China flexes military muscle to mark 70 years of Communist rule

President Xi says no force can ever shake the status of China or stop it marching forward


Reuters October 01, 2019
President Xi Jinping. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING: China celebrated its growing power and confidence with a massive display of military hardware and goose-stepping troops in Beijing on Tuesday, overseen by President Xi Jinping who pledged peaceful development on the 70th birthday of Communist China.



The event is the country’s most important of the year as China looks to project its assurance in the face of mounting challenges, including nearly four months of anti-government protests in Hong Kong and an economy-sapping trade war with the United States.

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Xi, dressed in a slate grey “Mao” suit and accompanied by his predecessors Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin, said China will pursue a mutually beneficial strategy of opening up.

PHOTO: REUTERS PHOTO: REUTERS

The country’s military should resolutely safeguard China’s sovereignty, security, and development interests, and firmly uphold world peace, Xi told a handpicked crowd at Tiananmen Square, in comments carried live on state television.

“No force can ever shake the status of China, or stop the Chinese people and nation from marching forward,” Xi said from the Gate of Heavenly Peace, where Mao Zedong proclaimed the founding of the People’s Republic of China on this day in 1949.

China must maintain lasting prosperity and stability in Hong Kong and Macao, promote the peaceful development of relations with self-ruled Taiwan and “continue to strive for the motherland’s complete reunification”, he added.

Xi, whose military modernization program has rattled nerves around the region, then inspected row upon row of military hardware and immaculately presented troops.

Riding past in a black, open-roofed limousine, Xi bellowed; “Hello comrades, hard-working comrades!”

The massed ranks of soldiers shouted back: “Follow the Party! Fight to win! Forge exemplary conduct!”

Returning to the stage, Xi watched on as massed lines of tanks, drones and missiles filed past.

Among the weapons on display were DF-41 intercontinental ballistic missiles, the backbone of China’s nuclear deterrence capability, which can carry several nuclear warheads and reach as far as the United States.



After the military parade, dancers and floats lauding China’s history, achievements and regions passed by, along with large portraits of China’s previous leaders and Xi himself, which got loud cheers.

The upheavals of the last seven decades — including the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution and bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators at Tiananmen Square in 1989 - did not get a mention.

PHOTO: REUTERS PHOTO: REUTERS

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The more than two-hour parade of 15,000 soldiers, 70 elaborate floats and 100,000 civilians was a proud moment for many Chinese citizens, watching the spectacle across the country on television.



“I’m not that familiar with the military, but I was stunned by them. I was covered in goosebumps,” said Shanghai student Meng Yichen, watching at her university.

“I loved the women troops. I’d not seen many before, so seeing so many this time was a great step forward.”

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Xi remains broadly popular in China for his aggressive campaign against corruption and for propelling what is now the world’s second-biggest economy to the forefront of global politics.

PHOTO: REUTERS

PHOTO: REUTERS

 

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