Spring Festival Edition
By David Gitter, Julia Bowie, Brock Erdahl, James Gannon, Ann Listerud, and Sandy Lu
Li Keqiang: Strive to Push Forward Reform and Development, Work Hard to Solve Problems with the People’s Livelihood, and Improve the Lives of People from Every Ethnic Group
2.1-2.2 Politburo Standing Committee member Li Keqiang visited Ulaanchab, Inner Mongolia, for an inspection tour. While visiting the city, Li spoke about the difficulties facing residents, including food prices, employment, and underdevelopment.
Li stated that there are good prospects for potato cultivation and for the role it can play in alleviating poverty. After hearing that rising beef and mutton prices have reduced sales at the local farmer’s market, Li spoke of the importance of ensuring that income growth outpaces price increases.
Upon finding out that some train rides last as long as 30 hours or more, Li said that "we must continue to develop high speed trains, as well as regular trains with more stops and cheaper tickets.” Finally, he spoke of the need to remodel “shantytowns" so as to provide warm, comfortable, safe new houses for people with crude living conditions.
Xi Jinping Meets with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin
2.15 Xinhua reported on Xi Jinping’s meeting with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in Beijing. Xi emphasized the importance of maintaining stability in China-US relations and urged the two sides to work together to reach a “mutually beneficial and win-win agreement” on trade. According to Xinhua, he assured Lighthizer and Mnuchin that he is “willing to adopt a cooperative approach to resolve and promote an agreement acceptable to both sides.”
Zhong Sheng: Maintain the Momentum of Intensified Consultations
2.2 People’s Daily’s Zhong Sheng column, which transmits the views of the People’s Daily on foreign affairs, urged the continuation of high-level China-US trade talks to “reach an agreement favorable to both sides as soon as possible, send a positive signal to the people of both countries and the international community, and promote the healthy development of China-US relations and the stable growth of the global economy.”
After noting that “trade frictions do not accord with Chinese or American interests and trade wars do not have winners,” the column asserted that “as the Chinese and American economies are deeply interconnected, having some disagreements is normal” and “the key point is how the two countries regard one another and what methods they use to resolve problems.” It also argued against the decoupling of the Chinese and American economies, contending that their interconnections “formed over several decades, conform to the objective rules of the development of economic globalization, and will not be changed by anyone’s subjective will.”
Ordinary People Express Economic Optimism for the New Year
China Economic Daily
2.1-2.3 In the lead up to Spring Festival, China Economic Daily published several front-page stories in which people expressed optimism about economic growth in the new year.
A story titled “I Am Confident That I Will Double my Income” (我有信心实现收入翻番) described an interview with a resident of Lianzhang Village in Guangdong Province named Lu Yihe (陆奕和), who was mentioned in Xi Jinping’s new year speech. Lu told reporters after Xi inspected his village he secured a 50,000 yuan loan from the bank and earned nearly 40,000 yuan last year. He also received benefits from several poverty alleviation programs and was confident his income would double next year.
A story titled “The Days are Getting Better and Better” (日子过得越来越好) visited Liaoning resident Chen Yufang (陈玉芳), who met Xi Jinping last year when Xi was inspecting Liaoning. Chen told reporters that Xi visiting her house was her happiest memory of 2018, and that her and her husband’s pensions rose again last year. A new transportation center and bus stop were built near her home making travel more convenient. She has high hopes for the new year for herself, her husband, and her daughters.
Huang Kunming: Improve the Quality of the Propaganda Team by Enhancing the “Four Forces”
2.12 Central Propaganda Department Head Huang Kunming (黄坤明) spoke at a video conference on reinforcing education on the “four forces” (四力) of propaganda work: the foot, the eye, the brain, and the pen. During his talk, he stressed the importance of implementing Xi’s important speeches and improving the overall quality of the propaganda team. He also emphasized that “arming the mind with Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era must be treated as a primary task” and that the “four consciousness” (四个意识), “four confidences”(四个自信), and “two defends” (两个维护) must be consolidated, adhered to, and implemented.
Zhong Sheng: An Anti-Terrorism Double Standard Harms Others and Oneself
2.13 People’s Daily’s Zhong Sheng column accused the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Hami Aksoy of having recently made “baseless charges and criticisms” of China’s policy toward Xinjiang. It asserted that the “vocational and educational training centers” in the autonomous region are necessary to “prevent [people] from becoming casualties or victims of terrorism and extremism.”
After noting that “terrorism and extremism are the common enemies of human civilization and the international community” and claiming that “the training centers are open to the outside world,” the column warned that “as Turkey is also a multi-ethnic state and faces terrorist threats, pursuit of a double standard ultimately can only harm others and itself.” It concluded by urging Turkey “to examine its conscience, correctly understand China’s relevant policies and efforts, and use practical actions to promote mutual trust and cooperation between China and Turkey.”
Zhong Sheng: The Wandering Earth Reflects a Sense of the Future Rooted in Reality
2.14 People’s Daily’s Zhong Sheng column praised China’s recently released science fiction blockbuster The Wandering Earth “for providing the world with a unique angle to observe Chinese culture and development.” It added that the film “embodies Chinese conceptions of family affection, heroism, dedication, hometown spirit, and international cooperation” and science fiction movies in general “reflect the comprehensive strength of the film industry and even the country.”
The column went on to boast that “China’s rapid development in science and technology has provided fertile ground for the development of science fiction literature and movies.” It ended with the observation that The Wandering Earth “comes from reality--the reality of increases in China’s national strength and increasing prosperity of its economy and the reality of continuous increases in China’s scientific and technological strength and cultural influence.”
United Front Work
9th Meeting of Nationwide Targeted Action for Poverty Alleviation Leading Group
All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce
2.11 United Front Work Department Deputy Head Xu Lejiang (徐乐江) and State Council Leading Group Office for Poverty Alleviation and Development Director Liu Yongfu (刘永富) attended the 9th meeting of the Leading Group for Nationwide Targeted Action for Poverty Alleviation, “10,000 Enterprises Assisting 10,000 Village.”
According to Xu, since the “10,000 Enterprises” initiative was launched three years ago, 76,400 private enterprises have helped 9,730,400 impoverished people in 85,100 villages.
Liu pointed out that the initiative has already become a “big name” (大品牌) and a platform for private enterprise participation in the fight against poverty. “The next step,” he said, includes “focusing on deeply impoverished areas...and guiding private enterprises in [China’s] eastern regions to help impoverished areas in [China’s] central and western regions.”
Former State Food and Drug Administration Deputy Head Expelled from the Party
2.3 Former State Food and Drug Administration Deputy Head and member of its party group Wu Zhen (吴浈) was put under investigation for serious violations of discipline and law and expelled from the Party. The investigation discovered that Wu “deviated from Party goals,” pretended to follow the Central Committee’s important directives on drug safety issues, and received bribes.
The “Six Extensions” for Cleaning Up Crime and Eliminating Evil in 2019
2.13 The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) and National Supervisory Commission (NSC) released an article with pointing out the 6 focuses of the work to “clean up crime and eliminate evil” for 2019. The article stressed that the struggle to clean up crime and eliminate evil has entered a critical time this year and that the “six extensions” (六个延伸) must be achieved. The “six extensions” are to further focus on solving crimes that are difficult to tackle, taking measures against cyber crimes, cracking down on the “protective umbrellas,” enhancing the efficiency of the judicial process, improving the regulation of all industries, and building “immune systems” for grassroots organizations against crime and evil.
CCDI and NSC Plan to Study and Draft Legislation on Disciplinary Action Relating to Government Affairs and Censorship This Year
China Discipline Inspection and Supervision Newspaper andCCDI-NSC
2.15 According to the CCDI and NSC Legislative Office (中央纪委国家监委法规室), the CCDI and NSC will carry out drafting of legislation on disciplinary action with respect to government affairs, supervision and law enforcement work of supervisory organs, and censorship (监察官) this year. An official from the office stated that “building a high quality professional team is an internal requirement for fulfilling the duties and mission of discipline inspection and supervision” and that legislation regarding the censorship system will stipulate the requirements for appointment and dismissal of censors and “provide a legal base to building a loyal and clean team of censors that is willing to take on responsibility.”
Central Military Commission
Xi Jinping Orders Release of Trial Regulations for PLA Military Training Supervision
2.11 CMC Chairman Xi Jinping recently signed an order for the release of trial regulation on the supervision of PLA military training (中国人民解放军军事训练监察条例(试行)). The regulations contain 10 chapters and 61 articles, which regulate the responsibilities, powers, and the focus of military training supervision work. A Xinhua article stated that “this regulation is the first legislation on the supervision of military training” and that it establishes a system in which laws are followed and strictly enforced and that any violation of law is investigated.
The regulations will come into effect on 1 March.
Comprehensively Deepening Reform
Deepen “Delegate Power, Combine Management, and Optimize Services” to Give Enterprises More Sense of Gain
China Economic Daily
2.8 Reporters visited Anxi County (安溪县) in Fujian where work efficiency has increased thanks to continuous “delegate power, combine management, and optimize services” (放管服) reforms. These reforms have allowed various market players to provide services to the masses, which Anxi County Administrative Service Center Administrative Committee (安溪县行政服务中心管委会) Director Cai Caiqiang (蔡财强) says has contributed to more creative problem solving with consideration of the perspective of the masses and has effectively reduced reform implementation bottleneck issues.
Cai told reporters that with the deepening of “delegate power, combine management, and optimize services” reforms, entrepreneurs who arrive in Anxi were increasingly aware of the government’s “nanny-style” (保姆式) and “mother-style” (妈妈式) services, and that their office assists enterprises in gaining approval for major projects. In one example, assistant general manager of Jingan Optoelectronics (晶安光电) Xie Binhui (谢斌晖) said his company’s rapid development was made possible by the strong support of local party committees and government, and he recounted how local county staff responded immediately to help his company receive necessary permissions for land acquisition so they could expand their facilities.
Han Zheng Chairs Symposium for the National Development and Reform Commission
2.12 CCP Politburo Standing Committee member Han Zheng (韩正) chaired a symposium for the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). Han spoke about the need for improving “macroeconomic control" and for “strengthening coordination and cooperation” across many domains and departments. As for promoting development, he mentioned several key areas: Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region (Jing-Jin-Ji), Xiongan New Area, Yangtze River Economic Belt, Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, and Hainan’s pilot free trade zone.
Year After Year, Consumption is the Number One Driving Force for Growth
China Economic Daily
2.12 At a special press conference held by the Ministry of Commerce, Vice Minister of Commerce Qian Keming (钱克明) said that in 2018, China's total consumer good spending totaled 38.1 trillion yuan, an increase of 9%, and that consumption was steadily gaining momentum. Consumption was the number one driving force for economic growth for five consecutive years, contributing to 76.2% of economic growth, an increase of 18.6 percentage points over the previous year. Of particular note was the high growth in consumption of high-end goods and services, as well as e-commerce and digital consumption which saw an increase of 23.9% over the previous year. Though consumption growth grew proportionally compared to the economy, the real growth increase dropped to 9%, the first year since 2004 real consumption growth fell below double digits. Qian explained that this was due to an increase in services consumption rather than physical goods, and that physical consumption should be expected to decrease as service consumption rises.
State Guarantee Fund to Focus on Supporting Small Rural Businesses
China Economic Daily
2.15 The General Office of the State Council issued the “Guiding Opinions on Giving Full Play to the State Financing Guarantee Funds to Effectively Support the Development of Small and Micro Enterprises and the Three Rural Issues,” (关于有效发挥政府性融资担保基金作用切实支持小微企业和“三农”发展的指导意见) which emphasize the need to standardize the operation of State Guarantee Funds to make up for market credit shortages for small and micro enterprises, and to focus on alleviating rural financial distress, and in doing so promote entrepreneurship and the development of emerging industries. The “Opinions” clarify issues such as keeping State Guarantee interest rates low, and how to approach building financial cooperation and risk sharing between public and private financing. In principle, the proportion of risk liability assumed by state funds at any government level should be no less than 20%. The “Opinions” require all regions and departments fully understand the importance of standardizing processes, strengthen responsibilities, and effectively support small and micro enterprises.
2.11 Peng Xingdi (彭兴第) was appointed member of the China Communications Construction Company’s Party Committee Standing Committee secretary of its discipline inspection commission.
2.12 Zou Xiaodong (邹晓东) was appointed deputy head of the United Front Work Department.
2.15 Wei Dichun (魏地春) was appointed deputy head of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions’ 17th executive committee, a member of its secretariat, and a member of its Party leadership group.
2.15 Guo Weiping (郭卫平) was appointed deputy head of the National Ethnic Affairs Commission.
2.15 Luo Wen (罗文) was appointed deputy head of the National Development and Reform Commission.
2.15 Zhong Denghua (钟登华) was appointed vice minister of the Ministry of Education.
2.15 Wang Zhijun (王志军) was appointed vice minister of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
2.15 Chen Chenzhao (陈尘肇) was appointed deputy inspector general of the Ministry of Natural Resources.
2.15 Zhao Aiming (赵爱明) was appointed deputy head of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council.
2.15 Zhao Gang (赵刚) was appointed deputy head of the National Intellectual Property Administration.