Discover more from Tracking People's Daily
Xi's Tech Focus for Self-reliance & Self-strengthening - Xi's Calls with Macron & Imran - Li's ASEAN Pitch - China's Afghan Policy - Understanding 'Seeking Truth from Facts'
Here are the stories and pieces from the October 27, 2021, edition of the People’s Daily that I found noteworthy.
Page 1: It’s all Xi Jinping on the front page again today. Let’s begin with Xi, along with other PBSC members + Wang Qishan, attending an exhibition of China’s achievements in scientific and technological innovation during the 13th Five-Year Plan period in Beijing. Xinhua English does a good job of capturing Xi’s comments:
“Xi noted that China had made significant scientific and technological advances during the period. As China embarks on a new journey to build a modern socialist country in all respects, scientific and technological innovation will play a vital role in promoting the country's overall development, he said. Xi called on the scientific and technological workers to develop confidence, seize opportunities, and scale new scientific and technological heights, so as to help accelerate the development of science and technology toward greater self-reliance and self-strengthening.”
What the English report misses is that Xi credits science and technology achievements to “the joint efforts of the whole Party and the whole country, especially the vast number of scientific and technological workers, under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee.” 这是在党中央坚强领导下，全党全国特别是广大科技工作者共同奋斗的结果.
The rest of the report carries details about different displays at the exhibition.
Next, we have a report (English report) that tells us that there was a military-wide conference on Monday and Tuesday, discussing weaponry and equipment-related work. Xi told the conference that over the past five years, “the PLA has achieved leap-forward development and made historic achievements in its weapons and equipment development, providing solid material and technological support for enhancing the country’s strategic capabilities, especially its military strength.” 习近平强调, “十三五”时期, 在党中央和中央军委坚强领导下，在军地各有关方面共同努力下，我军武器装备建设实现跨越式发展、取得历史性成就，为提升国家战略能力特别是军事实力提供了坚实物质技术支撑.
He also called for 14-FYP tasks to be implemented and called for efforts to establish a modern management system for weapons and equipment.
CMC Vice Chairman Zhang Youxia spoke at the meeting. He called for implementing Xi’s instructions, and then called for weapons development to focus on national security, needs, the realities of military combat, prioritise self-reliance and self-improvement through science and technology and improve combat effectiveness of the armed forces. He also promised to “spare no effort to accelerate the modernization of weapons and equipment.” 聚焦国家安全需求、紧盯现实军事斗争、突出科技自立自强、围绕部队战斗力生成、瞄准世界一流水平打好攻关会战，全力以赴加快武器装备现代化，在新的起点上推动我军武器装备建设再上一个大台阶.
Third, we have a letter that Xi wrote to mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Publishing House, calling on it to sustain revolutionary legacy and make greater contributions to developing a great socialist culture in China. He wants the publishing house to “continue to carry forward the red blood, keep up with the pace of the development of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and focus on spreading Marxism and the Party’s innovative theory.” 希望人民出版社赓续红色血脉，始终紧跟中国特色社会主义发展步伐，着力传播马克思主义和党的创新理论.
PD also tells us that propaganda chief Huang Kunming attended the meeting celebrating the publishing house’s anniversary. His comments, as per the report, began with emphasizing the necessity to “conscientiously study and implement the spirit of General Secretary Xi Jinping’s important instructions.”
Xi wants to “consolidate cooperation in such traditional areas as civil nuclear energy, aviation and aerospace, and expand cooperation in such new fields as artificial intelligence, biopharmacy and ocean affairs.” He also wants to “continue cooperation on biodiversity conservation, deepen green cooperation, implement the Global Development Initiative, and carry out tripartite cooperation in Africa and other regions.”
One can smell some AUKUS here: “Noting that the international situation is changing rapidly, he said he and Macron maintaining timely communication and coordination on major issues will help maintain the direction of the China-France relationship and inject more stability into the world. Meanwhile, Xi stressed that the multiple major international events of late have once again demonstrated that France is correct in advocating the strategic autonomy of the European Union (EU). China and the EU, he said, need to continue high-level communication and dialogue, enhance mutual understanding and trust, and reduce misunderstandings and misjudgments.”
None of Macron’s comments as reported in Xinhua seem to particularly dwell on transatlantic issues. He talked about the need for “constructive” engagement and said that he was dedicated to properly managing and resolving differences as well as deepening EU-China cooperation in such areas as economy, trade, climate change and biodiversity conservation. He said that he hoped the EU-China investment agreement will come into force at an early date. Macron also backed the Beijing Winter Olympics.
Reuters reports that Macron asked Xi to send a “decisive signal” on climate change ahead of the COP26 summit, talking about the need to make “concrete” progress toward ending China’s reliance on coal. Reuters adds that Macron also “called for greater reciprocity in the rebalancing of the trade relationship between Europe and China, notably in terms of market access.”
Second, Xi’s chat with Pakistan’s Imran Khan (English report). Xi spoke up the deep ties between the two countries, particularly COVID-19-related cooperation. He then said that “history has fully proved that the two countries are each other’s most reliable iron-clad brother.” There’s really nothing specific in Xi’s comments reported by Xinhua.
We have general statements about the need to “stand together even more firmly and push forward the all-weather strategic cooperative partnership,” supporting Pakistan’s development, willingness to share governance experience, and build a high-quality CPEC.
Xi wants the two sides to also “strengthen counter-terrorism and security cooperation,” and enhance multilateral coordination, practice genuine multilateralism and promote international equity and justice…”
Khan agreed with all this, and added that Pakistan firmly adheres to the one-China policy, firmly supports China’s position on issues concerning its core interests, such as the issues related to Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and human rights, and firmly supports the Global Development Initiative proposed by Xi. He also says that his country attaches great importance to and will continue to take concrete measures to protect the safety of Chinese personnel and institutions in Pakistan. The report says that the two sides also exchanged views on Afghanistan and other issues.
The Associated Press of Pakistan reported that Khan
“lauded the successful, timely and high-quality implementation of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects, and welcomed Chinese investments in the CPEC Special Economic Zones. He underscored that early start of the work on the ML-1 railway project would complement Pakistan’s geo-economics vision for national and regional development. The prime minister also appreciated China’s leading role in combating climate change...The two leaders discussed the situation in Afghanistan. They called on the international community to provide immediate humanitarian and economic assistance to the people of Afghanistan to alleviate their suffering, prevent instability and flight of people, as well as continued engagement for rebuilding of the country.”
Third, Xi’s chat with Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister James Marape (English report). Xi said that “the relationship between China and Papua New Guinea has become a role model of peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation among countries of different sizes and different social systems. He wants to strengthen exchanges and cooperation in areas such as poverty reduction, resource protection and utilization, and promote cooperation in the joint construction of the Belt and Road. Xi also wants to strengthen coordination and cooperation on international and multilateral occasions, deal with challenges such as climate change, actively carry out the Global Development Initiative, stick to true multilateralism, and safeguard international equity and justice, as well as the common interests of developing countries.
Marape reportedly sees China as a “sincere partner and reliable friend of PNG,” backs the Global Development Initiative and BRI, welcomes more Chinese investment and wants to “learn from China's experience in poverty alleviation and other fields.”
Finally, a short report about Xi’s letter to Shavkat Mirziyoyev on his re-election as Uzbekistan’s president.
Page 2: We have a report (English report + full video of the presser) about a press conference yesterday discussing the pandemic-related assistance and development cooperation that China has been engaged in. Luo Zhaohui, chairman of the China International Development Cooperation Agency and former ambassador to India, was among the speakers there. He said that “China has provided over 1.5 billion doses of its COVID-19 vaccines to 106 countries and four international organizations this year.” It has also delivered materials, such as protective clothing, masks and respirators, to 150 countries and 13 international organizations.
Here’s more: “In addition, China has held over 1,000 video conferences to share its knowledge about fighting the outbreak, has dispatched more than 10 expert health teams and has established an inventory for stocks of medical supplies planned for South Asia. More than 80 million doses of vaccines were given to neighboring countries as donations.”
Then Lou said: “China’s selfless foreign assistance stands in stark contrast to the aloofness of some other large countries.”
Zhou Liujun, vice-chairman of the cooperation agency, said that China has delivered more than 120 batches of testing kits, respirators and medical supplies to 50 African countries and the African Union, and it has dispatched expert medical teams to 17 African countries. China has also set up nearly 400 foreign aid projects to bolster economic recovery in Africa. “Nearly 10,000 Chinese workers have manned their positions despite the raging virus,” he added.
Zhang Maoyu, deputy director of the National Agency for International Development Cooperation, said that in the past eight years, China has implemented more than 200 foreign aid projects to address climate change, including about 70 mitigation projects such as the solar power project for the Pakistani parliament building, and 150 adaptation projects.
Finally, on the page today we had a piece on development of central regions, with Xi’s quote again getting that special treatment at the top.
Page 3: We have Li Keqiang’s comments (Full English text) at the 24th China-ASEAN Summit. Li offered a very positive appraisal of China-ASEAN ties amid the pandemic. He said:
We have upheld multilateralism, jointly preserved the ASEAN-centered, open and inclusive regional architecture and become a key force for regional peace and tranquility.
Our trade and investment has continuously expanded, cross-border e-commerce has been flourishing, and our industrial and supply chains have become more closely linked. Since last year, ASEAN has been China’s biggest trading partner. For China, ASEAN is also a predominant destination of outbound investment and source of foreign direct investment.
Interactions in culture and among media, think tanks, and youth have shown a stronger momentum.
He then proposed:
Deeper COVID-19-related and health cooperation. “China will further increase assistance in vaccines and anti-COVID supplies in light of ASEAN’s needs, continue to support ASEAN in building regional vaccine production and distribution centers at a faster pace, and strengthen cooperation on the research and development, production and technology transfer of vaccines and specific medicines for COVID-19. China is developing an information system platform for global COVID-19 data integration and risk analysis, and is ready to share COVID surveillance and containment data with ASEAN in a timely manner, to jointly enhance capacity for early warning and emergency response.”
“parties need to hasten work for the agreement (RCEP) to take effect as early as possible...China will work with ASEAN to officially launch the joint feasibility study to identify other areas for possible inclusion in further enhancing the China-ASEAN FTA, focus on the digital economy, green economy and other new areas of cooperation...China proposes discussing Multi-Nation Multi-Park cooperation with ASEAN, and building exemplary parks of international industrial capacity cooperation. China has officially applied to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), and hopes to have the support of ASEAN countries.”
China is ready to enhance international development cooperation with ASEAN, set up dedicated offices in ASEAN countries and build demonstration areas of development cooperation. Here, he also talked about deeper cooperation in disaster prevention, mitigation and relief.
“The two sides need to deliver on the Plan of Action on a Closer Partnership of Science, Technology and Innovation for Future (2021-2025), develop joint research platforms and cooperation bases for innovation and entrepreneurship, strengthen human resources training and deepen the exchanges between researchers. China will work with ASEAN to explore cooperation on industrial design and increase the value of industrial manufactured products with innovative design. Digitization centering on big data represents the future. We need to finalize the Plan of Action on the Implementation of the China-ASEAN Digital Economy Partnership as quickly as possible, and identify the priorities for digital economy cooperation.”
“We need to push for the transition and upgrading of energy industries and economic structures as appropriate, and develop green industrial parks. China is ready to scale up its new energy investment. The relevant departments will work with the ASEAN Centre for Energy to implement the ASEAN-China Clean Energy Capacity Building Programme…”
“China will make a US$10 million additional contribution to the China-ASEAN Cooperation Fund to boost the friendly and practical cooperation between our two sides.”
He said that “China is firm in its commitment to the path of peaceful development” and on the South China Sea issue, he says that China and ASEAN have “substantively resumed negotiations of the Single Draft COC Negotiating Text and made positive progress.” But there’s no timeline for finalisation yet.
Anyway, I thought this was an interesting story too about China’s engagement with ASEAN nations: Why Asean may think twice before standing with China over Aukus.
Next, we have a report about Guo Shengkun speaking in Tianjin about “the importance, necessity and arduousness of carrying out education and rectification of political and legal teams.” The aim of the exercise is to “enhance the sense of responsibility and urgency, adhere to the political construction of the party, and achieve actual results. He visited a traffic police unit and spoke about effective law enforcement. Then at the Tianjin People’s Court, he spoke about “restraint and supervision of law enforcement and judicial power,” the need to “improve the quality, efficiency and credibility of law enforcement and judicial work.”
Later meeting senior functionaries of Political and Legal Committees of the Party Committees in Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei and Liaoning, he stressed the importance of speaking clearly about politics, unswervingly adhering to the Party’s absolute leadership over political and legal work, strictly observing the Party’s political discipline and political rules, and ensuring the two safeguards. He added “we need to take strong measures to root out black sheep, thoroughly eliminate their pernicious influence, and continue to purify the political ecology.” 调研期间，郭声琨与中央第一、第二督导组和北京、天津、河北、辽宁党委政法委负责同志座谈交流。郭声琨强调，要旗帜鲜明讲政治，毫不动摇坚持党对政法工作的绝对领导，严守党的政治纪律和政治规矩，严肃党内政治生活，坚决做到“两个维护”。要采取有力措施，坚决清除害群之马，彻底肃清流毒影响，不断净化政治生态.
Also on the page we have the State Council’s Action Plan for Carbon Dioxide Peaking Before 2030. I am not summarising this. The English version is available here.
Page 4: We have a report about Wang Yi’s meeting with Mullah Baradar, which I covered yesterday. But after meeting Baradar and Taliban’s foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, Wang gave a briefing too. He said:
“The Chinese expectations (from the Taliban) include:
building a more open and inclusive political structure in which all ethnic groups and factions should participate and play a role;
implementing moderate and stable domestic and foreign policies, including the protection of the legitimate rights and interests of women and children;
making a clear break with all terrorist forces and taking measures to resolutely combat them;
pursuing a peaceful foreign policy and living in harmony with other countries, especially the neighbors.”
“The key is how to achieve it,’ Wang said, adding that China maintains that the international community should uphold an attitude of equal respect, communicate with all parties and ethnic groups in Afghanistan, and provide "active guidance" in order to reach those goals. ‘We do not approve of blindly exerting pressure, and we are even more opposed to threats with sanctions,’ Wang said.”
The history of Afghanistan and many international events prove that pointing fingers at an independent nation often turns out to be counterproductive, Wang said, adding that interfering in the internal affairs of a country at every turn violates the basic norms of international relations. ‘As long as we remain patient, proceed in an orderly manner, and actively interact with the Afghan interim government and other parties and ethnic groups, I believe the Afghan Taliban will be able to understand more clearly that what to do is more in line with the fundamental and long-term interests of the Afghan people, as well as the expectations of all parties, in order to be more smoothly integrated into the international community,’ Wang said.
On China’s policy toward Afghanistan, Wang said that China respects the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Afghanistan, respects the Afghan people’s active exploration of a development path that suits its own national conditions, and respects the objective reality of the Afghan interim government’s rule throughout the country. — Quick Thought: Basically, Beijing has decided that it simply needs to learn to live with the Taliban, and it would like others to also do the same, while investing in the country’s stability that will have a positive impact for China too.
Regarding the difficulties facing Afghanistan, Wang said that the United States, which ended its 20-year invasion of Afghanistan on Aug. 30 this year with a complete troop pullout, and some Western countries ‘bear the unshirkable responsibility. China urges these countries to assume their due responsibilities and take practical actions as soon as possible to effectively help alleviate the possible humanitarian crisis and truly do some real good deeds for the Afghan people’.”
Then we have a report (English report) about Vice Premier Liu He’s chat with U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. The report calls the conversation “pragmatic, candid and constructive”. It says that they talked about the macroeconomic situation and cooperation in multilateral and bilateral domains.
The two sides agreed that as the world economic recovery is at a critical juncture, it is important for China and the United States to strengthen macro policy communication and coordination. The Chinese side expressed concern over issues including the lifting of additional tariffs and sanctions by the U.S. side and fair treatment of Chinese enterprises.
Next, we have a short report about Zhou Qiang, president of the Supreme People's Court, speaking at the International Forum on Maritime Silk Road Judicial Cooperation. I didn’t think the report said anything particularly noteworthy, but this is an interesting area of study. Next, a short report about the Xiangshan Forum being held. Taiwan and Afghanistan were among the key topics of discussion.
And finally, a short report telling us that from January to September 2021, discipline inspection and supervision organs across the country received 2.842 million complaints, filed 470,000 cases, and punished 414,000 people, including 22 officials at the provincial or ministerial level and 2,058 officials at the department or bureau level.
The lead piece on the Theory page is by Feng Pengzhi from the Central Party School. He provides a perspective on the approach to “seeking truth from facts.” He emphasises Xi’s speech at the school in September, in which Xi called for this to be the Party’s approach.
“As a basic method of thinking, seeking truth from facts emphasizes the in-depth and systematic investigation and study of the actual situation, so that thoughts, decisions and actions are more in line with the people's actual production and life and ideological reality. Seeking truth from facts focuses on ‘seeking truth’, that is, exploring and mastering the laws of the development of things. To explore and master the laws of the development of things, one must be brave and good at practice, accumulate experience in practice, carry out theoretical sublimation, and use it to guide and promote practice, and to test, modify, enrich and develop knowledge in practice.” 作为基本思想方法，实事求是强调对实际情况作深入系统的调查研究，使思想、决策、行动更加符合人民群众的生产生活实际和思想实际。实事求是，重在“求是”，即探求和掌握事物发展的规律。探求和掌握事物发展的规律，必须勇于实践、善于实践，在实践中不断积累经验、进行理论升华，用以指导实践、推动实践，并在实践中使认识得到检验、修正、丰富和发展.
He adds that “persisting in proceeding from reality and seeking truth from facts is also a requirement of the Party spirit. In terms of the requirements of party spirit, whether we can persist in seeking truth from facts, test our political stance and moral quality is an important manifestation of the purity and strength of party members and cadres, especially young cadres. Practice has proved that if party members and cadres do not have a strong party spirit and are full of selfish thoughts, they will not be able to seek truth from facts. Our party adheres to the guidance of dialectical materialism and historical materialism, and adheres to the people-centered development ideology. The party's goals are highly consistent with the fundamental interests of the people and the laws of economic and social development.” Ergo, he wants young cadres to strengthen party spirit and serve the interests of the people. 坚持从实际出发、实事求是，也是党性要求。从党性要求来讲，能不能坚持实事求是，考验着政治立场，考验着道德品质，始终是党员干部特别是年轻干部党性纯不纯、强不强的一个重要体现。实践证明，党员干部如果党性修养不强，私心杂念丛生，就不可能做到实事求是。我们党坚持以辩证唯物主义和历史唯物主义为指导，坚持以人民为中心的发展思想，党的奋斗目标与人民的根本利益、经济社会发展规律是高度一致的。党员干部特别是年轻干部坚持注重实际、实事求是，必须不断加强党性修养和锻炼，坚持一切以人民利益和党的事业为重，坚持以党性立身做事，敢于坚持真理，善于独立思考，坚持求真务实，讲真话、讲实话，干实事、求实效，说老实话、办老实事、做老实人.
He then writes about the importance of going to the grassroots and addressing real problems. He says that “Party members and cadres, especially young cadres, should always put the people in the highest position in their hearts, the love of the party and the people into concrete action…” 党员干部特别是年轻干部要始终把人民放在心中最高位置, 把对党和人民的热爱落实到具体行动上...
I thought this was also interesting: “persisting in seeking truth from facts in studying real problems requires young cadres to have the ‘国之大者’ (something I understand as “matters of great significance to the state”) in their minds. When thinking about problems and making decisions, we must be aware of ‘国之大者,’ always pay attention to what the Party Central Committee is concerned about, and deeply understand what is the most important interest of the Party and the country, and what is the position that needs to be firmly upheld the most…”在真研究问题、研究真问题中坚持实事求是，需要年轻干部心怀“国之大者”。想问题、作决策，一定要对“国之大者”心中有数，时刻关注党中央在关心什么、强调什么，深刻领会什么是党和国家最重要的利益、什么是最需要坚定维护的立场，立足本职岗位不断增强解决问题的思想自觉、政治自觉、行动自觉，谋划工作、制定政策、部署任务、健全机制、督促检查等都把重心放到解决真问题上.
Finally, two really interesting Twitter threads that I think are worth going through. First, this one based on comments by Zhang Weiwei the World Forum on China Studies.
Second, this one discussing the discourse around China’s model to deal with terrorism