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  • David Gitter, Julia Bowie, Brock Erdahl

Weekly Report 3|27 4.18.2020-4.24.2020


A new commentary series under the pen name Ren Ping, which People’s Daily usually uses to discuss highly sensitive topics, attempted to instill confidence in China’s economy after the release of China’s quarterly economic data (see Propaganda Work section).

The Silk Road Think Tank Association, an organization founded by the CCP International Department, held an online forum to discuss building a “Health Silk Road.” The meeting included speeches from Slovenian President Danilo Türk, former Bosnian and Herzegovinian Council of Ministers Chairman Zlatko Lagumdžija, former Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf, former French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, Socialist International President and former Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, former Italian Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema, former Tanzanian Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda, former Thai National Assembly President Bhokin Bhalakula, and former Iranian Vice President Hassan Ghafourifard (see International Liaison Work section).


Senior Leaders

Politburo Convenes Meeting, Xi Jinping Presides Xinhua

4.17 Xi Jinping presided over a Politburo meeting that reviewed the documents proposed by the Politburo Standing Committee’s 15 April meeting and called for preserving the results of epidemic prevention and control and preventing a resurgence of the epidemic while safeguarding a return to economic and social normalcy. It sought more effective and direct measures to prevent the importation of cases from abroad and stronger “care and concern” for Chinese citizens abroad through improved consular services and work with diaspora and student groups. The meeting also emphasized economic policy and called for “seeking progress while maintaining stability” (稳中求进), “adhering to the new development concept” (新发展理念), “taking supply-side structural form as the main line,” and “using reform and opening up as the driving force to push high-quality development.” It highlighted the need to maintain stability, create fiscal and monetary policies to stabilize the economy, and strengthen domestic demand in both consumption and investment.



People’s Daily Commentator Series on the Coronavirus Pandemic

19 April’s commentary discussed the 17 April Politburo meeting. The article stressed the importance of coordinating and advancing the work of epidemic prevention and control and economic and social development. It assured readers that the “basis of [China’s] long-term positive economic growth has not changed,” stressing that “although major economic indexes have obviously declined in the first quarter, major economic indexes in March began to rise again” and that “the resumption of work and production is gradually returning to or has reached the normal level.” The article also pointed out the importance of “normalizing epidemic prevention and control work,” preventing a resurgence of the epidemic, strengthening monitoring of incoming cases, and promoting international cooperation before highlighting challenges China faces in economic development. It stated that “all regions and departments” should thoroughly implement the Central Committee’s strategic plans and strive to realize anti-poverty goals.

20 April’s commentary discussed the risk posed by foreign introduction or domestic resurgence of COVID-19 to the nation’s epidemic prevention and control efforts. Citing the 17 April Politburo meeting in which Xi Jinping and other leaders discussed the importance of “consolidating the results of the battle to prevent and control [the outbreak],” the article stressed that “[we] absolutely cannot relax our work to protect against importation from the outside and a rebound inside, lower our guard, be negligent, or allow positive trends in the epidemic to reverse.” On the domestic front, the article called for Wuhan and Hubei Province to continue their anti-coronavirus efforts and coordinate with outside regions. In the international realm, it called for constructing a “firm defensive line” without “any holes,” continuing to care for Chinese nationals abroad, strengthening testing capabilities, and “deepening exchanges and cooperation with the WHO,” amongst other suggestions.

21 April’s commentary also discussed the 17 April Politburo meeting and stressed that “seeking progress while maintaining stability” (稳中求进) should be the key principle when pushing for economic development. It pointed out that the meeting not only stressed the “six stabilities” (六稳) but had also proposed the “six safeguards” (六保), which refer to “safeguarding people’s employment, people’s livelihood, the market, food and energy security, industrial and supply chain stability, and basic operations.” The article stressed that “we must… revive our country’s excellent momentum in economic and social development as soon as possible and accomplish the goals and tasks for realizing decisive victories in the comprehensive establishment of a moderately prosperous society and the tough battle of poverty alleviation.”

22 April’s commentary returned to the theme of expanding domestic demand, which it called “a necessary choice for hedging against the downside risk of the global economy; it is also the strategic crux of our response to all kinds of risks and challenges.” The article acknowledged international economic instability but emphasized domestic demand as “the fundamental driving force of our country’s economic development.” It called for policies that increase consumption, increase investment (specifically in housing, infrastructure, transforming traditional industries, and supporting strategic emerging industries), involve private investment and capital, and help companies shift export production to the domestic market. The article also called for measures to help small and medium enterprises, like tax and rent reductions, stabilize and coordinate the industry chain and supply chain, and safeguard the people’s livelihood through programs supporting employment, welfare payments and subsidies, anti-pollution efforts, and the agriculture and real-estate industries.

23 April’s commentary emphasized the role of reform in overcoming current economic challenges, citing Xi Jinping’s remarks from 17 April’s Politburo meeting, which “clearly indicated that [we] must not waste the opportunity to push for reform.” The article said that, facing the shock of the epidemic, China must “turn pressure into motivation” for deeper reform and opening up. It specifically referenced “taking supply-side structural reform as the main line,” making improving the structure of supply the focal direction [of policy],” and overall supply-side reforms. It called for reforms to support emerging and strategic high-tech industries, while also improving the efficiency of traditional industries. It called for an end to rules limiting market integration and fair competition, as well as developing private enterprise, inciting market vitality, implementing effective property rights incentives, the free flow of factors of production, flexible pricing response, and fair and orderly competition. Finally, the piece called for continued opening to the international economy, focusing on increasing market access, improving the business and investment environment, fostering innovation, and “making a contribution to stabilize the world economy.”

On the same day, People’s Daily published another commentator article to refute the “fallacies and conspiracy theories” regarding the origin of the coronavirus. It stated that tracing the origin of the outbreak is “a serious scientific question... that should be studied by scientists and medical experts” and urged readers not to politicize public health issues. The article mentioned a 21 April WHO spokesperson statement disproving the theory that the virus was synthesized in the lab “based on all known evidence,” along with a 19 February scientific joint statement supporting the theory that the virus was transferred by a wild animal. It further stressed that “China, like other countries, is a victim of the epidemic” and that the “fallacies and conspiracy theories” will not only not help each country’s battle against the epidemic but will also deepen mistrust.

24 April’s commentary called for advancing the “six stabilities” and implementing the “six safeguards.” It stressed that stabilizing and safeguarding employment was the first priority of the “six stabilities” and “six safeguards” because it is essential to the people’s livelihood. To safeguard basic welfare, it called for increasing livelihood guarantees and subsidies for disadvantaged communities and people affected by the pandemic, and implementing relevant price subsidies. To safeguard the market, it said focus on helping micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises and promote reduction of taxes, fees, financing costs, and rents. The article also called for using the “three rural issues” to safeguard food and energy supply, coordinating resumption of production to safeguard industry chains and supply chains, and improving the efficiency of grassroots public services.

Zhong Sheng: The Global [Fight] Against the Epidemic Does Not Allow for Shifting Blame or Obstruction People’s Daily

4.18 People’s Daily published an article under the Zhong Sheng (钟声) byline, which transmits the views of the People’s Daily on foreign affairs, that criticized the US for suspending its WHO funding and said the move “seriously trampled upon the principle of multilateralism and completely deviated from the spirit of humanitarianism.” The article listed US domestic criticisms to stress that “more and more people have recognized that there is no reason or justice” in the US politicizing the epidemic. It argued that “supporting the WHO is the general position of the international community” and that “the American people and people from all countries in the world will not allow some Americans to attempt to ‘disrupt’ global action against the epidemic.” In its conclusion, the article called on the US to “fulfill its duty as a great power.”

Ren Ping Series: The Fundamentals of China’s Long-term Economic Improvement Have Not Changed People’s Daily

To address the subject of China’s long-term economic prospects, People’s Daily began a series under the byline Ren Ping, which is likely a homophonous pen name standing for “People’s Daily Commentary” (人民日报评论) and usually used to address sensitive issues.

4.18 The first installment of the series, “A Comprehensive, Dialectic, Long-Term Look at Our Country’s Development,” responded to the release of official economic statistics from the first quarter, concluding that despite the epidemic’s clear impact on the key economic indicators, the economy had “entirely withstood the ordeal brought by the epidemic.” The article said that the shock caused by the epidemic would be short-term and that with the resumption of work and production, some repressed economic activity is being released and the internal vitality of development is being strengthened. It said improvements of March would be sustained, the second quarter will be “distinctly better than the first,” and “the most difficult period has already passed, and the following trend of economic improvement will be even more robust.” The article emphasized that the epidemic was a “chance event” that will not affect the fundamental characteristics of China’s economy and its long-term development.

4.22 The second installment of the series, entitled “Respond to Uncertainty with Proactiveness,” praised the effectiveness of recent macroeconomic policies in spurring recovery. The article said “there are sufficient tools in [China’s] macroeconomic ‘toolbox,’ and ample leeway” for macroeconomic policies like raising the deficit rate, issuing special “anti-epidemic” state bonds and local government bonds, lowering the required reserve ratio, lowering interest, and refinancing. The article also emphasized the importance of reform and opening, saying that sudden market instability had exposed “deep structural contradictions” in the economy and offered a chance for reform in marketizing factor deployment and improving development quality and efficiency. Moreover, external economic conditions have created an opportunity for relaxing restrictions on market access, improving the business environment, breaking into diversification in the international market, and pushing for new development opportunities in the Belt and Road Initiative. Finally, the article called for measures to support struggling businesses in the return to work. While it described the employment situation as “steady,” it called for measures to support college graduates and migrant worker employment.

4.23 The third Ren Ping article, entitled “Be Adept at Turning a Crisis into an Opportunity, Grasp the Opportunity to Innovate,” focused on the “new opportunities” brought about by the outbreak, particularly the opportunity to promote China’s technological development and optimization of industries. It stressed that, while the epidemic brought new challenges to the Chinese economy, emerging industries such as e-commerce, health, and online education demonstrated strong potential. The article also reported work and production have gradually reached normal levels and consumer demand is being released. It concluded by stating that “after the storm, China’s economy will become even more robust.”

4.24 The fourth Ren Ping article, “Stimulate the Strong Vitality and Potential of the Domestic Market,” called domestic demand “the fundamental driving force” of China’s economic development, and said expanding domestic demand is “a crucial move to respond to downstream risks” and “a necessary requirement to satisfy the people’s growing need for a better life.” “On the one hand, international economic and trade activity has been severely impacted by the pandemic, and will be hard to restore in the short term, [so] export-oriented enterprises must ‘turn export to the domestic market;’ on the other hand, the massive market advantage and domestic demand capacity of 1.4 billion people have not been fully kindled.” To stimulate demand, the article said it was necessary to “increase effective investment” and “actively unleash consumption potential.” It called for greater investment in China’s still insufficient infrastructure, including public health facilities; transforming old communities; upgrading traditional industries; expanding investment in strategic emerging industries; mobilizing enthusiasm for private investment; and implementing key market reforms in order to improve market prospects and smooth economic fluctuations. To stimulate consumption, it recommended conscientiously resolving people’s basic living difficulties, ensuring supply of grain and important agricultural products, stabilizing and expanding employment, and deploying appropriate price subsidies.


Party Discipline

Public Security Deputy Minister Sun Lijun Put under CCDI and NSC Investigation

4.19 The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) and National Supervisory Commission (NSC) put out a short announcement stating that Ministry of Public Security Deputy Minister Sun Lijun (孙力军) is currently under the “discipline review and supervision investigation” of the CCDI and NSC for suspicion of “serious disciplinary and law violations.”


International Liaison Work

Silk Road Think Tank Association Holds Special Online Forum, Convenes International Advisors Committee Meeting

4.24 The International Department-established Silk Road Think Tank Association (SRTA) held a “join hands to respond to global health and safety challenges, jointly build the Health Silk Road (健康丝绸之路)”-themed special online forum and convened a meeting of SRTA’s international advisors committee. International Department Deputy Head and SRTA Chairman Guo Yezhou (郭业洲) presided over the forum’s opening ceremony and the international advisors committee meeting.

International Department Head Song Tao (宋涛) delivered a written address to the forum. He praised Xi Jinping, the Chinese government, and the Chinese people for their contributions to China’s fight against COVID-19. After vowing that China would “actively provide other countries affected by the epidemic with support and help to the best of its ability,” he expressed his “expectation” that SRTA members would “jointly act as proponents of working together to fight the epidemic, spreaders of rational voices, builders of the Health Silk Road, and promoters of cooperation and development.”

SRTA’s international advisors committee meeting centered on the topic of “the world under the novel coronavirus epidemic — how to turn crisis into opportunity” and issued a joint proposal for strengthening international anti-epidemic cooperation. The meeting included speeches from former Slovenian President Danilo Türk, former Bosnian and Herzegovinian Council of Ministers Chairman Zlatko Lagumdžija, former Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf, former French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, Socialist International President and former Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, former Italian Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema, former Tanzanian Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda, former Thai National Assembly President Bhokin Bhalakula, and former Iranian Vice President Hassan Ghafourifard.

The International Department’s China Center for Contemporary World Studies and Renmin University of China’s Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies jointly sponsored the forum. More than 30 political leaders and think tank experts from over 10 countries participated.

International Department

4.21 The International Department donated 50,000 face masks to the Portuguese Communist Party (PCP). The Chinese Embassy in Portugal held a ceremony to hand the masks over to PCP Secretariat member José Capucho.

4.23 International Department Assistant Head Li Mingxiang (李明祥) held a teleconference with over 20 high-level cadres from the South African Communist Party (SACP) led by SACP First Deputy General Secretary Solly Afrika Mapaila.


Organization Work

4.20 Wang Junzheng (王君正) was appointed a member of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps’ Party committee, a member of its standing committee, and its secretary.

4.21 Chen Jiazi (陈佳资) was appointed a member of the Party group of the National Government Offices Administration.

4.22 The State Council approved the recommendations of Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林郑月娥) for the following changes to the Executive Council of Hong Kong:

Patrick Nip (聂德权) was appointed the secretary for the civil service.

Caspar Tsui (徐英伟) was appointed the secretary for home affairs.

Erick Tsang (曾国卫) was appointed secretary for constitutional and mainland affairs.

Christopher Hui (许正宇) was appointed secretary for financial services and the treasury.

Alfred Sit (薛永恒) was appointed secretary for innovation and technology.

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