Xi speaks on the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party

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Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a speech during the celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Chinese Communist Party on July 1, 2021 at Tiananmen Square in Beijing.

Wang Zhao | AFP | Getty Images

BEIJING – Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday spoke of China’s firm determination to withstand pressure from abroad while demonstrating national aspirations at the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the ruling Chinese Communist Party.

China will not accept “sanctimonious sermons from those who have the right to teach us,” said Xi, according to an official translation of his remarks in Mandarin. He did not name a specific country amid mounting tensions with the US

Xi said China would never allow a foreign force to harass it, and anyone who tried would be “on a collision course with a great steel wall forged by over 1.4 billion people.”

“A century ago, China was in decline and withered in the eyes of the world,” he said. “Today it presents the world with the image of a prosperous nation advancing with unstoppable momentum toward rejuvenation.”

Looking to the future, Xi spoke of working with “peace-loving countries”, building the party and advocating for “national rejuvenation”. He also spoke generally of “strategic steps” towards the “second 100-year goal”.

We will ensure that the fate of China’s development and progress remains firmly in our own hands.

Xi Jinping

Chinese President

China’s bicentenary goal is to “build a moderately wealthy society in all respects” by 2021 and by 2049, the 100th anniversary.

Xi added that China needs to “promote high quality development” and build national strength in science and technology.

He stressed the need for China to modernize its military and train personnel to “world-class standards” in order to maintain national security.

Xi’s speech lasted just over an hour and focused mainly on a historical narrative of the Communist Party’s successful role in the country’s history since the 19th century. He did not mention controversial events such as the Cultural Revolution.

The length of Xi’s speech contrasted with his brief remarks – less than 10 minutes – on the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China in 2019. The celebration at the time included flamboyant floats from different parts of the country and a military parade, which authorities said earlier would not be the case at the party’s centenary.

On Thursday, Xi wore a traditional gray “Mao” suit, while almost all of the leaders and dignitaries who joined him at the Forbidden City gate overlooking Tiananmen Square wore western suits and ties. According to state media, more than 70,000 people attended the celebration.

Most attendees did not appear to wear face masks or practice social distancing at the event, which had strict requirements such as vaccinations to attend.

“The party and the Chinese people will confidently take big strides along the path we have chosen for ourselves,” said Xi. “We will see that the fate of China’s development and progress remains firmly in our own hands.”

“We have to maintain firm leadership of the party. China’s success depends on the party, “said Xi, adding that” the party was chosen by history and the people. “

Regarding the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Xi said China will “ensure social stability”. He again spoke of progress towards “peaceful national reunification” with Taiwan, which Beijing regards as a breakaway province.

Students wave Chinese flags ahead of the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party in Tiananmen Square in Beijing on July 1, 2021.

Wang Zhao | AFP | Getty Images

Xi officially became president in 2013 and also holds the highest political position of general secretary of the party’s central committee. He abolished term restrictions in 2018 and allowed him to remain president for life.

According to state media, there were 95.148 million members of the Chinese Communist Party as of June 5, 3.234 million more than at the end of 2019. More than 12 million, or about 13%, were 30 years and under.

Membership in the party is encouraged from an early age, although the accession process is very selective. Many senior positions, including in private companies, often require party membership.

The official narrative recognizes July 1, 1921 as the time the party was founded, although the exact date may have been slightly different. The gathering of delegates, including future leader Mao Zedong, took place nearly 30 years before the Chinese Communist Party fought against Japan and then against the Chinese Nationalist (Kuomintang) Party to become the ruling party of the People’s Republic of China.