Tracking People’s Daily — September 15, 2020

Page 1: Much of the front page today is dominated by the China-EU summit that was held yesterday. But before I get to that, let’s take a look at two other pieces on the page. First, a new document by the CCP General Office on the educational achievements of the never forget original aspirations campaign, which ended earlier this year. It puts out the following points:

  • Persist in arming the entire party with Xi Jinping’s socialist thinking with Chinese characteristics in the new era. Xi Jinping’s thought on socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era is the ideological banner of the Communist Party of China. Persist in reading the original works, learning the original text, and comprehending the principles, and continue to work hard on learning and understanding, so that the whole party will always maintain a unified mind, firm will, coordinated action, and strong combat effectiveness. Leading groups at the county level and above must implement the party committee (party group) theoretical study center group learning system, hold at least one reading class every year, list topics, and concentrate on study and discussion. (I am sure cadre are thrilled to be doing this.)
  • Party members and cadres should take the party constitution as a compulsory course, study and contrast frequently, internalize it in their hearts and externalize them in action. Party members and cadres’ party spirit education and leadership cadre appointment training must include the party constitution as a compulsory content…Strengthen the education of party loyalty, implement a theme Party day system, mark political ceremonies such as revisiting the oath to join the party….Make good use of red resources and party spirit education bases nearby to carry out revolutionary traditional education, inherit the red genes, and stimulate forward action. Carry out special education on the history of the party, the history of New China, the history of reform and opening up, and the history of socialist development, so that party members and cadres can learn about major events, important meetings, important documents, and important figures since the founding of the party…
  • Take political physical examination as an important way for party members and cadres to consciously clean up ideological and political dust and continuously strengthen political immunity, carry forward the spirit of self-revolution, make full use of the sharp weapon of criticism and self-criticism, and timely review and correct various problems that violate the original mission.
  • Strengthen the training of governance ability and professional ability, strengthen practical training, and improve the ability of cadres to fight tough battles, solve difficult problems, and prevent risks.
  • The provincial, municipal, and county party and government leadership groups should focus on solving the most urgent, most worried, and most anticipated problems of the people, and formulate an annual livelihood plan. Adopt appropriate methods to disclose the plan, progress and results, and accept evaluation and supervision from the public. Improve the system for party members and cadres to directly contact the masses. Members of the party and government leadership at or above the county level should establish contact points at the grassroots level.
  • Resolutely oppose formalism and bureaucracy. All regions, departments, and units must specify the requirements for establishing a correct outlook on political performance, improve leadership styles and working methods, and never do stupid things that think that leaders are satisfied but disappoint the masses. Focus on rectification and implementation of the Party Central Committee’s decision-making…

Next a commentary on Xi’s remarks to scientists. The piece says that in May last year, the Party Central Committee issued the “Opinions on Further Promoting the Spirit of Scientists and Strengthening the Construction of Work Style and Style of Study,” requesting to vigorously promote the patriotic spirit of minding the motherland and serving the people, and the innovative spirit of bravely climbing the peak and being the first to pursue truth.” It further reiterates: “Science knows no borders, scientists have a motherland, and patriotism is the first essence of the spirit of scientists…If you integrate your scientific pursuits into the great cause of building a modern socialist country, you will surely be able to gather the majestic power of building a world power in science and technology, and create glorious achievements worthy of the times, worthy of the people, and worthy of history.”

Now to the summit with the EU. Xi Jinping met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, European Council President Charles Michel, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. PD says that the meeting “set the direction for the next stage of China-EU relations, determined key areas to strengthen communication, coordination and cooperation.” Xinhua’s English version offers a good review. But also check out Stuart Lau’s quick overview of Xinhua Chinese coverage.

  • Xi emphasised four principles or “four insists,” namely peaceful coexistence, openness and cooperation, multilateralism, and dialogue and consultation.
  • During the meeting, the Chinese and EU leaders stated their commitment to speeding up the negotiations of the China-EU Bilateral Investment Treaty to achieve the goal of concluding the negotiations within this year.
  • The Chinese and EU leaders announced the official signing of the China-EU agreement on geographical indications.
  • The leaders also decided to establish a China-EU High Level Environment and Climate Dialogue and a China-EU High Level Digital Cooperation Dialogue, and to forge China-EU green and digital partnerships.
  • Xi also said that “China has put forward the Global Data Security Initiative and hopes that the EU will work with China to promote the formulation of global digital standards and rules and promote the sound development of global digital economic governance. We must properly resolve each other’s reasonable concerns. China pays close attention to recent trends in the European side in 5G, foreign investment review, government procurement, competition policy…”

And this: “Xi Jinping also clarified China’s principled position on Hong Kong-related and Xinjiang-related issues, pointing out that the essence of Hong Kong-related and Xinjiang-related issues is to safeguard China’s national sovereignty, security and unity, and to protect the rights of people of all ethnic groups to live and work in peace. China firmly opposes any person or force creating instability, division and turmoil in China, and firmly opposes any country’s interference in China’s internal affairs. Regarding the human rights issue, Xi Jinping emphasized that there is no universal human rights development path in the world…Countries should do their own thing first. It is believed that the EU can resolve its own human rights issues. China does not accept an instructor on human rights and opposes double standards. China is willing to strengthen exchanges and make common progress with the European side based on the principle of mutual respect.”

The coverage of the EU’s response is this: Merkel, Michel and Von der Leyen “stated that China is an important strategic partner respected by the EU. The world today needs Europe and China to strengthen unity and cooperation, jointly safeguard multilateralism, resist unilateralism and protectionism, and more effectively respond to various global challenges. This is in the common interests of both Europe and China and the international community.” On human rights, the PD report says: “the European side admits that it has problems, and hopes to conduct dialogue with China based on the principles of equality and mutual respect, enhance mutual understanding, and properly handle differences and differences.” The report also speaks about them discussing Afghanistan and Iran nuclear issue.

Now here’s Reurters’ coverage of what the EU side apparently said: “European Union leaders told Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday to open up markets, respect minorities and step back from a crackdown in Hong Kong, also asserting that Europe would no longer be taken advantage of in trade…‘We are really serious about having access to the Chinese market and tearing down the barriers,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said at the news conference. Merkel said she and her two EU colleagues had pressed Xi to be clear about whether it really wanted an investment agreement that is being negotiated between the two and which would force China to open up its markets. ‘We put on pressure … to make progress on the investment agreement,’ Merkel told reporters from Berlin. ‘Overall, cooperation with China must be based on certain principles — reciprocity, fair competition. We are different social systems, but while we are committed to multilateralism, it must be rules-based,’ she added.”

Here’s the EU’s formal press release after the meeting. It says: “With regard to Hong Kong, EU Leaders voiced their grave concerns about the erosion of the fundamental rights and freedoms following the imposition of the national security law on Hong Kong on 30 June, which is contrary to China’s international commitments. They also reiterated the EU’s concerns at the postponement of the Legislative Council election and the disqualification of candidates. The EU reiterated its serious concerns about the treatment of ethnic and religious minorities, the situation of human rights defenders, as well as the limitations to freedom of expression and access to information. The two sides agreed that the Human Rights Dialogue will take place as a physical meeting in China later this year.

At the same time, there’s this piece written and signed by key European China analysts, along with Reinhard Bütikofer, chairman of the delegation for relations with the People’s Republic of China in the European Parliament. It basically calls for the EU to revise its policy premised on the One-China principle in response to recent PRC policies, i.e., change in approach to HK and force development and projection vis-a-vis Taiwan.

Page 2: First, there’s a commentary on China’s COVID-19 fight. The basic argument is that China’s success shows its “national power” expansion. It says, “the prevention and control of the epidemic is not just a medical and health issue, but an all-round work, a general battle. In the face of a sudden and severe epidemic, we quickly launched a full range of human organization wars, material guarantee wars, technological assault wars, and resource movement wars.”

It adds (I’ve done minor edits): Faced with the severe impact of the epidemic, my country’s economy has withstood the stress test. My country has become the first major economy to resume growth since the outbreak, leading the world in epidemic prevention and control and economic recovery, demonstrating China’s strong capabilities and resilience. Practice has proved that we have strong determination, firm will, and solid national strength to meet challenges, and have sufficient confidence, ability, and wisdom to overcome various risk tests. And then the piece talks about building dual circulation.

Next a report with folks in the science and technology community reacting to Xi’s speech on the issue last week.

Page 4: A story commemorating the national aid team that traveled to Hubei to support epidemic control efforts. Next, the Propaganda Department of the Central Committee, the United Front Work Department of the Central Committee, and the National People’s Commission of the People’s Republic of China held an on-site meeting for the exchange of experiences in the creation of national unity and progress on September 14 in Chengdu. You Quan, secretary of the Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee and head of the United Front Work Department said: “it is necessary to unite more closely around the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core, take the Chinese nation community consciousness as the main line, carry out comprehensive, in-depth and lasting work to create national unity and progress…The popularization of spoken and written languages ​​will build a common spiritual home for all ethnic groups, promote exchanges and blends among all ethnic groups, and consolidate and develop the good situation of ‘the Chinese nation is one family, working together to build the Chinese dream’.” Now the translation of 语言文字 is spoken language and text or characters — but what he means is emphasis on a common language — so this is about doubling down on language policy, which has led to the protests in Inner Mongolia.

Page 5: A few pieces on the comment page. First, a piece by the PD’s review department on the COVID-19 fight. It says that “at the National Commendation Conference…General Secretary Xi Jinping emphasized: ‘The whole country is one heart, which embodies the unity and great strength of the Chinese people.’ Hearing the order, stepped forward at the critical juncture; white clothes are armors…Build a strong anti-epidemic dyke; stand still and stand still to light up the light of hope…Facing the test of life and death, facing the tremendous physical and psychological pressure brought about by prolonged isolation, the broad masses of people will not be afraid of life and death, and will not shy away from dangers…” The piece then talks about how the whole country united to take actions.

It adds: “An important aspect of measuring the success and superiority of a country’s system is to see whether it can give orders from all sides and organize all parties to cope with major risks and challenges. In the face of the epidemic, all localities can support each other, all fronts can cooperate with each other, all groups can watch and help each other, and behind the unity of one heart, the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at the core takes the overall situation and coordinates all parties, playing a strong leadership core role…Behind the unity of the whole country is the advantage of the system of concentrating efforts to do big things; the core of unity is the superiority of our country’s national system and national governance system.”

Next a piece by Zhang Minggang, deputy political commissar, secretary of the Disciplinary Committee and director of the supervisory committee of the Xinjiang Armed Police Corps. He writes: “In recent years, the entire army has resolutely implemented Chairman Xi Jinping’s instructions, strengthened supervision and discipline, seized the righteous trend to fight corruption, and deeply promoted special rectification of grassroots culture. Unhealthy trends have been effectively curbed, and grassroots work style construction has been improving. However, we must also realize that the situation of ethos building is still complicated and severe.

“We must start from the source of ideological awareness, and constantly consolidate the ideological and moral foundation of integrity…and carry out the education on the theme of ‘inheriting the red gene and taking on the responsibility of strengthening the army’ with theoretical firmness and ideological determination.”

“Supervision and discipline must be stricter. One of the most important reasons why some units have a bad atmosphere at the grassroots level is their ineffective supervision. To strengthen inspections, the Commission for Discipline Inspection must effectively shoulder the responsibility of supervision, adopt a combination of regular inspections and special inspections, and open inspections and unannounced visits to enhance the supervision and deterrence of inspections, and effectively cover the positive trend of anti-corruption pressure to all employees and transmit them to the end.”

Finally, Zhang Weiyu, a researcher at the Beijing Xi Jinping Research Center for Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, writes about BRI as critical to global development. It has some really interesting details. “The Belt and Road Initiative is a solid guarantee to stabilize my country’s foreign trade fundamentals. According to data from the Ministry of Commerce, in the first half of the year, domestic companies invested RMB 57.1 billion in non-financial direct investment in 54 countries along the Belt and Road route, a year-on-year increase of 23.8%. In terms of international engineering, in the first half of the year, Chinese enterprises signed 2,289 new foreign contracted engineering project contracts in 59 countries along the “Belt and Road”, with a newly signed contract value of RMB 42.02 billion. In terms of logistics and transportation, China-Europe Express Express has played an active role in unblocking international logistics and has advantages in land transportation. In the first half of the year, a total of 5,122 trains have been opened, an increase of 36% year-on-year. This has made important contributions to stabilizing the international industrial chain and supply chain and promoting the resumption of work and production.”

Page 7: One report to note, because this is a metric in terms of economic activity. Data from the National Energy Administration from January to August show that “the total electricity consumption of the whole society was 4,767.6 billion kWh, a year-on-year increase of 0.5%. This is the first positive growth this year after the cumulative decline in electricity consumption in the whole society has continued to narrow. At the same time, the decline in electricity consumption in the secondary and tertiary industries has also continued to narrow.”

Page 9: A few pieces on this page. First, Lin Zhenyi from the Central Party School on Covid-19. Lin hits a bunch of key propaganda points (I’ve done minor edits): “The great anti-epidemic spirit of supreme life, unity of the nation, not worrying about one’s own life, respecting science, and sharing destiny is a vivid interpretation of the Chinese spirit, enriching the connotation of the national spirit and the spirit of the times, and fully demonstrating the leadership of the Communist Party of China and my country’s socialist system and its significant advantages. We must vigorously promote the great anti-epidemic spirit in the whole society and transform it into a powerful force for comprehensively building a modern socialist country and realizing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.” And a piece calling for remembering the victory in WWII.

Page 17: Here’s what was covered on the international page.