Xi Talks to Macron & Merkel - 'People’s Democracy' - WTC's Xu Qiling Promoted - Party Studies July 1 Speech - Economic Development & Road Ahead

Here are the stories and pieces from the People’s Daily’s July 6, 2021, edition that I found noteworthy.

Page 1: Xi’s again all over the front page today. Let’s begin with his summit with Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron. They spoke about a range of issues, including the Iran nuclear issue, Afghanistan and Myanmar. PD tells us (Xinhua English report) that Xi made the following big points in his comments:

  • First, both sides must ensure that they adhere to “the correct mutual perception.” He said that “China has been committed to the common values of humanity including peace, development, fairness, justice, democracy and freedom.” And “China and Europe have engaged in cooperation based on the principles of mutual respect and seeking common ground while shelving differences...”

  • “China is willing to convene the 23rd China-EU leaders’ meeting with the European side at an early date, conduct high-level dialogues in strategic, trade, cultural, digital and climate sectors, and advance mutual recognition and protection of products listed in the China-EU agreement on geographical indicators to deliver more tangible benefits to the people.”

  • China is firmly committed to further opening up; Xi hoped the European side can provide just, transparent and non-discriminatory business environment for Chinese enterprises in accordance with market principles.

  • The international system with the United Nations (UN) at its core and the basic norms governing international relations based on the UN Charter must be upheld, and global issues should be addressed via consultations of all parties in a reasonably calm manner…

  • He spoke about WTO reform, COP15, climate change, and called for “mutual support in ensuring a successful Beijing Winter Olympics and Paris Olympics.”

  • Xi called for building a major-country relationship that is generally stable and balanced. “What China craves for most is to develop itself rather than replace others.” He said BRI aims “to create more opportunities for common development.”

“We hope the European side can play a more positive role in global affairs, genuinely demonstrate strategic independence, and jointly safeguard world peace, stability, development and prosperity.”

  • Xi then spoke about engagement in Africa, calling it a “continent with the greatest development potential.” He spoke about China’s pandemic diplomacy in Africa and said that China had “signed debt relief agreements or reached debt relief consensus with 19 African countries.” China welcomes France and Germany to join the Initiative on Partnership for Africa's Development, which was jointly launched by China and African countries, and carry out trilateral, four-party or multi-party cooperation.

According to the Chinese readout, Macron was very complimentary. He also said that France is committed to promoting cooperation with China in a practical manner, supports the conclusion of the EU-China investment agreement. Merkel said that the two sides share consensus on many issues and can cooperate in many areas, and that they should respect each other and reduce differences through enhanced dialogue. Germany hopes to strengthen cooperation on international affairs with China and is willing to maintain communication with China on climate change, biodiversity and Africa's response to the pandemic...Germany will actively look into the possibility of joining the Initiative on Partnership for Africa's Development.

The statement issued from the German side is very brief; it basically refers to key subject areas that were discussed - EU-China relations, international trade, climate protection, biodiversity, and vaccine supply. The French readout is a little more detailed. The primary focus is on climate change-related issues. It said that France and Germany “welcomed China’s commitment to contribute to the restructuring of the debt of vulnerable countries” It also talks about “European expectations on access to the Chinese market and fair competition conditions.” The statement ends by talking about Macron and Merkel expressing “serious concerns about the human rights situation in China” and “regarding the fight against forced labor.”

Next, four PLA officers have been promoted to the rank of general (English report), the highest rank in the forces. These are:

  • Commander of the PLA Southern Theater Command Wang Xiubin

  • Commander of the PLA Western Theater Command Xu Qiling

  • Commander of the PLA Army Liu Zhenli

  • Commander of the PLA Strategic Support Force Ju Qiansheng

From an Indian point of view, Xu Qiling was first publicly confirmed as Commander of the Western Theatre Command’s Ground Forces on June 1, 2020. So he was in charge when the Galwan Valley clashes took place. There’s this interesting paragraph from Ananth Krishnan’s report in The Hindu on Xu’s promotion

“The current thinking among Indian military planners is that the April mass mobilisation by the PLA and subsequent multiple Line of Actual Control transgressions, coming after annual summer exercises, was likely planned at the level of the Western Theatre Command, and that the higher levels, such as the Central Military Commission headed by Mr. Xi, were most likely only involved after the June 15 clash in Galwan Valley.”

Next, another report telling us that the People’s Armed Police Force’s unit in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region was given the title ‘Anti-Terrorist Sharp Knife Squadron’ for its outstanding performance in fighting terrorism.” The English report tells us that:

“the order asked the entire armed forces to learn from the squadron, consolidate the political foundation of firmly obeying the Party's orders and following the Party's lead, develop a strong ability to defeat enemies, foster bravery, promote the revolutionary spirit, and fearlessly charge ahead despite the difficulties.”

Page 2: We have a long feature story that talks about Xi Jinping’s work to promote “people’s democracy.” The piece begins by referencing an article that Xi wrote in 2006 in Zhejiang Daily, where he talked about “exploring democratic methods to solve contradictions among the people, proposing that the channels of public opinion expression should be unblocked, and guiding the masses to express their demands in a rational and legal way.” 时任浙江省委书记的习近平同志在《浙江日报》“之江新语”栏目发表文章,探索解决人民内部矛盾的民主方法,提出要畅通民意表达渠道,引导群众以理性、合法的方式表达诉求.

The article tells us that “Democracy is not an ornament; it is not for decoration, but to be used to solve the problems that the people want addressed.” “民主不是装饰品,不是用来做摆设的,而是要用来解决人民要解决的问题的.”

Anyway, the basic thrust of the piece is to show that Xi listens to the issues raised by people at the grassroots and he then ensures that these are addressed. The piece tells us that “Over the years, Comrade Xi Jinping has continuously explored and innovated ways and means of listening to public opinion, and paved the way for the ‘last mile’ of grassroots democracy.” 多年来,习近平同志不断探索创新听取民意的方式方法,畅通基层民主“最后一公里”. 

We also get an example of Xi’s work in Fuzhou in the 1990s. In 1994, when people reported that it was difficult to find the numbers to get in touch with officials in charge of key units, Xi Jinping immediately addressed the issue with the heads of the municipal party committee office and the municipal government office, and immediately published all the telephone numbers of the municipal party committee and municipal government departments in Fuzhou Evening News. He called for the establishment of a duty room to answer the phone, and trained everyone how to answer the phone and listen to the voices of the masses, a move that was widely praised by the masses. 1994年,听到有群众反映找职能单位办事存在找人难、打电话难的问题,习近平立即交代市委办、市政府办负责人,马上把包括市委的、市直机关单位的电话全部登报公开. 不久后,所有电话号码就公布在《福州晚报》上. 他要求设立值班室接听电话,还培训大家怎么接电话、怎么倾听群众心声,受到群众广泛好评.

We then come to March 2020, with Xi visiting the Anji County Social Dispute Mediation and Resolution Center in Zhejiang. His main emphasis was that “the grassroots is the foundation of social harmony and stability;” he added that it is “necessary to improve the comprehensive mechanism for the prevention, mediation and resolution of social conflicts and disputes.” Anyway, you get the idea; this is about how Xi is engaged and democracy is about such engagement and consultation.

Next, another piece based on Xi’s centenary speech. This one basically talks about how local level Party functionaries have interpreted the different messages from the speech. A lot of the emphasis is on clean governance, anti-corruption, self-purification, etc. For instance, we have Chen Wei, vice president of the Party School of Guyuan Municipal Committee of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, talking about “self-revolution.” Wen Ran, Party Secretary of Shenbei New District, Shenyang City, Liaoning Province, talked about the Party’s nature to “dare to scrape the bones to cure poison.” There are also comments on technologies, serving the real economy and promoting high-quality economic development, and how grassroots organisations must “enhance their cohesion and combat effectiveness.”

Finally, a commentary on the page drawing from Xi’s speech. It reiterates that:

“In the past 100 years, our party has overcome seemingly insurmountable difficulties one after another, and created one miracle after another in the annals of history. The fundamental reason lies in always sticking to its original mission, always sharing weal and woe with the people, and working together with the people.” 一百年来,我们党攻克一个又一个看似不可攻克的难关,创造一个又一个彪炳史册的人间奇迹,根本原因就在于始终坚守初心使命,始终与人民心心相印、与人民同甘共苦、与人民团结奋斗. 

There’s a reiteration of how the Party does not have “‘special interests of its own, and has never represented the interests of any interest group, any power group, or any privileged class.’ Why? The question of people and who to rely on the litmus test of the nature of a political party and a regime. Our party does not have any special interests of its own, and the party puts the interests of the masses first at all times. This is a significant point that distinguishes our party as a Marxist party from other parties.” 习近平总书记指出:“中国共产党始终代表最广大人民根本利益,与人民休戚与共、生死相依,没有任何自己特殊的利益,从来不代表任何利益集团、任何权势团体、任何特权阶层的利益。”为什么人、靠什么人的问题,是检验一个政党、一个政权性质的试金石。我们党没有任何自己特殊的利益,党在任何时候都把群众利益放在第一位。这是我们党作为马克思主义政党区别于其他政党的显著标志.

And then this: “We should adhere to the party's mass line, always maintain the flesh-and-blood ties between the party and the people, always accept the criticism and supervision of the people, always think about the sufferings of the people in our hearts, and always seek the policy of enriching the people in our minds, so that our party will always win the trust and support of the people and our cause will always have an inexhaustible source of strength.” 我们要坚持党的群众路线,始终保持党同人民群众的血肉联系,始终接受人民群众批评和监督,心中常思百姓疾苦,脑中常谋富民之策,使我们党永远赢得人民群众信任和拥护,使我们的事业始终拥有不竭的力量源泉.

Page 3: A preview of the political parties dialogue that’s being held today. I’ll do a breakdown of Xi’s speech there tomorrow. PD tells us that “this will be an unprecedented event. More than 500 leaders of political parties and organizations from more than 160 countries and more than 10,000 political party representatives will attend the meeting.” A short report telling us that Li Keqiang will speak to British business representatives today.

Page 4: There are three reports on the page telling us about sessions that are being held to study, interpret and understand Xi’s July 1 speech. First, PSC member Wang Yang met with representatives of all parties in the United Front. He called on them to “earnestly study and implement the spirit of General Secretary Xi Jinping’s important speech on July 1st.”

He said:

“Practice enlightens us that to consolidate and strengthen the United Front, we must adhere to the leadership of the Communist Party of China, so that the United Front will always have the backbone and the United Front work will always have a fixed star. We must focus on the center and serve the overall situation, and ensure where the focus of the party and the state work advances...We must correctly handle the relationship between consistency and diversity, promote consistency without insisting on uniformity, and accommodate diversity without losing dominance. We must persist in upholding integrity and innovation, profoundly grasp the historical position of the United Front, and promote the United Front work to keep pace with the times on the premise of solid foundation. We must give full play to the role of non-party representatives and build up the talent base of the United Front. 实践启示我们,巩固壮大统一战线,必须坚持中国共产党领导,使统一战线永远有主心骨、统战工作始终有定盘星;必须围绕中心、服务大局,确保党和国家工作重心推进到哪里,统一战线的智慧力量就凝聚到哪里;必须正确处理一致性和多样性关系,增进一致而不强求一律、包容多样而不丧失主导;必须坚持守正创新,深刻把握统一战线历史方位,在固根基的前提下推动统战工作与时俱进;必须充分发挥党外代表人士作用, 厚植统一战线人才基础。

Here’s more:

“Wang Yang emphasized that the task of reform, development and stability in the new era is unprecedented, and there are unprecedented contradictions, risks and challenges. The work of cohesiveness has become more arduous, and the magic weapon of the United Front has become more prominent. 汪洋强调,新时代新征程改革发展稳定任务之重前所未有,矛盾风险挑战之多前所未有,凝心聚力的工作更加繁重,统一战线的法宝作用更加凸显.

He added that it is important to “implement the Party’s basic policy on religious work, adhere to the direction of the Sinicization of our religion, and better guide the adaptation of religion to socialist society.” 要贯彻党的宗教工作基本方针,坚持我国宗教中国化方向,更好引导宗教与社会主义社会相适应.

Next, Politburo member Wang Chen led a meeting of the Presidents of the Chinese Law Society in Beijing. He also spoke about studying Xi’s speech. He described the speech as “profoundly ideological, majestic, and inspiring.” Wang calls it a “political manifesto of the Chinese Communist Party in the new era,” emphasising the importance of keeping in mind the original aspiration. 

He told them:

“It is necessary to actively respond to the great call issued by General Secretary Xi Jinping on behalf of the CPC Central Committee, strive for greater glory for the Party and the people, deepen legal research, serve the practice of the rule of law, train legal talents, produce more high-quality achievements, continuously meet the growing demand of the people for the rule of law, and provide a strong legal guarantee for building a strong socialist modernization country in an all-round way.” 要积极响应习近平总书记代表党中央发出的伟大号召,努力为党和人民争取更大光荣,深化法学研究,服务法治实践,培养法治人才,推出更多高质量成果,不断满足人民群众日益增长的法治需求,为全面建成社会主义现代化强国提供有力法治保障. 

Third, we have a report about a study session on the speech organised by the Central Propaganda Department, the Central Institute of Party History and Literature, the Working Committee of the Central and State Organs, the Ministry of Education, the Political Work Department of the Central Military Commission and the CPC Beijing Municipal Committee. Qu Qingshan, a member of the Central Propaganda Group for the Study and Education of Party History and Dean of the Central Party History and Documentation Research Institute, spoke at the session. He basically calls on everyone to study and understand the important connotations of the speech. For the next week or so, there will be more focus on this with lectures being held.

Now while, PD today doesn’t cover this, but take a look at other reports about leaders studying Xi’s speech.

  • On Friday, Li Keqiang led the State Council in studying the speech. Xinhua says: “Xi's speech is a Marxist guiding document that charts the course for the Party and the Chinese people of all ethnic groups toward the second centenary goal of building China into a great modern socialist country in all respects, according to the meeting. The meeting urged the leading Party members group of the State Council and the government system to study and integrate the speech into all aspects of government work.”

  • Here’s Zhao Leji speaking to senior anti-graft officials. 

  • Here’s Li Zhanshu with senior lawmakers. Xinhua says “the legislators pledged to preserve the iron will of the communists, constantly push forward the great new project of Party building, and strive to realize the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation.”

  • Here’s propaganda chief Huang Kunming, stressing the need to gain “a profound understanding of the spirit of Xi's speech, precisely grasping the requirements in practice and generating enthusiasm for people to study the speech and implement its guiding principles. He called for efforts to publicize the great feat of realizing the first centenary goal and the principle of learning from history to create a bright future on a new journey toward socialist modernization.”

Page 13: First, a long piece by Ma Jiantang, Secretary of the Party Leadership Group of the Development Research Center of the State Council. Ma says that:

“the tremendous achievements my country has made in economic development have made great contributions to the multipolarization of the world and global economic growth. As the economy continues to develop, my country became the second largest economy in the world in 2009. According to estimates from the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook database, my country’s economy will account for approximately 17.4% of the world’s share in 2020, an increase of 13.9 percentage points from 2000, and it has become the main driving force for world economic development.” 我国经济发展取得的巨大成就,为世界多极化和全球经济增长作出了巨大贡献. 随着经济持续发展,我国于2009年成为世界第二大经济体. 根据国际货币基金组织世界经济展望数据库测算, 2020年我国经济占全球比重约为17.4%,较2000年提高13.9个百分点,成为世界经济发展的主要驱动力.

He then highlights that the proportion of the added value of the primary, secondary and tertiary industries has been adjusted from 50.5%, 20.8%, and 28.7% in 1952 to 7.7%, 37.8%, and 54.5% in 2020, respectively. “The basic position of agriculture has been consolidated, the high-quality development of agriculture and rural revitalization have been comprehensively promoted; the transformation and upgrading of industries from low-end to mid-to-high-end industries has been accelerating, the competitiveness of ‘Made in China’ has increased significantly, and the world’s largest manufacturing country status has been maintained and consolidated; the service industry has become an important support for the national economy, and its contribution to economic growth has steadily increased. In 2013, the proportion of my country’s tertiary industry surpassed that of the secondary industry for the first time, becoming the world's second largest service industry country. The quality and efficiency of economic development continue to improve. In 2020, my country ranks 14th in the Global Innovation Index and is the only middle-income economy among the top 30; the added value of the core capacity of the digital economy accounts for 7.8% of GDP.” 农业基础地位更加巩固,农业高质量发展和乡村振兴全面推进;工业从低端向中高端转型升级步伐不断加快,“中国制造”竞争力显著增强,世界第一制造大国地位持续保持和巩固;现代服务业已成为国民经济的重要支撑,对经济增长的贡献率稳步上升. 经济发展的质量和效益不断提高,2020年我国位列全球创新指数排名第十四位,是前30名中唯一的中等收入经济体;数字经济核心产能增加值占GDP的比重达到7.8%.

He then talks about livelihood issues and the improvement in people’s incomes and living conditions. Ma then says that it is important to a new development pattern, and promoting high-quality development. Finally, he emphasises certain musts to be kept in mind going forward:

  • Uphold the leadership of the Communist Party of China

  • Adhere to the people-centered development thinking

  • Persist in taking the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics

  • Persist in emancipating the mind and seeking truth from facts - in this he highlights the historical effort to break through the “shackles of ‘Left’ mistakes.”

Reading this, I am struck by the mixed messaging that’s going on in public discourse. It would be fascinating to see how these things are interpreted and what action they lead to at the grassroots level. The central leadership wants loyalty and conformity, yet it talks about respecting diversity; it wants to remind people to seek truth from facts and experiment, yet it emphasises redness and acts to enhance Party control over capital There are so many messages that are at cross-purposes that are being sent.

Next, a piece by Chai Fangguo, deputy dean of the Central Party History and Documentation Research Institute. Chai writes about the recent Politburo study session (you can read about it in my weekly Eye on China here), in which Xi spoke about the “revolutionary spirit” and the red bloodline of the Party being a source of spiritual strength. Chai’s piece reiterates the need to “carry forward the red tradition, inherit the red gene, make good use of red resources, continue the red bloodline, and muster the spirit of marching into a new journey and a new era.” 我们要认真学习、深入领会,大力发扬红色传统、传承红色基因,用好红色资源、赓续红色血脉,鼓起迈进新征程、奋进新时代的精气神.

Page 14: A piece about foreigners “positively assessing” China’s “democracy.” So much for not needing external validation.