• Sun. Aug 1st, 2021

Photos show how Xi’s Communist Party flexed its strength on its 100th anniversary with fighter jets and troop displays

ByAmeerah O'Connor

Jul 1, 2021
Photos show how Xi's Communist Party flexed its strength on its 100th anniversary with fighter jets and troop displays
  • Events to celebrate the Communist Party’s centenary were hosted across the country this week.

  • At Tiananmen Square on July 1, Chinese President Xi Jinping made a speech to 70,000 people.

  • He cautioned foreign forces who nurse “delusions” of bullying China that they will “crack their heads and spill blood on the Great Wall of steel built from the flesh and blood of 1.4 billion Chinese people.”

  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

China hosted a series of celebrations this week to mark the Chinese Communist Party’s centenary on July 1.

Performers dance during a Cultural Performance as part of the celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Founding of the Communist Party of China, held at the “Bird’s Nest” stadium in Beijing on June 28, 2021. Noel Celis/AFP via Getty Images

The Chinese Communist Party commemorated its 100th anniversary with grand displays and shows of force.

Students were part of a massive crowd that gathered in Tiananmen Square in Beijing to celebrate the event.

tiananmen square chinese communist party celebration
The students stood in neat rows, waving Chinese flags to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on July 1, 2021. Wang Zhao/AFP via Getty Images

Some 70,000 people gathered bright and early in Tiananmen Square on Thursday morning to watch a ceremonial celebration that lasted around four hours.

Those who gathered in the streets of Beijing were treated to the sight of jets trailing colorful smoke across the capital’s skies.

Beijing military flypast communist party centenary
People in the streets of Beijing take photos and wave at planes flying in formation to Tiananmen Square for the celebrations of the 100th Anniversary of the Communist Party of China. Andrea Verdelli/Getty Images

Xi’s much-anticipated speech was preceded by helicopter flyovers and displays of advanced warplanes, including the J-20 stealth jets.

No tanks were out during China’s celebratory parade at Tiananmen, but marching bands aplenty.

China Marks 100th Anniversary Of The Communist Party
Members of the Chinese military orchestra march on Tiananmen Square before a celebration marking the 100th founding anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party on July 1, 2021 in Beijing, China Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

Surprisingly, the country opted not to stage a large-scale military parade this year, despite it being such a large-scale event for the nation.

This stood in stark contrast to 2019, when the country celebrated the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China with a show of military might, firing off cannons at Tiananmen Square in Beijing while tanks rolled down the promenade.

Beijing’s residents were also treated to fighter jets from the People’s Liberation Army flying in sync to form the numbers “100.”

military flypast formation chinese communist party centenary
Aircraft from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) air force flew in formation during the parade, forming the numerals “100.” Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

As it turned out, Xi didn’t need the tanks to speak for him this time.

During his hour-long speech, he took a strong position, warning the international community that no good could come of trying to bully China.

The troops were out in force, too – sitting ramrod straight throughout Xi’s speech.

military men chinese communist party anniversary
Military officers in full regalia were among the audience gathered to listen to Chinese President Xi Jinping speak on the CCP’s centenary. Screengrab/Weibo

“The Chinese people have never bullied, oppressed, or enslaved the peoples of other countries, not in the past, not now, and not in the future,” he said.

“At the same time, the Chinese people will never allow foreign forces to bully, oppress or enslave us,” he added.

“Whoever nurses delusions of doing that will crack their heads and spill blood on the Great Wall of steel built from the flesh and blood of 1.4 billion Chinese people,” Xi said, to cheers and applause from the crowd.

Xi’s speech from the podium where Mao once stood, was broadcast on huge screens lining Tiananmen Square.

China Marks 100th Anniversary Of The Communist Party

In the hours following his speech, the phrase “whoever nurses delusions bullying China will crack their heads and spill blood” trended as the top search topic on Weibo, the country’s version of Twitter.

At noon local time, the topic had been viewed 4.1 million times and saw some 31,000 postings containing the tag.

Tidy rows of thousands of audience members gathered, mostly unmasked, listening to Xi.

Tiananmen square
Some 70,000 people gathered at Tiananmen Square to hear Chinese President Xi Jinping speak on the occasion of the CCP’s 100th anniversary. Screengrab/Weibo

The Chinese president also hailed “socialism with Chinese characteristics” for revitalizing the Chinese economy, reminding the audience of difficult times experienced by the country during the Opium War in the mid-1800s.

“I solemnly declare to the international community — the Chinese have stood up. The years of us being exploited and downtrodden are over,” he said.

The celebrations have been going on for days now. One event held in Beijing saw massive choreographed displays and performances that charted the party’s ascent to power.

CCP centenary anniversary show
Performers dance during a Cultural Performance as part of the celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Founding of the Communist Party of China, at the Bird’s Nest National Stadium in Beijing. The performance was held on June 28, in the run-up to the July 1 celebrations. Noel Celis/AFP via Getty Images

Xi reminisced briefly during his speech about how the Communist Party was founded in Shanghai in 1921, charting its 100-year journey to today.

“We eliminated the exploitative feudal system that had persisted in China for thousands of years and established socialism,” he said. “The Chinese people are not only good at destroying an old world but also good at building a new world. Only socialism can save China, and only socialism with Chinese characteristics can develop China.”

A sea of red filled the Bird’s Nest stadium.

CCP centenary anniversary show
Audience members hold national flags during a Cultural Performance as part of the celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Founding of the Communist Party of China, at the Bird’s nest national stadium in Beijing on June 28, 2021. Noel Celis/AFP via Getty Images

The grand celebrations across China serve the purpose of legitimizing Xi even further before the party congress next year. As a result, he is extremely likely to cement his power next year by claiming a third five-year term as the party’s leader.

Even while the party celebrates its anniversary, China still has several problems on its hands.

Shanghai crowd watching chinese communist party anniversary light show
People gather to watch a light show on the Bund promenade in Shanghai on June 30, 2021, on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party. Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images

On the political front, China has been accused of human rights violations, imprisoning hundreds of thousands of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang in internment camps to undergo “labor training.”

During a March meeting with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, China took umbrage at the suggestion that it should examine its human rights policies.

Blinken criticized the country’s “rules-based order,” particularly regarding China’s actions in Hong Kong, Xinjiang, and Taiwan. Without this order, Blinken said, it would be “might makes right, winner takes all” and a “much more violent and unstable world.”

In response, China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi said the US should “change its own image” and “stop advancing its own democracy in the rest of the world.”

The Chinese government also faced critique from the international community after it cracked down on pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

China Marks 100th Anniversary Of The Communist Party
Buildings at the Lujiazui Financial Centre in Shanghai were illuminated during a light show to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party on June 30, 2021. Zhu Li/VCG via Getty Images

It continues to exert force over Hong Kong by instituting sweeping political changes and imposing an onerous national security law on the city.

China has also threatened to bring Taiwan, which it views as a “renegade province,” under its control. The island is separated from China by the highly militarized Taiwan Strait. The Chinese government claims Taiwan is part of its territory, but the Taiwanese view the island as an independently ruled, self-governing state with its own military.

Insider reported in June that an armada of sand dredgers is surreptitiously carving out sand from Taiwan’s coasts. That same month, a record 28 Chinese air force planes, including fighter jets, made incursions into the island’s airspace.

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