Tracking People’s Daily — August 17, 2020

Page 1: The front page today essentially has feature stories, pushing the softer elements of Xi’s developmental agenda. But before I get to that. First, there’s this story:

“the Central and State Organs Working Committee issued an open letter advising the cadres and workers of the central and state organs to act quickly, resolutely implement the spirit of General Secretary Jinping’s important instructions on stopping food waste, and adhere to the leadership of party members. Cadres set an example and set an example in practicing economy and opposing waste, especially food waste. The open letter pointed out that the central and state agencies, as the first phalanx to implement the two safeguards, should take the lead in strengthening the political consciousness of practicing diligence and frugality and opposing catering waste, and thoroughly study and implement the spirit of General Secretary Xi Jinping’s important instructions.” This campaign will claim political scalps.

Next, there’s a piece on green development. It says that “since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, my country has attached great importance to the protection of the ecological environment. The three major action plans for air, water, and soil pollution prevention have been implemented one after another.” Another is about poverty alleviation, telling the story of Wantian Village in Zhejiang Province, where new road development was carried out, which required houses to be demolished and pushed back. It essentially portrays the decision as a success of CCP’s deliberative approach, wherein discussions were held to arrive at a consensus. Also, apparently the villagers who weren’t convinced were taken to a nearby village to demonstrate the effectiveness and utility of road-building. Finally, there’s a long piece about Xi Jinping’s “youth work.” This covers essentially attempts by the leadership to motivate and mobilise youth in the country. It covers a series of events, from Xi’s May 4 speech to exchanges of letters with overseas students to visits to universities and reform of institutions. Why, you ask? This quote answers that: “It is the common political responsibility of the whole party to train the younger generation to become socialist builders and successors who develop all-round moral, intellectual, physical, and artistic labor.”

Page 2: Only one story that I found useful. There’s a piece on soil erosion. It says that “data show that the area of ​​soil erosion in 2019 was 2,110,800 square kilometers, a decrease of 26,100 square kilometers or 0.95% from 2018. Compared with the data of the first national water conservancy census in 2011, the area of ​​soil erosion has decreased by 238,300 square kilometers, an overall decrease of 8.08%, and an average annual decrease of nearly 30,000 square kilometers.”

Page 3: A few stories to note on the page. First, this report on China-Europe trade cooperation amid the pandemic, basically talking about the significance of BRI in this. The piece talks about the resumption of normal activity at European ports, such as Hamburg, Piraeus and Zeebrugge. Next, a commentary criticising the concept of “decoupling” being pushed by “some US politicians.” The commentary uses articles written in Foreign Affairs, and by the Peterson Institute to make its argument, which is: “In the era of economic globalization, the strange phenomenon of beggar-thy-neighbor is disgusting. Driven by an overbearing and domineering mentality, some American politicians unfoundedly attribute their own problems to other countries, and use “confrontation games” as a tool to solve their own problems.”

Third, a piece based on an article by Code Pink’s Medea Benjamin, essentially criticising US foreign policy, particularly with regard to China. Finally a story based on a WHO statement about Covid cases globally hitting 21 million, with the Americas and South Asia being the worst hit.

Page 4: A piece about how university canteens are implementing the policy of frugality and fighting food waste. Posters, postcards, stickers, and so on. Then there’s another story about food waste; this one’s in Hubei. “Counting the number of people dining in the canteen before 10 am and 4 pm is one of the measures taken by Shexian County to stop food waste. Shexian County advocates the establishment of communication channels between the canteens of various agencies and various departments of the unit, to count the number of people who dine in advance, and to purchase and make food ingredients quantitatively. Currently, the system of counting the number of people dining in advance has been promoted and implemented in the canteens of 122 agencies, enterprises and institutions in the county.” And then there’s Guangping County, Hebei Province, where government canteens are implementing a points system; you accumulate points and then get a gift. There are more meal packing services being offered so people don’t wastel, and there are posters warning about the “shameful” habit.

Page 6: The 13th edition of excerpts about the Chinese system. This one talks about the one country, two systems formulae. The piece pays homage to Deng Xiaoping, calling the system as the vision of a “great pioneer.”

The system “is the fundamental reason for the great progress made more than 20 years after the reunification. It is also an institutional arrangement for maintaining long-term prosperity and stability in the future. At present, Hong Kong and Macao have encountered some new situations and new problems in their economic and social development. Traditional advantages have been relatively weakened, new economic growth points have not yet been formed, and housing and other livelihood issues are more prominent…This requires giving full play to the advantages of “one country, two systems”, further improving the integration of Hong Kong and Macao into the overall national development, complementing the advantages of the Mainland, and coordinating development mechanisms.”

And then there’s this, which to be honest does not accord with reality at all: “This system was originally proposed to take care of the reality of Taiwan and safeguard the interests and well-being of Taiwan compatriots. It has the greatest tolerance and adaptability, and provides the best path for seeking common ground while reserving differences and peaceful reunification across the Taiwan Strait.”

The piece then talks about the protests in Hong Kong and the imposition of national security law. It says: “One country is the prerequisite of two systems. One country and two systems are the relationship between source and flow. One country is the prerequisite and basis for the implementation of two systems. Two systems are subordinate to one country and unified in one country. One country is unchallable and unshakable. Two systems must operate within one country. China is a unitary country. The central government has full control over all regions including Hong Kong and Macao Special Administrative Regions. The high degree of autonomy of Hong Kong and Macao Special Administrative Regions is not inherent. Sovereignty and governance power are at the center. Autonomy is granted by the central government.”

More on HK: “In recent years, some people in Hong Kong society have advocated the so-called inherent power and autonomous power in Hong Kong, denying or resisting the central government’s power to govern Hong Kong. Comrade Deng Xiaoping said a long time ago: “Don’t think that Hong Kong’s affairs are all handled by Hong Kong people. If the central government doesn’t care at all, everything will be fine. This is not feasible. This kind of thinking is impractical…” Under no circumstances will a high degree of autonomy be allowed against the power of the central government.”

Finally on Taiwan, the piece talks about “peaceful reunification” as “the general trend and the aspirations of the people.”

Page 9: There’s a piece by Qu Qingshan, Dean of the Research Institute of Party History and Literature of the CPC Central Committee, on Xi Jinping Thought. I am not going into details, because it’s largely what we’ve read in the weeks before from others.

Page 16: On the international page, a story about Putin promising support to Belarus’ Lukashenko if and when faced with “external military threat.” Another story about the popularity of Chinese TV shows in the Middle East. The rest are evident in the image below. They don’t necessarily have any China-specific details.