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China Prepares for 70th Anniversary as Tensions Within and Outside Country Continue

File - China's President Xi Jinping inspects the People's Liberation Army. Tanks, missile launchers and chanting troops greeted Xi in a potent display of Chinese military strength.
China Prepares for 70th Anniversary as Tensions Within and Outside the Country Continue
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The People’s Republic of China is planning big celebrations, including a huge military parade, to mark the 70th anniversary of its founding.

State media have reported the possibility that new Chinese-made weapons will be shown during the National Day celebrations on October 1. But experts warn that the country’s leadership is facing a number of challenges. They include the issue of Taiwan and continuing political unrest in Hong Kong.

In reaction, China expert Willy Lam says that the National Day events, especially the military parade, are clearly meant to send a political message.

“This is very important for the legitimacy of the party, which doesn’t of course have ballot-box legitimacy,” he said. He added that the parade is an effort by President Xi Jinping to bring attention to China’s Communist Party and his leadership.

“Xi Jinping is telling every Chinese that they should be proud of China’s achievement and they should not be asking the party for western values and norms, such as freedom of expression,” Lam noted.

Military power to be shown

China’s state newspaper, Global Times, reported that the parade will prove the nation’s military power. “Any country that attempts to provoke China and threaten China’s territorial sovereignty and integrity should think twice,” it said.

The paper added that China will likely show off its most recent and fourth-generation long distance missile, the Dongfeng-41. It stated that the differences between the Chinese and U.S. militaries are shrinking.

Other weapons to be shown may include the J-20 stealth fighter jet, the Z-15 helicopter and Y-20 transport aircraft.

Balancing appearances

As China’s National Day nears, the government is increasing security on many streets and at train stations, especially in the capital, Beijing.

Chinese media report that Xi will speak to the nation at the beginning of the October 1 celebrations. Then, the military parade will take place, to be followed by night-time performances and fireworks.

The yearly fireworks show in Hong Kong is to be cancelled because of the city’s ongoing civil unrest, which resulted from pro-democracy protests.

Hong Kong’s political unrest presents a problem for Chinese leaders.

Wang Kun-yi is an associate professor of international affairs at Tamkang University in Taipei. He said the Hong Kong protests and the recent U.S. arms sales to Taiwan make Xi look bad.

In July, the U.S. government approved the sale of $2.2 billion in arms, including tanks and missiles, to the government in Taiwan. Mainland China strongly protested.

Wang said that, “Under such circumstances, if he can’t do anything to make it look better, his authority and leadership would have been seriously damaged.”

The Xi administration hopes that the military parade and diplomatic successes in the South Pacific will improve the country’s international standing. Mainland China established diplomatic ties with the Solomon Islands and Kiribati. The two island nations had been allies of Taiwan.

Mainland China considers Taiwan a rebel province and has threatened to reclaim the territory by force if necessary.

While the diplomatic news may be welcome in China, the results might not be what officials in Beijing had wanted. News media in Taiwan have said that China’s latest diplomatic efforts appear to be part of a plan to interfere with Taiwan’s upcoming presidential election.

Wang Kun-yi said that the move may end up helping Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party supports closer ties with the United States and has threatened to break away from the mainland.

I’m Mario Ritter, Jr.

Joyce Huang reported this story for VOA News. Mario Ritter Jr. adapted it for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

challenge – n. a test or problem

legitimacy – n. real, accepted by most people, official

proud adj. having or showing self-respect; being pleased with one’s actions

norm – n. expected and accepted ways of doing things

provoke – v. to try to cause someone to feel angry

sovereignty – n. the ability of a group or country to rule itself

integrity – n. the state of being complete or whole

circumstance – n. a condition that affects a situation