Xi's Museum Visit & the Red Bloodline - Pakistani Parties Congratulate CCP - State Council's Grain Subsidies - Building Low-Cost Rental Housing - Party Committees in Enterprises

Here are the stories and pieces from the People’s Daily’s June 19, 2021, edition that I found noteworthy. I don’t usually do weekend editions, but Friday’s museum visit by Xi prompted me to take a look at today’s coverage. So decided to do a breakdown.

Page 1: As one would expect, the front page today is all about Xi’s and the Politburo’s visit to the new Museum of the CPC in Beijing on Friday. The image of Xi leading the Politburo in re-taking the Party’s oath sends a message of the hierarchy. Xi’s ahead of all, and Wang Qishan is standing with the other six PSC members. Anyway, the piece in PD is pretty much similar to the Xinhua English story. It tells us that the exhibition is themed “staying true to the founding (original) mission.” 

Xi said that the:

“Party’s history is the most vivid and convincing textbook...The past 100 years have seen the CPC unswervingly fulfilling its original aspiration and founding mission, working hard to lay a foundation for its great cause, and making glorious achievements and charting a course for the future, Xi noted. Xi said it is necessary to study and review the Party’s history, carry forward its valuable experience, bear in mind the course of its struggles, shoulder the historic mission, and draw strength from its history to forge ahead. Efforts should be made to educate and guide Party members and officials to stay true to the original aspiration and founding mission of the Party.” A lot of this might not sound new, if you’ve been following the history learning and education campaign. But it’s worth reiterating that one shouldn’t treat this as simply being propaganda that has little impact or it being about Xi’s personal power or cult of personality. This is a mission to mould the coming generation (generations perhaps).

Here’s another paragraph from Xinhua English:

“It is necessary for them to strengthen their awareness of the need to maintain political integrity, think in big-picture terms, follow the leadership core, and keep in alignment with the central Party leadership, and remain confident in the path, theory, system and culture of socialism with Chinese characteristics, as well as always closely follow the CPC Central Committee in terms of their thinking, political orientation and actions.” Essentially, here Xi’s making three big points. First, underscoring the importance of cadres political loyalty to Xi himself. Second, emphasising top-level design, i.e., the importance of implementing the center’s priorities; this of course, inhibits local autonomy. This is even more problematic, since it is presented as part of a learning from the Party’s historical experience. Of course, the history of China’s development over the past 40 years is far more complex than rather than being all about top-down policy planning and implementation. Third, Xi’s talking about the importance of adhering to the Party’s model of governance. This impacts everything, from lawmaking, economic structure to foreign policy.

Now here’s an interesting divergence in PD and Xinhua English. The next paragraph in Xinhua tells us that:

“Xi called on Party members to carry forward the fine traditions and play their exemplary role in uniting and leading the Chinese people, based on the new development stage, to follow the new development philosophy and formulate a new development paradigm, to effectively perform their work in promoting reform, development and stability, and to pool strength to fully build a modern socialist China and realize the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation.”

The PD story talks about all of this too, but it calls on cadres to “use the Party’s innovative theories, continue the red bloodline” before then talking about traditions and the Chinese people, etc. 学好用好党的创新理论,赓续红色血脉,发扬光荣传统,发挥先锋模范作用,团结带领全国各族人民,更好立足新发展阶段、贯彻新发展理念、构建新发展格局,全面做好改革发展稳定各项工作,汇聚起全面建设社会主义现代化国家、实现中华民族伟大复兴中国梦的磅礴力量.

The rest of the story is about the exhibition. The one bit that I found fascinating is that this is about the key moments in the Party’s history, and the story tells us that the exhibition included “models of the Huoshenshan and Leishenshan hospitals” built last year in Wuhan. It just goes to show how hugely significant the Party’s performance through the pandemic has been in terms of its self-perception and its perception of the geo-strategic environment today.

Another report on the page informs us that PSC member Wang Huning delivered a speech at the museum’s opening. Wang said that:

Since the 18th Party Congress, Xi “as the core has united and led the whole party and the people of all nationalities, unified the great struggle, great project, great cause and great dream, promoted the historic achievements and changes in the cause of the party and the country, and pushed socialism with Chinese characteristics into a new era. The Chinese nation has ushered in a great leap from standing up, becoming rich to becoming strong.” 党的十八大以来,以习近平同志为核心的党中央团结带领全党全国各族人民,统揽伟大斗争、伟大工程、伟大事业、伟大梦想,推动党和国家事业取得历史性成就、发生历史性变革,推动中国特色社会主义进入新时代,中华民族迎来了从站起来、富起来到强起来的伟大飞跃.

Wang added that through the exhibition, the aim is to to pass down the “study the history of the party’s unremitting struggle, the history of sacrifice, the history of theoretical exploration - for the benefit of the people - the history of the Party’s construction” all with the intent to eventually “guide Party members, officials, and the public to have a profound understanding of why the CPC is so capable, why Marxism works, and why socialism with Chinese characteristics excels.” 干部群众深入学习党的不懈奋斗史、畏牺牲史、理论探索史、惠民史、自身建设史,深刻理解中国共产党为什么能、马克思主义为什么管用、中国特色社会主义.

He too wants cadres to “inherit the red gene, continue the red bloodline.” 

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Next, the weekly State Council meeting (English report) ended with a decision to provide farmers with a “one-off subsidy” of 20 billion yuan to cushion the blow “from the sharp price increases of farming supplies.” The report says that the price surge of commodities this year has notably driven up the price of agricultural supplies like fertilizers and diesel. It said the agricultural sector is important for “maintaining public confidence and ensuring China’s stability.” 

In addition to this, there will be full cost insurance for rice and wheat planting in 500 major grain-producing counties across 13 major grain-producing provinces this year. This will cover costs of seeds, pesticides and fertilizers, land and labor costs, and provide support in case of losses caused by natural disasters, pests and diseases. In addition, the story talks about a corn planting income insurance to compensate for losses caused by price and yield fluctuations.

They then talked about a six-fold fee reduction plan for SMEs and individual households for the year. These six items are essentially about reducing bank charges and transaction fees, such as ATM withdrawal fees, card usage charges, inter-bank transfer and remittance fees, etc. These are expected to ease 24 billion yuan worth of burden for enterprises. 

The last item on the agenda is to improve housing opportunities for new urban residents such as migrant workers and newly-employed college students. The primary responsibility in this regard is that of the city government, with emphasis being laid on greater financial support and increasing the supply of small households with rents lower than the market level. The State Council also wants large cities to use collectively-operated construction land and land owned by enterprises to build affordable rental housing. In addition, idle and inefficient commercial office buildings and factories can be used to build affordable rental housing. Will be interesting to see what parameters are used to determine what’s “inefficient” in this case.Finally, they offered tax relief with regard to rental housing.

The last story on the page is about Xi congratulating Antonio Guterres on his re-election as United Nations secretary-general.

Page 3: On Thursday, the Pakistan-China Institute organized a webinar titled “People Centered: Celebrating 100 Years of CPC.” Mushahid Hussain, Chairman Senate Defence Committee, read out a congratulatory letter signed by the representatives of nine major Pakistani political parties. He said there is unanimity of opinion in Pakistan on China. PD says that (English report from The News International):

“The congratulatory letter emphasized that China has developed from a poor and weak country to the second largest economy in the world, and the people’s living standards have greatly improved. All of this is inseparable from the leadership of the Communist Party of China. Over the past century since its founding, the Communist Party of China has always insisted on putting the people at the center and serving the people wholeheartedly. It has made important contributions to the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation and has won extensive support from the Chinese people. For Pakistani political parties, the Chinese Communist Party’s experience in governing the country is worth learning from.”

Senator Sania Nishtar, minister for Poverty Alleviation, said that “Pakistan attaches great importance to China's experience in poverty alleviation, and will learn from China in accordance with Pakistan's actual conditions, and strive to continuously promote the development of poverty reduction.” She also praised CPEC, saying that it “has created more than 75,000 employment opportunities for Pakistan and promoted the acceleration of Pakistan’s industrialization process.”

Ambassador Nong Rong said that the CCP “is not only a party that seeks happiness for the Chinese people, but also a party that strives for the cause of human progress.”

For all the fanfare, this seems more low-key than what we saw in Sri Lanka earlier in the week, with Prime Minister Rajapaksa’s comments being far more emphatic. Substantively, in both cases, we’ve seen key political parties across the spectrum signing congratulatory letters. Anyway, the key point is that these two events underscore China’s growing influence in India’s neighbourhood. 

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Next, a short report about China’s trade ties with Arab states. Qian Keming, vice commerce minister, said that China is now the largest trade partner for Arab states. In 2020, bilateral trade value hit $239.8 billion. Chinese exports were around $123.1 billion, a year-on-year growth of 2.2%. In particular, China's exports of electromechanical equipment and high-tech products to Arab states accounted for 67.4 percent of the total exports.

Next, and I am not detailing these, but we have a longish piece on China’s economic and political engagement with Egypt. BRI is a big part of this. The other story is about an exhibition being held by the Chinese Consulate General in Johannesburg, South Africa, focussing on China’s poverty alleviation experience. 

Page 7: We have the full text of the Data Security law on the page. You can check out an unofficial translation on China Law Translate’s website. Two other short reports to note. First, a discussion facilitated by the People’s Daily about party building in enterprises. The report says very little but emphasizes that there is an agreement to “use party building to lead high-quality development.” This, in itself, is important to note; it tells you that Party committees in enterprises are being empowered to play a leading role in guiding business decisions with the aim of meeting the central leadership’s objectives, i.e., “high-quality development.”

Finally, a report about the National University Students’ Party History Knowledge Competition, which was broadcast across the country from June 6 to June 18. This was jointly organised by a bunch of organisations, including the Ministry of Education, China Radio and Television Administration and the Central Institute of Party History and Literature, and was broadcast on CCTV. The report essentially carries audience bytes talking about how they found the show to be informative, exciting, educational and so on. It’s a bit of a pat on the back for the organisers, telling their bosses that what they did has had the desired propaganda effect.