President Xi Jinping on Thursday warned that foreign forces attempting to bully the nation will "get their heads bashed", and hailed a "new world" created by its people as the ruling Communist Party marked the centenary of its founding.
In an hour-long address from Tiananmen Square, Xi pledged to build up the military, committed to the "reunification" of Taiwan and said social stability would be ensured in Hong Kong while protecting China's security and sovereignty.
"The people of China are not only good at destroying the old world, they have also created a new world," said Xi, China's most powerful leader since Mao Zedong, the founder of the People's Republic. "Only socialism can save China."
He said that the people of China would never allow any foreign force to bully, oppress, or subjugate them.
"Anyone who dares try to do that will have their heads bashed bloody against the Great Wall of steel forged by over 1.4 billion Chinese people," he said, sparking applause from an invited audience of 70,000 gathered in the massive square in central Beijing. The phrase became the top trending topic on Weibo on Thursday morning.
Regarding Hong Kong, Xi said China will "stay true to the letter and spirit of the principle of 'One Country, Two Systems'," under which the city is promised a high degree of autonomy.
China, whose rapid military modernisation has fuelled growing worry among its neighbours and in the West, will build up its armed forces to safeguard its sovereignty, security and development, elevating them to world-class standards, Xi said.
"We must accelerate the modernisation of national defence and the armed forces," said Xi, who is also chairman of the Central Military Commission, which controls the country's armed forces.
Xi and the party are riding high as China recovers briskly from the Covid-19 outbreak and takes a more assertive stance on the global stage.
But Beijing faces external criticism over its clampdown in Hong Kong and treatment of ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, and is dealing with a worsening demographic outlook that imperils long-term economic growth.
A survey of 17 advanced economies released on Wednesday by the US-based Pew Research Center showed that views about China have remained broadly negative and confidence in Xi near historic lows. (Reuters)
Last updated: 2021-07-01 HKT 13:11