China's Ruling Party Scales Back Plans For Centenary in Beijing

The ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) announced on Tuesday there would be no military parade in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square to mark its centenary on July 1, state media reported.

“There will be no military parade during this year’s celebration of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the CCP,” state news agency Xinhua reported, quoted Li Jun, assistant director of the Political Work Department of the CCP’s Central Military Commission (CMC), as saying at a news conference in Beijing.

Instead, Li said the CMC had made “unified arrangements” for military celebrations, including meetings, party history study events, and seminars.

Plans will also include an exhibit titled “Forward under the Banner of the Party” at the China Military Museum, and other displays and exhibits by different sections of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

Beijing last saw a massive military parade roll through Tiananmen Square in 2019, to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

Analysts told RFA the scaled-down celebrations likely reflected changing geopolitical factors, including worsening relations with Washington, as well as the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Hebei-based current affairs commentator Yue Jun said that nothing particularly special is being laid on to mark the date.

“There isn’t any really exciting major event planned,” Yue said. “The 100th anniversary of the founding of the CCP doesn’t really lend itself to big ticket events.”

“I think that these celebrations will be fairly superficial.”

Commentator Ji Feng said it is possible that earlier plans for a military parade had been scuppered by changing world events.

“So many countries have been harmed by the pandemic, and that harm was brought to them by [the CCP],” Ji said. “[Also], Sino-U.S. ties have gotten worse, then there is the relationship with the European Union, Canada, Australia, and Japan, all of which have deteriorated.”

“Things aren’t looking good [diplomatically] from any direction,” he said. “If they compound that by [having a military parade], then people will see them as despicable.”

Counterproductive

Meanwhile, current affairs commentator Cai Shenkun said the decision was in keeping with past practice in Beijing.

“Military parades are mostly held on anniversaries of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, and at times of stability,” Cai told RFA. “If they had one [this year], it would be counterproductive.”

He said too great an emphasis on the history of the CCP, as opposed to the People’s Republic of China, would run the risk of reawakening political debate about the role of the former Soviet Union’s Comintern in the founding of the Chinese party.

“There has been so much water under the bridge in the past 100 years, and all of the former leaders have been purged during that time,” Cai said.

“So if you are looking to mark the centenary with a high-profile figure, whom would you choose?” he said.

Vice propaganda minister Wang Xiaohui said the CCP itself will mark the centenary with a plenary meeting hosted by the CCP Central Committee in Beijing, at which general secretary Xi Jinping will make a major speech.

The party will hand out honors medals to those considered to have made a contribution of excellence to the nation.

Mass education activities will also be run for the general public, Wang told the news conference on Tuesday.

The announcement regarding the centenary comes amid growing concern over Beijing’s threat to invade the democratic island of Taiwan.

Combat ready

Earlier this month, Xi Jinping told the country’s military and armed police force to get ‘combat ready’ to defend national sovereignty and security.

The top U.S. military commander in the region has warned that China could be preparing to bring forward plans to invade Taiwan as early as 2027.

Admiral Philip Davidson, commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that Beijing could launch an invasion within the next six years.

China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has flown multiple aircraft into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) since the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden took office on Jan. 20.

In 2018, the Pentagon warned that the PLA is gradually preparing for a possible invasion of Taiwan, as the CCP “continued to develop and deploy increasingly advanced military capabilities intended to coerce Taiwan, signal Chinese resolve, and gradually improve capabilities for an invasion.”

Taiwan has never been ruled by Beijing nor formed part of the People’s Republic of China, but has been locked out of international diplomacy and agencies at the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s insistence.

Washington has said it will no longer seek to “appease” China on Taiwan, as the State Department announced an end to a ban on high-level official and diplomatic contact with Taiwanese officials on Jan. 9, at the tail end of the Trump administration.

Reported by Qiao Long for RFA’s Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

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