The Chinese government has warned foreign critics of its communist system, saying they will not be tolerated.
At the celebrations to mark 100 years of the Communist Party of China (CPC), President Xi Jinping told a gathering that Beijing will continue to cooperate with like-minded countries to advance what he called common human development. But that, he warned, will not include accepting foreign manipulation.
The Communist Party, founded in 1921 under the leadership of Mao Zedong, has also run the country since 1949 when it officially changed its name to the People’s Republic of China.
Borrowing from Marxism and Leninism, the CPC has run a tightly controlled type of socialism which coupled with certain economic reforms have seen China rise from a poor country to the world’s second biggest economy.
On Thursday, President XI directed his warning to those uncomfortable with the communist system.
“We are eager to learn what lessons we can from the achievements of other cultures, and welcome helpful suggestions and constructive criticism,” he told the gathering in an address that was also streamed on digital platforms.
“We will not, however, accept sanctimonious preaching from those who feel they have the right to lecture us.”
China, he argued, neither bullies nor command other people n what to do, and expects the same treatment from those it relates with.
“Anyone who would attempt to do so will find themselves on a collision course with a great wall of steel forged by over 1.4 billion Chinese people.”
The CPC, founded in 1921 by a group of dissatisfied peasants in Shanghai, China’s biggest city, waged a war against the Nationalists until 1949 when it set up a government. Initial economic programmes such as Mao’s Great Leap Forward proved counterproductive and economic historians argue it led to millions of death from starvation as food production was low.
However, after Mao’s death, new leader Deng Xiaoping started the gradual opening in, seeing China change its laws to allow trade with foreign entities. That has seen the country rise to be the largest economy in the world behind the US.
But the Communist Party, now the world’s second largest party by membership of about 92 million (behind India’s BJP], has received flak from Western Democracies who argue it muzzled dissenting voices, independent media and rights of indigenous communities especially in Xinjiang.
This year’s celebrations came just months after Beijing declared itself free of extreme poverty. But it is also more than a year after a deadly viral infection arose in Wuhan and has now circulated across the world becoming a pandemic. China officially denies it originated the virus, even though initial cases were found in the city Hebei Province.
In his speech, President Xi did not mention the virus, but fought back accusations from critics that his party, in which he is General Secretary, was leading against people’s will.
“The Chinese nation does not carry aggressive or hegemonic traits in its genes. The Party cares about the future of humanity, and wishes to move forward in tandem with all progressive forces around the world. China has always worked to safeguard world peace, contribute to global development, and preserve international order,” he said.
“On the journey ahead, we will remain committed to promoting peace, development, cooperation, and mutual benefit, to an independent foreign policy of peace, and to the path of peaceful development. We will work to build a new type of international relations and a human community with a shared future, promote high-quality development of the Belt and Road Initiative through joint efforts, and use China’s new achievements in development to provide the world with new opportunities,” he added, referring to his pet programme to expand trading networks across the world.
For the next century, Xi said the Communist party will continue to strengthen, saying China’s survival depends on the CPC itself. Beijing will continue to cooperate in peace search, development and justice, he said. It will support cooperation against confrontation and will open does for “win-win” solutions.
But while he said China will not seek hegemony and power politics, he said Beijing will not compromise on Taiwan as part of its territory. Officially known as the Republic of China, Taiwan, has faced the might of China’s foreign lobbying against recognizing Taipei as a separate independent capital. In Africa, only the Kingdom of eSwatini, for example, still recognises Taiwan as independent of China. Burkina Faso, the other country that supported Taiwan changed stance in 2018, after an intense carrot offer from Beijing.
“We will uphold the One-China principle and the 1992 Consensus, and advance peaceful national reunification.
“We must take resolute action to utterly defeat any attempt toward ‘Taiwan independence,’ and work together to create a bright future for national rejuvenation.”
In the next 100 years, Xi promised the Communist Party will focus on enhancing technological capabilities, including rebuilding the military, suggesting China’s future desire to be both a soft and hard super power.
But it will begin with strengthening the Party’s discipline, purging the errant and listening to the people, he said.