Wearing a grey buttoned-up Mao suit, just like the Chairman himself on the same spot back in 1949, Xi Jinping spoke to China and the world from the balcony of Beijing’s Tiananmen Gate, on the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party’s founding. There was no mistaking this is Xi’s stage now – his fellow leaders wore western business suits and ties.
As head of a 95 million-member organisation, Xi emphasised the Party’s role in bringing China to global prominence, and said it would never be divided from the people. China will not allow itself to be bullied and anyone who tries will “have their heads bashed bloody against the Great Wall of Steel forged by the flesh and blood of over 1.4bn Chinese people”. He said China had restored order in Hong Kong, pledged to complete “reunification” with Taiwan, but gave no timeline, and vowed to “smash” any attempts at formal independence.
Our view: Despite all the turgid propagandising, the celebrations appear to command real support among China’s proud population. The Party has succeeded in embedding itself in every facet of national life to the point where one struggles to envisage a China without it. But the contradiction between giving people what they want and maintaining control looks set to be much harder to resolve.