Youth & Grassroots - Xi's letter to International Students - Li on Western Development - Xinjiang Tussle at UNHRC - Ren Lixuan Commentary on Ensuring People's Support

Here are the stories and pieces from the People’s Daily’s June 22, 2021, edition that I found noteworthy.

Page 1: Let’s begin with Xi Jinping’s letter (English report) addressing international students at PKU. Xinhua tells us that Xi was replying to “45 representatives of overseas students from 32 countries who are studying at Peking University.” 

He asked them to “to gain a deeper understanding of China as it really is, urging them to share their thoughts and experiences with more people and play an active role in promoting friendship between the peoples of all countries.”

He added “to understand today's China, one must understand the CPC,” and argued that the Party does things because it “strives for both the well-being of the Chinese people and human progress.”

Also on the page, we have a piece reporting the “enthusiastic response among the universities and foreign students in China” to Xi’s letter. The report tells us that “on the day when President Xi Jinping’s reply was received, Peking University immediately held a party committee meeting and a symposium for international students to convey the spirit of studying the reply.” 

“Peking University Party Secretary Qiu Shuipi said that further education on party history should be carried out in a practical manner. Use our party’s glorious historical education to guide teachers and students and cultivate more outstanding talents who know China and are friendly to China. Hao Ping, President of Peking University, said that we must thoroughly implement the spirit of the chairman’s reply, accelerate the construction of ‘double first-class,’ and deepen international exchanges and cooperation in higher education.” 北京大学党委书记邱水平表示,要进一步深入开展党史学习教育,切实用我们党的光辉历史教育引导广大师生,培养更多知华友华的优秀人才. 北京大学校长郝平表示,要深入贯彻落实习主席回信精神,加快推动“双一流”建设,深化高等教育国际交流合作.

Just a line on “双一流” or ‘double first-class,’ this is a formal initiative by the Party referring to the aim of building world-class universities and first-class disciplines. Here’s some information about it if you are interested. Anyway, the rest of the piece has positive comments from students and administrators.

Next, we have a report (English version) about Li Keqiang’s comments from a meeting of the State Council leading group on western development. PD tells us that they “discussed and approved the implementation plan of the 14th Five-Year Plan for the development of the western region.” Li said that the problem of inadequate and unbalanced development in the western region “is still relatively prominent.” He added that he wants western regions to “commit more efforts to empowering market entities, improving the business environment, and expanding opening up.” Here’s Li’s direct comment from PD, after he’s talked about supporting small and micro enterprises and reducing costs:

“Align with the national opening strategy, expand opening to the outside world, more effectively attract investment and technology, and improve development capabilities and levels.” He also wants the region to “better leverage their advantages in wind, solar and hydro-electric energy as well as mineral resources to build large-scale clean-energy bases and enhance their capacities in guaranteeing energy and important resources for the country.” Li also called for increased “fiscal, financial and other policy support for the development of the western regions.”

Next, a report (English report) about Li Zhanshu speaking to Serbian National Assembly Speaker Ivica Dacic. Li said that in the process of striving for their respective national independence and realizing national development, China and Serbia have forged a profound friendship. Li added that “the two countries to strengthen mutual political support, firmly support each other’s core interests and major concerns, carry out anti-pandemic cooperation, work together to overcome the pandemic, promote practical cooperation in various fields, jointly build the projects under the Belt and Road Initiative, and expand exchanges on culture, education and sports.”

Dacic said that “Serbia attaches great importance to the development of a comprehensive strategic partnership with China, firmly adheres to the one-China principle and supports the Belt and Road initiative and the CEE-China cooperation.” 塞高度重视发展同中国的全面战略伙伴关系,坚定奉行一个中国原则,支持“一带一路”倡议和中东欧国家—中国合作.

Wang Yang spoke at (English report) the CPPCC National Committee meeting about expanding domestic demand. Finally, there’s a long piece about grassroots party building and youth mobilisation.

It says that:

“Since the 18th Party Congress, General Secretary Xi Jinping has attached great importance to young people going to the front line of the countryside to build their careers, emphasizing that ‘talent is the key to rural revitalization,’ calling for ‘actively cultivating local talents and encouraging capable people from outside to return to their hometowns to start their own businesses,’ ‘building up grassroots party organizations through the first secretary, college student village officials, rural task forces and other forms’, and urging college student village officials to ‘love the grassroots, be rooted at the grassroots, gain insight and talent, promote rural development, benefit farmers and have no regrets for their youth’.” 党的十八大以来,习近平总书记高度重视青年人到乡村一线建功立业,强调“乡村振兴,人才是关键”,要求“积极培养本土人才,鼓励外出能人返乡创业”“通过第一书记、大学生村官、农村工作队等形式筑牢基层党组织”,寄语大学生村官“热爱基层、扎根基层,增长见识、增长才干,促农村发展,让农民受益,让青春无悔”

The piece then tells us that in implementing the spirit of this direction by Xi, the Organisation Department has been working to guide “all localities to actively select college graduates to work in villages.” It adds that “by the end of 2020, a total of 537,000 college student village officials had been selected and hired across the country.” These individuals, the piece tells us, have shown that they are “willing to endure hardships and dedicate themselves, take the initiative to work and start businesses, and make positive contributions in poverty alleviation and rural revitalization.” 他们发挥特长优势、甘于吃苦奉献、主动干事创业,在脱贫攻坚和乡村振兴中作出积极贡献.

There’s also this recommendation for the Organisation Department in terms of selecting young people for such tasks at grassroots levels. These individuals should have “good political qualities,” should “dare to take responsibility,” and must “not be afraid to endure hardships.” One goal of the policy is to consolidate “the results of poverty alleviation, implement relocation for poverty alleviation, and rectify weak and scattered party organizations.” 各级组织部门严格挑选人员,注重从政治素质好、敢于担当、不怕吃苦的年轻干部中选拔,引导各级机关舍得派出担当骨干和重点培养的年轻人;注重将年轻干部派往有巩固脱贫成果、实施易地扶贫搬迁、整顿软弱涣散党组织等任务的重点乡村.

The piece also tells us that “according to statistics, most of the 501,000 college student village officials who have completed their service have chosen to remain at the grassroots level. Among these, 176,000 have entered the civil service, 162,000 joined public institutions, and 227 and 12,000 were promoted to county-level and township-level cadre positions, respectively.” 据统计,全国服务期满流动的50.1万名大学生村官大部分留在基层,其中进入公务员队伍17.6万名,进入事业单位16.2万名,提拔为县处级、乡科级干部分别为227名、1.2万名.

Page 2: A short report (English version) about China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) having discovered a shale oil field containing estimated 1 billion tons of shale oil in Northwest China’s Ordos Basin.

Page 3: We have a piece by Stanford economist Scott Rozelle, talking about China’s agricultural and rural development experience. He writes that:

“In the 1980s and 1990s, a series of policies launched by the Chinese government helped many rural families gradually lift themselves out of poverty. Whether it is the household contract responsibility system, increasing agricultural investment, and expanding employment channels outside of agriculture, they have successfully promoted the largest poverty reduction action in human history.”

On the rural revitalisation policy, he says that “by making up for the shortcomings of rural development and people's livelihood, China is striving to solve the problems of uneven urban and rural development and insufficient rural development.”

Here’s more: “China must improve the quality of workers and increase investment in human capital to promote rural revitalization in an all-round way. A high-income, modern economy is driven by advanced technology. China is promoting new technologies in rural areas, increasing investment in agricultural infrastructure, stimulating the creativity of farmers, and improving agricultural and rural productivity. These necessary measures are conducive to improving the living standards of Chinese rural residents.” He then talks about the need to expand investment in rural education and healthcare.

He concludes saying: “For other countries, China’s agricultural and rural development has many lessons to learn from. The first is China's land management policy, which laid the foundation for the early eradication of poverty among the rural population in China. Second, China has adopted a step-by-step approach and formed a good incentive mechanism, allowing farmers to obtain agricultural technology and non-agricultural jobs. These are things that other countries can learn from.”

Next, there’s a piece about 25 diplomats from 13 countries being taken to visit the Forbidden City. The piece talks about efforts to restore, renovate and preserve ancient buildings amid new developments. Basically the story tells us that these diplomas were amazed and excited to learn about the restoration work carried out under the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. 

Third, we have a short report (English version) about Wang Yi’s chat with New Zealand’s Nanaia Mahuta. The report tells us that Wang said the “two sides should make good use of the upgraded China-New Zealand free trade agreement, speed up talks over the detailed cooperation plan on the Belt and Road Initiative as well as its implementation, and promote the high-quality development of bilateral cooperation.”

Global Times’ report adds that:

“Wang also mentioned that he hopes New Zealand will protect legal rights of Chinese and other overseas companies in the country.” And this: “The Chinese foreign minister said that people of a country are the best to judge if human rights are protected and democracy is promoted. Countries can exchange opinions on human rights and democracy issues, yet such dialogue should be based on equal and mutual respect instead of a presumption of guilt, said Wang, noting that China hopes to communicate with New Zealand on those issues.”

The New Zealand Foreign Ministry’s readout does mention the FTA and economic ties, but not mention BRI or the politicisation of the pandemic. It does, however, say that the “two Ministers discussed several issues, including respective responses to COVID-19 and the importance of a rigorous science-based investigation into its origins.” 

And then this: 

“Minister Mahuta emphasised that Chinese leadership and ambition would be critical to achieving success for the global response to climate change. She outlined the importance that New Zealand places on the international rules-based system, and the values-based approach that New Zealand takes to its foreign policy. In this regard, noting that New Zealand takes a respectful, predictable and firm approach, Minister Mahuta also reiterated New Zealand’s grave concerns over the human rights situation of ethnic Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang province, as well as deep concerns over the erosion of political freedoms in Hong Kong.”

Next, we have a brief report (English version) with MoFA’s Zhao Lijian’s comments about the high-level BRI conference that’s planned for today. Zhao said that “the purpose of this meeting is to build on President Xi Jinping's important initiative to forge new consensus with countries in the Asia-Pacific region on jointly fighting the epidemic and promoting sustainable economic recovery, advance high-quality development of the BRI, and make greater contributions to the building of a community with a shared future for Asia-Pacific region and the entire mankind.”

Then we have a report with remarks from Amb. Chen Xu, Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations Office in Geneva. Now what’s interesting about this is that Chen spoke about a couple of things, but the PD report only focuses on the vaccine issue on which he spoke on behalf of 63 countries. The report talks about Chen saying that the “availability and affordability of vaccines have become serious problems.” He hit out at “vaccine nationalism” and “the practice of hoarding far more vaccines than the population needs.” Chen added:

“We call on capable countries to actively participate in international development cooperation to help developing countries achieve sustainable development and effectively deal with the impact of the pandemic. Many developing countries have expressed their gratitude to China for providing vaccine assistance.”

Among the other things that Chen spoke about during the ongoing 47th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, Xinhua’s English report on this tells us that:

Chen stressed that the work of the Human Rights Council shall be guided by the principles of universality, impartiality, objectivity and non-selectivity, constructive international dialogue and cooperation, in accordance with General Assembly Resolution 60/251, which established this subsidiary body. “We are gravely concerned about baseless accusations by certain countries using human rights as a means to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries, severely violating the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, while turning a blind eye to their own serious human rights problems,” he said. Some countries, under the pretext of democracy and human rights, want to impose their own values and models on others, and even use human rights as an excuse for military intervention and unilateral coercive measures, which have brought untold sufferings to the people of other countries, he added. "These severely undermine the sovereignty and political independence of other countries and international cooperation on human rights, which the international community should jointly oppose, he said.

It is also useful to note that there’s a tussle that’s been going on at the UNHRC over the past few days. A joint statement on China was read out by Canadian Ambassador Leslie Norton on behalf of more than 40 countries, including Australia, Britain, France, Germany, Japan and the United States, to the U.N. Human Rights Council. Reuters reports that the statement said that: 

“We urge China to allow immediate, meaningful and unfettered access to Xinjiang for independent observers, including the High Commissioner.” Michelle Bachelet had told the council on Monday that she hoped to agree on terms for a visit this year to China, including Xinjiang, to examine reports of serious violations against Uyghurs.

This was followed by the representative from Belarus reading out a statement supporting China, on behalf of 65 countries. Global Times reports that the statement said that respecting the sovereignty and integrity of each country is the basic code of international relations, and affairs on Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet are China's domestic affairs, which should not be interfered by outside forces. GT also says that more than 90 countries expressed their support and understanding for China’s position, with 65 clearly opposing interference with China’s domestic affairs. On all of this, the Chinese foreign ministry said that “The aim of these countries is to suppress and contain China and impede China's development...This is doomed to fail.”

This entire saga on Xinjiang at the UNHRC is reflected in a Zhong Sheng commentary on the page. It talks about how all these 65 countries have opposed the “politicization of human rights issues and double standards, opposed politically motivated and unjustified accusations against China based on false information, and opposed interference in China's internal affairs on the pretext of human rights.”

It says that the West’s actions are motivated by the “political purpose of suppressing and containing China.”

“With the strong voice of the majority of developing countries firmly supporting China, the racket created by these Western countries seems particularly isolated; they represent neither human rights standards nor international public opinion.” 在广大发展中国家坚定支持中方的强大声势下,这些西方国家的聒噪显得格外孤立和刺耳,他们既代表不了人权标准,也代表不了国际舆论.

The commentary then attacks Canada, the UK and the US on issues of rights violations. The mass grave of 215 children at a former residential school for Indigenous children in Canada gets a mention. Racial discrimination, poverty and Britain’s policies in Iraq get called out. And on the US, racial discrimination and foreign wars get mentioned.

Then we get a defense of China’s human rights record, before making this point:

Regardless of the times, China's position on the human rights issue remains firm. Human rights are the common pursuit of all mankind, not the patent of a few countries, and can not be used as a tool to interfere in other countries' internal affairs and incite subversion of political power.” 不论时移势迁,中国在人权问题上的立场坚定如一,人权是全人类的共同追求,不是少数国家的专利,更不能成为干涉别国内政、煽动颠覆政权的工具. 

Page 6: We have a long Ren Lixuan commentary on the page. The piece basically underscores the importance of the Party connecting with the people, and maintaining popular support, which is a matter “related to the life and death of the party.” 民心是最大的政治,人心向背关系党的生死存亡。

The commentary says that:

“Since the 18th Party Congress, our Party has led the people to overcome thousands of difficulties and dangers, and continue to win, by adhering to the Marxist concept of the people and the masses, taking the mass line as the fundamental line of work of the Party, and always maintaining flesh-and-blood contact with the people…” The commentary terms the people as “the highest adjudicators and final judges of our party’s work...” 再到党的十八大以来取得历史性成就、发生历史性变革,我们党领导人民克服千难万险、不断夺取胜利,靠的是坚持马克思主义人民观、群众观,把群众路线作为党的根本工作路线,始终同人民群众保持血肉联系;靠的是坚持问政于民、问需于民、问计于民;靠的是把人民当作我们党的工作的最高裁决者和最终评判者,努力向历史、向人民交出新的更加优异的答卷. 

“Both history and reality tell us that the Communist Party of China has been able to develop and grow, and socialism with Chinese characteristics has been able to move forward, precisely because it relies on the people. The reason why the CPC is supported by the people and socialism with Chinese characteristics is supported by the people is precisely because it benefits the people.” 历史和现实都告诉我们,中国共产党之所以能够发展壮大,中国特色社会主义之所以能够不断前进,正是因为依靠了人民. 中国共产党之所以能够得到人民拥护,中国特色社会主义之所以能够得到人民支持, 也正是因为造福了人民.

The author then talks about testing the theoretical propositions of the Party with practice and staying true to the lofty ideals that have been articulated.

“The essence of socialism is to liberate the productive forces, develop them, eliminate exploitation, eliminate polarization, and ultimately achieve common prosperity. The beautiful vision of communism is to build a ‘union of free people’ to replace the old bourgeois society with classes and class antagonism. The ideal pursuit of socialism and communism, in a nutshell, is to seek the interests and liberation of the greatest number of people.” 社会主义的本质,是解放生产力,发展生产力,消灭剥削,消除两极分化,最终达到共同富裕. 共产主义的美好愿景,是建立“自由人的联合体”,以取代存在着阶级和阶级对立的资产阶级旧社会. 社会主义、共产主义的理想追求,概括地说,就是为最广大人民谋利益、求解放. 

The rest of the piece essentially talks about delivering on people’s interests with consistency, working to address livelihood issues and improving quality of life, addressing issues of unbalanced and inadequate development, dealing with inequality, etc.

The author then says that while one must adhere to the position of the CCP as the “vanguard of the Chinese working class, as well as the vanguard of the Chinese people and the Chinese nation,” doing so requires addressing “people’s interests.” 

“As the vanguard of the times and the backbone of the nation, the Party plays an irreplaceable leading role in driving China’s history forward. At present, we are closer to the goal of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation than at any time in history, and we are more confident and capable of achieving this goal than at any time in history. The closer we are to national rejuvenation, the less smooth sailing it will be, the more full of risks, challenges and stormy waves will it be. To overcome all kinds of difficulties and obstacles on the road ahead, we must persist in arming our minds with the latest achievements in the sinicization of Marxism, strengthen our foundation, strengthen our bones with ideals, beliefs and party spirit education, and strengthen our institutional construction around constantly strengthening our party's political leadership, ideological leadership, mass organization and social appeal, so as to ensure that the party will always become the strong leadership core of the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics and the most reliable backbone of the Chinese people when storms hit.”

作为担当民族复兴重任的时代先锋和民族脊梁,我们党在推动中国历史前进中发挥着无可替代的领导核心作用.  现在,我们比历史上任何时期都更接近中华民族伟大复兴的目标,比历史上任何时期都更有信心、有能力实现这个目标. 越是接近民族复兴越不会一帆风顺,越充满风险挑战乃至惊涛骇浪. 战胜前进道路上各种艰难险阻,必须坚持用马克思主义中国化最新成果武装头脑、凝心聚魂,以理想信念和党性教育固本培元、补钙壮骨,围绕不断增强党的政治领导力、思想引领力、群众组织力、社会号召力加强党的制度建设,确保党始终成为中国特色社会主义事业的坚强领导核心,始终成为风雨来袭时中国人民最可靠的主心骨.

Page 13: I didn’t find any of the pieces on the Theory page particularly interesting; they basically repeat most of what we’ve covered in the past few weeks. But if you are to check out any one, do go through this by Li Jie, former president of Qiushi. He talks about the importance of focussing on 国之大者 (matters of great significance to the state) and national rejuvenation. In recapping history, he talks about the Party and country having experienced misery and glory, and now the prospects of achieving national rejuvenation being bright. He praises Xi’s leadership as the “core,” and then says:

“At present, China has entered a new stage of development, with remarkable institutional advantages, solid material foundation, abundant human resources, complete industrial system, strong scientific and technological strength, broad market space, and strong development resilience. It enjoys favorable conditions and a solid foundation for nurturing opportunities amid crises, creating new situations, and starting a new journey of building a socialist modern country in an all-round way.” 当前,我国已进入新发展阶段,拥有显著的制度优势、雄厚的物质基础、丰富的人力资源、完整的产业体系、强大的科技实力、广阔的市场空间、强劲的发展韧性,具备在危机中育先机、于变局中开新局,开启全面建设社会主义现代化国家新征程的有利条件和坚实基础.