70th anniversary parade reflects China's great progress

China Daily
Li Jiayao
2019-10-04 15:42:59
A float featuring China’s national emblem travels past Tian’anmen Gate during a parade marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, on its National Day in Beijing, China October 1, 2019. [Photo/China Daily]

By Harvey Dzodin

The magnificent 70th anniversary parade celebrating New China had many notable highlights, especially President Xi Jinping's address. William Shakespeare wrote that "brevity is the soul of wit". Today we'd say it differently: "less is more". In less than 10 minutes, President Xi managed to highlight and emphasize a number of the most important themes, elements of which were graphically and dramatically demonstrated in the parade that followed.

President Xi, and the parade, took us on a journey that spanned modern Chinese history: from a century of humiliation to the founding of the People's Republic of China to its current path, seven decades later, of national rejuvenation and being on target to reach the two centenary goals "through concerted efforts and arduous struggle".

He renewed his pledge to make China whole again. He said that "on our journey forward, we must uphold the principles of 'peaceful reunification' and 'one country, two systems',' maintain lasting prosperity and stability in Hong Kong and Macao, promote the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations, unite all Chinese sons and daughters, and continue to strive for the motherland's complete reunification."

Few people in the West know that China was the world leader for centuries and is on the threshold of resuming its leading position. But Xi stressed that China will follow the path of peaceful development and continue its mutually beneficial opening-up strategy, neither as hegemon nor opponent, but as partner.

China's Belt and Road Initiative, involvement in international and multilateral organizations as evidenced by the Chinese contingent of United Nations peacekeepers who marched in the parade, and other efforts are elements of this engagement. As Xi said, "We will continue to work with people from all countries to push for jointly building a community with a shared future for humanity."

What I have found from living in China for 15 years now is that Chinese people are patriotic. As we witnessed in the parade, Chinese people love their country and approve of the way it's ruled and take pride in the economic miracles it has achieved. It's been a long time since many of us Americans have felt this pride, especially in the last few years.

Comparing this parade to the one a decade ago shows just how much China has progressed. In keeping with China's commitment to a greener environment, while some of the displays this year were repurposed from last time, the advances in technological bells and whistles were obvious to even the most casual observer. Similarly, China's commitment to improving its manufacturing prowess and to staking out a leading role in artificial intelligence were reflected in advances in military hardware such as the drones and delivery systems that were on public display for the first time.

From start to finish, from President Xi's inspiring remarks to the military and cultural extravaganza, the 70th anniversary parade is one that hundreds of millions of us who watched it will never forget.

Harvey Dzodin is a senior fellow at the think tank Center for China and Globalization, and a former legal adviser in the Carter administration.

The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not represent the views of China Daily and China Daily website.

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