Tracking People’s Daily — July 30, 2020

Page 1: Lots of things to note on the front page today. First, ahead of army day on August 1, there was a ceremony with XI and his new generals. Xu Zhongbo, political commissar of the PLA Rocket Forces was promoted to the rank of general. Xi also signed an order to award citations for merit to three military units and five individuals.

Next, a report based on a speech that Xi delivered about graduate education, with representatives of top Chinese universities present. “The development of the cause of the party and the country urgently needs to cultivate a large number of high-level talents with both ability and political integrity,” he said. The focus of graduate education for him is to ensure boosting innovation, catering for economic and social development, as well as modernising the system and capacity for governance in China. There’s a specific mention in there about aiming for the frontiers of science and technology.

Third, the weekly State Council meeting on Wednesday “decided to expand the pilot program on the innovative development of trade in services, and unveil new measures to help migrant workers find jobs or start businesses.” Xinhua English has a good summary of the key points, but the PD piece offers more details. Key points are that the pilot program “on the innovative development of trade in services will be expanded to cover parts of 21 provincial regions.” Central, western and northeastern regions are being asked to take up labor-intensive foreign trade industries. The push is for migrant workers to find jobs locally with projects for new urbanisation, rural water conservancies, and post-disaster reconstruction in townships. At the same time, more financial support for migrant workers and labourers.

Next, the NPC Standing Committee will be meeting from August 8 to 11; a bunch of draft laws will be reviewed, including a draft revision of the animal epidemic prevention law and a revision of the copyright law. PSC member Wang Huning attended an event linked to the launch of Xi’s new volume of Governance of China. He said that “the strategic task of the whole party is to follow up on learning, follow up on understanding, and follow up on action, and continue to deepen the study, publicity and implementation of Xi Jinping’s thoughts on socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era.” Excerpts of the speeches given at the event are on Page 7 (be warned, these are insufferable).

Page 2 & 3: There’s a very brief report on the Covid outbreak in Xinjiang. No details about the scale of the outbreak, just that the local government has mobilized resources — “17 medical teams from 14 medical institutions and more than 100 sets (sets) of various advanced medical equipment” — and set up a hospital.

On page three, first up, foreigners appreciating Xi’s AIIB speech, and then a commentary based on the speech. There’s nothing new in the commentary, but a strong emphasis on multilateralism.

Next, there’s a report based on a meeting of political parties in Southeast Asian countries. The report doesn’t mention the names of the parties, but says that “10 political parties in Southeast Asian countries, including Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia, expressed their support for the parties directly involved in the South China Sea dispute to resolve each other through dialogue and consultation.” Apparently, these parties believe that “the South China Sea is becoming a sea of ​​mutual assistance and cooperation for all countries to join hands in fighting the epidemic.”

That’s followed by a report on CNN’s interview of Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control, where he said that the Trump administration was slow in recognizing the coronavirus threat from Europe. Then a commentary targeting the “rumour-making gang” of American politicians. It says that “some American politicians are blatantly extending their black hands to China, violently interfering in China’s internal affairs in an attempt to contain China’s development.” It goes on to claim that “the ‘big test’ of the novel coronavirus epidemic has once again proven the powerful governance capabilities of the Chinese Communist Party and the superiority of the Chinese system. This is a general consensus of the international community.”

MoFA statement on the European Union’s decision to restrict the export of sensitive technology and equipment to Hong Kong. It says that the “measures adopted by the European side violated the basic norm of non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs in international relations,” and called on the EU to “stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs and China’s internal affairs.”

And finally, Wang Yi’s chat with Japan’s Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi. He told Motegi that the “two sides should follow the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries, carefully and properly handle contradictions and differences, focus their main energy on mutually beneficial cooperation, and jointly promote the stability of China-Japan relations on the right track.” The PD report doesn’t talk about friction points between the two sides. According to it, Motegi said: “The Japanese side is willing to maintain dialogue and communication at all levels with the Chinese side to actively promote personnel exchanges, promote economic and trade investment cooperation, and support the accelerated completion of the RCEP signing while doing a good job in the prevention and control of the epidemic.”

In contrast, the Kyodo report on the call says that it lasted 80 minutes, and was held at Beijing’s request. It adds: “Motegi urged Wang to stop repeated intrusions by Chinese official vessels into Japanese territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands, a group of East China Sea islets administered by Japan but claimed by China. On Wednesday, China Coast Guard ships were spotted near the Senkakus for the 107th straight day in a perceived attempt to assert its claim over the islets. On 11 of the 107 days, Chinese vessels intruded into Japanese territorial waters around the islands, prompting Tokyo to beef up patrols and lodge protests with Beijing. The Japanese Foreign Ministry said Motegi also voiced concern over the situation in Hong Kong.”

Page 4: Three pieces to note. First, a statement issued (English version) by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the National Supervisory Commission says that 89,564 Chinese officials were punished in the first half of 2020 for violating frugality rules. So there are charges of formalism and bureaucratism; there’s hedonism and extravagance, which includes awarding unauthorised allowances or bonuses and giving or accepting luxurious gifts, and more.

Second, a long piece with details about and setting the narrative on China’s anti-Covid campaign; essentially the focus is about how people were put first.

Third, a commentary linked to the second story, which says that “the fight against the epidemic is also a war for the defense of human rights. China is using the nation’s strength to fight the epidemic, fully demonstrating the concept of people-centered human rights.” The piece then details the government’s talking points, ending with “China’s fight against the epidemic has not only created a miracle in the history of human infectious disease prevention and control, but also written a glorious chapter in the cause of human rights and promoted the development and progress of the cause of human rights in the world.”

Page 5: Just one piece to highlight, which is this commentary by Yan Xiaofeng on the PLA. It basically argues about the significance of the party’s leadership over the PLA. Key points:

  • “The party’s absolute leadership system over the people’s army is the political characteristic and fundamental advantage of the people’s army that is completely different from others.”
  • “The party’s absolute leadership system over the people’s army is the fundamental guarantee for our army to build a world-class army.”
  • “The party’s absolute leadership system over the people’s army is the cornerstone of the security of our country’s national system and national governance system.”
  • “The party is the supreme political leadership force, and must master the military power, that is, the supreme leadership and command power of the army. The chairman responsibility system of the Central Military Commission is the fundamental form of achieving the party’s absolute leadership over the people’s army. It is at the highest level and in the commanding position of the party’s entire system of leadership of the army.” This essentially implies that Xi must be in complete command as chairman.

Page 17: The lead story on the page takes off from a July 14 Pew survey about partisan differences with regard to the pandemic. It quotes Francis Fukuyama from a recent piece, saying that the epidemic should have been an opportunity for Americans to let go of their differences and unite, but it has intensified political polarization in the United States. That’s essentially the drift of the piece. It talks about how political polarisation has undermined US’ anti-epidemic efforts. The other story to note is a quick sweep across key European countries, talking about how they are rebounding from the impact of the pandemic.