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Xi Thought on Rule of Law - Trade Data - Ma Jiantang on Common Prosperity's Policy Implications - Superiority of the Chinese System
Here are the stories and pieces from the November 10, 2021, edition of the People’s Daily that I found noteworthy.
Page 1: After days of intense Xi-focussed articles, we’re back to a somewhat normal edition of the paper. That said, let’s begin with a long piece summarising study and implementation of Xi Thought on Rule of Law. We are told that Xi thought is “rooted in the fertile soil of the practice of socialist rule of law.” And under this, there has been “significant progress in comprehensively promoting the rule of law in China” and “the socialist rule of law system with Chinese characteristics has been steadily improved.”
We are told that Xi has talked about the importance of actively getting in place legislation in important areas, such as “national security, scientific and technological innovation, public health, bio-safety, ecological civilisation, risk prevention, foreign-related rule of law, etc., and improve the legal system urgently needed by national governance and the legal system necessary to meet the people's growing needs for a better life…” 习近平总书记指出，要积极推进国家安全、科技创新、公共卫生、生物安全、生态文明、防范风险、涉外法治等重要领域立法，健全国家治理急需的法律制度、满足人民日益增长的美好生活需要必备的法律制度，以良法善治保障新业态新模式健康发展.
The piece then offers the new Personal Information Protection Law as an example of this legislative work to safeguard people’s rights and interests. We are told that the “Central Committee, with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, attaches great importance to legislative work. It views consolidating legislation as a prerequisite and foundation for establishing comprehensive rule of law. Legislative work and developing the socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics is also seen as critical to the process of promoting the modernisation of the national governance system and enhancing governance capacity. 以习近平同志为核心的党中央高度重视立法工作，夯实立法这一全面依法治国的前提和基础，立法覆盖广、数量多、节奏快、要求高，以宪法为核心、与推进国家治理体系和治理能力现代化进程相适应的中国特色社会主义法律体系不断发展完善.
The piece then talks about a bunch of different laws that have been passed, including the data security law, national defense law, law on protection of military installations, laws related to education, disaster management, foreign investment law, traffic safety law etc. Basically the idea is that there has been an effort to legislate, amend and adapt regulations across key areas. So, as of today, there are “286 laws in effect in China, and the socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics, with the Constitution as the core, is becoming increasingly perfect, providing strong legal support for promoting the development of a vibrant and orderly society” -- those last two adjectives are useful to dwell upon as sort of the ultimate goals underpinning legislative work. 截至目前，我国现行有效的法律有286部，以宪法为核心的中国特色社会主义法律体系日趋完善，为推动形成既生机勃勃又井然有序的良好社会局面提供了有力法律支撑.
Then we get this:
General Secretary Xi Jinping has stressed that the building of a law-based government is a major task. We should take the lead in making breakthroughs, use the rule of law to set rules and draw boundaries for administrative power, standardise administrative decision-making procedures, and speed up the transformation of government functions. We will promote strict, standardised, fair and civilised law enforcement and improve judicial credibility.” 习近平总书记强调，法治政府建设是重点任务和主体工程，要率先突破，用法治给行政权力定规矩、划界限，规范行政决策程序，加快转变政府职能。要推进严格规范公正文明执法，提高司法公信力. - A lot of the piece after this is to offer examples of the changes that have been made to meet these ends.
For instance, the piece commits to vigorously implement the notification commitment system for certificates and licenses in relation to domains that are not directly related to national security, public safety and personal health. And says that for “matters closely related to people’s production and lives, they are no longer required to submit ‘certificates’; rather they can hand in ‘written pledges/commitments.’ This was done last year, from what I gather. 聚焦企业和群众办事创业的堵点、痛点，对不直接涉及国家安全、公共安全、人身健康等证明事项，大力推行告知承诺制。特别是在户籍管理、市场主体准营等与群众生产生活关系密切、使用频率比较高的领域，告知承诺制正抓紧落实. 不要证明要承诺。一系列与群众生产生活密切相关的事项，不用再提交“证明”，而是通过签署“书面承诺”办理，群众和企业办事创业更为方便，获得感和幸福感进一步增强.
It also talks about putting power in a cage, the use of the Administrative Punishments Law, judicial impartiality, diversified dispute resolution solutions, public interest litigation, etc. For PILs, the example given is of a case about standardised packaging of food deliveries. It just sounds like the most innocuous thing in the world for courts to be concerned about.
The next bit talks about “human rights” and providing support for people charged with crimes to defend themselves in court. The example given is the appointment of a defense lawyer for someone accused of theft. Eventually, the fellow was acquitted. We are told that as of now “2,660 county-level administrative regions in China have carried out pilot work related to criminal defense matters. Twenty-five provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government, including Beijing, have implemented trials in all county-level administrative areas. 截至目前，我国共有2660个县级行政区域开展了刑辩全覆盖试点工作。其中，北京等25个省区市实现县级行政区域试点全覆盖.
We are then told that there will be efforts to “improve the education of political and legal personnel” with the aim of “forging an iron force that is loyal, clean and responsible.” It talks about the rectification campaign of the political and legal apparatus that was launched in February. (First round data on the campaign). So far, we are told that the campaign has covered around 3 million political and legal officers. Some of the issues addressed, as the report says, are unfair law enforcement, failure to take responsibility, identification and removal of black sheep, etc.
Linked to this, on Page 9, we have comments from different officials on the study and implementation of Xi Thought on Rule of Law:
Jiang Jianguo, Deputy Director of the Propaganda Department, offered fulsome praise for Xi. He said that “the historic changes and achievements in China’s socialist rule of law in the new era are fundamentally due to the scientific guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, especially Xi Jinping Thought on the Rule of Law.” 新时代我国社会主义法治建设之所以发生历史性变革、取得历史性成就，根本在于有习近平新时代中国特色社会主义思想特别是习近平法治思想的科学指引. He also talked about the work done to interpret and publicise Xi thought through research, publications, the news media and in textbooks and classrooms.
Qin Yizhi, Deputy Director at SAMR, said that his department has taken the study and implementation of Xi Jinping Thought on Rule of Law, as the primary political task when it comes to market regulation and rule of law development. He promised to “strengthen law enforcement and oversight to ensure fair market competition,” and “firmly follow the people-centered law enforcement philosophy.”
Qi Jing, member of the Standing Committee of the Beijing Municipal Committee, says that Xi Thought is the ideological banner guiding the comprehensive rule of law in the new era.
Zhang Wenxian, Deputy Director of Xi Jinping Law Thought Research Center, said that Xi thought on rule of law contains profound political, legal and academic principles/logic/theory. 习近平法治思想蕴涵着深刻的政理、深邃的法理、深厚的学理.
Then there are comments from Shanghai, Zhejiang, Guangdong and Sichuan party committees
China’s imports and exports reached 31.67 trillion yuan in the first 10 months this year, an increase of 22.2 percent year-on-year and exceeding the level prior to the pandemic, rising 23.4 percent over the same period of 2019. In dollar terms, China’s total import and export value in the first 10 months of this year reached $4.89 trillion, an increase of 31.9 percent compared with the same period last year, and 30.7 percent over the corresponding period of 2019. Among them, exports were $2.7 trillion, a year-on-year increase of 32.3 percent, while imports reached $2.19 trillion, a 31.4 percent increase year-on-year.
China’s imports and exports to major trading partners such as ASEAN, the EU and the US all witnessed a significant increase in the first 10 months of 2021.
ASEAN maintained the position of being China’s largest trading partner, with a trade value hitting 4.55 trillion yuan, an increase of 20.4 percent.
The EU, as China’s second largest trading partner, recorded a total bilateral trade value of 4.34 trillion yuan, an increase of 20.4 percent.
The increase of the trade volume between China and the US was the strongest among the top three trading partners, with the total value at 3.95 trillion yuan, an increase of 23.4 percent.
During the same period, China’s total imports and exports to countries along the ‘Belt and Road’ reached: 9.3 trillion yuan, a 23 percent increase year-on-year.
Also, trade volume between China and India reached $102.29 billion, exceeding the milestone of $100 billion for the first time in 2021 - (not mentioned in PD).
Page 2: Just one report to note. It says that as per the NDRC, daily coal output has reached 11.93 million tons, the highest in recent years. Also, coal supply to power plants has continued to exceed consumption, which has eased prices. This English report has the other details.
It also says that the NDRC “has again urged enterprises to sign contracts of coal and electricity of medium- and long-term of the fourth quarter in 2021, in order to coordinate with the major coal-producing provinces including North China’s Shanxi and Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region to implement a new coal source of 150 million tons. As of November 6, the coverage of the contracts in all provinces and municipalities exceeded 90 percent, of which 24 provinces and municipalities reached 100 percent.”
Page 3: There was nothing that I found particularly interesting on the page. But some stories that are useful to note are:
Wang said that “China opposes some countries flexing their muscles for maritime hegemony, and ganging up to form military cliques at sea and continuously infringing upon the rightful and lawful rights and interests of other countries...All nations should unite to hold high the banner of multilateralism, safeguard the international system with the UN at its core and safeguard the maritime order based on international law. Wang urged dialogue and consultation to jointly promote maritime peace. For thousands of years, the Chinese people have spread friendship through oceans and have never been involved in aggression or expansion. Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the country has always been committed to respecting the legitimate maritime interests of all parties, bridging differences through dialogue and resolving disputes through negotiation...He said China and ASEAN countries are actively committed to the comprehensive and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), and advance consultations on a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea. ‘Both sides should strive for an early conclusion of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, so as to build it into a sea of peace, friendship and cooperation’...It is necessary to adhere to the principle of shared benefits and common governance, promote maritime interconnection, promote free trade, maintain the stability and smoothness of maritime transportation and industrial chain, and build an open world economy of higher standards through open and integrated oceans, Wang said. ‘China will work with other countries to fully implement the global development initiative, advance the building of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and the Partnership on Blue Economy, speed up maritime connectivity and actively build platforms for maritime cooperation, so as to inject new vitality into world economic recovery’, Wang added.”
Page 11: On the Theory page, the lead piece is by the Party Group of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress. This broadly talks about whole-process democracy and the work of people’s congresses. The basic idea is that these are critical to the Chinese democratic system, are rooted to China’s national conditions; the system needs strengthening and innovation but it must be adhered to, instead of copying Western models.
The idea also is that the system has distinct advantages and has yielded the “two miracles.” It adds that the state and system of governance of China - 中国之治 - compared to the “chaos in the west” - 西方之乱 - amply demonstrates the superiority of the “socialist path of political development with Chinese characteristics.” 我们党领导人民创造了经济快速发展和社会长期稳定“两大奇迹”，“中国之治”和“西方之乱”形成鲜明对比，充分展现了中国特色社会主义政治发展道路的巨大优越性.
It is also important, the piece warns, to be clear-headed and never abandon the fundamental political system of China or pursue Western-style “so-called ‘constitutionalism’, multi-party election, separation of powers, bicameral system and judicial independence.” 我们要始终保持头脑清醒、旗帜鲜明，始终坚持中国特色社会主义政治发展道路的方向不变、立场不变、决心不变、步伐不变，绝不能放弃中国政治制度的根本，绝不走西方所谓“宪政”、多党竞选、三权鼎立、两院制、司法独立的路子.
Page 13: We have a piece by Ma Jiantang, Secretary of the Party Leadership Group of the Development Research Center of the State Council. He says that after achieving Xiaokang, and now on the road to fully build a modern socialist country, the goal is shifting towards high-quality development, with common prosperity being key. He talks about the need to “fully and accurately understand” the concept of common prosperity “and implement it in a comprehensive and systematic way.”
He talks about adhering to the two unwavering. This entails maintaining the main role of the public sector, but also calls to “unswervingly encourage, support and guide the development of the non-public sector, and give full play to the role of the private sector in creating wealth, providing employment and promoting innovation and entrepreneurship.” He then emphasises that development retains “top priority,” but calls to “make more tangible progress in promoting common prosperity through high-quality development, and provide inexhaustible driving force for high-quality development through optimisation of income distribution.” 毫不动摇鼓励、支持、引导非公有制经济发展，发挥好民营经济在创造财富、提供就业、推动创新创业中的生力军作用。要坚持发展是第一要务，在高质量发展中推动共同富裕取得更为明显的实质性进展，通过收入分配的优化为高质量发展提供不竭动力.
While multiple modes of distribution will exist, “distribution according to work” remains dominant. He then talks about:
Improving wage determination mechanism; adjusting the minimum wage standard in a timely manner, and actively and steadily implementing collective wage negotiation.
Improving the compensation system for scientific and technological innovation talents based on their actual contributions.
Expanding the channels for increasing household income such as rent, dividends and bonuses.
Protecting legitimate investor rights, particularly for small and medium-sized investors. We will increase the value-added income, equity income and asset income shared by farmers collectively and individually through multiple channels.
Enhancing “value-added income, equity income, and asset income” of farmers.
He then talks about tax changes and precision transfers, with the aim being to ease the gap in primary income distribution and addressing the intergenerational transmission of the wealth gap (贫富差距代际传递). He also talks about easing the tax burden on people who fall in the lower middle-income bracket. -- I struggled with the translation of the highlighted bit, but if I’ve understood this correctly, I wonder if this means that some sort of inheritance tax is in the works? 加大税收、转移支付调节力度和精准性，平抑初次收入分配差距和贫富差距代际传递。健全直接税体系，完善综合与分类相结合的个人所得税制度，减轻中等以下收入者税收负担。优化财政支出结构，提升民生性支出比重。转移支付项目更加精准向困难地区和突出问题、薄弱环节集中发力.
The next paragraph talks about tertiary distribution, encouraging qualified enterprises, individuals, and social organizations to run public welfare programs, improving preferential tax policies for charitable donations, and greater subsidies for vulnerable groups like the elderly, disabled people, etc.
He then says that it is important to “effectively curb profits from non-market factors, and strictly implement wage control policies for state-owned and state-holding enterprises in some excessively high income industries.” He talks about cleaning up and standardizing non-wage income, and regulating consumption on official duties and expenditures on administrative and official duties, along with banning illegal income and cracking down on economic crimes. A social credit system and income information monitoring system will be established.有效抑制通过非市场因素获利，对部分过高收入行业的国有及国有控股企业严格实行工资调控政策。清理规范工资外收入，规范职务消费和行政公务支出。坚决取缔非法收入，严厉打击经济犯罪活动。建立健全社会信用体系和收入信息监测系统.
In the next paragraph, he talks about addressing the social security gap. This in part implies including rural migrant workers, people with flexible employment and other new forms of employment in the social security system, and improving social assistance related policies. Ma backs the real estate tax pilots and talks about houses being for living and not speculation. He says that policies will “encourage surplus housing to be rented” and the aim will be to “increase the utilization rate of existing housing resources.” Also, the government will “strengthen construction of affordable housing, standardize the housing rental market and strengthen protection of the rights and interests related to rental housing.” The next paragraph talks about improving access to medical services and insurance. This also includes calls to boost telemedicine and have better early warning systems, etc. He then talks about involving people in governance, along with developing “new mechanisms for preventing and giving early warning of social problems” so that these can be addressed at the source.
On education, Ma talks about promoting “equity in education.” This entails expansion of urban schools and improving policies and measures to allow children of rural migrant workers living in cities to take local high school exams and enroll in local schools. It also talks about potentially experimenting with “free vocational education.” It also entails “optimising the distribution of regional higher education resources.”
The next two paragraphs are about the cultural dimension of common prosperity. Didn’t find anything particularly interesting in them. Finally, Ma reiterates that “common prosperity is not simultaneous prosperity” of all. He says that going ahead:
Common prosperity will be integrated into the coordinated development strategy of different regions. So the well-off regions will support the not well off ones. 一是将促进共同富裕融入区域协调发展战略，发挥先富带动后富效应. The Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, the Yangtze River Delta, and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area will be playing an exemplary role in promoting common prosperity.
Common prosperity will be integrated into the rural vitalisation strategy to consolidate the achievements made in poverty alleviation.
Common prosperity will be integrated into new urbanisation work. In this regard, he talks about reforming the household registration system. He talks about full coverage for all permanent urban residents when it comes to basic public services, and improving the quality of granting permanent urban residency to rural migrants (协同推进户籍制度改革和城镇基本公共服务常住人口全覆盖，提高农业转移人口市民化质量.). He also talks about planning and development being done in accordance with the needs of permanent residents in cities.