Tuesday October 27th, 2020 2:06PM

China's 70-year parade shows global ambition as HK protests

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

BEIJING (AP) — China's Communist Party marked 70 years in power with a military parade Tuesday that showcased the country's global ambitions while police in Hong Kong fought protesters in a reminder of strains at home.

Trucks carrying nuclear missiles designed to evade U.S. defenses, a supersonic attack drone and other products of a two-decade-old weapons development effort rolled through Beijing as soldiers marched past President Xi Jinping and other leaders on Tiananmen Square. Fighter jets flew over spectators who waved Chinese flags under a cloudy autumn sky.

The display highlighted Beijing's ambition for strategic influence to match its status as the second-largest global economy, even as Xi's government suppresses dissent that illustrates the tensions between a closed, one-party dictatorship and a rapidly evolving society.

Those strategic goals include displacing the United States as the Pacific region's dominant power and enforcing potentially volatile claims to Taiwan, the South China Sea and other disputed territories.

"No force can stop the progress of the Chinese people," Xi said in a nationally televised speech.

In Hong Kong, pro-democracy protesters who wanted to embarrass the party during this year's highest-profile political event fought with police as tens of thousands of people demonstrated.

One man was shot in the shoulder by a police officer, the first time a protester is known to have been shot. Video that spread quickly on social media appeared to show the officer opening fire as the protester came at him with a baton, striking the officer's shooting arm.

Protests in the former British colony have prompted concerns Beijing might intervene. But Xi promised in a speech Monday to stick to a commitment to allow the territory's leaders to manage its affairs.

Xi was joined on the Tiananmen rostrum by Premier Li Keqiang, former Presidents Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin and other party figures. Authorities said the event would include 15,000 troops, more than 160 aircraft and 580 pieces of military equipment.

The anniversary commemorates the Oct. 1, 1949, founding of the People's Republic of China by then-leader Mao Zedong following a civil war with the Nationalist government, which retreated to Taiwan.

The display of "high-quality weapons" is meant to show Beijing is on track to "rejuvenate China in the global arena," said Henry Boyd, a military analyst at the International Institute of Strategic Studies in London.

"The message is, this is a great power China to be a taken seriously," Boyd said. "It is not to be treated as an inferior."

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam attended with a delegation of Hong Kong officials and dignitaries in a show of unity with the ruling party.

Xi, wearing a gray Mao jacket, rode in an open-topped limousine past dozens of rows of truck-mounted missiles, armored personnel carriers and other military gear.

Soldiers in helmets and combat gear shouted, "Hello, leader!" and "Serve the people!" Xi replied, "Hello, comrades."

Supported by China's economic boom, military spending has risen 400% over the past decade as Beijing tries to match the United States, Russia and Europe in weapons technology. Foreign analysts say China is, along with the United States, a leader in unmanned aircraft and is catching up in missiles and some other areas.

The parade "aims to show the outside world China's confidence" and ability to protect its "overseas interests," said Yue Gang, a retired army colonel and military commentator.

Despite "great improvements," China "should not relax vigilance and needs to continue to make efforts," Yue said.

The People's Liberation Army, the world's biggest military with 2 million men and women in uniform, also is working on fighter planes, the first Chinese-built aircraft carrier and a new generation of nuclear-powered submarines.

A closely watched weapon unveiled Tuesday was the Dongfeng-17, a nuclear-armed glider that foreign analysts say is designed to maneuver at high speed to evade anti-missile defenses. That could help counter American systems like those deployed in South Korea and Japan.

Another was an unmanned aircraft dubbed Sharp Sword that, if equipped with bombs or missiles, would be the first combat drone developed by a power other than Washington and its European allies.

Drones have "become an indispensable weapon" for Chinese forces, said Song Zhongping, a military analyst.

Beijing's emphasis on missiles and other long-range weapons reflects official ambitions, after decades as an army confined to land, to project power beyond Chinese shores.

Analysts say the long-range H-6N bomber, shown for the first time Tuesday, could be used to attack U.S. or other forces in the Pacific.

Another missile displayed, the Dongfeng-41, is believed to have the world's longest range at up to 15,000 kilometers (9,400 miles). Analysts say it may be able to reach the United States in as little as 30 minutes and carry as many as 10 warheads to hit separate targets.

The soldiers and military hardware were followed by 70 floats celebrating China's economic achievements and former Communist leaders.

China's military spending last year was the world's second-highest at an estimated $250 billion, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. The United States, with a force of 1.3 million, led in spending at $650 billion, or more than 2½ times China's level.

China's nuclear arsenal has about 280 warheads, compared with 6,450 for the United States and 6,850 for Russia, according to SIPRI. Beijing says it wants a "minimum credible nuclear deterrent" but won't be the first to use atomic weapons in a conflict.

The Communist Party's hold on power appears to be secure three decades after it crushed pro-democracy protests centered on Tiananmen Square in 1989.

Beijing is trying to shore up cooling economic growth and prevent politically dangerous job losses amid a tariff war with Washington over trade and technology that has battered Chinese exporters.

China's Communists are closing in on the 74-year record of the former Soviet Communist Party as the longest-ruling Marxist-Leninist party.

The party's tumultuous history is marked by disasters including the 1958-61 Great Leap Forward, a failed attempt at rapid industrialization that led to famine that killed at least 30 million people, as well as market-style economic reform in the 1980s that allowed millions of Chinese to lift themselves out of poverty.

Xi's government has tightened political control and cracked down on human rights and pro-democracy activism. Beijing faces criticism over its treatment of Muslims in China's northwest, where the U.S. government, activists and researchers say as many as 1 million people have been detained.

Xi, the son of a commander in Mao's guerrilla army, has emerged as China's most powerful leader in decades. The party removed limits on his term as president last year, rolling back efforts to create a consensus-based system and limit the power of individual leaders.

In a speech Monday, Xi reminded Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its own territory, of the ruling party's pledge to unite the self-ruled island with the mainland, by force if necessary.


Associated Press researcher Yu Bing contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP World News, AP Business, AP Business - Economy
© Copyright 2020
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
A year later, Saudi journalist's killing haunts kingdom
Slaying of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi haunts Saudi Arabia on first anniversary of his killing
8:35AM ( 6 minutes ago )
Former President Jimmy Carter celebrates 95th birthday
Former President Jimmy Carter is celebrating his 95th birthday, the first U.S. president in history to reach that milestone
8:35AM ( 7 minutes ago )
China's 70-year parade shows global ambition as HK protests
China's Communist Party marks 70 years in power with military parade as police in Hong Kong fight with protesters
8:34AM ( 7 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
The Latest: Trump congratulates China on Communist rule
U.S. President Donald Trump has tweeted his congratulations to China on 70 years of Communist Party rule
7:51AM ( 51 minutes ago )
North Korea: Nuclear talks with US to resume this weekend
A senior North Korean diplomat says North Korea and the United States have agreed to resume nuclear negotiations this weekend following a months-long stalemate over withdrawal of sanctions in exchange for disarmament
7:23AM ( 1 hour ago )
'You're good-looking': Ukraine's leader woos Tom Cruise
Ukraine's leader isn't just trying to charm U.S. President Donald Trump _ he's set his sights now on Tom Cruise, too
7:20AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP World News
Boris Johnson: UK will submit concrete Brexit proposals soon
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says "this is the moment when the rubber hits the road," as his government prepares to make firm proposals for a new divorce deal with the European Union
7:38AM ( 1 hour ago )
World markets subdued as investors eye trade, Brexit
Global markets are subdued after the World Trade Organization slashed its forecasts and as investors monitor developments in Brexit
7:06AM ( 1 hour ago )
Eurozone inflation drops, underlining case for stimulus
Inflation in the 19-country eurozone weakened in September, underlining European Central Bank President Mario Draghi's arguments for a recent stimulus package
5:56AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Business
China's 70-year parade shows economic and military might
China parade marking Communist Party's 70th anniversary in power showcases economic development, newest weapons
3:09AM ( 5 hours ago )
Australia cuts key interest rate to record low 0.75%
Australia's central bank has cut its benchmark interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point for the third time since June to a new record low of 0.75% in a bid to boost a flagging economy
2:34AM ( 6 hours ago )
Asian shares gain, Australia cuts rate to record low 0.75%
Shares mostly higher in Asia, markets in Hong Kong and Shanghai closed for holiday
2:32AM ( 6 hours ago )
AP Business - Economy
A year later, Saudi journalist's killing haunts kingdom
Slaying of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi haunts Saudi Arabia on first anniversary of his killing
8:35AM ( 7 minutes ago )
Former President Jimmy Carter celebrates 95th birthday
Former President Jimmy Carter is celebrating his 95th birthday, the first U.S. president in history to reach that milestone
8:35AM ( 7 minutes ago )
North Korea, US say nuclear talks to resume this weekend
North Korea and the U.S. say they have agreed to resume nuclear negotiations following a monthslong stalemate over withdrawal of sanctions in exchange for disarmament
8:03AM ( 39 minutes ago )
France backs Russia's presence at European human rights body
French President Emmanuel Macron has strongly advocated for Russia's presence at the Council of Europe, the continent's key human rights organization, despite its 2014 annexation of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine
8:01AM ( 40 minutes ago )
Global trade to see weakest growth since Great Recession
Global trade is forecast to weaken this year to the slowest pace since the depths of the Great Recession in 2009 due the U.S.-China trade war.
7:52AM ( 50 minutes ago )