Shanghai, China – Chinese President Xi Jinping told the crowd gathered in Beijing that the era of China’s âharassmentâ is over and anyone who tries to separate the party and the Chinese people is doomed, while the Communist Party Chinese celebrated 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 past and present, he explained how the party liberated China from an “exploitative” feudal system, created a “vibrant socialist market economy” and eliminated absolute poverty.
“Only socialism can save China, and only socialism with Chinese characteristics can develop China,” said Xi, who was dressed in a dark gray Mao-style suit.
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 lifting people out of crushing poverty. China is now the world’s second-largest economy, and Xi is considered the country’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong.
The celebrations came as Beijing was under pressure over trade – where tensions have grown with countries like the United States and Australia – and its policies in the far west region of Xinjiang, as well as with Hong Kong. and Tibet. There are also questions about the COVID-19 pandemic, which has emerged in the central city of Wuhan, and continues to wreak havoc around the world.
Leading an increasingly confident party and nation, Xi warned that any attempt to separate the party and the people was “doomed to failure.”
While China “welcomes[d] friendly suggestions from around the world, âXi said, the country would not acceptâ arrogant conferences â.
The loudest applause and cheers came when Xi declared that the Chinese people “would no longer allow any extraterrestrial power to intimidate and oppress us”, and that anyone who attempted to do so would be “severely beaten by the perseverance of the Chinese nation â.
âNo one should underestimate the will and power of the Chinese nation to fight against foreign power,â Xi added.
As Xi delivered his speech in Beijing, social media saw a flurry of celebratory messages.
The landing pages of almost every social media platform featured meticulously crafted celebration posters; in the WeChat Moments feed, roughly the equivalent of Facebook’s news feed, people posted congratulatory messages and photos, with words like âhappy birthday – our big CCPâ; and on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like social media platform, the CCP’s centenary topics swept the hot topic list, with topic # CCPTurns100Today garnering more than five billion views.
‘We can do anything!’
The centennial celebrations in Beijing began with a flypast as around 30 military planes formed a â100â in the sky above the jubilant crowds. There were also trumpets and horns blasting Communist songs, and 100-gun salutes were fired into the sky during extravagant national pride celebrations.
In airports and train stations, on billboards, posters and propaganda material on television and on social media, China has turned red from the Communist Party.
In Longnan, in northwestern 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 household and large statues of the hammer and sickle erected weeks before July 1.
The city has become a popular place for “red tourism”.
“We are all proud of party members and wanted to come here to pay tribute to the older generation of revolutionaries,” Shan’xi party member Ms. Guan told Al Jazeera as she posed for a photo with a group of other party members. in a city tour in front of a giant hammer and sickle.
Longnan is not the only city celebrating the anniversary of the country’s ruling party.
The entire nation rallied to observe the day – from the giant city of Shanghai where the CCP was founded and the party’s first congress convened – to small towns in Xinjiang where Beijing has been accused of suppressing ethnic minority rights. Uyghur.
Despite the general mood of exuberance, some complain that preparations for the event have hampered daily life. Special security checks were installed for travelers to Beijing ahead of the celebration, the roads around Tiananmen were closed for days, and police and paramilitary forces are stationed in almost every corner of the city.
Wu, a Shanghai-based music concert organizer, said almost all of her independent concerts were canceled in June and July due to the “special period” which requires “vigorous control over what may be allowed.”
âI don’t really care about the celebration, but I agree – but at least they shouldn’t cancel so many music festivals and concerts,â said Wu, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “I don’t understand how this is sensitive.”
For Fu, a photographer based in Anhui province, the increased restrictions prevented him from purchasing a drone, which affected his work. As of June 11, all online platforms are required to take recreational drones off the market for ârelevant regulatory requirements,â and the measures will remain in place until July 15.
âI got used to these kind of unnecessary and sometimes ridiculous measures,â Fu said, asking to be identified only by a pseudonym. “I just hope I can buy drones soon so I can resume my job.”
For the ruling party, however, the effort is well worth it.
For Chinese leaders, the real challenge still lies abroad, where Beijing faces increasing criticism and scrutiny not only from Xinjiang but also from Hong Kong, where it has been accused of decimating rights and freedoms. guaranteed when the territory returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
On the mainland, however, the Communist Party appears to be garnering an almost unprecedented level of praise and loyalty.
âWithout the Communist Party, there would be no new China,â says a famous Communist Party song. A century after the founding of the party, this is a sentiment that seems to be widely shared by the Chinese people, whether or not they are members of the party.
Data released on Wednesday showed the party’s membership increased by 2.43 million last year, the biggest increase since Xi became president in 2013.
âI am so proud to be a party member, and I am so proud to be Chinese,â one Weibo user commented during the live broadcast of the celebration in Tiananmen Square. âUnder the leadership of the CCP, we can do anything!