Tracking People’s Daily — July 22, 2020

Page 1: The lead story on the page is about Xi Jinping presiding over a forum for entrepreneurs in Beijing on the afternoon of July 21. Here’s what Xi told them (full Chinese language text on Page 2):

Xi said that the pandemic “has had a huge impact on my country’s economy and the world economy, and many market players in my country are facing unprecedented pressure.” But he added that China “has achieved major strategic results in epidemic prevention and control, and its economic development has shown a stable and improved trend. It is in the forefront of epidemic prevention and control and economic recovery in the world.”

He added: “It is necessary to strengthen financial support for market players, develop inclusive finance, and effectively alleviate the problem of financing difficulties for enterprises, especially small, medium and micro enterprises. It is necessary to support marketable export commodities to open up the domestic market.” In this context, he also spoke about the legal environment and the importance of Party cadre to work with businesses to support their growth, while avoiding corruption.

Next up, he spoke about entrepreneurship, but here the priority was patriotism, following which came calls for innovation, honesty and social responsibility. Here’s what he said: “Excellent entrepreneurs must have a lofty sense of mission and a strong sense of responsibility towards the country and the nation, closely integrate the development of the enterprise with the prosperity of the country, the prosperity of the nation, and the happiness of the people…Patriotism is the glorious tradition of our country’s outstanding entrepreneurs in modern times. From Zhang Jian in the late Qing Dynasty to the beginning of the Republic of China, to Lu Zuofu and Tan Kah Kee during the Anti-Japanese War, to Rong Yiren and Wang Guangying after the founding of New China, they are all models of patriotic entrepreneurs.”

Finally, he called for focus on the domestic market. “In the current external environment of rising protectionism, downturn in the world economy, and shrinking global markets, we must give full play to the advantages of the domestic super-large-scale market, boost the domestic economy and smooth the domestic cycle to add impetus to my country’s economic development and drive the recovery of the world economy. It is necessary to improve the modernization level of the industrial chain and supply chain, vigorously promote technological innovation, accelerate the research on key core technologies, and create new advantages for future development.”

The other report that I’d like to share on draws again from the White Paper on China’s Digital Economy Development (2020). The focus here is on Internet data services (including data center business and cloud computing business). Some key data points to note:

  • Internet services in 2019 reached a revenue of 11.62 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 25.6%.
  • In 2019, there were an estimated 74,000 data centers in China accounting for about 23% of the global total. Of course, that’s a number that’ll only make sense when you have more granular information.

The rest of the story is how this capacity is helping power development in China, such as in farming or testing of industrial equipment and so on.

Page 3: A few stories to note:

First, there’s a piece which basically draws the positive bits from international news outlets’ coverage of China’s Q2 & H1 economic data to say: “Many foreign media have actively reported on this, believing that China’s economy has withstood the major test of the epidemic, demonstrating the strong resilience and development potential of China’s economy, and will surely inject confidence and energy into the recovery of the world economy.”

Second, Vice Premier Hu Chunhua and French Economy and Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire on Tuesday co-chaired the seventh China-France High-Level Economic and Financial Dialogue. The Xinhua English story covers the details. But what’s missing in both of these is this bit about Huawei. Reuters reports that “Le Maire told France Info radio there was ‘no blanket ban’ on Huawei in France, but that sensitive locations would be protected. ‘We won’t ban Huawei from investing in 5G, we will protect our national security interests,’ Le Maire said, adding that he had reaffirmed France’s position to Chinese authorities on Monday.” The head of France’s French cybersecurity agency ANSSI Guillaume Poupard told Les Echos newspaper in an interview, “What I can say is that there won’t be a total ban. (But) for operators that are not currently using Huawei, we are inciting them not to go for it…For those that are already using Huawei, we are delivering authorisations for durations that vary between three and eight years.”

Third, a long Xinhua story about the “lies” of Peter Navarro. The piece says: “Lies are the passport of the despicable and shameless, and truth is the motto of those who defend the truth. Here, we list 18 lies made up by Navarro, and refute them one by one with facts and truths.” And then it goes on endlessly. If you are interested in how Beijing has pushed back to control the narrative with regard to US pressure, and some of it is indeed utter nonsense, on the pandemic, you should check this out. This story is the only one carried on Page 16, i.e., the international page.

Finally three meetings with Southeast Asian neighbours. First Li Keqiang’s talks with Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith. Second, the 12th Meeting of the China-Vietnam Steering Committee for Bilateral Cooperation. Wang Yi told the Vietnamese side that China’s policy on the South China Sea “has not changed.” But “due to geostrategic needs, however, the United States fanned the flames everywhere to stir up tension and turmoil in the region.” I agree with him actually; Beijing’s coerciveness continues irrespective of the pandemic. And US policy is finally showing more resolve. If you are interested in all this, check out our Podcast today, where we discuss the South China Sea issue. Wang Yi also spoke about concluding the SCS Code of Conduct negotiations to “not to give any influence to external forces.” Third, China and Cambodia have reportedly concluded talks on an FTA.

Page 4: Three stories that I found noteworthy here:

  • First, a commentary that says that amid the current trend of protectionism, “in the final analysis, ‘standing on the right side of history’ is the answer. Only by scientifically grasping and conforming to the general trend of the world, persisting in open development, working together for win-win results, and promoting common prosperity, can we continue to advance towards the goal of building a community with a shared future for mankind.” Essentially, this is about persuading domestic critics about China’s economic policy.
  • Second, with the 93rd anniversary of the founding of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army approaching on August 1, the Ministry of Veterans Affairs and the Political Work Department of the Central Military Commission have jointly issued a notice requesting all local forces to adhere to Xi Jinping’s new era. Basically the notice talks about activities and propaganda to emphasise the people in the People’s Liberation Army. So for instance, “before and after August 1st, areas with a large number of troops should adopt methods such as targeted recruitment of family members of the army, priority care for children in school, and centralized handling of law and litigation involving military families to help officers and soldiers solve a number of practical difficulties.”
  • Finally, starting from 2021, January 10 will be established as the “Chinese People’s Police Day.”

Page 7: If you are interested in the details of the recent Covid outbreak in Beijing and the Party’s narrative and policies regarding it, this page basically talks about what Beijing did. It’s interesting that an entire page has been dedicated to this. Cai Qi, Beijing’s Party Secretary is a Xi confidant. But yeah, if one looks beyond the politics, this offers some, albeit propaganda laden, insights into the policies that worked in containing the spread of Covid.

Page 11: A few pieces to note:

  • First this one by Zhang Fuhai, member of the Standing Committee of the Guangdong Provincial Party Committee. Zhang basically talks about the steps Guangdong has taken to promote patriotic education in the new era. For instance, Zhang talks about using China’s economic successes of reform and opening up as “vivid and convincing teaching material” for patriotism education in the new era. He adds: “We make overall plans and utilize all available resources to tell the ‘anti-epidemic story’ of people first and life first, and fully demonstrate the remarkable superiority of the party’s leadership and our country’s national system.”
  • Second a piece about how army veterans, who have dealt with floods earlier, are contributing to flood control efforts right now.
  • Lastly, the Central Political and Legal Committee has a new directive to “crack down on contract fraud, illegal operations, and other crimes that disrupt the order of the market economy, as well as illegal and criminal activities that infringe on the personal and property rights of business entities.” All of this comes as measures to improve the business environment and stop pilferage of stimulus money amid the pandemic-driven slowdown.

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