Topping page one in the CCP’s People’s Daily today is the official Xinhua News Agency readout on the meeting of the Politburo Standing Committee to study the covid prevention and control situation, which was published online late yesterday. The meeting was a powerful affirmation of the “dynamic zero-covid” policy China has pursued since 2020, and the readout is dominated by words like “persistence” and “unshakeable.”

The word “persistence” appears three times at the very top of the readout:

The meeting pointed out that since the onset of the covid epidemic, we have persisted in people first and life first, we have persisted in defense against import [of the virus] and against internal recurrence, we have persisted in dynamic zero, and therefore significant strategic results in prevention and control have been achieved through constant adjustment of prevention and control measures.

Further down in the readout is language about “unwaveringly persisting in the general policy of ‘dynamic zero,’” and immediately after comes the phrase “persistence is victory” (坚持就是胜利), which CMP analyzed yesterday as a recent focus in official CCP discourse of late.   

The front page of the May 6, 2022, edition of the People’s Daily.

The language about “unwavering persistence” (毫不动摇坚持), linked to the notion of persistence as victory, provides the foundation for a page two commentary in the People’s Daily attributed to “a commentator from this paper,” or benbao pinglunyuan (本报评论员), marking it as a staff-written piece representing views in the senior leadership.

The commentary starts off with the same triple use of “persistence” that appears in the Politburo meeting readout, but this time language is included about Xi Jinping as the “core” leader of the Party. The phrase “persisting in dynamic zero” then appears three times in the commentary, followed by the hyperbolic triple persistence line CMP covered in yesterday’s analysis: “Persistence is victory! Only by persisting can there be victory! Persistence will definitely bring victory!”

Beyond the message of persistence in the zero-covid policy, we should note language in the readout, commentary and last night’s official Xinwen Lianbo (新闻联播) newscast about “resolutely overcoming lack of awareness, lack of preparation, insufficient work and other problems, and resolutely overcoming contempt, indifference, self-righteousness and other [trends] in thinking.” This language should be read as a direct criticism of unspecified local CCP leaders who have questioned the policies at the center, or who have been insufficiently successful in applying them. And it is difficult not to hear in this phrase about “self-righteousness” (自以为是) a condemnation of leaders in Shanghai in particular.

The resolve to “persist” in the dynamic zero approach comes also with the message that dissent over the policy will not be tolerated. The readout notes that the Party must “resolutely struggle against all distortions, doubts and denials of our epidemic prevention policy.”

David Bandurski

CMP Director

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