On page five of today’s official People’s Daily newspaper, a commentary by Guo Jiping (国纪平) – short for “important commentary on international affairs,” or you guan guoji de zhongyao pinglun (有关国际的重要评论) – offers a full-scale account of China’s year in 2020. It will surprise no one that this account is entirely positive, full of unambiguous superlatives about China’s achievements and how, most importantly, these can all be chalked up to the superb leadership of Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party.

The commentary, “Facts Speak Louder Than Rhetoric” (事实胜于雄辩), is a sprawling page of rhetoric – about the “community of common destiny for mankind” (人类命运共同体), about “Six Stabilities” (六稳) and the “Six Guarantees” (六保), about the “miracle of China’s rapid economic growth,” and so on.

If there is any question about how the Chinese Communist Party will choose, officially, to remember 2020, all questions are answered in the soaring rhetoric of the Guo Jiping piece.

The summary sentence at the start:

At a major historical juncture, mankind faced a major test. China showed its report card, and injected confidence and hope into the world. How extraordinary!

And here is the basic assessment of the year:

China achieved major strategic results in the fight against Covid-19, delivering a response that satisfied the people, turned the eyes of the world, and is to be recorded in the annals of history. China has become the only major economy in the world to achieve positive economic growth, and it made major breakthroughs on the Three Major Struggles [of  preventing and resolving major risks, achieving poverty alleviation, and preventing pollution] as well as major progress on science and innovation, on major breakthroughs in reform and opening, and on strong guarantees for the peoples’ livelihood. These achievements did not come easily, but came through hardship and obstacles, and they result from the resolute leadership of the Chinese Communist Party with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core, and result from the united struggle of the whole Party, the whole army, and people of all ethnic groups throughout the country.

In a year when China has faced sharp criticism from many quarters, first for its failure to be transparent about the epidemic in Wuhan and to allow in inspection teams, and then for its concerted global campaign of disinformation in the midst of the pandemic, and a year in which unfavourable views of China reached history highs in many countries, here is the CCP’s own assessment of its global image:

There are many voices in the world praising China one after another. As the former foreign minister of and deputy chancellor of Germany Joschka Fischer declared in the Spanish media that “2020 is a successful year for China.”

There is no mention, of course, that while Fischer did write earlier this month that “2020 proved to be a highly successful year for China,” particularly noting failures of leadership elsewhere in the world, he also was very clear that “[serious] failures by Chinese authorities permitted that outbreak to grow into a pandemic that has now killed almost 1.5 million people and brought the global economy to a standstill.”

But the Party and its flagship newspaper know only too well that rhetoric can speak louder than the facts.