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Pass the Ideological Test or No Press Pass

The Media Oversight Bureau, under the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Propaganda Department, issued a directive on August 23 titled, “Notice regarding the establishment and certification of the news collection and learning organization on the ‘Study Xi, Strong Nation’ platform.” The notice specified detailed requirements for news organizations in order for them to apply for a new version of the press pass. The applicants must pass the training test of the mobile phone app the ‘Study Xi, Strong Nation’ platform before applying. The examinations included “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era,” “General Secretary Xi Jinping’s Important Speech on Propaganda and Ideological Work,” the Marxist view of journalism, journalism ethics and policy regulations, and news gathering and editing.

A group of news organizations will conduct a “pilot test” at the end of this month. The official examination will be held in the first ten days of October. If the first attempt fails, a makeup test will be arranged and there will be only one makeup test. In addition, all news organizations must set up a news collection and learning organization on the “Study Xi, Strong Nation” platform.

The Central Propaganda Department introduced “Study Xi, Strong Nation” (学习强国) earlier this year. It is a “theoretical study platform” for “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era” and Xi’s speeches. There is a website and smart phone app version that the Alibaba Group developed.

Source: Central News Agency, September 18, 2019

Party Journal Republished Xi’s 2014 Speech: Copying Another Country’s Political System Will Ruin China’s Future

On September 16, the Chinese Communist Party’s flagship publication Qiushi published a speech that Chinese President Xi Jinping gave five years ago. The speech emphasizes that copying the political system of another country will not work and will ruin China’s future. Xi gave the speech on September 5, 2014, at the 60th anniversary of the founding of the National People’s Congress of China. The whole speech focused on the superiority of the Chinese political system, especially the “People’s Congress representation” system, and the rejection of Western democratic politics.

In his speech, Xi said that the wrong choice of political path has led to many cases of social turmoil, divided nations, a regime change, and the death of people. Xi added that China is a large developing nation. “Holding onto the right path of political development” is a “major issue of fundamental and overall importance.”

Xi continued that to design and develop the national political system, one must adhere to the national conditions and the actual situation. Seeing that other countries have something and China does not, someone may think that “there is a deficiency and we need to copy it.” Seeing that China has something but other countries do not, someone may think that, “It is superfluous and has to go.” The two views are simplistic and one-sided and “are both incorrect.”

Xi mentioned that one needs to learn from the “beneficial results” of foreign political civilizations, but “we must not give up the fundamentals of China’s political system.” “Which model can we follow? Who can tell us what to do?”

Xi claimed that the key to developing a socialist democracy is to expand, instead of weaken, its advantages and special characteristics. One must persist in the “core leading role of the Party in controlling the overall situation and coordinating with all players.”

Source: Central News Agency, September 16, 2019

Global Times: Chinese Armed Unmanned Aircraft Exported to Europe for the First Time

Global Times recently reported that, according to the Defense Ministry of Serbia, Serbia will purchase armed unmanned aircraft from China. This was announced after a Chinese military delegation visited Serbia. This is the first time China has exported armed unmanned aircraft to a European country. The deal includes nine Chengdu Pterodactyl I (also known as Wing Loong I) unmanned aircraft. It was agreed that Serbia may purchase another 15 in the future. The Pterodactyl series of unmanned aircraft was first developed in 2007, with the first large batch delivery in 2010. China has exported this model to several countries in the past several years, including the United Arab Emirates. As of the end of last year, China had shipped 100 Pterodactyl aircraft to overseas customers. Serbia stated that this deal strengthened the military power of the nation. The first delivery to Serbia is expected to occur in the next few months.

Source: Global Times, September 11, 2019

China’s Construction of Airport in Angola: A Project Never to Be Finished

The international airport near Luanda, the capital of Angola, a west-coast country in south-central Africa, is projected to handle an annual traffic of 13 million passengers. However, this huge project, which has been under construction for 15 years, has not yet been completed. A Chinese company has been constructing the airport. To date, it has cost billions of dollars. In 2004, President José Eduardo dos Santos commissioned the China International Fund (CIF) and the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht to undertake the project.

Due to design flaws and quality issues, China Aviation Industry Corporation (AVIC) replaced CIF. In 2009, construction was suspended due to financial difficulties. Angolan construction workers protested that the project mainly used Chinese workers. The first phase of the construction was completed in 2012. The airport was originally planned to be put into use in 2015 to 2016. The opening was postponed until 2017. Now the design of the airport is outdated. Its functions and technical equipment are no longer fit for today’s needs. Therefore, the airport’s opening has again been postponed temporarily until 2023. Angolan Minister of Transportation Ricardo de Abreu said that it is necessary to ensure that the new airport has modern equipment and a modern layout. To finance the project, the construction company can borrow $6.5 billion.

Angolan journalist Rafael Marques told Deutsche Welle, “This is one of the biggest unfinished projects in Africa. … The project as originally planned was to cost $300 million. Now the cost has increased to $9 billion, and it’s still uncertain when it will be completed.” The Angolan reporter went on, “This is a meaningless construction project. It has no hope of completion and it has trapped Angola in heavy debts.”

Marques added that all previous investments in Angola or any form of real estate project generally involved corruption. He said, “The main difference now is that the scale of Chinese investment in Angola is unprecedented and this has led to the most serious corruption in Angola’s history.”

Source: Deutsche Welle Chinese, September 8, 2019

Xinhua: Chinese Domestic Clothing Market Saw Sharp Decline

Xinhua recently reported that, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, China’s 2018 total clothing sales saw a 24.8 percent year-over-year decline, which represents 17.85 billion fewer pieces of clothing. Fabric for the clothing market suffered a similar decline at the same time. Also, based on data that the China Business Federation as well as the China National Business Information Center released, the national average of the proportion of income going toward clothing expenditures in consumer spending went from 6.8 percent in 2017 to 6.5 percent in 2018. Even nationwide, large retailers suffered a 4.2 percent decline in clothing sales. All clothing categories had a decline in sales except sports clothing. In the meantime, clothing prices increased by 1.4 percent in 2018 and the clothing rental business enjoyed some growth as well. Analysts expressed their belief that the cause of the market change was that companies are seeing widespread cost increases in terms raw materials. Fashion trends are also adjusting at a much more rapid pace.

Source: Xinhua, September 12, 2019

RFA: Engineering Is a Trendy Field in China but Humanities and Social Sciences Are Falling Behind

According to Radio Free Asia, a research report on the world’s scientific research trends from 2000 to 2016 found that engineering has become the latest trend in China, second to medical research. According to the High Council for the Evaluation of Research and Higher Education in France, in China, engineering has replaced physics, chemistry, and biology and has become the subject that has the second largest number of published papers, next to medical science. At the same time, the research work being done on the humanities and on the social sciences is falling behind. RFA quoted comments from one of the experts who stated that the humanities and social sciences are a potential means for nurturing social unrest, which might bring too much risk to the Chinese government. On the other hand, science and technology, engineering, and mathematics research are seen as conducive to maintaining economic growth, and to maintaining social and political stability.

Source: Radio Free Asia, September 10, 2019