Tracking People’s Daily — June 9, 2020

This is a daily thread that I’ve decided to do in order to track the key reports and commentaries from the Chinese Communist Party’s flagship newspaper People’s Daily. The objective is to gain insights into the regime’s priorities and narratives, which I believe is important in order to develop effective policy responses. My comments are in bold below.

Big Picture: There are three takeaways that I had from reading through today’s edition. First, the Party’s primary anxiety in the coming months is about employment, and you are likely to see a lot of propaganda around the impact of policies. Second, there is a constant media push contrasting China’s epidemic control efforts vis-a-vis the rest of the world’s. This is a key component of cultivating legitimacy. And finally, there’s a systematic effort, although not new, to indicate that the central leadership is engaging with Hong Kong society on the new law. That, however, is not really the case.

Page 1: The top political story on the page is Xi and Li exchanging congratulatory messages with Myanmar President Wen Min and Aung San Suu Kyi, respectively. This is all to mark the 70th anniversary of the bilateral relationship.

There’s an interesting piece about the unmanned submersible Haidou-1 recreated the country’s deep-sea diving record by submerging 10,907 meters under the Pacific Ocean surface of the Mariana Trench.

A long report from different parts of the country focussing on the impact of policies at all levels to support firms and job seekers. The story, of course, informs of how the measures adopted have had positive outcomes. If you weren’t clear what the economic priority was for the year, here it is: “Employment is the biggest livelihood. For ‘six stabilities’ and “six guarantees,” employment is the top priority.”

Page 2: A report on students returning to school and university across Hubei province. The government has outlined a set of measures that need to be adopted to ensure reopening and reduce risk.

The State Council’s Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism Comprehensive Group issued new directions on testing across the country. It talks about exhaustive testing of key populations.

“Key populations include close contacts, overseas immigrants, fever patients, new inpatients and accompanying staff, medical institution staff, port quarantine and border inspection staff, prison staff, social welfare pension staff.” The document also proposes that “localities can determine and dynamically adjust the priority detection population based on local actual conditions.”

Page 3: A commentary on the Covid-19 white paper, which was released on Sunday. Here are some quotes that tell you of the drift of the piece.

“Through the Chinese anti-epidemic timeline, we can clearly see the wise leadership and scientific decision-making of the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at the core. General Secretary Xi Jinping personally commanded and deployed personally to take over the overall situation and make decisive decisions, which strengthened the Chinese people’s confidence, united strength, and pointed out the direction of the fight against the epidemic.”

“Through the Chinese anti-epidemic timeline, we can see that the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese government all the people’s feelings and ruling ideas for the people and all the people. General Secretary Xi Jinping emphasized, ‘Always put the lives and health of the people first.’”

Another piece on the Covid paper, which shares positive remarks from foreign observers.

Today’s ambassador essay is from Ji Ping, China’s Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Nothing that I found particularly noteworthy in the piece — other than the fact that there is a focus in the flagship daily on Chinese diplomacy even in the smallest of countries.

Also a report on Wang Yi’s conversation with UK Foreign Secretary Rab. Based on the report, Hong Kong dominated the conversation, with Wang basically saying that this was China’s internal affairs.

This is how it characterises Rab’s reply: “Rab said that the British side is willing to carefully consider the content of the in-depth exchanges today and continue to communicate with China in a spirit of mutual respect.”

Page 4: A commentary on the pandemic. It begins with China’s successes and then the fact that other states are still dealing with a difficult situation. And then this:

“Even so, some politicians in the United States are still politicizing and stigmatizing the epidemic, and they use all kinds of bad methods to discredit China. While China has made significant progress in developing new coronavirus vaccines, some US politicians have claimed that China is “stealing” relevant US research results, and some people continue to spread the “China Responsibility Theory” and “China Compensation Theory” about the new coronary pneumonia epidemic. Rumors, smears, malicious slander, indiscriminate farce, or attempts to divert attention and shirk responsibility for domestic political needs, or out of ideological prejudice, will be countered every day and have no bottom line.”

And also…

“The development of the US epidemic to today’s severity is entirely caused by the US government’s response to missteps, and it also fully reflects the indifferent attitude of the American politicians who treat the people’s lives and safety in a vain manner.”

A report on HKSAR government marking the 30th anniversary of the promulgation of the Basic Law.

Also a report on a meeting arranged by the Liaison Office to listen to views on the NatSec legislation. Who attended to provide inputs? The report says: “22 members of the CPPCC at the provincial level attended the meeting.” The piece also says: “On June 6, the Hong Kong Liaison Office held the first symposium to listen to Hong Kong’s national security legislation. 21 representatives of the National People’s Congress of the Hong Kong District and members of the CPPCC National Committee participated.” Just to state the obvious. These are not about public opinion or diversity of views. These meetings are about protecting the interests of select groups.

Page 6: A report on two new standards with regard to Live Streaming, which is massive business in China. The report is thin on details. But this would be an interesting area of research for anyone keen on studying new dynamics in China’s economy.

Page 17: These are the international pages.

Xinhua report on Black Lives Matter protests in different countries. Here’s the gist: “People from Australia, the Czech Republic, France, Senegal and other countries took to the streets on the 6th to hold demonstrations against racial discrimination and protested against African Americans in the United States. Racial discrimination by groups. South African President Ramaphosa said on the same day that the people of South Africa supported the nation’s fight against racial discrimination.”

A decent report on epidemic control measures and related economic opening policies around the Middle East. In addition, there’s a report on OPEC+ agreeing to extend production cuts to the end of next month.