BEIJING – From atop the gates of the Forbidden City, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s declaration that China would no longer be bullied by foreign forces elicited rousing applause from a 70,000-strong crowd gathered in Tiananmen Square.
So did his call for China’s youth to “take personal responsibility” for the country’s national rejuvenation.
As the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) celebrated its centenary on Thursday (July 1) with a grand ceremony in the heart of Beijing, Mr Xi’s 70-minute speech created a wave of patriotic and nationalistic sentiment.
On the Twitter-like Chinese social media platform Weibo, his comments were among the most discussed subjects.
Over half a million posts on the topic “Anyone who thinks of bullying China will have their heads smashed bloody” had close to a billion views as at 6pm on Thursday.
Mr Xi had sounded a thinly veiled warning against external forces in his speech.
In recent years, China’s relationships with the United States and other Western countries have soured significantly, and Beijing believes that the West is increasingly nervous about its growing strength.
“The Chinese people will never allow any foreign forces to bully, oppress or subjugate us. Anyone who thinks of doing this will have their heads smashed bloody against the Great Wall of steel formed by the flesh and blood of 1.4 billion Chinese people,” Mr Xi had pronounced.
Excitement among the invited crowd reached fever pitch at those words, said Chinese netizen Ying Wang, who said he was fortunate to be able to attend the festivities in person.
“This was not simple excitement – it was a kind of self-confidence that comes from being a great country,” he wrote later on Weibo.
Chinese entrepreneur Xu Zewei, who also attended the Tiananmen square ceremony, said Mr Xi’s remarks left a deep impression on him.
“Under the leadership of the CCP, there has been earth-shattering change in China. These changes have strengthened my faith in the party, and my toughened my expectations for myself. I want to be a better party member,” said Mr Xu, 38, told The Straits Times.
The CCP has 95 million members in China, but judging from the groundswell of emotion, the party’s 100th anniversary was an occasion of pride for most Chinese.
Chinese businessman Li Jian, 56, told ST: “There is nothing more to say other than I love my motherland and as a Chinese, I am very proud.”