Parades & protests on China's 70th anniversary
Beijing: No force can ever stop China from marching forward, President Xi Jinping asserted on Tuesday as he presided over the country's largest parade, showcasing its military might and unity among top leaders, to celebrate the Communist Party's hold on power for 70 years.
As China held its largest parade, Hong Kong witnessed one of its violent protests with thousands of pro-democracy activists, who burnt Chinese flags, demanding autonomy, universal franchise, and freedom for all the people to contest the elections for the territory's legislature.
"No force can ever shake the status of China, or stop the Chinese people and nation from marching forward," an assertive Xi said in his speech ahead of the parade, as the two-million strong world's largest army flexed its muscles displaying some of its most sophisticated weapons, including long range Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs).
Regarded as the most powerful leader since the Communist Party of China (CPC) founder Mao Zedong, Xi, 66, who heads the party, the military and the presidency, said that the founding of the People's Republic of China (PRC) under the leadership of the CPC has completely changed "China's miserable fate" of being poor and weak and being bullied and humiliated for over 100 years since the advent of modern times.
Flanked by his predecessors, Jiang Zemin, 93 and Hu Jintao, 76, as a show of unity and solidarity of the CPC leadership in face of intensifying strategic competition with the US and emergence of China, Xi called on the people to uphold the CPC's leadership.
The parade included decorated floats with huge photos of Mao, his successor Deng Xiaoping, Hu and Xi outlining their political and ideological contribution to the development of CPC and China.
"Seventy years ago, on this day Comrade Mao Zedong solemnly declared here to the world that the PRC was founded and the Chinese people had stood up," Xi said.
For the world, he assured that China would stay on the peaceful development path, allaying global concerns over China's rise. "We will continue to work with people from all countries to push for jointly building a community with a shared future for humanity," Xi said. Besides the bruising trade war, China and the US are locked in strategic competition amid efforts by Beijing to expand its global influence with multi-billion dollar projects like the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
In his speech, Xi stressed that the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) and the People's Armed Police Force should always preserve their nature, purpose and character as the forces of the people, resolutely safeguard China's sovereignty, security and development interests, and firmly uphold world peace. Xi's hard-hitting speech and the lavish display of arsenal by the Chinese military would be watched with interest in New Delhi too as India, along with Bhutan, is the only country Beijing is yet to seal a border deal with. Also, China remains an all-weather ally of Pakistan.
"China's yesterday had been inscribed in human history while China's today is being created in the hands of hundreds of millions of Chinese people," Xi said, adding that "Beijing will surely have an even brighter future". Later, he oversaw China's biggest parade till date in which the military displayed about 300 new weapons, according to the state broadcaster CGTN. The new weapons systems displayed included the Dongfeng-17 conventional missiles which were unveiled for the first time for public.
The missile has the capability of precision strikes against short-and medium-range targets, with strong penetration capacity in all-weather conditions. The formation is comprised of two conventional missile brigades from a base of the People's Liberation Army Rocket Force.