07/01/2021, 16.29
CHINA
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Xi marks CPC’s centennial by pledging to crack the head of anyone trying to bully China

by Li Qiang

The veiled threat is directed at the US and its allies. Warnings are also meant for Taiwanese separatists. Xi claims the country's progress is due to the Communist Party. The Belt and Road is praised as a tool of international cooperation. The stranglehold on Hong Kong continues, as police agents are deployed in their thousands to prevent pro-democracy protests.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – Chinese President Xi Jinping today marked the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China  (CPC).

Using a bellicose language, the Chinese leader said that his country will “crack” the heads of anyone who tries to bully it, including Taiwan’s pro-independence activists.

With the capital placed under tight security, Xi spoke before a crowd of 70,000 gathered in Tiananmen Square, scene of the 1989 massacre.

In his address, Xi praised the ruling party for the progress the country has experienced in the last decades, especially in the economic field.

In his view, the CPC is one and the same with the people and the nation, a claim meant to undermine the US position that its anti-Beijing policies are not against the population, but the Chinese leadership.

Xi's predecessor, Hu Jintao, and Wen Jiabao, who served as premier under Hu, were present at the ceremony. Members of the Shanghai “faction” did not attend.

Former President Jiang Zemin and his Premier Zhu Rongji did not attend the ceremony. Since both are in their 90s, their absence was put down to poor health. However, according to several observers, both men do not see eye to eye with Xi.

The centennial was years in the making. Chinese authorities wanted it to coincide with one of Xi k’s key goals, i.e. the eradication of absolute poverty in the country, which was officially achieved in January this year.

Critics point out however that Beijing’s threshold for measuring poverty is too low. Data presented by the South China Morning Post suggest that 13 per cent of the Chinese population still lives below the poverty line.

In making his veiled threats against hostile countries (most notably the United States), Xi stressed that China will no longer be treated as it was during the heyday of Western colonialism.

China’s supreme leader said that his country does not want to overpower other nations, but seeks to develop international cooperation through the Belt and Road Initiative (the new Silk Road), a means to play a leading role on the global stage.

The president reiterated that “national renewal” also involves reunification with Taiwan. Xi said the goal is to achieve the result peacefully; however, he made it clear that any “plot” to bring about the island's independence will be resisted.

Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council reacted immediately to Xi’s words. Whilst acknowledging “certain economic development” under the Communist Party, the Council noted that the ruling party was still a dictatorship that trampled on the freedom of the Chinese people, and posed a threat to regional security.

The United States too does not seem to be too impressed by Xi’s warnings. Yesterday, Washington announced the restart of negotiations for a trade agreement with Taiwan, which was put on hold during the Trump administration.

With respect to Hong Kong, Xi continues to keep a tight stranglehold over the former British colony.

For the Chinese President, the formula “one country, two systems” – the basis of the territory’s limited autonomy – must also ensure national security. Translated in plain English, this means that there is no room for anti-government protests by pro-democracy groups.

In Hong Kong, today is the anniversary of its return to Chinese sovereignty in 1997. To mark the occasion, the authorities banned the traditional annual March for Democracy.

To ensure that the ban was respect, police agents were deployed in their thousands. So far, three people have been arrested for failing to respect restrictions.

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