Tracking People’s Daily — July 21, 2020

Page 1: There’s a lot of Xi Jinping on the page today. Let’s begin with his calls to Zambian President Edgar Lungu and Palestine’s Mahmoud Abbas. Xinhua’s English stories have the same details. The conversion with President Lungu focussed on Covid, core interests and BRI. So “Xi said he also believes that the normal life and work of Chinese nationals and operations of Chinese enterprises in Zambia will continue to be guaranteed by the Zambian side.” On the other hand:

“Zambia speaks highly of Xi’s proposals made at the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against COVID-19 held in June and thanks China for its support to Africa’s anti-virus fight, he said, adding that he believes that China’s successful experience and achievements in vaccine and medicine research and development results will help step up African countries’ confidence and play a significant role in their fight to beat the virus. China is a great friend of the Zambian people, said Lungu. Zambia will firmly stand together with China on issues regarding its core interests, staying committed to its adherence to the one-China policy and firmly supporting the Chinese government’s legitimate position and measures on the issues related to Hong Kong and Xinjiang, among others, he said.”

What Chinese media didn’t cover was details about debt relief, which Lungu apparently asked for. “President Lungu called for debt relief and cancellation in light of reduced revenue due to the negative impact of the pandemic, as well as competing needs for the country to secure adequate resources to fight the pandemic and to stimulate the economy,” said a statement issued by Presidential Spokesman Isaac Chipampe. Debt is a growing political issue in Zambia. According to China Africa Research Initiative (CARI) at Johns Hopkins University, China has extended $9.7 billion worth of loans to Zambia as of 2018.

With Abbas, the conversation was about Covid, multilateralism and the “two-state solution.” Xinhua reports that Xi said the Palestine question “has always been the core issue in the Middle East…China firmly supports Palestine’s just demands…China supports the ‘two-state solution’ as the right direction, and sticks to dialogue and negotiations on an equal footing.” Abbas said: “The Palestinian side will continue to stand firmly with China, and support China’s legitimate position on Hong Kong, Xinjiang and other matters concerning China’s core interests.”

Next up, a new book about Xi Jinping’s tenure in Fuzhou has been published. PD’s report on it says that his tenure there “demonstrated Xi Jinping’s long-term and overall strategic thinking, the leading art of leading-edge, scientific decision-making, down-to-earth, rigorous and practical work style, the sincere heart of caring for the people and warming their hearts.”

Finally, a report on the new “Regulations on the Election of Primary Organizations of the Communist Party of China.” The entire text of the regulation has been reproduced. A notice to this effect was issued by the CCP Central Committee. It says: “that party committees at all levels should strengthen four consciousnesses, strengthen four self-confidences, achieve two safeguards, strictly implement the main responsibility, strengthen organizational leadership, strengthen supervision and accountability, and ensure the implementation of the Regulations.” Then there’s a commentary on the page about the significance of the regulations.

Page 2 & 3: A few pieces to note on both pages:

  • First, a report based on the Ministry of Commerce’s comments about China’s foreign trade.
  • Second, a report on a Xi Jinping Research Center on Diplomatic Thought being established by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs based on the China Institute of International Studies, Beijing. There’s also a new book on this that’s been published.
  • A commentary on ASEAN Plus Three Senior Officials’ Meeting held on Monday. The piece essentially talks about steps taken amid the pandemic and how cooperation needs to be deepened.
  • A piece drawing from different people outside China, criticising US’ Hong Kong policy. Seriously, they got Austrian-China Friendship Association Executive Vice Chairman Gerd Kaminski, the Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Namibia, and Chairman of the Turkey-China Trade Development Friendship Association, etc.

Page 4: Floods are the focus on this page.

First, the Huaihe Water Resources Commission upgraded emergency response to level I, the highest in the list. There’s also serious challenges with regard to the Yangtze River, which are reported on Page 14. It says: According to Chen Min, deputy director of the Hydrological Bureau of the Yangtze River Water Resources Commission, since June, the Yangtze River Basin has received 40% more rainfall than usual. The middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River have 60% more rainfall than usual, the highest since 1961. Clearly there are concerns about the Three Gorges Dam, which has led to authorities seeking to answer queries about the project and its significance.

A piece talking about military-civilian unity. Now why would one need such a piece, if there is no friction? Perhaps, it’s just part of normal propaganda that everyone gets mentioned. Here’s an excerpt: “The party and the masses share the same blood, and the military and civilians are affectionate. Military-civilian unity and joint defense are the most powerful copper and iron walls for disaster prevention and relief. From flood relief in 1998, to the SARS epidemic in 2003, to Wenchuan earthquake relief, the People’s Army has always been a reliable force to protect the people’s lives and property. Since the beginning of summer this year, in the face of severe flood disasters rarely seen in history, the PLA and armed police forces in the localities have actively participated in rescue and disaster relief work, blocking piping, guarding embankments, transferring the masses, rescuing the wounded, clearing passages, transporting supplies…Mud covered the pants legs, sweat drenches the back of the clothes, blisters all over the skin, there is danger to life at any time in an emergency, but they can’t stop the clamor of ‘the flood will not return, we will not return’. The well-being of the people is more important than anything else. This is the creed of the People’s Army.”

Another piece about the Party branch of Anminyuan Community, Anxiang County in Hunan Province, which has been at the “front lines.” More about party members at the flood front lines on Page 19.

Pages 5 & 9: Two commentaries that I found interesting:

  • First, this one about elderly care, which also talks about how tech is empowering elderly care. This as we know is a massive challenge for China going ahead as its population ages. It notes: “As of the end of 2019, there were 177,700 elderly care institutions and facilities nationwide, and 7.546 million elderly care service beds. This year, the basic monthly pension per capita of retirees from enterprises, government agencies and institutions across the country will be raised by 5%, achieving the “tenth” level since 2005. Six consecutive increases”; urban and rural basic endowment insurance covers more than 960 million people…”
  • Second, this commentary about the use of artificial intelligence to enhance governance capacity. It argues that “the new governance model supported by artificial intelligence technology not only improves governance efficiency, but also presents more humanized, scenario-based, and value-based trends, and can provide more tolerant and harmonious humanistic care.” The efficiency argument, I agree with but on the other bits, I don’t know what is the source of such confidence. And then there’s this: “Artificial intelligence will break the one-way situation of the traditional governance system, making the governance system a more open system, which can provide timely feedback according to user needs and realize self-renewal and self-optimization.” Again, I am not certain that the transparency argument is so clear. But what’s striking is that the ethical trade-offs and challenges aren’t being discussed at all.

Page 11: An interesting data point on criminal cases. According to China’s SPP, “from January to June, procuratorial organs across the country approved and decided to arrest 280,333 suspects of various types, a decrease of 47.1% year-on-year; a total of 673,310 people were decided to prosecute, a year-on-year decrease of 15.9%. The sharp drop in this type of data indicates that the overall number of criminal cases is declining during the epidemic prevention and control period. But at the same time, the number of crimes committed using telecommunication networks has increased year-on-year. Prosecutors across the country prosecuted 52,473 people for crimes committed using telecommunication networks, accounting for 7.8% of the number of prosecutions, an increase of 3.7% year-on-year.”

Page 17: The lead story on the international page is about the immigration situation in Europe. The piece draws from data released by the International Organization for Migration, which says that as of July 20, nearly 27,000 illegal immigrants and refugees have entered the EU this year. This influx expanded as countries began to open up after Covid lockdowns.