With a martial message of triumph, Chinese leader Xi Jinping marked his ruling Communist Party’s 100th birthday with calls to rouse patriotic passions, repel foreign coercion and entrench one-party rule, signaling defiance against U.S.-led efforts to pressure Beijing.
Addressing more than 70,000 people gathered Thursday at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, Mr. Xi struck strident tones in recounting the party’s successes in surmounting challenges at home and abroad—from eliminating rural poverty to resisting imperialist aggression. He insisted that China has irreversibly emerged from past humiliation by foreign powers into an era of pride and prosperity.
The Chinese people “will never allow any foreign force to bully, oppress, or enslave us,” Mr. Xi said, dressed in a gray Mao suit atop the Gate of Heavenly Peace. “Anyone who tries to do so shall be battered and bloodied from colliding with a great wall of steel forged by more than 1.4 billion Chinese people using flesh and blood,” he said, drawing cheers and applause.
The centennial celebrations help Mr. Xi showcase his achievements as he confronts a sluggish domestic economy, frosty ties with the U.S. and other Western powers, and China’s souring international image. Officials have also used the grandiose festivities to underscore Mr. Xi’s clout as he prepares for a twice-a-decade party congress next year where he is expected to claim a third term as party chief and pick new lieutenants.
State media have echoed Mr. Xi’s messaging while saturating airwaves and newsprint with pro-party publicity. In a Thursday editorial, the party’s official mouthpiece, People’s Daily, called on the party’s 95 million members and the Chinese people to unite more closely around Mr. Xi’s leadership in striving to make China a rich, advanced and truly global power by 2049, the 100th anniversary of Communist rule.