President Xi Jinping waves next to Premier Li Keqiang (left) and former president Hu Jintao at the end of the event marking the 100th founding anniversary of the Communist Party of China, on Tiananmen Square in Beijing, on Thursday. (REUTERS)
President Xi Jinping waves next to Premier Li Keqiang (left) and former president Hu Jintao at the end of the event marking the 100th founding anniversary of the Communist Party of China, on Tiananmen Square in Beijing, on Thursday. (REUTERS)

Xi Jinping warns foreign foes not to mess with China

In an hour-long address at the Tiananmen Square to mark the party’s centenary, Xi, pledged to build up China’s military and said Beijing was committed to the “reunification” of Taiwan.
By Sutirtho Patranobis I Edited by Amit Chanda
UPDATED ON JUL 01, 2021 06:09 PM IST

President Xi Jinping on Thursday warned that enemies will find themselves on a collision course with a “great wall of steel” if they attempt to bully or influence China in his bellicose speech delivered in Beijing to mark 100 years of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC).

In an hour-long address at the Tiananmen Square to mark the party’s centenary, Xi, pledged to build up China’s military and said Beijing was committed to the “reunification” of Taiwan, a self-ruled democracy that China considers a breakaway region.

Considered to be China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong, Xi is the general secretary of the CPC and head of the Central Military Commission.

Referring to the situation in Hong Kong, Xi, wearing Mao-style gray suit and flanked by past and current CPC leadership, said social stability would be ensured there while protecting China’s security and sovereignty.

Xi’s speech comes in the backdrop of mounting international criticism against China on alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang and Tibet, an ongoing crackdown in Hong Kong and what western countries perceive as Beijing’s deliberate obfuscation of the Covid-19 pandemic’s origin.

ASSERTIVE CHINA

At the same time, China has also been successful in controlling the Covid-19 outbreak domestically and its economy is recovering rapidly, giving Beijing more confidence to be assertive globally and in the region.

That confidence showed in Xi’s defiant speech, delivered to a choreographed and punctuated applause from a packed, flag-waving audience.

Chinese state media put the number of people who attended the early morning event at 70,000.

Minutes ahead of his speech, 71 military aircraft staged a fly-past above the historic Tiananmen Square with crowds feverishly making cell phone videos amid some raucous cheering.

Helicopters flew in the formation of “100”, representing the 100 years of the CPC. It also involved J-20 stealth fighters and Z-8 heavy lift helicopters, which flew past carrying the party flag.

A particularly loud round of cheering rippled through the crowd when Xi mentioned the “great wall of steel”.

“We Chinese are a people who uphold justice and are not intimidated by threats of force. As a nation, we have a strong sense of pride and confidence. We have never bullied, oppressed, or subjugated the people of any other country, and we never will. By the same token, we will never allow any foreign force to bully, oppress, or subjugate us. Anyone who would attempt to do so will find themselves on a collision course with a great wall of steel forged by over 1.4 billion Chinese people.”

China, he said, welcomes helpful suggestions but will not accept sanctimonious preaching. “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,” he said.

COMMITTED TO TERRITORIAL INTEGRITY

Xi said China maintains an “unshakeable commitment” to unification with Taiwan: “No one should underestimate the resolve, the will and ability of the Chinese people to defend their national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

“The people of China are not only good at destroying the old world, they have also created a new world,” said Xi, adding: “Only socialism can save China.”

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

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

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