Chinese President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, and other leaders of the CPC and the state, including Li Keqiang, Li Zhanshu, Wang Yang, Wang Huning, Zhao Leji, Han Zheng and Wang Qishan, attend a reception to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China along with around 4,000 Chinese and foreign guests at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, Sept. 30, 2019. (Xinhua/Huang Jingwen)
China is hosting lavish events to mark 70 years since the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
On 1 October 1949, Mao Zedong – or Chairman Mao – announced the formation of the PRC, after communist forces won a bloody civil war.
Modern China has since developed at an extraordinary pace, but it has also one of the world’s most restrictive states.
In the footsteps of Mao
Standing in the exact spot where Mao declared the foundation of the People’s Republic of Chi-na, Xi Jinping was the only one among the country’s senior leaders wearing the Mao-like suit.
President Xi made absolutely no secret of his desire to evoke memories of the country’s revolutionary founding father.
His brief speech touched on familiar themes: unity, on-going struggle, China’s inexorable progress.
Then he was carried along, standing, in a car for a lengthy review of the military parade. He waved occasionally, they re-plied with shouts of loyalty.
Military leaders have said this isn’t “muscle ﬂexing” but note that this key moment, this celebration of 70 years of communist control, is focused overwhelmingly on military might.
What is China celebrating? Seventy years ago, Chairman Mao announced the birth of the PRC after the Communist Party of China defeated the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) – or National Party.
The two sides had been locked in a costly civil war since the 1920s, after the collapse of the imperial system.
The events would show that China had “stood up, grown rich and become stronger over the past decades”,ofﬁcials said.
“The main theme is to tell Chinese stories and express the Chinese people’s conﬁdence in the party and the country,” said Zhang Ge, one of the ofﬁcials responsible for the anniversary celebrations.
China has said it is developing an entirely new political system – “socialism with Chinese characteristics” – and that it has raised millions out of poverty. To its critics, though, China is a deeply oppressive country turning back progress on global human rights. It has been widely criticised for its lack of de-mocracy, suppression of rights and any sign of dissent, an unfair justice system with a 99% conviction rate, and in recent years the mass detention of ethnic Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang, among other groups.
-By Robin Brant, BBC News, Beijing