Xi says no more to ‘bully’ China during Communist Party centenary celebrations

President Xi Jinping praised China’s “irreversible” course from humiliated colony to great power during the Chinese Communist Party centenary celebrations on Thursday, in a speech reaching deep into history to remember patriots at home and rivals abroad to that of his country – and his own country. — predominance.

Speaking above the gigantic portrait of Mao Zedong, which dominates Tiananmen Square, from the podium where the famous chairman proclaimed the People’s Republic of China in 1949, Xi said the “era of bullied China is gone forever” and praised the party for the uplifting incomes and restore national pride.

Xi, who draws a line from the subjugation of the Opium Wars to the struggle to bring about a socialist revolution in China, said the party has brought about “national rejuvenation” that has lifted tens of millions of people out of poverty and “the landscape of world development”.

Xi, dressed in a ‘Mao-style’ jacket, added that “the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation has embarked on an irreversible historic course” and pledged to continue building a “world-class” army to defend national interests .

In the summer of 1921, Mao and a group of Marxist-Leninist thinkers in Shanghai founded the party that has since grown into one of the world’s most powerful political organizations.

It now has about 95 million members, amassed more than a century of war, famine and unrest, and more recently a rise in superpower status against western rivals led by the US.

In a ceremony of pomp and patriotism, thousands of singers, backed by a marching band, sang rousing choruses, including “We Are the Heirs of Communism” and “Without the Communist Party, there would be no New China,” as mask-less invitees cheered and waved flags in a crowded Tiananmen Square.

A flight of helicopters in formation spelled “100” — dragging a giant hammer and sickle flag — and a 100-gun salute ensued, as young communists swore in unison to the party.

Power, popularity and purges

Xi, whose speech intertwined China’s economic miracle with the party’s longevity, has cemented his eight-year rule through a cult of personality, ending terms and refusing to anoint a successor.

He has purged rivals and crushed dissidents – from Uyghur Muslims and online critics to pro-democracy protests on the streets of Hong Kong.

The party has taken on new challenges; using technology to renew its appeal to younger generations — 12.55 million members are now 30 or younger — while giving a communist finish to a consumer economy run by billionaire entrepreneurs.

On the streets of Beijing, the party was praised by those who wanted to speak to foreign media.

“We have to thank the party and the motherland,” said Li Luhao, 19, a student at Beihang University who performed at the celebration.

A man named Wang, 42, said: “When I was a kid, there were power outages and power shortages for an hour every night.”

“Now the streets are full of light. Food, clothing, education, traffic are all better.”

Xi has given a defiant face to US-led overseas rivals, reviving nationalist sentiment and curbing criticism of his government’s actions in Hong Kong, Taiwan and its treatment of the Uyghurs.

“The Chinese people will never allow foreign troops to bully, oppress or enslave us,” Xi said in his speech to great applause.

“Whoever wants to will face bloodshed for a Great Wall of steel built by more than 1.4 billion Chinese.”

Time for a party?

In its 100th anniversary, the party has brought a selective version of history through films, ‘red’ tourism campaigns and books, dancing to the mass violence of the Cultural Revolution, famines and the performance of students in Tiananmen Square .

Instead, it has drawn attention to China’s recovery from Covid-19, which first emerged in the central city of Wuhan but has virtually died out in the country.

But memories linger on the risks to stability.

Thursday also marks the 24th anniversary of the handover of the former British colony of Hong Kong to China, a date that once saw massive demonstrations against Beijing.

A year ago, China imposed a draconian national security law on the city in response to massive – often violent – ​​protests.

The measure indicted more than 64 activists, criminalized anti-Chinese slogans and even saw the shutdown of a critical newspaper as the law sinks the once freewheeling city into what Amnesty International calls a “human rights emergency.”

Police have turned down requests for demonstrations in the city, though several pro-democracy groups have vowed to defy a 10,000-strong police presence on the streets.

“The CCP can go to hell,” a Hong Konger who gave his name only as Ken told AFP.

“Everything worth having, they destroy.”

(AFP)

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