Tracking People’s Daily — August 12, 2020

Page 1: The lead story (English version) is about food waste. Xi Jinping termed the issue of food waste “shocking and distressing,” calling for maintaining “a sense of crisis regarding food security.” He wants to “strengthen legislation, strengthen supervision, take effective measures, establish a long-term mechanism, and resolutely stop food waste.” He wants to “create an atmosphere of shame in waste and pride in saving.” I guess we are entering a new round of crackdowns against extravagance. Xi Jinping’s tenure as General Secretary in 2013 had started with this. There’s another report on the front page about what needs to be done to tackle food waste, and then there’s also a commentary on the issue on the front page; it essentially reiterates the importance of cracking down on waste from the perspective of food security and extravagance.

The other key story on the page is about the conclusion of the NPCSC meeting. It adopted the law on urban maintenance and construction tax and the deed tax law. It also appointed Xiao Yaqing as the new minister of industry and information technology, and Hu Heping as minister of culture and tourism. NPCSC also extended the tenure of the current HK LegCo for another year, given that elections have been postponed. GT reports that the NPCSC’s decision doesn’t clarify whether the opposition lawmakers, who are disqualified from election for next term, can remain in the LegCo in the extended term. There’s also a commentary on the page, defending the decision to postpone the polls in HK as “reasonable, lawful, necessary and appropriate,” and the NPCSC’s extension.

It adds: “According to the provisions of the Constitution and the Basic Law, the power to deal with the vacancy of the SAR legislature in the case of postponed elections lies with the central government…The Basic Law does not authorize the SAR to deal with such constitutional issues on its own. my country is a unitary country, all local power comes from the central authority.”

The NPCSC also decided to allow law practitioners in Hong Kong and practicing lawyers in Macao to qualify and work as lawyers in nine cities of Guangdong Province on the mainland on a trial basis. This is part of building the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.

Also, national honours were bestowed linked to the fight against COVID-19. The Medal of the Republic was conferred on respiratory disease expert Zhong Nanshan. Zhang Boli, a TCM expert, Zhang Dingyu, head of Wuhan’s Jinyintan Hospital, and Chen Wei, a military medical scientist, were awarded the title “People’s Hero.”

Page 2: A few pieces to note on the page. A feature story about employment support for graduates, with details about steps taken by different city governments. For instance, a government supported internship program in Hangzhou; the local government is also apparently providing living and rental subsidies to fresh graduates. In Chongqing, it appears that local authorities are bringing companies online to broadcast job opportunities and getting colleges online for job fairs. The city’s Jiangjin District has reportedly implemented business loans of 1.2 million yuan for 11 college students, promoted employment of more than 20 people, implemented social insurance subsidies of 6.34 million yuan, promoted 1,083 college students to achieve stable employment and helped more than 500 college students find employment and internship for 1,269 college students.

Next, an interview with Ni Yuefeng, Director of the General Administration of Customs. Here’s the key points:

  • In the first half of the year, the growth rate of my country’s trade with countries along the Belt and Road was 2.3 percentage points higher than that of the country.
  • In the first 7 months, the import and export of private enterprises was 7.83 trillion yuan, an increase of 7.2%.
  • the total import and export value of online cross-border e-commerce transactions exceeded 600 billion yuan, an increase of 6.7%, which was significantly higher than the overall import and export growth rate in the same period.
  • “Since the beginning of this year, affected by the epidemic, the global market has shrunk and orders for processing trade companies have decreased. Many foreign trade companies have paid more attention to exporting to domestic sales.” So he lists out steps taken, primarily tax relief, to support these enterprises.

Page 3: A few pieces to note. First, MoFA’s comments (in English) after NBC was given access to the Wuhan Institute of Virology — a report that the State Department criticised. Zhao Lijian hit back saying: China’s response to Covid “stands in sharp contrast with US political parties who put political gains first. As confirmed cases in the US surged to over five million and deaths over 160,000, focusing on fighting the virus and saving lives should be the one true task at hand for the US, not regurgitating excuses to shift the blame to China.”

Next a report from Nigeria about how Chinese assistance has helped in the fight against the pandemic. Finally, a commentary about the use of the “human rights card” by the US. The piece attacks the US government, particularly Mike Pompeo, on its handling of the pandemic; its foreign policy; racial inequality; its multilateral engagement on the issue; and so on. Here are some excerpts:

  • “The death rate of African Americans in the epidemic reached 2.5 times that of whites, exposing the long-standing racial inequality in the United States.”
  • “The world has to ask, when some American politicians don’t have the minimum human rights care for those national citizens who “can’t breathe,” Pompeo still brazenly claims that “protecting human rights is the conscience of a country.”
  • “It must be pointed out that some US politicians blindly adhere to double standards and use human rights as a political tool to suppress other countries, completely betraying the purpose of human rights.”

Finally, the piece essentially defends Chinese government policies in Xinjiang and Hong Kong, saying that growth has provided “happy life for the people” and that all Beijing has done is “cracked down on violent, terrorist, separatist, and religious extremist forces” in Xinjiang and “on a very small number of illegal and criminal acts and activities that endanger national security in accordance with the law” in Hong Kong. Of course!

Page 6 & 7: I’m not going into each story, but the entire page is about HK officials appreciating the NPCSC’s decisions. On the seventh page, we have another edition of excerpts about the Chinese system; it’s too long and complex to briefly summarise. But the piece talks about the Fengqiao Experience as a monument of grassroots governance in New China and as a learning tool for “prevention of contradictions and risks at the grassroots level.” CMP has an excellent explanation of what Fengqiao Experience refers to. The piece then talks about resolving conflict at local levels…and “the focus of resolving conflicts is to prevent them.”

Page 16: On the international page, here’s what was covered.