China will not allow itself to be bullied and anyone who tries will face “broken heads and bloodshed in front of the iron Great Wall of the 1.4 billion Chinese people,” President Xi Jinping said at a mass gathering on Thursday to mark the centenary of the ruling Communist Party.
Wearing a grey buttoned-up suit of the type worn by Mao Zedong, Xi spoke from the balcony of Tiananmen Gate, emphasizing the party’s role in bringing China to global prominence and saying it would never be divided from the people.Xi, who is head of the party and leader of the world’s largest armed forces also said China had restored order in Hong Kong following antigovernment protests in the semi-autonomous city in 2019 and reiterated Beijing’s determination to bring self-governing Taiwan under its control.He received the biggest applause, however, when he described the party as the force that had restored China’s dignity and turned it into the world’s second largest economy since taking power amid civil war in 1949.“The Chinese people are a people with a strong sense of pride and self-confidence,” Xi said. “We have never bullied, oppressed or enslaved the people of another nation, not in the past, during the present or in the future.”“At the same time, the Chinese people will absolutely not allow any foreign force to bully, oppress or enslave us and anyone who attempts to do so will face broken heads and bloodshed in front of the iron Great Wall of the 1.4 billion Chinese people,” Xi said.Xi’s comments come as China is enmeshed in a deepening rivalry with the United States for global power status and has clashed with India along their disputed border. China also claims unpopulated islands held by Japan and almost the entire South China Sea, and it threatens to invade Taiwan, with which the U.S. has boosted relations and military sales.Thursday’s events are the climax of weeks of ceremonies and displays praising the role of the Communist Party in bringing vast improvements in quality of life at home and restoring China’s economic, political and military influence abroad. Those improvements coupled with harshly repressing opponents have helped the party hold power despite its 92 million members accounting for just over 6 percent of China’s population.While the progress dates mainly from economic reforms enacted by Deng Xiaoping four decades ago, the celebrations spotlight the role of Xi, who has established himself as China’s most powerful leader since Mao. Xi mentioned the contributions of past leaders in his address, but his claims to have attained breakthroughs in poverty alleviation and economic progress while raising China’s global profile and standing up to the West were front and center.Xi, 68, has eliminated limits on his time in office and is expected to begin a third five-year term as party leader next year.