China announces it wants more immigrants, better diplomats and science-led industry

Presidential think tank also wants more respect for media. Unlike, oh, where exactly?

While the United States wrestles with president Donald J Trump's attempt to suspend refugee intakes and ban visits from citizens of seven nations, China's decided it's time to make it easier to become a permanent resident, beef up its diplomatic corps, elevate the role science and technology plays in its economy and even improve the public's opinion of journalists.

That raft of initiatives was stated on Monday by a body called The Central Leading Group for Comprehensively Deepening Reforms. Established in 2013 and headed by Chinese leader Xi Jinping, the Group is one of ten such policy-making bodies set up to set reformist policies and get them implemented at speed. Members of the Leading Groups are nearly all Politburo members from Xi's inner circle.

The Group met on Monday and issued a widely-reported statement carried in multiple state media outlets, all with near-identical wording. The headline item was the intention to “optimize the rules and process for issuing certificates of permanent residence to foreigners with favorable treatments.”

“The reform serves the nation's talent development strategy and responds to social concern,” the reports say.

Other plans call for “ professional development of foreign affairs workers and foreign aid should be reformed” to create “ a team of workers involved in foreign services who are politically steadfast, professional in work, have a fine work style and strict in following discipline.”

There's also an edict that “A consultation committee of the national science and technology decision-making should give advice on innovation and focus on the forefront of world science and technology, raising suggestions on how to boost social and economic development, improve people's lives and build up national defense.”

We're not making this up, people. This is China calling for more migrants, better diplomacy and a more central role for science. Oh and just to complete the Bizarro World feel of this whole episode, the statement also “... agreed to improve the personnel system, payment, performance assessment and dismissal systems within the country's major state media.” It's unclear if those reforms are aimed at making it easier to fire journalists, or easier for journalists to appeal disciplinary actions. Reports on the statement go on to say that the reform “should boost the state media workers' sense of belonging and loyalty so as to support the long-term and healthy development of journalism”.

As another of Xi's pet projects is stamping out corruption, an optimist's view of the statement could interpret it as a desire for China to grow a crop investigative journalists to take on the Communist Party's priorities. A pessimistic view is that Xi wants media to remember their main role: faithfully telling the stories the leader wants told, a view of journalism we hear is quite popular these days. ®

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