Tracking People’s Daily — August 21, 2020
Page 1: After yesterday, today’s front page seems a bit like the empire striking back, with Xi and BRI both being in the headlines. First, Xi’s visit to Anhui. Interestingly, PD has led with the aspect of him inspecting the military’s role in flood relief work.
It carries a Xinhua story (English version) saying that “the Joint Staff Headquarters of the Central Military Commission, the Eastern Theater Command, the Anhui Military Region, and the Armed Police Anhui Corps reported on the military’s participation in flood control and disaster relief.” The report said that as of August 19, “more than 1.2 million head counts from the PLA and the People’s Armed Police Force and more than 300,000 from the militia have participated in flood relief in 17 provinces. In his speech, Xi underscored the Party’s command over the PLA, emphasising that they had “won a major victory in the flood prevention and disaster relief struggle.” There’s, of course, still work to do. But this is the broader context within which he sees flood relief work.
“This flood prevention and disaster relief is a practical test of our army’s leadership and command system, the military’s combat readiness, the ability to perform tasks, the combat spirit of officers and soldiers, and the military-political military-civilian relationship.”
Next up, a look at China’s foreign economic engagement. The report says that as per the Ministry of Commerce: “From January to July 2020, foreign non-financial direct investment was RMB 423.65 billion, a year-on-year decrease of 2.1%. The value of newly signed foreign contracted projects was 855.67 billion yuan, an increase of 4.3% year-on-year; the completed turnover was 491.26 billion yuan, a year-on-year decrease of 10.5%. 159,000 laborers of various types were dispatched for foreign labor service cooperation, and 644,000 laborers of various types were sent abroad at the end of July.”
And then BRI: “From January to July, non-financial direct investment by Chinese enterprises in countries along the “Belt and Road” was US$10.27 billion, a year-on-year increase of 28.9%, accounting for 17% of the total investment in the same period, an increase of 4.5 percentage points from the previous year. The value of newly-signed project contracts for countries along the “Belt and Road” was US$67.18 billion, and the completed turnover was US$40.43 billion, accounting for 55.2% and 57.8% of the newly-signed and completed turnover of foreign contracted projects in the same period.”
Third, a report (English version) on Wang Yang at the National Committee meeting of the CPPCC discussing poverty alleviation. The meeting was held in Gansu; the focus of the discussion appears to be ensuring alleviation and consolidating gains in the western regions of China.
Page 2: The second edition of the series of stories to remember the role of the medical community in combating Covid in China. It’s all about heroic deeds and anecdotes. A short statement by MoC about the fact that Beijing and Washington have agreed to have a call on the trade deal review. A little longer response from the ministry on new US restrictions on Huawei. The US Commerce Department on August 17 added 38 new Huawei affiliates across 21 countries to the Entity List “because they present a significant risk of acting on Huawei’s behalf contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States.” China’s MoC says that the US is abusing “export controls and other measures to suppress and contain specific companies in other countries. This is a serious breach of free trade rules and a serious threat to the security of the global industrial chain supply chain…China will take all necessary measures to resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese enterprises.”
Page 3: A piece about Chinese companies working in BRI partner states like Laos, Thailand, Nigeria and Nepal; the focus is, of course, of the positive outcomes of the work of Chinese companies, from building projects to creating job opportunities.
Next, a commentary saying that one must not view US-China ties through a zero sum game lens. The piece essentially attacks “some US politicians.” It says: “The basic fact that Sino-US economic and trade cooperation is beneficial to China, the United States, and the world cannot be denied by some US politicians. It should be noted that the force that transcends differences contained in the common interests of China and the United States has long been an important force that pushed the two countries to meet each other.”
Third, Yang Jiechi’s meeting with Singapore’s Lee Hsien Loong. Yang said: “China stands ready to work with Singapore to strengthen what they have achieved in the fight against the COVID-19, further promote the high-quality joint development of the Belt and Road and build the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor, a joint project of western Chinese provincial regions and Singapore under the government-to-government framework of the China-Singapore (Chongqing) Demonstration Initiative on Strategic Connectivity.”
Wang Yi, China’s Foreign Minister, meanwhile, met with his Indonesian counterpart and spoke to the FMs of Nigeria, Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan. Meeting Retno Marsudi in Hainan, he said that this marks the resumption of his “offline diplomacy.” He added that “China supports enterprises engaging in all-round cooperation with Indonesia in vaccine research and application. China is ready to work with ASEAN countries to ensure the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement (RCEP) within this year and an early conclusion of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.” Later, Retno told the press that a deal had been inked by which Sinovac would supply up to 40 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine to Indonesia from November 2020 to March 2021. This is big, right? You’ve got Beijing committing that the vaccine will be commercially available by November for a foreign country. So it should be available across China before that.
Perhaps one can expect a similar announcement for Pakistan next, given that Shah Mahmood Qureshi is also in Hainan. Finally, on the page, we have MoFA’s statement (English version) on the Meng Wanzhou case. Zhao Lijian said: “The Meng Wanzhou incident was a serious political incident through and through. It fully exposed the political plot of the United States to deliberately suppress Chinese high-tech companies and Huawei. Canada played the role of an accomplice of the United States.”
Page 5: On the commentary page today, the next in the series of the party and people. This one says that CCP’s success has “practical and far-reaching world significance.” The piece basically talks about China’s external engagement related to the pandemic and then BRI, saying that these are examples of the Party’s global perspective. One data point: “On April 2 this year, the Communist Party of China and more than 230 political parties in more than 100 countries in the world issued a joint appeal on strengthening international anti-epidemic cooperation, expressing their political will to work together to overcome the difficulties. The joint appeal took less than 10 days from the idea to the final announcement, setting a record in the history of political party contacts.”
Another interesting aspect of the piece, which folks in India might find familiar: “Chinese civilization has never been confined to one family or place, but takes the world as its unit of thinking. It has always insisted on “the world is one family”, advocated the harmony of the people and the world…we must also see that the Communist Party of China has been an active leader and practitioner of China’s advanced culture, as well as a loyal inheritor and advocate of China’s excellent traditional culture.”
Page 6: HKSAR government and MoFA’s reaction condemning the State Department terminating agreements with HK covering surrender of fugitive offenders, the transfer of sentenced persons, and reciprocal tax exemptions on income derived from the international operation of ships.
Page 16: Below are the stories covered on the international page.