Xi Jinping vows that China will never be humiliated again
President proclaims country's "irreversible" rise as a world power under Communist Party rule
BeijingA ceremony full of symbolism and sober by Chinese standards, because it has only gathered about seventy thousand people, has commemorated the centenary of the Communist Party in Tiananmen Square, where the President, Xi Jinping, has called for loyalty and unity for the party to continue facing the challenges of the future.
As General Secretary of the Communist Party, Xi began his hour-long speech by praising China's "irreversible" rise and assured that "the era in which the Chinese people could be bullied and oppressed is over forever and ever" thanks to the Communist Party. A clear reference to the moment of the founding in a house of the French concession in Shanghai, when the colonial powers had forced China to open the ports and controlled some cities. The party and the people, Xi said, fought against the Japanese invasion, won the war and managed to develop the country.
Xi has chosen the same place where Mao proclaimed the People's Republic almost 72 years ago. They employed the same tribune and almost the same protocol and scenography that are used in all ceremonies, and which underline the continuity of the party and the government. The most applauded part of the speech was when he ratified the will to reunify Taiwan and also when he asked for the commitment of the young people with the party to build the future.
In the square, and placed in an orderly fashion, there were representatives from different sectors and groups: military, police, workers, sportsmen, university students and also health personnel dressed in white coats. Precisely the reference to covid-19 was the main image of the square, full of people without masks. It conveyed the idea that the pandemic has been overcome and that normality has returned. It was not a banal image in Beijing, where, like the rest of the country, most people still wear masks in the streets. In fact, in the square many wore them tied to their arms.
The event began at eight o'clock in the morning with a fired cannon. Two hundred soldiers paraded marking the ceremonial step to raise the flag. They have walked just one hundred steps, the same number of years that the party has. The national anthem was sung with enthusiasm.
In the sky, which threatened rain, helicopters drew the number 100 in honor of the anniversary and ten fighter planes formed the 71, in reference to the date: 1st day of the 7th month. There was no military parade, but 80 planes flew over the sky in formation, including six of the J-20 stealth fighter model, the pride of the army.
The ceremony ended with the release of doves and balloons over Tiananmen. The celebrations in China are increasingly opting for a North Korean aesthetic, far from the creative and praised opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics.
Xi Jinping appeared in a Mao-style suit on the rostrum of authorities, which made him stand out from the rest of the guests. He was accompanied by former leaders such as former President Hu Jintao and former Premier Wen Jiabao. Also in attendance were older members of the party's ruling bodies, including Song Ping, 104.
Carrie Lam, accompanied by some of her predecessors at the head of the Hong Kong government, was also present. From the rostrum she heard Xi say that he will "defend" the "one country, two systems" agreement to guarantee sovereignty over Hong Kong and Macau. The ceremony in Beijing contrasted with the tense and sad celebration in Hong Kong of the 24th anniversary of the return of the British colony's sovereignty to China. The National Security Law, imposed by China, has curtailed the civil rights of the population.
Xi Jinping has also sent messages to the international community, assuring that China does not intend to be hegemonic and that "it has never oppressed any country and never will", in a clear reference to the United States and other Western powers. But this neutrality is not incompatible with modernizing the military to defend national sovereignty, and he insisted that the party needs to maintain "absolute leadership" over the military. He did not forget to stress how important it was for the party to maintain ties with the people, and warned that the attempt to divide it was doomed to fail.
When he reviewed the hundred years of the party's history, he did not make any reference to the black episodes. The Cultural Revolution or the millions of starvation caused by the Great Leap Forward simply do not exist. Questioning the official version of history is not allowed. Revisionism, or, as it is usually defined in China, "historical nihilism", is persecuted because Xi Jinping himself claims that it undermines the power of the party. More than two million websites have been censored ahead of the celebrations.