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Politics

China's Communist Party skips military parade for centennial

Surprise move comes as tensions with the West rise

Xi Jinping held his first military parade as China's president in Tiananmen Square in September 2015. (Photo by Takaki Kashiwabara)

BEIJING -- The ruling Communist Party will not hold the expected military parade for its centennial this summer, apparently aiming not to further fuel already-smoldering international tensions.

"There will be no military parade in the festivities marking the party's 100th anniversary," said Maj. Gen. Li Jun, assistant to the director of the Political Work Department of the Central Military Commission, in a news conference here Tuesday. All officers and troops will celebrate at their posts, Li said.

Chinese President Xi Jinping held large-scale military parades in 2015 and 2019 at Tiananmen Square and has been particularly focused on the party's July 1 centennial.

This year's commemorative activities include an educational campaign on party history. A military parade on the big day had been all but a foregone conclusion until now.

In ruling out such pageantry months in advance, the Communist Party appears mindful of growing pressure from the West. The U.S., the U.K. and Canada announced sanctions Monday on Chinese officials accused of involvement in human rights abuses against the Uyghur minority. The European Union had imposed sanctions the same day.

In practice, the People's Liberation Army is an organ of the party rather than the state. China has officially kept the distinction ambiguous.

A military parade in July would confirm that the PLA indeed belongs to the party, opening the door to further Western criticism of China's one-party rule.

The Communist Party has apparently opted to avoid inflaming tensions. But even without a military parade, the PLA is still essentially the party's army.

"We will resolutely carry out President Xi's commands" and firmly uphold the core of the party's absolute leadership over the people's armed forces, Li said.

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