customs, smart ports and smart borders. Second, optimise the port business environment via single-window and one-stop services for customs clearance. Third, reduce the cost of enterprises, encouraging them through use agreements like RCEP. Fourth, support cross-border e-commerce and rapid customs clearance. 目前，全国海关正对23项支持措施进行评估，在此基础上，针对企业的痛点、难点和堵点，研究新的政策举措。一是畅通进出口物流。推进智慧海关建设，支持建设智慧口岸、智能边境，通过科技手段提速增效，促进跨境物流更加便利化。二是优化口岸营商环境。深入推进国际贸易“单一窗口”建设，为企业提供通关“一站式”服务。三是降低企业成本。帮助企业用好用足RCEP等自贸协定关税优惠，降低进出口环节成本。四是支持新业态发展。创新跨境电商海关监管模式，做到精准监管、快速通关。支持市场采购贸易、保税维修等新业态发展。
Sun Yuning, deputy director of GAC, said that last year, the total value of imports and exports in areas under special customs supervision reached 8.4 trillion yuan, accounting for 20% of China’s total foreign trade. At present, there are 167 areas under special customs supervision, of which 156 are comprehensive bonded areas, accounting for 93.4%, covering 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities. The national customs will accelerate the introduction of reform measures to promote the high-quality development of comprehensive bonded areas and promote the integrated development of domestic and foreign trade. 孙玉宁说，伴随着改革开放，海关特殊监管区域应运而生。去年，海关特殊监管区域进出口总值达8.4万亿元，占我国对外贸易总值的20%。目前，共有167个海关特殊监管区域，其中综合保税区已达156个，占93.4%，覆盖31个省区市。全国海关将加快出台推动综合保税区高质量发展的改革措施，促进内外贸一体化发展.
Page 7: A report informing that the Central Anti-Corruption Coordination Group has launched the Sky Net 2023 operation. This is for pursuing fugitives, preventing escape, and retrieving stolen assets. Xinhua reports:
“As part of the anti-graft effort, the National Commission of Supervision will spearhead a targeted campaign to combat duty-related crimes, hunt down corrupt officials who fled overseas, and retrieve stolen assets; the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) will launch the ‘Fox Hunt’ campaign to repatriate economic fugitives who have fled abroad; the People's Bank of China will team up with the MPS to tackle disguised transfer of misappropriated assets overseas; the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate will jointly wage a campaign to restore stolen assets involved in cases whose criminal suspects or defendants escaped or died; the Organization Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee will partner with other authorities to address unregulated issuance and possession of relevant documents, according to the meeting.”
Page 17: On the international page, a lot of space is dedicated to the new report criticising American democracy (Full English Report). The document says:
“In 2022, the vicious cycle of democratic pretensions, dysfunctional politics and a divided society continued in the United States. Problems such as money politics, identity politics, social rifts, and the gulf between the rich and poor worsened. The maladies afflicting American democracy deeply infected the cells of US politics and society, and further revealed US governance failure and institutional defects. Despite mounting problems at home, the US continued to behave with a sense of superiority, point fingers at others, usurp the role of a “lecturer of democracy”, and concoct and play up the false narrative of “democracy versus authoritarianism”. To serve the interests of none other than itself, the US acted to split the world into two camps of what it defined as ‘democracies and non-democracies’, and organized another edition of the so-called ‘Summit for Democracy’ to check how various countries had performed on meeting US standards for democracy and to issue new orders. Be it high-sounding rhetoric or maneuvers driven by hidden agenda, none can hide the real designs of the US — to maintain its hegemony by playing bloc politics and using democracy as a tool for political ends. This report collects a multitude of facts, media comments and expert opinions to present a complete and real picture of American democracy over the year. What they reveal is an American democracy in chaos at home and a trail of havoc and disasters left behind as the US peddled and imposed its democracy around the globe. It helps remove the facade of American democracy for more people worldwide.”
There’s also a Zhong Sheng commentary on the same theme.
It says that “In today's world, one needs to promote true democracy, reject false democracy, support countries to develop democracy suitable for their own national conditions, and jointly promote the democratisation of international relations.” It talks about the narrative of democracy vs authoritarianism and says that “the United States’ anti-democratic behaviour in the name of democracy cannot conceal its true intention of politicising and instrumentalizing democracy, promoting bloc politics, and maintaining American hegemony. The so-called democratic myth that the United States created for itself has long been shattered.”
If it wasn’t apparent, there is a narrative battle that both sides have been engaged in, with the aim of influencing the direction of the world order. This offensive from Beijing has been in overdrive since the beginning of the year.
Also on the page is this exchange from the MoFA press briefing yesterday.
“CCTV: According to reports, US government sources said on March 17 that the US has confirmed that rounds of Chinese ammunition have been used in battlefields in Ukraine and suspects they were fired by Russian forces. Whether the ammunition was supplied by China remains unclear, the sources said, while adding Washington is poised to take action if it is verified Beijing made the shipments. The US has notified some of its partners about the confirmation. What’s China’s comment?
Wang Wenbin: China has held an objective and just position on the Ukraine issue. Everything we have done boils down to supporting talks for peace. We always stand on the side of peace and dialogue and on the right side of history. We will continue to play a constructive part in facilitating a political settlement of the crisis. As to the comments from sources within the US government, I need to stress that it is the US, not China, that has been sending weapons to the battlefields in Ukraine. The US needs to stop fueling the fight with more weaponry and fanning the flame, stop pointing fingers at other countries or seeking to coerce and intimidate them, and play a constructive role in the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis, rather than the opposite.”
Finally, there’s a report on China and Cambodia hosting their first-ever naval drills in Cambodian waters. The Golden Dragon 2023 exercises involve the PLA’s Southern Theatre Command. The PLA’s amphibious dock landing ship Jinggangshan conducted a coordinated navigation and communication drill. China Military Online’s report informs:
“At around 7:00 am, the ship Jinggangshan, which just arrived in the Cambodian waters after nearly 100-hour sailing for about 1300 nautical miles, met with two patrol crafts of the Cambodian Royal Navy. Then, with the ship Jinggangshan as the datum ship, the three ships cooperated with each other and completed, in succession, the formation training at the predetermined course and speed, as well as the communication drill while maneuvering towards the designated sea area. At around 8:20 am, the maritime coordination drill successfully concluded with the separation of the Chinese ship Jinggangshan and the Cambodian patrol crafts. Subsequently, the ship Jinggangshan docked at the Sihanoukville Port in Cambodia.”