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Communist China at 70

Xi vows to maintain 'stability of Hong Kong and Macao'

ICBM unveiled during 70th anniversary, as leader says 'no force' can stop China

Chinese President Xi Jinping, center, attends the celebration to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of Communist China in Beijing on Oct. 1.   © Kyodo

BEIJING -- The Chinese government said on Tuesday that no one could stop the rise of the country as it follows the path set by Mao Zedong, the founder of the People's Republic of China.

In a 10-minute speech celebrating the country's 70th anniversary, President Xi Jinping, dressed in a gray Mao suit, also pledged to uphold the "one country, two systems" principle governing Hong Kong and Macao.

"We have to insist on the peaceful reunion and the 'one country, two systems' principle. We have to keep stability in Hong Kong and Macao," Xi said in the speech. "And we have to push the peaceful development for cross-strait relations and work hard to reach the eventual unification of our nation," he added, without mentioning Taiwan.

"No force can ever shake the status of China, or stop the Chinese people and nation from marching forward," Xi said, standing at a podium in Tiananmen Square, along with the country's top leaders and former Presidents Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao.

China, Xi stressed, will continue to pursue the path of peaceful development and cooperation with other countries based on win-win results.

Performers wave Chinese, Hong Kong and Macao flags during the Beijing parade on Oct. 1.   © Reuters

Hong Kong's embattled Chief Executive Carrie Lam also attended the ceremony, which many observers see as a sign that Beijing continues to support her amid ongoing protests in Hong Kong over a controversial extradition bill that has since been shelved.

Thousands of spectators watched a military parade following the speech.

The parade showcased aerial and underwater drones as well as the Dongfeng-41 intercontinental ballistic missile, which Chinese state media Xinhua introduced as the most advanced and powerful deterrent ever built by the country.

With an estimated range of between 12,000 and 15,000 km, U.S. think tank CSIS said the ICBM could strike the U.S. continent in 30 minutes. It is also one of the world's longest-range missiles currently deployed and can deliver up to 10 nuclear warheads.

Dongfeng-41 intercontinental ballistic missiles on display in Tiananmen Square during the military parade in Beijing on Oct. 1.   © Reuters

In a national defense policy report released in July, China said its military buildup drew upon lessons from the past, and outlined the country's long-term goal of complete modernization by 2035 through improving strategic capabilities.

"To strengthen China's national defense and military, it is imperative to comprehensively implement Xi Jinping's thinking on strengthening the military," the report said.

Such geostrategic ambitions -- along with perceived financial, diplomatic and military bullying -- have tarnished China's reputation since Xi came to power in 2012, said Jude Blanchette, head of CSIS's China Studies.

The next 12 months, Blanchette said, will be the "most challenging period" for Xi, citing mounting internal and external challenges that include Hong Kong's prolonged protests and trade tensions with the U.S.

"As a result, from Canberra to Kansas, China's rise is no longer viewed with indifference or seen as largely benign," said Blanchette.

Soldiers of People's Liberation Army (PLA) march in formation during the military parade in Beijing on Oct. 1.   © Reuters

While Beijing showed off its growing military prowess, Taiwan took offense at Xi's mention of reunification.

Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council said in a statement that China should "recognize the international reality" and accept that "Taiwan is not a part of the People's Republic of China, and 'one country, two systems' is not an option to deal with cross-strait relations."

The council, in the statement, added: "The Chinese Communist Party's autocratic rule has violated democracy, freedom and human rights and has risked the future development of mainland China. China is using unification as an excuse to expand its [military], which poses real threats to regional peace and democracy."

Nikkei staff writer Cheng Ting-Fang in Taipei contributed to this article.

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