China's celebrates centenary of Communist Party

President Xi Jinping leads centenary celebrations for China’s 95million-strong Communist Party on 24th anniversary of British handover of Hong Kong

  • China has been marking the 100th anniversary of the founding of its ruling Communist Party 
  • President and party general secretary Xi Jinping will make ‘important’ speech in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square
  • Communist Park – one of the world’s most powerful political organisations – now has 95 million members

President Xi Jinping will today lead China in celebrations to mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of its ruling Communist Party, with events at Tiananmen Square in Beijing capping weeks of performances and exhibitions nationwide.

The political veteran and General Secretary of the party is expected to take to the podium for an ‘important speech’ above a giant portrait of Mao Zedong where the famous chairman proclaimed the People’s Republic of China in 1949.

Xi and the party are riding high as China recovers briskly from the Covid-19 outbreak and takes a more assertive stand on the global stage.  

Twenty years before the Republic’s proclamation, Mao and a clutch of Marxist-Leninist thinkers in Shanghai founded the party which has since morphed into one of the world’s most powerful political organisations.

It now counts around 95 million members, garnered over a century of war, famine and turmoil, and more recently a surge to superpower status.

China has been celebrating the 100th anniversary of the founding of its ruling Communist Party, with events at Tiananmen Square in Beijing (pictured) and across the country

President Xi Jinping joined thousands celebrating the occasion and took to the podium to deliver an ‘important speech’ to the nation

The political veteran and general secretary of the party was stood above a giant portrait of Mao Zedong near to the spot where the famous chairman proclaimed the People’s Republic of China in 1949

The Chinese Communist Party now counts around 95 million members, garnered over a century of war, famine and turmoil, and more recently a surge to superpower status

Among the sights at the huge event in Tiananmen Square was a military flyover of helicopters, with some carrying the party’s infamous hammer and sickle emblem

In 1921, Mao and a clutch of Marxist-Leninist thinkers in Shanghai founded the party which has since morphed into one of the world’s most powerful political organisations

Party ranks swelled by 2.43 million in 2020, the largest annual gain since Xi became president in 2013, to 95.15 million members now, data released on Wednesday showed. 

An elaborate celebration in Tiananmen Square is expected to culminate with a giant hammer and sickle flag trailing a formation of helicopters overhead, although the exact choreography has been closely guarded.

Focus will fall on Xi, whose speech – likely to braid the economic miracle of China with the longevity of the party – will be relayed over big screens in Beijing, where security has been beefed up.

On Monday, Xi presided over theatrical performances at the Bird’s Nest National Stadium in a show attended by thousands and that state media described as ‘epic’.

At the end, the audience rose to sing a song, ‘Without the Communist Party, There Would Be No New China.’

Xi has cemented his eight-year rule through a personality cult, ending term limits and declining to anoint a successor. He has purged rivals and crushed dissent – from Uyghur Muslims and online critics to pro-democracy protests on Hong Kong’s streets.

Xi and the Communist Party are riding high as China recovers briskly from the Covid-19 outbreak and takes a more assertive stand on the global stage

He has cemented his eight-year rule through a personality cult, ending term limits and declining to anoint a successor. He has purged rivals and crushed dissent – from Uyghur Muslims and online critics to pro-democracy protests on Hong Kong’s streets

People watch an elaborate light show on the Bund promenade in front of Shanghai’s towering skyscrapers

Weeks of performances and exhibitions nationwide, including in Shanghai, are culminating today in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square

In its 100th year, the party has delivered a selective version of history through films, ‘Red’ tourism campaigns and books, which dance over the mass violence of the Cultural Revolution, famines and the Tiananmen Square student crackdown

The party has driven attention towards China’s rebound from Covid-19, which started in the central city of Wuhan, but has been virtually extinguished inside the country

In a speech on Tuesday, Jinping (pictured) urged all party members to ‘firmly keep the loyalty and love for the party and the people close to one’s heart, turn that into action, dedicate everything, even your precious life, to the party and the people’

Xi launched preparations for a celebration of 100 years of China ‘s Communist Party behind closed doors, boasting that the country has beaten Covid while ignoring the fact it was the source of the virus

Under him the party has pivoted to new challenges; using tech to renew its appeal for younger generations – 12.55 million members are now aged 30 or younger – while giving a Communist finish to a consumer economy decorated by billionaire entrepreneurs.

The youth ‘grew up in a period of China’s continuous high economic growth, they see their own living standards and China’s gradual strengthening as inevitable,’ said Wu Qiang, an independent Beijing-based political analyst.

‘They have little to no memory of famine or autocracy, they even have no memory of freedom.’

At the same time, Xi has presented a defiant face to overseas rivals led by the US, revving up nationalist sentiment and marketing himself as the champion of a newfound Chinese pride. 

In its 100th year, the party has delivered a selective version of history through films, ‘Red’ tourism campaigns and books, which dance over the mass violence of the Cultural Revolution, famines and the Tiananmen Square student crackdown.

The celebrations to mark the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party coincided with the 24th anniversary of the British handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997. Pictured: Acting Chief Executive, John Lee, and senior government officials attend a flag-raising ceremony

Chief Secretary for Administration John Lee Ka-chiu arrives for the flag-raising ceremony marking the 24th anniversary of the former British colony’s return to Chinese rule

One year ago, China imposed a draconian national security law on the city in response to huge – often violent – protests

Instead, it has driven attention to China’s rebound from Covid-19, which started in the central city of Wuhan, but has been virtually extinguished inside the country.

But reminders linger of the risks to stability.

Thursday also marks the 24th anniversary of the handover of former British colony Hong Kong to China, a date once met with mass demonstrations against Beijing.

One year ago, China imposed a draconian national security law on the city in response to huge – often violent – protests.

The measure has seen more than 64 activists charged, anti-China slogans criminalised and even the closure of a critical newspaper as the law sinks the once freewheeling city into what Amnesty International calls a ‘human rights emergency’.

Police have denied requests for demonstrations in the city, although several pro-democracy groups have vowed to defy a 10,000-strong police presence on the streets.

‘The CCP (Chinese Communist Party) can go to hell,’ a Hong Konger who gave his name only as Ken told AFP. ‘Anything that’s worthwhile, they destroy.’

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