Chinese president says only the Communist Party could ‘save’ China and that people and party cannot be separated.
China’s President Xi Jinping told crowds gathered in Beijing that the era of China being “bullied” was over and that anyone who tried to separate the party and the Chinese people was doomed to failure as celebrations to mark 100 years of the Communist Party got under way in the Chinese capital.
Speaking from the balcony above the portrait of Mao Zedong in Tiananmen Square, Xi spoke of the party’s successes since its founding in 1921 – how it had freed China from an “exploitative” feudal system and created a “socialist market economy brimming with vitality”.
“Only socialism could save China,” said Xi, who was dressed in a dark grey Mao-style suit. “And only socialism with Chinese characteristics could develop China.”
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 goal of lifting people out of crushing poverty. China is now the world’s second-largest economy.
Al Jazeera’s Katrina Yu, reporting from Beijing, said Xi’s underlying message was that the party had “delivered on its promises” and made “China great again”.
The celebrations came with Beijing has under pressure over trade – where tensions have risen with countries including the United States and Australia – and its policies in the far western region of Xinjiang, as well as Hong Kong and Tibet. There are also questions over the COVID-19 pandemic, which emerged in the central city of Wuhan, and continues to cause havoc around the world.
Xi warned that any attempt to separate the party and the people was “bound to fail”.
“We will never allow such a scenario to come to pass,” he said.
The centenary celebration began with a flypast as about 30 aircraft formed a “100” in the skies above the cheering crowds.
Xi, who removed a two-term limit on the presidency and is considered the country’s most powerful leader since Mao, was joined by other senior leaders on the southern ramparts of the Forbidden City.
Data released on Wednesday, showed party membership increased by 2.43 million last year, the biggest rise since Xi became president in 2013.