Tracking People’s Daily — September 11, 2020

Manoj Kewalramani
11 min readSep 11, 2020

Page 1: Two things that I found noteworthy — a report and a commentary on China’s COVID-19 fight. The report has comments from people across different walks of life in China, talking about the key points of Xi Jinping’s speech. This sort of seems like a bit of reminder that the pandemic hasn’t gone away, despite the official victory lap this week.

The commentary emphasises that the Party put people’s life first in combating Covid, and that people had responded to the Party’s command and that this was a demonstration of the “humanistic” approach to governance. And then it says that this battle had showcased China’s image as that “of a big country that is sentimental, upright, and moral…(and) the role of a big country that seeks common ground for the world and promotes the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.”

And then this: “The tenacious will to overwhelm all difficulties and not be overwhelmed by any difficulties; respect for science, which embodies the Chinese people’s practical character of seeking truth, pragmatism, and pioneering innovation; sharing a common destiny, embodies the moral responsibility of the Chinese people to help each other and love peace…The great anti-epidemic spirit forged by the Chinese people and the Chinese nation is in the same line with the long-standing characteristics and cultural genes of the Chinese nation. It is the inheritance and development of the spirit of patriotism, collectivism, and socialism.”

Page 2: First up, there’s a report with a bunch of experts talking about dual circulation. So Wang Wei, director of the Institute of Market Economy of the Development Research Center of the State Council, talks about the importance of SMEs, in that they dominate the Chinese economy. He also discusses infrastructure construction. He said: “At present, my country has insufficient air transport capacity to connect internationally and serve high value-added services. There are very few specialized logistics airports, and there are not many large international logistics companies with high standards. New infrastructure including 5G also needs to be accelerated. In addition, the market system is not sound, there are still some institutional shortcomings in the construction of a modern circulation system that need to be made up urgently, and some regional barriers need to be eliminated.”

Zhang Shijun, Dean of the Capital University of Economics and Business School of Law, says that “the construction of a social credit system can effectively reduce transaction costs in the circulation process.” He believes “that the construction of a social credit system and the construction of a modern circulation system seem to be two topics, but in fact they are closely connected. Zhang Shijun said that the process of free circulation of production factors includes production, warehousing, transportation, wholesale and retail and other links. These links are in fact constituted through specific transactions. If both parties to the transaction can quickly learn the social credit of the other party, and the entire process of product circulation can be traced, then negotiation and performance will be smoother, ultimately increasing transaction opportunities and improving transaction efficiency. “Improve the construction of the social credit system and form a trust mechanism in the whole society. More importantly, it is able to stabilize expectations and strengthen confidence, so that market entities dare to invest, dare to trade, and circulate, and effectively promote economic circulation.” Zhang also says that the “unified social credit code has basically achieved full coverage.”

Next, Wang Yi’s East Asian diplomacy. So the PD report (CGTN’s English report) talks about Wang attending the ASEAN+1, ASEAN+3 and East Asia summits. He spoke about pandemic-related (such as vaccines) and post-pandemic economic cooperation. PD says: “The 10 foreign ministers of ASEAN participating in the meeting said that ASEAN appreciates China’s leadership and constructive role in jointly responding to the epidemic, and is willing to strengthen the alignment and policy coordination of ASEAN’s development strategy with the Belt and Road initiative.”

At the ASEAN+3 meeting, the report says “the foreign ministers of Japan, South Korea and ASEAN countries stated that the 10+3 countries should adhere to solidarity, cooperation, openness and tolerance, deepen cooperation in public health, economic and trade investment, digital transformation, food security, tourism and other fields, and work together for regional stability, development and prosperity.” Finally, at the East Asia Summit, Wang lashed out at the US’ actions in the South China Sea.

Next a report about a notice on Deepening the Reform of the Commercial System by the State Council. It outlines 12 reform measures in the following 4 areas:

  • The first is to promote the entire online process of business establishment. We will comprehensively promote the “one-network service” of enterprises, further reduce the time for enterprises to start up to 4 working days or less, and continue to improve the service capabilities of enterprises.
  • The second is to promote the reform of the registration system to achieve new breakthroughs. Intensify the reform of the residence and business premises registration system, and support the provincial people’s governments to coordinate the pilot program for separate registration of residence and business premises. Improve the intellectualization of the self-declaration system for enterprise names, strengthen the protection of well-known enterprise names, and establish a name dispute resolution mechanism.
  • The third is to simplify the production and operation and approval conditions of related enterprises.
  • The fourth is to strengthen corporate information disclosure, improve the punishment mechanism for untrustworthiness, promote the implementation of smart supervision.

Page 3: A report on foreigners appreciating Xi’s COVID-19 speech this week. For instance: Masood Khalid, former Pakistani ambassador to China says that “the Chinese government’s swift action, scientific decision-making, and strong executive power are commendable, reflecting China’s governance system and capability advantages.” Or Jin Jin-ho, a professor at the Department of Political Affairs and Diplomacy at Dankook University in South Korea, said: “China’s successful control of the epidemic demonstrates China’s economic, technological strength and efficient national governance capabilities.” Page 16 also has a report compiling positive coverage of China’s COVID management in international press.

Next, let’s talk about the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Position Paper of the People’s Republic of China on the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations. There’s nothing in there about reforming the Security Council or thing of that nature. Just a bunch of Beijing’s talking points. But it’s good to note them. Here’s a cheat-sheet (Full English Text here.):

  • “The COVID-19 pandemic is compounding the once-in-a-century 2 transformations unfolding in our world. We are entering a period of turbulence and change, and witnessing the rise of protectionism, unilateralism and bullying practices. Certain countries and political forces keep playing the blame game, clamoring for “decoupling”, and pulling out of international organizations and agreements. What they are doing is sabotaging international cooperation, stoking confrontation between ideologies and social systems, and putting the world in serious jeopardy. Such actions notwithstanding, peace and development remain the theme of our times. The rise of emerging markets and developing countries remains unchanged, the trend toward a multi-polar world remains unchanged, and continuous economic globalization despite twists and turns remains unchanged”
  • The paper then talks about opposing “any attempt to turn back the clock of history,” rejecting “unilateralism, hegemonism and power politics.” It talks about equality of countries and a “new type of international relations,” “equitable and balanced” development cooperation, upholding the WTO, sustainable development, public health security, etc.
  • “We need to strengthen solidarity and reject any politicization or 4 stigmatization associated with COVID-19. We should fully leverage the key leadership of the World Health Organization (WHO), and take concerted global action to combat the disease.”
  • “China strongly opposes any unfounded threat or use of force, unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction. No enforcement action shall be taken without Security Council authorization.”
  • “China supports the Palestinian people’s efforts to establish an independent Palestinian state that enjoys full sovereignty on the basis of the 1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital. We support Palestine’s greater participation in international affairs as a state.”
  • The paper talks about China’s position on the Iran JCPOA and the Afghanistan conflict. On the latter, it says “the withdrawal of foreign troops should be conducted in an orderly and responsible manner. The international community needs to step up coordination and increase input to facilitate peace, reconciliation and reconstruction in the country.”
  • On nuclear weapons: “bearing in mind that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought”, nuclear-weapon states should abandon nuclear deterrence policies based on preemptive moves, reduce the role of nuclear weapons in national security policy, stop developing and deploying global anti-ballistic missile systems, and prevent weaponization and arms race in the outer space.” The paper also criticises the US’ decision to leave the INF treaty and calls for renewing NEW Start, while ruling out China being a part of the treaty. “China will not accede to the unfair and unreasonable call to join any of the so-called trilateral arms 7 control negotiations with the United States and Russia,” it says.
  • On non-traditional security threats, this is interesting: “Terrorism and extremism should not be linked with any particular country, ethnicity or religion, and there should not be any double standards. COVID-19 sounded the alarm on global biosecurity governance. Countries should work more closely to prevent the threat of biological weapons and bioterrorism and promote the sound development of biotechnology for the benefit of mankind.”
  • China then calls for a Cyberspace code of conduct: “It is essential to oppose cyber war and arms race and to foster a peaceful, secure, open, cooperative and orderly cyberspace. The pressing task is to develop an international code of conduct for cyberspace that is acceptable to all. China opposes any country’s overstretching the concept of national security to restrict normal information and communications technology (ICT) development 8 and cooperation.”
  • And this on 5G is just incredible. I mean the paper calls 5G as technology that “belongs to mankind.” What the flub! — “As for governments, they should treat all 5G companies in a non-discriminatory manner, uphold the principles of free trade and market competition, and enable an open, fair, just and non-discriminatory business environment. No government should politicize 5G, or abuse the notion of national security to exclude or restrict a particular company.”
  • On human rights: The paper talks about not politicising them, pushes the idea of “rights to subsistence and development,” and then talks about police brutality. “Under the current circumstances, it is imperative to address police brutality, failure in protecting people’s rights to life and health during the COVID-19 response, and racial discrimination in certain countries, issues that have caused grave concerns of the international community. Only in this way can we realize the lofty goal of human rights for all.” Also this: “No human right is more important than the right to a happy life. As a country that respects and safeguards human rights, China applies the universal principles of human rights in light of the national context, promotes the mutually reinforcing development of democracy and people’s well-being, and pursues peace and development in parallel. It is committed to promoting and protecting human rights through greater development. This is a path of human rights development that suits China’s national reality.”
  • The final section of the paper has to do with China’s priorities and policies in supporting the UN and in aiding the fight against COVID.

Next, there’s a piece on China’s new global data security initiative. It says: “Data security has no national boundaries, and no country can be immune to it. To strengthen global digital governance, it is necessary to formulate a set of universal rules that cater to the interests of all parties through the universal participation of all countries and democratic discussions. However, in recent years, there has been a countercurrent of unilateralism. Individual countries are keen to pull small circles, engage in exclusive practices, and even impose their own will on others. China’s proposal this time is to uphold multilateralism in the field of global digital governance. Discussing together, building together, and sharing is the right way to solve global problems.”

It then talks shots at the Prague Proposals and the US’ Clean Network plan: “The initiative calls for upholding fairness and justice on data security issues. When discussing data security issues, we must focus on data security itself. We cannot politicize data security issues and introduce irrelevant factors such as ideology and political systems, let alone preconceived, predetermined conclusions, and adopt double standards. Spilling dirty water on data security in other countries in the name of “cleanliness”, repelling companies from other countries on the pretext of national security, and even using national power to confine leading companies in other countries globally. These are essentially all in the name of data security The reality of protectionism is digital hegemonism, which will only poison the atmosphere of international cooperation in data security and lead the process of international cooperation in the field of data security astray.”

Next up, the kerfuffle about publishing the US ambassador’s piece in People’s Daily. PD says that it responded to the piece with this: “The People’s Daily replied to the U.S. Embassy that the manuscript sent by the U.S. Embassy in the name of Ambassador Branstad was full of loopholes, seriously inconsistent with the facts, and not in line with the People’s Daily as a well-known and serious professional (publication). The media’s consistent standards for the selection and publication of manuscripts. If the US still hopes to publish it in the People’s Daily, it should follow the principles of equality and mutual respect and make substantive changes to the article based on facts. On this basis, we are willing to maintain contact and communication with the US embassy.”

Zhao Lijian spoke about this at the MoFA presser, saying: “Now I would like to ask foreign journalists here to put yourselves in that position. If like the US, the Chinese side sent you an article filled with lies and malicious smears targeting your own country and demanded that you reply by tomorrow and pledge to publish it without any revision, can you possibly agree to it? The US move is apparently irrelevant to freedom of the press. Clearly it is carefully choreographed to find fault with China. The proposed op-ed is just a decoy to trap China.”

Page 6: There’s only one piece here that I found interesting. It talks about the new regulations on Party building in the army. The piece follows a question-answer format with leaders of the Political Work Department of the Central Military Commission responding to reporters.

First, they say that the regulations “mark a new level of scientific, standardized, and institutionalized party building in our military.” “The regulations run through the requirements of achieving two upholds and implementing the responsibility system of the chairman of the Military Commission,” they added

Next, we find out that there are six key aspects:

  • First, highlight the fundamental guidance of Xi Jinping’s thoughts on socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era, thoroughly implement Xi Jinping’s thinking on strengthening the army, and set the important instructions and requirements of Chairman Xi on strengthening party building and the 19th National Congress of the Party.
  • The second is to adhere to the party constitution as the fundamental observance.
  • The third is to uphold the party’s absolute leadership over the army, and centrally stipulate a series of fundamental principles and systems for the party’s absolute leadership over the army.
  • The fourth is to focus on the main responsibility and main business of preparing for war.
  • Fifth, to keep up with the new era, new missions and new systems to promote system innovation, make full use of the results of the Party Building Conference of the Central Military Commission and the fresh experience of army exploration, so that various norms are in line with the new leadership and command system, and the new scale, structure and strength.
  • Sixth, implement the requirements for strict party governance in an all-round way, adhere to problem orientation, and integrate strict standards and strict requirements into all aspects of party building in the military.

The rest of it is individual questions about each of these six. It’s really an exhausting exercise to glean anything meaningful from the report. And even after that labour, one is unlikely to identify anything specific.

Page 9: On the theory page today, there are two noteworthy pieces. First, by Li Ji, deputy dean of the Central Party School. Li writes that “the key to building a moderately prosperous society in all respects lies in giving full play to the party’s leadership core role. The party’s leadership must be strengthened and improved especially in the decisive stage.”

Next, there’s this piece on maritime power by Zhao Yibing from the School of International Law, East China University of Political Science and Law. Zhao writes: “The report of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China put forward the strategic goals of resolutely safeguarding the country’s maritime rights and interests and building a maritime power. This means that building a maritime power has become an important part of the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and the ocean is ushered in unprecedented opportunities.” The piece essentially talks about China’s expanding maritime economic interests, which demand development of maritime power.