A staggering display of new weaponry to mark Chinas 70th anniversary

REUTERS/Thomas Peter Hong Kong protests: Video captures police officer firing pistol at close range The display of new military technologies, including an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching anywhere in the United States, and the defiant rhetoric acted as Xi’s response to external pressures.“There is no force that can shake the foundation of this great nation. No force can stop the Chinese people and Chinese national forging ahead,” Xi said Tuesday morning in a speech delivered in Tiananmen Square in the heart of Beijing, on the spot where Mao stood seven decades before.Story continues belowThis advertisement has not loaded yet,but your article continues below. With counter-rallies taking place in Hong Kong, where a large proportion of the population has been demonstrating against China’s encroaching influence, Xi also sent a message to the citizens there.“Forging ahead, we must remain committed to the strategy of peaceful reunification and ‘One Country, Two Systems.’ We will maintain the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and Macau,” Xi said, referring to the principle that Hong Kong and Macau have a degree of autonomy from Beijing.Carrie Lam, the chief executive of Hong Kong who has been under fire from protesters for doing Beijing’s bidding, could be seen on the dais overlooking the square during the parade.Xi also pledged to “unite the whole country and continue to strive for the complete unification of our country,” a reference to his desire to bring Taiwan, which Beijing views as a breakaway state, back under mainland control. REUTERS/Thomas Peter Chinese President Xi Jinping poses with Canadian anthropologist Isabel Crook after awarding her a Friendship Medal during a ceremony on occasion of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China September 29, 2019. A military vehicle carrying a WZ-8 supersonic reconnaissance drone travels past Tiananmen Square during the military parade marking the 70th founding anniversary of People’s Republic of China, on its National Day in Beijing, China October 1, 2019. BEIJING – The Chinese Communist Party marked the 70th anniversary of its rule Tuesday with a grandiose narrative about its past and its future, with leader Xi Jinping presiding over a massive parade full of new military technology and declaring that “no force” could stop China’s rise.Although the parade was held to mark a domestic event – the triumph of Mao Zedong’s Communists over nationalist forces and the creation of People’s Republic of China in 1949 – it had a clear international message.Related REUTERS/Thomas Peter People watch a live broadcast of president Xi Jinping’s address for the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China in Beijing on Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter Despite Xi’s posture of assurance, his leadership is coming under intense pressure from both inside and outside the country.Protesters in Hong Kong show that they do not share Xi’s “Chinese Dream” of “realizing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” and are pushing for democracy and greater autonomy. They have been demonstrating for 17 straight weeks and held multiple rallies around Hong Kong on Tuesday to underscore their different dream for themselves.Separately, China’s protracted trade war with the United States remains bogged down, with few anticipating Vice Premier Liu He’s trip to Washington next week for another round of talks will precipitate a breakthrough.At home, the economy is tangibly slowing, with growth at its lowest level in more than a generation. To bolster his leadership, Xi has repeatedly invoked Mao and exhorted the Chinese people to stay true to the “original mission” of the party.Xi wants to present himself as heir to the “struggle” Mao began and discount the leaders who came between them, analysts say. That includes Deng Xiaoping, the economic visionary responsible for China’s astonishing transformation in the 1980s and 1990s.“He wants to draw a straight line between Mao and himself,” Ni said. “He wants to say that the revolutionary establishment of the People’s Republic of China is now on the threshold of national rejuvenation. It’s a very simplified story.”In 2017, Xi elevated himself to the same level as Mao and Deng in the Chinese Communist pantheon by having his name and the phrase “Xi Jinping Thought” enshrined in the constitution.In recent weeks, Xi has been retracing Mao’s steps and repeatedly invoking the Red Army’s Long March and other elements of Communist Party lore in China.The Xinhua state news agency on Monday published a long paean to Xi’s leadership – it ran to almost 2,500 words in English – that explicitly drew the connection between Mao’s appearance in Tiananmen Square after defeating the Nationalists.“It was there on Oct. 1, 1949, that Mao Zedong announced the birth of New China. Over the seven decades, the socialist country has blazed an extraordinary trail, rising from a ‘poor and blank’ state to a major country on the world stage,” said the article Xinhua published late Monday.Xi, the first top Chinese leader born after 1949, is at the helm in a new era, steering the country through wind and waves to a brighter future,” the agency said. Chinese President Xi Jinping waves from a vehicle as he reviews the troops at a military parade marking the 70th founding anniversary of People’s Republic of China on October 1, 2019. The DF-17, a short-to-medium-range missile that can launch a hypersonic glide vehicle, was also on display. Analysts say the missile appears to be capable of exceeding the speed of sound and penetrating U.S. missile shields, and has a maneuverable re-entry vehicle, so it can shift targets in flight.There were also multiple new drones on display, including the Sharp Sword, an attack drone that can carry missiles or laser-guided bombs and is expected to enter service before the end of the year.The parade was “glitzy” and showed “unity and optimism,” said Adam Ni, a China researcher at Macquarie University in Australia. “But I think underlying that, there are myriad challenges and tensions, both from within China and from external sources, that are creating the condition for potential dramatic change.” But neither those events nor the brutalities of the Mao era, which included a famine resulting from the disastrous Great Leap Forward agricultural policy and the purges and violence of Cultural Revolution, were mentioned Tuesday.Instead, the Communist Party and its People’s Liberation Army put on a staggering display of military firepower. Some 40 percent of the armaments were displayed in public for the first time, according to state media commentary.These included the DF-41, a three-stage, solid-fuel missile that can carry up to 10 independently targetable nuclear warheads and has a range of about 7,500 miles, putting the entire United States in range. Soldiers of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) march in formation during the military parade marking the 70th founding anniversary of People’s Republic of China, on its National Day in Beijing, China October 1, 2019. Xi, who has been increasingly invoking Mao, again called for the revolutionary “struggle” that led to the Communists taking power in 1949 to continue.“We must continue to consolidate and develop the People’s Republic, and continue our struggle to achieve the two centenary goal and to realize the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation,” he said.His words were followed by an extravagant display of military firepower, with tanks rolling down the main avenue into Tiananmen Square – the same route they took 30 years before to crush pro-democracy demonstrations. REUTERS/Thomas Peter Chinese peacekeeping troops march in formation past Tiananmen Square on October 1, 2019. A graphic explaining DF-41, one of China’s longest missiles, paraded out for its 70th anniversary. Graphic News Giulia Marchi/Bloomberg

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