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Government/Politics

Xi Jinping: Lawyers Must Side with the CCP

On March 1, 2021, Qiushi, the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) official media, published the full text of a speech that Xi Jinping, the CCP General Secretary, gave in November 2020, at a conference on the rule of law.
Xi stated that the more complex the international and domestic environment, the more it is necessary to use the rule of law to solidify the CCP’s control.
Xi emphasized that China “will never copy the models and practices of other countries, and will never follow the Western so-called ‘constitutionalism,’ ‘separation of powers,’ and ‘judicial independence.’”
Xi stated that some lawyers in China “have weak political awareness and even maliciously attack our country’s political system and the rule of law system.” “It is the basic qualification of a legal professional to support the leadership of the Communist Party of our country and support the socialist rule of law in our country.”
After Xi’s speech appeared in Qiushi, it immediately drew criticism from Chinese lawyers overseas. On March 2, 2021, Radio Free Asia quoted a Chinese lawyer in the United States who requested anonymity. He said that Xi Jinping’s remarks were full of fallacies, “Lawyers must abide by the law and perform their duties following the law.  … Now the CCP requires that the CCP leadership comes first. Then where is the law?”
Ren Quanniu, a human rights lawyer who has assisted Hong Kong dissidents, believes Xi’s speech will make it more difficult for lawyers to represent clients in human rights cases. According to Ren, in a place in Inner Mongolia, the authorities gave the title of “Government Legal Advisor” to all lawyers to make sure that local people basically cannot find a lawyer if they want to sue the local authorities.

Phoenix Satellite TV to Become a Sister Station of CCTV?

Phoenix Satellite TV, established in Hong Kong in 1996, has always used its status as a media outlet in Hong Kong to cover up its ties with Beijing. However, the latest high-level personnel change at Phoenix TV suggests that CCP party officials are officially directly in charge of Phoenix TV.

China Caixin.com reported that Sun Yusheng, the former deputy director of CCTV, will become the vice president of Phoenix Satellite TV. Prior to this, there was unconfirmed news that the former deputy director of the Shanghai International Communication Office would take over as the chairman of Phoenix Satellite TV. According to the organization announcement, Sun Yusheng will be responsible for Phoenix TV program planning, style, content, production, and coordination among its various channels. Caixin also quoted people familiar with the matter as saying that Sun is expected to become the CEO of Phoenix Satellite TV in the future.

Hu Ping, the Chief Editor of Beijing Spring magazine said that Phoenix played two roles in the past. One was to be an outlet to provide propaganda to overseas audiences. It portrays itself as an unbiased media, but, when needed, it would defend and speak for the CCP. The second was that Beijing does not control it as tightly as other media, although people on the mainland can also watch it. In the past, the CCP could not directly exercise its control in Hong Kong out of the concern for the “one country, two systems” policy but now it no longer needs to do so.
Source: Radio Free Asia, February 25, 2021
https://www.rfa.org/mandarin/yataibaodao/meiti/jt-02252021141314.html

Lou Jiwei: China Faces Serious Fiscal Challenges

Lou Jiwei, a prominent politician, and currently the director of the 13th CPPCC Foreign Affairs Committee, warned that China’s fiscal situation is facing serious danger and challenges. Lou Jiwei made a speech on December 22, 2020, on the topic at the Fifth Forum on Finance and National Governance (2020) and the 40th Anniversary Seminar of “Financial Research.” The full text was published in “Financial Research” 2021 (Issue No. 1).
 
Lou said, “We (China) are facing major changes unseen in a century. The major changes in the internal and external environment, whether it is changes in the domestic economic and social situation, the global economic downturn, high government debt, and global trade frictions, will make our country’s fiscal sustainability face huge uncertainties and severe challenges.”

“The contradiction between fiscal revenue and expenditures is extremely acute, and fiscal pressure is increasing. Since April 2020, the national fiscal expenditure growth rate has continued to accelerate and has greatly exceeded the growth rate of fiscal revenue. Local fiscal pressure has continued to increase. The fiscal deficits of different regions have maintained an expansion trend. In the medium and long term, due to the impact of the (covid-19) epidemic, the decline in the potential economic growth rate, and the global economic downturn, total national fiscal revenue is expected to remain at a low level over the next five years, while the pressure on fiscal expenditures will remain relatively high. Although the optimization of the fiscal expenditure structure can release part of the financial resources, the expansion of fiscal expenditures has not changed. There is little room for the government to reduce general expenditures. It can be said that financial difficulties are not only near-term and short-term issues, but also very difficult in the medium term.”

“From the perspective of debt, the problem of government debt has increasingly become an important factor affecting future fiscal stability and economic security. From 2009 to 2020, the proactive fiscal policy has been implemented for 11 years, the fiscal deficit has continued to expand, and the debt scale has expanded accordingly. The proportion of debt interest payments in the general public budget expenditures continues to rise. The growth rate far exceeds the growth rate of total expenditures. 2017, 2018 and 2019 exceeded the total expenditure growth rate of the year by 16, 10 and 4.5 percent respectively. From January to November 2020, debt interest payments increased by 16.1 percent over the same period in the previous year, which exceeded the growth rate of total expenditure by 15.4 percent. In 2019, the central government debt interest payment accounted for 13 percent of the central government’s expenditures. It is expected to have risen to about 15 percent for 2020. The problem of local debt is even more prominent, and the accrued local government debt has been increasing rapidly. Although increasing debt in the short term can alleviate the pressure of fiscal shortages, it poses greater challenges to the sustainability of local finances in the future. During the “14th Five-Year Plan” period, the debt sustainability of most provinces and municipalities is worrisome. About a quarter of the provincial fiscal revenues will be used for debt service and interest payments. The local government debt problem not only affects the local government’s public service supply capacity, but also accumulates fiscal and financial risks.”

“Aging will also bring severe challenges to the sustainability of our country’s finances. Statistics show that in 2019, (China) had a population of 253.88 million people aged 60 and above, accounting for 18.1percent of the total population, of which 170.03 million were 65 years old and above, accounting for 12.6 percent of the total population. The aging society is accelerating.”

“At the same time, affected by the global economic downturn and global risks, the external uncertainty of fiscal reform and development has increased. … At present, affected by the impact of the epidemic and the spillovers of major countries’ macroeconomic policies, emerging market countries are facing a double blow from the economy and finance. Economic risks are transformed into fiscal risks and financial risks. The risk of falling into a debt crisis is increasing.”

Source: NETEASE, February, 24, 2021
https://www.163.com/dy/article/G3KU1S9Q0531SRGP.html

Banks Backed by Ant and Tencent to Join China’s Digital Currency Pilots

China Securities Journal  reported that Zhejiang E-Commerce Bank Co., Ltd., (MYBank) backed by the Ant Group and WeBank backed by Tencent may participate in the digital currency pilot projects of six state banks. The status of the two private banks is “coming soon.” 

 

Beyond these two private banks, most urban small and medium-sized banks in China will connect to the central bank digital currency infrastructure via City Bank Clearing Services Co., Ltd. (“City Bank Clearing”). Rural Credit Bank Clearing will provide a conduit for rural banks to access the digital currency infrastructure. The Digital Currency Research Institute of the Bank of China entered into agreements with the two intermediaries last fall.

 

The digital currency is issued and regulated by China’s central bank. All transactions will be completely under China’s central bank’s supervision. In contrast, transactions through Alibaba Group’s Alipay and Tencent’s WeChat Pay are electronic payments controlled by the companies. 

 

Source: The Paper, February 20, 2021

https://www.thepaper.cn/newsDetail_forward_11388883

A Chinese City Ordered All CCP Members to Watch Anti-American TV Series

On Sunday February 14, the Municipal Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) of Tianjin, a city in northeastern China, issued a “Notice on Attentively Watching the TV Series ‘Crossing the Yalu River,’” asking all CCP organizations in government agencies and civil groups to watch the TV program streamed by China Central Television (CCTV), the official mouthpiece broadcaster. The notice also requested feedback from CCP branches regarding how the notice was implemented.

The TV program is based on the Korean War, the very first and only direct military conflict between Communist China and America in the 1950’s. Over the past few years, Beijing’s propaganda machine has produced a few Korean War movies and TV series to stir up anti-American sentiment among the Chinese people.

The notice stated that the TV program “shows the entire process from the initial decision-making to the final signing of the armistice agreement of China’s resistance to American aggression and assistance to North Korea. … It is a reference textbook for studying CCP history, the new China history, and the history of socialist development.” The notice asked that all subordinate government organs make good use of the Chinese New Year holidays and organize everyone to attentively watch the series.

The move may be also related to the fact that the year 2021 is the 100th anniversary of the founding of Chinese Communist Party. The authorities have planned to launch a series of publicity activities across the country to glorify the CCP.

Source: Radio Free Asia, February 17, 2021
https://www.rfa.org/mandarin/yataibaodao/ql1-02172021031054.html

Chinese Communists to “Revive Traditional Culture”

On February 14, the General Office of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the General Office of China’s State Council issued the “Opinions on the Implementation of the Inheritance and Development Project of China’s Excellent Traditional Culture,” highlighting the need to “rejuvenate China’s traditional culture comprehensively by 2025.” The key tasks include “increasing publicity and education,” displaying the charm of Chinese culture through the Internet and media, promoting “red” tourism, developing education activities surrounding the theme of “loving China,” and fostering patriotism.

The “Opinions” requires the use of overseas Chinese cultural centers and Confucius Institutes to promote the global spread of Chinese traditional culture and strengthen cultural exchanges and cooperation with countries along the “Belt and Road Initiative.” It also encourages developing international trade of cultural products.

Song Yongyi, a historian at the University of California, Los Angeles, said in an interview with Radio Free Asia that the Chinese Communist Party itself is against traditional culture. Song said that Xi Jinping’s idea of the “Belt and Road Initiative (BRI),” came from the Tang Dynasty over 1,000 years ago. According to historical records, the government of the Tang Dynasty reaching out to the countries west of China was not done mainly for military purposes, but for economic and cultural exchanges. Song said, “When he (Xi Jinping) went to those (Belt and Road) countries, he occupied their ports and turned them into his military ports to develop his military. This is probably not the case throughout the history of traditional China. He was there to promote his ideology, and promote the so-called ‘China model.'”

The Opinions openly stated that the policy highlights and basic principles for the revival of traditional culture are “to grasp firmly the direction of advanced socialist culture and adhere to guidance that centered on people.”

Hu Ping, editor-in-chief of the U.S. based Chinese language magazine Beijing Spring, said, “He (Xi Jinping) is facing a big problem, because the CCP cut its teeth on opposing traditional culture. The CCP is a political group that has been perhaps the most hostile and most negative toward traditional Chinese culture throughout China’s history. Temples of Confucius are an example. For dynasties and generations, even foreign invaders did not damage the Temples of Confucius, but they were smashed during the Cultural Revolution. Now having the CCP play the role of inheriting and promoting traditional culture is itself a huge irony.”

Hu Ping believes that the CCP will only use it as banner, an “icon” of traditional Chinese culture as a decoration, but it actually castrates the soul and essence of traditional Chinese culture. It has been reported that China has recently been aggressively repairing and renovating Buddhist and Taoist temples. At the same time, its control and suppression of traditional religious activities has been unprecedented. The CCP does not respect religious freedom.

Source: Radio Free Asia, February 16, 2021
https://www.rfa.org/mandarin/yataibaodao/zhengzhi/hx-02162021102517.html

Chinese Communist Document Highlights Red Gene: Kids Must Follow the Party

Approaching the centenary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the Central Committee of the CCP issued an official document, “The Central Committee’s Opinions on Comprehensively Strengthening the Work of the Young Pioneers in the New Era.” The document reemphasizes that the Young Pioneers are a reserve team for accomplishing communism. The kids ought to “listen to the party and follow the party.”

The Young Pioneers is a youth organization in China for children aged six to fourteen; it is like many that exist in Communist countries around the world. It provides organizational structure for the CCP to indoctrinate children with Communist ideologies at a very early stage in their life. Established in 1949, the Young Pioneers now have over 100 million members.

The “Opinions” document states that the CCP has always regarded cultivating good children as a strategic and basic work so that the “red nation will never change its color.”

In the CCP’s documents for the past four decades, such discussions about the Young Pioneers are very rare. The document also mentioned that it is necessary for the Young Pioneers to strengthen exchanges and cooperation between the children’s organizations in Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan, and strengthen friendly exchanges with children’s organizations and institutions in countries around the world, especially those related to the “Belt and Road Initiative.”

Source: Radio Free Asia, February 4, 2021
https://www.rfa.org/mandarin/yataibaodao/renquanfazhi/ql2-02042021043111.html

China’s New Regulation Restricts Online Self-publishers

On January 31, 2021, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) announced that online self-publishers (also called We Media) must first obtain a “permit” before posting news information. The CAC will implement “review before publishing” management for live streaming and interactive content. It will focus on disruptions of the order on social media platforms that involve self-publishers.

Zhuang Rongwen, Deputy Minister of the CCP Central Propaganda Department and CAC Director pointed out that regardless of the nature of the platform, regardless of the form of communication, they must place a top priority on adherence to the correct political direction.

Earlier, on January 22, 2021, the CAC issued a new regulation to restrict China’s tens of millions of self-publishers on social media platforms even further. The regulation will be effective February 22, 2021. According to the new regulation, public accounts that “provide online news service to the public shall obtain the Internet News Information Permit and other relevant media accreditation.”

Sources:
People.cn, February 1, 2021
http://politics.people.com.cn/BIG5/n1/2021/0201/c1001-32018101.html
Cyberspace Administration of China, January 22, 2021
http://www.cac.gov.cn/2021-01/22/c_1612887880656609.htm