(CLOCKWISE) Chinese President Xi Jinping waves to the audience during the official ceremony held in Beijing to mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Chinese Communist Party on Thursday; thousands of balloons are released in celebration; students hold aloft Chinese flags during the event; helicopters fly in formation over the Tiananmen Square; and, members of a military band play the national anthem as a giant flag is unfurled at the venue.—AP/AFP/Reuters
(CLOCKWISE) Chinese President Xi Jinping waves to the audience during the official ceremony held in Beijing to mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Chinese Communist Party on Thursday; thousands of balloons are released in celebration; students hold aloft Chinese flags during the event; helicopters fly in formation over the Tiananmen Square; and, members of a military band play the national anthem as a giant flag is unfurled at the venue.—AP/AFP/Reuters

• Says a strong country must have a strong military, as only then can it guarantee the security of nation
• Asserts any attempt to set people against party is bound to fail

BEIJING: China’s President Xi Jinping on Thursday warned that foreign forces attempting to bully the nation would “get their heads bashed”, and hailed a “new world” created by its people as the ruling Communist Party marked the centenary of its founding.

In an hour-long address from Tiananmen Square, Xi pledged to build up China’s military, committed to the “reunification” of Taiwan and said social stability would be ensured in Hong Kong while protecting China’s security and sovereignty.

“The people of China are not only good at destroying the old world, they have also created a new world,” said Xi, China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong, the founder of the People’s Republic. “Only socialism can save China.”

Xi and his party are riding high as China recovers briskly from the Covid-19 outbreak and takes a more assertive stance on the global stage.

In his speech, President Xi said that the people of China would never allow any foreign force to bully, oppress, or subjugate them. “Anyone who dares try to do that will have their heads bashed bloody against the Great Wall of steel forged by over 1.4 billion Chinese people,” he said, sparking applause from an audience of 70,000 gathered in the massive square in central Beijing.

The phrase became the top trending topic on China’s Twitter-like Weibo on Thursday morning.

China, whose rapid military modernisation has fuelled growing worry among its neighbours and in the West, will build up its armed forces to safeguard its sovereignty, security and development, elevating them to world-class standards, Xi said.

“We must accelerate the modernisation of national defence and the armed forces,” said Xi, who is also chairman of the Central Military Commission, which controls the country’s armed forces.

Resolving the Taiwan question and realising China’s complete “reunification” is an “unswerving historical task” of the party, Xi said.

“All sons and daughters of China, including compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, must work together and move forward in solidarity, resolutely smashing any Taiwan independence plots,” he said.

China, which considers democratically-ruled Taiwan its own, has stepped up efforts to assert its sovereignty claims, including sending fighter jets and bombers close to the island.

Regarding Hong Kong and Macau, Xi said China would “stay true to the letter and spirit of the principle of ‘One Country, Two Systems’,” under which the two are promised a high degree of autonomy.

The following are some highlights from President Xi’s speech:

“We are now marching in confident strides towards the second centenary goal of building China into a great modern socialist country in all respects.

“All the struggle, sacrifice, and creation through which the party has united and led the Chinese people over the past hundred years has been tied together by one ultimate theme — bringing about the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

“The Chinese nation has achieved the tremendous transformation from standing up and growing prosperous to becoming strong, and China’s national rejuvenation has become a historical inevitability.

“The people are the true heroes, for it is they who create history.

“Any attempt to divide the party from the Chinese people or to set the people against the party is bound to fail. The more than 95 million party members and the more than 1.4bn Chinese people will never allow such a scenario to come to pass.

“At the fundamental level, the capability of our party and the strengths of socialism with Chinese characteristics are attributable to the fact that Marxism works.

“We are eager to learn what lessons we can from the achievements of other cultures, and welcome helpful suggestions and constructive criticism. We will not, however, accept sanctimonious preaching from those who feel they have the right to lecture us.

“A strong country must have a strong military, as only then can it guarantee the security of the nation.

“The Chinese nation does not carry aggressive or hegemonic traits in its genes.

“We have never bullied, oppressed, or subjugated the people of any other country, and we never will.

“Today we are closer, more confident, and more capable than ever before of making the goal of national rejuvenation a reality. But we must be prepared to work harder than ever to get there.

“The patriotic united front is an important means for the party to unite all the sons and daughters of the Chinese nation, both at home and abroad, behind the goal of national rejuvenation.

“A hallmark that distinguishes the Communist Party of China from other political parties is its courage in undertaking self-reform.”

Published in Dawn, July 2nd, 2021

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