Xiaokang Timeline - Population Policy of 'Strategic Importance' - Zhong Sheng: Biden's Policy = Trump's Policy - Persisting in Social Revolution

Here are the stories and pieces from the July 28, 2021, edition of the People’s Daily that I found noteworthy.

Page 1: Today’s front page carries what will be the first in a series of articles providing a mid-year review of the Chinese economy. This is essentially an exercise in positive narrative building. The piece begins by telling us that the period marking the beginning of the 14 FYP has seen a series of  快乐的事件 “happy events.” What’s mentioned is the Mars rover Zhurong, the Shenzhou mission, the third-generation nuclear power unit Hualong No. 1 beginning commercial operations, the Baihetan hydropower project, or GDP rising by 12.7% year-on-year. It talks about China’s success in COVID-19 containment and the civil aviation market recovering, and consumption contributing 61.7% to economic growth.

Anyway, a bunch of other metrics are used to make the core argument that:

“Although China’s economy continued to recover steadily in the first half of the year, the recovery process is still facing difficulties and challenges. The number of opportunities and challenges is unprecedented, but overall the opportunities outweigh the challenges. ‘The economy continued to recover steadily in the first half of the year, and the supply and demand cycle was smooth, laying a better foundation for economic operation in the second half of the year.’ Liu Aihua believes that the factors that support further economic recovery and further improvement are accumulating and increasing...While economic fundamentals, supply and demand are improving steadily, macroeconomic policies have maintained necessary support for the real economy, helping enterprises to relieve difficulties and injecting vitality into the market...As long as we unite more closely around the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core, do our best to do our own thing well, and grasp the initiative of future development, we will be able to enhance our survivability, competitiveness, development and sustainability amid all kinds of foreseeable and unpredictable storms and stormy waves…” 尽管上半年中国经济持续稳定恢复,但恢复进程仍面临困难和挑战. 机遇和挑战之大都前所未有,总体上机遇大于挑战. “上半年经济持续稳定恢复,供需循环畅通,为下半年经济运行打下了较好基础。”刘爱华认为,支持经济进一步恢复、进一步向好的因素正在累积增多.宏观政策力度不减,调控工具依然充足. 在经济基本面、供需各方面稳中向好的同时,宏观政策保持了对实体经济的必要支持力度,为企业纾困解难,为市场注入活力. 只要我们更加紧密地团结在以习近平同志为核心的党中央周围,全力办好自己的事,把握未来发展主动权,就一定能在各种可以预见和难以预见的狂风暴雨、惊涛骇浪中,增强我们的生存力、竞争力、发展力、持续力,推动中国经济航船无惧风雨、劈波斩浪、勇往直前.

Next a short report telling us that Xi’s July 1 speech has been translated in minority languages and distributed.

Third, we have a long timeline from the Central Party History and Literature Research Institute, which essentially offers the Party’s narrative on the march to achieve Xiaokang. This covers a period from 1978 to 1995. I’ve done a quick scan of the timeline; too long to read through for the moment. Of course, Zhao Zhiyang or Hu Yaobang do not get mentioned as key actors in the 1980s. It’s basically a list of regulations issued and measures adopted with Deng Xiaoping being the agent of change.

Next, a story about (English version) Li Keqiang calling for easing the burdens of maternity, parenting and education to facilitate the implementation of the third-child policy. Li said that the issues related to the population “are of fundamental, holistic, and strategic importance” to China’s development. He wants governments and authorities at all levels to formulate detailed plans and supporting measures to ensure the implementation of the policy. At the same event, Sun Chunlan said that policymakers should aim to “reduce the cost of marriage, childbirth, upbringing and education as a guarantee, break away from ideological positions, policies and regulations, and institutional mechanisms that affect the long-term balanced development of the population…”

Finally, a report that tells us that the NPC Standing Committee will meet from August 17 to 20. Xinhua English tells us that:

  • lawmakers will review at the session draft laws on personal information protection, supervisors, legal aid, physicians, combating organized crime, family education and land border as well as a draft revision to the military service law. 

  • They will also hear draft revisions to the law on scientific and technological progress, the law on prevention and control of noise pollution, the seed law and the population and family planning law. 

  • Lawmakers will deliberate a draft decision to include more national laws in the list of laws in Annex III to the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and a similar one concerning Annex III to the Basic Law of the Macao Special Administrative Region.

Page 2: We have a report on China’s technological development, which is based on a press conference that was held by the Ministry of Science and Technology, with the minister Wang Zhigang speaking too. Some data points from the piece:

  • Since the 18th Party Congress, basic research investment has grown rapidly, with an average annual growth rate of 16.9%, accounting for more than 6% of R&D investment for the first time.

  • In 2019, the total number of R&D personnel in China was 7,129,300, which was 1.3 times that of 2015. There are 62 R&D personnel for every 10,000 employed people.

  • Enterprise R&D expenditures have accounted for 76.4% of the country’s total.

  • In 2019, 3,450 universities and research institutes signed nearly 420,000 technology contracts, with a contract value of 94 billion yuan.

  • The piece tells us that in 2020, the subsidies and tax exemptions for R&D for enterprises was around 350 billion yuan.

  • There are 275,000 high-tech enterprises and 223,000 small and medium-sized scientific and technological enterprises. The total operating income of high-tech enterprises in 2020 has reached 51.3 trillion yuan.

There’s specific mention of science and technology investments in rural areas; there’s talk about R&D with regard to dealing with pollution; and a focus on investments in healthcare. The ministry is “currently formulating a carbon neutral technology development roadmap.” Finally, on core technologies, the minister Wang Zhigang spoke about supporting the role of “strategic scientific and technological forces, such as national laboratories, national scientific research institutions, high-level research universities, and leading technology companies.” He also talked about focussing on the frontiers when it comes to emerging technologies. Finally, he also spoke about giving more autonomy to scientific research units; he spoke about specific mechanisms for this, which I didn’t quite understand. So if you can shed some light on 揭榜挂帅, 赛马制 and 包干制 it would be really helpful.

Page 3: A bunch of reports to note on the page. First, Wang Yi met with visiting Mongolian Foreign Minister Batmunkh Battsetseg in Tianjin. Xinhua English has the details.

“Wang said China is ready to continue providing Mongolia with necessary help in fighting the epidemic, strengthen cooperation with Mongolia in the fields of mining, energy, finance, agriculture, husbandry and infrastructure construction, and innovate new forms and contents of people-to-people exchanges. Battsetseg expressed the willingness to work with China to enrich the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries. Following the talks, the two foreign ministers jointly met the press, and two sides issued a joint statement on further strengthening anti-epidemic cooperation. The two sides welcomed the WHO-China joint report on the global tracing of COVID-19 origins, stressing that origin-tracing is a scientific work and should not be politicized.”

Interesting outreach in the past couple of weeks towards Mongolia. First, Xi spoke to Mongolian President Ukhnaa Khurelsukh, then Wei Fenghe met with the Defense Minister and now Wang Yi meeting the foreign minister.

Next, we have a report about Wei Fenghe meeting Tajik President Emomali Rahmon. Xinhua English tells us that Rahmon said that “Tajikistan sincerely thanks China for its support and assistance in its military and security sectors, and is willing to work with China to combat the ‘three evil forces’ of terrorism, extremism and separatism, and jointly respond to the evolving situation in Afghanistan.” 

Wei said that “China firmly supports Tajikistan’s efforts to safeguard its sovereignty and security, thanks Tajikistan for its strong support of China's core interests and is willing to work with Tajikistan to promote practical cooperation between the two militaries...He said that as the current situation in Afghanistan evolves, China is willing to strengthen counter-terrorism cooperation with Tajikistan, work together with the country to prevent the spread of terrorist activities across borders, and fight terrorists to make positive contributions to regional peace and stability.”

Third, Chen Xi spoke at the SCO Forum on Governance and Leadership. This event was jointly held by the China National Academy of Governance and the SCO Secretariat. The report says that he basically talked about China’s developmental success. Around 200 representatives from the SCO member states, observer nations, and dialogue partners, as well as international organizations attended the event.

Fourth, we have a Zhong Sheng commentary, which says that the US’ approach to COVID-19 origin tracing shows its “zero-sum” thinking in international relations. 

This is again a direct attack on the Biden administration. It basically says that what Biden’s offering is no different from what Trump brought to the table. It’s old wine in a new bottle. Clearly, there’s a disenchantment with the Biden administration; if there had been some hope in Beijing about being able to reset relations with Washington after Biden’s victory, it seems to have diminished significantly. But of course, there’s an interest in keeping channels of communications open. There are common interests that Zhao Lijian also mentioned in his daily briefing yesterday.

The piece says that while the Biden administration is talking about multilateralism and breaking from Trump’s policies, “in order to maintain American hegemony, the current US administration also does not hesitate to trample on international rules and undermine international cooperation.”

It adds:

“In order to shirk the responsibility for its own failure to fight the pandemic and to divert the American public’s discontentment with the current government’s lack of success in solving many problems such as partisan disputes, social divisions and slow economic recovery, the current U.S. government has fully embarked on the old road of hegemony and bullying that the previous government pursued.” 为推卸自身抗疫失败的责任,为转移国内民众对现政府在解决党争激烈、社会分裂、经济恢复等诸多问题上乏善可陈的不满情绪,美国现政府完全走上了前政府霸权霸道霸凌的老路.

“In order to smear and suppress China, the U.S. is ganging up and planting evidence, without any scientific spirit, and seriously betraying morality.” 为了抹黑打压中国,美国拉帮结派,大搞栽赃陷害,毫无科学精神,严重背弃道义. “The United States is the biggest driver of the politicization of virus traceability, and it does everything to achieve its ulterior political goals.” 美国是病毒溯源政治化的最大推手,为达到其不可告人的政治目的,无所不用其极.

Finally, there’s this piece based on Zhao Lijian’s comments yesterday about American democracy.

“Just look at their so-called ‘democracy’. Some US politicians have been pretentiously portraying their country as a ‘beacon of democracy’. They are obsessed with interfering in other countries’ internal affairs and engaging in ideological infiltration under the guise of democracy, while what they really need to pay attention to is issues with democracy at home!...As an old Chinese saying goes, ‘one who lives under the roof knows it when it leaks; one who lives among the folk knows it when the government policy is wrong.’ Democracy is a common value of all mankind. The key yardstick to judge whether a political system is good or not lies in whether it can bring political stability, social progress and better livelihood, and whether it is endorsed and supported by the people. With numerous problems at home, the US is in no position to impose its so-called model of democracy on others with a condescending air of arrogance and prejudice. Still less does it have the right to use the banner of ‘democracy’ to form small cliques targeting specific countries, and malign or even demonize other social systems. The US ought to heed the appeal of its people, reflect on itself, and acknowledge and solve problems with its own democracy.”

While speaking about Zhao, here are the key bits that he said after Wendy Sherman’s visit:

“Differences and somewhat tense encounters are commonplace in diplomacy. Both sides believe that the meeting and talks are candid, in-depth and constructive. Both agree on the utmost importance of maintaining communication between China and the US and the need for more frank and sincere dialogues.”

He added in response to a different question on the visit:

“A choice needs to be made to decide the direction of China-US relations. China has a clear view on it. As State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi reiterated, we should try to find a way through dialogue for two major countries different in system, culture and stage of development to coexist peacefully and even achieve win-win results. Whoever tied the knot is responsible for untying it. The US side needs to change course, work with China on the basis of mutual respect and embrace fair competition and peaceful coexistence with China. After all, a healthy and stable China-US relationship serves the interests of both sides and will be good news for the world as well.”

Page 4: I am not going into the details of the reports on the page. But on the floods, all we get is a story about the Ministry of Finance allocating RMB 3 billion for disaster recovery and reconstruction. We also get some advice regarding drinking water safety amid the floods and ensuring that one doesn’t see outbreaks of other diseases and COVID-19.

Page 5: The eighth piece in the Q&A series on Xi Thought. Thankfully, these are getting smaller. The first question is upholding socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era. It says that this is the key to advance China’s “great social revolution.” “Only by persisting in advancing the social revolution, constantly adjusting the relations of production and perfecting the superstructure can we better liberate and develop the productive forces.” 

“This great social revolution covers an extremely wide range of areas, involving contradictions and problems in economic, political, cultural, social, ecological civilization construction and national defense and military development, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan work, diplomatic work, and Party building. There’s a profound readjustment of interests taking place, and it is necessary to break through the barriers of ideology and concepts, as well as to break through the fences of vested interests...The task of breaking through institutional barriers is extremely arduous, and institutional drawbacks and institutional obstacles are like ‘obstacles’ and ‘stumbling blocks’ hindering the process of reform and development.” 这场伟大社会革命,涵盖的领域极其广泛,涉及经济、政治、文化、社会、生态文明建设和国防和军队建设、港澳台工作、外交工作、党的建设等方面的矛盾和问题 触及的利益格局调整极其深刻,既要冲破思想观念的障碍,又要突破利益固化的藩篱...突破体制机制障碍的任务极其艰巨,体制性弊端、机制性梗阻犹如“拦路虎”、“绊脚石”阻碍改革发展进程.

The international situation is turbulent, and the situation of the “great struggle” is complex and arduous. Ergo, it is important to continue pursuing the social revolution. 

We then get this, which I have edited for context and explanation.

“Once upon a time, how powerful was the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and how powerful was the Soviet Union? Now it has become a painful memory of a homeland that one cannot bear to turn and look back at in the light of the moon. Forgetting revolution and not talking about struggle, the Communist Party will deteriorate and socialism will change color.” 曾几何时,苏共何其强大,苏联何其强大,现在早已是“故国不堪回首月明中”了. 忘记革命、不讲斗争,共产党就会变质,社会主义就会变色. 

This 故国不堪回首月明中 refers to a quote from the Lǐ Yù’s poem Yú Měi Rén. This is a good translation.

The next question is why should China enrich and develop Marxism. Some good old hubris here.

“The Chinese Communists, who are in the midst of great historical changes, have a greater responsibility and capability to reveal the historical experience and laws of development contained therein and make original contributions to the development of Marxism.” 置身历史巨变之中的中国共产党人,更有责任、更有能力揭示其中所蕴含的历史经验和发展规律,为发展马克思主义作出原创性贡献.

Page 9: Xu Jian, the dean of China Foreign Affairs University, has the lead piece on the Theory page. He repeats a lot of worn-out cliches which are simply not in accordance with reality. For instance, he talks about how China has never provoked a war or occupied others’ territory or how China’s development is about itself but also about benefiting the world. He says that China “continues to use new opportunities for its own development to provide opportunities and impetus for the common development of the world.” 

The next bit is about China’s contribution to global peace and security, saying that “the Chinese people have made important contributions and sacrifices for the just cause of mankind.” He mentions:

  • WWII contribution

  • In the 1960s and 1970s, the Chinese people supported the economic construction of developing countries such as those in Africa, even when they were not wealthy themselves. (Of course, no talk of exporting revolution during this period.)

  • China’s contribution to UN peacekeeping.

  • The theory of the three worlds

  • The five principles of peaceful coexistence

  • BRI

Under Xi now, he says that:

“The CPC advocates building a new type of international relations, advocates a new security concept, practices the correct concept of justice and interests, promotes the high-quality development of the Belt and Road, actively participates in the reform and construction of the global governance system, firmly supports multilateralism, and so on, all of which are positive solutions to promote the building of a community of human destiny by holding high the banner of peace, development, cooperation and win-win.” 中国共产党主张构建新型国际关系,倡导新安全观,践行正确义利观,推动“一带一路”高质量发展,积极参与全球治理体系改革和建设,坚定支持多边主义,等等,都是高举和平、发展、合作、共赢旗帜,为推动构建人类命运共同体提出的积极方案.

We then get a final positive appraisal and moralising of Xi’s foreign policy amid the pandemic:

“Despite the headwinds of anti-globalisation and hegemony, the CPC has always stood on the right side of history and on the side of human progress, providing more and more public goods for global pandemic prevention and control, boosting the world economy, maintaining regional security and stability, and promoting the building of a community of human destiny with solid actions.” 虽然遭遇逆全球化、霸权主义等逆风逆流,但中国共产党始终站在历史正确的一边,站在人类进步的一边,为全球疫情防控、提振世界经济、维护地区安全和稳定等提供越来越多的公共产品,以扎实行动推动构建人类命运共同体. 

Page 13: One report to note. There’s data from the National Supervision Commission and CCDI on cases of violations of the eight-point regulation. It says that 10,047 cases were investigated. 14,336 people (including 60 prefecture-level cadres and 836 county-level cadres) were criticised and educated, and 9,499 people were given disciplinary sanctions.