The People’s Daily on the glories of private enterprise


Here’s a roundup of today’s top stories in central state media. I don’t say this often, but I actually enjoyed reading the People’s Daily today!

The People’s Daily

At a time when many Chinese and foreign businesspeople are worried about the growing power of state-owned companies and other government interference, the Chinese Communist Party’s house newspaper surprised me today with a story about the glories of private enterprise.

Perhaps I should not be surprised; after all, last week, the People’s Daily advocated for free trade against U.S. protectionism. Nonetheless, today, as the Financial Times says that China’s growth slowdown is putting the “private sector on the defensive” (paywall), the Party’s own journal headlined its website with an article titled Taizhou, Zhejiang: Taking off the “red hat” and innovating the joint stock system.

  • Amazingly, Xi Jinping is not mentioned even once in the story, which is about one of China’s earliest entrepreneurs, at the beginning of the reform and opening up period 40 years ago.
  • Taizhou, like nearby Wenzhou, is a city that never seemed to completely lose its taste for business, and the city’s entrepreneurs were amongst the first in China to “take off the red hat” of collective entreprises and unapologetically go into business for themselves.
  • On December 28, 1982, China’s first registered joint-stock cooperative enterprise — Taizhou Wenling County Muyu Munan Arts and Crafts Factory — was established. According to the People’s Daily, this was the precedent that unleashed China’s entrepreneurs.
  • Between 1983 and 1984, more than 1,300 “red hat” companies had their hats removed and went under private control, according to one Taizhou official quoted by the People’s Daily. By the end of 1988, Taizhou had nearly 10,000 private enterprises with such joint-stock licenses, with an output value of more than 3.7 billion yuan ($530 million).

Xinhua News Agency

Xinhua’s top Chinese-language story today is Hope sprinkled on the golden fields — on the first anniversary of the implementation of the rural revitalization strategy. The translation is awkward, but it is difficult to render Xinhua’s purple prose into readable English. This is my attempt at rendering the first paragraph:

The autumn wind brings joy to the harvest and the thriving countryside.

October 18 was the first anniversary of the Party’s 19th National Congress’ major decision to implement the rural revitalization strategy. During the last year, a vast number of rural cadres and the masses worked diligently, and agricultural development was fruitful. A grand revitalization of the countryside, which is prosperous, ecologically livable, civilized, efficient, and affluent, is gradually unfolding.

The article is a long praise poem to the Party’s excellent poverty alleviation and rural development work, all done, of course, under the wise guidance of Xí Jìnpíng 习近平.

Xinhua’s English website leads with: Xi sends congratulatory letter to Taihu World Cultural Forum annual conference. What, you ask, is the Taihu World Cultural Forum?

  • It’s an annual conference in Beijing from October 17 to 19, organized by “a Chinese NGO that promotes Chinese culture and serves as a platform for international nongovernment exchanges,” according to the China Daily.
  • However, Taihu World Cultural Forum, founded in 2008, seems to actually be a GONGO, or government-organized non-governmental organization (many NGOs in China are, in fact, government organized). Whatever they are, they began running an annual cultural conference in 2013.
  • A Xi Jinping catchphrase is this year’s theme: “Building a Community of Shared Future for Mankind.” You can watch a cheesy video made mostly from stock footage about the forum on YouTube.
  • “Nearly 1,000 politicians, entrepreneurs, scholars and cultural notables from about 40 countries and regions” are attending the forum, according to High-profile guests include Altynai Omurbekova, vice-prime minister of Kyrgyzstan, former Polish president Bronislaw Komorowski, former Italian prime minister Romano Prodi, former Egyptian prime minister Essam Sharaf, and Indian film star Aamir Khan.
  • The only non-Chinese media report on the event that we could find is this one, from Azerbaijan News: Azerbaijan to join Taihu culture forum.

Global Times

Nationalist rag Global Times leads with pabulum about Xi Jinping, but also two stories on the U.S. Treasury declining to name China a currency manipulator (all in Chinese). Some of the content of the currency manipulation story is in English: Trade war lingers despite US Treasury report.

Other propaganda

To mark the first anniversary of a three-and-a-half-hour Xi Jinping speech setting out his vision for China, the People’s Daily has “made a no less ambitious attempt to visualize the Chinese president’s doctrines,” says the South China Morning Post.

The result is a “complex color-coded ‘mind map’ consisting of 30 separate elements, each broken down into multiple subsections that resemble the branches of a tree.” You can see it at the SCMP link above.  

Related: I mastered Xi Jinping Thought, and I have the certificate to prove it, by Kevin Carrico.