President Xi's rallying cry came before an hours-long pageant showcasing China's industrial and scientific achievements
President Xi Jinping declared that no force could stop China’s rise, exuding confidence during a key anniversary as he faced unprecedented challenges from protesters in Hong Kong and Donald Trump’s trade war.
Speaking at the start of grand parade marking 70 years since the founding of the People’s Republic, Xi called for stability in Hong Kong, unity among Chinese ethnic groups, and the “complete unification” of the country. Xi delivered the remarks at the site where late Communist Party patriarch Mao Zedong proclaimed the nation’s founding on Oct. 1, 1949.
“Today, a socialist China is standing in the east of the world and there is no force that can shake the foundation of this great nation,” Xi told a crowd of carefully vetted guests under smoggy skies in the centre of the capital. “No force can stop the Chinese people and the Chinese nation forging ahead.”
Xi’s rallying cry came before an hours-long pageant showcasing China’s industrial and scientific achievements, including sophisticated weaponry such as DF-17 ballistic missiles believed capable of circumventing US defence systems. The closely scripted proceedings sought to reinforce the strength of a party facing multiple threats, from the slowest economic growth in decades to violent unrest in one of Asia’s top financial hubs.
Even as he spoke, protesters prepared to muster at locations around Hong Kong, urging greater democratic freedoms. Demonstrations have rocked the city since early June, triggered by proposed legislation allowing extraditions to China and since morphing into a broader push back against Beijing’s grip.
In his most extensive comments on Hong Kong since unrest began in June, Xi said the “one country, two systems” principle under which Hong Kong has been governed since its return from British rule in 1997 must be upheld.
A guide to China’s Oct. 1 celebrations:
A day earlier, Xi had said relations between Hong Kong and the mainland would improve, saying “tomorrow will be even better” during a brief speech to a banquet in Beijing ahead of Tuesday’s holiday.
Hong Kong was on edge, with the police boats patrolling Victoria Harbour and the city’s rail operator closing several subway stations that have been near the sites of the most intense clashes. While leader Carrie Lam was celebrating the festivities in Beijing, her deputy Matthew Cheung said China continued to be “fully supportive” of the city’s government.
Protesters plan a host of activities on Tuesday, with most set to begin in the afternoon in different parts of the city. They have held running street battles with police nearly every weekend for more than three months, lighting fires and hurling Molotov cocktails at officers who have responded with tear gas, pepper spray and water cannons.
Hong Kong’s government cancelled the city’s annual National Day fireworks on the waterfront, citing safety concerns, and banned a planned rally by major pro-democracy organizer, the Civil Human Rights Front. The group’s appeal was denied by authorities on Monday, its co-convener Jimmy Sham said.
Lam, who had tried to push the bill through before protests erupted, assumed responsibility for the “entire unrest” as she held her first community dialogue event last week.
In Beijing, columns of troops and tanks rolled down the avenue of “heavenly peace,” a procession requiring months of careful planning that prompted authorities to lock down the city’s central business district. “Follow the party! Fight to win! Build exemplary conduct!” the troops chanted as Xi inspected their lines.