context: Xi Jinping’s recent admonition to Party cadres and officials to be attentive to the international environment and new obstacles to reform at home was a measured effort to identify risks while conveying reassurance. The editorial that accompanied the summary of his remarks, however, strikes a somewhat different tone.

A People’s Daily unsigned editorial, appearing on its front-page the same day of Xi Jinping’s speech spurring officials to prepare for challenges to reform, largely repeated the themes of that address. But in what can only be considered an authoritative view in at least some quarters, the editorial amplified the sense of danger, exhorting cadres to ‘enhance their consciousness of worry’.

The piece also advised officials that experience has shown that ‘the more achievements you make, the more cautious you have to be treading on thin ice, the more anxious you have to be in peace.’

The commentary concluded by quoting the adage, ‘chaotic clouds quickly pass, stay calm,’ while telling officials to ‘never forget danger, never forget death, and never forget chaos’, and ‘adhere to the responsibility of defending territory, fulfill the duty of protecting the homeland.’