Exactly two weeks ago at CMP, we wrote that one crucial term signaling the power and prestige of Xi Jinping, the so-called “Two Establishes,” or liangge queli (两个确立), was trending strongly in the People’s Daily and in Chinese state media generally. The strong trend line for the “Two Establishes,” a phrase that reiterates Xi’s position as the“core” of the CCP, and underscores his ideas as the bedrock of China’s future under the CCP, was to be expected in the discourse build-up toward the 20th National Congress of the CCP, to be held later this fall.
But while extreme caution is warranted when it comes to reading CCP discourse, the trend lines are no longer so clear.
Taking the long view over 2022, the “Two Establishes” seems to be in the midst of an August rise. When we plot the number of articles in the People’s Daily using the term on a half-month basis since January, the following graph results, with 39 articles closing out the first half of August — the same amount recorded for all of June. The huge peak for March corresponds to the National People’s Congress (NPC), which was a major political event, and an opportunity for delegates and other senior officials to butter Xi’s toast with the “Two Establishes.”
But the odd fact is that over the past week, since Xi Jinping re-emerged from the summer conclave at the beach resort of Beidaihe, there have been just two articles in the People’s Daily including the “Two Establishes.”
The first, appearing on page 11 on August 19, was a contribution by Yin Li (尹力), the top CCP leader in Fujian, who praised developments in his own province and took the opportunity to express his loyalty to Xi by saying there was a need for “a deep understanding of the decisive significance of the ‘Two Establishes.’”
The second appears in the People’s Daily today, in a page-nine article by an official from Guangxi. The article closes by mentioning the same exact phrase used by Yin Li.
By the second half of July, it was typical to see 2 articles per day mentioning the “Two Establishes,” and in the first half of this month, that number was up to 2-3 articles per day.
It is still possible that Xi’s numbers for this phrase could pick up pace over the next week. But if they do not, we would need to reckon with a sharp drop on the graph that could bring numbers back to February levels. Given the ever-nearing 20th National Congress, that would be an odd trend line in the official discourse.