Following the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) tradition every Oct. 1, when it celebrates the anniversary of the communist regime’s founding, Party leader Xi Jinping gave a speech at the gate tower of Tiananmen Square as he watched the military parade procession alongside other senior officials.
As this year was the 70th anniversary, the Party has organized especially grandiose festivities.
Xi chose to make a relatively short speech that clocked in at roughly three minutes, spending a substantial part of it calling for a “completely unified China” with Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau under Beijing’s fold.
Both the ruling and opposition political parties in self-ruled Taiwan condemned Xi’s threat. Meanwhile, Hongkongers rung in the holiday with citywide protests against Beijing rule.
Military Parade, Xi’s Speech
In Beijing city, shops, clubs, and restaurants near the military parade route were shut down by authorities weeks in advance, to ensure festivities proceed without a hitch.
Authorities also closed down factories in Beijing and neighboring provinces in an attempt to ensure less air pollution during the big day.
But the air quality did not seem to improve; the U.S. Embassy in Beijing reported that the air was unhealthy for sensitive groups throughout the whole day, while Chinese netizens and nearby residents interviewed by foreign media outlets said the smog was so heavy that they could not see the parade procession from the roofs of their buildings.
According to state-run media Xinhua, about 15,000 soldiers participated in the parade, with over 160 fighters, bombers, and other military aircraft, as well as 580 tanks and armored vehicles.
The Chinese military unveiled for the first time its Dongfeng-41 (DF-41 or CSS-X-10) solid-fueled road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missile. The DF-4 has an operational range of 12,000 to 15,000 kilometers (7,456 – 9320 miles), which makes it the world’s longest range missile and can cover almost all targets on earth from China, according to Xinhua.
The Xi’an H-6N bomber, another debut weapon, has a combat radius of 3,000 kilometer (1,864 miles) with aerial refueling. It can also carry several AKD-20 air-launched ballistic missiles, which have a 1,500 kilometers (932 miles) operational range.
Xi’s speech emphasized the Party’s rule. “Today, the socialism stands on the east side of the world. No force can shake the position of our country [in the world], and no force can stop Chinese people and the Chinese nation’s steps,” Xi said. “We will persist in the CCP’s rule… and the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics,” he added.
He also called for the “one country, two systems” framework to be used to unite Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan with the mainland. “In the future, we will persist in unifying China peacefully by the ‘one country, two systems’ policy,” he said. Hong Kong and Macau, both former European colonies, were returned to Chinese rule under that framework. Taiwan is a self-ruled island with its own democratically-elected government, military, and currency.
But Hongkongers have directed their anger at Beijing for increasingly meddling in the city’s affairs, saying it has violated promises under the “one country, two systems” policy to retain the city’s autonomy.
“The CCP government and Hong Kong police call our Hongkongers cockroaches, which is like how Nazi Germany called Jewish people rats. The CCP wants to destroy Hong Kong,” a protester who only identified himself with his last name of Tsang told The Epoch Times on Oct. 1. Chinese state media have called protesters “cockroaches,” while Hong Kong police have been caught on camera doing the same while policing demonstrations.
Meanwhile Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen responded to Xi’s speech by saying Taiwan will never accept “one country, two systems,” nor the “1992 Consensus,” which was negotiated between the current opposition party in Taiwan, the Kuomintang (KMT), and Beijing.
The 1992 Consensus states that both parties recognize that there is one China, with different interpretations of what that “China” is. The CCP considers it the People’s Republic of China in the mainland, while the KMT claims it is the Republic of China in Taiwan.
Tsai also responded to reporters’ questions about Hongkongers’ protests on Oct. 1: “Taiwan is a democratic and free country, and supports all the people who are pursuing democracy and freedom in the world,” adding that Xi should “listen carefully to the people.”
After Xi’s speech, the KMT published a statement, in which it claimed that the KMT would not accept “one country, two systems,” but agreed to promote communication between mainland China and Taiwan based on the “1992 Consensus.”
Robert Spalding, senior fellow at the Washington-based think tank Hudson Institute, gave his analysis of what Xi’s words might suggest for the Beijing leadership’s response to Hong Kong protests: “In reiterating support for the ‘one country, two systems’ policy, Xi is most likely attempting to reassure Communist Party Leaders that their assets in Hong Kong are safe. Yet, this should not be a signal that any forcible measures [toward protesters] are off the table. Uniting the country and all its territory is still his paramount goal,” he told The Epoch Times by email on Oct. 1.
Meanwhile, U.S.-based China commentator Tang Jingyuan said in a phone interview that Xi likely “wants to convince Taiwan the ‘one country, two systems’ is effective” by showing that it would bring benefits to Taiwanese.
In order to convince Taiwan to believe in the policy, Tang said Xi has to show that the framework is peaceful; thus, he is unlikely to send troops to Hong Kong to suppress the protests.