Beijing, Sep 30: Chinese Leader Xi Jinping on Thursday paid tribute in a solemn commemoration to those who died in the struggle to establish Communist Party power, as he leads a nationwide campaign to strengthen the party’s patriotism and authority unique.
Xi and the other six members of the party’s all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee led elderly veterans and government and military leaders to pay their respects at the Monument to the People’s Heroes in the center of Tiananmen Square while a military orchestra performed.
Xi, who heads the party and is also state chairman, made no remarks, although Premier Li Keqiang is due to address a reception on Thursday evening.
The Martyr’s Day ceremony underscores Xi’s emphasis on communist traditions after establishing himself as China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong, who founded the People’s Republic in 1949 after coming to power in a bloody civil war. This year’s ceremony follows commemorations for the centenary of the party’s founding in 1921.
While building a cult of personality, Xi pushed a hard line on foreign policy and a crackdown on free speech and political opposition in the semi-autonomous city of Hong Kong. Relations with the United States have fallen to their lowest level in decades, with Beijing issuing a plethora of complaints on issues ranging from human rights to Washington’s support for Taiwan.
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China claims self-governing island democracy as its own territory and threatens to use military force to bring it under Beijing’s control. Xi, who also controls the vast Chinese army, has heightened this threat by sending military planes into the airspace near the island almost daily while ground troops carry out exercises on the coast opposite.
Tiananmen Square and surrounding roads were closed for Thursday’s ceremony, which began with a fanfare of trumpets, the singing of the Chinese national anthem and a minute of silence.
The steps and upper level of the monument, a 10-story obelisk partially carved with images of the struggle to establish Communist rule, were covered in red carpet.
The ceremony also featured a choir of children wearing the white shirts and red scarves of the party’s Young Pioneers youth organization singing their hymn, We Are the Heirs of Communism.
The Martyrs’ Day is commemorated on the eve of the Chinese National Day, which begins on a 10-day public holiday.
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