In just over an hour of speech, Chinese leader Xi Jinping achieved a feat of terse political propaganda to celebrate 100 years of the Communist Party, which has ruled China since it took power in 1949.
Dressed in a Maoist robe, he spoke of the past of struggling against the oppressive West and celebrated Communist icons. He ignored the horrors perpetrated in the process, left veiled threats against internal and external adversaries, ultimately projecting a bright and prosperous future for the country.
He spoke “urbi et orbi”, for the city and for the world, as the Pope does. The hidden topic was the Dominant Power, the United States and its Cold War 2.0. For Washington, in addition to warnings of how “nations rise and fall,” Xi left his most assertive statement Thursday morning (1).
“China has never oppressed and will not oppress anyone. Anyone who wants to oppress us will find themselves on a collision course with the Great Wall of steel, forged by 1.4 billion people, ”he summed up, to the loudest applause of his monotonous speech and dissent. predictable political dissidents.
For them, too, there was little understatement. In advocating the modernization of the People’s Liberation Army, the Chinese armed forces, Xi insisted on defending China’s “sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
No more ovation, except perhaps in Taiwan and Hong Kong, moreover mentioned by name with the most bovine of Macao in the “hello to compatriots”. Regarding Uyghur Muslims, nothing specific: they were represented in 1 of the 56 ceremonial canons honoring the Chinese ethnic groups.
The tone was even harsher for the island where the defeated by the Communists took refuge in the 1940s. Xi promised to “resolve the Taiwan question”, “to crush” any attempt at independence.
Overheads on Tiananmen Square, the scene of the massacre of students in 1989 who naturally did not list the historical difficulties encountered by the party, a reminder of the practical means of all this demonstration of rhetorical force by the leader.
There were 15 stealth fighters on the J-20 radar, the crown jewel of China’s war industry, the largest number ever to fly in the country at one time. They conducted rituals on the ground, forged in the tradition of the Communist parades of the Soviet Union.
If China had been a democracy and its likely reappearance for another five-year term in 2022, an election, Xi’s entire platform would have been described in the text read to 70,000 people. Nothing that hasn’t been said at some point in his nine years as a leader.
But Xi’s discursive insight lies in creating a cohesive Chinese-era rosary, linking the humiliations of the 19th century to the might of today’s second economy. Historians won’t agree with linearity, let alone the countless quotes promoting freedom and democracy in the largest of the five remaining Communist countries in the world, but it works wonders as political propaganda.
Since he will not receive a popular vote, he reminded the people that the only way to stay prosperous is 1) to keep the party first and foremost and 2) to keep the party leadership together. If the state is the party, the party is increasingly Xi Jinping.
There was even room for symbolism. Xi, of course, worshiped the father of the homeland (Mao Tse-tung, embalmed next to him) and the father of state capitalism (Deng Xiaoping).
But there was still a place of pride for his two predecessors, as well as an almost psychoanalytic quote to Liu Shoqi, number 3 of the regime for many years who was humiliated and ended up dying during Mao’s Cultural Revolution, in being rehabilitated by Deng.
Xi’s father, a politician like himself, fell out of favor around this time, and the current ruler was separated from his family and went to work in the fields. Your father was never fully reinstated.