Xi takes the new Standing Committee to Yan'an
The destination of the Standing Committee for its first group visit after a Party Congress is very important. These trips are designed to signal key themes for the years ahead.
Xi took the new Standing Committee on a pilgrimage to Yan’an. In 2017 he took them to the site of the first Party Congress meeting in Shanghai, and in 2012 he led the new team to the “Road towards Rejuvenation” exhibition in Beijing. The general themes from the 18th and 19th Standing Committee first visits in the Xi Era were:
2012 - National Rejuvenation;
2017 - Remaining true to our original aspiration and keeping our mission firmly in mind.
According to the readout of the Yan’an visit:
“Xi Jinping stressed the need to carry forward the great spirit of party building, carry forward the spirit of Yan'an, firm up historical confidence, strengthen historical initiative, carry forward the spirit of struggle, and unite in striving to achieve the goals and tasks proposed by the 20th Party Congress”
The lead picture in the Xinhua report is of Xi standing at the site of the 1945 Seventh Party Congress, with a painting of Mao Zedong and Zhu De above the stage:
As Gao Hua wrote on page 701 of his book How the Red Sun Rose: The Origin and Development of the Yan'an Rectification Movement, 1930–1945 about the Seventh Party Congress:
The official readout of the visit includes these comments from Xi:
Xi Jinping pointed out that during the Yan'an period, with its tenacious spirit of struggle and superb struggling skills, the Party effectively carried out the fight against Japanese militarist aggression, effectively coped with a series of major challenges such as the Xi'an incident, the July 7 incident, and the Chongqing negotiations, effectively led and commanded the national revolutionary struggle, effectively coped with the key attacks of the Kuomintang troops in the Shaanxi-Gansu-Ningxia Border Region, and opened up a new situation in the Chinese revolution by relying on millet and rifles. The comrades of the whole party should carry forward the spirit of struggle, enhance their ability in struggle, resolutely overcome all kinds of difficulties and challenges on the road ahead, and rely on tenacious struggle to open up new horizons for the development of our cause.
Among the signals Xi appears to be sending, again, is prepare for difficult times ahead, and prepare for struggle. In his comments he also mentions the need for “a firm and correct political direction” and “solidly promote common prosperity”.
Summary of the Essential Eight:
Personnel appointments - Li Shulei is officially heading the propaganda department, Shi Taifeng is officially the new head of the United Front Work Department, SingTao reports that Beijing mayor Chen Jining will not replace Cai Qi as Beijing Party Secretary but is instead going to Shanghai as Party Secretary, and there is talk that the NPC Standing Committee will make Li Qiang a vice premier soon, before the March 2023 NPC.
Covid - More cities are reporting outbreaks and lockdowns. Xining, Lhasa and Zhengzhou in particular sound bad, but it is very hard to get a clear picture as there are likely some deficiencies with the reported data in at least some areas. Apple should be concerned about the outbreak at the Zhengzhou Foxconn facility, both in terms of making sure Foxconn is taking care of its workers and about how it may impact production.
Russia-China - In a speech Putin said Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan was a provocation, Xi is a “close friend” and that he did not warn Xi about the Ukraine invasion. Wang Yi spoke with his counterpart Sergey Lavrov to brief him on the 20th Party Congress and tell him that “China will also firmly support the Russian side, under the leadership of President Putin, to unite and lead the Russian people to overcome difficulties, eliminate disturbances, realize strategic development goals and further establish Russia's status as a great power on the international stage”.
There was no mention on Ukraine in the PRC readout of the Wang-Lavrov call.Correction: The readout notes they did discuss Ukraine 双方还就乌克兰及共同关心的国际和地区问题交换了意见。
US chip controls - The US official in charge of BIS, the bureau inside the Department of Commerce implementing the new chip controls, told a DC event that the US expects allies to get on board with the controls, and that further controls around biotech and AI are likely. I wonder if the US can really get the Netherlands on board, given how much influence ASML has in the Hague
US-China - Xi sent a letter to the annual gala of the NCUSCR Wednesday, saying “China stands ready to work with the United States to find the right way to get along with each other in the new era”. On Thursday the US Department of Defense released a public version of the 2022 National Defense Strategy which stated that the “most comprehensive and serious challenge to U.S. national security is the PRC's coercive and increasingly aggressive endeavor to refashion the Indo-Pacific region and the international system to suit its interests and authoritarian preferences”.
Local government finances - Caixin reports that the local government land sales shell game is on hold at least in some places, after the Ministry of Finance decided to crack down again. But fiscal revenues were up 8.4% year-on-year in September, in part from “a 39.7% jump in nontax revenue…some localities have been selling idle state-owned assets including properties and mining rights in large quantities, and making efforts to collect other types of nontax revenue such as fines.”
Wall Street Journal on the Meng Wanzhou arrest and the Two Michaels hostage saga - It is a great story with lots of details of the back and forth negotiations to finally negotiate a deal, and some more details about the awful conditions in which Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig were held. The WSJ writes that after Meng Wanzhou was detained in Canada “China’s Ministry of Public Security, which had a list of Canadian names, proposed two for [Xi] to select.“ And Xi picked the two Michaels, according to this report.
Thanks for reading, and look forward to the weekly discussion and a big announcement for paid subscribers Friday.