Xinhua reported on a meeting of the National Security Commission led by Xi Jinping. The meeting laid out the requirements and objectives for national security work, emphasizing both implementation of national security strategy and policies as well as strengthening political consciousness.
Opening ceremonies were held for several new ministries under the State Council, including the Ministry of Ecology and Environment (生态环境部), the Ministry of Veterans Affairs (退役军人事务部), and the Ministry of Emergency Management (应急管理部). New state media conglomerate China Media Group, which is intended to increase the Party’s control over China’s mainstream media, held its opening ceremony.
International Department Minister Song Tao (宋涛) led an art troupe on a tour of North Korea intended to affirm the China-North Korea friendship.
First Meeting of the 19th Central National Security Commission, Xi Jinping Lays Out Duties
4.18 Xinhua published an article summarizing the three main themes of the first meeting of the 19th Central National Security Commission (中央国安委) (CNSC). First, the meeting discussed major developments in national security since CNSC’s establishment by Xi Jinping over four years ago, which included: preliminary construction of China’s national security system framework, formulating theory for national security, improving China’s national security strategy, and establishing a national security coordination mechanism. Second, the meeting discussed the five “insists” (坚持) of national security work: insist on unified coordination on national development and national security; insist that the security of the people, politics, and national interest are organically united; insist on effectively handling and preventing risks; insist on safeguarding and modeling national security; and insist on “scientific planning” (科学统筹). The third key topic of the meeting was the necessity for national security work to adhere to the absolute leadership of the Party.
Additionally, the meeting put forward two clear requirements for the work of the CNSC. First, the CNSC must be actively involved in coordinating national security work, succeed in implementing national security guidelines and policies, improve the mechanisms for national security work, and constantly improve China’s ability to manage risks and confront challenges. Second, the CNSC must strengthen party building in the national security system, insist on using political construction as a guide, lead the national security department and cadres at all levels to strengthen the “four consciousnesses” and the “four confidences,” and maintain the authority of the CCP Central Committee.
Xi’s speech at the meeting particularly emphasized the absolute leadership of the Party over all aspects of national security.
Joint Press Release of the Fourth China-Japan High-Level Economic Dialogue
PRC Minister of Foreign Affairs
4.18 The fourth China-Japan High-Level Economic Dialogue was held in Tokyo on 16 April, which is the first one in nearly eight years. Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono jointly held the dialogue and focused on discussing topics on macroeconomic policy, Sino-Japanese cooperation and exchanges, tripartite cooperation, East Asian economic integration, and multilateral cooperation. Both sides jointly released a press statement saying that both sides had agreed to uphold the principle established by the four political documents between China and Japan to consolidate the political foundation of the bilateral relationship and to accelerate the negotiation for the Free Trade Agreement between China, Japan, and South Korea and for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). Both sides also think that China and Japan are important economic cooperative partners and will expand exchanges and cooperation at all levels in the future to promote economic globalization. During the dialogue, China suggested both sides to cooperate in fields such as energy conservation, environmental protection, technological innovation, public finance, sharing economy, and elderly medical care. Heads of the Ministry of Finance Liu Kun (刘昆) and Ministry of Commerce Zhong Shan (钟山) both attended the meeting.
China-Japan-South Korea Trilateral Cooperation International Forum Held in Tokyo
4.19 On 18 April, the International Forum for Trilateral Cooperation (三国合作国际论坛) was held with the theme of “The Opening of a New Chapter for Trilateral Cooperation – The Past 10 Years, the Coming 10 Years” (开启三国合作新篇章：十年回首，十年展望). Over 300 people from all walks of life from all three nations attended the forum. The Trilateral Forum first began in December 2008, when leaders from China, Japan and South Korea met outside the ASEAN 10+3 framework.
Secretary-General of the Trilateral Cooperation Secretariat (三国合作秘书处) Lee Jong-heon (李钟宪) stated that all three countries share a long-term vision of strengthening cooperation and must each continue making efforts to deepen mutual understanding. China’s ambassador to Japan Cheng Yonghua (程永华) added that the three countries should properly address bilateral issues, establish the principles of “mutually beneficial win-win cooperation” (互利共赢) and “a community with a shared future for mankind” (人类命运共同体), oppose protectionism, and guide economic globalization towards greater openness and inclusiveness. Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party Vice President (自民党) Masahiko Komura (高村正彦) said that cooperation between the three countries benefits not only the Trilateral Forum nations but East Asia and the world as a whole. China’s former State Councilor Dai Bingguo (戴秉国) delivered a speech endorsing greater strategic trust, cooperation, fostering better public opinion, and maintaining peaceful regional stability between the three countries.
Reinforce Awareness towards Potential Danger and Continuously Prevent Risks
4.15 A commentary published in the Qiushi Journal under the pen name “Qiu Shi” (秋石), used by the Qiushi Editorial Board to convey the theoretical positions of the CCP Central Committee, discussed that because Socialism with Chinese Characteristics has entered a new era, China’s development now faces critical historical opportunities as well as risks and challenges. Xi Jinping’s important speeches have emphasized reinforcing awareness of potential dangers and preventing risks, characterized as requirements to rejuvenate the country (兴国). The commentary said that this aspect of Xi’s strategic thought is an important lesson that the Party drew from history.
The United States Cannot Shake the Foundation of Cooperation between China and Latin America (Ambassador’s Essay)
4.19 China’s Ambassador to Peru Jia Guide (贾桂德) wrote an editorial accusing US officials of portraying trade and economic cooperation between China and Latin America as ineffective for the region and its countries during the Summit of the Americas in Lima, Peru. It also claimed the US will not yield its “leadership” over Latin America to other countries and is asking Latin American countries to cooperate with the US instead of China. Jia stated the countries involved should have the most say on the matter and Chinese-Latin American relations have improved greatly in recent years, noting trade volume increased by 18.8% and was worth nearly $260 billion in value in 2017. China has invested more than $200 billion in Latin America and created 1.8 million jobs in the region. Jia recounted infrastructure projects in Peru, Ecuador and Brazil which China had assisted with, pointing to them as proof of successful “South-South cooperation” (南南合作). Jia berated the US for its attitude towards the region and said the United States is unwilling to give up its exclusive seat of power. Jia concluded by saying the significance of non-interference in international affairs is acutely felt in the former colonies of Latin America and China is a firm supporter of multilateralism.
Huang Kunming: Strive to Create a New Type of Mainstream Media with the Power to Influence, Lead, and Disseminate
4.19 Propaganda Department head Huang Kunming (黄坤明) attended the official inauguration ceremony of China’s new state media conglomerate, China Media Group, which incorporates China Central Television, China National Radio, and China Radio International. Huang made clear that this restructuring is intended to give the Party more control over China’s state media: “The restructuring is important for following the principle of the Party’s management over media.” He added that the establishment of the China Media Group embodied the requirements for the Party to reinforce its unified leadership over news and public opinion.
People’s Daily Commentator Observation: Rising Strength Cannot be Separated from the “Core” of Independent Innovation
4.19 Responding to an announcement from the US Department of Commerce banning the sale of electronics technology and technology components to Chinese telecommunications manufacturer ZTE (中兴通讯) for the next seven years, People’s Daily commentator Li Zheng (李拯) called on readers to respond to China’s technological gaps by mastering core technologies through self-reliance. Li asserted that the seven year ban is aimed directly at the “Made In China 2025” strategy, claiming this was stated in a New York Times article on the topic. Li reassured readers that China’s communications technology has advanced rapidly in recent years, with Huawei’s (华为) Kirin (麒麟) chips catching up with its top global counterparts and Loongson (龙芯) CPUs powering the BeiDou (北斗) Navigation Satellite System in space. However, Li admitted that domestically produced chips still are behind their competitors, noting that in 2016 China imported $230 billion worth of computer chips - twice the value of crude oil imported that same year. Li asked his readers to seriously consider this problem but not be pessimistic. Instead, readers should stay confident in China’s advanced technological progress and foster an attitude of self-reliance. Li also asked readers to encourage greater openness and exchange between domestic and overseas technology. Li concluded by quoting Xi Jinping on the importance of developing core technologies and noting the importance of high quality development.
UNITED FRONT WORK
Wang Yang in Xinjiang: Further Advance Social Stability and Long-Term Peace in Xinjiang
4.18 Politburo Standing Committee Member and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee Chairman Wang Yang (汪洋) said on a visit to Xinjiang that, due to central government efforts, the threat of religious extremism has been curbed and Xinjiang is now much safer and more stable. He said that the government must maintain pressure on the “three evils” (三股势力) (terrorism, separatism, and extremism) in order to continue building the foundation for long-term stability. In order to achieve this, the government must continue to explore and perfect related policy, have a clear-cut position on correct and appropriate speech, take a clear stand against “Pan-Islamism” and other incorrect ideologies, and firmly occupy its position in ideology, public opinion, and culture. He also emphasized the importance of poverty alleviation in Xinjiang’s four southern prefectures in order to “eliminate the soil that breeds extremism.”
Xiang Junbo, Yang Chongyong, and Yu Haiyan Prosecuted in Jiangsu, Tianjin, and Chongqing
4.17 Prosecutors in Jiangsu, Tianjin, and Chongqing formally charged former China Insurance Regulatory Commission Chairman Xiang Junbo (项俊波), former Hebei Provincial People’s Congress Standing Committee Deputy Director Yang Chongyong (杨崇勇), and former Gansu Vice Governor Yu Haiyan (虞海燕) respectively for receiving bribes. Changzhou Prefectural People's Procuratorate in Jiangsu accused Xiang of using his previous positions, including People’s Bank of China deputy governor, to gain profit for others and illegally receive large sums of money and property. Yang and Yu were also accused of using their past positions to gain profit for others and themselves.
At Least Six Centrally-Managed Cadres Have Been Put on Trial or Sentenced to Jail in 2018
4.19 Former Ministry of Justice Party Committee member and head of the Ministry’s political department Lu Enguang (卢恩光) confessed on trial to the crime of bribery. He is the sixth centrally-managed cadre (中管干部) that has been put on trial or sentenced to prison in 2018. The CCDI revealed last year that Lu faked his age, education, work experience, and family situation, and bribed his way to becoming a vice-ministerial level cadre. The other five centrally managed cadres to go on trial this year are former Politburo member and Party Secretary of Chongqing Sun Zhengcai (孙政才), former Guangdong Provincial Party Standing Committee member Li Jia (李嘉), former Jiangsu Provincial Party Standing Committee member Li Yunfeng (李云峰), former Hunan Provincial Party Standing Committee member Zhang Wenxiong (张文雄), and former People’s Insurance Company (Group) of China Limited Party Committee Deputy Secretary and CEO Wang Yincheng (王银成). Li Jia and Li Yunfeng have been sentenced to 13 and 12 years in prison respectively.
CENTRAL MILITARY COMMISSION (CMC)
PLA National Defense University: Firmly Grasp the Party’s Goal of Building a Strong Military in the New Era
4.15 The PLA National Defense University published an article in the CCP’s theoretical journal Qiushi discussing the implications of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics in the New Era for the military, particularly the Party’s objective of building a “strong military for the new era” (新时代的强军). One of the “eight clarities” (8个明确) of Xi Jinping Thought is “it makes clear that the Party’s goal of building a strong military in the new era is to build the people’s forces into world-class forces that obey the Party’s command, can fight and win, and maintain excellent conduct.” The article says that the Party’s goal of building a strong military in the new era has far-reaching significance, setting the tone and direction for the army’s development and modernization. The army must firmly establish constitutional awareness, earnestly implement the requirements of the constitution, and further deepen its understanding of the important guiding significance of Xi Jinping’s thought on building a strong military in the new era.
The article lays out several ways the PLA can realize the Party’s goal of building a strong military: deeply implementing and practicing Xi Jinping’s strong army thought; promoting the implementation of the strategic deployment of army strengthening; focusing on forging elite forces; and advancing civil-military integration.
COMPREHENSIVELY DEEPENING REFORM
First Quarter Central Enterprise Data “Off to a Good Start” Showing High Quality Development Achieves Positive Results
4.17 On 16 April the State Council Information Office held a press conference on first quarter economic performance of “central enterprises” (央企). Central enterprises are a collection of 97 major companies identified by the State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administrative Commission (国务院国资委) (SASAC), and comprise of both wholly state-owned and mixed ownership enterprises. Deputy Secretary-General of SASAC, Peng Huagang (彭华岗) served as spokesman, telling the press that in the first year of implementing the spirit of the 19th Party Congress, central enterprises have achieved a good start. In March, central enterprises accumulated 169.87 billion yuan in profit, a year-on-year increase of 17.8%. Indicators including asset-liability ratios and per-capita labor productivity had improved, which Peng said were signs of better quality development. Peng assessed that this first quarter’s results were just a start, and given China’s stable macro-indicators and sufficient momentum, rapid central enterprise growth should be expected to continue. “Supply-side structural reform” (供给侧结构性改革) and the implementation of “three cuts, one reduction, one strengthening” (三去一降一补) contributed to central enterprises’ high performance. Peng added that central enterprises had dismantled over 16 million tons of excess steel and 62 million tons of excess coal production, allowing improvements to industry efficiency. Peng also highlighted the role of central enterprises in fostering innovation, noting military enterprises actively expanding into new areas including smart manufacturing, smart security, and satellite remote sensing.
Peng pushed for continuing mixed ownership and corporate governance reform as well as incorporating market-based operating mechanisms to stimulate corporations. Peng also addressed reducing debt and leverage ratios, saying that if capital can be considered the blood of a company, it is necessary to “stop, supplement, and make blood” (止血、补血、造血) which could be achieved through: 1) intensifying cleanup of non-performing assets, 2) expanding equity financing through capital market debt-equity swaps and diversifying market capital and equity, and 3) promoting central enterprise quality and efficiency both through improved management, capital use, and value creation.
The National Development and Reform Commission Discussed Negative List for New Foreign Investment: Changing the “One-time, One Regulatory Opening” Model
4.18 On 17 April, the National Development and Reform Commission (国家发改委/NDRC) discussed the upcoming issuing of the “negative list” (负面清单) for foreign investment for the first half of the year. Director of the NDRC Policy Research Office and NDRC Spokesman Yan Pengcheng (严鹏程) said that this year’s negative list will significantly reduce restrictions on foreign investment. In addition to creating openings in the financial and automotive sectors, restrictions will be relaxed on energy, natural resources, infrastructure and transportation, trade and circulation, and professional service sectors, among others. Yan commented on the warm reception both at home and abroad towards the new negative list opening the auto industry. He said the 2017 edition of the “Foreign Investment Industry Guidance Catalogue” (外商投资产业指导目录) was the first to issue a nationally applicable negative list, which made foreign market access easier to understand and included fewer regulations than the 2015 edition. Yan stated that the new negative list will implement the call for openness and innovation articulated by Xi Jinping at the Boao Forum for Asia. Instead of using the “one-time, one regulatory opening” (一次一放) model, this new list, he said, will lay out a roadmap to enhancing predictability. The NDRC will vigorously pursue improving the foreign investment environment, which will consist of three steps: 1) establishing a level playing field, ensuring that qualifications, government procurement, standardization, “Made in China 2025,” science and technology, corporate listings and so on will be treated equally by domestic and foreign funded enterprises; 2) improving and simplifying investment procedures and management, implementing the “single window, single form” (单一窗口、单一表格) industrial and commercial registration system; and 3) strengthening the rule of law, particularly intellectual property rights and protections for foreign investors. He concluded saying that China’s opening up is beneficial to both China and the world and expressed his hope to work together with other countries to conform with the historical trend towards economic globalization and transnational investment to achieve “mutually beneficial win-win results” (互利共赢).
New State Council Departments Hold Opening Ceremonies
4.16 Opening ceremonies were held for several new ministries under the State Council, including the Ministry of Ecology and Environment (生态环境部), the Ministry of Veterans Affairs (退役军人事务部), and the Ministry of Emergency Management (应急管理部), to celebrate their openings on 16 April. Vice Premier Han Zheng (韩正) attended the ceremony for the Ministry of Emergency Management and, according the Xinhua, stayed to understand the operation situation of the command center. At the opening ceremony, Han said that setting up the ministry is the decision of the Central Committee with Xi at its core and that the command center should make sure to respond and lead the emergency management work immediately when an emergency occurs. Secretary-general of the State Council Xiao Jie (肖捷) attended the ceremony for the Ministry of Ecology and Environment and emphasized the construction of ecoculture and the establishment of a “beautiful China” (美丽中国) with blue skies, green land, and clean water. Propaganda Department head Huang Kunming (黄坤明) attended the ceremony for the State Administration of Radio and Television (国家广播电视总局), the National News and Publishing Administration (国家新闻出版署, also the National Copyright Office/国家版权局) and the National Film Bureau (国家电影局). Huang said that the Central Committee’s decision for the Central Propaganda Department to manage the work of news publication and film and the establishment of the State Administration of Radio and Television had embodied the emphasis that the Central Committee with Xi at its core placed on propaganda work.
INTERNATIONAL LIAISON WORK
Song Tao Travels to North Korea
4.13-17 While leading an art troupe on a trip to North Korea for the 31 April Spring Friendship Art Festival, International Department Minister Song Tao (宋涛) met with North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang on 14 April. Kim stated the trip helped to implement the important consensus he reached with Xi Jinping during his recent visit to China and expressed his hope both sides would consolidate the basis of their friendship. Song indicated the trip was meant to implement the important consensus, enhance Sino-North Korean friendship, push forward inter-party exchange and cooperation, and promote cultural exchange. The two sides also exchanged ideas on strengthening bilateral and inter-party exchange and cooperation as well as regional and international problems of mutual concern. That evening, Kim and his wife Ri Sol Ju held a reception for the art troupe. Afterwards Ri and other members of North Korea’s leadership attended the art troupe’s performance of the ballet Giselle.
Song also met with Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) Vice Chairman and WPK International Affairs Department Director Ri Su Yong on 14 April. Chinese Ambassador to North Korea Li Jinjun (李进军) participated in the meeting as well. In addition to noting the significance of the art troupe’s trip to bilateral and inter-party relations, both sides exchanged ideas on improving inter-party exchanges.
Kim Jong Un and Ri Sol Ju attended the art troupe’s performance of the ballet The Red Detachment of Women on 16 April. Following the performance, they met with Song, Li, and Vice Minister of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism Li Qun (李群) to express their thanks. Other members of North Korea’s leadership, such as WPK Vice Chairman Ri Su Yong, Choe Ryong Hae, and Choe Hwi as well as Supreme Leader Kim’s sister Kim Yo Jong, were also in attendance.
On 16 April, Song, Li, and the art troupe laid flowers and observed a moment of silence at the Sino-Korean Friendship Tower, a Pyongyang monument commemorating the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army’s sacrifices during the Korean War.
A closing ceremony for the festival was held at the East Pyongyang Grand Theatre on 17 April. Among those in attendance were Song and members of the North Korean leadership, such as WPK Central Committee Vice Chairman Pak Kwang Ho and Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly Vice President Yang Hyong Sop. Song also held another meeting with Kim Jong Un that evening.
4.16-17 Politburo member and Beijing Party Secretary Cai Qi (蔡奇) met with a Namibian South West African People's Organisation (SWAPO) delegation led by SWAPO Secretary-General Sophia Shaningwa in Beijing. The following day International Department Vice Minister Xu Luping (徐绿平) met with the delegation.
4.16 International Department Vice Minister Wang Yajun (王亚军) attended a Lao New Year celebration held by a Laotian leading cadre study group and the Laos’ diplomatic mission in China in Beijing.
4.17 International Department Vice Minister Li Jun (李军) met with outgoing Georgian Ambassador to China David Aptsiauri in Beijing.
4.17 Vice President Wang Qishan (王岐山) met with a Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) delegation led by CPV Politburo member Nguyễn Văn Bình in Beijing.
4.17 Wang Yajun met with Mongolian People’s Party General Secretary Dashzeveg Amarbayasgalan in Beijing.
4.17 Wang Yajun met with the head of the Democratic Party of Korea’s Committee for National Unity leader Kim Hong Gul in Beijing.
4.18 Li Jun met with an Algerian National Liberation Front (NLF) cadre study group led by NLF Central Committee member Aïcha Tagabou in Beijing.
4.19 Song Tao met with a Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) high-level cadre study group led by CPV Central Committee member and Party Secretary of Gia Lai Province Dương Văn Trang in Beijing. Wang Yajun also participated in the meeting.
4.20 Song Tao met with former President of Myanmar and Honorary Chair of the Union Solidarity and Development Party Thein Sein in Beijing.
4.20 Xu Luping met with a Kenyan Jubilee Party official study group in Beijing.
4.18 Zhang Jiwen (张际文) was appointed deputy customs commissioner-general (vice minister) of the General Administration of Customs.
4.20 Qian Hongshan (钱洪山) was appointed vice minister of the International Department.