Xi's Fujian Years - Self-reliance in the New Era - Xi Thought Series: People are 'Heroes,' But it's the Party in Charge - Zhong Sheng: US Practicing 'Tracing Terrorism'

Here are the stories and pieces that I found noteworthy from the People’s Daily’s August 2, 2021, edition.

Also, since there’s been a big spike in folks subscribing to this tracker in the past week, I’d like to take a moment to welcome you and not be subtle at all in plugging my new book - Smokeless War: China’s Quest for Geopolitical Dominance. Do make sure to check it out.

Page 1: I guess the annual autumn break has begun; or it’s just an incredibly slow news day. The front page today largely draws on Xi’s work in Fujian and Xi’s policies during his time in Zhejiang.

Last week, the People’s Daily had told us that a new book based on Xi’s time in Fujian had been published. Today, the front page is basically dedicated to Xi’s work in terms of preserving and promoting cultural heritage during his time in Fujian. The piece is divided into three chapters, and is taken from the Fujian Daily. Apart from a significant chunk of the front page, it takes up all of Pages 2 and 3.

We begin in March this year, when Xi visited Fujian. The trip began with a visit to Mount Wuyi, a UNESCO world heritage site. During the visit, Xi also went to the Three Lanes and Seven Alleys (Sanfang Qixiang), which houses the former residences of many renowned Chinese historical figures, including Yan Fu. At the time, he spoke about protecting traditional culture, ancient buildings, and cultural relics. The PD piece tells us that when Xi was Fuzhou Municipal Party Committee Secretary, Sanfang Qixiang was saved from destruction.

This is a really long piece about different steps taken during Xi’s tenure in Fujian to preserve ancient homes. So we get the story of the home of Lin Juemin, which was set to be demolished. But then Li Houwei, a member of the CPPCC in Gulou District, Fuzhou, wrote a piece in the local paper, which Xi, who had just taken charge, read. Xi then ordered the postponement of the demolition. At a meeting before he took that decision, this is what Xi said:

“The important point in evaluating whether a system or a force is progressive or reactionary is to see how it treats history and culture. It is in our hands to protect, restore and make good use of the city's cultural relics, not only not to let them be destroyed, but also to make them even more glorious and colorful and pass them on to future generations.” 在会上,习近平说:“评价一个制度、一种力量是进步还是反动,重要的一点是看它对待历史、文化的态度。要在我们的手里,把全市的文物保护、修复、利用搞好,不仅不能让它们受到破坏,而且还要让它更加增辉添彩,传给后代.”

Anyway, this story is basically what shaped the approach towards Sanfang Qixiang, the piece tells us.

We also have a story about the home of Lin Zexu, regarding which in 1990 “Comrade Xi Zhongxun, then vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress” had issued instructions and then Xi Jinping in Fujian acted on it. So why care about Lin? The piece tells us that this is because Xi has deep admiration for a “national hero.” Interesting story this, given Lin was the gentleman who had taken forceful action to stop opium trade, which eventually catalysed the First Opium War.

We then get a story emphasising the significance of Yan Fu. We get told that in 2001 Tsinghua University Press published a book on Yan Fu’s thoughts, titled “Science and Patriotism,” and Xi personally edited and wrote the preface for the book.

Anyway, there’s two much more along these lines and preservation of other sites, etc. 

The second story on the page refers to developments in Zhejiang province, emphasising that subsequent leaders have built on the Double-Eight Strategy initiated by Xi Jinping in 2003 when he was Party Secretary of Zhejiang. The emphasis in this piece is on the mountain-sea collaboration initiative. The piece tells us that this initiative was “a major strategic decision made” during Xi’s tenure. The aim is to ensure that the 26 counties in the mountainous area can achieve high-quality development. The piece talks about the development work done in this context.

The third piece on the page is a commentary drawing from Friday’s Politburo meeting, which outlined economic objectives in H2. You can read a breakdown of that meeting in my weekly Eye on China published yesterday. The commentary talks about the importance of implementing the new development concept and building the new development pattern. In terms of immediate priorities, it says:

“​​We should continue to deepen supply-side structural reforms, promote reforms in important areas and key links in a coordinated manner, and strengthen major reforms that are conducive to improving the efficiency of resource allocation and mobilizing the enthusiasm of the entire society.” 要持续深化供给侧结构性改革,统筹推进重要领域和关键环节改革,强化有利于提高资源配置效率、有利于调动全社会积极性的重大改革.

It talks about focussing on quality of life issues, boosting domestic demand, and tapping the potential of the domestic market, supporting NEVs, and integrating rural areas into the e-commerce system. A key point is also to “guide enterprises to increase investment in technological transformation.” 

The piece adds: “The most essential feature of constructing a new development pattern is to achieve a high level of self-reliance.”

And then this:

“We must pay more attention to independent innovation, recognize this issue from the perspective of survival and development, and comprehensively strengthen the deployment of scientific and technological innovation. It is necessary to strengthen scientific and technological innovation and the resilience of the industrial chain and supply chain, strengthen basic research, promote applied research, carry out special actions to supplement and strengthen the chain, speed up solutions to ‘choke point’ problems, and develop specialized and new small and medium-sized enterprises. State-owned enterprises, such as central enterprises, should bravely shoulder heavy burdens and take the lead, and be the ‘source’ of original technology and the ‘chain length’ (链长) of modern industrial chain.” 在这种情况下,我们必须更强调自主创新,必须把这个问题放在能不能生存和发展的高度加以认识,全面加强对科技创新的部署. 要强化科技创新和产业链供应链韧性,加强基础研究,推动应用研究,开展补链强链专项行动,加快解决“卡脖子”难题,发展专精特新中小企业. 中央企业等国有企业要勇挑重担、敢打头阵,勇当原创技术的“策源地”、现代产业链的“链长”. 

Page 4: First, we learn that Sun Chunlan visited Nanjing to take stock of the outbreak situation there. The report tells us that the “prevention and control work is being carried out in an orderly manner, and the epidemic is generally controllable.” 

From Xinhua English: “Sun learned about the local authorities’ work including treatment of COVID-19 patients, epidemiological investigation, nucleic acid testing, prevention of hospital infections, and supply of daily necessities. Stressing measures of quarantine and disinfection, Sun urged efforts to improve the efficiency of epidemiological investigation by using information technology and ensuring the accuracy of nucleic acid testing.”

The report tells us that Sun met with relevant departments and experts to analyze the current epidemic situations across the country and sent work groups to Hunan and Henan. 

She spoke about the importance of:

  • Early detection

  • Wearing masks

  • Reducing travel

  • Controlling crowds at scenic spots

Interestingly, she termed ensuring defense from imported cases from abroad as something that has always been the top priority of epidemic prevention and control. 

We also learn in a short report that Wang Yong’s been given charge of dealing with the flood relief work in Henan and he headed to the region on July 31st. 

Page 5: Today, we have the 11th piece in the series on Xi Jinping Thought. The first question today is about the role of the people in that the people are the greatest strength for the Party’s command over power. It tells us that:

“The historical idealist view of heroic history holds that history is created by a few heroic figures, and that the evolution of history depends on their will, character and talent, while the people are a group of ‘ignorant rogues’ or ‘blind followers’ of the heroic figure. In the past, most of the protagonists were emperors and princes, gifted scholars and beautiful women, and ordinary people were just there for gags/gimmicks.”

Contrary to this view of history, the historical materialist view of history, the article tells us, identified people as “the creators of history and the true heroes.” We get told that “Comrade Mao Zedong pointed out: ‘The people, and only the people, are the driving force for the creation of world history’.” 

We then get this, with Xi channeling Lincoln.

“The people are the source of power of our party’s leadership and governance, and the fundamental force that determines the future destiny of the Party and the country. General Secretary Xi Jinping pointed out that ‘our party comes from the people, is born for the people, and thrives because of the people’...Only by always connecting with the people's heart, sharing the same breath and destiny, can the Party be as firm as a rock, stable and progress steadily.” 人民是我们党领导和执政的力量源泉,是决定党和国家前途命运的根本力量。习近平总书记指出,“我们党来自于人民,为人民而生,因人民而兴”...只有始终与人民心连心、同呼吸、共命运,党才能坚如磐石、行稳致远.

We also get a netizen view: “The relationship between the party and the people is the same as that between fish and water. Fish cannot do without water, and the party cannot do without the people.”

The next couple of paragraphs essentially emphasise the importance of performance legitimacy, telling cadres that at the end of the day, the people are the ultimate judges.

“The ordinary people are heaven, and the ordinary people are the earth.” 老百姓是天,老百姓是地.

The next question in the piece is: “Why is it that only the CPC can shoulder the historical mission of achieving the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation?” The answer begins with talking about how the Party united the people and built a “new China.” We then get this sentence, which tells us a bit about the Party placing itself as an inheritor of Chinese dynasties; and it does so while drawing a distinction between itself and the “feudal monarchies” of the past.

Only a nation that has created glory in the past understands the significance of rejuvenation; only a nation that has experienced hardship has a deep desire for rejuvenation.” 只有创造过辉煌的民族,才懂得复兴的意义;只有经历过苦难的民族,才对复兴有深切的渴望. 

After this we get the familiar origins story about a 5000-year-old flourishing civilisation, the decline of the Qing dynasty, the experimentation with multiple models, and the emergence of the CCP within this milieu. And what made the Party special?

“The guiding ideology, nature and purpose of the Party determined that the Communist Party of China would inevitably become the historical bearer of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. The guiding ideology is the spiritual banner of a political party, and its nature and purpose reflect the essential characteristics of a political party.” 党的指导思想、性质宗旨决定了中国共产党必然成为中华民族伟大复兴的历史担当者. 指导思想是一个政党的精神旗帜,性质宗旨体现一个政党的本质特征.

In a nutshell, the guiding ideology is Marxism, which the Party has used and sinicized to achieve practical objectives; Marxism is true scripture“真经” of the Party; the Party is the “vanguard of the Chinese working class and at the same time the vanguard of the Chinese people and the Chinese nation”; and its purpose is “to serve the people wholeheartedly. Apart from the interests of the broadest masses of the people, the party has no special interests of its own.”

The rest of the piece talks about the development of China over the past 70-odd years; and how today China is the world’s second-largest economy and an indispensable global actor. Basically, this “miracle of development” is what proves “that only the Communist Party of China can shoulder the historical mission of national rejuvenation.”

Page 6: We have another Zhong Sheng commentary on the US and the pandemic. This is the 14th such piece. This one basically starts by saying that US politicians’ comments about needing unity to fight the pandemic are hollow. It says that the US has never been on the “anti-pandemic team.” 

“When the pandemic raged last year, the United States intercepted other countries’ anti-pandemic materials, bought out drugs, cut off the supply to the WHO, and this year, it hoarded vaccines, restricted the export of raw materials, created a ‘small circle’, engaged in pseudo-multilateralism, and even attempted to coerce the WHO on some important issues and projects.” 在去年全球疫情肆虐之际,美国截留他国抗疫物资、买断药物,对世卫组织断供退群,今年又囤积疫苗、限制原料出口,拉“小圈子”、搞伪多边主义,甚至企图在某些重要议题和项目上胁迫世卫组织. 

We then get criticism of the lab-leak theory, saying that the US has been pursuing stigmatization and politicization. It has “erected the high wall of isolationism” and “incited discrimination against Asians” at home. Then we get this: “the US government blatantly engages in ‘tracing terrorism’.”.and has extended its “black hand” on the scientific community.

The piece then says that the US’ multilateral engagement aims to basically “draw allies against China” pursuing “Cold War mentality.” 

“Under the misperception that China is its biggest strategic competitor and threat, the U.S. has ignored the facts...smearing China’s foreign vaccine aid as ‘vaccine diplomacy’ and claiming that China is helping other countries develop in order to ‘fill the vacuum left by the U.S’.” 在把中国视为最大战略竞争对手和威胁的错误认知下,美国罔顾事实,颠倒黑白,污蔑中国对外提供疫苗援助是搞“疫苗外交”,宣称中国帮助他国发展是为了“填补美国留下的真空”.

Next, we have a short report on the opening of the Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge in the Philippines. Finally, a piece on the potential for Asia-Pacific digital economic cooperation, which it says must be carried out in an “open, fair, and non-discriminatory” manner. 

Page 16: On the International page today, the one story worth noting is a report about the recent study by the Council on American–Islamic Relations report, which showed that anti-Muslim hate in the US was on the rise.