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News Reference Material on the "2020 Fourth Quarter Report on the Situation in Mainland China" by the Mainland Affairs Council

  • Date:2021-02-09

The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) issued a written report on the situation of mainland China in the fourth quarter of 2020. The key points of the report are summarized as follows:


(1) Internal Situation

        In the political sphere, Xi Jinping made an inspection tour to Guizhou Province before the Lunar New Year holiday to oversee local governance and directed officials to promote Party history-learning and strengthen capacity on political judgment. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) continued to vow to usher in the centennial of the founding of the Party with outstanding achievements. In addition, central and local governments held annual meetings in succession, which, in line with the spirit of the "fifth plenary session of the 19th CCP Central Committee," accentuated the "two maintenances" and the Party’s leadership. The Standing Committee of the Politburo declared success in fighting the critical battle of poverty alleviation on schedule, and pledged to continue maintaining the stability of poverty-alleviation-and-assistance policy. The Central Conference on Work Related to Overall Law-based Governance emphasized "Xi Jinping’s Thought on the Rule of Law." The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) reiterated at its “fifth plenary session” to enforce strict governance of the Party and prioritize political stability. Furthermore, in light of the change of terms of local leadership, the CCP issued a Notice about the "Ten Prohibitions.” Cadre personnel reshuffle took place at the provincial and ministerial levels in the central and local government.

        In the economic sphere, mainland China's GDP grew by 2.3% in 2020. Officials claimed to have achieved the goal of doubling disposable household and per capita income from the 2010 level. The Central Economic Work Conference outlined eight key tasks for 2021, with core task priorities given to technological innovation and expansion of domestic demand in order to realize “stability on six fronts” and “security in six areas.” The People's Bank of China said it would support the development of the real economy while preventing accumulation of financial risks at the same time. The State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) stepped up crackdown on monopolistic practices, and launched an antitrust investigation into the Alibaba Group. The State Council announced the “anti-monopoly guidelines on platform economy,” symbolizing the formalization of antitrust initiatives.

        In the social sphere, the CCP has been strengthening weiwen (stability maintenance) and control over private enterprises of the New Economy, demanding people’s obedience to the will of the Party’s top leadership. It also mobilized Xinjiang and Tibetan officials and Uighur individuals to respond to international concerns by denying forced labor. It declared the aim of "carbon neutrality" and restricted coal-burning, which resulted in coal supply imbalances and power shortages. Additionally, China reported over 2,000 domestic cases of COVID-19 in January. The CCP officials urged people to spend the Lunar New Year holiday locally, which was expected to scale down the spring festival travel rush.


(2) Foreign Relations

        Xi Jinping attended the Davos Agenda at the World Economic Forum (WEF) virtual event, where he stressed adherence to multilateralism and the current trade system, and indirectly criticizing the US for economic decoupling, supply chain disruption, sanction, and interference with its internal affairs. At the Climate Ambition Summit, China pledged to reduce carbon emissions by more than 65% compared to the 2005 level by 2030. Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs Yang Jiechi spoke with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and stressed that China-US relations should embody the spirit of no conflict and no confrontation, mutual respect, and win-win cooperation. China's Ambassador to the US Cui Tiankai and Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng proposed the "four needs, four need nots" and 4Rs (Respect, Reversal, Renewal, and Responsibility). In addition, the US passed the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act, while the CCP implemented the Export Control Law and “measures on blocking unjustified extraterrestrial application of foreign laws” in response to foreign sanctions. Xi held a video conference with the leaders of Germany, France, and the European Union (EU) to announce completion of negotiations for the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI). Xi also spoke with the leader of Russia and committed to a "comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era." Li Keqiang announced the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) with Japan, South Korea, ASEAN, and other countries.


(3) Military Development and Regional Security

        At the “fifth plenary session of the 19th CCP Central Committee,” the CCP set the “targets to achieve upon centennial of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army  in 2027.” Military training in the year of 2021 will center on troop training; officer management will be conducted in a war-oriented manner in all aspects. The Central Military Commission published the first “Joint Operations Outline (Trial)” after military reform for transforming into a combat-oriented force. The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) approved revisions of the National Defense Law to curb separation and protect developmental interests. The CCP enacted the “Coast Guard Law” that regulates illegal activity of foreign vessels in its waters, and permits the use of force if the vessels refuse to cooperate. It promulgated the first “Veterans Support Law” to ease the mind of military personnel. It also promoted four generals in line with the rank-centered military officer system. The CCP’s Ministry of National Defense recently held a meeting with the US on the search for remains of US prisoners of war and missing persons. It also held a video discussion with the US on mechanisms of crisis communication. It carried out a second joint aerial strategic patrol with the Russian army. Further, it  held the ninth round of Corps Commander-level military talks with India to facilitate détente between the two countries.


(4) Situation in Hong Kong and Macao

        Xi Jinping listened to administrative reports from the chief executives of Hong Kong and Macao Carrie Lam and Ho lat Seng. Lam affirmed the necessity of “patriots ruling Hong Kong.” Meanwhile, the Hong Kong government continued to arrest and prosecute dissidents under the “Hong Kong National Security Law” and related regulations. In the future, the government will promote "patriots ruling Hong Kong" in the administrative and judicial system. In the economic sphere, the third quarter saw a slight rebound of Hong Kong's rate of economic growth, while the number of foreign companies based in Hong Kong had declined for the first time. In the social sphere, the government suppressed media freedom in Hong Kong, creating pervasive social unease. Additionally, the international community closely watches the impact of the “Hong Kong National Security Law” on the situation in Hong Kong. The US imposed sanction on mainland Chinese and Hong Kong officials; the US, UK, and other countries relaxed conditions for immigrants from Hong Kong. Macao plans to improve its legal system and measures related to safeguarding national security to ensure stability of the society. In the economic and social sphere, Macao's economy grew slightly in the third quarter as the pandemic was brought under control.


(5) Taiwan Work

        The CCP leadership continue to emphasize adherence to the "one China principle," "opposition to Taiwan independence," and the "1992 Consensus" at occasions such as the New Year’s Tea Reception of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Committee (CPPCC), Central Committee's Taiwan Affairs Meeting, and other occasions. The CCP accused Taiwan of seeking independence through Taiwan-US Interaction, constitutional reforms, Hong Kong, disease prevention, and other issues. It claimed to be mulling severe punishment for "Taiwan independence diehards" in accordance with the law. It also published Party rules (latest version of the Regulations on the United Front Work of the Communist Party of China, The Plan to Build the Rule of Law in China (2020-2025)) to push for “opposing independence and facilitating reunification.”  Mainland China reiterated that economic cooperation is the foundation for the development of cross-Strait relations, saying that it supports Taiwanese businesses to participate in the "Belt and Road Initiative" and "14th Five-Year Plan." Fujian Province announced its first list of 225 measures to grant Taiwanese people and companies equal treatment as their mainland Chinese counterparts to promote integrated development.

        Furthermore, Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs Director Yang Jiechi spoke with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and insisted that the Taiwan issue is the most important and sensitive core issue of the two countries. Regarding recent Taiwan-US interaction, the CCP’s Taiwan Affairs Office and Ministry of National Defense restated mainland China’s refusal to give up on the use of force and "Taiwan independence meaning war," citing the People's Liberation Army’s (PLA) recent realistic drills and incursion of the sea and airspace around the Taiwan Strait. The CCP’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and PLA Eastern Theater forces, on the other hand, condemned the passage of US aircraft carriers through the Taiwan Strait for disrupting regional peace and stability. In addition, the CCP also pressured Guyana into terminating cooperation with Taiwan on establishing a Taiwan Office and continued its political and military coercion and intimidation against Taiwan.