Xi's Guangxi Tour - South Asian Diplomacy - 2020 Propaganda Appraisal - Marxism and socialism winning the systems contest

Here are the stories and pieces from the April 28, 2021, edition of People’s Daily.

Page 1: The front page today is all about Xi Jinping. The big story is about Xi’s inspection tour of Guangxi from Sunday to Tuesday. First, Xi was accompanied by Lu Xinshe, Party Secretary of Guangxi, and Lantian Li, Chairman of the Government of Guangxi. 

First, on Sunday, he visited a memorial park dedicated to the Battle of the Xiangjiang River during the Long March in the 1930s in the city of Guilin. He called the Battle of the Xiangjiang River a “heroic battle of the Long March and an important historical event that determined the ‘life-or-death’ of the Chinese revolution.” This was Xi’s first stop during his tour, and he emphasised this bit in his comments. 

PD reports: 

“Xi Jinping said that I came here as the first stop of my inspection tour in Guangxi, with the purpose of remembering the revolutionary martyrs, renewing the spiritual blood of the Communists, strengthening my ideals and beliefs, and sharpening my revolutionary will while the whole party is carrying out party history study and education.”

He added: “On the new Long March to achieve the goal of the second century, we must hold the belief of winning, bravely overcome all kinds of major risks and challenges from home and abroad, and March forward bravely towards the goal of realizing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.”

Xi then went to Maozhushan Village, where he talked about rural revitalisation and “promoting agriculture through science and technology.” The story then talks about Xi visiting the home of a villager named Wang Deli. Wang tells Xi about how his income has grown. The two paragraphs that cover all this are useful reads for anyone who thinks that the Chinese system is devoid of politics. Xi’s a consummate politician.

Next, in Guilin, Xi talked about protection of the ecological environment of the Lijiang River. He also visited the Elephant Trunk Hill Park, where he spoke about the importance of tourism before heading to Liuzhou to visit the Guangxi Liugong Group Co., Ltd, a machinery manufacturer, and a food processing center. 

This bit is noteworthy:

“Xi Jinping emphasized that the high-quality development of the manufacturing industry is the top priority of the high-quality development of China’s economy. The building of a modern socialist country and the development and expansion of the real economy are inseparable from the manufacturing industry. We must continue to work hard to promote industrial optimization and upgrading. Only by innovation can we be self-reliant and strive for the first. We must unswervingly follow the path of independent innovation and firmly hold the initiative of innovation and development in our own hands. We must uphold the party's overall leadership over state-owned enterprises, adhere to the unity of strengthening party leadership and improving corporate governance, do a good job in party building in deepening enterprise reform, and give full play to the leadership core role of party organizations in the reform and development of enterprises.

Finally, on Tuesday, he visited the Anthropology Museum of Guangxi Nanning; Guangxi is the region with the largest ethnic minority population in China. Here he emphasised the work on ethnic unity. Local officials then detailed their Party and government work reports to Xi. He then emphasised the need to focus on the following:

  • intelligent and green transformation of traditional industries and overall industrial upgradation

  • linking Guangxi’s development with BRI, the Greater Bay Area, Yangtze River Economic Belt, and leveraging ties with ASEAN

  • tackling pollution

  • ensuring that policies focus on job creation among key groups,  including college graduates and migrant workers

  • maintaining pandemic control measures

  • use of red resources in the study and education of party history

There are two other stories on the page. First, Xi sent a message of condolences to Iraqi President Barham Salih over the recent fire accident that caused heavy casualties in an Iraqi hospital. Next, Xi sent a message of condolence Indonesian President Joko Widodo over the sinking of an Indonesian navy submarine.

Page 2: First, the State Council’s executive meeting this week (English report) focussed on improving the county-level consumption environment and promoting rural consumption as “important measures to stimulate domestic demand and support rural revitalization.” A number of steps are being proposed to do this. For instance:

  • Support qualified townships to build commercial centers that integrate shopping, entertainment, and leisure.

  • Develop products that farmers need and boost tourism via development of country houses and leisure agriculture.

  • Expand rural e-commerce, create better cold-chain storage networks, etc.

  • Improve policy support for land use and finance for the construction of commercial facilities

  • Improve supervision to crackdown on counterfeits, while easing unreasonable regulations and prohibiting arbitrary fines

In addition, they discussed new steps to reform the government functions regarding intellectual property to facilitate entrepreneurial activity and innovation. The meeting promised that “the time needed for general trademark registration will be cut from eight to seven months” by the end of the year. Also, online processing of patent review will be prioritised.

“The quality of intellectual property will be prioritized over simple pursuit of quantity. The quantity of patent application and licensing should not be the main criterion when deciding on rewards or making qualification assessment. Financial assistance and incentives during trademark and patent application will be called off across the board.”

In addition, it was decided that “while ensuring data security, basic data of intellectual property will be made public, to catalyze corporate R&D and innovation.” The meeting also warned against easing up on epidemic control measures ahead of the May 1 holiday.

Next, NBS data show (Reuters report) that China’s industrial firms’ profits rose to 1.825 trillion yuan in the January-March period, up 137% from a year ago and 50.2% from the same period in 2019. That brought the two-year average growth to 22.6%.

Page 3: First, Bangladesh’s President Abdul Hamid met with Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe on Tuesday. Xinhua reports that Hamid said “Bangladesh and China are time tested friends and reliable strategic cooperation partners.” It adds that Hamid wants “both countries to strengthen coordination in international affairs and be committed to safeguarding regional peace, stability, prosperity and development. Hamid said he hopes the two militaries will continue to strengthen their practical cooperation in various fields.” 

Here’s what Wei said:

“With their cooperation being extensive, the two militaries should further increase the high-level visits, deepen cooperation in equipment technology, broaden exchanges in specialized fields, and forge closer military relations...To jointly maintain regional peace and stability, the two sides should make joint efforts against powers outside the region setting up military alliance in South Asia and practicing hegemonism.” 

At the same time, we have Wang Yi meeting (English report) with foreign ministers of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. The Chinese foreign minister said that India was also invited to this meeting. Wang said that China extends its sincere condolences to the Indian people and “is ready to provide support and assistance to the Indian people at any time according to the needs of India.”

He also added that “relevant Chinese companies have taken active actions with government support, and the first batch of oxygen concentrators has arrived in India.” HT reports that “earlier in the day, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said Beijing was pushing local companies to meet the rising demand for medical supplies in India. ‘We are allocating and pushing forward Chinese companies in actively meeting India’s demand for medical supplies such as oxygen concentrators, and China is willing to cooperate with India through multiple channels in helping it fight the epidemic, and we believe India can conquer it,’ said Wang, the Chinese spokesperson. Note: This, at the moment, is all commercial deals.

He added that:

“China is willing to promote vaccine cooperation with other countries through flexible methods such as free aid, commercial procurement, and filling and production of vaccines, under the framework of the six-nation cooperation mechanism, so that people in South Asia can obtain more diversified and stable vaccine supplies.”

China has proposed: 

  • the establishment of a China-South Asia emergency supplies reserve bank 

  • the establishment of a China-South Asia poverty reduction and development cooperation center, and

  • the holding of a forum on rural e-commerce and poverty reduction in South Asian countries

Wang also wants meetings at the six foreign ministers, deputy foreign ministers, and directorate levels to deepen practical cooperation. He also talked about BRI and then discussed supporting the international system with the UN at its core; Wang emphasised the need to “resist illegal acts of interfering in other countries’ internal affairs and coercing other countries to choose sides.”

Xinhua has the foreign ministers from other countries agreeing with Wang and arguing that vaccines should be distributed under the principle of fairness and equality, instead of being monopolized by a few countries.

Page 4: Ahead of the centenary, Minister of Public Security Zhao Kezhi called (English report) for all-out efforts to uphold the country's political security and social stability during a national meeting on Tuesday. 

PD says that he “demanded that efforts should be made to play the first move, fight the active battle, resolutely defend national political security, make every effort to prevent and resolve major stability-related risks, comprehensively strengthen epidemic prevention and control measures, do a solid job in the security and stability of the capital, resolutely ensure the safety and smoothness of celebrations…”

Next, the Central Propaganda Department evaluated the press information work of 65 departments, 31 provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities) and Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps in 2020. It found that through the year some 4,575 press conferences were held; 227 of these were held by the State Council’s information offices, 859 at various department-levels and 3,489 at local levels. 

This is interesting in that it tells you how propaganda output is being evaluated. So part of it is quantity, and there are details about the number of press briefings held by different governments during the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, and then there is this about qualitative assessment. 

The piece says that in the past, the key individual during a press conference was the press spokesman. But in 2020, “we can see that besides the press spokesperson, the principal responsible persons of various regions and departments, the heads of professional departments, experts and scholars, front-line staff, etc., all began to become the main body of the press conference.”

The piece discusses different experiments by different regions. For instance, it cites the example of Jiangxi, where reporters were invited to engage with officials, scholars and experts after press briefings for interviews. Briefings were held at the site of events. There’s also praise for being able to move briefings online to reduce the size of gatherings. Chongqing gets praise for building a WeChat system called “Zhihui Bafang” for sharing important information on a regular basis.

Some more data here:

“There are a total of 262 spokespersons in all regions and departments, of which about 25% are provincial and ministerial-level leading cadres, and the rest are department- and bureau-level leading cadres. Forty-three departments, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of National Defense, and the National Development and Reform Commission, publicize the list of spokespersons for their respective systems and the contact information of the press release agencies. 27 provinces (autonomous regions, municipalities) and the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps organized and carried out the training of news release activities in the region.”

Page 9: Li Jie, former president of the Qiushi magazine writes about the theoretical character of Xi Thought. He writes about the newly published “Questions and Answers on the Study of Xi Jinping’s Thoughts on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for the New Era.” Li writes that the book “provides a comprehensive and systematic answer to what kind of socialism with Chinese characteristics to uphold and develop in the new era, and how to uphold and develop socialism with Chinese characteristics.” 

Li talks about achievements of poverty alleviation, epidemic control and overall development to argue that “contemporary China is in its best period of development since modern times.”

He then offers a very positive appraisal of Xi’s political work:

“The serious hidden dangers within the party and the country have been resolved, and the party’s governance has been profoundly transformed from loose and soft to strict. Political life within the party has been renewed, the political ecology within the party has improved significantly, and the party’s creativity, cohesion, and combat effectiveness have been significantly enhanced. The unity of the party has been consolidated, and the relationship between the party and the masses has improved significantly, providing a strong political guarantee for the development of the party and the country.”

He also has high praise for China’s foreign policy despite “fierce” and “complex” uncertainties and challenges. 

“China's international influence is mainly achieved by its own peaceful development. The influence and attractiveness of China's development philosophy, development path, and development model have increased significantly. China is increasingly playing an important role as a builder of world peace, a contributor to global development, and a defender of international order, and it is getting closer to the center of the world stage.”

And then this; for all the talk about Cold War mentality and not indulging in ideological contests, here’s Li framing the world as an ideological, systemic contest:

“Socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era, and the Party Central Committee, with Comrade Xi Jinping as its core, has led the whole party and the people throughout the country to promote the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics and achieved remarkable great achievements, demonstrating the vigorous vitality of scientific socialism with irrefutable facts. The path of socialism with Chinese characteristics has become broader, so that there are more people in the world who believe in Marxism and socialism; the historical evolution of the two ideologies and two social systems and their contest worldwide have undergone a profound transformation in favor of Marxism and socialism.

Sharing the specific Chinese text here too in case translation needs some work: “中国特色社会主义进入新时代,以习近平同志为核心的党中央带领全党全国人民推动中国特色社会主义事业取得举世瞩目的伟大成就,以无可辩驳的事实彰显了科学社会主义的旺盛生命力。中国特色社会主义道路越走越宽广,使世界上正视和相信马克思主义和社会主义的人多了起来,使世界范围两种意识形态、两种社会制度的历史演进及其较量发生了有利于马克思主义、社会主义的深刻转变.”

Page 11: A report about the crackdown on underworld gangs; remember that this is particularly political since it tackles “protective umbrellas” too. The report says that during the three-year campaign to eradicate gangs, procuratorial organs across the country approved the arrest of 149,000 people involved in criminal underworld crimes and prosecuted 230,000 people. Among them, 54,000 were prosecuted for organizing, leading, and participating in underworld organizations. Also some 545 people involved in “protective umbrellas” were investigated.

Next the Supreme People’s Court has issued a new plan on intellectual property rights protection. PD reports that the “plan clearly stated that it is necessary to increase judicial protection of intellectual property rights in key core technologies, emerging industries and key fields…” The story quotes Yun Zhonglin, deputy chief of the Supreme Court Intellectual Property Court, as saying that the focus for now will be on anti-monopoly trials. It also quotes senior judge Lin Guanghai as saying that “at present, a pattern of intellectual property trial has been formed, with intellectual property courts in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hainan Free Trade Ports as models, with 22 local courts’ IPR courts as the focus, and high and intermediate courts and some grassroots courts’ IPR trial courts as the support system.”

Page 16: Finally on the international page, we have a story with Wang Qun, Chinese envoy to the United Nations and other international organizations in Vienna, talking about the US-Iran talks. 

Xinhua’s got an English report on this. It says that “the Joint Commission's negotiations on getting the United States and Iran to resume compliance with the JCPOA have entered the fourth week, said Wang, stressing that ‘it will be a very important week.’ The negotiations have made some important progress, whereas some significant differences are yet to be ironed out, Wang noted.”

The report also has Wang as saying:

“China believes that the issue of the sequence in which the United States and Iran resume the implementation of the JCPOA is first and foremost a matter of sense of justice. The cart shouldn't be put before the horse. The current Iranian nuclear crisis was caused by the former U.S. government, which unilaterally withdrew from the JCPOA and exerted extreme pressure on Iran. Therefore, the United States should first remove all illegal unilateral sanctions on Iran and third parties. This is the key to the success of the negotiations. All parties must continue to focus on and resolve this core issue first. At the same time, the Joint Commission should also consider how to verify the U.S. lifting of sanctions.”