Page 1: A few noteworthy stories on the page today. First, a report following Xi’s remarks about food security. This one has officials at different agencies and levels committing to follow Xi’s instructions. Then there’s a commentary, which says that “the trend of extravagance and waste deviates from the basic national conditions of our country, deviates from the excellent traditional culture, and corrupts the social atmosphere.” And that “frugality as a traditional virtue and value pursuit, whether at the national level, social level or individual level, is the subject of socialist core values.”
Finally, another commentary that defends the NPC’s decision on postponing the LegCo elections in Hong Kong. Basically, the argument is that this was done to deal with the Covid outbreak and save lives.
Page 2: The lead story is about the State Council’s Opinions on stabilising foreign trade. It says that as per the State Council, “the world economy is in serious decline, and my country’s foreign trade and foreign investment are facing a complex and severe situation.” And then it puts forward policy measures. Some of these are:
- stepping up credit support to foreign trade firms, especially micro, small and medium ones, and extending financial support to major foreign-funded companies.
- lowering the threshold for foreign-funded R&D centers to enjoy preferential policies, and encourage foreign businessmen to invest in China to establish R&D centers.
- Supporting cross-border e-commerce platforms, cross-border logistics development and overseas warehouse construction. And expanding online channels for foreign trade.
- Improving the facilitation of customs clearance and personnel exchanges. Promoting the standardization and reduction of the cost of compliance in import and export.
Next, there’s an interview with Wang Jun, Director of the State Administration of Taxation.
Page 3: First, a long report drawing from World Bank reports and comments by representatives of foreign enterprises or officials of multilateral financial institutions to express in the Chinese economy, business environment and reform measures. For instance, you have Zhuang Juzhong, senior economic consultant of the Asian Development Bank, reportedly basically saying what Chinese officials and media have been saying in as many words: “The legitimate rights and interests of foreign businessmen in China are effectively protected.”
Second, a commentary by Peter Walker basically saying that a new Cold War does not serve anyone’s interests. He blames a group of politicians in the US for instigating this, and argues that US management of the pandemic has hurt its international credibility.
Third, MoFA’s Zhao Lijian (English version) lashing out at US Health Secretary Alex Azar for his trip to Taiwan. He criticised the DPP first and then went on to the US. Here’s an excerpt: “Turning to the US, confirmed cases passed five million and deaths over 160,000. In the face of such a grave situation, the principal US health official, instead of manning the front-line and devoting himself entirely to bringing the virus under control, has walked out on the millions of people suffering at home, all for a political posturing faraway in Taiwan. I wonder if this official knew that during his three-day visit, more than 150,000 new cases were confirmed in the US and over 2,000 lives lost. Their ridiculous stunts this time just make us more convinced that for them, American people’s lives are nothing compared with their selfish political gains.”
Page 4: There are a bunch of reports essentially indicating political support in HK for the central government’s decision. Here’s Carrie Lam meeting with legislators. The report says that Lam told opposition lawmakers that the decision “was made in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China and the Basic Law.” Then there’s this one with members of the CPPCC National Committee of the Hong Kong District issuing a statement to support the decision. And other agencies like the Hong Kong Guangdong Association of Associations, Hong Kong Federation of Fujian Associations, Hong Kong Federation of Overseas Chinese Associations, Hong Kong Association of Talents and Professionals, and the Hong Kong Youth Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong.
Page 6: A review of the third of Xi’s Governance of China series of books by propaganda chief Huang Kunming. I’m sharing some excerpts, but machine translation will have its limitations.
Upon reading the book, he “deeply realized that the word people has a fundamental and fundamental position and role in Xi Jinping’s new era of socialism with Chinese characteristics.” There’s a lot more about improving people’s lives, i.e., the CCP banking on performance legitimacy. And the scope of this is expanded to include economic growth, poverty alleviation, anti-corruption, improving the environment/tackling pollution, and resisting formalism and bureaucracy.
There’s an interesting discussion on the emphasis on Marxist ideology. Huang argues that the practical relevance of Marxist principles is one of the key aspects of Xi’s new era. He writes: “Promoting and adhering to the ideals of communism and socialism is a red line that runs through the party’s innovative theory.” On practical significance, there’s a paragraph on being problem-oriented. “The creation of a new era and the emergence of new ideas are themselves realized by taking root in the soil of reality, responding to practical needs, and answering the issues of the times.”
He then talks about having a historical sense. “The deep understanding of the road and the road to revival highlights the profound historical observation, profound historical feelings, and strong historical responsibility.” This is part of the China stood up, grew rich and is growing stronger, nationalistic narrative. Here’s more:
“The Chinese dream of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation is a major proposition with leading and iconic significance in the party’s innovative theory. This proposition has an in-depth insight into the historical destiny of the Chinese nation and the historical laws behind it, profoundly clarifies the historical mission of the Communist Party of China and the Chinese people in this era, demonstrates the responsibility of our party to inherit the Chinese civilization and participate in national rejuvenation, and find the unity of the Chinese nation.”
Finally, he talks about political risk. Huang writes: “preventing the repetition of the Soviet and Eastern drastic changes, to be vigilant against the four dangers and four major tests, our party has always remained alert to the dangers and risks.” And then he talks about Xi’s global vision.
“The world today is at a crossroads where protectionism, unilateralism, and populism are becoming increasingly fierce, hegemonic thinking and bullying practices are becoming more severe, and risks such as climate change, wars, terrorist attacks, and famine epidemics are becoming increasingly prominent.”
He adds: “I deeply feel that he has a profound insight into the general trend of the world and a sincere concern for the destiny of mankind. I deeply feel that General Secretary Xi Jinping, as the leader of a major party and country, believes that mankind seeks development and seeks universal unity for the world. Answered the question of the age of what’s going on in the world and what shall we do, and contributed Chinese wisdom and Chinese solutions to solving global problems.”
Page 17 & 19: Page 19 has a piece on domestic violence in China. This is the kind of stuff that you don’t generally read about. The piece says that Guangdong has just passed a new domestic violence law. It covers “persons who cannot report crimes due to old age, disability, serious illness, coercion, intimidation, etc., and makes clear that minors who witness domestic violence are victims of domestic violence. This sounds very interesting. The piece then offers some data points and talks about legal development in China around the issue.
“Domestic violence, challenging the bottom line of morality and civilization, has caused many families to fall into the abyss. Data from the court system shows that the number of personal safety protection orders issued annually across the country has gradually increased. 687 in 2016, 1469 in 2017, 1589 in 2018, and 2004 in 2019. As of the end of December 2019, a total of 5,749 personal safety protection orders have been issued by courts across the country to provide protection for domestic violence victims who have suffered domestic violence or are facing the real danger of domestic violence. Behind these figures are victims struggling in the shadow of violence, as well as embarrassing family tragedies.”
The image below shows what the international page, 17, covered.