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Xi's first speech in Two Sessions
On meeting carbon goals, "sense of community for the Chinese nation", etc.
It’s been more than a week since the last newsletter which sort of exclusively published renowned international relations scholar Prof. Tang Shiping’s Ukraine as a Solution, which has quickly risen to the second most-read newsletter on Pekingnology.
Now it’s the annual Two Sessions time. Your Pekingnologist has uploaded the Chinese and English versions of all the documents made available to journalists in the ongoing “Two Sessions” of the National People’s Congress (NPC) and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) to Google Drive.
As in previous years, the government work report by the Premier, the budget report by the Ministry of Finance, and the plan report by the National Development and Reform Commission are available in foreign languages. Please note all of them in their current forms are just drafts and would have to be approved by the NPC to become legally formal.
Given that everyone has rightfully focused on the government work report, this newsletter will cover something else.
In his first interactions with the NPC delegates and CPPCC members, Xi Jinping went to the Inner Mongolia delegation at the Fifth Session of the 13th National People's Congress on Saturday, March 5.
Xi stressed that ethnic unity is the lifeline of all ethnic groups in the country and a strong sense of community is key to ethnic unity. Efforts must be made to strengthen such sense by furthering education on ethnic unity, he added. Efforts should also be made to let people cultivate the awareness that people from all ethnicities are in the same community, where they share weal and woe, stick together in life and death, Xi said. Seeds in a pomegranate are what Xi used to describe how all ethnic groups can stick together as long as the sense of Chinese nation as a community being the foundation for ethnic unity can be laid. Only with ethnic unity will people from all ethnic groups join hands in building our country, Xi said. A stable and healthy economic environment is important, and so is social stability and political integrity. Ethnic unity is essential to all these, Xi said. We must do a good job in all areas to greet the convening of the 20th National Congress of the CPC, he said.
Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region has about 24 million people. Statistics from the end of 2020 [Chinese] show 19 million, or about 79%, are ethnically Han. 4.24 million, or about 17%, are ethnically Mongol - which is more than the 3.28-mln people in the neighboring country Mongolia.
The Inner Mongolia Autonomous Government was established in May 1947, even two years before the founding of the People’s Republic of China in October 1949. Traditionally, Inner Mongolia is known as the 模范自治区 model autonomous region among PRC’s five autonomous regions, which also include Tibet, Xinjiang, Ningxia - in the northwest - and Guangxi in the south. But in 2020, protests broke out [AP] in parts of the region over a new bilingual education policy affecting three subjects - history, language and literature, and morality and law - in primary and junior high schools. Local authorities at the time stressed [Chinese] that the Mongolian language and literature are still part of the curriculum, other subjects are still taught in Mongolian, and the curriculum overall is still centered in Mongolian.
Now back to the interaction at the NPC session.
Deputies Zhang Lei, Guo Yanling, Jia Run'an, Wang Xiaohong, Feng Yanli, Zhao Huijie and Shi Yudong shared their opinions with others on how the new development philosophy can be carried out in an accurate, extensive and down-to-earth manner in the conservation of grassland ecology. They also talked about how the philosophy can be materialized in furthering the coal chemical industry to contribute to carbon emissions peaking and carbon neutrality. Cultivating a sense of community for the Chinese nation can be integrated into the entire process of school education, they said. High-quality development, rural revitalization and better development of the dairy industry are also topics they talked about. Xi took down notes of what they said and once in a while would put in a word.
What stands out to your Pekingnologist is that highlighted sentence. China has said it aims to peak its CO2 emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060 [Reuters] but the country uses a lot of coal and around September last year it has to ration electricity [Pekingnology] due partly to a shortage of coal. Mongolia is a big producer of coal, and here is an NPC deputy talking about furthering the coal chemical industry to contribute to carbon emissions peaking and carbon neutrality.
After summarizing the NPC deputies’ topics, the readout continues with Xi’s speech there
Having listened carefully to the deputies, Xi made a speech. First, he expressed approval of the Report on the Work of the Government and recognition of Inner Mongolia's work in the past year. He hoped that the people in Inner Mongolia would resolutely implement the decisions and arrangements of the CPC Central Committee, coordinate efforts in epidemic control and economic and social development, unswervingly follow the path of high-quality development that prioritizes ecological conservation and pursues green development, and fully fulfill their political responsibilities of safeguarding national ecological, energy, food and industrial security. He also hoped the region would forge a strong sense of community for the Chinese nation, push forward the full and rigorous self-governance of the Party, add more charm to the northern border region, and write a new chapter of high-quality development in the new era.
Then this is the part where Xi lists the major accomplishments of China in 2021 and the beginning of 2022, reflecting, in his own words, “a great significance to the pursuit of the cause of the Party and the country” and likely reflecting his priorities
The CPC has solemnly celebrated the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Party, carried out the initiatives to study the Party's history, held the sixth plenary session of its 19th Central Committee, and adopted a resolution on the Party's historical experience and achievements over the past century.
Having won the critical battle against poverty and completed the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects on schedule, China is striding forward on a new journey toward the second centenary goal of fully building a modern socialist country.
Always putting the people and their lives first, China has guarded against both imported COVID-19 cases and domestic resurgences, and adhered to a dynamic zero-COVID approach in a science-based and targeted way.
While ensuring constant efforts on routine epidemic prevention and control, China has maintained a leading position in both economic growth rate and epidemic control globally, and got the 14th Five-Year Plan off to a good start.
China has also successfully hosted the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games by presenting a simple, safe and splendid event to the world. The Chinese athletes strived and achieved the country's best-ever results at the Winter Games.
Xi then listed five lessons in reviewing the Party and the people's endeavors in the new era:
upholding the overall Party leadership is the path we must take to stick to and develop socialism with Chinese characteristics.
socialism with Chinese characteristics is the path we must take to realize the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
working hard in unity is the path the Chinese people must take to make historic achievements.
putting into practice our new development philosophy is the path we must take to develop our country into a strong nation in the new era.
exercising full and rigorous self-governance of the Party is the path we must take to maintain the Party's vigor and vitality and ensure its success on the new journey.
Then, perhaps more specifically related to Inner Mongolia
Xi pointed out that China is a unified nation of many ethnic groups. Only when all ethnic groups live in unity and harmony can there be a prosperous country, a stable society and a happy people. Without ethnic unity and harmony, the country would decline, society would be destabilized and the people would suffer. The CPC Central Committee has made fostering a strong sense of community for the Chinese nation the main task in its work related to ethnic affairs in the new era. It is a major decision made to maintain the great unity of the Chinese nation and to realize the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation. It is also an important conclusion drawn from a thorough review of the historical experience and lessons.
Xi stressed that what Inner Mongolia has achieved today is the results of the concerted efforts of people of all ethnic groups, and the bright future of the autonomous region would not be achieved without the unity and hard work of people of all ethnic groups. To foster a strong sense of community for the Chinese nation, we should not only deliver work that can be seen and felt, but also make much "inconspicuous and subtle" efforts. In order to foster a shared sense of belonging for the Chinese nation and to promote exchanges, interactions and integration among different ethnic groups, we should do various concrete and detailed work that can be seen and felt and be effective. Officials of all ethnic groups should fully comprehend and carry out the Party's ethnic theories and policies, and always bear in mind the overall work of the Party and the country and the overall interests of the Chinese nation when contemplating a problem, making a decision and doing their work. Any work that is conducive to fostering a strong sense of community for the Chinese nation should be done in a thorough, detailed and concrete manner. Any activity that is harmful to fostering such sense should be resolutely forbidden.
The requirements for fostering a strong sense of community for the Chinese nation should be carried out in relevant fields across the whole autonomous region, including historical and cultural education and publicity, construction of public cultural infrastructure and urban landmark structures, and exhibitions and displays in tourism sites. The relationship between the Chinese culture and the culture of an ethnic group must be dealt with properly. With all these efforts, we can lay a solid theoretical and cultural foundation for fostering a strong sense of community for the Chinese nation.
[The highlighted sentence is quite detail-oriented.]
Xi pointed out that Inner Mongolia, as a border area with a large ethnic minority population, shoulders a major responsibility for safeguarding ethnic solidarity and the stability of our border. We should tell big pictures from observing details, be more mindful of difficulties ahead, maintain a strategic perspective, and take effective measures to guard against all types of risks and hidden dangers in the work related to ethnic affairs and ensure the security and stability on the north border of our country.
On COVID-19 control
Xi also stressed that it is essential to respond to the COVID-19 and pursue economic and social development in a well-coordinated way. We should put into effect all measures for routine epidemic prevention and control, improve the mechanisms for routine containment and emergency response, give priority to epidemic control at port-of-entry areas, and ensure the bottom line that no large-scale resurgences arise.
On pursuing carbon goals:
We will take proactive and prudent steps to advance carbon emissions peaking and carbon neutrality initiatives. In light of our country's energy situation rich in coal and poor in oil and gas resources, we should act on the national plans and arrangements for carbon emissions peaking and carbon neutrality, apply systems thinking, stay committed to the principle of pursuing progress while ensuring stability step by step, and coordinate efforts to reduce carbon emissions, address pollution, promote green development, and maintain continued growth. When carrying out carbon reductions, we must also ensure the security of energy, food, and industrial and supply chains, as well as the normal life and work of our people. We must not distance ourselves from realities and rush for quick results.
With the attitude and resolve to persevere in the never-ending fight against corruption, we have made integrated efforts to see that officials do not have the opportunity, desire, or audacity to engage in corruption. We remain firm in fighting corruption, removing its roots, and clearing away its negative influence. We will make strictly carrying out intra-Party political activities as the basic groundwork for further ensuring full and rigorous self-governance of the Party, and work faster to ensure intra-Party political activities are carried out in a healthy and procedure-based way, Xi said.
Besides that, the People’s Daily on its front page has more details on Xi’s speech touching on meeting China’s dual carbon goals - aims to peak its CO2 emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060 [Reuters].
As the world's largest developing country, China is set to complete the world's highest carbon intensity reduction, moving from carbon peaking to carbon neutrality in the shortest time in world history. Things are as difficult as one can imagine.
Rolling up their sleeves, the whole country is committed to doing so. However, it is inevitable that some places are a little hastier.
"Achieving the goal of 'dual carbon' is an extensive and profound change, and a long-term task, which should be both determined and scientific and orderly." "This matter should be considered in an integrated manner according to the national plan. 'Dual carbon' target is a national perspective. Where to reduce [carbon emmissions], where to cut to zero [emissions], where [emissions] can still be retained, and even where to add [emissions] as a measure to preserve energy supply, are to be measured from a national perspective."
"Green transformation is a process, not something that can be done overnight. We need to have new before breaking the old, not to break the old before having the new. China's national conditions are we are rich in coal, poor in oil and gas. Coal-based energy structure is difficult to fundamentally change in the short term. To achieve the 'dual carbon' goal, we must be based on national conditions, seek steady progress, and gradually reach the aim. We cannot be detached from reality or be hasty. We cannot engage in the campaign-style 'carbon reduction' and can not suddenly slam the brakes. We cannot throw away the tools that can feed us before getting new tools. That cannot happen. We need to have a green and clean environment, but also to ensure that our production and life is carried out normally."
Speaking of which, General Secretary Xi Jinping recalled a story he once read and shared with great interest.
"Sun Yat-sen told an interesting story back then, satirizing some people. There was a laborer who usually moved things for people with a bamboo stick [across his shoulder]. One day he bought a lottery ticket and hid the ticket in the bamboo stick. When he suddenly found out that his number had won the jackpot, he was so happy that he threw the bamboo stick into the river, thinking that he would never have to do this kind of hard labor again in his life. Only when he arrived at the lottery office did he realize that the lottery ticket had been thrown into the river with the bamboo stick. That's how the bamboo basket came to nothing."
"Doing things requires mastering such a principle: we must do accounting in the big picture and the long-term picture, and do it in an overall and comprehensive manner."
Paris-based Hongqiao Liu, who is not a colleague, recently launched the Shuang Tan 双碳 substack to focus on China’s “dual-carbon” goals (“双碳”, pinyin: Shuāng Tàn). She covers the carbon stuff in a more focused and expert manner, having been invited to talk at the 2021 TED Countdown Summit about “Can China achieve its ambitious climate pledges?”
Again, take a look at my friend and colleague Jiang Jiang’s Ginger River Review substack.
Let a hundred China newsletters blossom!