Chaos in Hong Kong Overshadows China’s National Day Spectacle

Chaos in Hong Kong Overshadows China’s National Day Spectacle
A large portrait of Chinese President Xi Jinping at a parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, Beijing, Oct. 1, 2019 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China.

“There is no force that can shake the foundation of this great nation. No force can stop the Chinese people and Chinese nation forging ahead,” President Xi Jinping said Tuesday in a speech marking the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China. The Communist Party hoped this year’s milestone celebration would showcase a unified country on the path to a “great rejuvenation.” Instead, observers around the world were treated to a much more complicated split-screen image: A giant display of state power in Beijing and a massive uprising against the state in Hong Kong.

The National Day holiday on Oct. 1 marks the victory of Mao Zedong’s communist army over nationalist forces in 1949, ending a “century of humiliation” that began with China’s defeat in the Opium Wars of the mid-19th century. This year’s celebration featured a carefully choreographed military parade and a staggering display of weaponry. One hundred thousand performers joined 15,000 goose-stepping soldiers and sailors in Tiananmen Square, along with 160 military aircraft and 580 tanks. China unveiled its newest intercontinental ballistic missile, the DF-41, capable of carrying 10 nuclear warheads and striking anywhere in the United States. Other new mobile weapons included the Sharp Sword, an attack drone equipped to carry missiles or laser-guided bombs. Approximately 40 percent of the armaments in the parade were on public display for the first time.

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