The CCP politburo held its January meeting to research and discuss future amendments to China’s constitution, which will be the main topic of discussion at this month’s CCP central committee plenum.
The commentary pen name “Zhong Sheng” criticized the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) for impeding Chinese investment in the US, particularly the recent termination of Chinese company Ant Financial’s acquisition of US company MoneyGram.
Xi Jinping addressed the People’s Armed Police (PAP), explaining that the recent decision to bring the PAP under the unified control of the Central Military Commission and the CCP Central Committee is an important political decision and emphasizing the PAP’s role in regime security.
In a nationally televised address at the second plenum of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, Xi Jinping demanded loyalty to the Party and insisted on the centralization of leadership.
Understanding the Preamble of Xi’s Important 5 January Speech
China Discipline and Supervision Newspaper
1.8 Xi Jinping delivered an important speech at the 5 January discussion class on studying and implementing the spirit of the 19th Party Congress, the preamble of which was released to the public. To understand the contents of the press release, cadres were encouraged to study several concepts. To build a great Party and lead a great country, CCP central committee members and main leading cadres at the ministerial/provincial level must exhibit the following six qualities: political standing (政治站位), which is the ability to grasp one’s work and position in order to advance China’s “two one-hundred year goals;” historical vision, which is learning from party, state, and Chinese civilization history in order to grasp experiences and rules and maintain the “four confidences”; strengthening theoretical thinking to properly understand China’s situation and mission; strengthening the concept of the overall situation and the “four consciousnesses”; enriching knowledge and self-cultivation through study and practice; and remaining problem-oriented. Other key concepts were: grasping the “three pairs of relationships” of history and the present, the international and the domestic, and theory and practice; and persevering in the three principles that run through it all (一以贯之), which are persevering in socialism with Chinese characteristics, the new great undertaking of Party building, and strengthening consciousness of hardship and defending against risks and challenges.
Li Keqiang Attends the Second Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Leaders’ Meeting
1.10 Premier Li Keqiang jointly hosted the Second Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) Leaders’ Meeting with the Prime Minister of Cambodia Hun Sen in Phnom Penh. The prime ministers of Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam and vice president of Myanmar also attended. Li used his speech to declare LMC a new type of sub-regional cooperation mechanism and an important platform for jointly discussing and building the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). He also offered five suggestions for making LMC a model of regional and south-south cooperation: 1. Implement water resource cooperation, 2. Strengthen production capacity cooperation in the construction of water conservancy infrastructure, 3. Expand agricultural cooperation, 4. Upgrade human resource cooperation, and 5. Promote medical and health cooperation. The Five-Year Action Plan of Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (2018-2022) and Phnom Penh Declaration of the Second Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Leaders’ Meeting were issued during the meeting. Additionally, the day before the meeting Li published an op-ed on friendly cooperation between China and Cambodia and in the Lancang-Mekong region in the Phnom Penh newspaper Khmer Times.
CCP Politburo Holds January Meeting, Constitutional Amendments Slated for Discussion at Second Plenum
1.12 The CCP politburo held its January meeting to research and discuss future amendments to China’s constitution. The politburo noted that the Party places great importance on the constitution, ruling the country according to the law is dependent on ruling the country according to the constitution (依宪治国), and changing the constitution is a matter of great national political importance. The politburo pointed out that in order to better display the important function of the constitution in the “new era” and in developing socialism with Chinese characteristics, amendments to the constitution would be necessary, which would be the main topic of discussion at the central committee’s second plenum. The meeting determined the amendments will hold high the banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics, comprehensively implement the spirit of the 19th Party Congress, and persevere in Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory, the Important Thinking of the Three Represents, the Scientific Development Concept, and Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era. It also emphasized the amendments must adhere to Party leadership, strict procedures, and a broad consensus, and stick to the principle of partial amendments rather than big changes. The plenum will be held on 18-19 January.
Zhong Sheng: Washington Should Throw Away the “Old Opera Libretto” of Protectionism
1.8 The commentary pen name “Zhong Sheng” (钟声), which stands for “Voice of China” and/or “Sounding the Alarm Bell” and authoritatively transmits the official positions of the People’s Daily on matters of international affairs, criticizes the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) for impeding Chinese investment in the US in the name of national security and uses the recent termination of Chinese company Ant Financial’s (蚂蚁金服) acquisition of US company MoneyGram as an example. The commentary argues that CFIUS uses “harming US national security” as a reason to get involved in acquisition cases with no clear definition. This action has brought obstacles and even risks to a normal international trade relationship. The article also states that, as the Chinese economy grows, investments initiated by Chinese companies have become the Committee’s key focus. Since 2016, 27 Chinese acquisitions of US companies failed to be completed. The commentary concludes by saying that the US should see that a growing Chinese market can provide great opportunities for US companies, and Chinese investment in the US can create job opportunities for the U.S.
UNITED FRONT WORK
You Quan: Resolutely Take Xi Jinping’s Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era as a Guide; Strive to Promote Innovative Development for the Cause of United Front Work
1.4 United Front Work Department Head You Quan (尤权) gave a speech calling for innovation in the field of united front work at a 19th Party Congress study session last week. He urged cadres to earnestly study the requirements of the new era for united front work and bring into play the advantages of united front education and the “system of providing recommendations and suggestions in politics” (议政建言制度) in order to realize the China Dream.
Former CMC Member Fang Fenghui Suspected of Bribery
1.9 Xinhua announced that former Central Military Commission (CMC) Member Fang Fenghui (房峰辉) would be prosecuted for suspicion of bribery. Fang was replaced as chief of the Joint Staff Department in August 2017 and demoted from the CMC at the 19th Party Congress in October.
CCDI Second Plenum: Xi Jinping Emphasizes Strict Rule of the Party
1.11 In his speech at the second plenum of the 19th Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), Xi Jinping said that in order to comprehensively strictly rule the Party, the leadership of the Party must be strengthened. This requires insistence on the authority of the Central Committee and the centralization of leadership. The long-term governance ability of the Party must be strengthened to ensure that the Party becomes a Marxist ruling party that can endure challenges and is supported by the people. Additionally, the Party should be built with ideology and governed with institutions. General management and supervision should be applied to all Party members and for a “critical few,” especially high-ranked cadres, stricter rules should be applied. Politburo standing committee members Li Zhanshu (栗战书), Wang Yang (汪洋). Wang Huning (王沪宁), Han Zheng (韩正), and Zhao Leji (赵乐际) attended the meeting.
2017 National Discipline Inspection and Supervision System Summary
Central Commission for Discipline Inspection
1.11 In 2017, the national discipline inspection and supervision system received over 2.7 million petition letters, investigated more than 1.2 million clues, conducted over 284,000 information gathering conversations, filed 527,000 cases, and implemented disciplinary actions against 527,000 individuals, including party disciplinary actions against 443,000. Those receiving disciplinary actions included 58 cadres at the provincial and ministerial level or higher, more than 3,300 at the bureau level, 21,000 at the county level, 78,000 at the village level, 97,000 ordinary cadres, and 327,000 other personnel. Additionally, the “four forms” (四种形态)--a four-tier system to measure political discipline--were used to punish over 1.3 million individuals. The first form (criticism and self-criticism as well as inquiries through interview or letters) accounted for 59.7% of those punished, second (minor disciplinary penalties) 31.3%, third (severely punished or demoted officials ) 5.3%, and fourth (those prosecuted for law-breaking) 3.7%.
“One Principle Runs Through It All” (一以贯之) Unflinchingly Advances Comprehensive Strict Governance of the Party
Central Commission for Discipline Inspection
1.11 The CCDI’s website published a special commentary regarding Xi Jinping’s speech at the Second Plenum of the 19th CCDI, calling on Party organizations at all levels to study the speech, grasp its essence, unify ideological consciousness, and strengthen the assumption of responsibility to advance comprehensive strict governance of the Party toward deepened development. The commentary states Party members must clearly recognize the factors weakening the Party’s purity are complex and the source of contamination in the political ecosystem has not been eradicated. It also claims that, if the Party does not consistently attach a high level of importance to clean governance and anti-corruption measures, economic and social development will not obtain major achievements and the general situation of reform and development will be unstable.
CENTRAL MILITARY COMMISSION (CMC)
Xie Xinping: A Bugle Call of Victory for the New Era
1.8 A commentary published under the pen name Xie Xinping (解辛平), which authoritatively speaks on behalf of PLA Daily though its collectively written articles, discusses the CMC’s 3 January mobilization ceremony, the first of its kind ever held. The article states that, in the new era, the military will realize basic mechanization by 2020, achieve the modernization of socialism, national defense, and the military by 2035, and become a world class military by the mid-21st century. The historical mission for the PLA in the “new era” is to establish a disciplined people’s army that follows the lead of the Party and wins battles. This army is the strategic support to realize the two centenary goals and the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. A modern combat system with Chinese characteristics should be constructed by building a strong and modernized army, navy, air forces, rocket force, strategic support force, and an effective joint command institution. In the past five years, the PLA has effectively conducted missions to defend maritime interests, fight against terrorism, maintain stability, and participate in international peacekeeping. In the future, it will keep moving forward and defend China.
Xi Jinping Addresses Flag Raising Ceremony: Discusses Decision to Adjust Leadership of People’s Armed Police
1.10 Xi Jinping addressed the People’s Armed Police (PAP) at a flag raising ceremony in Beijing, where he discussed the decision to adjust the leadership and command system of the PAP by bringing the PAP under the unified control of the CCP Central Committee and the Central Military Commission (CMC). He called the move a “major political decision” by the Central Committee intended to fully implement the Party’s absolute leadership over the armed forces. He emphasized that the PAP plays an important role in safeguarding regime power and called on the PAP to “resolutely listen to the Party’s command, fully implement the Party’s thinking on using military strength in the new era, uphold the absolute leadership of the Party, resolutely obey the orders of the Party, intensify political consciousness, overall situation consciousness, core consciousness, alignment consciousness (看齐意识), and always be the devoted guardian of the Party and the people.”
Strive to Create a Formidable Modernized People’s Armed Police
1.11 The PLA Daily published a commentator article stating Xi Jinping’s address to the PAP clearly demonstrated the PAP’s strategic position and missions and how to advance the creation of a formidable and modernized PAP. The article emphasizes the PAP’s connections with the PLA as well as its role in maintaining national security and domestic stability, explicitly mentioning its involvement in responding to unexpected incidents and anti-terrorism, emergency support, and defensive combat missions. It also states Xi Jinping’s decision to place the PAP under the unified control of the CCP Central Committee and CMC has important implications for the realization of the Party’s goal of building a strong military in a new era and pushing forward national administrative system and capabilities modernization.
Resolutely Obey the Orders of the Party and Shoulder the Mission of the New Era
1.12 The People’s Daily ran a Xinhua article that details the reactions of the members of the People’s Armed Police who witnessed Xi’s 10 January speech at the flag raising ceremony (see above), underscoring the extreme importance of the speech. The article extracted the most important part of Xi’s speech: “We must resolutely listen to the Party’s command, fully implement the Party’s thinking on using military strength in the new era, uphold the absolute leadership of the Party, resolutely obey the orders of the Party, intensify ideological consciousness, whole consciousness, core consciousness, and line consciousness (看齐意识), and always be the devoted guardian of the Party and the people.”
Xinhua reported that after Xi’s speech, PAP members immediately devoted themselves to studying and memorizing Xi’s words, and agreed that they must shoulder the responsibility of safeguarding national security and social stability, and defending the people. Xinhua reported that the vast majority of People’s Liberation Army and PAP members said that they would resolutely listen to the Party’s command, fully implement Xi’s thinking on strengthening the military, resolutely defend authority, safeguard the core, and strive to realize the Party’s goal of establishing strong armed forces for the new era.
COMPREHENSIVELY DEEPENING REFORM
How to Effectively Operate State-owned Capital in the New Era
1.8 Lu Hongjun (陆红军), president of the Shanghai Institute of International Finance, wrote about state owned enterprise (SOE) reform for the new era of socialism with Chinese characteristics. A cohort of national level and local level companies are either starting or transitioning to the new “state-owned capital” model (国有资本), in which the state acts as an investor but is not deeply involved in the management and day-to-day operations. The model includes the possibility of joint ventures or partial ownership of enterprises between the state and private investors. An advantage Lu includes is the potential for government guidance in correcting and compensating for market failures (政府引导纠正和弥补市场失灵). Lu also provides suggestions for strategies for which he believes state-owned capital should be used, including creating a world-class Chinese brand in the next 5 to 10 years, and using state capital on international capital markets and through the Belt and Road Initiative. This “state-owned capital” model fits into the greater “letting go” (放管服) principal of reform, and is intended to facilitate greater market directed resource allocation and create globally competitive corporations.
Accomplishments of the Belt and Road Initiative in 2017 Receive Worldwide Attention
Belt and Road Portal
1.8 Economic Daily published a year-end review of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) winning hearts and minds overseas, which was re-published on the BRI website. The May Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (“一带一路”国际合作高峰论坛) received lots of attention, but also featured was a speech Xi Jinping gave in December at the World Political Party Dialogue, in which he spoke of the BRI as a platform for international cooperation and a community for a shared future for mankind. Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying (华春莹) said BRI is rooted in the principal of “discussing together, building together, and sharing together” (共商、共建、共享) and that China does not seek unilateral leadership. Key projects from 2017 mentioned include starting a “Digital Silk Road” (数字丝绸之路), constructing the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), and the Yamal liquefied natural gas (LNG) project between China and Russia becoming operational. Chinese enterprises have invested over 50 billion USD in over 80 countries, and China’s international trade volume increased 15.4% over last year (according to the article.)
INTERNATIONAL LIAISON WORK
Song Tao: Establish a New Type of Political Party Relations, Build a More Beautiful World
1.4 International Department Minister Song Tao (宋涛) called for world political parties to work with the CCP to establish a “new type of political party relations” (NTPPR) in the International Department’s journal Contemporary World. Under NTPPR, political parties work together to establish mutual trust and build a global consensus. He explained that promoting NTPPR strengthens the strategy of establishing a “new type of international relations” and building a community of shared future for mankind. He stated that establishing NTPPR is aimed at changing the structure of the international system.
1.9 A CCP delegation led by Executive Deputy Secretary of the Work Committee for the Departments Directly Under the Central Committee and Central Committee General Office Deputy Director Meng Xiangfeng (孟祥锋) visited Thailand to discuss the 19th Party Congress. The delegation met with members of the Democrat Party and the Pheu Thai Party. According to the report, the Thai side expressed hope that they could learn for the CCP’s governance experience.
1.9 International Department Vice Minister Guo Yezhou (郭业洲) met with Singapore Ambassador Stanley Loh to discuss bilateral relations, ruling party exchanges, and China-ASEAN relations.
1.10 Song Tao met with the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning for Sudan, Mohamed Osman Suleiman Al-Rikabi. They discussed the 19th Party Congress and China-Sudan friendship.
1.11 A CCP delegation led by Meng Xiangfeng visited the Philippines to discuss the 19th Party Congress. The delegation met with President and PDP-Laban Chairman Rodrigo Duterte and other high-ranking leaders in his government and party. The Filipino side expressed approval of the CCP’s comprehensive strict governance of the Party measures.
1.10 Zhuang Guotai (庄国泰) was appointed vice minister of the Ministry of Environmental Protection.
1.10 Yan Wenbin (严文斌) was appointed vice president of Xinhua News Agency.
1.10 Han Weijiang (韩卫江) was appointed deputy head of the State Administration of Grain.
1.10 Cao Xuetao (曹雪涛) was appointed president of Nankai University.
1.10 Zhang Zongyi (张宗益) was appointed president of Chongqing University.
1.11 Ren Rongfa (任荣发) was appointed deputy head of the State Administration of Taxation.
1.11 Tian Shihong (田世宏) was appointed deputy head of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine.
Image Source: South China Morning Post