‘No force’ can shake this nation, says Xi Jinping as China marks 70 years
BEIJING, Oct 1: President Xi Jinping declared on Tuesday that "no force" can shake the Chinese nation as he oversaw a massive military celebration of 70 years of Communist Party rule, shadowed by a day of protest in seething Hong Kong that threatened to steal the spotlight.
Standing on the Tiananmen Rostrum where Chairman Mao Zedong proclaimed the People's Republic of China on October 1, 1949, Xi extolled the "Chinese dream" of national rejuvenation -- his grand vision of restoring the country to perceived past glory.
"There is no force that can shake the foundation of this great nation," Xi said, wearing a "Mao suit" as he stood alongside party leaders in Tiananmen Square.
"No force that can stop the Chinese people and the Chinese nation forging ahead," the country's most powerful leader since Mao said before riding in an open-roof car to review troops.
Around 15,000 soldiers, tanks and high-tech weapons were ready to file past Tiananmen Square for an event celebrating China's journey from a country broken by war and poverty to being the world's second-largest economy.
A symbolic 70-gun salute was fired at the square and the red national flag was raised to begin festivities held under tight security, with road closures and even a ban on flying kites.
New weapons -- including a hypersonic drone and an intercontinental ballistic missile whose range encompasses the United States -- are expected to make their public debut among hundreds of pieces of military equipment and aircraft, according to Paris-based analysts.
But behind the festivities, a clutch of challenges tests Xi's ability to maintain economic and political stability.
"The party hopes that this occasion will add to its legitimacy and rally support at a time of internal and external challenges," Adam Ni, China researcher at Macquarie University in Sydney, told AFP.
US trade war negotiations have dragged on, and African swine fever has raced through the country's pig supply, sending pork prices soaring.
But the major headache is Hong Kong, where pro-democracy protesters hit the streets early in a bid to grab the spotlight from Beijing, with a series of rallies against what they see as the erosion of their special freedoms.
Hong Kong police said they were expecting violence across the city, warning it could be "very, very dangerous", while masked protesters said that "in the face of tyranny, we can only fight as if our last battle". -AFP