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China’s Political Discourse January 2022: In-Depth Study and Implementation and the "Two Establishes 两个确立"
By China Media Project
China’s Political Discourse: January 2022
In-Depth Study and Implementation
China’s political discourse environment in January 2022 was shaped against the backdrop of demands for the “in-depth study and implementation” of the spirit of the Sixth Plenary Session of the 19th Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, held back in November 2021. These calls for “in-depth study and implementation,” which are an important aspect of preparations for the Party’s 20th National Congress in the fall, are the subject of our first Focus Topic for January.
Focus Topic 1:
It has become routine practice for the People’s Daily to publish articles for “in-depth study and implementation” of a leader’s ideas and so-called “important speeches” (重要讲话) following Party congresses and plenary sessions. From the close of the Sixth Plenum in November last year through January 2022, the People’s Daily published a series of articles on the “in-depth study and implementation” of the key concepts emerging from the political session. These were all published with the phrase “in-depth study and implementation of the spirit of the Sixth Plenum of the 19th CCP Central Committee” (深入学习贯彻党的十九届六中全会精神) in the headline.
Also in January, there were 18 articles in the People’s Daily including the phrase “in-depth study and implementation of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for the New Era” (深入学习贯彻习近平新时代中国特色社会主义思想) in the headline. This series of articles first emerged during the 19th National Congress in October 2017.
Series of this kind for “in-depth study and implementation" of the thoughts and concepts of Xi Jinping have been appearing every month in the People’s Daily for quite some time. Rather like the tribute telegrams (致敬电) sent to Mao Zedong during the Cultural Revolution, the use of "in-depth study and implementation" articles express a tendency toward political programming (程式化).
In terms of political programming, the use of parallel rhetoric is widespread in the articles dealing with the "in-depth study and implementation" of Xi's ideas, with a profusion of specialized terms glorifying the Party's general secretary – terms like "since the 18th National Congress" (yielding credit to Xi), the "two safeguards" (protecting 1. Xi’s core status and 2. the centralized authority of the CCP), and "with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core," as well as the suggestion that Xi’s banner term and related ideas represent “Marxism for the 21st century.”
Among the 56 articles on dealing with "in-depth study and implementation" published in January 2022, nearly half, 26 in total, also included the "two establishes" (两个确立), which enshrine Xi Jinping as the "core" leader of the CCP, and his ideas as the bedrock of the future of what the CCP has termed the "New Era." The “two establishes” phrase first emerged in January 2018, shortly after the 19th National Congress of the CCP, but was included in a more casual “observer” column in the People’s Daily with a slightly different sense. Since the Sixth Plenum in November last year, the phrase has fully taken shape and has been used with much greater frequency.
In some cases these “in-depth study and implementation” articles are written by members of the so-called Central Lecture Group (中央宣讲团), a group formed after each plenary session of the 19th Central Committee and responsible for preparing articles and lessons related to the study and implementation of Xi’s ideas. But most of the articles are written by high-level officials in Party and government departments, who interpret the “spirit” of various speeches and meetings according to their respective areas of responsibility, and offer their own understandings.
Particularly interesting is the fact that two articles in January on “in-depth study and implementation” used the phrase “one position in the highest authority, setting the tone” (定于一尊, 一锤定音). This phrase, which CMP wrote about more than three years ago in several reports, has borne rather negative connotations through much of Chinese history, linked to the notion generally of power that escapes constraint – as, for example, in the case of Emperor Qin Shi Huang (秦始皇), who unified China at the end of the Warring States period in 221 BC. In his political report to the 19th National Congress in November 2017, Xi Jinping himself used it in a negative sense, saying that political systems “cannot [establish] one position as the ultimate authority” (不能定于一尊). Since 2017, however, the phrase has taken on precisely the opposite meaning, coming to express the necessity of ultimate authority. On July 5, 2018, the People’s Daily reported that Xi Jinping had said at the National Organizational Work Conference: “The Party’s Central Committee must set the tone for all and be the ultimate authority” (党中央必须有定于一尊, 一锤定音的权威).
The author of the January piece including “one position as the ultimate authority” was Minister of Civil Affairs Li Jiheng (李纪恒), who formerly served as the top leader in Inner Mongolia. Li Jiheng’s article included this passage:
Since the 18th National Congress of the CCP, the Party and the state have made historic achievements and undergone historic change, the most fundamental reason for this being that General Secretary Xi Jinping is the core of the CCP Central Committee, and the core of the whole Party, steering the ship; and also that [we have] the scientific guidance provided by Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for the New Era. The ‘Two Establishes’ profoundly clarify the fundamental principles, that we must be loyal to the core, support the core, follow the core and defend the core, adhering to Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for the New Era as our guide in this new journey. This provides the fundamental guarantee for our Party in uniting and leading all the nationalities [of the country] in adhering to and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era, and it will surely propel the ship of the socialist cause forward through the waves.
Another piece in the series of “in-depth study and implementation” articles in January was written by Tian Peiyan (田培炎), the deputy head of the Central Policy Research Office, an institution under the Central Committee that provides policy recommendations. Tian’s article was strikingly (though perhaps not so surprisingly) similar in its praise for Xi:
Since the 18th National Congress, our party has been able to solve many long-standing problems had remained unresolved, and to accomplish many great things that we wished to do in the past but could not, and we have promoted the Party and the state in making historic achievements and historic changes, the most fundamental reason for this being that General Secretary Xi Jinping is the core of the CCP Central Committee, and the core of the whole Party, steering the ship; and also that [we have] the scientific guidance provided by Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for the New Era. The eloquent facts demonstrate that the establishment of Comrade Xi Jinping as the core of the CCP Central Committee and the core of the whole Party, and the guiding position of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for the New Era, reflect the common aspiration of the entire Party, the entire army and the entire nation, and that this has been of decisive significance to the development of the Party and the national cause in the new era, as well as to the historical process of advancing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
Such expressions of loyalty, declaring protection of Xi as the core, are part of the long opening music to the 20th National Congress. We can expect such notes to rise in intensity through the coming months, something we will monitor in upcoming monthly reports.
Focus Topic 2:
Xi’an Under Lockdown
The city of Xi’an was shut down for 32 straight days beginning on December 23, 2021, owing to an outbreak of Covid-19. During this period, residents in Xi’an were forced to remained isolated in their homes. This was one of the longest city closures in China in the nearly two years since the city of Wuhan was shut down at the outset of the Covid-19 epidemic in 2020. Like Wuhan, Xi’an is a provincial capital, and the population of the two cities is similar, both more than ten million.
Most covid-related restrictions in Xi’an had been lifted by January 24. But the 32-day period came with waves of turmoil. There were serious difficulties in providing city residents with essential food and supplies, and medical treatment for those infected was also a problem. Tensions between city residents and the government over epidemic prevention and control measures impacted public opinion, despite the best efforts of the leadership to keep the situation under control.
On the morning of December 20, Xi'an's official mobile app for epidemic prevention and control, "One Code Pass" (一码通), became inaccessible, and this seriously affected the movements of people who needed (and had authorization) to travel. At a press conference in Xi'an that day, Liu Jun (刘军), director of the Xi'an Municipal Big Data Bureau (西安市大数据局), said that the frequency of use of the "One Code Pass" system had increased, putting extra pressure on the platform. Liu recommended that members of the general public show their codes or flash their codes (亮码) only when necessary, avoid repeatedly refreshing the app, and wait patiently in the event of system delays. This suggestion from Liu prompted ridicule from internet users, who wondered what the official meant by the idea of people showing their codes unnecessarily. Were there really people at home with nothing to do who would idly flash their "One Code Pass" apps?
On January 4, the “One Code Pass” system again crashed, apparently due to high volumes of traffic.
On January 1, the family member of a woman who was eight months pregnant posted to social media that she was experiencing abdominal pain but that they had been unable to reach the emergency center hotline at “120.” They were eventually able to get through to help on the police hotline at “110” and arrange a dispatch, finally arriving at the Xi'an High-Tech Hospital at 8PM that night. However, the woman could not be admitted due to problems with her Covid-19 nucleic acid test (her test had expired, so she could not meet the hospital’s requirements). The family waited until after 10PM, when the woman suddenly started bleeding. That night the woman’s infant was stillborn. Shared across social media, this news left many people infuriated at the role strict covid procedures had played in the tragedy.
Propaganda backfires were a further cause for public anger in the midst of the lockdown in Xi’an. As a short video was shared online of community workers passing supplies into a residential area by creating a human conveyer system, tossing bags from hand to hand, people wondered with irritation why they weren’t using more efficient forms of transportation and delivery, such as trucks and trolleys. The video, rather than inspiring pride and community spirit as intended, was panned as a prime example of formalism (形式主义), or the prioritizing of appearances over concrete substance. One of the most ridiculous aspects of the short propaganda video, called “The Last 100 Meters” (最后100米), was the fact that an empty shopping cart could be seen, unused and unacknowledged, behind the line of masked community volunteers.
In the midst of the lockdown, not only were people’s movements restricted, but writing, reporting and posting of information about the lockdown was also heavily censored. Jiang Xue (江雪), an independent journalist living in Xi’an, made a record of events from the days just ahead of full closure through to January 3 and published her piece, “Ten Days in Chang’an” (长安十日), on January 4 through a WeChat public account called "Seeking the Laws of Silent Existence" (默存格物). One passage in Jiang’s article read:
Those who hit the “Pause” button on this city, those holding the power in their hands, did they even think about how this would affect the fates of the 13 million people living in this city? If this thing isn’t bigger than the sky itself, then what else is?
“Xi’an can only be victorious!” What a politic bit of bombast and emptiness that is. And then there is that line, “We will pay whatever price it takes.” That line isn’t bad. But every one of us ordinary people is liable to think: Are we the we here, or are we the price to be paid?
At around 4PM on January 7, after just three days online, “Ten Days in Chang’an” was removed for content violations. A few hours later, the article briefly appeared again, only to be entirely disappeared on January 8.
The "Seeking the Laws of Silent Existence" public account, which is led by Chengdu-based freelance writer and media analyst Song Shinan (宋石男), was initially restricted for its publication of Jiang’s article. On January 24, however, it was reinstated. Shortly after, on January 29, the account pressed ahead with the publication of another sensitive story on restrictive covid policies. Written by journalist Zhang Feng (张丰), the article, called “The Forced Clearing of Graves and Maliciously Returning Home: Both Happened in My Hometown” (强制平坟和恶意返乡，都发生在我的老家), began:
My sister wrote in the family chat group: "XX was taken away."
I asked her: "So they were taken away for isolation, right?"
"I don't know, they came home for the Lunar New Year, were reported, and then carted off to the county [authorities]."
My hometown, Dancheng County, in Henan Province, is the same Dancheng that made so much noise with talk of “isolation first and arrest next,” and that invented the phrase "malicious return."
These two phrases, spawned in Dancheng County and trending in January, are covered in the “January Surprises” section below. The "Seeking the Laws of Silent Existence" public account was permanently taken down on January 29, the day Jiang’s story was published. The same day, an affiliated account called “Si Yi Ge” (四一哥) was renamed “New Silent Existence” (新默存). It continues to be operated by Song Shinan’s original "Seeking the Laws of Silent Existence" team.
It remains to be seen how long the latest iteration of “Silent Existence” will last.
Maliciously returning home
On January 20, a 23-second clip video circulated online in which Dong Hong (董鸿), the mayor of Dancheng County in Henan province, could be heard clearly saying at a government meeting: "If anyone tries to return [to Dancheng] from a high-risk area, regardless of whether they have vaccination proof or a 48-hour nucleic acid test . . . . You'll come back to isolation first and arrest next."
Dong’s harsh words quickly trended on social media. Many people saw Dong’s stance as epitomizing the government’s uncompromising approach to the nationwide “covid zero” strategy, particularly in the days ahead of the annual Lunar New Year holiday, a time when many Chinese hoped to get home to their families. In subsequent interviews with media later that day, Dong Hong suggested that the video had been edited and taken out of context, and that words he had emphasized, like “maliciously returning home” (恶意返乡) and “not listening to advice” (不听劝阻) had been taken out:
Right now there are six people in a high-risk [covid] area who want to return to Dasong Village in Lilou Township. They said rather harshly that they intended to return 'even on pain of death.' So when I heard that, I said at a meeting the other day that if they were bent on returning without any regard for covid prevention measures at the provincial, city and county level – if they would not heed advice and decided to maliciously return – then as soon as they were back, they would face isolation first and arrest next. I said that to ensure the safety of the masses.
Dong’s explanation hardly helped to make his case, instead spawning the trending phrase “maliciously returning home.” The next day, the Xinhua Daily Telegraph, a national newspaper published by the official Xinhua News Agency, ran a page-seven commentary calling for a more tolerant approach to those trying to get home for the Lunar New Year holiday. “We cannot rely on [harsh] ‘wolf words’ to discourage returns home, applying a one-size-fits-all approach,” said the commentary. “Whether returning home or staying put, every footstep needs to be handled kindly.”
The next 30 years will be the best in a millennium.
In January, Yao Yang (姚洋), the head of the National School of Development at Peking University, was bullish on China’s future prospects as he attended a gathering of economists from China and overseas. Addressing the 2022 Netease Annual Economists Conference, Yao said: "The next 30 years in China will be the best 30 years in a millennium, and for the last such period you will have to go back to the Northern Song dynasty. Because China has once again returned to the world's technological forefront, and I'm confident that technology will decide everything."
Yao Yang said that in 2028-2030 China would surpass the United States, becoming the world's largest economy. Shenzhen, moreover, was set to surpass Silicon Valley, becoming the global center for innovation. Yao’s remarks were widely reported across major internet portals and on social media in January.
Tigers welcome the New Year
On January 26, an image called “Kanghua Hospital” (康华医院) circulated widely on the internet. The image showed an end-of-year event recently held for the surgical department at Kanghua Hospital in the city of Dongguan, and in the image a red banner over the celebrations read:
Tigers welcome the New Year,
In the operating room, it’s all cash here!
The sentiment understandably prompted widespread criticism for its crass and unprofessional perspective on surgery – and whipped up emotions in a society where medical expenses can be an enormous burden on families.
Just minutes after midnight on January 27, Kanghua Hospital responded to negative public opinion with a post to its WeChat public account. The hospital explained that it had looked into the incident and found that on January 21 a number of staffers from the hospital’s surgical department had organized a gathering at a local restaurant. In order to liven up the atmosphere, some of the nurses had printed the offending banner. The content, said the hospital’s WeChat post, had been entirely inappropriate, seriously violating the mission of the hospital and having an “adverse influence” online.
The hospital expressed its sincerest apologies.
The Hot and the Cold
About the Scale:
According to the discourse scale developed by CMP in 2016, based on a historical analysis of keywords appearing in the China Communist Party’s flagship People’s Daily newspaper, we define a six-tier system of discourse intensity based on the total number of appearances of a given discourse term on a per article basis for the full year in the paper. The scale is as follows:
In 2021, CMP adjusted its classification method for CCP discourse, determining the intensity (热度) of Party terminologies according to the absolute number of articles including those terms in the People's Daily newspaper. Previously, CMP used a proportional method, which looked at the number of articles including a particular catchphrase (提法) as a ratio of total articles in the newspaper over a given period. Our monthly classification standard, based on the six-level scale created in 2016, is as follows:
In January 2022, a number of regions in China experienced a resurgence in coronavirus cases. Reflecting this development, two of the three terms making Tier 1 for the month were “epidemic prevention and control” (疫情防控) and “COVID-19” (新冠肺炎). The third and final term in Tier 1 for the month was a key phrase related to the power and position of Xi Jinping as the CCP’s general secretary: “with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core” (以习近平同志为核心). This phrase is one we might reasonably expect to trend strongly in 2022, ahead of the 20th National Congress of the CCP.
Trending strongly in Tier 2 we can find a number of other related terms signaling Xi’s power. These include Xi’s banner term, or qizhiyu (旗帜语), “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for the New Era” (习近平新时代中国特色社会主义思想) – which we can refer to by the shorthand “Xi Thought” (习思想), although this shortening has not yet been formally achieved within CCP discourse. Other key terms include the “Four Consciousnesses” (四个意识), the “Four Confidences” (四个自信) and the “Two Safeguards” (两个维护), or “Two Protections,” a triad of phrases that are often referred to as the “442 formula,” and which are an indicator of Xi’s pre-eminence that can often be found in discursive tributes from other Party officials.
The “Four Consciousnesses” refer to the 1) need to maintain political integrity, 2) think in big-picture terms, 3) uphold the leadership core (in other words, Xi Jinping), and 4) keep in alignment with the CCP’s central leadership. The “Two Safeguards” refer to: 1) protecting, once again, the core status of General Secretary Xi Jinping, and 2) protecting the central, unified leadership of the Central Committee of the CCP.
Also trending strongly in Tier 2 in January were terms with clear relevance to the upcoming 20th National Congress such as “since the 18th National Congress” (十八大以来) – a phrase found generally as accounts are made of Xi’s supposed achievements – and “20th National Congress” (二十大).
As we have mentioned in previous reports, the shortening of Xi Jinping’s banner term is a trend to pay close attention to, and this is of course especially true this year. One possible indicator will be the relative performance of other permutations of the banner term for specific policy areas. Of the five main permutations, we have three phrases in Tier 4 in January, including “Xi Jinping Thought on Rule of Law” (习近平法治思想), “Xi Jinping Thought on a Strong Military” (习近平强军思想) and “Xi Jinping Thought on Ecological Civilization” (习近平生态文明思想) – pertaining, respectively, to politics and law, national defense and the environment.
One tier below in January was “Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy” (习近平外交思想), the Xi banner permutation related to foreign policy. And trailing the group in the “cold” Tier 6 was “Xi Jinping Economic Thought” (习近平经济思想).
Despite its relatively poor performance, “Xi Jinping Economic Thought” did see the official inauguration in January of its own though center. According to the People's Daily, the “Center for the Study of Xi Jinping Economic Thought” (习近平经济思想研究中心) was launched on January 18 by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the economic management agency under the State Council. The center has apparently been under way for some time, however, the newspaper reporting that the first plenary meeting of its board of directors was held at the NDRC back in July 2021.
The following table shows the key terms we reviewed for the month of January 2022 and how they rated on our scale:
Monthly Hot Words:
The “Two Establishments”
One of the most important phrases in January, one to continue watching in 2022, is the “Two Establishments,” or liangge queli (两个确立). The “Two Establishes” first appeared in the CCP discourse on January 1, 2018, about six weeks after the close of the 19th National Congress of the CCP, as an article from the official Xinhua News Agency spoke glowingly of China’s arrival as a great power in a "new era." The article made the point that great eras required great men and great thoughts. "Every era needs its own leading figure, and needs to be piloted by glorious ideas," it said, before dropping in a mention of the "Two Establishes." The next day, January 2, the Xinhua article was published on page three of the People’s Daily. As mentioned in Focus Topic 1 above, however, this first mention of the “Two Establishes” was included in a more casual “observer” column in the People’s Daily with a slightly different sense, and so does not necessarily mark the formal emergence of the phrase as a key point of CCP framing (提法).
The “Two Establishes” was virtually unused from 2017 through to 2021. In fact, the phrase did not appear again in the People’s Daily until November 12, 2021, with the holding of the 6th Plenum of the 19th CCP Central Committee and its introduction of the Resolution of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party on the Major Achievements and Historical Experiences of the Party’s Hundred-Year Struggle (中共中央关于党的百年奋斗重大成就和历史经验的决议). This document, only the third such resolution in the CCP’s history, brought a century of Party experience into focus in the person, power and supposed theoretical genius of Xi Jinping. The November Resolution included this important passage:
For the Party to establish the status of Comrade Xi Jinping as the core of the Party’s Central Committee and of the whole Party, and to establish the guiding role of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for the New Era, expresses the deepest wishes of the whole Party, the whole military, and the peoples of the whole country.
In this passage, Xi Jinping is clearly designated as the single, unquestionable leader of a unified CCP. Moreover, his ideas, are portrayed as the bedrock of the Party, its policymaking and its legitimacy for the 21st century. These are the two aspects of the “Two Establishes.”
After its mention in the November Resolution, the “Two Establishes” was portrayed in the Party press as the most important political outcome since the 18th National Congress of the CCP, and in January 2022 the phrase appeared in 55 separate articles, rising to Tier 2 from Tier 3 in November and December 2021. In close to half of the articles in January including the “Two Establishes” (32), the phrase appeared ahead of the “442 formula” mentioned above, which for the past several years has been a rather set formula for signaling loyalty to Xi Jinping. This suggests it is possible that we will continue to see the use this year of a “2442 formula,” with the “Two Establishes” being the engine that pulls along the 442 train in expressions of loyalty to Xi.
We can see this, for example, in a January 24 article in the People’s Daily that announces the publication of a collection called A Brief History of Propaganda Work of the Chinese Communist Party (中国共产党宣传工作简史), which mentions the need to “profoundly recognize the decisive significance of the ‘Two Establishes,’ further enhance the ‘Four Consciousnesses,’ remain firm in the ‘Four Confidences,’ and achieve the ‘Two Safeguards.’”
In January 22, there were 42 articles in the People’s Daily using both the “Two Establishes” and the “Two Safeguards.” There were 23 articles using both the “Two Establishes” and the phrase “with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core.” Clearly, the “Two Establishes” has become an important tool for emphasizing the core status of Xi Jinping – and it is therefore a key aspect of discourse preparations for the 20th National Congress.
We can say that the intensity of use of the “Two Establishes” is a reflection to some extent of the degree of urgency in expressions supporting Xi’s continued leadership of the Party. If we look then at the intensity of use of the phrase in provincial CCP newspapers in January 2022, we can see that the provinces using it with greatest frequency are Hubei, Shanxi, Fujian, Tibet and Guangdong. Those using the phrase the least are Shanghai, Guizhou, Hainan, Ningxia and Beijing.
The Centrality Index
In January 2022, Xi Jinping was once again head and shoulders (and even feet) about the rest of the leaders in the CCP’s Politburo. Mentioned in 610 articles total for the month, Xi’s name appeared with sufficient intensity to make the cut for Tier 1 on the CMP scale four times over. Tier 2, meanwhile, was completely empty, again offering a visual representation of the power differential separating Xi from the rest of the pack.
Li Keqiang (李克强) and Han Zheng (韩正) made Tier 3 for January, while Wang Yang (汪洋), Li Zhanshu (栗战书), Sun Chunlan (孙春兰), Hu Chunhua (胡春华), Liu He (刘鹤) and Wang Huning (王沪宁) made Tier 4. Lined up in Tier 5 were Huang Kunming (黄坤明), Ding Xuexiang (丁薛祥), Cai Qi (蔡奇), Zhao Leji (赵乐际), Zhang Youxia (张又侠), Wang Chen (王晨), Guo Shengkun (郭声琨) and Chen Xi (陈希). All other CCP officials were down at the bottom in Tier 6, with three or fewer mentions.
In January 2022, Vladimir Putin of Russia and Joe Biden of the United States were the most mentioned world leaders, both making Tier 4 for the third consecutive month. All other leaders were at the bottom in Tier 6, with no leaders at all appearing in Tier 5.
Coverage related to Putin kicked off on January 1 with reporting of a New Years exchange by phone between Putin and Xi, which stressed that 2021 had marked the 20th anniversary of the 2001 Sino-Russian Treaty of Friendship, which had been due to expire in February 2022 but was extended by both parties. Like a number of other articles in the People’s Daily in January, like this one from Chinese Ambassador to Russia Zhang Hanhui (张汉晖), the January 1 article made a point of mentioning Putin’s planned attendance at the Beijing Winter Olympics.
The exception to the parade of Olympics-related articles including Putin’s name was a January 28 article that largely parroted Russian, American and NATO positions on the escalating crisis over Ukraine. The article did not at all mention Russia’s military buildup along the Ukraine border, but rather introduced the situation as dealing with “the main issue of NATO's eastward expansion.” In fact, for the last mention in the People’s Daily of Ukraine and the keyword “military,” one must dial back to April 2, 2021, when the paper reported on the basis of information from Russia’s official TASS news agency that “forces of NATO countries and other powers are becoming more active in Russia's border areas, which forces Russia to remain vigilant.” That article quoted Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov as saying that "the mobilization of Russian troops within its own territory according to its own decisions does not pose a threat to anyone, and no one should be concerned.”
French President Emmanuel Macron appeared in 3 articles in January, just missing the mark for inclusion in Tier 5. Coverage focused on the 20th anniversary of the euro currency, French plans to ramp up nuclear power production (against objections from Germany), and the 22nd China-France Strategic Dialogue, in which Foreign Minister Wang Yi met in the city of Wuxi with Macron's diplomatic counselor, Emmanuel Bonne.
Germany’s new chancellor, Olaf Scholz, was mentioned just twice in January, with the People’s Daily preferring the translation of his name as “朔尔茨.” The translation “舒尔茨” seems no longer to be used by mainland Chinese media, though it does appear in Chinese-language media outside of China. The first article, appearing on page one of the newspaper on January 3, was a compilation of Xi Jinping’s work on foreign relations in 2021, under the headline: “Grasping the Great Trends of the Times, Pushing for Win-Win Cooperation.” The article, which briefly mentioned Xi’s telephone call to Scholz to congratulate him on his election as chancellor, also included the names of many other world leaders (and of course Angela Merkel as well). The second article concerned the telephone call on January 17 between Premier Li Keqiang and Scholz.