- David Gitter, Julia Bowie, Brock Erdahl
Weekly Report 3|25 4.4.2020-4.10.2020
Senior leadership and official propaganda continued to focus on maintaining momentum in the effort against the coronavirus while resuming normal work and production. China’s methods for handling the epidemic are being promoted as a model for other countries of the world to follow.
Li Keqiang Presides Over Central Leading Group on Novel Coronavirus Epidemic Response Work Meeting
4.6 Premier Li Keqiang held a meeting of the Central Leading Group on Novel Coronavirus Epidemic Response Work that focused on monitoring asymptomatic patients, reporting information publicly and truthfully, strengthening border health control, and promoting the resumption of work and production in an effective and orderly manner.
The meeting first called for the implementation of “the spirit of General Secretary Xi Jinping’s important speech” and the “four earlies” (四早/early detection, early reporting, early isolation, and early treatment) to prevent the resurgence of the epidemic. It stressed that confirmed, suspected, and asymptomatic cases must be reported timely and transparently. Regarding the overseas epidemic situation, the meeting mentioned that the number of diagnosed cases at land ports now exceeds airports, which shows the need for stricter management of land borders. Lastly, the meeting highlighted the necessity of normalizing overall prevention and control measures, requiring employees to implement personal protection measures, and optimizing prevention and control work while pushing for the resumption of normal work and production in low-risk areas based on local conditions.
Politburo Standing Committee Holds Meeting to Study the Domestic and International Epidemic and Economic Situation, Plan for Prevention and Control Measures, Resumption of Work and Production
4.8 The Politburo Standing Committee held a meeting to listen to briefings of the country’s epidemic prevention and control work and resumption of work and production. During his speech, Xi Jinping mentioned that the domestic epidemic situation has further improved and the restoration of economic and social order has accelerated. However, he also pointed out that the global pandemic has imposed additional pressure on China’s epidemic situation and economy. According to Xi, China must “accelerate the full recovery” of production while “persisting in the normalization of epidemic prevention and control [measures]” in order to minimize the losses caused by the epidemic and ensure “accomplishing the goals and tasks for realizing decisive victories in the comprehensive establishment of a moderately prosperous society and the tough battle of poverty alleviation.”
The meeting called for the strengthening of epidemic prevention and control measures at land and seaports and the implementation of a 14-day quarantine requirement for all incoming persons. Regarding China’s economy, the meeting urged party committees and governments at all levels to improve their epidemic prevention and control measures and to create optimal conditions conducive to the resumption of work and production. In addition, the meeting demanded increasing support of struggling industries and medium, small, and micro enterprises and focusing on expanding domestic demand. Lastly, the meeting called for the improvement of people’s livelihood, stressing that spring agricultural production must be grasped well, the supervision of food market prices must be strengthened, and basic necessities of people in difficulties must be protected.
People’s Daily Commentator Series on the Coronavirus Outbreak
4.3-4.6 People’s Daily continued its weeks-long Commentator Article series about the coronavirus epidemic. To date there have been over 60 articles published in this series.
3 April’s commentary affirmed China’s long-term development and suggested that the COVID-19 epidemic provided a new opportunity to speed up technological development and to push for industrial optimization. The article noted that new business formats, models, and products, such as services for online shopping, produce sales, and education, long-distance diagnosis, and teleworking, had shown growth.
5 April’s commentary commemorated the previous day’s national day of mourning for victims of COVID-19, observed on the date of the Tomb Sweeping Festival (清明节). The article lamented the loss of medical personnel, public security officers, Party members, cadres, and the masses, referring to them with metaphors of soldiers sacrificing their lives in war and calling them “flesh-and-blood compatriots” (骨肉同胞) whose loss was deeply felt by all Chinese people. It emphasized that “from the start [of the epidemic], General Secretary Xi Jinping clearly demanded making the safety of the masses’ lives and their health the number-one priority.” The article concluded that China would become stronger by learning from this disastrous experience and called on the nation to “turn our grief into strength, continue attacking difficult problems, and more bravely go forth!”
6 April’s commentary focused on Xi Jinping’s remarks on governance and propaganda during his Zhejiang inspection tour. Specifically, Xi said that efforts to fight the epidemic were “a practical test of the level of [internal] party management and governance for every region and work unit and the level of construction for leading cadres.” He also called for party organizations to be more empathetic and effective in connecting to the masses. The article emphasized that “all levels of Party organizations, particularly at the grassroots, must bear in mind that the people’s interests come before all else” and called for more attentive and emotionally effective policies, propaganda, and responses to citizen concerns.
PD Commentator Article: Do Not Forget the Original Aspiration of “One Country, Two Systems,” Conscientiously Defend the Authority of the Basic Law - Commemorating the 30th Anniversary of the Hong Kong Basic Law People’s Daily
4.4 People’s Daily published a front-page Commentator Article to mark the 30-year anniversary of the Hong Kong Basic Law. The commentary claimed that experience had proven the Basic Law’s “vitality” and sufficient ability to protect the “fundamental guarantee” of the structure of “One Country, Two Systems” (一国两制), stressing that it must be “unswervingly” implemented to ensure Hong Kong’s continued prosperity and progress. The commentary emphasized that the “original aspiration” (初心) of the Basic Law was to “realize and uphold national unification,” called upon the Hong Kong SAR government to prevent and punish “any actions or activities that danger national unification,” and suggested that in light of “some new circumstances, problems, and challenges,” the central and Hong Kong governments must work to “improve” the Basic Law’s implementation.
Zhong Sheng: Eradicating Racist Words and Actions Cannot Be Delayed People’s Daily
4.6 People’s Daily published a page-three commentary under its Zhong Sheng (钟声) byline, which stands for “Voice of China” and/or “Sounding the Alarm Bell” and authoritatively transmits the official positions of People’s Daily on matters of international affairs, to call out racism during the pandemic.
The commentary stressed, “Since the novel coronavirus epidemic happened, some people in the West have published all sorts of bizarre theories, exposing racist habitual thinking. They are trying to stick racial labels to the virus and epidemic… Some Western politicians and media turn a deaf ear to this and repeatedly touch the bottom line of civilization and manufacture racial conflict. This is extremely irresponsible and extremely immoral.”
It argued that “in history, there are events that cannot be borne and cannot be repeated. We must be vigilant. With the spread of the novel coronavirus epidemic, some wanton stigmatizing behavior with ulterior motives and some planned systematic defamation has already given rise to bullying, discrimination, and even violent injury against Chinese and people of Asian descent. This kind of reversal of history is extremely dangerous and absolutely cannot be tolerated.”
“In the global fight against the pandemic, every person and every country is a responsible agent. The epidemic is already testing the quality of human civilization. Civilized society must have a bottom line, and eradicating racist words and actions cannot be delayed.”
A Record of China's Release of Information on the Novel Coronavirus and Promoting International Cooperation in Epidemic Prevention and Control Xinhua
4.6 A Xinhua piece applauded China for having taken “the most comprehensive, the strictest, and the most thorough prevention and control measures.” It stressed that “China has been promptly releasing information on COVID-19 since the onset of the epidemic in an open, transparent and responsible manner” and that China “has also provided assistance to all parties to the best of its ability.” The article highlighted the prevention and control measures that China took from late December 2019 to March 2020 and marked 3 January as the day that China had first informed the US about the outbreak. It also included the WHO’s praise for China’s response measures.
The PRC Embassy in the US and an MFA spokesperson both promoted the English version of the article on Twitter.
Xie Xinping: China’s Answer to the Global Battle against the Epidemic - “Written at the Moment China’s Epidemic Situation is Improving”
4.8 PLA Daily published a front-page Xie Xinping（解辛平), a pen name that stands for PLA news commentary, article about China’s “extraordinary journey” in the management of the coronavirus outbreak. The article was divided into nine parts. Each part highlighted a characteristic of China’s response to the epidemic.
1) Xie praised Xi Jinping for “always putting people’s lives, security, and health in the first place,” “personally leading the battle,” and being so “emotionally connected” with the people.
2) Xie lauded the CCP’s strong organizational system and centralized leadership, the 90 million CCP members, and party organizations at all levels. Xie described the flying bright red Party flags throughout the country as the “lighthouse that unites people’s hearts.”
3) Xie applauded China’s national governance system that allowed for a large-scale national mobilization of resources, including medical supplies. It pointed out that the Chinese government was able to coordinate the quarantine and treatment of patients, put together experts, and collect resources. It used the building of two hospitals in less than two weeks as an example.
4) Xie praised China’s scientific and technological innovation capacity, strong economy and manufacturing capabilities, which have been tested throughout this instance of “logistical support warfare.”
5) Xie praised the PLA’s fight against the virus in places like the “Huoshenshan” (火神山) hospital, where they fought “as bravely and fearlessly” as if they were at war.
6) Xie praised China's “strong national defense and strong army” for swiftly responding to the epidemic and continuing its military training. It pointed out that the PLA had continued to petrol the Spratly Islands and train in the East China Sea region while delivering supplies to Wuhan.
7) Xie paid tribute to all Chinese people who contributed themselves to the battle against the coronavirus, including medical workers, scientists, community workers, police offices, and grassroots cadres.
8) Xie praised the “great national spirit” (伟大民族精神) that the Chinese people demonstrated through this epidemic, stating that it is “a symbol of China’s national spiritual strength (精神国力).”
9) Xie concluded by reiterating the crucial role of the CCP as the most essential feature of the nation. It stressed that the Party had won widespread praise from its people and that the Chinese people had demonstrated to the world their confidence, willpower, and strong unity.
Accurately Cure the Problem of Formalism and Bureaucratism in the Tough Battle of Poverty Alleviation; Use Good Work Style to Help Attain a Decisive Victory
4.9 An article published by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) and National Supervisory Commission (NSC) focused on resolving problems of “formalism and bureaucratism” in anti-poverty work, reviewing discipline inspection programs in various regions. It stated that the “key” to resolving these issues was to consolidate Party committees’ and Party leadership groups’ main tasks as well as discipline committee’s supervisory tasks. As negative examples, it cited “transfusion-style” poverty alleviation programs that merely provide material supplies and the relocation of poor residents to meet anti-poverty targets, concluding that such superficial programs “made grassroots cadres suffer unspeakably, the masses show their fierce opposition to this, which has become a ‘stumbling block’ on the road to the deciding victory [of the anti-poverty campaign].”
4.7 Fu Hua (傅华) was appointed deputy head of the Central Propaganda Department.
4.10 Zhang Guangjun (张光军) was appointed a member of the Central Organization Department’s Departmental Affairs Committee and head of its Second Cadre Bureau.
4.10 Jia Qian (贾骞) was appointed deputy head of the National Food and Strategic Reserves Administration.