Beijing: No force can ever stop China from marching forward, President Xi Jinping asserted on Tuesday as he presided over the country's largest parade, showcasing its military might and unity among top leaders, to celebrate the Communist Party's hold on power for 70 years.
As China held its largest parade, Hong Kong witnessed one of its violent protests with thousands of pro-democracy activists, who burnt Chinese flags, demanding autonomy, universal franchise, and freedom for all the people to contest the elections for the territory's legislature.
"No force can ever shake the status of China, or stop the Chinese people and nation from marching forward," an assertive Xi said in his speech ahead of the parade, as the two-million strong world's largest army flexed its muscles displaying some of its most sophisticated weapons, including long range Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs).
Regarded as the most powerful leader since the Communist Party of China (CPC) founder Mao Zedong, Xi, 66, who heads the party, the military and the presidency, said that the founding of the People's Republic of China (PRC) under the leadership of the CPC has completely changed "China's miserable fate" of being poor and weak and being bullied and humiliated for over 100 years since the advent of modern times.
Flanked by his predecessors, Jiang Zemin, 93 and Hu Jintao, 76, as a show of unity and solidarity of the CPC leadership in face of intensifying strategic competition with the US and emergence of China, Xi called on the people to uphold the CPC's leadership.
The parade included decorated floats with huge photos of Mao, his successor Deng Xiaoping, Hu and Xi outlining their political and ideological contribution to the development of CPC and China.
"Seventy years ago, on this day Comrade Mao Zedong solemnly declared here to the world that the PRC was founded and the Chinese people had stood up," Xi said. For the world, he assured that China would stay on the peaceful development path, allaying global concerns over China's rise.
"We will continue to work with people from all countries to push for jointly building a community with a shared future for humanity," Xi said. Besides the bruising trade war, China and the US are locked in strategic competition amid efforts by Beijing to expand its global influence with multi-billion dollar projects like the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
In his speech, Xi stressed that the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) and the People's Armed Police Force should always preserve their nature, purpose and character as the forces of the people, resolutely safeguard China's sovereignty, security and development interests, and firmly uphold world peace.
Xi's hard-hitting speech and the lavish display of arsenal by the Chinese military would be watched with interest in New Delhi too as India, along with Bhutan, is the only country Beijing is yet to seal a border deal with. Also, China remains an all-weather ally of Pakistan.
President Xi will visit Mamallapuram near Chennai in the second week this month for 2nd informal summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to work out a road map for the bilateral ties for the next five years.
About Hong Kong, Xi said "on our journey forward, we must uphold the principles of 'peaceful reunification' and 'one country, two systems', maintain lasting prosperity and stability in Hong Kong and Macao." Xi urged concerted efforts to achieve its centenary goals.
"China's yesterday had been inscribed in human history while China's today is being created in the hands of hundreds of millions of Chinese people," Xi said, adding that "Beijing will surely have an even brighter future".
Later, he oversaw China's biggest parade till date in which the military displayed about 300 new weapons, according to the state broadcaster CGTN. The new weapons systems displayed included the Dongfeng-17 conventional missiles which were unveiled for the first time for public.
The missile has the capability of precision strikes against short-and medium-range targets, with strong penetration capacity in all-weather conditions.
The formation is comprised of two conventional missile brigades from a base of the People's Liberation Army Rocket Force. Five J-15 fighter jets, China's domestically-produced first-generation multi-purpose fixed-wing fighter jet, were also on display, and the core strike force of China's aircraft carrier formation.
The J-15 planes operates from the deck of China's first aircraft carrier Liaoning. China's H-6N home-made strategic bomber capable of air refuelling and long-range strike also made the debut. It flew along with H-6K, a domestically-developed medium and long-range bomber.
China's supersonic CJ-100 cruise missiles were also on display. The missiles carried by 16 vehicles formed part of a long range, high precision and quick responsive weapons, the report said.
The weaponry displayed included reconnaissance drones in multi-range and multi-altitude. Among them, a high-altitude high-speed reconnaissance drone including all black-coating UAV in the parade, made public appearance for the first time.
China also unveiled anti-ship cruise missiles in the parade. The long-range submarine-launched and ship-based missiles are domestically designed and built ship deterrence force. The PLA also displayed China's new-generation main battlefield 99A tanks.
-By K J M Varma