China’s President Xi Jinping has warned foreign forces attemping to bully the nation will “get their heads bashed” in a defiant speech to mark the centenary of the ruling Communist Party.
In an hour-long address from Tiananmen Square on Thursday, Mr Xi hailed a “new world” created by China’s people.
He also pledged to build up China’s military and committed to the “reunification” of Taiwan.
“The people of China are not only good at destroying the old world, they have also created a new world,” said the country’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong, who founded the People’s Republic. “Only socialism can save China.”
Mr Xi said the people of China would never allow any foreign force to bully, oppress, or subjugate them.
“Anyone who dares try to do that will have their heads bashed bloody against the Great Wall of steel forged by over 1.4 billion Chinese people,” he said, sparking applause from an invited audience of 70,000 gathered in the massive square in central Beijing. The phrase became the top trending topic on China’s Twitter-like Weibo platform.
The president said China will build up its armed forces to safeguard its sovereignty, security and development, elevating them to world-class standards.
China’s rapid military modernisation has already fuelled concern among its neighbours and in the West.
Regarding Hong Kong, Mr Xi said China will “stay true to the letter and spirit of the principle of ‘One Country, Two Systems’,” under which the territory is promised a high degree of autonomy.
However, a sweeping national security law imposed on Hong Kong a year ago has seen Beijing drastically tighten its grip on the financial hub.
Mr Xi closed his speech by leading two crowd-rousing cheers: “Long live the CCP that is great, glorious and right”, and “long live the people who are great, glorious and heroic”.
The traditional July 1 protests marking the anniversary of the city’s 1997 handover to Chinese rule were thwarted as police denied permission for a rally, citing coronavirus restrictions.
Thursday’s celebrations began with a flyby of fighter jets and helicopters observed by the nation’s leaders, seated at the southern ramparts of the Forbidden City. A 3,000-strong chorus sang seven socialist songs during the event.