[Xi Jinping is pictured without a mask on his inspection tour of Zhejiang]
Propaganda on the coronavirus this week struck several key themes:
Return to normal work: Xi Jinping’s inspection tour of Zhejiang focused on getting back to work and resuming this year’s economic and social development goals. This focus was repeated in official propaganda throughout the week.
China’s victory over the coronavirus: Qiushi printed a 10 March speech Xi Jinping gave in Wuhan that laid out China’s strategy for confronting the coronavirus epidemic, and propaganda emphasized that this victory could only have been achieved under CCP leadership.
A “China model” for controlling the coronavirus epidemic: An article written by Sun Chunlan for Qiushi emphasized that China’s strategy is a model for the world.
Xi Jinping Performs Inspection Tour in Zhejiang
3.29-4.1 Xi Jinping carried out an inspection of Zhejiang Province to stress the significance of “making an overall plan for pushing forward epidemic prevention and control and economic and social development work” and “sparing no effort to realize this year’s economic and social development goals and tasks.” Xi emphasized these points while visiting the Ningbo-Zhoushan Port and a high-end car parts and molds industrial park. Similarly, after hearing work reports from the Zhejiang Party Committee and Government, Xi called for “continuing to pay close, concrete, and detailed attention to all aspects of prevention and control work and to accurately carry out all aspects of the resumption of work, production, and social life,” “taking the strict prevention of importing the epidemic from abroad as the highest priority in present and relatively long-term epidemic prevention and control,” and “focusing on the problems of formalism (形式主义) and bureaucratism (官僚主义) while launching comprehensive inspections.” Photos from the inspection notably featured Xi without a face mask.
Xi Jinping’s Speech During Inspection of Hubei’s Coronavirus Epidemic Prevention and Control Work
3.31 Qiushi published a speech Xi delivered on 10 March, from his Wuhan inspection tour. Xi praised the people of Wuhan and workers fighting the epidemic, expressing the Party’s gratitude to epidemic prevention-and-control workers and condolences for those who died of COVID-19. He emphasized the importance of Wuhan and Hubei in the national fight against the epidemic, and listed key principles for disease control work such as cutting off channels of transmission.
He concluded that the situation was stabilizing and reversing from its negative trend, and listed six policy directives for the future:
1) Prioritize treatment and critical care, with specific attention to managing underlying complications, rehabilitation of released patients, and medical research that incorporates both Chinese traditional medicine and Western clinical medicine;
2) Adopt strict and precise disease control measures among the population while allowing some carefully-managed necessary travel for workers;
3) Strengthen counter-epidemic work and healthcare systems in areas lacking disease control resources, especially rural areas;
4) Protect the fundamentals of daily life for the masses, such as by showing understanding towards Wuhan and Hubei residents who are “venting some of [their] mood” after quarantine and providing psychological support;
5) Create a social and economic order that doesn’t sacrifice epidemic prevention and control; and
6) Repair shortcomings in governance systems and capability, including problems with the public health system and “grassroots” governance.
An editorial published by Qiushi entitled “Wuhan’s Victory is Hubei’s Victory; Hubei’s Victory is the Nation’s Victory” reiterated the key points of Xi’s 10 March speech. It argued that the speech was not only relevant to Wuhan and Hubei, but was a “strategy book” for the whole nation. The editorial described Xi’s directives and speeches as “providing a sharp ideological weapon” to win the “defensive battle” for Wuhan and Hubei. It emphasized the “strong safeguards from [China’s political] system’s superiority” in mobilizing resources, and the importance of implementing strategic plans of the Party Central Committee.
Sun Chunlan: Thoroughly Implement the Spirit of General Secretary Xi Jinping’s Important Directives and Comprehensively Strengthen Supervision over and Guidance on Frontline Epidemic Prevention and Control Work
4.1 Qiushi published an article by Politburo member and State Council Vice Premier Sun Chunlan (孙春兰), who has been charged with a leading role in handling the coronavirus epidemic. Sun praised China’s successful epidemic response and urged its perpetuation in alignment with General Secretary Xi Jinping’s instructions. According to Sun, the “three key points” in China’s epidemic response were 1) preventing and controlling the transmission source, 2) treating patients, and 3) guaranteeing supplies.
She stressed the importance of the “four earlies” (四早) of prevention and control principles and called for the “five optimizations” (五个优化), which focused on improving medical treatment plans, medical management, treatment techniques, resource allocation, and the integration of traditional Chinese medicine in patient treatment.
She emphasized that China’s methods have already been adopted and followed by many other countries. Sun attributed these achievements largely to the “strong leadership of the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core” and stated that China’s responses to the epidemic had “fully demonstrated China’s power,” “the political advantages of the CCP and the institutional advantages of socialism with Chinese characteristics.”
People’s Daily Commentator Series on the Coronavirus Outbreak
3.28-4.3 People’s Daily continued its weeks-long commentator articles about the coronavirus epidemic.
28 March’s commentary emphasized international unity in the face of the COVID-19 epidemic, building on themes from Xi Jinping’s “important speech” at the 26 March virtual G20 Extraordinary Leaders’ Summit on COVID-19. The article praised China’s response to the epidemic and claimed, “It is the widespread belief of the international community that China has adopted strong [epidemic] prevention and control measures, obtained outstanding results, provided useful experience for other countries resisting the epidemic to draw upon, and increased hopes and strength for every country’s ultimate defeat of the epidemic.” The article cited Xi's assertion that China had taken on responsibilities as a “responsible great power” (负责任的大国) by lending its experience to international cooperation against the COVID-19 epidemic and providing “major impetus to stimulate market confidence.”
29 March’s commentary elaborated on the 27 March Politburo meeting, which dealt with the international spread of COVID-19 and new domestic epidemic concerns accompanying the return to normal work. The article emphasized continued vigilance in epidemic prevention and control programs, including programs for observing convalescing patients released from hospitals, coordinating inter-province travel out of Hubei, strengthened disease controls in “key areas” like Beijing, and preventing a resurgence of the epidemic. It also focused on the risk of imported cases, calling for strict and thorough measures to regulate entry to China, consular services to support Chinese citizens abroad, and international cooperation with the WHO and COVID-19-affected countries.
30 March’s commentary called for China to speed up the resumption of production and social order under the conditions of normalizing epidemic prevention and control. Following from the 27 March Politburo meeting, the article said that “all regions and departments must… unswervingly implement new development concepts, deepen supply-side structural reforms, resolutely fight the Three Tough Battles, comprehensively do ‘six stabilities’ work well, increase macro-policy hedging efforts, effectively expand domestic demand to hedge against downward pressure on the economy, and apply the greatest effort to achieve the annual economic and social development goals and missions.” It stressed that every region could not implement a “one-size-fits-all” (一刀切) solution that would obstruct the recovery of the economy and social order but also could not risk relaxing epidemic control. The key is to “establish robust normalized prevention and control mechanisms for timely detection, rapid handling, precise control, and effective critical care.”
2 April’s commentary focused on the resumption of production and work, the risk of imported COVID-19 cases from overseas, and the epidemic’s impact on social and economic development. It said that “our country’s epidemic prevention and control situation continues to improve; internally, the peak domestic transmission of the epidemic has already passed, but externally, [COVID-19] is now intensifying its spread. Our country faces a substantially increased risk of importing the external epidemic, international economic and trade activity has suffered a severe impact, and our country’s economic development faces new challenges.” The piece emphasized that changes in the epidemic situation must be recognized, with the government unifying under the Party Central Committee’s directions for continued epidemic control measures at the same time that it oversees a return to production and the pursuit of development goals. The piece also suggested that despite bringing new challenges, the global economic crisis caused by the epidemic offers opportunities for China to speed up technological development and push for the optimization of industry.
Guo Jiping: Only with Unity and Cooperation Can We Overcome Our Time of Hardship
3.28 People’s Daily published a page-three commentary under the authoritative pen name Guo Jiping (国纪平), standing for “Relevant International Important Commentary” (有关国际的重要评论). The piece also drew upon the message of Xi’s 26 March G20 speech, namely that China had shown international responsibility in the fight against COVID-19. The article claimed that “the world’s understanding of China has become richer and deeper” as a result and that the world has now witnessed Xi Jinping’s “extraordinary leadership” and the strengths of the Chinese government and people. It claimed the world had glowing praise for China’s epidemic response, describing an overwhelmingly positive general international sentiment and citing specific world leaders’ praise, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the UN Secretary General António Guterres.
The commentary went on to praise other countries’ aid to China as well as China’s aid to other countries, emphasizing international cooperation and Chinese leadership. It also emphasized China’s prominent role in the global economy, describing the Chinese economy as having a positive impact on global “confidence” in the economy. The piece concluded with a call for international unity while condemning those who would “‘pass the buck’ (甩锅), shirk responsibility, create ‘political viruses’ (政治病毒), and incite words and deeds based on ideology, racism, and narrow-minded nationalist prejudice.” It suggested this could be a historical turning point, and that the international community had to decide between “going back to the old route of zero-sum games and Cold War thinking, or striding towards a radiant future of long-term peace and shared development.”
Zhong Sheng: The One-China Principle Cannot be Challenged
3.30 People’s Daily published a page-three commentary under its Zhong Sheng (钟声) byline, condemning President Trump’s signing of the Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative (TAIPEI) Act into law. The article expressed China’s “strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition” to the law, calling it a “vile” law that “does not hesitate to use hegemonic actions that threaten other countries to support the wrong path of challenging the One China Principle.” It warned that “on the Taiwan issue, if the US insists on going further and further in the wrong direction, [this will] seriously interfere with the overall situation of China-US relations and cooperation between the two countries in important areas, which will ultimately inevitably harm the US’ own interests. The American side must bear responsibility for the consequences of its actions.” It accused the US of carrying out provocations by “stepping on red lines,” including US attempts at the recent G7 meeting to include language “stigmatizing China” (namely, the term “Wuhan virus”) in a document on the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, the article called for the US to “take substantive actions to improve bilateral relations,” including abiding by the One China Principle and the provisions of the Three Joint US-China Communiques.
Zhong Sheng: The False Veil of Hypocrisy Cannot Conceal a Bullying Face
3.31 Another page-three Zhong Sheng article addressed the U.S.-China journalism dispute. The article accused US media of complaining about China’s “countermeasures” but “turning a blind eye” to “the American side’s repeated political repression of Chinese media agencies stationed in the US.” Detailing all the restrictions and obstacles faced by Chinese journalists and media in the US in recent years, the article objected to US talk of countermeasures and its past restrictions on Chinese media and declared, “this kind of method, ‘freedom’ in name but bullying in fact, can be said to have no logic or righteousness and is something no country could tolerate.” The article added, “the American side’s political suppression of Chinese media organizations in the US has already become an obstacle to positive China-US bilateral interaction.” It concluded, “if I may offer some strong advice, pride and prejudice are not righteousness, [and] bullying and cheating ultimately cannot prevail.”
United Front Work
Wang Yang Presides Over CPPCC National Committee Chairman Meeting
3.30 Politburo Standing Committee member and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee Chair Wang Yang (汪洋) presided over a CPPCC National Committee chairman’s meeting. The meeting heard reports on the CPPCC’s work on the fight against the epidemic in China and affirmed that “the Party Central Committee’s judgments and policies on the epidemic situation have been correct [and] that each move adopted all along has put the life, safety, and health of the people first.”
Central Military Commission
CMC General Office Issues “Regulations on the Anti-Corruption Responsibility of the Military’s Business Department”
3.30 Xinhua reported that the Central Military Commission (CMC) had recently issued “Regulations on the Anti-Corruption Responsibility of the Military’s Business Department,” which will be implemented on 1 May, 2020. Xinhua stated that the regulations “deeply implement Xi Jinping’s strong army thought” by “tightening the iron cage,” clearly defining the military business department’s responsibilities in constructing honest and clean politics, and promoting a corruption-free environment. It pointed out that the regulations focused on managing key work such as auditing and project bidding, implementation, and evaluation and particularly emphasized on increasing accountability.
International Liaison Work
3.24 At a ceremony devoted to anti-epidemic goods donation at the Iranian Embassy in Beijing, International Department Assistant Head Zhu Rui (朱锐) met with Iranian Ambassador to China Mohammad Keshavarz-Zadeh.
3.25 International Department Deputy Head Qian Hongshan (钱洪山) held a teleconference on exchanging experiences with combatting the COVID-19 epidemic with United Russia General Council Deputy Secretary Andrei Klimov.
3.27 International Department Head Song Tao (宋涛) held a phone conversation with Lao People’s Revolutionary Party Central Committee’s Commission for External Relations Head Sounthone Xayachack.
4.3 Song Tao held a phone conversation with Communist Party of Cuba Department of International Relations Acting Head Ángel Arzuaga Reyes.
3.30 Liu Yucun (刘玉村) was appointed executive deputy secretary of Peking University’s Party Committee.
3.30 Yang Yizheng (杨逸铮) was appointed head of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and National Supervisory Commission’s Discipline Inspection and Supervision Group at the State Administration for Market Regulation.