Firmly in control, China’s Communist Party marks centenary

If anyone who tries to bully China, they will face “broken heads and bloodshed in front of the iron Great Wall of the 1.4 billion Chinese people,” President Xi Jinping said at a mass gathering Thursday to mark the centenary of the ruling Communist Party.

In a Mao Zedong-type grey buttoned-up suit, Xi spoke from the balcony of Tiananmen Gate, highlighting the party’s role in bringing China to global prominence and saying it would never be divided from the people.

Xi also said China had restored order in Hong Kong following anti-government protests in the semi-autonomous city in 2019 and reiterated Beijing’s determination to bring self-governing Taiwan under its control.

He received the biggest applause, however, when he described the party as the force that had restored China’s dignity after taking power amid civil war in 1949.

“The Chinese people are a people with a strong since of pride and self-confidence,” Xi said.

China is enmeshed in a deepening rivalry with the US for global power status and has clashed with India along their disputed border.

China also claims unpopulated islands held by Japan and almost the entire South China Sea, and it threatens to invade Taiwan, with which the US has boosted relations and military sales.

Xi said the party would retain absolute control over its military wing, the People’s Liberation Army, which now has the world’s second-largest annual budget after the US armed forces and has been adding aircraft carriers and sophisticated new aircraft, showcased in a flyover at the start of the ceremony featuring a squadron of China’s J-20 stealth fighters.

Events are being held across the country, including in Hong Kong, which is simultaneously holding commemorations of its 1997 handover from British to Chinese control.

China has cracked down hard on freedom of speech and political opposition in the territory, while rejecting all outside criticism and sanctions imposed on its leaders.

Thursday’s events are the climax of weeks of ceremonies and displays praising the role of the nearly 92 million-member party in bringing vast improvements in quality of life at home and restoring China’s economic, political and military influence abroad.

The celebrations spotlight the role of Xi, who has established himself as China’s most powerful leader since Mao.

Xi did not say what those forces were, but China is enmeshed in a deepening rivalry with the United States for global power status and has clashed with India along their disputed border. China also claims unpopulated islands held by Japan and almost the entire South China Sea, and it threatens to invade Taiwan, with which the U.S. has boosted relations and military sales.

Xi said the party would retain absolute control over its military wing, the People’s Liberation Army, which now has the world’s second-largest annual budget after the U.S. armed forces and has been adding aircraft carriers and sophisticated new aircraft, showcased in a flyover at the start of the ceremony featuring a squadron of China’s J-20 stealth fighters.

Events are being held across the country, including in Hong Kong, which is simultaneously holding commemorations of its 1997 handover from British to Chinese control.

China has cracked down hard on freedom of speech and political opposition in the territory, while rejecting all outside criticism and sanctions imposed on its leaders.

Thursday’s events are the climax of weeks of ceremonies and displays praising the role of the nearly 92 million-member party in bringing vast improvements in quality of life at home and restoring China’s economic, political and military influence abroad.

While the progress dates mainly from economic reforms enacted by Deng Xiaoping four decades ago, the celebrations spotlight the role of Xi, who has established himself as China’s most powerful leader since Mao.

https://www.thestatesman.com/world/firmly-control-chinas-communist-party-marks-centenary-1502977747.html

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