Big Picture: There was no coverage of the situation in Ladakh in the People’s Daily. The PLA Daily did cover it on Page 4, briefly reporting the foreign ministry’s comments. The big stories in today’s People’s Daily’s edition were about the US Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act, the BRI video meeting, and forward movement on the HK natsec law, which will target four offences: splitting the country, subverting the state power, terrorist activities, colluding with foreign or foreign forces.

Page 1: The lead story is about the High-level Video Conference on Belt and Road International Cooperation. Xi spoke at the meeting, framing BRI within the context of the response to the pandemic. He also said this: “China is committed to peaceful development and mutually beneficial cooperation.” Alas, it rings incredibly hollow. Foreign ministers or officials at ministerial level from 25 countries attended the video conference. Director-General of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and UN Development Programme Administrator Achim Steiner also participated in the event. There’s also a report on the conference on Page 2.

The other story about Xi is his video conference with regard to the “strategic management training of the whole army.” His reported remarks are: “We must adhere to goal-oriented, problem-oriented, and result-oriented, focus on updating management concepts, improve strategic literacy, focus on perfecting strategic management systems and mechanisms, and focus on promoting the implementation of the ‘13th Five-Year Plan’ and the preparation of the ‘14th Five-Year Plan’ for the construction of our army.” So what on earth does strategic management refer to? Well, this PLA Daily piece can perhaps shed some light. It says:

“Strategic management involves aspects such as military needs, planning, and implementation of plans, all of which are indispensable. For example, operational demand management is the source of strategic management and plays a leading role in strategic management…Only by perfecting the ‘demand-planning-budget-execution-assessment’ strategic management chain, and making demand-driven planning and planning-led resource allocation a rigid constraint for the construction of our military, can we form a smooth and efficient strategic management closed loop and improve the operational efficiency of the military system.”

Third, a report on the NPC Standing Committee meeting. There was a discussion on the Hong Kong national security law, which is mentioned on Page 4. Xinhua’s English report basically covers this well. “A draft law on safeguarding national security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) of the People’s Republic of China was submitted to the session for deliberation. The move was to implement the spirit and requirements of the NPC Decision on Establishing and Improving the Legal System and Enforcement Mechanisms for the HKSAR to Safeguard National Security, which was adopted at the third session of the 13th NPC in May. Entrusted by the Council of Chairpersons, Shen Chunyao, director of the Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC Standing Committee, briefed lawmakers on the draft.” The report on Page 4 says that the draft (of the natsec law) covers four types of criminal acts including “splitting the country, subverting the state power, terrorist activities, colluding with foreign or foreign forces to endanger national security.” Another law being discussed covers education and employment for veterans. This has been a big political issue in the country for the past few years.

Finally, the commentary on the page reiterates the propaganda emanating from the China-Africa solidarity meeting earlier in the week.

Page 2: More of the Africa summit propaganda on the page, but let’s focus on other aspects.

  • First a report on the Pompeo-Yang Jiechi meeting in Hawaii. The report says: “The two sides exchanged in-depth views on Sino-US relations and international and regional issues of common concern. The two sides fully clarified their respective positions and considered this to be a constructive dialogue. The two sides agreed to take action to seriously implement the consensus reached by the two heads of state. Both parties agreed to continue to maintain contact and communication.” In contrast, the State Department’s readout says:

“The Secretary stressed important American interests and the need for fully-reciprocal dealings between the two nations across commercial, security, and diplomatic interactions. He also stressed the need for full transparency and information sharing to combat the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and prevent future outbreaks.”

The page also carries a report on the foreign ministry’s response to a question on the Pompeo-Yang meeting. It says:

“Yang Jiechi clarified China’s basic attitude towards the development of Sino-US relations and its position on important sensitive issues such as Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Xinjiang during the dialogue. Yang Jiechi pointed out that cooperation between China and the United States will benefit both sides while fighting will hurt both sides.”

  • A report on the foreign ministry’s Zhao Lijian reiterating the “unsverwing” desire to implement the HK natsec law. This was in response to the G7 foreign ministers’ statement on Hong Kong, which called on Beijing “to re-consider” its decision, saying that it was “not in conformity with the Hong Kong Basic Law and its international commitments under the principles of the legally binding, UN-registered Sino-British Joint Declaration.”
  • A report on the groundbreaking ceremony of the construction of the Lajkovac-Iverak expressway in western Serbia being carried out by China’s Shandong Hi-Speed, which Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic attended.

Page 3: This page today is reflective of China’s frustration with Trump signing the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act. An overwhelming number of pieces on the page are about this. First, a statement by the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National People’s Congress. Then the MOFA statement. Then a Xinhua piece, which calls the law a US “double standard trick,” which it uses to interfere in China’s internal affairs. Then a long commentary or “solemn statement,” which basically touches all the key points that Beijing wants to talk about. These are:

  • Xinjiang policy isn’t about human rights but extremism and terrorism.
  • Economic development in Xinjiang shows China’s commitment to human rights.
  • The act is part of US policy of interfering in China’s internal affairs. Look at Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya.
  • And finally, the classic whataboutism of racial strife, white supremacism & gun violence in the US.

Another commentary on the page makes similar arguments.

The other stories on the page are on the Covid outbreak in Beijing, and the improvements in Hubei after a review by Ding Xiangyang from the joint prevention and control mechanism of the State Council.

Page 5 & 6: The commentaries on Page 5 weren’t really interesting, perhaps apart from this one on boosting new infrastructure. On Page 6, you have more criticism of the G7 foreign ministers’ statement on Hong Kong. Another report on the HK Education Bureau’s circular to schools to play the national anthem and raise the national flag during celebrations for New Year’s Day, the anniversary of the city’s handover on July 1 and National Day on October 1. SCMP says that the notice says that one can call the police if the rules are violated.

Page 16: The international page had a story on the UN Human Rights Council holding a meeting on racism in the US. Another piece on the Israeli plan to annex part of the West Bank. Chinese views on this are based on the remarks by Zhang Jun, China’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations. He is quoted as saying that “China is seriously concerned about plans to annex parts of the occupied Palestinian territory and firmly supports the just cause of the Palestinian people. The ‘two-state plan’ is the only way out of the Palestinian issue.”