A few days ago, China Digital Times posted a document which purports to be an outline of Xi Jinping’s speech at the National Propaganda and Ideology Work Conference on 19 August, which had hitherto remained unpublished. Another version had been flagged up on the China Law Mail List by prof. Albert Chen (H/T). I cannot confirm the veracity of this “spirit communication outline” (精神传播提要) beyond all reasonable doubt, but the subheadings do conform with earlier reports about this speech, and the document contains a significant number of expressions and phrases which have become titles of subsequent articles in venues such as Seeking Truth and People’s Daily afterwards. A full analysis of the text will come tomorrow.
On 19 August, the National Propaganda and Ideology Work Conference was convened in Beijing. CCP Central Committee General Secretary Xi Jinping attended the Conference and made an important speech. The spirit of Comrade Xi Jinping’s important speech is mainly reflected in the following 7 areas:
I, Concerning central work and ideological work.
Economic construction is the Party’s central work, ideological work is an extremely important work of the Party. Everyone clearly understands the positions of both areas of work, but in some localities and departments, it is clear that the phenomenon exists that how to correctly grasp both areas of work in practice is clear when talking about it, but not clear when doing it. Doing propaganda and ideology work well requires first and foremost that this problem is resolved.
Since the 3rd Plenum of the 11th Party Congress, our Party has consistently persisted in putting economic construction at the centre. This is because in this country of ours with its large population, low starting points and unbalanced development, and under the basic national circumstances where our country still is and will remain for a long time in the preliminary stage of Socialism, we must incessantly consolidate and perfect the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese Socialist system, we must incessantly satisfy the people’s daily increasing materials and cultural needs, we must persist in the strategic ideology of development being a hard rationale, concentrate our energy in doing economic construction and improving people’s lives.
Basically speaking, without solid development results, without incessant improvement in people’s lives, if we prattle about ideals and convictions, prattle about the Party’s leadership, prattle about the superiority of the Socialist system, and prattle about ideological and moral construction, in the end, it will be difficult to achieve achievements in ideological work. As long as no fundamental changes occur in great domestic and foreign trends, putting economic construction central cannot and should not change. This is the basic requirement of persisting in the basic Party line, which cannot be changed for a hundred years, and it is a fundamental requirement to resolve all problems of contemporary China.
When we say that economic construction is central work, we do not say that other work is not important, and that one pretty thing can conceal a hundred ugly things. History and reality have repeatedly proven that whether or not ideological work is done well relates to the Party’s future fate, relates to a long period of peace for the country, and relates to the nation’s cohesion and centripetal force. It cannot be said that, to consolidate the Party’s mass basis and governance basis, it will do just to ensure that the masses material lives are good, this understanding is incomplete. The Party’s mass basis and governance basis includes both material and spiritual aspects. If the mass basis is lost in spiritual matters, in the end, problems must occur as well. Only if material civilization construction and spiritual civilization construction are both done well, if the country’s material strength and spiritual strength both increase, if the material lives and spiritual lives of the people of all ethnicities in the entire country all improve, can the undertaking of Socialism with Chinese characteristics be pushed ahead smoothly.
Since reform and opening up, our Party has consistently stressed that the material civilization and spiritual civilization “must be grasped with both hands, and both hands must be tight”. This requirement mainly consists of the following considerations. First, the exchange, blending and clashing between all sorts of ideologies and cultures on a global scale is increasing in frequency, the struggle in the international ideological and cultural area is profound and complex, Western countries see our country’s development and expansion as a challenge to their value views, systems and models, and intensify ideological and cultural infiltration of our country, the struggles and tests that we face in the ideological area are long-term and complex. Second, some mistaken viewpoints appear domestically every now and then, some propagate Western value views, some discuss Party history or national history, some deny reform and opening up under the name of “rethinking reform”, some deny the Four Cardinal Principles. Third, in the situation where our country’s society is changing profoundly and opening up to the outside world is incessantly expanding, all sorts of social contradictions and problems mutually generate each other, and appear in concentration, the independence, selectivity, variability and divergence of people’s thoughts and activities is clearly strengthening, and some phenomena that are not to be ignored have emerged in the ideological and moral area, some people’s ideals and convictions are not firm, some degenerate and backward ideologies and cultures are gaining the upper hand, Mammonism, hedonism and extreme individualism are somewhat on the increase, etc.
Because of this, at the same time as concentrating our energies in conducting economic construction, we cannot even for a moment slacken and weaken ideological work. In this area, we have gained deep lessons. The disintegration of a regime often starts from the ideological area, political unrest and regime change may perhaps occur in a night, but ideological evolution is a long-term process. If the ideological defences are breached, other defences become very difficult to hold. We must closely grasp the leadership power, management power and discourse power in ideological work closely in our hands, and cannot let this fall to others at any time, otherwise, we will make irredeemable historical mistakes.
We must profoundly understand the decisive effect of the economic base on the superstructure, and profoundly understand the counter effect of the superstructure on the economic base, we must have both hard power and soft power, we must both realistically do central work well and provide a firm material basis for ideological work well, and must realistically do ideological work well and provide powerful guarantees for central work; we can neither overlook ideological work because of central work, nor can we let ideological work drift apart from central work. Ideological work must absolutely have revolving around the centre and serving the larger picture as basic tasks, keep the larger picture in mind, grasp general trends, fix eyes upon great matters, find correct work entry points and focus points, and ensure that plans are suited to trends, actions respond to trends, and moves are made according to trends.
II, Concerning broad ideals and real objectives
Our Party has, from the date of its birth, written Marxism on its banner, and established Communism as the highest ideal. Marxist and Communist beliefs are the lifeblood and soul of Communist Party members. “Revolutionary ideals are higher than heaven”, this sentence vividly reflects the huge encouragement and spurring effect of noble beliefs on us Communist Party members.
Among our Party members and cadre teams, lack of belief is a problem that needs to attract high attention. Among a few people, some have made criticism and mockery of Marxism into a “fashion”, and into a comedy; some are spiritually vapid, and believe that Communism is a purely illusory fantasy, they “don’t pay attention to common people but to ghosts and spirits”, they hanker after fortune-telling and physiognomy, they pray to Buddha for help, and fetishize “qigong masters”; some waver in their faith, migrate their spouses, sons and daughters abroad, store money abroad, and “leave a back passage” for themselves, preparing to “jump ship” at any time; some are slaves of material things, believe in the supremacy of money, the supremacy of fame and the supremacy of enjoyment, they don’t have any reverence in their hearts, and their acts don’t have any baseline at all.
I have said that ideals and convictions are the “calcium” of the spirits of Communist Party members, without ideals and convictions, or if ideals and convictions are not firm, there may be a spiritual “calcium deficiency”, which may lead to the “rickets”, and may lead to political deterioration, economic greed, moral degeneracy and corruption of life. Firm beliefs are the decisive factors for stable political standpoints among Party members and cadres, and to resist all sorts of temptations.
At the moment, the environment, targets, scope and methods of propaganda and ideology work are undergoing great change, but the fundamental task of propaganda and ideology work has not changed and cannot change. Propaganda and ideology work must consolidate the guiding position of Marxism in the ideological area and consolidate the common ideological basis for the united struggle of the entire Party and the entire people.
We stress that Party members and cadres must have firm Marxist and Communist believes, but this is not to say that they must loudly cry Communist slogans every day, or do some sort of “running towards Communist” thing. We have already clearly pointed out that Communism can only be realized on the basis of a fully developed and highly developed Socialist society, and this is and extremely long lasting historical process. We must, in an earnest and down-to-earth manner, strive untiringly to realize the Party’s basic programme in the current stage, firmly do all work well, and obtain excellent achievements in our stage of the “relay race”. Lofty beliefs and firm convictions are not unattainable, Lei Feng, Jiao Yulu, Yang Shanzhou and others are clear examples of this. Their lifetimes of struggle for the Party and the people would have been impossible without lofty beliefs and firm convictions. Communist Party members should fight and struggle for their beliefs, and contribute all their energies or even their lives.
Lofty beliefs and firm convictions cannot emerge by themselves. It is necessary to foster an “incorruptible body of gold and steel”, we must use scientific theory to arm minds, and incessantly foster our spiritual garden. Where leading cadres and especially high-level cadres are concerned, they must systematically grasp basis Marxist theory as their special skill. The famous academic Wang Guowei elaborated that there are three planes in scholarship: the first is “yesterday evening, the west wind let the green trees wither, I climbed the high building alone, and looked to the far corners of the earth”; the second is “I do not regret that my belt is becoming increasingly loose, she is worth it that I’m pale and worn”; the third is “Up and down the main streets, I must have run, a thousand times or more in quest of one, who I have concluded, cannot be found; for, everywhere, no trace of her can be seen, when, all of a sudden, I turned about, that’s her, where lanterns are few and far between.”. Leading cadres studying theory must also have these three planes. First, theoretical study must be a pursuit as lofty as “looking to the far corners of the earth”, that is able to endure the cold of the “west wind that yesterday evening let the green trees wither”, and the loneliness of “climbing the high building alone”, to quietly concentrate on reading and study; furthermore, theoretical study must be diligent, assiduous and studious, true efforts, bitter efforts and meticulous efforts must be made, even if “the belt grows loose”, there must be “no regret”, becoming “wan and thin” should also make one perfectly happy, last, the value of theoretical study lies in independent thinking, integrating learning and doing, bringing understanding through learning, bringing gains to applications, running a hundred times “up and down mains streets” in study and practice, and in the end, “turning about all of a sudden”, the true essence is understood “where lanterns are few and far between”.
Party schools, cadre academies, academies of social science, higher education institutes, theoretical study centres, etc., must all make Marxism into mandatory courses, and become important battlegrounds for Marxist study, research and propaganda. Especially Party schools must orient themselves well. When cadres go to study at Party schools, it is because you are organizationally required to go and study, and must put strengthening ideals and convictions, and raising ideological and political levels first, be honest and conscientious, and study Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought and especially Deng Xiaoping Theory, the important “Three Represents” thought and the scientific development view from beginning to end. The theoretical system of Socialism with Chinese characteristics is the newest result of the Sinification of Marxism, it is the Marxism for the China of the present, and is a guideline for action in persisting in and developing Socialism with Chinese characteristics. We must persist in using this scientific and theoretical structure to arm the entire Party, educate the people and guide work, guide the broad cadres to deeply comprehend the Party’s theoretical innovation results, and strengthen theoretical conviction. New cadres and young cadres must especially grasp theoretical study, and through firm and unwavering study, master the use of Marxist positions, viewpoints and methods to observe and resolve problems, strengthen ideals and convictions, raise dialectical thinking abilities, and ensure that they are devoted and persistent, trustworthy and profound. It is permitted to expand Party schools appropriately with the study of some knowledge, but it cannot be the case that the secondary supersedes the primary, or the primary and secondary are reversed. Party Schools must absolutely create a thick atmosphere of theoretical study.
Education on ideals and convictions must not only be launched among Party members and cadres, but must also be launched towards the entire society. We must deeply launch propaganda and education on Socialism with Chinese characteristics, and unite and concentrate the people of all ethnicities in the entire country under the magnificent banner of Socialism with Chinese characteristics. We must strengthen the construction of the Socialist core value system, and propose wealth, strength, democracy, civilization and harmony, propose freedom, equality, fairness and the rule of law, propose patriotism, respect for labour, honesty and amicability, and vigorously foster and practice the Socialist core value system, to make it become the common value pursuit of the whole body of the people. We must completely raise citizens’ moral quality, carry forward the true, the good and the beautiful, eliminate the false, the bad and the ugly, and foster a fine atmosphere of knowing honour and shame, where righteousness is stressed, contributions are made and harmony is stimulated.
After the realization of the Chinese Dream of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation was put forward, it has gained the sincere support of the broad cadres and masses. Propaganda and ideology departments have done quite some work, and the effects are good. The masses say that the Chinese Dream is the expression of an image, and is an expression that the masses can accept easily, it has established a struggle objective that inspires people’s hearts, and has made clear the beautiful prospects of the Party and the country. The Chinese Dream has also triggered vigorous response abroad, international society is paying further attention to the glorious prospects and huge opportunities for our country’s development, Asia, Africa, Latin America and many other countries’ leaders all openly say to us that they wish that the Chinese Dream becomes reality.
Some Western forces worry that the Chinese Dream may expand China’s influence in the world, and sedulously stunt, distort and blacken the Chinese Dream, they spare no effort in using their skills to sow dissent and confuse public opinion. We must attach high importance to this, and pay attention to linking up the Chinese Dream with the people of all countries and all regions realizing their own dreams, and guide international society to completely and objectively understand the Chinese Dream through stimulating mutual interests and win-win. The moisture permeates without a sound, sincere men need not speak much, to move others and set the example. With regard to propaganda and education concerning the Chinese dream, pay attention not to conceptualize it, not to solidify it, not to vulgarize it, and not to become overambitious.
III, Concerning the Party spirit and the people’s spirit.
The relationship between the Party spirit and the people’s spirit was originally a question with a very clear answer, now, however, it has become a question that is known to be complex and sensitive. For example, some people ask “do you speak for the Party, or do you speak for the people”, “are you on the side of the Party, or on the side of the people”; some people plausibly and volubly say that the popular masses exceed Party members in quality, and therefore the people’s spirit is larger than the Party spirit. There are quite a few of such formulations that seem right but are actually wrong, but they are all incorrect and mistaken, and must be swept away and corrected.
The Party spirit and the people’s spirit have always been consistent and united. Our Party serves the people wholeheartedly, represents the fundamental interests of the broad Chinese people, and is a Marxist party that comes from the people and is for the people. Basically, persisting in the Party spirit is persisting in the people’s spirit and persisting in the people’s spirit is persisting in the Party spirit, the Party spirit resides in the people’s spirit, there is no Party spirit that is removed from the people’s spirit, and there is no people’s spirit that is removed from the Party spirit either. The Party spirit and the people’s spirit are all integral political concept, the Party spirit concerns the entire Party, and the people’s spirit concerns the whole body of the people, the Party spirit cannot simply be understood from one level’s Party organization, a group of Party members or any single Party member, and the people’s spirit can also not be simply understood from a single stratum, some groups from the masses or any concrete person. Only if we stand on the position of the entire Party and stand on the position of the whole body of the people, can we truly grasp the Party spirit and the people’s spirit well. Separating the Party spirit and the people’s spirit, opposing them or fragmenting them is mistaken in theory and is dangerous in practice as well.
To do propaganda and ideology work well, we must stress the Party spirit. The core of persisting in the Party spirit is persisting in the correct political orientation, standing firm on political positions, persisting in propagating the Party’s theories, line, principles and policies, persisting in propagating the Centre’s major work deployments, persisting in propagating the Centre’s major analyses and judgements concerning rends, persisting in maintaining a high level of consistency with the Party Centre, and persisting in safeguarding the authority of the Centre. These are great principles, in which we can absolutely not waver.
Now, in some work units and among some people, the Party mentality dimmed, and the Party spirit and principles are discussed rarely. In some cases, no heed is paid to the Party’s political discipline and propaganda discipline, these are basically not taken seriously at all; some even challenge political principles that the Party has already clearly laid down, they speak without restraint, they are completely scrupulous, they are cheered on by hostile forces, they are not ashamed of this, but even consider this honourable. Isn’t it a monstrosity that the Party’s propaganda and ideology battlefield does not serve the Party, the Party’s propaganda and ideology workers do not want to and even don’t dare to persist in the principles of the Party spirit. If they have no clear viewpoint or position on this basic issue of persisting in the Party spirit, then they do not pass political muster, and are not qualified for even the most rudimentary Party propaganda and ideology work.
All propaganda and ideology departments and work units, all Party members and all cadres on the propaganda and ideology front must persist in the principle of the Party spirit with clear banners flying. The principle of the Party spirit must not only be stressed, but it must be stressed on a large scale with big banners, it must be stressed with the assumption that justice is on our side, it must be stressed firmly and unwaveringly. We must not be evasive or bashful, or mince our words. Western countries’ flaunt “press freedom”, but in fact, they also have ideological baselines, and they are under the control of interest groups and the inclinations of political parties, there are no completely independent media.
We must unwaveringly persist in the principle that the Party manages the media, persist in politicians running newspapers, periodicals, stations and news websites, and strengthen education on the Marxist view of news. Propaganda and ideology workers must strengthen their Party mentality, and do their duty in serving the undertaking of the Party and the people. They must conform to the demands of the Party in what they persist in, what they oppose, what they say and what they do, be able to send all tests, be reliable and trustworthy, and truly achieve that “they stand firm still after a thousand hits and ten thousand strikes, regardless from where the wind blows”.
To do propaganda and ideology work well, we must stress the people’s spirit. Persisting in the people’s spirit means that we must make realizing, safeguarding and developing the basic interest of the broadest people into starting points and stopover points, and persist in putting people first. To do propaganda and ideology work well, we must resolve these basic questions of “for whose sake, relying on whom, who am I”. We must establish a work orientation with the people at the centre, integrate serving the masses with educating and guiding the masses, integrate satisfying demand with raising qualities, propagate more reports on the popular masses’ magnificent struggles and ardent lives, propagate more reports on advanced models and moving deeds emerging from among the people, enrich the people’s spiritual world, strengthen the people’s spiritual power, satisfy the people’s spiritual demands. We must resolutely overcome the problems that some propaganda and reporting has become separated from life, is not grounded, and does not stick closely enough to the people, and resolutely overcome the phenomenon of vulgarization brought about by going all the way to meet the market. A “march to the grass roots, change work styles and improve writing styles” movement was launched on the news front, which has achieved positive results, everyone went deep into the grass roots, and made quite a few reports that I all read, much content was very moving. This movement must be continued firmly, incessantly deepened and incessantly raised.
The people are concrete, not abstract. To persist in the people’s spirit, we must earnestly research the ideological and cultural needs of the different masses. Workers, peasants, the People’s Liberation Army, cadres, intellectuals, the elderly, youth, children, it must be clear where the commonalities between the demands of different masses lie, and where the individualities are, in order to launch work in a targeted manner. We must also launch work in a focused manner targeting a series of new groups emerging in society, such as the ant people, the northern floaters, those coming back from overseas, those coming back from overseas who are jobless, scattered households, etc. We must handle the relationship between points, lines and areas well, we must strengthen the broad coverage of areas and categorized guidance over lines, as well as pay attention to do every point of work well, “opening one lock with one key”.
To do propaganda and ideology work well, we must pay high attention to work concerning intellectuals. At present, intellectual teams are incessantly expanding in scale, their formation is becoming complex and plural, their self-consciousness and individual consciousness is strengthening, their interest pursuits and political pursuits are intertwined, there has been a tendency that a small number of people drifted away from the Party and the government, and it has even emerged that there are a few people harbouring dissent and discord versus the Party. With regard to the broad intellectuals, the important thing is unity, and at the same time, guidance must be strengthened, and especially political guidance and political cooperation must be strengthened, to ensure that even more intellectuals participate in real work, and to encourage them to consciously contribute their wisdom and talents to the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. Propaganda and ideology departments must strengthen links with intellectuals, make more friends among them, and unite and concentrate them as much as possible around the Party. We must pay attention to those intellectuals who have special characteristics, and work hard to work well with online opinion leaders, online writers, contract writers, free authors, independent performers or singers and other such groups.
Now, a number of tabloids and magazines, a small number of television columns, network and other such media are flooded with freak news, sidebar news and other such content, on where some stars, moneybags and other famous people go and live, where they eat, what car they drive, where they travel, and which clothes they wear, or who they are with, who they marry, etc., many media seek novelty, pursue pretty women, and chase them like ducks! It is not that there can be no reports about famous people, but which educational significance does reporting all day long about those bits and pieces, with that effete and sentimental writing have? It may have a negative effect on society. Many famous people have a sense of social responsibility and contribute vigorously to society, we must report those positive and vigorous things, and only in this way can we increase society’s positive energy. Mainstream media must vigorously have a guiding role in this area.
To sum up, persisting in the unity of the Party spirit and the people’s spirit means that we must persist in stressing politics, grasp the correct orientation, and unite reflecting the Party’s standpoints with reflecting the people’s wishes. Only if we persist in the Party spirit and stand on the positions of the Party, can we reflect the people’s aspirations even better and even more completely. In theoretical study, propaganda, reporting, in literature and art creation or ideological education, we must always put persisting in the correct orientation first, and consistently keep the base string of the orientation tuned well, be explicit in stressing the orientation, grasp orientation and do not let it loose.
IV, Concerning positive propaganda and the public opinion struggle
Persisting in unity, stability and encouragement, and putting positive propaganda first, are important principles that must be followed in propaganda and ideology work. We are currently conducting a magnificent struggle that has many new historical characteristics, the challenges and difficulties we face are unprecedented, we must persist in consolidating and expanding mainstream ideology and public opinion, carry the main melody forward, disseminate positive energy, and arouse the entre society’s formidable strength for united progress.
Generally speaking, our positive propaganda has achieved successes, but some problems that merit attention exist as well: some who occupy the commanding heights preach emptily, they indiscriminately copy leaders’ speeches and policy documents, they excavate and explain insufficiently, they are not vivid and lively enough, and the masses stay at a respectful distance from then; with some, the phenomenon of routinization and trickery exists, their language is stiff, their forms are mechanical, they have insufficient affinity and closeness; some people are vigorous in form, sumptuous and resplendent, but not strong in terms of actual results.
Over the past few years, all localities have paid attention to discovering, summarizing and propagating advanced models in all areas, which has had an important effect in carrying forward righteousness and promoting work. Our propaganda of models is for the sake of giving rein to the exemplary effect of models, and complete overall work, because of this, we must absolutely seek truth from facts, guarantee that models are truthful and reliable, lovable and respectable, ensure people can trust, understand and learn from models, we cannot use forged or fabricated methods to package models, we cannot use methods that are excessive in zeal to raise up models, we cannot use the methods of “giving favoured treatment” or “extending partiality” to foster models.
Persisting in putting positive propaganda first absolutely does not mean abandoning the public opinion struggle. Hostile forces are doing their utmost to propagate so-called “universal values”. Are these people really talking about “universal values”. Fundamentally not, they sell a sheep’s head as dog meat, their objective is that they want to vie with us for battlefields, for the people’s hearts and for the masses, and in the end, to overthrow the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party and China’s Socialist system. If we allow this discourse to have its own way and deliberately misrepresent matters, those false efforts will lead people astray, which is bound to bring chaos to the Party’s hearts and the people’s hearts, endanger the Party’s leadership and the security of the Socialist national regime. On great rights and wrongs concerning whether to persist in or deny the Four Cardinal Principles or matters of political principle, we must strengthen the initiative, grasp the initiative, and use the initiative.
We must dare to grasp and dare to manage, dare to bare the sword, focus on uniting and contending for the absolute majority, and launch the public opinion struggle in a rational, beneficial and proper manner, to help cadres and the masses in drawing clear boundaries between right and wrong, and clarify blurred understandings. With regard to all discourse that maliciously attacks the Party’s leadership, attacks the Socialist system, distorts the Party’s history and the country’s history, or spreads rumours to create trouble, no newspapers, periodicals and magazines, platforms and forums, meetings and conferences, films, television and radio stations, theatres can provide space to them, no digital newspapers, mobile television, mobile media, mobile text messaging, WeChat, Weibo, blogs, microblogs, forums and other such new media can provide conveniences to them. With regards to these discourses, we must not only strengthen online control, we must also ensure that work touches the ground in real life. With regard to opposition to the Four Cardinal Principles, there must be education and guidance, responsibility systems must be established, localities and work units must realistically manage this; they must investigate and prosecute them according to the law, they cannot grope about in the dark like in “The Fork in the Road”, they can also not let those people comfortably spread rumours to create trouble, fish in troubled waters, inflame people and make irresponsible remarks.
Naturally, we cannot rely on administrative or legal methods to resolve common disputes and confused understandings, but must rely in the strength of Marxist truth, rely on deeply detailed ideological and political work, use truth to expose lies, and let science vanquish falsehoods.
The Internet has become the main battlefields for the public opinion struggle. Some comrades say that the Internet is the “largest variable” that we face, and if we get it wrong, it will become “a worry in our hearts and minds”. Western anti-China forces continue to vainly attempt to use the Internet to “topple China”, many years ago, there were Western governments that stated that “with the internet, there is a way to tackle China”, “Socialist countries are infused with Western ambitions, which starts from the Internet”. From the US “Prism” and “XKeyscore” and other such surveillance plans, it can be seen that their Internet activities, capabilities and scope exceed the imaginations of the people of the world by far. On this battlefield of the Internet, whether we can stand up, and gain victory, directly relates to our country’s ideological security and regime security.
According to the demands of circumstances and developments, as I see it, we must make online public opinion work into the heaviest of heavies in propaganda and ideology work. Propaganda and ideology work is working with people, the focus should be there where the people are. Our country has nearly 600 million netizens, there are 460 million mobile netizens, 300 million of which have Weibo accounts. Many people and especially the young basically do not look at mainstream media, the majority of information is obtained online. We must face this fact squarely, expand strengths and inputs, grasp the initiative on this public opinion battlefield as quickly as possible, we cannot be marginalized. We must resolve the question of “skills panic” well, and truly become experts and old hands at using modern media, new means and new methods. We must deeply launch the online public opinion struggle, closely guard against and restrain online acts of attack and infiltration, and organize forces to refute mistaken ideologies and viewpoints. We must strengthen online social management according to the law, strengthen the management of new network technologies and applications, ensure that the Internet is manageable and controllable, and ensure that our cyberspace becomes clear and crisp. Doing this work is not easy, but however difficult it is, it must be done. There are no difficulties under heaven, only a fear of people with purposes. We must not fear what other people say. Somewhat less negative discourse online only has benefits for the development of our country and society, social stability, and the people’s living and working in peace and contentment, not drawbacks. To use a peasant’s phrase from when I was in a countryside production brigade, we must not listen to the crayfish noises and fear that we’ll be unable to till the land.
Our comrades must absolutely strengthen their sense of the battlefield. If we do not go and occupy the propaganda and ideology battlefield, others will occupy it. As I see it, there are three zones in the ideology and public opinion area. The first is the red zone, which mainly consists of mainstream media and online positive forces, this is our main battlefield, we must absolutely hold it, and can certainly not lose it. The second is the black zone, which mainly consists of a series of negative discourses online and in society, and also includes all kinds of public opinion fabricated by hostile forces, this is not the main stream, but its influence must not be underestimated. The third is the grey zone, which lies between the red zone and the black zones. Different strategies must be adopted for different zones. The red zone must be consolidated and expanded, so that its social influence broadens incessantly. We must dare to enter the black zone, we must dig into the belly of the Iron Fan Princess to fight, and progressively push it to change colour. In the grey zone, we must launch large-scale work, to accelerate its transformation into a red zone and prevent it decaying into a black zone. This work must be firmly grasped, and persistently conducted, and successes will be achieved certainly.
The online struggle is a sort of new form of public opinion struggle, we must research strategies and tactics. Others fight wars of movement and mobile battles, we can also not only fight conventional wars or battlefield wars, we must be flexible, in whichever way others hit us, we will hit, we will give tit for tat, and defeat them by surprise moves, we cannot have others lead us by the nose, we cannot hold up the larger strategic picture because of tactical rigidity. This means that “Even if we are right, we will not use this at times, even if we are wrong, we must go ahead sometimes”. We must deeply analyse the characteristics and laws of online struggles, and meticulously organize online struggle forces. Concerning online opinion leaders, we must strengthen education and guidance, we must encourage the good ones and restrain the bad ones, we cannot let things slide.
In short, we have so many Party and government organizations at high and low levels, we have so many State0owned enterprises, undertaking work units and people’s organizations, we have more than 85 million Party members and more than 89 million Youth League members, as long as we organize them well, we will absolutely be able to gain superiority. We must establish a line of strong online armies, to ensure that if we face more demons, we possess a higher level of righteousness.
V, Concerning summarizing experiences, reform and innovation
Over a long time of practice, our Party’s propaganda and ideology work has accumulated extremely rich experiences. These experiences have not been won easily, which makes them all the more precious, they are important guidelines to follow for future work, and must absolutely be earnestly summarized, persisted in for a long time, and be incessantly enriched and developed in practice.
Today, the social conditions for propaganda and ideology work have become greatly different, some of our methods were effective in the past, but not necessarily in the present; some things were untimely in the past, that are, however, imperative now; some things were insurmountable in the past, that now need to be surmounted. “Who does not renew every day will decline every day”. “The Wise person changes with the times, the knowledgeable person governs according to events.” Doing propaganda and ideology work well requires more information than at any time in the past.
The focus of propaganda and ideology work innovation must be grasping conceptual innovation, method innovation and grass roots work innovation. Conceptual innovation means that we must maintain ideological acuity and openness, breakthrough traditional fixed modes of thinking, and strive to open up new areas for work through new leaps in ideological understanding. Method innovation means that we must vigorously explore new methods and new means that benefit analysing and dissolving difficulties in work, we must especially adapt to the new circumstances of the continued progress in social informatization, accelerate the converged development of traditional media and new media, fully utilize new technologies and new applications to innovate media and communications forms, and occupy the commanding heights of information and communication. Grass roots work innovation means that we must put the focus of innovation at the level of the grass roots, solidly grasp the grass roots well and do grass roots work well. The ancients said: “a huge tree that fills one’s arms grows from a tiny seeding, a nine-storied tower rises from a heap of earth”. The service targets of propaganda and ideology work are at the grass roots, the centre of work is at the grass roots, the implementation of tasks is at the grass roots. Doing propaganda and ideology work is for the sake of propagating to the masses, mobilizing the masses, serving the masses as well as educating and guiding the masses, it is not for the sake of shows to leaders or higher levels. Al levels must pay attention to the grass roots, substantiate team strengths, improve work conditions, and ensure that the situation of weak grass roots propaganda and ideology work clearly improves within a relatively short time.
To do propaganda and ideology work well, we must absolutely grasp times, extents and effects well. We must guide the broad masses in looking more towards the mainstream, and not to be dominated by the tributaries; to look more towards the brilliant side, and not to be influenced by the dark side; to look more towards the essence, and not be misled by superficial appearances. We must pay attention to not say of problems of small points that they are overall problems, we must not say that exceptional problems are general problems, we must not say that partial problems are problems of the whole. How can a society with more than 1.3 billion people not have problems? Every day, we will discover many problems, but propaganda and reporting must pay attention. The influence of our newspapers, radio stations, television stations, websites and others is very large, as soon as an event is reported, it may be expanded tens of times or hundreds of times, bringing unimaginable results. Which issues should be reported nationwide, which issues should be reported locally? Which issues should be reported for a short while, for which issues should there be follow-up reporting? Which issues should be played down in reporting, which issues should be reported strongly? Which issues should be reported at once, which issues should only be reported after looking a bit at the aftermath? For example, some issues are exceptional or occasional events in and of themselves, but if you report them for a long time in close concentration, it may bring people to engender misconceptions; some issues require timely guidance, if you report them slowly, that may trigger disputes, as it would seem that we would want to hide or cover something up; some issues may have just occurred, and the aftermath and developments remain to be surveyed, if you vie to be the first in reporting, you may end up in a passive position instead; some issues themselves are firmly opposed by the Party and the government, if you speak evasively in reporting, it may let people engender misunderstandings, as if these things and people are shielded. Gasping times, extents and effects well is not a simple thing, it requires corresponding ideological and political qualities, a consciousness about the larger picture, the ability to judge and professional levels. These must be incessantly raised in practice.
In the area of propaganda, Western countries have their own way of doing things, they oppose propaganda ostensibly, but in fact, they di it with more enthusiasm, more expertise and more by hook and crook than anyone else, it is only the case that they conceal this by every way imaginable, and make it into “invisible propaganda”. Their strategy is that top-quality propaganda looks as if it was not conducted, the best propaganda must let the target of the propaganda march in the direction that you hoped, believing that it is the path he has chosen himself.
Concerning cultural structural reform, I’ll only stress one point, which is that we must, at the same time as continuing to boldly push reform forward, promote the overall flourishing of the cultural undertaking and the rapid development of the cultural industry, and constructing a strong Socialist cultural country, we must grasp the relationship between ideological properties and industrial properties, and between social effect and economic effect well, persist in the progressive direction of advanced Socialist culture throughout, and put social effect first throughout. Regardless of what we reform or how we reform, the orientation cannot change and battlefields cannot be lost.
VI, Concerning Chinese characteristics and international comparisons
One important task in doing propaganda and ideology work under circumstances of complete openness to the outside world, is guiding people to understand contemporary China and deal with the outside world more completely and objectively.
Propaganda that elaborates on Chinese characteristics must make clear that the historical traditions, cultural achievements and basic national circumstances of all countries and nations are different, their development path inevitably has its own characteristics as well; make clear that the Chinese nation has, in its civilizational development process of 5000 years, created a wide-ranging and profound Chinese culture, China’s culture has accumulated the profound spiritual pursuits of the Chinese nation, contains the most basic spiritual genome of the Chinese nation, it represents the unique spiritual symbols of the Chinese nation, and is rich nourishments for the Chinese nation to multiply endlessly, develop and expand; make clear that China’s excellent traditional culture is a prominent superiority of the Chinese nation, and is an important spiritual pillar for the Chinese nation to constantly strive to renew itself, unite and struggle, it is our most profound cultural soft power; make clear that Socialism with Chinese characteristics is rooted in the soil of Chinese culture, reflects the wishes of the Chinese people, is suited to the development and progress demands of China and of the times, has profound historical origins and broad bases in reality, the Chinese people have created the long-standing and well-established Chinese culture, the Chinese nation will also certainly be able to create new glories in Chinese culture.
Propaganda elaborating Chinese characteristics must pay attention to start from the historical angle of the flows, ups and downs of our country’s development since modern times, and the people’s struggle that surged like a tidal wave. The more than one hundred years from the Opium War to the establishment of the New China was the historical period in which China suffered the most unrest and was the most humiliated, it was the historical period in which the Chinese people were most miserable and most suffering. The Chinese people have awoken from suffering and risen up, they have vigorously explored this basic question of which kind of path China should march, and in which direction it should develop. The people have conducted many trials, a constitutional monarchy system, a multi-party system and a presidential system have all been tried, but the result was that they went nowhere. Only as the Chinese Communist Party lead the people and integrated the fundamental principles of Marxism with China’s reality, has the path of Socialism with Chinese characteristics that realized national independence and the liberation of the people, national wealth and strength, and the happiness of the people, been found.
Unique cultural traditions, unique historical destinies and unique basic national conditions have decided that we must march a development path suited to our own characteristics. Any scientific theory and system must be indigenized before it can have true effects. This is true for Marxism and for Socialism, the key why it could obtain victories in China was that our Party incessantly moved forward their Sinification, and operationalized them in close integration with China’s reality. Doing dogmatism or bookism, “always mentioning Greece in speeches”, cannot be successful. As has been said, “learning without change, is not learning”. With regard to our country’s traditional culture and foreign things, we must persist in letting the old serve the new, letting the foreign serve the Chinese, discard the dross and pick the essence, discard the false and retain the true, and ensure that they can be of use to us through scientific sifting. Our path, theory and system have our own clear characteristics and clear superiorities, we cannot indiscriminately copy Western methods, bringing them over would only result in them failing to acclimatize in the new environment, they would be doomed to fail.
This conclusion is a fact that has been demonstrated already by history, and is a history that has already been demonstrated by facts. In comparison with the China from before the establishment of the New China, or in comparison with the China from after the Opium War, the present-day China is poles apart! In the present world, if it is asked which party, which country and which nation can be self-confident, then the Chinese Communist Party, the People’s Republic of China and the Chinese nation have reason for self-confidence, on this point, truth is on our side.
In the West, there are people who say that China should change the angle of its historical propaganda, it should no longer make propaganda about its history of humiliation, but should follow the trends of the time. As I see it, we cannot heed this, forgetting history means betrayal. History objectively exists, history is the best textbook. A nation without historical memory does not have a future.
When we conduct historical education, we do not want to keep moaning and groaning about historical difficulties, but we want to mould the nation’s spirits and the nation’s souls through history, understand and grasp the development laws of Chinese society, and encourage the people’s confidence and courage to continue to advance. Mr Lu Xun said: “only the people’s souls merit value, only when they are developed, can China truly progress.” This is not to say that our institutions and our work are perfect in every way, we still face many difficulties and issues, and the popular masses are still dissatisfied about our work in many places. These must be resolved through our work, these must be resolved through our pushing forward with the self-perfection and development of the Socialist system, and their resolution must be grasped firmly.
We must welcome the masses’ regular, reasonable and well-intended criticism and supervision, regardless of how sharp it is, we must not be unhappy, we must not suppress it, we must not just welcome it, but we must earnestly listen and realistically improve matters. At the same time, we must make one matter clear, we must maintain correct attitudes in dealing with problems, we cannot completely deny our own path, theory and system when we run into a few problems, or completely deny our own history and struggle. When dealing with this issue of Socialism with Chinese characteristics, when dealing with China’s development path and development model, a series of confused understandings and even mistaken viewpoints exist in society. Some take a part for the whole, attack one point, don’t touch upon the rest, and say that the situation is pitch black all over; some fish for fame and compliments, and make jeering and abuse into a method for becoming famous, in order to win some acclaim; some have an inferiority complex and always believe that nothing in China is good, and everything foreign is good, they have the illusion of using Western systems to transform China. Among these people, some have confused understandings, some have problems with their ways of thinking, some have problems with their political positions, circumstances are not the same. The yardstick to examine them is Marxism and is Socialism with Chinese characteristics, we can neither have “leftism” as yardstick, nor can we have rightism as yardstick. We must differentiate circumstances, do work deeply, meticulously and realistically.
Concerning changes in global circumstances and development, concerning newly emerging things and new circumstances in the world, and concerning the new ideologies, new viewpoints and new thinking that emerge from all countries, we must strengthen propaganda and reporting, for the benefit of vigorous learning from the beneficial results of the creation of human civilization, we cannot close our eyes and not look at the world. But the objective of understanding and participating in the world is for the sake of serving ourselves, and is in order to develop ourselves even better. If we lose ourselves in international comparison, or even deny ourselves, such a comparison is without meaning. Economic globalization does not equal westernization, and does certainly not equal cultural monism.
In reporting events happening in the world, we must be objective, complete and truthful, we must strengthen guidance, good things must be reported, bad things must be reported as well. Especially when we report about the situation in Western countries, we must pay attention to grasping matters well, we must not let people generate a sort of “the moon is rounder abroad than in China” feeling. Western countries’ media wear coloured spectacles when they look at us, good things are also drawn towards bad places, and they do their utmost to disseminate this inside our country through all sorts of means. The West always attacks our system, our economic circumstances, food security, human rights, social and public order, corruption and other issues, they attack and start rumours, seize the opportunity to beat their own drum, make mountains out of molehills, and whip up public opinion. Now, why must we be polite and show mercy towards their abuses and scandals? A financial crisis and a debt crisis occurred in the US and other Western countries, their economies landed in difficulties, is this then not the abuse of Western capitalist systems? The US stress freedom and democracy, and online freedom, but do they not secretly commit large-scale surveillance of citizens’ conversations and telecommunications? The US and other Western countries have a gap between rich and poor that is not small, and did “Occupy Wall Street” and other such incidents not happen? Does the phenomenon of the US massacring and slaughtering the innocent at will in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other places not exist on a large scale? Western countries export their value systems and institutional models everywhere, in which country has this met with true success? And so on, and so forth. Concerning these matters, we must strengthen reporting and guidance, otherwise they will always be talking about what we’re doing wrong left and right, or some people will always post discourse online that blindly adulates the West. In this regard, we must have a balance, waiting for them to reach such a balance is impossible, so we must do it ourselves, if we don’t do it, others will not help us do it.
We must meticulously do foreign propaganda work well. Following our country’s economic and social development, and the rise of our international position, international society’s rational knowledge of China’s development path and development model is progressively deepening, but at the same time, there are still quite a few misunderstandings about us, the “China Threat Theory”, the “China Collapse Theory” and other such theories linger in one’s ears. In comparison with some European and American countries that have suffered from the financial crisis and the debt crisis, in comparison with some developing countries that have been bogged down in development traps, and in comparison with a number of countries in West Asia and North Africa that suffer political upheaval and social chaos, our country’ development can be said to be a landscape that only looks good on this side. But, the West still “slights” China. In the international public opinion structure, the West is strong and we are weak, Western major media control global public opinion, we often have rationales that we cannot speak out about, or once we’ve spoken about the, we can’t communicate them. This problem must be resolved with great efforts. We must strive to move international communications capacity construction forward, innovate foreign propaganda methods, strengthen discourse system construction, strive to forge new concepts, new categories and new expressions that circulate between China and the outside world, tell China’s story well, disseminate China’s voice well, and strengthen our discourse power internationally.
VII, Concerning the entire Party setting to work and the responsibility of departments
I have been pondering a question, which is: our Communist Party members can wage war, this has been made clear by the establishment of the New China; our Communist Party members can do construction and development, this has been made clear by pushing forward reform and opening up; but can our Communist Party members persist in the leadership of the Party, persist in and develop Socialism with Chinese characteristics in an increasingly complex international and domestic environment, this needs to be answered by successive generations of Communist Party members.
To do thought work well, and do propaganda and ideology work well, we must understand matters against this background. The comrades in the entire Party and especially all levels’ leading Party cadres must, according to the requirements of the Centre, solidly do ideological work well.
In doing ideological work well, propaganda and ideology departments bear an extremely important mission, they must have the responsibility to protect the territory, bear the responsibility to protect the territory and implement the responsibility to protect the territory. Propaganda and ideology departments’ work must be strengthened, which means that first and foremost, leading cadres must be strengthened and ranks must be strengthened. Those taking charge of leadership works in propaganda and ideology departments, apart from being politically reliable, must always have “a number of brushes” in theory, writing ability, eloquence or other special skills. Only if a profound rational can be explained clearly in the simplest terms, if we can rapidly integrate with the masses wherever we go, if the masses like to hear our speeches and like to read the articles we write, can there be initiatives and can we gain high proficiency. All levels’ propaganda departments’ leading comrades must strengthen study and strengthen practice, and truly become experts and old hands that are convincing to the people.
In cadre allocation to propaganda and ideology departments, we cannot just consider cadres qualifications, service records and other such factors, we must consider even more the quality demands of the position, we cannot become used to looking for candidates on the basis of “some cadre should resolve this” thinking, allocating cadres in this manner will result in them not being suited to the position, which both influences work and lets the cadre in question feel very much under pressure.
Relying only on propaganda and ideology departments to do propaganda and ideology work well is insufficient, the entire Party must set a hand to this. Now, does the problem exist that some do not want to grasp, cannot grasp or do not dare to grasp ideological work? As I see it, this exists. All levels’ Party Committees and leading cadres must realistically grasp propaganda and ideology work. In looking whether a leading cadre is mature or not, whether he can assume heavy responsibilities or not, an important aspect is to look at whether or not he pays high attention to and is good at grasping propaganda and ideology work. All levels’ Party Committees must shoulder political duties and leadership duties, strengthen analysis and judgment of major issues in the propaganda and ideology area and comprehensive guidance over major strategic tasks, and incessantly raise propaganda and ideology work leadership abilities and levels. Party Committees’ main responsible comrades must take the lead in grasping ideology work, take the lead in reading the content of main media in their regions and their departments, take the lead in guarding the orientation of media in their region or department, and take the lead in criticizing mistaken viewpoints and mistaken tendencies. We must select leading ranks well and allocate strengths, show concern for and cherish propaganda and ideology cadres, those who are unsuitable or unfit are to be firmly moved elsewhere, to ensure that propaganda and ideology work leadership power is closely grasped in the hands of people who are loyal to the Party and the people. We must pay attention to establishing good communications relationships with thinking circles, theoretical circles, knowledge circles and other areas, timely notify them about the Centre’s judgments about a number of large issues and major work policies, timely hear their opinions, and ensure that the wishes of higher authorities are known to those below, and the wishes of those below are known to higher authorities. All levels’ Party Committees may establish this sort of work mechanism through all kinds of forms, and maintain this for a long time.
The entire Party is to set to work, it must establish a work concept of big propaganda, mobilize all fronts and departments to work together, and integrate propaganda and ideology work with administrative management, sector management and social management in all areas. Economic, educational, science, technology, political-legal and all other departments that bear social management responsibilities must strengthen communication and coordination with propaganda and ideology work departments, and consciously support work on the propaganda and ideology front. Labour unions, the Communist Youth League, the Women’s Federation and other such people’s organizations must mobilize social forces to support and participate in propaganda and ideology work.
Now, there is a strange phenomenon, which is that whoever posts positive discourse, or whoever posts discourse supporting the Party and the government, whoever refutes the sort of discourse that attacks and slanders the Party and the government, will be attacked from all sides, and furthermore, there are some attacks that are full of filthy speech, that are intolerable to the ear, and we on our side often remain silent or speak quietly. This is a very irregular phenomenon. Why do we not speak out? Why do we not jointly support correct opinions and criticize mistaken viewpoints? Party Committees must first of all support comrades who dare to confront opponents, who dare to criticize and act correctly, and they must openly support them. We must not believe that these comrades are asking for trouble for themselves, thinking like that is incorrect. We must commend these comrades, and those meeting conditions must be promoted to important positions. When we stress that positions must be firm and consistency maintained, this cannot just be an empty phrase.
In the propaganda and ideology area, we do not engage in senseless disputes, but where issues of great rights and wrongs are involved, or where issues of political principle are involved, we can absolutely not equivocate, and can certainly not give way. “Only after our repeated calls did she appear; her face still half hidden behind a pipa lute” will not do! Leading cadres must dare to stand in the teeth of the storm and conduct struggle. I have once said that leading cadres cannot be “meticulous about their appearance”. Some cadres avoid issues of great rights and wrongs, their attitude is ambiguous, they shut themselves up in ivory towers, they are afraid of losing points and fear that people call them unenlightened. This is absolutely no good! What kinds of feathers are these? What kind of image is this? Feigning an enlightened posture! If your image is good among some people, your image will be poor in the hearts of the broad Party members and cadres, and your image will be poor in the hearts of the people. There are no liberal-minded gentlemen on the battlefield, there are also no liberal-minded gentlemen with regard to great matters of right and wrong, there must be struggle. As Party cadres, we must not think about winning the acclaim of all sorts of people in society, or winning favourable opinions from all sorts of public opinion abroad. We must only stand on the position of the Party and the people and persist in principles, and such a result cannot come about. For the sake of the undertaking of the Party and the people, our Communist Party members don’t even fear shedding blood and sacrificing themselves, how could they then fear losing a little of an empty reputation? Our Party can also not evaluate cadres under that sort of false pretences. As Party cadres, we cannot use “no disputes”, “no sensational hubbubs” and “let them talk” as an excuse for someone not to act, and we can certainly not sway east and west, and pander to left and right! In the political struggle that relates to the fate of the Party and the country, no leading cadre can be a bystander. In the future, whenever someone attacks our comrades again, our propaganda and ideology departments must speak out, Party Committees must speak out, and all areas must speak out! we must send a united and clear signal, form an attitude of hundreds responding to a single call, and must not fear infamy. I often say that cadres must dare to undertake matters, this is an important test.
Sometimes, when problems appear, relevant Party Committees must rapidly analyse them and indicate standpoints. Especially concerning those events that violate the masses’ interest, and violate Party discipline or national law, once they are clearly judged, attitudes must be brought out rapidly. If Party Committees do not have attitudes, how are news and propaganda departments to discuss this? They cannot! There is one point that must be made clear, which is that all levels’ Party Committees and governments, and all levels’ leading cadres must, when events that violate the masses’ interests, violate Party discipline or national law occur, absolutely not protect this or conceal this, but must indicate an attitude of firm opposition. Some cadres commit all kinds of outrages, they take bribes and pervert the law, or tyrannize the common people, what are you doing protecting them? Many things start out very small, with the resulting chaos being very large. Some comrades may perhaps fear influencing their career scoring, or influencing their images. I make clear here that if problems occur, circumstances are clear and there are clear mistakes, relevant Party Committees must indicate attitudes at the first opportunity, and the responsibility of those who protect or conceal this must be investigated..
Finally, Comrade Xi Jinping hopes that comrades in propaganda and ideology work departments integrate the Party’s mass line propaganda, education and practice movement that is currently being launched with further reflection on a series of major issues in their own work, if they find deficiencies, they are to put forward measures for reform, and strive to do propaganda and ideology work even better.