Xi Thought Center on Ecology - Xi Talks to Greek and Czech Leaders - State Council on Medical Insurance, Workers Rights and Real Economy - 'Ironclad' Ties with Pak - Party's 'Spiritual Construction'

Here are the stories and pieces from the July 8, 2021, edition of the People’s Daily that I found noteworthy.

Page 1: First up today, Xi Jinping’s conversations with Czech President Milos Zeman and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis

Xinhua English tells us that Xi “highly appreciates the fact that Zeman has for years been committed to approaching China-Czech relations from an overall and long-term perspective.” He also “hopes that more people on the Czech side will have a correct view of China and its development.”

Xi mentioned BRI, pandemic-related cooperation, trade and investment. He also added that he hopes “the Czech side will play a positive role in facilitating dialogue and cooperation for win-win results between China and Europe.” Zeman said that the “Czech Republic is willing to serve as a link between the European Union and China, he said, wishing the Beijing Winter Olympics a success.”

On the other hand, Xinhua English says that Mitsotakis told Xi that the CCP’s success had “changed not only the future of China, but also the trajectory of the world's development.” He also called China’s poverty alleviation effort a “miracle.” Xi told Mitsotakis that “China and Greece are both ancient civilizations, and have both experienced a mixed development process of tribulation and greatness...the two countries also share similar ideas about the advance of human civilization and the transformation of international order.” 

He would like the two slides to show “mutual understanding and mutual support on issues concerning their respective core interests and major concerns.” Xi spoke about BRI and working through the CEEC framework. Xi added “It serves the interests of both sides and follows the trend of the times for China and Europe to conduct dialogue and deepen cooperation in the spirit of mutual respect, seeking common ground while reserving differences, as well as openness and mutual benefit.”

Also note that Mitsotakis wished Xi success for the 2022 Olympics; some other reports have said that he also accepted an invitation to attend the Games.

Next, there’s a report about the State Council’s weekly meeting. There are three big agenda items that the PD report talks about. 

First, it talks about expanding medical insurance coverage. This includes focusing on the floating population such as migrant workers, and accelerating the settlement of hospitalization and outpatient expenses. One of the key points here is improving inter-provincial settlement services. The piece also talks about optimising procedures with regard to medical insurance and enhancing supervision to crackdown on fraudulent and illegal activities.

Second, the piece then talks about (English report on this) protecting the rights and interests of workers engaged in new forms of employment, to boost flexible employment, create jobs and increase incomes. The story says that enterprises should pay remuneration in full and on time, and refrain from setting any evaluation criteria that endanger workers' safety and health. Also note this: “Platform enterprises were urged to solicit opinions from worker representatives when formulating or adjusting the rules and algorithms on order distribution, commission rate, among others, and make the results public. No unlawful restrictions shall be imposed that prohibit workers from taking jobs on multiple platforms.” 

This is also noteworthy:

“Occupational injury insurance for the flexibly employed will be piloted, with ride-hailing, food delivery and instant delivery as the priority. Vocational skills training models tailored to new forms of employment will be developed, and subsidies will be provided to eligible workers participating in such training programs. The household registration restrictions will be lifted for the flexibly employed to enroll in basic pension and medical insurance schemes in places where they work.

Finally, the story talks about supporting enterprises amid rising commodity prices (Bloomberg’s story on this). The story says that “it is necessary to maintain the stability and enhance the effectiveness of monetary policy.” This calls for the use of tools such as timely RRR cuts to further strengthen financial support for the real economy, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises, and promote the steady decline of comprehensive financing costs. 会议决定,针对大宗商品价格上涨对企业生产经营的影响,要在坚持不搞大水漫灌的基础上,保持货币政策稳定性、增强有效性,适时运用降准等货币政策工具,进一步加强金融对实体经济特别是中小微企业的支持,促进综合融资成本稳中有降. 

The story also talks about the need to “establish monetary policy tools to support carbon emission reduction, support the development of clean energy, energy conservation and environmental protection.” It tells us that “in July this year, the national carbon emission trading market for the power generation industry will be launched for online trading.”

Although it’s not covered in PD, I am also highlighting here the meeting of the financial stability and development committee under the State Council that was held on Tuesday. Liu He led this, the 53rd, meeting of the committee. 

Xinhua English tells us that the meeting “underscored intensifying research and strengthening policy reserves on major tasks.” These include:

  • establishing a modern central banking system, 

  • improving the financial regulatory system, 

  • deepening the reform of financial institutions, 

  • optimizing the structure of financial organizations, 

  • strengthening the development of financial infrastructure, 

  • improving the mechanism for preventing, controlling and handling financial risks, 

  • developing inclusive finance, green finance and digital finance, 

  • building a capital market with Chinese characteristics, and 

  • promoting a virtuous cycle in finance, science and technology, and industry.

It also noted the progress made in reforming “policy-based financial institutions,” adding that “efforts should also be made to give full play to the important role of policy-based financial institutions in serving the real economy and the national strategy.”

Next, Li Zhanshu spoke to Saqr Ghubash, speaker of the Federal National Council of the United Arab Emirates. Li had a very positive outlook for the relationship. He said that between the two sides “political mutual trust has been continuously deepened, the economic and trade cooperation has achieved fruitful results, and the people-to-people exchanges have become closer.”

Xinhua English tells us:

“Li noted that, in accordance with the important consensus reached by the top leaders of the two countries, China and the UAE should continuously enhance strategic communication as well as the synergy of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the UAE's 50-year national development plan. The two sides should strengthen mutual political support, firmly support each other's core interests and major concerns, jointly safeguard the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and the basic norms of international relations, and jointly safeguard the fundamental and long-term interests of developing countries.” 

Next, the CPPCC National Committee met in Beijing to discuss improving social assistance through legislation. They spoke about adapting the social assistance system “to the new development stage of the new era” following the alleviation of poverty. The focus was on diversified social assistance services, including daily care and psychological counseling, simplification of social assistance procedures, and tightened oversight of assistance funds.

We today have a story about Xi Jinping’s love for relics and cultural heritage; this emphasises the importance of archeology and relics in “understanding of the long history and precious value of Chinese civilization.”

Page 2: First, a story about how Xi’s speech has been received by PLA. It tells us that the “majority of officers and soldiers said that they must thoroughly study and implement the spirit of Chairman Xi’s important speech, keep in mind the original mission, inherit the red gene, and take on the responsibility of strengthening the army...”

The first point here, of course, is upholding the Party’s leadership over the army. The story informs that:

“Party committees at all levels in various departments and major units of the Military Commission organized special sessions to study President Xi's important speech verbatim. We all feel more deeply that with the Communist Party of China’s strong leadership, the people's army will have direction and strength to advance, and we must firmly adhere to the party's absolute leadership over the army, and regard this as the soul that the people's army can never change and the lifeblood that can never be lost.在军委机关各部门和各大单位,各级党委组织专题学习,原原本本、逐字逐句研读习主席重要讲话. 大家更加深切感到,有了中国共产党,有了中国共产党的坚强领导,人民军队前进就有方向、有力量,必须牢牢坚持党对军队的绝对领导,把这一条当作人民军队永远不能变的军魂、永远不能丢的命根子.

There’s also a lot of discussion about the role of technology in the armed forces. For instance, here’s Qian Qihu, academician at the Chinese Academy of Engineering and professor of the Army University of Engineering. Qian has also won the country's highest science and technology award. He said that:

“he would lead his team to target the frontiers of military science and technology, strengthen forward-looking planning and design, accelerate the development of strategic, cutting-edge and disruptive technologies, and provide intellectual support and scientific and technological support to accelerate the modernization of national defense and military.” 他表示,要带领团队瞄准世界军事科技前沿,加强前瞻谋划设计,加快战略性、前沿性、颠覆性技术发展,为加快国防和军队现代化提供智力支持、科技支撑.

Also on the page we have a commentary drawing from Xi’s speech. It says that it is important to “deeply realize that the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics is the only way to achieve socialist modernization and the only way to guide the Chinese people to create their own better life.” The idea here is that the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics has undergone evolution and is also the “inevitable result of historical development.” It also tells us that:

“The system of socialism with Chinese characteristics is the fundamental institutional guarantee for the development and progress of contemporary China, and it is an advanced system with distinct Chinese characteristics, with obvious institutional advantages and strong capacity for self-improvement; socialist culture with Chinese characteristics also accumulates the deepest spiritual pursuit of the Chinese nation, represents the unique spiritual symbol of the Chinese nation, and is a powerful spiritual force for the Chinese people to advance triumphantly.” 习近平总书记指出:“我们坚持和发展中国特色社会主义,推动物质文明、政治文明、精神文明、社会文明、生态文明协调发展,创造了中国式现代化新道路,创造了人类文明新形态。”我们深刻认识到,中国特色社会主义道路是实现社会主义现代化的必由之路,是指引中国人民创造自己美好生活的必由之路;中国特色社会主义理论体系是指导党和人民沿着中国特色社会主义道路实现中华民族伟大复兴的正确理论,是立于时代前沿、与时俱进的科学理论;中国特色社会主义制度是当代中国发展进步的根本制度保障,是具有鲜明中国特色、明显制度优势、强大自我完善能力的先进制度;中国特色社会主义文化积淀着中华民族最深层的精神追求,代表着中华民族独特的精神标识,是中国人民胜利前行的强大精神力量. 

Page 3: First, let’s begin with Wang Yi’s comments (English report) marking the 70th anniversary of China-Pakistan ties. He said that the two sides had “fostered a unique ‘iron-clad friendship’, a rock-firm mutual political trust, and a most valuable strategic asset.” He added that as “all-weather strategic partners,” they need to “accelerate building a closer community with a shared future in the new era more than ever before.” He spoke about COVID-19, CPEC, jointly safeguarding regional peace, and practicing “real multilateralism.” Wang 

“No matter how the international landscape shifts, China will always stand side by side with Pakistan and staunchly support it in safeguarding national independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity, and in blazing a development path suited to Pakistan's national realities to realize the grand vision of ‘new Pakistan,’ Wang added.”

Second, there’s a joint proposal/declaration of sorts (English version) after the World Political Parties summit that was held this week. Here are some of the key points:

  • We propose that political parties of all countries be committed to building consensus on values. Efforts must be devoted to promoting values shared by all mankind, i.e., peace, development, fairness, justice, democracy and freedom. The historical trend towards greater democracy in international relations must be followed and multilateralism must be upheld so that relations are based on common ground, mutual respect and mutual learning.

  • Proactive measures must be taken to implement the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, to dovetail development strategies, coordinate macroeconomic policies, and strengthen global cooperation on technological innovation, and to promote the sharing of knowledge and technologies...The multilateral trading system with the World Trade Organisation playing a central role must be safeguarded to promote liberalisation and facilitation of trade and investment.

  • Active support must be provided to developing countries in the form of, among others, capital, technology and capacity building so that combined strength can be built up to address climate change, marine pollution, biological conservation and other global environmental issues.

  • Science and cooperation must be identified as the reliable means to defeat the virus and extricate ourselves from diseases. Politicisation of the pandemic and stigmatisation of the virus must be opposed. Developing countries with vulnerable public health systems must get necessary assistance to enhance their response capacity.

  • The principles of equality, respect, openness and inclusiveness must be observed to rise above differences among civilisations and ideologies for the protection of diversity of world civilisations.

  • Redoubled efforts must be taken to combat corruption, enhance international anti-corruption cooperation and promote the building of clean and competent governments. Various measures must be adopted to improve conditions for the development of the poor, including fiscal and financial policies, education and training and industry-specific support. Hence, poverty alleviation will become more self-driven, well-targeted and results-oriented.

  • Adequate attention must be paid to address challenges for party-building brought about by the wave of digitisation and IT application by enhancing experience sharing and cooperation on governance and constantly exploring effective ways to improve party-building under the new circumstances. (Wonder what this means in practice)

  • Joint efforts are needed to safeguard the UN-centred international system, preserve the international order underpinned by international law, and to uphold the basic norms governing international relations based on the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. The status and role of international law in the global governance system must be elevated. International rules must be effectively observed and practiced so that the rule of law is exercised in the international domain. Joint efforts must be devoted to exploring the establishment of policy and institution systems that are tailored to the new technological revolution and industrial transformation so that technological innovations can be accessible to, shared and utilised by more countries and their people.

Next we have a report about Wei Fenghe speaking to German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer. PD informs that Wei said that “it is hoped that Germany will continue to work with China to uphold multilateralism and jointly safeguard international fairness and justice. Both sides should plan for long-term cooperation between the two militaries and promote stable and long-term relations between the two militaries. Both China and Germany should attach importance to each other's interests and concerns and jointly maintain regional and world peace and stability.”

Reuters reports that according to the German Defense Ministry, Kramp-Karrenbauer used the video conference to remind Wei of the importance of upholding a 2016 arbitration decision that limited China’s claims in the South China Sea. She spoke about the upcoming deployment of a German frigate in sea and also raised human rights questions and the situation of China's Uighur minority.

Finally, a piece about foreign analysts and specialists appreciating China’s economic development.

Page 4: First a report telling us that a new Xi Jinping Thought research center on ecological progress has been established under the Ministry of Ecology and Environment. Xinhua says that this is a “major strategic move to encourage all Party members and the whole society to thoroughly study and implement Xi's thought on ecological progress.” The meeting called for scientific planning, high-standard design, efficient leadership and work mechanism for the center, and stressed efforts to form a team of high-end experts to lead the study, research and publicity of the Party's innovative theory.

The meeting also emphasised that it is important to “continuously improve political judgment, political understanding and political execution, adhere to the guidance of Xi Jinping's new era of socialism with Chinese characteristics, strengthen political guidance, organizational leadership and business guidance...”

Next, a report telling us about Cai Qi leading a ceremony in Beijing to mark the 84th anniversary of the beginning of the war against Japan. 

Then we have a story about (English report) Bainqen Erdini Qoigyijabu, the Panchen Lama, paying “tribute to the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China.” Xinhua tells us that “Meng Xiangfeng, deputy director of the General Office of the CPC Central Committee, received the gifts. Meng extended sincere greetings to the Panchen Lama and friends of the Tibetan Buddhist circle. The Panchen Lama said he will unswervingly uphold the leadership of the CPC and the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at the core.” None of this is unexpected, but I do find it odd that on Xinhua English’s website this was included in the “China & World” section, which essentially covers Beijing’s foreign engagement.

Page 7: Just two reports on the page

to note. First, a briefing on the State Council’s opinions on accelerating the development of affordable rental housing. The focus here is on the youth and migrants, from what I understand. 

Second, a report that informs us that in the first half of 2021, 18.71 million motor vehicles were newly registered nationwide, an increase of 4.57 million compared with the same period in 2020. Among these, 1.103 million new energy vehicles have been registered, an increase of 774,000 or 234.92% compared with the same period in 2020.

Page 11: The only story I found noteworthy on the page was about HK marking the anniversary of the national security law. The story begins with fences being dismantled in Mong Kok and how that’s led to online discussion. It basically says that “over the past year, the effective implementation of the Hong Kong National Security Law has formed a powerful deterrent against the anti-China forces in Hong Kong. Street violence is no longer rampant, peace has returned to society, and Hong Kong has achieved a major transition from chaos to governance.” 一年来,香港国安法的有效实施,对反中乱港势力形成有力震慑。街头暴力不再肆虐,社会重回安宁,香港实现由乱及治的重大转折. 

This narrative is important to note because this has been an interesting week in the city. First, HKFP reported that it was confirmed that Hong Kong’s newly-appointed number two official, John Lee, will now lead a new government body for reviewing the eligibility of poll hopefuls. The committee will consist of three official members nominated by Carrie Lam, including the new Secretary for Security and former police chief Chris Tang, Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Erick Tsang and Secretary for Home Affairs Caspar Tsui. Three pro-Beijing figures – ex-justice minister Elsie Leung, former Legislative Council (LegCo) president Rita Fan and former president of the Chinese University Lawrence Lau Juen-yee – will also join the committee as non-official members.

Second, we had a suicide attack on a police officer in HK on July 1. WSJ reported that a 50-year-old man dressed in gray pulled a knife out of his pocket and stabbed an officer in the back. As the officer staggered toward colleagues, the assailant stabbed himself in the heart and collapsed as officers rushed to subdue him. He died a short time later. The report adds that the 28-year-old policeman survived and is recovering from a deep cut and a punctured lung. Authorities have called his attacker a domestic terrorist and warned against glorifying an act of violence. And third, AP reports that nine people, including six secondary school students, were arrested in Hong Kong on Tuesday for allegedly plotting to set off homemade bombs in courts, tunnels and trash cans. Police said they were detained on suspicion of engaging in terrorist activity under the national security law.

Page 9: On the Theory page today, the lead piece is by Qu Qingshan, Dean of the Research Institute of Party History and Literature. I must say, he has been rather prolific in terms of his appearance in PD. Anyway, he tells us that Xi’s July 1 speech is “of great practical significance and far-reaching historical significance” in order to “carry forward the great party building spirit, (and) advance the great new project of party building.” 

Qu repeats that the two main historical tasks that the Party has were to “strive for national independence, the liberation of the people, and to realize the prosperity of the country and the happiness of the people.” He then rhetorically asks: “What is the mainstream and essence of the history of the Chinese Communist Party? It is the history of unremitting struggle, the history of sacrifice, the history of theoretical exploration, the history of benefiting the people, and the history of self-construction.” 中国共产党历史的主流和本质是什么? 就是不懈奋斗史、不怕牺牲史、理论探索史、为民造福史、自身建设史. He then elaborates on these themes, reiterating the sense of victimhood and the three-phase history of the PRC of standing up, growing rich and becoming strong.

He then talks about the Party’s “spiritual construction” over the decades; in this he refers to many of the “spirits” that have been identified. We’ve read this stuff before, if you’ve followed the centenary propaganda campaign. But I’ll put them all down here in one place for anyone who may be interested. (If you come back to this post on Sunday, I’ll try to make sure that most of these are hyperlinked to provide explanations of what they refer to.) So he talks about the different spirits that were the legacies of different periods.

First, during the New Democratic Revolution period, we had:

  • the spirit of Jinggang Mountain, 

  • the spirit of the Gutian Conference, 

  • the spirit of the Soviet area, 

  • the spirit of the Long March, 

  • the spirit of the Zunyi Conference, 

  • the spirit of the Northeast Anti-Japanese Alliance, 

  • the Yan'an spirit, 

  • the spirit of the Great War of Resistance, 

  • the spirit of Taihang, 

  • the spirit of Luliang, 

  • the spirit of Hongyan, and 

  • the spirit of Yimeng, 

  • the Xibaipo spirit

Then during the period of socialist revolution and construction, we had:

  • the spirit of resisting the US and aiding Korea, 

  • the spirit of the Great Northern Wilderness, 

  • the spirit of Hongqiqu, 

  • the spirit of Daqing,

  • the spirit of Lei Feng, 

  • the spirit of Jiao Yulu,

  • the spirit of Wang Jie, 

  • the spirit of ‘two bombs and one satellite’.

During reform and opening up and socialist modernization period, we have:

  • the spirit of reform and opening up, 

  • the spirit of the special zone, 

  • the spirit of women’s volleyball, 

  • the spirit of fighting floods, 

  • the spirit of fighting SARS, 

  • the spirit of manned spaceflight,

  • the spirit of earthquake relief, and 

  • the spirit of the Beijing Olympics

In the new era, we have:

  • the Saihanba spirit

  • the spirit of labor, 

  • the spirit of model workers, 

  • the spirit of craftsmanship, 

  • the spirit of exploring the moon, 

  • the Beidou spirit, 

  • the spirit of fighting the pandemic, 

  • the spirit of poverty alleviation.

Basically, Qu’s making the argument that keeping in mind these achievements as the Party’s spiritual wealth is key to party-building going ahead. There’s a whole list of qualities that he puts forward in terms of requirements from Party members. The broad point is that the Party needs members to have these exemplary qualities because there are major challenges ahead.

“In order to better cope with all kinds of foreseeable and unpredictable risks and challenges on the road ahead, we must carry forward the great spirit of party building, dare to fight and win...win new victories in the struggle, and constantly open up new prospects in our cause.” 要更好应对前进道路上各种可以预见和难以预见的风险挑战,我们必须弘扬伟大建党精神,敢于斗争、敢于胜利,坚决顶起自己该顶的那片天,不断取得斗争新胜利,不断打开事业新局面.