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The Communist Party of China celebrates its centenary with one central message: No one can rally around us

The Communist Party of China celebrates its centenary with one central message: No one can rally around us

“The 100 years since the founding of the Party have proven that without the Communist Party of China there would be no revival of China,” said Xi Jinping, the party chief and commander of the military forces. Standing on the balcony of the Gate of Heavenly Peace, wearing a gray Mao shirt and talking for 65 minutes. “History and the people have chosen CCP.”

Xi uses the anniversary to tie history and the future together. He knows how China under the CCP went from an isolated state of poverty to an economic powerhouse, and how this predates the CCP to lead China even further. In Xi’s view, China completed the first part of its development this year (a moderately prosperous society), and the second part will follow by 2049 (a modern socialist country). This is only possible with CCP.

President Xi Jinping.AP . image

It’s not a surprising rhetoric, but rather a collection of his well-known ideas, but with a more ferocious nationalist touch. “China will never again allow itself to be bullied or persecuted by foreign powers,” Xi said, referring to Western countries increasingly clashing with China. He doesn’t seem to want to be satisfied. “Anyone trying to run into the Great Wall of Steel with a population of 1.4 billion.”

Cheer when driving

The 70,000 spectators in Tiananmen Square — delegations from schools, businesses and associations — cheer and wave their red flags excitedly when they hear it. On television it produces beautiful images, alternating between endless crowds and excited faces in the front rows, where members of the Young Pioneers and the Communist Youth League are sitting. These party supporters have been training for months before this day, and they are adept at enthusiastic looks.

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More in the back of the box is much less lively. Spectators wave, clap, and cheer at the command every time the camera passes, but they seem somewhat uninterested. During Xi’s speech, some sleep. They are far from the action, and the large video screens have their backs. More than just spectators, they are extra, filling a television set that should convince the rest of China and the world.

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What may be a factor is that many have barely slept due to the heightened security measures. The reporters had to gather at 2:45 a.m., five hours before the show was due, to pass several baggage and ID checks. Liquids, food and – for Chinese viewers – no phones. Some have even taken ballpoint pens (liquid ink!). For a party that claims to be widely loved, it is remarkable how anxious she is.

But although many spectators do not seem very excited, they are happy to attend this historic celebration, because it can only work so well in China. Jiang Feng, a businessman who had lived in Europe for a long time, took a photo with a giant hammer and sickle in the background. He’s not a party member, but he knows that good party relationships can help in the business world. “China is getting stronger,” he says. “The party gives us a sense of pride.”

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