[Photo by Dominik Vanyi on Unsplash]
Provincial and ministerial-level cadres were required to attend a “special seminar” on preventing and dispelling major risks in the face of new external and internal challenges (see Senior Leaders section).
Xi Jinping delivered a speech at a Politburo meeting this week about promoting media integration in order to consolidate a common ideological base for the whole nation (see Propaganda Work section).
The Central Commission for Comprehensively Deepening Reform held a meeting in Beijing (see Comprehensively Deepening Reform section).
Xi Jinping: Improve Capability to Prevent and Control, Strive to Prevent and Dispel Major Risks, and Maintain the Health and Sustainability of Economic Development and the Comprehensive Stability of Society
1.21 Xi Jinping spoke at a “special seminar” for provincial and ministerial-level cadres about major threats to the CPP due to changes in China’s external environment, as well as challenges to China’s economic growth, political security, social stability, and technological innovation. Li Keqiang presided over the seminar and all other members of the Politburo Standing Committee were in attendance.
Xi said China must “deeply recognize and accurately grasp the deep changes in the external environment, as well as the new situation, problems, and challenges confronting the stability of China's reform.” He further stated that China must be highly vigilant against not only black swans, but also “grey rhinos” (highly probable yet neglected threats). Furthermore, Xi said that because the “external environment is complex and grim," China needs to "strengthen the protection of overseas interests, and ensure the security of important overseas projects, personnel, and institutions.”
On politics, Xi pointed out the need for China to "resolutely implement the overall national security concept," and to "ensure China's political security." Regarding economics, Xi said that China’s situation is “generally good,” but is facing "deep and complex challenges from the international environment and domestic conditions.”
Xi emphasized that “the security of the science and technology fields is an important part of national security,” and highlighted the role that the country would play in developing the industry. Xi also addressed multiple dimensions of social stability, including employment, education, social security, medical and health care, food safety, safe production, social order, and the housing market. Lastly, Xi stated that China has made great strides in its anti-corruption drive, but that the fight has not yet been “thoroughly won.”
People’s Daily used a commentator series (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4) to further publicize Xi’s speech.
Provincial and Ministerial-Level Cadres Persevere with Bottom Line Thinking; Special Seminar on Preventing and Dispelling Major Risks Concludes
1.24 Politburo Standing Committee Member Wang Huning (王沪宁) spoke at the conclusion of the special seminar convened to address “major risks” facing the CCP with provincial and ministerial-level cadres.
Wang told attendees that as this is a crucial year for building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and achieving the first centenary goal, “it is necessary to enhance the sense of responsibility and mission in accordance with the plans and requirements of the CCP Central Committee and General Secretary Xi Jinping, and do everything possible to prevent and resolve major risks.”
To do so, he asked cadres to “enhance risk awareness,” “persevere with bottom line thinking,” “practice Xi Jinping thought on socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era,” “strengthen the capability to discover, recognize, and dispel risks,” and “always uphold the spirit of struggle.” He also told cadres to “form a complete chain of responsibility, and resolve outstanding problems in a timely manner.”
Guo Jiping: Work Together to Build a Beautiful Home with Good Ecology
1.20 A commentary published under the People’s Daily’s pen name “Guo Jiping” (国纪平), which stands for “important commentary related to international affairs” (有关国际的重要评论), praised the upcoming 2019 International Horticultural Exhibition, which will be held in Beijing, as the “‘green calling card’ of today’s China.” It elaborated that the exhibition is a demonstration of the “unremitting efforts and extraordinary achievements of China’s building of an ecological civilization in a new era.”
After praising China for being “a staunch supporter and active practitioner of the idea and practice of global sustainable development” and “important promoter of international cooperation on green development,” the commentary described the exhibition as “another practical action in which China and the world are working together to build a beautiful home with good ecology.”
Zhong Sheng: The Power of Confidence, The Power of Action
1.23 The People’s Daily’s Zhong Sheng column, which transmits the views of the People’s Daily on foreign affairs, addressed recent global attention on China’s slowing economic performance. While maintaining that the world economy is "facing greater uncertainty," the article downplays pessimistic assessments by stating that "public opinion generally sees that the Chinese economy continues to operate within a reasonable range," and “recognizes the effectiveness of China’s structural adjustments.”
The article notes that the world is concerned about China’s recent performance because international organizations such as the IMF and World Bank have decreased projected growth estimates for the global economy. Yet, China “brings optimism to the world” through its 6.5% growth rate.
The article references foreign media, including Reuters, the Guardian, and Agence France-Presse, in support of its optimistic assessments. Finally, the article elaborated on why China remains an attractive destination for investment, citing potential underdeveloped markets (e.g., coffee), relaxed market access, and the protection of foreigners' IP rights.
Xi Jinping At Politburo Meeting: Promote the Deep Development of Media Integration; Consolidate the Ideological Base of the Whole Party, Nation, and People
1.25 Xi Jinping addressed a meeting of the Politburo about promoting media integration and consolidating the ideological base of the Party, nation, and people. Prior to the meeting, the Politburo toured the People’s Daily’s New Media Building (新媒体大厦) where they observed how digital media can be used to conduct ideological and political study. Xi Jinping said that it is necessary to continue to explore methods for reaching the masses, so that “People’s Daily is closer to the people, (and) People’s Daily serves the people.”
Addressing the Politburo, Xi Jinping discussed the challenges of the current information environment: “information is everywhere, reaches every place, and is used by everyone, leading to profound changes in the public opinion environment, media structure, and dissemination methods, and news and public opinion work is facing new challenges.” To respond to these challenges, Xi called for promoting the integration of different media platforms, especially through the coordination of traditional and emerging media, central and local media, mainstream and commercial media, popular and professional media, and creating an “all-media communication system.”
Xi called on party committees and local governments at all levels to increase their support for media integration by devoting funding and talent to the endeavor.
United Front Work
Wang Yang: The Stage for Privately-run Enterprises in a New Era is Promising
1.21 Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) Chairman Wang Yang spoke at a symposium for entrepreneurs in privately-run enterprises.
Wang affirmed the “important position and role of privately-run enterprises in China's reform and development.” At the same time, he elaborated on the Central Committee's role in “encouraging, supporting, and guiding” the development of these enterprises, as well as attributed their success over the decades to the “strong leadership of the CCP.”
Although admitting that China’s economy is facing challenges, Wang insisted that neither the fact that “China’s economy is fundamentally making progress while ensuring stability” nor the policy of the "two unswervings" (两个毫不动摇) have changed. He emphasized that party committees and local governments at all levels must work to address the problems these enterprises face and “enhance their confidence in development.”
2019 Taiwan Work Meeting Held In Beijing, Wang Yang Presides
1.22 At the 2019 Taiwan Work Meeting, CPPCC Chairman Wang Yang stated that the situation in the Taiwan Strait in 2019 is “more complicated and severe.” He said it is “necessary to adhere to the ‘1992 Consensus’ that reflects the ‘One China’ principle, and promote the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations. We must resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity and leave no space for “Taiwan independence” separatist activities of any kind.”
Wang told the gathering that it is necessary to “deepen the development of cross-Strait integration” and to “broaden channels for cross-Strait youth exchanges, and to create more opportunities and better conditions for Taiwanese youth to come to the mainland for study, employment, entrepreneurship, and exchange.”
Revised Criminal Procedure Law Released; Raising the “Rule of Law-ification” of Anti-Corruption to a New Level
1.24 The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the National Supervisory Commission released an article discussing the recent release of the full text of the revised Criminal Procedure Law. The article stated that the revised law is “a vivid embodiment of the strengthening of anti-corruption legislation and international cooperation on fugitive repatriation and asset recovery.” The law establishes regulations on the transition between the detention measure, liuzhi (留置), and other criminal compulsory measures. It ensures the process in which the supervision commissions are responsible for investigation, the procuratorates are in charge of prosecuting, and the courts focus on ruling, for duty-related crimes. The revised law also removes the procuratorates’ investigative power over cases related to corruption and bribery and stipulates that the people’s procuratorates can prosecute corruption and bribery suspects corruption and bribery even in their absence.
Central Military Commission
Xu Qiliang and Wei Fenghe Respectively Meet Australian Minister for Defence Pyne
1.24 CMC Vice Chairman Xu Qiliang (许其亮) and Minister of National Defense Wei Fenghe (魏凤和) respectively met with Australian Minister for Defence Christopher Pyne on the same day. During the meeting, Xu expressed hope that Australia will “continue to reinforce strategic communication and interaction at all levels between the two militaries ” and “contribute to developing the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and Australia.” Pyne stated that “the Australian side highly values the development of bilateral relations with China” and that Australia “is willing to improve mutual strategic trust with China.”
Comprehensively Deepening Reform
China Economic Daily Commentator: Stick to the Basic Tune, Grasp the Initiative
China Economic Daily
1.22 A commentary on the front page of China Economic Daily discussed China’s 2018 GDP statistics. According to the article, China’s economy successfully surpassed the development goal of 6.5% growth and economic operations of the country remain stable. Stable development is the core tone/tune of the Central Committee with Xi Jinping at the center, and the year’s success has greatly bolstered the people’s confidence in China’s long term economic status. The results are particularly significant judging from progress of the “six stabilities” (六稳/ employment, finance, foreign trade, foreign investment, investment and expectations). Urban unemployment remained below the target rate, and business activity was high. Imports and exports with major trading partners increased, and total trade volume reached a record high.
While recognizing the achievements of last year, the article cautions readers to recognize contradictions and challenges. To this end, readers should adhere to “bottom line thinking” (底线思维), enhance supply side structural reform, and use rule of law and market oriented methods to stimulate the economy. The article closed by noting that 2019 is the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, and stating the importance of a stable economy in ensuring the people’s well being and constructing a well off society.
Xi Jinping: Reform Important Fields and Key Sectors; Continue to “Chew Away at Hard Bones” Piece by Piece
1.23 Xi Jinping convened a meeting of the Central Commission for Comprehensively Deepening Reform, also attended by Li Keqiang and Wang Huning. During the meeting he delivered a speech emphasizing the role of the 18th Party Central Committee Third Plenary Session in bringing to light a new era of comprehensively deepening reform and opening up. It is therefore necessary to achieve decisive results in key reform areas. The meeting highlighted the establishment of a science and technology board and pilot registration system for the Shanghai Stock Exchange, a measure meant to facilitate innovation and deepen market reform by enhancing access to capital for science and technology.
The meeting also discussed the need to develop quality education based around the goals of uniting people’s hearts and developing human talents. It is further necessary to bring human talents to rural areas through improved labor mobility, and to use said talents to improve housing medical care, social security and other services in rural areas.
To promote legal reform, it is necessary to maintain the party’s absolute leadership and strengthen overall planning. The meeting discussed the importance of improving the property rights system of natural resources so as to strengthen ecological protection. Furthermore, it is necessary to integrate spatial planning to scientifically lay out industrial, living, and ecological spaces.
The meeting also discussed the importance of green technology and the ecological importance of preserving major forests. The focus of reform work should be on solving practical problems, which will require adapting to local conditions. It is necessary to prevent empty slogans from slowing reforms, and avoid simply forwarding central documents. Responsibility for conducting and implementing reform plans must be strengthened.
Why Investment Growth is Slowing Down and Stabilizing and Structure is Optimizing
China Economic Daily
1.23 According to data recently released by the National Bureau of Statistics, fixed asset investment grew more slowly in 2018 compared to other investments. China Economic Daily explained that, though investment growth is slowing, investment mechanisms are becoming better optimized and private investment is accelerating. Manufacturing related investments also accelerated due to a number of tax reductions. Investment in ecological protection and environmental management related industries also saw a significant increase.
Investment is still an important component in China’s economic development, and stable investment still plays a key role in supporting steady economic development and responding to external risks. Investment was highlighted at the Central Economic Work Conference, and experts say to gain the most benefit one must focus on precise and effective investments rather than “big flood irrigation,” (大水漫灌) (i.e. large scale stimulus). In 2019, China’s effective investments will be mainly focused on poverty alleviation, as well as infrastructure and ecological protection among others. The state will increase the scale of local government special bonds as well as increase the investment capacity of the central budget to meet these needs. There are still many measures that need to be taken to encourage, support and guide private investment. In 2019, China will implement more tax cuts and further reduce financial burdens on enterprises.
International Liaison Work
1.21 International Department Deputy Head Qian Hongshan (钱洪山) met with the French Ambassador to China Jean-Maurice Ripert.
1.21 Qian Hongshan met with the Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergiy Kyslytsya.
1.21 International Department Head Song Tao (宋涛) met with Cambodian People's Party President and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.
1.23 International Department Deputy Head Guo Yezhou (郭业洲) met with an Afghan Hezb-e-Islami (Islamic Party) delegation led by Islamic Party Leader and former Prime Minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.
1.25 International Department Deputy Head Li Jun (李军) met with a Chilean delegation led by Chamber of Deputies President Maya Fernández Allende.