- David Gitter, Julia Bowie, Brock Erdahl
Weekly Report 3|16 2.1.2020-2.7.2020
The coronavirus continued to dominate official media this week, with Xi Jinping declaring a “people’s war” on the outbreak and People’s Daily repeating his call for a whole-of-society response. After the death of Dr. Li Wenliang, who had faced local law enforcement censure for raising early alarms about the virus, the CCDI and NSC dispatched an investigative team to Wuhan to hold local officials accountable for their response to the crisis.
The Central Committee and State Council jointly released guiding opinions on improving work on the “three rural issues” to eradicate rural poverty and ensure the establishment of a moderately prosperous society this year.
Politburo Standing Committee Holds a Meeting to Discuss and Strengthen the Prevention and Control of the Coronavirus Outbreak
2.3 The Politburo Standing Committee held a meeting to review reports from the central leading group for epidemic prevention and control and to prepare the next step in the efforts. On behalf of the Party Central Committee, Xi Jinping paid tribute to cadres, medical staff, researchers, and PLA commanders for their dedication and expressed his sincere condolences to infected patients and their families. Subsequently, Xi pointed out the comprehensive mobilization of Party members in the prevention and control efforts under the “centralized and unified leadership of the Party Central Committee.”
Among these efforts, Xi mentioned the Central Leading Group’s discussions on epidemic response, the central leading group’s arduous work, the State Council’s joint prevention and control mechanisms, and the military’s active support, all of which have united to launch a “people’s war” for epidemic prevention and control. Overall, the Standing Committee stressed that the epidemic is a testament to China’s governance capabilities, which will in turn improve its national emergency management system and ability to handle crisis and rectify the shortcomings of its public health system.
The Standing Committee also discussed the importance of “conducting propaganda and education work and guiding public opinion,” which would strengthen people’s confidence, “warm people’s hearts,” and unite the people. Moving forward, they said it is also important to keep in mind the “six stabilities” (六稳: employment, finance, foreign trade, foreign investment, investment and expectations) through production support and investment in projects such as emergency medical treatment facilities and isolation facilities in epidemic-stricken areas.
Open Fire in the People’s War to Prevent and Control the Epidemic People’s Daily
2.4 In a Commentator Article, the People’s Daily described the efforts to contain the coronavirus as “a mobilization of the whole people with no bystanders, a People’s War, united with a common will.” The commentary credited Xi Jinping’s remarks to the Politburo Standing Committee with “enheartening and mobilizing the people of the whole country, whole army, whole Party, and each ethnicity to unite with one heart (万众一心)” in the fight against the outbreak. Describing the numerous initiatives and meetings headed by Xi, the commentary praised the “concentrated and unified leadership of the Party Central Committee” as the impetus for coordinated national mobilization. It called on all levels of leading cadres to man their posts, unite with government organs and military to guide the masses, and carry out the directives of the Central Committee. The article praised the bravery of healthcare workers and the greatness of the Chinese people and nation, calling for the people to unite and join the fight against the epidemic.
Central Propaganda Department Assembles More than 300 Journalists to Carry Out Interviews Throughout Hubei and Wuhan
Yangtze Net via Sina News Center
2.4 After information office head of the Central Propaganda Department and Ministry of Emergency Management Zhang Xiaoguo (张小国) called on journalists and propagandists to “make the propaganda on epidemic prevention and control the highest priority of their current work,” more than 300 journalists were dispatched to report on Hubei and Wuhan. Zhang said their mission was to “provide powerful public opinion support for this year’s social and economic development targets,” using fighting the epidemic, winning the war on poverty, and comprehensively establishing a moderately prosperous society as the main themes to propagandize.
Xi Jinping: Comprehensively Improve Epidemic Prevention and Control Capabilities in Accordance with the Law to Provide a Strong Guarantee for “Law-based” Governance
2.5 Discussion of the coronavirus dominated the third meeting of the Central Commission for Overall Law-based Governance. In his capacity as the head of the commission, Xi called for a comprehensive improvement of the Party’s ability to prevent and control the coronavirus outbreak in accordance with the law. “The more difficult epidemic prevention and control work becomes, the more necessary it is [for cadres] to act in accordance with the law,” Xi added. Among the various ways to improve law-based governance, Xi demanded refinement of relevant legislation for epidemic prevention and control and improvement of punishment procedures.
With regards to law enforcement, Xi stressed the need for a strict implementation of the Wild Animal Conservation Law, the Animal Epidemic Prevention Law, and the Regulations on Contingent Public Health Emergencies. In this time of crisis, it is particularly crucial to strengthen law enforcement on public security management and market supervision, and crack down on illegal violent behaviors including assaulting medical staff, selling counterfeit drugs, disseminating false information, and raising prices for medical and prevention supplies.
With Central Approval, National Supervision Commission Decides to Dispatch Investigative Team to Wuhan, Hebei to Undertake a Comprehensive Investigation of Relevant Issues Reported by the Masses with Regard to the Case of Dr. Li Wenliang
2.7 Following the death on 6 February of Chinese doctor Li Wenliang (李文亮), who garnered both public attention and government censure for openly disseminating information about the coronavirus epidemic, the National Supervisory Commission issued a one-sentence notice that it would “dispatch an investigative team to Wuhan, Hebei to undertake a comprehensive investigation of relevant issues reported by the masses with regard to the case of Dr. Li Wenliang.” The notice followed other recent efforts by supervisory bodies to hold local officials accountable for issues with outbreak response, including by investigating three cadres in Daye city for playing cards and failing to wear masks and by issuing a warning to a local official who failed to require individuals returning from Wuhan to fill out a mandatory form.
(Authoritative Release) CCP Central Committee and State Council’s Opinions on Grasping Important Work in the Area of the “Three Rural Issues” to Ensure the Timely Realization of a Comprehensive Moderately Prosperous Society
2.5 The Central Committee and State Council released Opinions on “grasping important work in the area of the ‘three rural issues’ to ensure the timely realization of a comprehensive moderately prosperous society.” The Opinions stated that while rural development was proof of the “complete correctness of the guidelines and policy formulated by the Party center,” rural poverty remained “the last fort that must be stormed” in the fight against poverty that is supposed to be won this year, as well as the key factor in establishing moderate prosperity. The Opinions advised that the fight against poverty must be won comprehensively, with special funding going to the three poorest autonomous areas and three poorest autonomous prefectures (三区三州), a consolidation of results to prevent backsliding, and good evaluative inspections and propaganda work. Officials must ensure the stability and continued grassroots enforcement of anti-poverty policy, even after meeting targets, and prepare to transition from anti-poverty work to working for the revitalization of the countryside.
Officials should improve rural public infrastructure and other public goods, particularly roads and electricity networks, water supply, sanitation, educational quality (teachers should be paid at or above the salary of local civil servants and given access to government housing), and basic healthcare services. They should also increase and simplify welfare services and insurance for the elderly, disabled, and “left-behind” children and women, improve cultural services and the protection of traditional village folk culture, architecture and arts (including for minority ethnicities), and manage prominent problems in the ecological environment. They should stabilize wheat production, speed up the return to pork production, modernize agricultural facilities, establish supply chains based on local resource strengths to form competitive clusters of several industries, and stabilize agricultural employment through measures such as tax cuts, unemployment benefits, and regulatory incentives for farmers.
With regards to governance, they should fully display the utility of party organizations’ leadership, make rural administrative systems robust, mediate disputes on topics like migrant worker pay, housing demolition, pollution, and land contracts before they escalate, crack down on crime and corruption, “stop illegal religious activity, guard against the infiltration of evil cults in the countryside, and prevent the spread of feudal superstitions.”
Finally, in tackling the “Three Rural Issues,” they should “push for talent to go down to the countryside,” “strengthen the use of technology as a support,” and “take on the important task of rural reform,” including through experiments with extending land contracts into the long-term.
PD Editorial: Strive to Properly Grasp Work on the “Three Rural Issues” Guarantee the Timely Realization of a Comprehensive Moderately Prosperous Society
2.6 In an editorial responding to the CCP Central Committee and State Council’s Opinions on ending rural poverty, People’s Daily praised this year’s “Document No.1” (一号文件) as an important source of guidance on completing the end-stage of the war on poverty and comprehensively establishing a moderately prosperous society. Looking back on 2019, the editorial said that “under the leadership of the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core,” rural issues had improved, annual anti-poverty targets had been met, and continued rural development trends would provide a foundation for overall prosperity, despite the last year’s “complicated conditions of an obvious rise in foreign and domestic risks and challenges.”
Summarizing the key points of the document, the article added that “towards the weaknesses and inefficiencies exposed in the response to the pneumonia epidemic caused by the novel coronavirus, [we must] work hard to strengthen construction of the rural public health system... fully construct rural emergency management systems, and speed up the improvement of village government systems and capabilities.” The original document did not mention the epidemic, and the commentary did not mention the original document’s points on crime or controlling religion.
The commentary reminded readers that the wishes of rural people must be respected and that policies must be in line with local circumstances, based in reality. The piece concludes, “The ‘three rural issues’ work target tasks for this year have already been set. Using Xi Jinping thought on socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era as our guide, let us show dauntless initiative, bury ourselves in this work, and make the proper contribution to comprehensively establish a moderately prosperous society!”
2.4 Tian Yulong (田玉龙) was appointed chief engineer of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and a member of its party group.