Shanghai, China – Chinese President Xi Jinping told crowds gathered in Beijing that the era of “intimidated” China was over and that anyone trying to separate the party and the Chinese people was doomed to failure, while the Chinese Communist Party was celebrating its centenary.
Speaking from the balcony above Mao Zedong’s portrait in Tiananmen Square, Xi spoke for more than an hour about the party’s successes since its founding in Shanghai in 1921.
In a confident speech, accompanied by senior party leaders both past and present, he spoke about how the party had liberated China from a “exploitative” feudal system, created a “socialist market economy full of vitality” and eliminated absolute misery.
“Only socialism can save China, and only socialism with Chinese characteristics can develop China,” said Xi, who was wearing a dark gray Mao-style dress.
The Chinese Communist Party defeated the nationalists in the country’s civil war in 1949 and Mao Zedong declared the People’s Republic of China with the aim of driving people out of poverty. China is now the second largest economy in the world and Xi is considered the most powerful leader of the country since Mao Zedong.
The celebrations came with Beijing under pressure on trade – where tensions are growing with countries including the United States and Australia – and its policies in the western region of Xinjiang, as well as in Hong Kong and and Tibet. There are also questions about the COVID-19 pandemic, which was born in the central city of Wuhan, and continues to wreak havoc around the world.
At the head of a party and an increasingly trusted nation, Xi warned that any attempt to separate the party and the people was “forced to fail.”
While in China “welcome[d] friendly suggestions from all over the world, ”Xi said, adding that the country will not accept“ arrogant conferences ”.
The loudest applause and applause came when Xi said that the Chinese “will no longer allow any foreign power to intimidate and oppress”, and that whoever tried to do so “will be mistreated by the perseverance of the Chinese nation.”
“No one should underestimate the will and power of the Chinese nation to fight against foreign power,” Xi added.
While Xi was delivering his speech in Beijing, social media saw a flurry of celebration posts.
The landing pages of almost all social media platforms featured meticulously designed celebration posters; in the WeChat Moments feed, roughly the equivalent of Facebook’s news feed, people posted congratulatory messages and photos, with words like “happy birthday – our big CCP”; and on Weibo, China’s social media platform Twitter, CCP’s centennial topics have swept over the trending topic list, with the topic # CCPTurns100Today garnering more than five billion views.
“We can do it all!”
The centenary celebrations in Beijing began with a flypast in which about 30 military aircraft formed a “100” in the sky above the blazing crowds. There were also trumpets and horns sounding communist songs, and the salutes of 100 guns fired into the sky in extravagant celebrations of national pride.
In airports and train stations, on billboards, on posters and propaganda materials on television and social media, China has become the red flag of the communist party.
In Longnan, in the northwest of Gansu province, a transit point for Chinese Communist Party fighters during the Great March of 1934, party flags were hung on the roofs of every house and large statues. of the hammer and sickle erected weeks before the 1st of July.
The city has become a popular place for “red tourism”.
“We are all proud members of the party and we want to come here to pay tribute to the old generation of revolutionaries,” Ms. Guan, a member of Shan’xi’s party, told Al Jazeera as she posed for a photo with a group. of other party members. on a tour of the city in front of a falcon and a huge hammer.
Longnan is not the only city celebrating the anniversary of the country’s ruling party.
The entire nation was mobilized to observe the day – from the giant city of Shanghai where the CCP was founded and the party’s first congress was convened – to the small towns of Xinjiang where Beijing was accused of suppressing rights. of the Uighur ethnic minority.
Despite the general mood of exuberance, there have been some complaints that preparations for the event have hampered daily life. Special security checkpoints were installed for travelers in Beijing ahead of the celebration, roads surrounding Tiananmen were closed for days, and police and paramilitary forces stationed in almost every corner of the city.
Wu, a Shanghai-based music concertgoer, said almost all of his freelance concerts had been canceled throughout June and July due to the “special time period” that required “vigorous control of what could be allowed.” “.
“I’m not really interested in the celebration, but I agree with it – but at least I shouldn’t cancel so many music festivals and concerts,” said Wu, who asked for anonymity. “I don’t understand how sensitive he is.”
For Fu, a photographer based in Anhui province, the sharp restrictions meant he was unable to buy a drone, affecting his work. Since June 11, all online platforms have been required to take recreational drones offshore for “relevant regulatory requirements,” and the measures will remain in effect until July 15.
“I’m used to these kinds of unnecessary and sometimes ridiculous measures,” Fu said, asking to be identified only with a pseudonym. “I just hope to be able to buy drones soon so I can get back to my job.”
For the ruling party, however, the effort is worth it.
For China’s leaders, the real challenge is still overseas where Beijing faces increasing criticism and scrutiny not only over Xinjiang, but also in Hong Kong, where it has been accused of decimating rights and freedoms that were guaranteed when the territory was returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
On the continent, however, the Communist Party seems to be gaining an almost unprecedented level of praise and loyalty.
“Without the Communist Party, there would be no new China,” says a famous Communist Party song. A century after the founding of the party, it is a sentiment that seems to be widely shared among the Chinese population, whether party members or not.
Data released Wednesday show that party membership has increased by 2.43 million last year, the largest increase since Xi became president in 2013.
“I am so proud to be a member of the party, and I am so proud to be Chinese,” a Weibo user commented during the livestream of the celebration in Tiananmen Square. “Under the direction of the PCC, we can do everything!”