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Xi's speech to Chinese writers & artists
Reading Wednesday's People's Daily front page
Many of you have probably heard - if you haven’t, take a look - of Tracking People's Daily by Manoj Kewalramani, so today Bofei Zheng, a colleague and temporary contributor to this newsletter has been invited by your Pekingnologist to try something similar - help you read the front page of the People’s Daily. (As it happens, Manoj hasn’t published yet today.)
This year was full of sensational controversies, scandals, and regulatory moves regarding Chinese cultural and entertainment celebrities. Quite some regulations have been released by the Chinese authorities, including a notice in September by the Department of Publicity of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee to put the brake on unregulated fandom of celebrities and strengthen the regulation on tax evasion, eye-boggling payment to celebrities and “immoral” practices of celebrities, which Beijing is apparently determined to stop, not least for preventing them from becoming models for minors.
With this in mind, the 11th National Congress of the China Federation of Literary and Art Circles and the 10th National Congress of the Chinese Writers Association, where Chinese President Xi Jinping gave a speech at their opening ceremony, is in the news - the headline on the front page of the CPC flagship newspaper on Wednesday.
In perhaps the first public speech this year on the subject, Xi Jinping’s speech is condensed in a readout and positioned in the headline. The Chinese leader’s full speech is posted on the second page.
The content will guide the regulation and development of this sector, and here are some summaries (not full translations). It’s worth mentioning that the writers, singers, and other artists are typically called 文艺工作者 officially in China, which can be literally translated as “literary and art workers” - the term used below.
Getting tired of repeating this but please note again this newsletter doesn’t represent anybody else but your Pekingnologist.
Xi named five expectations for the literary and art workers.
First, literary and art workers should base their work on the achievements of the New Era and commit themselves to the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
Second, stick to the people-centered position writing epics and singing for the people.
Third, uphold the principle of making innovation while remaining on the correct orientation, and remains up to speed with the times with fine works.
Forth, tell the Chinese story well, presenting a reliable, admirable, and respectable image of China to the world.
Fifth, advocate the right and virtuous path by pursuing the virtue of moral integrity and artistic appeal.
Concerning the point of the focus on the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation Xi said that literary and art workers should firmly combine their life goals and career with the fate of the country, the nation, and the people.
They should base their work on the historical change and development trend of this era, reflect the gigantic change of the Chinese nation over thousands of years, reveal the right path that Chinese people chose in the past one hundred years, and advocate for the national spirit with the core of patriotism and the spirit of reform and innovation in this era.
Literary and art workers should also advocate the Great Founding Spirit of the CPC and publicize the underlying values of the era.
Xi said that socialist literature and art should be from the people, for the people, of the people, which is the fundamental principle and essence to achieve prosperity. Socialist literature and art should hail the great historic achievement realized by the people with full passion, praise the people endeavoring for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, honor heroes making the sacrifice for the wellbeing of the people with the deepest affection.
Literary and art workers should stick to the people-centered orientation and create more outstanding artistic work fulfilling the people’s demand of cultural products and enhancing their spiritual power, allowing the literature and art to blossom for the people.
The people should not only become the main role of their compositions but also an integral part of their beliefs and emotion. Literary and art workers should promote the virtuous tradition of Chinese literature and art by pursuing the upright and kind virtues, cultivate a sense of beauty and values by creating artistic work which is deep in thinking, fresh and simple, strong, thus further enriching the spiritual life of the people.
Xi said that to measure literary and artistic achievements of an era ultimately depends on the works; to measure the value of literary scholars and artists also depends on their work. Literary and art workers should strive for excellence, innovation, and strive to create excellent works that fit in this great nation and great era.
The improvement of the quality of literary and artistic works is the lifeline of the works, literary and art workers should constantly improve the spiritual energy, cultural connotation, artistic value of their work, tap into the ideology, humanistic spirit, and moral norms of the excellent Chinese traditional culture, integrate artistic creativity with Chinese cultural values, combine the spirit of Chinese aesthetics with contemporary aesthetic pursuits, and spur the vitality of Chinese culture.
Literary and art workers should properly handle the relationship between inheritance and innovation by learning from the past, but not in a rigid manner, making innovation on the premise of not breaking the laws of culture, so that the excellent Chinese traditional culture can become an important source of innovation in literature and art.
New technologies and methods shall be employed to stimulate creative inspiration, enrich the cultural connotation and express ideas and emotions.
习近平强调 …… 传播当代中国价值观念、反映全人类共同价值追求的优秀作品。要立足中国大地，讲好中国故事，塑造更多为世界所认知的中华文化形象，努力展示一个生动立体的中国，为推动构建人类命运共同体谱写新篇章。要坚守中华文化立场，同世界各国文学家、艺术家开展交流。要重视发展民族化的艺术内容和形式，继承发扬民族民间文学艺术传统，拓展风格流派、形式样式，在世界文学艺术领域鲜明确立中国气派、中国风范。
Xi Jinping stressed that contemporary Chinese literature and art should spread contemporary Chinese values, reflect the common values pursued by all mankind, tell the Chinese story based on the Chinese land, and develop more widely-known cultural Chinese images to the world, strive to show a vivid and comprehensive China and a new chapter for building a human community with a shared destiny.
Xi asks for the literary and art workers to communicate with writers and artists all around the world based on the stance of the Chinese culture, saying it’s important to pay attention to developing artistic content and forms of the Chinese nations, inheriting and promoting the tradition of national folk culture, expanding its genres, forms, and styles, and establishing the Chinese style in the world’s literature and art sphere.
Xi said that literary and art workers should be mindful of the connection between their virtue, social images, and the social impact of their work. Literature and art should be popular but not vulgar. Literature and art must be close to life but must not become a creator, follower, and advocate of bad social influence. Literary work and arts have to be innovative but should never engage in strange and ridiculous things. Nothing wrong between literature and art and economic returns, but they cannot be all about money or become a slave to the market. Creation depends on the heart and soul, good performance relies on ability, positive social image depends on hard work, economic returns depends on quality, fame depends on moral integrity. Literary and art workers should cherish their social influence, take the social impact of their works into serious consideration. A literary and art worker who does not have moral integrity will not be accepted by the people or by the times! Those who don't respect themselves won’t get any respect from others!
(Note the exclamation marks, which were used in the original Chinese readout.)
Literary and art workers should take their artistic taste, style, and social responsibility seriously. They should remain righteous and uncorrupted, praise the truthfulness, goodness, and beauty and criticize the falsehood and ugliness. They shall promote moral integrity integrated into the literature and art sectors, and form a culture of guarding self-dignity, advocating mutual learning and mutual understanding, promoting a clear and pristine ethos of the industry.
Xi said that the prosperity and development of socialist literature and art and the construction of a socialist culture in China should depend on the need to unite the patriotic and dedicated literary and art workers under the leadership of the Party, and nourish a large number of talented writers and artists.
China Federation of Literary and Art Circles and China Writers' Association should play an important role in the work of organizing, innovating their work systems, educating and guiding new literary and art organizations and groups, providing more resources to grassroots literary and art workers, motivating more talent with a righteous cause to achieve their career goals.
It’s important to recognize, cherish, respect, and utilize talent and encourage young literary and art workers to adhere to and take the right path, and incentivize them to be more innovative and produce more high-quality products. They should be encouraged to take the lead, become the main character so that contemporary Chinese writers and artists will emerge like springs gushing, adding more stars to the sky of Chinese literature and art.
Here is the English-language report of this speech by Xinhua.
Apart from Xi’s speech, today’s front page also features the condolence message Xi extends to his U.S. counterpart at a prominent position - above the headline on the right. This is the first message since their virtual meeting sent by Xi to Biden last month. In the message, Xi expressed his condolences to Biden over the disastrous tornado that ripped through the central continental U.S, on behalf of the Chinese government and people. Here is it in English by Xinhua.
Also on the front page is a readout of the virtual meeting between Li Zhanshu, chairman of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, and parliament speaker of Moldova, Igor Grosu. Xinhua has an English version.
Lastly, the front page includes a commentary by the People’s Daily’s own editorial writers on the Central Economic Work Conference. Here is the Pekingnology newsletter published shortly after the key meeting, now over 7,600 views.
Again, if you haven’t, check out Manoj Kewalramani’s Tracking People's Daily substack. He was also a guest at the podcast Pekingology - which precedes, is NOT related to, and spells differently from this Pekingnology newsletter - by Jude Blanchette, Freeman Chair in China Studies at CSIS.
Lastly, you are welcome to watch the Documentary | Inside China: A Discovery Tour hosted by my colleague and friend Miao Xiaojuan. She took three Americans - including China Twitter personality Shaun Rein, who follows ZERO people on Twitter and some of you probably have heard of or dealt with him - to 13 cities, 7 counties, and 10 villages - or in the words of its introduction on YouTube “across the nation to learn what the Chinese people have to say about their lives.”
And let’s be adults here - the documentary, despite not mentioning the Summit for Democracy, was released at a time to coincide with it.
One last bit: in the coming days, Pekingnology will publish translations of three extensive Chinese expert analyses on China’s tech development and regulation, a translation of an interesting self-reflection from some Ph.D. holder who flew himself from the top of the Chinese ivory tower to a construction site in Africa, and an original argument with a mainstream media report over some unreliable numbers quoted in a China-related report - please take your seat and fasten your seatbelt.
Please note the About page and “Welcome email” of this newsletter have been updated, mainly to add the second picture down there.