Discover more from Tracking People's Daily
Xi on Space Power - China's Afghan Quartet - Wang Yi-Jaishankar Meet - Xi Thought: SARs & Community of Common Destiny - US the 'Greatest Destroyer of World Peace' - Services Trade - FDI Data
Here are the stories and pieces from the September 17, 2021, edition of the People’s Daily that I found noteworthy.
Page 1: The lead story on the page is about Xi’s visit to a military base in Shaanxi. One of the key points from the report (English report) is about Xi emphasising the development of space monitoring and control capabilities. PD tells us that he emphasised the need to implement the Party’s vision of building a strong military for the new era and the strategic guidelines for the new era, focus on combat readiness, speed up innovative development, and comprehensively improve the PLA’s ability to fulfil missions and tasks. 他强调，要贯彻新时代党的强军思想，贯彻新时代军事战略方针，聚焦备战打仗，加快创新发展，全面提升履行使命任务能力，为建设世界一流军队、建设航天强国作出更大贡献.
The report says that he fully acknowledged the important role the base in Shaanxi has played in China’s aerospace development. He said that it must now adapt to the increased frequency of space launches and higher requirements for each launch, optimise organisational structure and renew monitoring techniques to ensure tracking is reliable and missions are successful.
Xi said that “space assets are national strategic assets that should be managed and used well, but more importantly protected.” He added that “we need to comprehensively strengthen the building of defense forces to enhance disaster recovery, backup, survivability, and information protection capabilities. Space traffic management should also be strengthened to ensure stable and orderly operation of the space system. International cooperation on space security should be carried out to improve the effectiveness of space crisis management and comprehensive management.” 习近平指出,太空资产是国家战略资产，要管好用好，更要保护好。要全面加强防护力量建设，提高容灾备份、抗毁生存、信息防护能力。要加强太空交通管理，确保太空系统稳定有序运行。要开展太空安全国际合作，提高太空危机管控和综合治理效能.
The last paragraph of the story emphasises the need to lay “a solid ideological and political foundation for officers and men to listen to the Party’s command and fulfil their mission.”
There are a bunch of other Xi Jinping-related reports on the page. First, Xi’s congratulatory letter to the first (English report) International Summit on BeiDou Navigation Satellite System Applications. Xi said that with the acceleration of digital development in the world, temporal and spatial services, and positioning and navigation services have emerged as important new infrastructures. He added that BDS now has been put into use in more than half of the countries and regions in the world, and has entered a key stage of marketization, industrialization and internationalization. He ended by saying that “China is committed to principles of openness and integration, coordination and cooperation, compatibility and complementarity, and benefit sharing in building the BDS.”
Second, Xi’s letter (English report) to the China Quality Conference in Hangzhou. The theme of the conference is “Quality Evolution, Digital Empowerment, Green Development and Global Synergy.” In what I can with certainty describe as a letter that is very high on quality and ideal for a drinking game, Xi Jinping said:
“China is committed to improving quality, raising quality standards, strengthening overall quality management, boosting transformations in quality, efficiency and power, as well as promoting high-quality development. China is willing to work with other countries around the world to strengthen international cooperation in quality, jointly promote quality transformation and innovation, enhance quality infrastructure connectivity, and contribute to promoting global economic development and creating a better future for mankind.”
Third, we have Xi’s letter (English report) to Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on the 200th anniversary of victory in the Mexican War of Independence. Xi spoke about Mexico’s “long history and splendid civilization” and the “remarkable achievements” that Mexicans have made in “exploring a development path suited to their national conditions.” He said that the two countries are “developing countries with broad common interests” that have “stood together and supported each other” amid the unprecedented changes taking place in the world. He wants to “deepen political mutual trust and boost mutually beneficial cooperation.”
We have a brief report (English report) that Xi will attend the SCO meeting via video link. Then we have reports about Li Zhanshu speaking to Bahrain’s parliament speaker Fawzia bint Abdulla Zainal. Li said that the two sides should “continue to strengthen political support for each other, deepen anti-pandemic cooperation, advance high-quality pragmatic cooperation across the fields, and strengthen people-to-people exchanges...He called for enhancing the synergy between the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative and Bahrain's Economic Vision 2030, expanding cooperation in such fields as economy, trade, energy, infrastructure, 5G, and e-commerce.”
Unlike the Xinhua English report, the PD report specifically mentions that while China firmly supports Bahrain in safeguarding national sovereignty, independence and security, it also appreciates Bahrain’s long-term support on issues concerning China’s core interests and major concerns such as Taiwan, Xinjiang, Hong Kong and human rights. Bahrain was also apparently one of the first countries to approve the emergency use and registration of Chinese vaccines.
Next, there’s a report about Han Zheng attending the 2021 World New Energy Vehicle Congress. Han said that new energy vehicle consumption had become the major direction of global auto industry transformation. He called for domestic EV makers to make breakthroughs in core technologies like dual battery, auto chips and operational software systems, while aiming for scalable industrial efficiency. Yet at the same time, he also talked about the need to “actively integrate ourselves into the global industrial and value chains.” He also talked about promoting networked, intelligent and electric technologies, along with the integration of the automobile industry with emerging industries such as new-generation information and communications, new energy, new materials, artificial intelligence and big data. Han also talked about the need to “promote the consumption of new energy vehicles in the public and private sectors.”
Finally, the Ministry of Commerce has shared data on FDI into China from January to August (English report). The figure stands at 758.05 billion yuan ($113.78 billion), a year-on-year increase of 22.3%.
The service sector accounted for 599.33 billion yuan of that amount. FDI in the high-tech industry increased by 30.2% year-on-year, of which the high-tech service industry increased by 35.2%, and the high-tech manufacturing industry increased by 14.9%.
Investments from the Belt and Road countries expanded 37.6%, and investment from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations rose 36.8%.
In terms of regions:
Eastern region up by 23%
Central region up by 30.1%
Western region up by 1.6%
Page 3: There’s a feature piece previewing the SCO meeting later today. This basically talks about how China as a founding member of the SCO has always adhered to the Shanghai Spirit, and how Chinese initiatives have evolved within the group and China’s trade has expanded with SCO members and how the pandemic led to deeper cooperation, etc. It’s always fascinating to me that any such feature stories about the SCO in PD tend to not mention India at all.
Also on the page, we have MoFA’s Zhao Lijian’s comments prior to the summit. He says that SCO members have “transcended differences in social systems, histories and cultures, and successfully found a new type of cooperation and development path for regional organizations. They have played active roles in regional and international affairs, and made vital theoretical and practical exploration for building a new type of international relations and a community with a shared future for mankind.”
He added that today,
“the SCO shoulders more important responsibilities in defending regional security and stability and promoting development and revitalization of the countries. At the upcoming SCO summit, President Xi Jinping will take stock of the successful experiences of the SCO with leaders of other countries, have an in-depth exchange of views on SCO cooperation across the board and major international and regional issues under the new circumstances, approve a series of key cooperation documents and charter the course for the SCO's development going forward.”
Let’s wait and see what we hear from the group on Afghanistan. Xinhua English in its preview of the summit said “as for the Afghanistan issue, the SCO needs to build consensus and work together with other groups such as the Collective Security Treaty Organization to prevent a resurgence of terrorism, promote reconciliation, help reconstruct the war-torn country, and make sure that the country will not fall into chaos once again.”
Foreign Minister Wang Yi is in Dushanbe already. PD reports (English report) that he met with Tajik President Emomali Rahmon. They talked about maintaining regional peace and stability and strengthening communication and coordination in multiple issues, including the Afghanistan situation. The report says that Rahmon “thanked China for its great support to Tajikistan’s economy and national security as well as the country's fight against COVID-19.” Wang promised more pandemic-related support, terming the two countries “ironclad partners.”
Although this is not in PD today, Wang also has had multiple other meetings in Dushanbe. So, he met with counterparts from Russia, Iran, Pakistan and India. I am going to talk about India separately. That’s because Wang met with Sergei Lavrov and Hossein Amir Abdollahian independently before holding a China, Russia, Pakistan and Iran meeting on Afghanistan.
So Wang and Lavrov, CGTN reports, spoke about the need to “strengthen coordination with Russia to jointly handle the issue of Afghanistan.” Wang said China appreciates Russia’s opposition to the politicization of COVID-19 origins-tracing and human rights issues, and is willing to deepen back-to-back strategic coordination with Russia to promote cooperation among the international community in tackling the virus origins. He called on Russia to communicate and coordinate with China within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, to jointly maintain peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region, and to work together to respond to various global challenges. Lavrov said that there was an “unbreakable friendship and indestructible partnership between the two countries.” --- Is this reassurance or a reminder of options?
Lavrov also said that Russia backs China on Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Tibet and human rights and wants to work together at the UN on global issues as information security, biosecurity, and cybercrime while keeping close coordination and cooperation on Asia Pacific affairs.
To Hossein Amir Abdollahian, Wang said that China supports Iran in opposing hegemony and safeguarding its sovereignty, dignity, legitimate rights and interests. He wants to work on BRI and energy, backs Iran’s SCO membership bid and pledged Covid-19-related support. Wang also spoke about the JCPOA, saying China will work to ensure that talks move in the “right direction and reach consensus on it at an early date.” Amir Abdollahian said that Iran-China relations have strategic significance and a solid foundation. He wants to accelerate cooperation in areas like transportation, energy, culture, technology, and tourism.
Then we have details of a meeting between officials from China, Iran, Russia and Pakistan talking about Afghanistan. At the meeting Wang Yi said that he wants the four to “strengthen communication and coordination, make unanimous voices, exert positive influence and play a constructive role.” He also said that “countries in the region expect the new Afghan government to be inclusive, anti-terrorist, and friendly to neighbours.”
Wang said that Afghanistan was in a “critical stage of transitioning from chaos to governance.” While the war was over, the issue of Afghanistan was not resolved. “Power politics, military intervention and so-called ‘democratic transformation’ are the root causes of the current situation in Afghanistan,” he said. He blamed the US for its “hasty withdrawal.” He then made a five-point proposal:
US must “fulfil its obligations” and “take the primary responsibility for the reconstruction of Afghanistan.” -- So much for theories that China was waiting with baited breath for the US to exit so that it can swoop in and reconstruct.
“Afghanistan has established an interim government, and its domestic and foreign policies have not yet been finalized…” He wants the country to establish a “broad and inclusive political structure, and implement moderate and stable domestic and foreign policies.”
“The Taliban have repeatedly promised not to allow any forces to use Afghan territory to harm the security interests of neighboring countries. We expect the new Afghan regime to fulfill its commitments and draw a clear line with terrorist forces, and in particular, resolutely crack down on terrorist forces that target neighboring countries.”
He wants “all parties to form a joint force to aid Afghanistan,” in terms of humanitarian assistance.
And finally, over time or in the long-run, as security and stability becomes clearer, he wants to “integrate into regional economic cooperation and connectivity networks.”
He said that the expectations of regional countries from the Taliban can be summarisd as: “tolerance, anti-terrorism, and good-neighbourliness.” The official readout ends saying that this Quartet will continue to engage as needed as the situation develops.
Finally, I’ll focus on the S Jaishankar and Wang Yi meeting. There’s a marked difference in the Indian and Chinese readouts, with the former displaying far greater urgency on addressing issues along the LAC.
For instance, the MEA’s readout acknowledges “some progress” in disengagement along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh. But it adds that there are “still some outstanding issues that needed to be resolved.” It then adds that:
the Indian Foreign Minister reminded Wang that when they last met, “both sides had agreed that a prolongation of the existing situation was not in the interest of the either side as it was impacting the relationship in a negative manner. EAM therefore emphasized that the two sides should work towards early resolution of the remaining issues along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh while fully abiding by bilateral agreements and protocols. EAM underlined that it was necessary to ensure progress in resolution of remaining issues so as to restore peace and tranquility along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh noting that peace and tranquility in the border areas has been an essential basis for progress in the bilateral relations.”
The Chinese readout says that:
Beijing has always handled the border issue with a “positive attitude” and that the border situation was “moving towards relaxation on the whole.” He said that the two sides should “consolidate the achievements of disengagement of front-line troops and strictly abide by agreements and consensus reached,” preventing any “border-related incidents” from recurring. He wants the two sides to adhere to the “strategic consensus” that they do not pose a threat to each other but rather provide opportunities for each other.
Both readouts talk about EAM Jaishankar’s comments about the relationship in the context of the evolving Sino-US dynamic. He said:
“India had never subscribed to any clash of civilisations theory. He said that India and China had to deal with each other on merits and establish a relationship based on mutual respect. For this, it was necessary that China avoid viewing our bilateral relations from the perspective of its relations with third countries. Asian solidarity would depend on the example set by India-China relations.”
After all this, let’s return to PD. We have two more reports on Page 3 that I’d like to point to. First, China’s Chen Xu spoke on behalf of 40 or 50 countries, depending on which report you believe, with regard to human rights at the UNHRC. PD says over 40; Xinhua English says over 50. Next, Alojz Kovšca, President of the National Council of the Republic of Slovenia, met with China’s Zhang Qingli, from the National Committee of the CPPCC, at Zhang’s request. Interestingly, Slovenia is currently holding the EU presidency and its PM reportedly recently wrote a letter to EU leaders about backing Lithuania in its tiff with China.
Page 5: Today, we have the 45th piece in the Xi Thought Q&A series. The first question is about the central government’s relationship with HK and Macao.
We are told that issues related to the two SARs are China’s “internal affairs”and that the “will of the Chinese government and people to safeguard China’s sovereignty, security and development interests is as firm as a rock. We will never allow any external force to interfere in the affairs of Hong Kong and Macao.”
It says that the central government’s “overall governing power” over HK and Macao is a “constitutional power.” And this comprehensive governance is the foundation for providing autonomy to the SARs.
“The high degree of autonomy is neither complete autonomy nor decentralization, but the right to manage local affairs granted by the central government. The SAR enjoys as much power as the central government grants, and there is no so-called ‘residual power’. The central government has the power to supervise the exercise of the high degree of autonomy of the HKSAR and to correct violations of the "one country, two systems" and the Basic Law in accordance with the law.” 高度自治不是完全自治，也不是分权，而是中央授予的地方事务管理权。中央授予多少权力，特别行政区就享有多少权力，不存在所谓“剩余权力”. 中央有权对特别行政区高度自治权行使情况进行监督，有权依法对违反“一国两制”和基本法的行为予以纠正. It adds that under no circumstances should the SAR “undermine China's sovereignty and power of overall governance.”
The next bit says that in recent years, some people have advocated theories like 固有权力 - inherent power and 自主权力 - autonomous power with the aim of undermining the central government’s authority. In 2019, “there were numerous illegal activities such as ‘Hong Kong independence’, violence and terrorism, and some foreign forces blatantly and wantonly meddled in Hong Kong affairs, posing grave threats to China's sovereignty and security.” This coupled with delay in the framing of a law under Article 23 of the Basic Law, led to the central government acting to implement the NSL.
The next paragraph makes certain commitments, such as:
“improving the system whereby the chief executive of the HKSAR is accountable to the central government, and supporting the chief executive and the government of the HKSAR in governing the region in accordance with law.
improving the mechanism by which Hong Kong and Macao integrate themselves into China’s overall development.”
strengthening education in Hong Kong and Macao, especially among public officials and youth people, about the Constitution and basic laws, on China's national conditions, and on Chinese history and culture. The aim is to “enhance the national consciousness and patriotism of our compatriots in Hong Kong and Macao.”
guarding against and deterring “external forces from interfering in the affairs of Hong Kong and Macao and engaging in separatist, subversive, infiltration and sabotage activities.”
The next question is about building a community with a shared future for mankind. We are told that this “is an important part of Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy” and “an important ideological and theoretical contribution of contemporary China to the world.” So what does this mean? Here are the key features that the piece outlines. This concept means:
That the “destiny of every nation and country is closely linked”
“Upholding dialogue and consultation and building a world of lasting peace.”
Developing “universal security through joint contribution and shared benefits”
Pursuing “win-win cooperation and building a world of common prosperity”
Building an “open and inclusive world through exchanges and mutual learning”
Building “a clean and beautiful world with green and low-carbon development”
We are then told that this concept conforms to the trend of history, which “moves forward according to its own law.” Today, we are told that “the tide of economic globalization is rolling forward; a new round of scientific and technological revolution and industrial transformation are gaining momentum. The global governance system is being profoundly reshaped. The international landscape is evolving at a faster pace. All countries are more interconnected and interdependent than ever before. Peace, development, cooperation and win-win outcomes have become the trend of the times. The world cannot return to isolation, still less can it be deliberately divided. An integrated world is out there, and whoever rejects it, the world will reject them. Only by following the trend of history and promoting the building of a community with a shared future for mankind can countries achieve common development and prosperity.” 当今时代，经济全球化大潮滚滚向前，新一轮科技革命和产业变革深入发展，全球治理体系深刻重塑，国际格局加速演变，和平发展大势不可逆转。人类交往的世界性比过去任何时候都更深入、更广泛，各国相互联系和彼此依存比过去任何时候都更频繁、更紧密，和平、发展、合作、共赢已成为时代潮流。世界退不回彼此封闭孤立的状态，更不可能被人为割裂。一体化的世界就在那儿，谁拒绝这个世界，这个世界也会拒绝他。世界各国只有顺应历史大势，推动构建人类命运共同体，才能实现共同发展、共享繁荣.
The next paragraph is about how the world today is undergoing unprecedented changes and facing new challenges; for instance, “unilateralism, protectionism and bullying” are on the rise, among other challenges. Also, it says that the pandemic “has accelerated the adjustment of the international structure.” This requires countries to work together and not follow “beggar-thy-neighbour” policies. It’s really difficult to take any of this seriously. The following paragraph talks about what China has done in this regard. It mentions BRI, AIIB, the G20 meeting in Hangzhou, the Import Expo, the Asian civilisations dialogue, etc. It ends by saying “China will do well only when the world does well. When China does well, the world will do better.” 世界好，中国才能好；中国好，世界才更好.
On Page 6, we are told that China has fully vaccinated 1 billion people.
Then on the Theory page, the lead piece is by Gu Xueming from CAITEC. Gu writes about China’s services trade. He says that:
The proportion of trade in services in China’s foreign trade has risen from 10.19% in 2005 to 12.36% in 2020, with an average annual growth rate of 9.8%. This is 1.59 percentage points higher than the average annual growth rate of trade in goods.
He talks about the potential for global services trade to expand, saying that global trade in services accounted for only 23.39% of total global trade as of 2016, as per World Bank data. “We should make the rules on trade in services more inclusive, balanced and effective, and advance negotiations on the opening of services within the WTO framework,” he writes.
He adds that China “will continue to lower the threshold for market access in the service sector and give full play to the pilot role of the comprehensive trials for further opening up of the service sector.” He specifically mentions “telecommunications, the Internet, education, culture, and medical care.” -- I find education’s inclusion there odd given what’s been going on in the sector recently.
While promising to facilitate cross-border payments systems and trade in services, he writes about implementing “a negative list system for trade in services.”
He then writes that “according to data from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the share of traditional sectors such as tourism and transport in global trade in services is on the decline, with their combined share dropping from 49.36% in 2005 to 30.3% in 2020. At the same time, innovation-related technology and information services, intellectual property services, and R&D and design accounted for an increasing proportion, with the combined proportion of the three increasing from 11.35% in 2005 to 18.03% in 2020.” Even in China’s case, he says that the share of telecommunications, computer services and information services, and intellectual property rights in China’s services trade has increased by 29.98 and 13.2 percentage points respectively. These domains for him are of critical importance in the future.
Gu ends by saying that “China is committed to a win-win strategy of opening-up. We are willing to create better development opportunities for the world while developing ourselves, and we are willing and able to share the fruits of trade in services with the world.”
Finally, all of Page 17 and a significant chunk of the next page too is dedicated to telling us that the US has been the “biggest destroyer of world peace” since WWII.
It talks about the US’ “expansionist genes” 扩张基因. In a nutshell, the piece says that after emerging as a superpower after WWII, the US “spared no effort to fight for and maintain its hegemony across the world. Relying on its advantages in military, economic, scientific, technological and cultural fields, the United States frequently interferes in other countries’ internal affairs, bullies, pillages and controls other countries in the name of ‘freedom, democracy and human rights’.”
We are told that after the Second World War, the successive American governments all pursued hegemonistic policies. Be it Truman’s containment strategy, Nixon’s deterrence strategy, Bush’s “preemptive” strike strategy, Obama’s use of “smart power,” Trump’s America First or Biden’s build back better policy, they are all aimed at ensuring US hegemony.
Complementing this piece on Page 18 is a Zhong Sheng commentary, which says that the US is the biggest obstacle to stability around the world. It says that:
“As a country, the United States has a short history, but its history of wars is not short. In 240 years, the United States has gone to war for all but 16 years. From the end of World War II to 2001, 248 armed conflicts occurred in 153 regions of the world, of which 201 were instigated by the US, accounting for more than 80 percent of all such conflicts. Since World War II, the United States has built nearly 800 military bases in more than 70 countries, and almost all US presidents have waged or intervened in foreign wars while in office. American historian Paul Atwood noted that “the history of the United States is one of war and expansion.” 作为一个国家，美国历史不长，但战争史不短。建国240多年，美国只有16年没有打仗。从二战结束到2001年，世界上153个地区发生248次武装冲突，其中美国挑起201场，占比超过80%。二战以来，美国在70多个国家建立了近800个军事基地，几乎所有美国总统在任内都曾发动或介入过对外战争。美国历史学家保罗·阿特伍德指出，“美国的历史是充满战争和扩张的历史”.
“The United States views war as a tool to transform other countries and export ideology so as to realize the so-called Pax Americana. But the truth is that US wars have brought nothing but instability to the world.” 美国把战争视为改造他国、输出意识形态的工具，以为这样就能实现所谓“美国治下的和平”。但事实上，美国发动战争给世界带来的只有动荡.
Summarising the rest of it below:
“The emergence of the Islamic State and the growth of terrorist groups in Afghanistan are all related to the war launched by the US...wherever the ‘black hand’ of the United States reaches out, there will be no peace...The United States prides itself on being a beacon of human rights, but its wars have caused serious humanitarian crises...The US likes to think of itself as a defender of the ‘rules-based international order’, but, in fact, it is the biggest destroyer of international rules and order...the United States’ militaristic policies, provocation of wars and bullying of the weak reveals its outdated unilateralism...Peace, development, cooperation and mutual benefit have become the trend of the times. The trend towards a multi-polar world and greater democracy in international relations is irresistible. American hegemonism and power politics will eventually be abandoned.”
Finally, while it’s not part of PD, here’s how China’s foreign ministry reacted to the AUKUS announcement, while criticising “closed and exclusive clique” formation and “Cold War zero-sum mentality and narrow-minded geopolitical perception.”
The nuclear submarine cooperation between the US, the UK and Australia has seriously undermined regional peace and stability, intensified the arms race and undermined international non-proliferation efforts. The export of highly sensitive nuclear submarine technology to Australia by the US and the UK proves once again that they are using nuclear exports as a tool for geopolitical game and adopting double standards. This is extremely irresponsible. As a non-nuclear weapon state under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and a party to the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone (SPNFZ) Treaty, known as the Treaty of Rarotonga, Australia is now introducing nuclear submarine technology of strategic and military value. The international community, including Australia’s neighboring countries, has full reason to question whether Australia is serious about fulfilling its nuclear non-proliferation commitments. China will pay close attention to the development of the relevant situation.