Opening ceremonies for the Two Sessions were held this week after a long delay due to the coronavirus epidemic. At the National People’s Congress (NPC) opening ceremony, Li Keqiang announced that the government would not be setting specific targets for this year’s economic performance because of the uncertainty the coronavirus has brought upon the Chinese economy. Most importantly, a draft decision on Hong Kong national security legislation was introduced for deliberation (see Senior Leaders section).
Xi Jinping’s Speech at the 73rd World Health Assembly Video Conference Opening Ceremony
5.18 Xi Jinping spoke at the 73rd World Health Assembly (WHA) video conference, addressing the coronavirus pandemic situation. Speaking on China’s success in reversing the pandemic situation, Xi said, “From beginning to end China has taken an open, transparent, and responsible attitude [as principle], promptly informing the World Health Organization (WHO) and relevant countries of pandemic information, immediately releasing information like the virus genetic sequencing, holding nothing back in sharing prevention, control, and treatment experiences, and providing countries in need a great amount of assistance and support to the best of China’s ability.”
Xi put forward six suggestions related to virus spread and pandemic prevention and control:
Using all effort to prevent and control the pandemic
Allow the WHO to give full play of its leadership role
Increase support to African nations
Strengthen global public health governance
Recover economic and social development
Strengthen international cooperation
“In order to drive forward global collaborative efforts against the pandemic situation,” Xi announced, “China will offer $2 billion dollars in global aid within two years...” to aid countries affected by the coronavirus pandemic, especially developing countries; “...China will collaborate with the United Nations and create a humanitarian emergency response storehouse in China, working hard to maintain a pandemic response material supply chain...”; “...China will establish mechanisms for hospital collaboration between China and Africa and accelerate the construction of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) headquarters...”; After a vaccine for the novel coronavirus is created, China will make it a “global public good...”; and “China will work with G20 members to implement the ‘Debt Service Suspension Initiative’ for the poorest countries.”
The Third Session of the 13th CPPCC National Committee Opens in Beijing
5.21 As the meetings of the Two Sessions began last week, the Third Session of the 13th Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee Opened in Beijing. Xinhua reported that the session “will stick closely to the goal and mission of comprehensively establishing a moderately prosperous society, organizing the CPPCC National Committee members to actively fulfill their duties, and bringing together wisdom and strength” for fighting the tough battle against poverty and comprehensively establishing a moderately prosperous society.
CPPCC National Committee Chairman Wang Yang (汪洋) spoke on behalf of the entire CPPCC National Committee Standing Committee, delivering a work report to the entire conference. Summarizing the work of the central government over the last year reporting, Wang reported that “under the strong leadership of the CCP Central Committee with Xi Jinping at the core, the CPPCC National Committee and its Standing Committee followed the guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.” Wang noted that “2020 is the last year of the 13th Five Year Plan and to comprehensively establish a moderately prosperous society,” urging the CPPCC to follow the Xi Jinping Thought and “strengthen the ‘four consciousnesses’ (四个意识), consolidate the ‘four confidences’ (四个自信), [and] achieving the ‘two defends’ (两个维护).”
Third Session of the 13th National People’s Congress Begins
5.22 At the opening ceremony of the 13th National People’s Congress (NPC) Premier Li Keqiang said that while “major strategic results” had been achieved in prevention and control of the coronavirus epidemic, it is not yet resolved and the task of development remains “exceptionally difficult.” After affirming the government’s achievements in maintaining a stable economy and handling the coronavirus crisis between 2019, he allowed that “China’s development is facing unprecedented risks and challenges.” Nevertheless, he said that China has “unique political and institutional advantages, a solid economic foundation, major market potential, and the hard work and wisdom of millions of people.” He expressed confidence that China will overcome these challenges.
Still, he announced the government had decided not to create specific targets for this year’s economic growth in light of the uncertainty the coronavirus has brought upon China’s economy. Instead, the government will work to prioritize employment, “resolutely win the battle against poverty,” and strive to achieve the comprehensive building of a moderately prosperous society.
NPC Standing Committee Vice Chairman Wang Chen (王晨) introduced the NPC’s draft decision on Hong Kong national security legislation for deliberation. Wang said that Hong Kong’s national security risks have become “increasingly prominent,” making it necessary to improve the ability of the Hong Kong legal system to maintain national security in order to ensure that the “One Country, Two Systems” undertaking “maintains a long and stable path” (行稳致远).
PD Commentator: Arduous and Unsurpassed Hard Work, A Hard Earned Achievement
5.18 People’s Daily published a front page commentator article commemorating the hard work of Chinese people during the coronavirus pandemic. The article uses romantic language about war and strife to paint the achievements of the Chinese people: “This is a people’s war (人民战争) in which [you] cannot see the gunsmoke but you can see the sacrifice. This is a tenacious battle of resistance in which you cannot hear the artillery fire but you can hear the assault...” The end of the article cites a recent “online international poll of 12,500 people across 23 economies” stating that “Chinese people are the most satisfied with their government’s job in combating the pandemic.” The article closes by looking forward to the Two Sessions of the NPC and the CPPCC National Committee and urging the people to unite around the Central Committee with Xi Jinping at its core.
Ren Ping: Use Spirit of Science to Resist “Political Virus”
5.18 People’s Daily published two articles under the significant pen name, “Ren Ping” (任平). The first article attempts to dispel accusations made by US politicians, namely that Wuhan is the source of [COVID-19] or that the coronavirus came from a laboratory in Wuhan. The commentary states that these are scientific questions and should be subject to research pointing out that “Currently, scientists from various countries around the world are all conducting research into the origins of the virus, many academic viewpoints have been raised about the origins of the novel coronavirus...[Being] the first [place] to report an epidemic does not mean that it is the origin of the virus, the first [place] to be attacked by a virus fiercely does not mean it was the earliest place for it to show up. Historically, the place with the initial case is usually not the place of origin.” The article ends by urging people to resist the “political virus,” which can be “more destructive than the novel coronavirus” and rely on science.
Ren Ping: “The Hardest to Cope” Requires Unprecedented Unity
5.19 The second Ren Ping (任平) article focuses on the need for a global response to the novel coronavirus pandemic. The article stated that “the reason why China overcame the novel-coronavirus pandemic is because since the beginning, General Secretary Xi Jinping emphasized ‘making the lives, safety, and health of the people the number one priority.’” The article continues to talk about Chinese support for international institutions like the UN and WHO in the midst of the crisis. The article quotes Graham Allison and Christopher Li’s essay in the National Interest: “Viruses carry no passports, have no ideology, and respect no borders. When droplets from an infected patient who sneezes are inhaled by a healthy individual, the biological impact is essentially identical whether the person is American, Italian, or Chinese.” Summing up its point, the article calls on its audience to put aside ideology and work together to stop the novel-coronavirus pandemic: “At this time, solidarity and cooperation, collaborating against the pandemic situation is not only the best option, but the only one.”
PD Commentator: The Concentrated Display of Chinese Strength, Spirit, and Efficiency
5.19 People’s Daily published a commentator article showcasing the feats of “Chinese strength, spirit and efficiency” (中国力量、中国精神、中国效率) in the midst of the novel-coronavirus epidemic response. Each of these aspects corresponds to different aspects of China’s pandemic response that contributed to its success.
The “Chinese strength” refers to government’s ability to work together: “Under the centralized and unified leadership of the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, the entire country mobilized, participated, became a chessboard (全国一盘棋) to build the tightest prevention and control network and determined to win the people’s war of epidemic prevention and control.” This section also references the closing of Wuhan to save the country and the high cure rate of China.
“Chinese spirit” refers to the heroics of 123,800 first responders who travelled from all over China to save lives after Wuhan was shut down. “Chinese efficiency” refers to the speed at which China was able to respond to the needs of its citizens. This section refers to not only the “three weeks it took [for responders] to build 16 makeshift hospitals” but also the “recording-break speed” at which it completed isolating the virus, testing the genetic sequence, and starting clinical testing of vaccines.
Zhong Sheng: The Global Fight Against the Pandemic Has No Win or Lose, Only Win-Win
5.19 People’s Daily published a Zhong Sheng (钟声) article exposing alleged discrepancies in the United States’ allegations against China’s coronavirus pandemic response and accusing US politicians of lying. The article quotes a recent Washington Post article, which said “The US epidemic strategy ‘has been to deny, distort, deflect, and obstruct.’” The Zhong Sheng article stated that telling lies can “neither contain the virus nor save lives.” The article ends by encouraging international cooperation in combating the pandemic and stating “In the global fight against the pandemic, there is no ‘you’ lose ‘I’ win amongst humanity, there is only ‘we’ all win. [We] strongly advise some US politicians not to continue wasting their breath fabricating lies and to stop searching for the personal political gains of self-cover-ups and ‘passing the buck’ to others.”
Yang Xiaodu Speaks at Chinese Academy of Discipline Inspection and Supervision 2020 Spring Term Opening Ceremony
5.18 Politburo member, Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) Deputy Secretary, National Supervisory Commission (NSC) Director, and Chinese Academy of Discipline Inspection and Supervision President Yang Xiaodu (杨晓渡) attended and spoke at the opening ceremony of the Chinese Academy of Discipline Inspection and Supervision’s 2020 Spring term. The ceremony was attended by all 146 students of the Academy and principal members of the CCDI and NSC.
Yang’s speech noted China’s success in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic by following the leadership of the Central Committee with Xi Jinping as the core and Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era. The speech also emphasized “strengthening the ‘four consciousnesses’ (四个意识), consolidating the ‘four confidences’ (四个自信), achieving the ‘two defends’ (两个维护)” and touched on the Party’s goals of poverty alleviation, “Deeply advance the specialized governance of the problems of corruption and work style in the field of poverty alleviation, persist in intensifying reforms on disciplinary inspection and supervision system, comprehensively promote [a body] that does not dare to be corrupt (不敢腐), is incorruptible (不能腐), and does not want to be corrupt (不想腐), and provide a strong guarantee for accomplishing the goals and tasks for realizing decisive victories in the tough battle of poverty alleviation and comprehensively establishing a moderately prosperous society.”
International Liaison Work
5.18 International Department Assistant Head Li Mingxiang (李明祥) participated in the opening ceremony of an online seminar with the Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG). Li and PDG Secretary-General Eric Dodo Bounguendza both gave speeches for the event. After the opening ceremony, the two sides held an exchange on the role of ruling party leaders in anti-epidemic work. The following three days saw exchanges on “making overall plans for promoting epidemic prevention and control and economic and social development, expanding international cooperation on epidemic prevention and control and the tough battle of poverty alleviation, and consolidating China-Africa friendship.”
5.19 International Department Deputy Head Guo Yezhou (郭业洲) participated in a videoconference on anti-epidemic governance experience sharing with the Bangladeshi Awami League (AL). The teleconference included speeches from Hubei CCP Standing Committee member and Hubei Provincial Health Commission Director Wang Hesheng (王贺胜), AL Presidium member Faruk Khan, and Bangladeshi Minister of Health and Family Welfare Zahid Maleque. The other participants included relevant experts and representatives from Hubei and Wuhan, the Dhaka North mayor, and relevant officials and medical experts from the AL Central Working Committee.
5.20 International Department Deputy Head Qian Hongshan (钱洪山) met with Belarusian Ambassador to China Nikolai Snopkov.
5.19 Guan Zhi'ou (关志鸥) was appointed secretary of the National Forestry and Grassland Administration (National Park Administration)’s party group.
5.21 Chen Zhaoxiong (陈肇雄) was appointed chairman of China Electronics Technology Group and secretary of its party group.
5.21 Zhi Yulin (植玉林) was appointed deputy general manager of China North Industries Group Corporation (NORINCO).
5.21 Tong Jianming (童建明) was appointed deputy procurator-general of Supreme People’s Procuratorate in charge of routine work and deputy secretary of its party group.