Tracking People’s Daily — July 29, 2020

Page 1: A few stories to note, but the lead story is of course about Xi’s AIIB speech. Here’s the full English text, and here’s what he said:

  • He spoke about proposing the formation of the AIIB in 2013, adding that since its founding the bank had developed into an “international, rule-based and high-standard institution” which had provided “nearly US$20 billion in infrastructure investment to its members.” (FYI, India is a co-founder and key beneficiary of support.) He wants it to become a “new type of multilateral development bank.”
  • “AIIB has moved promptly to set up a COVID-19 Crisis Recovery Facility to support its members in containing the virus and reviving their economies.”
  • “the AIIB may grow into a new platform that promotes development for all its members and facilitates the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.”
  • “The AIIB should commit itself to serving the development needs of all its members and providing more high-quality, low-cost and sustainable investment for both traditional and new types of infrastructure.”
  • “the AIIB could help enhance connectivity, promote green development and boost technological advancement.”
  • “the AIIB should keep in mind the actual development needs of its members, thus creating best practices for international development cooperation.”

The new infrastructure and technological advancement aspects are really interesting. They signal Beijing wanting to leverage the AIIB to ensure support for Chinese tech giants.

Also on the page, Minister of Finance Liu Kun’s comments after the AIIB meeting. He says “to resolve the contradictions arising in the process of economic globalization, we cannot rely on ‘decoupling’ and unilateralism and protectionism. We must rely on more inclusive global governance, more effective multilateral mechanisms, and more active regional cooperation.” And then talks about how the AIIB’s achievements so far “demonstrate the foresight of the Chinese leaders in advocating the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank” along with the efforts of other members.

Second, Xi’s congratulatory message (English version) at the start of assembly of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) in France. He wrote: “science knows no borders, and innovation is endless.” But in a wonderful irony, he added: “since the launch of the project, China has honored its international commitments, and Chinese entities and scientific researchers have taken on difficult tasks and collaborated closely with their international colleagues, contributing Chinese wisdom and strength to the smooth progress of the program.” So much for not having borders.

Page 2: The only story on this page that I’d like to talk about is based on a document called “Key Tasks for Deepening the Reform of the Medical and Health System in the Second Half of 2020” which was released by the State Council on July 23. The English coverage of this document has been limited to how China will focus on tackling Covid for the rest of the year, but there are other key data points to note:

  • So far, the “national cancer screening program covered 1.84 million people and occupational diseases. The number of monitored diseases has been expanded to 28.”
  • The report says that some 300 county-level hospitals have become benchmarks for capacity building, with 616 institutions meeting the standards of community hospitals. There’s also data in there about expanding use of telemedicine.
  • “The national organization of centralized drug procurement has gradually begun, and the prices of 25 selected drugs have dropped by an average of 59% from the lowest prices in 2018.”
  • “China’s public health system, medical service system, medical security system, and drug supply security system have all withstood” the test of the Covid outbreak.

Page 3: A few stories to note:

Liu He led the 8th China-EU Economic and Trade Summit. They talked about “jointly fighting the epidemic, global economic governance, industrial and supply chain security, China-EU investment agreement negotiations, WTO reform, expansion of market openings, the digital economy, interconnectivity, and financial and taxation cooperation.” Xinhua says they “agreed to enhance mutual understanding, create certainty amid uncertainty, enhance market confidence, and jointly promote China-EU economic and trade cooperation to a new level in the post-epidemic era.”

The EU’s readout after the meeting hadEuropean Commission Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis saying that “the current crisis gives us no other option but to work hand in hand with our global partners, including China.” It added that “the EU registered the significant progress made on level playing field related issues, while highlighting that equally significant work that still remains to be done on key issues such as market access and sustainable development. On market access, the EU reiterated its request for improvements of China’s offer in the telecommunication and computer sectors, health, biotechnology and new energy vehicles.”

Next up, a story based on the ADB’s Asian Economic Outlook and Integration Process 2020 Annual Report. It says that “intra-regional trade accounts for about 58% of the foreign trade of Asian countries.” And then the rest of the piece is about the centrality of China to Asian trade dynamics. As one commentator in the piece says, “China has the world’s most complete industrial supporting system, corporate ecosystem, and sufficient financing capacity. The integration and comprehensiveness of China’s economy, like a magnet, attracts international companies from neighbouring economies to China.”

Third, a commentary by the Dean of the School of International Relations and Public Affairs, Fudan University. Su Changhe writes about peripheral diplomacy, starting with the 2013 Symposium on Peripheral Diplomacy, which laid the groundwork. And then he says that historically major powers have treated their neighbourhoods as “backyards” or zones for “spheres of influence.” None of this has worked well for such powers. And voila! So, China is not doing that. “Therefore, China’s neighbouring diplomacy does not engage in dependency, interference, sphere of influence, lose or lose, or divide and rule. Instead, it has embarked on a new path of peaceful coexistence, harmonious coexistence, and common development between big countries and neighboring countries.” Of course, it does. He then talks about features of Chinese engagement i.e.,

  • regular visits and top-level meetings;
  • formation of 5–10 year plans for bilateral relationships;
  • broader scope of engagement, covering all aspects of party exchanges, government department administrative cooperation, law enforcement and security cooperation, inter-local cooperation, business forums, governance exchanges, and cultural exchanges;
  • BRI-linked connectivity

And then he ends with this: “In the practice of Western international relations and diplomacy, there are not many models for the establishment of harmonious symbiosis between major powers and neighboring countries. Asian and Eastern countries have the conditions in this regard and should avoid the old path of Western diplomacy. I believe that through the concerted efforts of all parties, we can find a way out. A new path of neighboring diplomacy full of hope and vitality.”

Next, Wang Yi’s call with France’s Jean-Yves Le Drian, in which he basically lashes out at the US. Wang said (English version), and this is worth reproducing in full:

“The fundamental reason for this is that a certain political faction in the US, driven by the need to lift campaign prospects and maintain unipolar hegemony, are going all out to negate the history of China-US relations, suppress China on every front, provoke China on its core interests, attack the social system chosen by the Chinese people, and vilify the ruling party with inseparable links to the Chinese people. They have forsaken the most basic sense of propriety in interactions between countries and breached the very bottom line of international norms. Such behavior is stark power politics that can be captured by one word: hegemony.”

He also added: “the international community should jointly uphold solidarity and cooperation. We believe that all countries will make the right and wise decisions, instead of being held hostage by a small number of American politicians. All countries will make concerted efforts to prevent the world from being dragged into a new Cold War of conflict and confrontation and the process of globalization from being brutally interrupted. Tolerating a bully will not keep you safe. It will only let the bully get bolder and act worse. All countries should act to resist any unilateral or hegemonic act and safeguard world peace and development.”

And then Wang’s conversation with Britain’s foreign secretary Raab. As per the foreign ministry, Wang was critical about the UK’s position on Hong Kong and 5G, saying that Britain was “under pressure and coercion from individual countries.” He added that China “has always been an opportunity rather than a threat…Some people in the United Kingdom demand the ‘reset’ of Sino-British relations in an attempt to reverse the Sino-British cooperation. This will only bring Sino-British relations into a dead end. Facing the crossroads of Sino-British relations, both sides should remain rational and mature, abide by the basic norms of international relations, respect each other’s core interests and major concerns, and maintain the political foundation of bilateral relations.”

As per the Chinese readout, Raab said: “The current UK-China relationship has encountered some challenges, but this is not the whole of the UK-China relationship. The British side does not approve of a comprehensive ‘reset’ of UK-China relations, does not approve of repeating the outdated Cold War mentality, and advocates maintaining rational, mature, and candid dialogue and communication, and promoting practical cooperation.” The British readout does not say this. In fact, it says that “the UK will work to maintain positive, constructive engagement with the Chinese Government.” It adds that Raab “stressed the importance of China rebuilding trust with the international community by living up to its international responsibilities.” It further states: “the UK would be watching the Hong Kong Legislative Council elections in September closely, and urged China to uphold its international human rights obligations in Xinjiang in the face of credible evidence of egregious human rights violations against Uyghur Muslims.”

Finally, a piece on MoFA spokesperson’s remarks, appreciating Rodrigo Duterte’s position on the South China Sea. Duterte apparently had said that the Philippines will continue upholding an independent foreign policy, will not pick sides between China and the US, will not agree to allow US troops back to military bases in the country, and will not confront China over the South China Sea. To this, China’s MoFA said: “We appreciate President Duterte’s remarks and stand ready to properly resolve maritime disputes with the Philippines through friendly consultations to jointly safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea and the entire region.”

Page 4: Two pieces to note. First, Sun Chunlan visited Liaoning Province, emphasising the importance of maintaining strict epidemic control measures. This is important as China appears to be witnessing another wave of infections this week, although an overwhelming number of these are in Xinjiang’s capital Urumqi. Second, Hu Chunhua visited companies in Beijing to emphasise the importance of “flexible employment.” PD says he “went to Internet platform companies to inspect the recruitment service big data platform, online recruitment live broadcast, etc., and had discussions with some human resource service agencies and Internet platform companies to learn more about market recruitment needs, flexible employment development.”

Page 6: Two to note. First, MoFA’s announcement that “China has decided that the Hong Kong SAR will suspend its agreements on surrendering fugitive offenders with Canada, Australia and the UK. At the same time, China has decided that the Hong Kong SAR will suspend its agreements on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters with Canada, Australia and the UK.” This comes after these three countries suspended extradition agreements with the HKSAR. New Zealand also took the same action, but it was only warned to “immediately correct its mistake and stop interfering in China’s Hong Kong affairs.”

Next, two pieces on University of Hong Kong’s decision to sack pro-democracy activist and professor Benny Tai. In PD, you first have the Liaison Office supporting the decision, and then this piece, which calls him a “rioter” adding that he “repeatedly advocated Hong Kong independence” and spread ideas and values romanticising “radical violent crimes.”

Page 9: A few commentaries on the theory page today that I found interesting. First, this one talks about improving the governance capabilities of cadre. There are four aspects to this: Improve political literacy; improve knowledge, particularly with Marxist ideas and Xi Thought; strengthen practice and exercise, which is about governance experience; finally, strengthen the awareness of rules, which is about political discipline.

Second, this one about discourse power. It says: “As our country moves closer to the center of the world stage, we need to form an international right to speak in line with our country’s comprehensive national strength and show the world a true, three-dimensional and comprehensive China.” The author Yin Yungong, Dean of the School of Journalism and Communication of Hunan Normal University, says that China needs to “work hard to create a good atmosphere of international public opinion.”

Yin adds, “we must strengthen the construction of the foreign discourse system, innovate the expression of foreign discourse, create new concepts, new categories and expressions that integrate both Chinese and foreign, strengthen the affinity of cultural communication, and make the image of contemporary China shine in the world. We should not only identify the common ground, emotional resonance, and confluence of interests between China and other countries, but also strive to understand each other, respect and treat each other equally and honestly, and understand each other’s way of thinking and language habits.”

And then: “The quality of international communication and the effect of shaping the country’s image depend on our ability and level of telling Chinese stories, and on what kind of story theme we choose and what way we tell the story. While we are fully and objectively introducing to the international community China’s tremendous achievements, we must also use vivid facts to explain that in China, a large developing country with a population of 1.4 billion, there are so many difficulties and complex contradictions.”

Page 16: The lead story on this page is about the kerfuffle with the Chinese consulate in Houston, which was shut down last week. The story says that the US “fabricated excuses and spread lies for its wrong decision” And then there’s a “debunking” of those. The entire English version is available here.