China’s celebrates centenary of Communist Party on anniversary of British handover of Hong Kong 

China will not allow itself to be bullied and those who try face ‘broken heads and bloodshed in front of the iron Great Wall of the 1.4 billion Chinese people’, President Xi Jinping said today in a thinly veiled swipe at the U.S.

Speaking at a mass gathering to mark the centenary of the ruling Communist Party, President Xi emphasised the party’s role in bringing China to global prominence and saying it would never be divided from the people.

Wearing a grey buttoned-up suit of the type worn by Mao Zedong, Xi spoke from the balcony of Tiananmen Gate as he said China had restored order in Hong Kong following anti-government protests in the semi-autonomous city in 2019.

He also reiterated Beijing’s determination to bring self-governing Taiwan under its control.

Pictured: Chinese President and party leader Xi Jinping delivers a speech at a ceremony marking the centenary of the ruling Communist Party in Beijing. Xi emphasised the party's role in bringing China to global prominence and saying it would never be divided from the people

Pictured: Chinese President and party leader Xi Jinping delivers a speech at a ceremony marking the centenary of the ruling Communist Party in Beijing. Xi emphasised the party's role in bringing China to global prominence and saying it would never be divided from the people

Pictured: Chinese President and party leader Xi Jinping delivers a speech at a ceremony marking the centenary of the ruling Communist Party in Beijing. Xi emphasised the party’s role in bringing China to global prominence and saying it would never be divided from the people

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

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

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

Chinese President Xi Jinping is seen leading other top officials pledging their vows to the party on screen during a gala show ahead of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing on June 28

Chinese President Xi Jinping is seen leading other top officials pledging their vows to the party on screen during a gala show ahead of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing on June 28

Chinese President Xi Jinping is seen leading other top officials pledging their vows to the party on screen during a gala show ahead of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing on June 28

Xi launched preparations for a celebration of 100 years of China's Communist Party behind closed doors at Beijing's Bird's Nest stadium on Monday, boasting that the country has beaten Covid while ignoring the fact it was the source of the virus

Xi launched preparations for a celebration of 100 years of China's Communist Party behind closed doors at Beijing's Bird's Nest stadium on Monday, boasting that the country has beaten Covid while ignoring the fact it was the source of the virus

Xi launched preparations for a celebration of 100 years of China’s Communist Party behind closed doors at Beijing’s Bird’s Nest stadium on Monday, boasting that the country has beaten Covid while ignoring the fact it was the source of the virus

He received the biggest applause, however, when he described the party as the force that had restored China’s dignity after taking power amid civil war in 1949.

‘The Chinese people are a people with a strong sense of pride and self-confidence,’ Xi said. ‘We have never bullied, oppressed or enslaved the people of another nation, not in the past, during the present or in the future.’

‘At the same time, the Chinese people will absolutely not allow any foreign force to bully, oppress or enslave us and anyone who attempts to do so will face broken heads and bloodshed in front of the iron Great Wall of the 1.4 billion Chinese people,’ President Xi said.

He did not say what those forces were, but China is enmeshed in a deepening rivalry with the United States for global power status and has clashed with India along their disputed border.

China also claims unpopulated islands held by Japan and almost the entire South China Sea, and it threatens to invade Taiwan, with which the US has boosted relations and military sales. 

‘The people of China are not only good at destroying the old world, they have also created a new world,’ said Xi, arguably China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong, the founder of the People’s Republic. ‘Only socialism can save China.’  

Xi Jinping waves next to Premier Li Keqiang and former president Hu Jintao at the end of the event marking the 100th founding anniversary of the Communist Party of China, on Tiananmen Square. During the hawkish speech, Xi reiterated Beijing's determination to bring self-governing Taiwan under its control

Xi Jinping waves next to Premier Li Keqiang and former president Hu Jintao at the end of the event marking the 100th founding anniversary of the Communist Party of China, on Tiananmen Square. During the hawkish speech, Xi reiterated Beijing's determination to bring self-governing Taiwan under its control

Xi Jinping waves next to Premier Li Keqiang and former president Hu Jintao at the end of the event marking the 100th founding anniversary of the Communist Party of China, on Tiananmen Square. During the hawkish speech, Xi reiterated Beijing’s determination to bring self-governing Taiwan under its control

Helicopters fly over Tiananmen Square in formation showing number 100 during the celebration of the 100th founding anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party, in Beijing on Thursday

Helicopters fly over Tiananmen Square in formation showing number 100 during the celebration of the 100th founding anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party, in Beijing on Thursday

Helicopters fly over Tiananmen Square in formation showing number 100 during the celebration of the 100th founding anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party, in Beijing on Thursday

Pictured: Tiananmen Square in Beijing, as China marked the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party on July 1

Pictured: Tiananmen Square in Beijing, as China marked the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party on July 1

Pictured: Tiananmen Square in Beijing, as China marked the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party on July 1

Xi Jinping is seen on a giant screen as he delivers a speech at the event marking the 100th founding anniversary of the Communist Party of China, on Tiananmen Square. Wearing a grey buttoned-up suit of the type worn by Mao Zedong, President Xi spoke from the balcony of Tiananmen Gate on Thursday

Xi Jinping is seen on a giant screen as he delivers a speech at the event marking the 100th founding anniversary of the Communist Party of China, on Tiananmen Square. Wearing a grey buttoned-up suit of the type worn by Mao Zedong, President Xi spoke from the balcony of Tiananmen Gate on Thursday

Xi Jinping is seen on a giant screen as he delivers a speech at the event marking the 100th founding anniversary of the Communist Party of China, on Tiananmen Square. Wearing a grey buttoned-up suit of the type worn by Mao Zedong, President Xi spoke from the balcony of Tiananmen Gate on Thursday

Xi Jinping waves above a giant portrait of late Chinese chairman Mao Zedong, along side other Chinese Communist party officials, at the end of the event marking the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party

Xi Jinping waves above a giant portrait of late Chinese chairman Mao Zedong, along side other Chinese Communist party officials, at the end of the event marking the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party

Xi Jinping waves above a giant portrait of late Chinese chairman Mao Zedong, along side other Chinese Communist party officials, at the end of the event marking the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party

A national flag-raising ceremony is held at Tian'anmen Square during the 100th anniversary celebrations, under huge signs reading 1921 and 2021, and a hammer and sickle - the Communist Party's emblem

A national flag-raising ceremony is held at Tian'anmen Square during the 100th anniversary celebrations, under huge signs reading 1921 and 2021, and a hammer and sickle - the Communist Party's emblem

A national flag-raising ceremony is held at Tian’anmen Square during the 100th anniversary celebrations, under huge signs reading 1921 and 2021, and a hammer and sickle – the Communist Party’s emblem

Participants standing under a large hammer and sickle and the numbers '1921' - the year the Communist Party was founded - wave national and party flags as balloons are released at the end of the event

Participants standing under a large hammer and sickle and the numbers '1921' - the year the Communist Party was founded - wave national and party flags as balloons are released at the end of the event

Participants standing under a large hammer and sickle and the numbers ‘1921’ – the year the Communist Party was founded – wave national and party flags as balloons are released at the end of the event

In comments widely seen as directed at the U.S., Xi also said he would not allow ‘sanctimonious preaching’ from foreign powers, as China faces criticism over the pro-democracy crackdown in Hong Kong and the detention of millions of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.  

Relations between the China and the U.S. in particular have worsened in recent years over the issues of trade, espionage and the origins and subsequent lack of transparency over the pandemic. The U.K., India and Australia are among other nations to find themselves at the end of Chinese warnings.  

The issue of Taiwan is also increasingly becoming a major source of tension between China and foreign powers. While democratic Taiwan views itself as a sovereign nation from China, Beijing sees it as a breakaway province.

Under the United States’ own laws, it is required to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself should Beijing opt to use force to take the island back. 

In his Thursday speech, Xi said China maintains its ‘unshakeable commitment’ to unify Taiwan. 

‘No one should underestimate the resolve, the will and ability of the Chinese people to defend their national sovereignty and territorial integrity,’ he said, adding that realising China’s complete ‘reunification’ is an ‘unswerving historical task’ of the party.

‘All sons and daughters of China, including compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, must work together and move forward in solidarity, resolutely smashing any ‘Taiwan independence’ plots,’ he said.

A member of China's military raises a flag during a ceremony in Beijing's Tiananmen Square on Thursday. The events at Tiananmen Square capping weeks of performances and exhibitions nationwide to mark the milestone

A member of China's military raises a flag during a ceremony in Beijing's Tiananmen Square on Thursday. The events at Tiananmen Square capping weeks of performances and exhibitions nationwide to mark the milestone

A member of China’s military raises a flag during a ceremony in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square on Thursday. The events at Tiananmen Square capping weeks of performances and exhibitions nationwide to mark the milestone

Thousands of balloons are released above Beijing's decoareted Tiananmen Square on Thursday over huge crowds present to hear President Xi's speech. Xi received the biggest applause of the event when he described the party as the force that had restored China's dignity after taking power amid civil war in 1949

Thousands of balloons are released above Beijing's decoareted Tiananmen Square on Thursday over huge crowds present to hear President Xi's speech. Xi received the biggest applause of the event when he described the party as the force that had restored China's dignity after taking power amid civil war in 1949

Thousands of balloons are released above Beijing’s decoareted Tiananmen Square on Thursday over huge crowds present to hear President Xi’s speech. Xi received the biggest applause of the event when he described the party as the force that had restored China’s dignity after taking power amid civil war in 1949

Members of the military band perform ahead of a grand gathering celebrating the Communist Party of China (CPC) centenary at Tian'anmen Square in Beijing

Members of the military band perform ahead of a grand gathering celebrating the Communist Party of China (CPC) centenary at Tian'anmen Square in Beijing

Members of the military band perform ahead of a grand gathering celebrating the Communist Party of China (CPC) centenary at Tian’anmen Square in Beijing

Chorus members perform ahead of a grand gathering celebrating the Communist Party of China (CPC) centenary at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on Thursday

Chorus members perform ahead of a grand gathering celebrating the Communist Party of China (CPC) centenary at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on Thursday

Chorus members perform ahead of a grand gathering celebrating the Communist Party of China (CPC) centenary at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on Thursday

Participants in the celebrations stand in front of the southern ramparts of the Forbidden City, where a large portrait of Mao Zedong has been hung below the balcony where president Xi and other Communist Party officials

Participants in the celebrations stand in front of the southern ramparts of the Forbidden City, where a large portrait of Mao Zedong has been hung below the balcony where president Xi and other Communist Party officials

Participants in the celebrations stand in front of the southern ramparts of the Forbidden City, where a large portrait of Mao Zedong has been hung below the balcony where president Xi and other Communist Party officials

Members of a People's Liberation Army ceremonial band sit next to drums with '100' on them at a ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party on July 1

Members of a People's Liberation Army ceremonial band sit next to drums with '100' on them at a ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party on July 1

Members of a People’s Liberation Army ceremonial band sit next to drums with ‘100’ on them at a ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party on July 1

Members of a People's Liberation Army ceremonial band march during the 100th anniversary ceremony on Thursday

Members of a People's Liberation Army ceremonial band march during the 100th anniversary ceremony on Thursday

Members of a People’s Liberation Army ceremonial band march during the 100th anniversary ceremony on Thursday

Regarding Hong Kong and Macau, Xi said China will ‘stay true to the letter and spirit of the principle of ‘One Country, Two Systems’,’ under which the two are 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 once freewheeling financial hub. 

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.

China, whose rapid military modernisation has fuelled growing worry among its neighbours and in the West, will build up its armed forces to safeguard its sovereignty, security and development, elevating them to world-class standards, Xi said.

‘We must accelerate the modernisation of national defense and the armed forces,’ said Xi, who is also chairman of the Central Military Commission, which controls the country’s armed forces. 

Tang Renwu, a professor of public management at Beijing Normal University, said the tough talk was in response to U.S. and western efforts to ‘contain’ and ‘suppress’ China.

‘Xi’s stronger-than-usual response would have the effect of invoking even more patriotic and nationalistic sentiment among the Chinese people,’ Tang said. 

In a ceremony of pomp and patriotism, 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.

hursday's celebrations began with a flyby of fighter jets and helicopters observed by the nation's leaders and the thousands of participants in the celebrations

hursday's celebrations began with a flyby of fighter jets and helicopters observed by the nation's leaders and the thousands of participants in the celebrations

hursday’s celebrations began with a flyby of fighter jets and helicopters observed by the nation’s leaders and the thousands of participants in the celebrations

Helicopters fly in formation making the sign 100 over Tiananmen Square during the celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China in Beijing on July 1

Helicopters fly in formation making the sign 100 over Tiananmen Square during the celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China in Beijing on July 1

Helicopters fly in formation making the sign 100 over Tiananmen Square during the celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China in Beijing on July 1

Military aircraft fly over Tiananmen Square during celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party

Military aircraft fly over Tiananmen Square during celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party

Military aircraft fly over Tiananmen Square during celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party

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

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

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

Thousands of singers, backed by a marching band, belted out stirring choruses including ‘We Are the Heirs of Communism’ and ‘Without the Communist Party there would be no New China’ as maskless invitees cheered and waved flags in a packed Tiananmen Square, famous for the crackdown on student protesters in 1989.

A fly-by of helicopters in formation spelling ‘100’ – a giant hammer and sickle flag trailing – and a 100-gun salute followed, while young communists in unison pledged allegiance to the party.

The Chinese Communist Party initially recruited peasants and workers but has evolved to embrace markets and entrepreneurship under ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics’ while retaining a Leninist model of authoritarianism.

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.

A 60-year-old teacher surnamed Wang who was photographing the overflying jets from a park on Thursday said he has much admiration for the party.

‘Whether it’s chairman Mao, or Deng Xiaoping, or today’s leaders, it’s not easy for them – if you brought foreign leaders here and show how they manage 1.4 billion people, making sure they all have food to eat and a good life, it’s truly not easy.’

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’.

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.

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. 

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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'

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'

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’

Late Chinese leader Mao Zedong is displayed on screen during a gala show ahead of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing on Monday

Late Chinese leader Mao Zedong is displayed on screen during a gala show ahead of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing on Monday

Late Chinese leader Mao Zedong is displayed on screen during a gala show ahead of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing on Monday

Performers in the role of rescue workers gather around a Communist Party flag during a gala show ahead of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing on Monday

Performers in the role of rescue workers gather around a Communist Party flag during a gala show ahead of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing on Monday

Performers in the role of rescue workers gather around a Communist Party flag during a gala show ahead of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing on Monday

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

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

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

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

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

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.’

The celebrations came as China also marked the anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese control. 

Pictured: Pro-China supporters hold Chinese flags in Hong Kong to celebrate the 24th anniversary of the former British colony's return to Chinese rule. The celebrations in Beijing came as China also marked the anniversary of Hong Kong's return to Chinese control

Pictured: Pro-China supporters hold Chinese flags in Hong Kong to celebrate the 24th anniversary of the former British colony's return to Chinese rule. The celebrations in Beijing came as China also marked the anniversary of Hong Kong's return to Chinese control

Pictured: Pro-China supporters hold Chinese flags in Hong Kong to celebrate the 24th anniversary of the former British colony’s return to Chinese rule. The celebrations in Beijing came as China also marked the anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese control

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, on the 100th founding anniversary of the Communist Party of China, in Hong Kong, China July 1

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, on the 100th founding anniversary of the Communist Party of China, in Hong Kong, China July 1

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, on the 100th founding anniversary of the Communist Party of China, in Hong Kong, China July 1

Activist Alexandra Wong, also known as Grandma Wong, is taken away by police while protesting on the 24th anniversary of Hong Kong's handover from Britain, in Hong Kong on Thursay

Activist Alexandra Wong, also known as Grandma Wong, is taken away by police while protesting on the 24th anniversary of Hong Kong's handover from Britain, in Hong Kong on Thursay

Activist Alexandra Wong, also known as Grandma Wong, is taken away by police while protesting on the 24th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover from Britain, in Hong Kong on Thursay

Police sealed off Victoria Park – until recently the site of annual pro-democracy rallies marking the 1997 handover – and put up flags warning people that they could be prosecuted if they enter or remain in the enclosed area. They said there were online calls encouraging people to take part in an unauthorized protest.

The security law was implemented one year ago as authorities cracked down on dissent in Hong Kong after the territory was rocked by massive anti-government protests in 2019. 

Critics say Beijing has reneged on a promise to keep the special privileges for Hong Kong for 50 years – the autonomy of its courts and legal system, civil liberties that include a free press, freedom of speech and the leeway to take to the streets to protest.

Praising the law, Hong Kong Chief Secretary John Lee said Thursday the national security law stipulates that human rights are respected and allows residents to enjoy freedom of the press and free assembly.

However, large-scale demonstrations have been banned and a number of pro-democracy activists and journalists have been arrested, ceased public activities or have left Hong Kong.

For two years in a row, authorities banned an annual June 4 candlelight vigil commemorating the bloody 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, and the July 1 handover protest, citing pandemic social distancing restrictions.

Police have arrested seven journalists and executives of the now-defunct Apple Daily, a pro-democracy newspaper that was a vocal critic of Hong Kong and China’s governments. Authorities also froze $2.3 million in assets linked to Apple Daily, forcing it to cease operations last week. 

What led to China’s Tiananmen crackdown in 1989? 

Over seven weeks in 1989, student-led pro-democracy protests centred on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square became China’s greatest political upheaval since the end of the Cultural Revolution more than a decade earlier.

Corruption among the elite was a key complaint, but the protesters were also calling for a more open and fair society, one that would require the ruling Communist Party to relinquish control over many aspects of life, including education, employment and even the size of families.

The Chinese government has never given a clear account of how many were killed and has squelched discussion of the events in the years since.

This file photo taken on June 5, 1989 shows large Chinese troops and tanks gathering in the capital city Beijing, one day after the military crackdown that ended a seven week pro-democracy demonstration on Tiananmen Square, known as the crackdown

This file photo taken on June 5, 1989 shows large Chinese troops and tanks gathering in the capital city Beijing, one day after the military crackdown that ended a seven week pro-democracy demonstration on Tiananmen Square, known as the crackdown

This file photo taken on June 5, 1989 shows large Chinese troops and tanks gathering in the capital city Beijing, one day after the military crackdown that ended a seven week pro-democracy demonstration on Tiananmen Square, known as the crackdown








China’s defence minister, General Wei Fenghe, last year defended the mass killing of unarmed students in a rare official response to the event.

He claimed it was ‘correct’ for Beijing to send troops and tanks to crack down on young protesters because of the great changes the country has experienced since then.

Below is a timeline of the events that led to the military intervention on the night of June 3-4, 1989, and the aftermath.

APRIL 15: Hu Yaobang’s death ignites demonstrations 

In this June 4, 1989 file photo, a student protester puts barricades in the path of an already burning armoured personnel carrier that rammed through student lines during an army attack on anti-government demonstrators in Beijing's Tiananmen Square

In this June 4, 1989 file photo, a student protester puts barricades in the path of an already burning armoured personnel carrier that rammed through student lines during an army attack on anti-government demonstrators in Beijing's Tiananmen Square

In this June 4, 1989 file photo, a student protester puts barricades in the path of an already burning armoured personnel carrier that rammed through student lines during an army attack on anti-government demonstrators in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square

A leading liberal voice in the ruling Communist Party, Hu Yaobang had been deposed as general secretary by paramount leader Deng Xiaoping in 1987. 

Deng held Hu responsible for campus demonstrations calling for political reforms. His death from a heart attack in 1989 attracted mourners to Tiananmen Square. They called for continuing his reformist legacy and opposing corruption, nepotism and a decline in living conditions. 

The number of protesters swelled into the thousands in the days afterward, and spread to cities and college campuses outside Beijing, deeply alarming Deng, Hu’s successor Zhao Ziyang, and other party leaders.

APRIL 25: Editorial revives protests

The protests had begun to wane after 10 days but were re-energised by an editorial read out on state television on April 25. In this early June 4, 1989 photo civilians hold rocks as they stand on a government armoured vehicle near Changan Boulevard

The protests had begun to wane after 10 days but were re-energised by an editorial read out on state television on April 25. In this early June 4, 1989 photo civilians hold rocks as they stand on a government armoured vehicle near Changan Boulevard

The protests had begun to wane after 10 days but were re-energised by an editorial read out on state television on April 25. In this early June 4, 1989 photo civilians hold rocks as they stand on a government armoured vehicle near Changan Boulevard 

The protests had begun to wane after 10 days but were re-energised by an editorial read out on state television on April 25 and published in the official People’s Daily newspaper the next day.

Titled ‘The Necessity for a Clear Stand Against Turmoil’, it described the protests as a ‘well-planned plot’ to overturn Communist rule. The tone of the editorial raised the strong possibility that participants could be arrested and tried on national security charges. Following its publication, protests broke out in cities around China.

The text appeared to closely follow the 84-year-old Deng’s views on the protests, as chronicled in The Tiananmen Papers, a 2001 book edited by American scholars Andrew Nathan and Perry Link and believed to be based on documents sourced from government archives.

MAY 13: Student hunger strikes 

In this April 21, 1989 file photo, tens of thousands of students and citizens crowd at the Martyr's Monument at Beijing's Tiananmen Square

In this April 21, 1989 file photo, tens of thousands of students and citizens crowd at the Martyr's Monument at Beijing's Tiananmen Square

In this April 21, 1989 file photo, tens of thousands of students and citizens crowd at the Martyr’s Monument at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square

Frustrated by government indifference to their demands and the potential consequences of the April editorial, student leaders launched a hunger strike to demand substantive dialogue with the nation’s leaders and recognition of their movement as patriotic and democratic.

The strike drew attention from noted intellectuals including Dai Qing, who praised the students’ ideals, but called on them to have patience and to abandon Tiananmen Square temporarily to allow a groundbreaking visit by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to proceed smoothly.

The students rejected the suggestion, and a formal welcoming ceremony for Gorbachev was canceled in what was seen as a huge loss of face for the government. 

FILE: In this May 17, 1989, file photo, Tiananmen Square is filled with thousands during a pro-democracy rally, in Beijing, China. Over seven weeks in 1989, student-led pro-democracy protests centred on the Tiananmen Square in the capital city Beijing

FILE: In this May 17, 1989, file photo, Tiananmen Square is filled with thousands during a pro-democracy rally, in Beijing, China. Over seven weeks in 1989, student-led pro-democracy protests centred on the Tiananmen Square in the capital city Beijing

FILE: In this May 17, 1989, file photo, Tiananmen Square is filled with thousands during a pro-democracy rally, in Beijing, China. Over seven weeks in 1989, student-led pro-democracy protests centred on the Tiananmen Square in the capital city Beijing

June 3-4: Troops move to clear Square 

Having decided that armed force was needed to end the protests and uphold Communist rule, the leadership ordered in the army, a move that would send in an estimated 180,000 troops and armed police. 

The commander of the 38th army, who was entrusted with the task, refused to follow orders and checked himself into a hospital. Soldiers faced resistance from Beijing residents, especially in the western neighbourhoods of Muxidi and Xidan. 

Troops on the ground and in tanks and armoured vehicles fired into crowds as they pushed toward the square through makeshift barricades. Trucks, buses and military vehicles were set on fire and some troops killed citizens as they vented their rage. 

FILE - In this June 5, 1989 file photo, Chinese troops and tanks gather in Beijing, one day after the military crackdown that ended a seven week pro-democracy demonstration on Tiananmen Square. Hundreds were killed in the early morning hours of June 4

FILE - In this June 5, 1989 file photo, Chinese troops and tanks gather in Beijing, one day after the military crackdown that ended a seven week pro-democracy demonstration on Tiananmen Square. Hundreds were killed in the early morning hours of June 4

FILE – In this June 5, 1989 file photo, Chinese troops and tanks gather in Beijing, one day after the military crackdown that ended a seven week pro-democracy demonstration on Tiananmen Square. Hundreds were killed in the early morning hours of June 4

FILE - In this June 5, 1989 file photo, a Chinese man stands alone to block a line of tanks heading east on Beijing's Changan Blvd. in Tiananmen Square. The man was calling for an end to the recent violence and bloodshed against pro-democracy demonstrators

FILE - In this June 5, 1989 file photo, a Chinese man stands alone to block a line of tanks heading east on Beijing's Changan Blvd. in Tiananmen Square. The man was calling for an end to the recent violence and bloodshed against pro-democracy demonstrators

FILE – In this June 5, 1989 file photo, a Chinese man stands alone to block a line of tanks heading east on Beijing’s Changan Blvd. in Tiananmen Square. The man was calling for an end to the recent violence and bloodshed against pro-democracy demonstrators

As troops closed the cordon around Tiananmen Square, a cohort of student die-hards refused to leave until persuaded to by other leaders, including Taiwanese singer Hou Dejian. 

City hospitals filled up with the dead and wounded. Hundreds, possibly thousands, were believed killed in Beijing and other cities during the night and in the ensuing roundup of those accused of related crimes. 

There has never been an official accounting of the casualties.

FILE - In this Saturday, June 3, 1989 file photo, a student pro-democracy protester flashes victory signs to the crowd as People's Liberation Army troops withdraw on the west side of the Great Hall of the People near Tiananmen Square in Beijing

FILE - In this Saturday, June 3, 1989 file photo, a student pro-democracy protester flashes victory signs to the crowd as People's Liberation Army troops withdraw on the west side of the Great Hall of the People near Tiananmen Square in Beijing

FILE – In this Saturday, June 3, 1989 file photo, a student pro-democracy protester flashes victory signs to the crowd as People’s Liberation Army troops withdraw on the west side of the Great Hall of the People near Tiananmen Square in Beijing

The aftermath

The army’s crackdown was widely condemned in the West, as well as in Hong Kong, then a British colony, where supporters organised missions to bring those wanted by authorities to safety. 

On June 13, Beijing police issued a most-wanted notice for 21 student leaders, 14 of whom were arrested. 

No. 1 on the list was 20-year-old Wang Dan, who was subsequently given a four-year prison sentence but released early. 

By 1992, most of China’s overseas relationships had been restored and Deng used his remaining personal influence to relaunch economic reforms that ushered in a new era of growth while the party ruthlessly enforced its monopoly on political power. 

By 1992, most of China's overseas relationships had been restored and Deng used his remaining personal influence to relaunch economic reforms. The file picture shows the then-Chinese President Deng Xiaoping pictured on a huge advertisement board

By 1992, most of China's overseas relationships had been restored and Deng used his remaining personal influence to relaunch economic reforms. The file picture shows the then-Chinese President Deng Xiaoping pictured on a huge advertisement board

By 1992, most of China’s overseas relationships had been restored and Deng used his remaining personal influence to relaunch economic reforms. The file picture shows the then-Chinese President Deng Xiaoping pictured on a huge advertisement board

The government has never expressed regret over the killings and rejected all calls for an investigation, leaving the protests an open wound in Chinese history. Chinese People's Liberation Army soldier guards close the way to Tiananmen Gate on May 28

The government has never expressed regret over the killings and rejected all calls for an investigation, leaving the protests an open wound in Chinese history. Chinese People's Liberation Army soldier guards close the way to Tiananmen Gate on May 28

The government has never expressed regret over the killings and rejected all calls for an investigation, leaving the protests an open wound in Chinese history. Chinese People’s Liberation Army soldier guards close the way to Tiananmen Gate on May 28

The protests, first labeled a ‘counterrevolutionary riot,’ are now merely referred to as ‘political turmoil,’ when they are referred to at all, as the party tries to suppress all memory of them having occurred. 

The government has never expressed regret over the killings and rejected all calls for an investigation, leaving the protests an open wound in Chinese history. 

Asked if he had any comment about the anniversary at a briefing last year, defence ministry spokesman Wu Qian said he didn’t agree with the use of the word ‘suppression’ to describe the military action, but offered no alternative. 

‘I think over the 30 years, what we have achieved in reform and opening up and development has already answered your question,’ Qian said.  

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