CCP marks 100th anniversary with extravagant performance, awards for ‘ordinary heroes’

Domestic News

The Chinese Communist Party kicked off a week of centenary festivities with a fireworks-filled performance at the Beijing’s National Stadium and awards for “ordinary heroes” among its membership.

bird's nest in beijing, ccp 100th year anniversary performance
Photo via Xinhua of the CCP centenary performance titled “The Great Journey” (伟大征程 wěidà zhēngchéng).

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officially marks its 100th anniversary in two days, on July 1, but some of the most significant centenary performances and ceremonies have already occurred.

Yesterday, about 20,000 spectators joined Chinese leader Xí Jìnpíng 习近平 and all six other members of the Politburo Standing Committee — plus Wáng Qíshān 王岐山, the unofficial eighth member of the committee — to watch an extravagant performance at Beijing’s National Stadium, also known as the Bird’s Nest, per Xinhua (in Chinese).

  • Titled “The Great Journey” (伟大征程 wěidà zhēngchéng), the show is what you would expect: A series of elaborate set pieces marking major moments in the history of the CCP, with an emphasis on military achievements and strong central leadership.
  • You can find a video of the entire 19-minute, fireworks-filled performance on Youtube.

Today, Xi spoke at an awards ceremony bestowing the “July 1 Medal” (七一勋章 qī yī xūnzhāng) on 29 CCP members. Per Xinhua, the recipients included:

  • Veterans of wars, including the Chinese People’s War of Liberation (the state media term for what is known internationally as the Chinese Communist Revolution) and the War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid Korea (also known as the Korean War).
  • “Chén Hóngjūn 陈红军, a young soldier…who died defending the country’s borders in 2020,” referring to the border clash with India.
  • Poverty alleviation-focused lower-level cadres.
  • Border guards in Tibet and Xinjiang, as well as a cadre in Xinjiang “dedicated to safeguarding ethnic unity and opposing ethnic separatism.”
  • Doctors, scientists, teachers, and artists.

Xi praised the awardees as “ordinary heroes” (平凡英雄 píngfán yīngxióng) in his speech (in Chinese).

  • Xi is “trying to show that the Party is the driving force for all things in China as the recipients are his foot soldiers in everything – from his Belt and Road Initiative to poverty alleviation, science and technology development, ethnic minority work, defending the country’s territorial integrity and local party work,” political commentator Dèng Yùwén 邓聿文 told the SCMP.

But Party membership is anything but ordinary in China. The CCP has always been competitive to enter, and the political party only counts about 92 million people, or 6.5% of the Chinese population, among its membership.

  • But today, “The Party is no longer a workers’ and peasants’ party…It is a managers’ and businessmen’s party,” Richard McGregor, author of the influential book The Party: The Secret World of China’s Communist Rulers, told the Financial Times.
  • The FT cites a statistic that out of 2.1 million new Party recruits in 2018, less than “5,700 of them were migrant workers even though such laborers account for more than a third of China’s working-age population.”

More on the CCP centenary:

  • China’s Xi says Party needs new ‘heroes’ to meet future goals / Bloomberg (paywall)
    “Xi will make an important speech at an event Thursday, the Ministry of National Defense said last week. Warplanes and helicopters have been seen flying in formations above Beijing spelling out ‘100’ and ‘71’ for July 1, the state-run Global Times reported, citing an aerospace publication.”
  • With propaganda push, China’s Communist Party celebrates 100 years / AFP via HKFP
    “The simplified narrative the party tells — a group of heroic underdogs battling evil foes to reach a pre-destined victory for Communism — inevitably glosses over its failures…The latest edition of the CCP’s official concise history condenses the decade-long turmoil of the Cultural Revolution into three pages.”
  • China’s ruling party censors its past as centenary nears / Reuters (porous paywall)
    “The party has long sought to control history. That effort has intensified under Xi, who has spearheaded a campaign against ‘historical nihilism’, defined as any attempt to use the past to question the party’s leading role or the ‘inevitability’ of Chinese socialism.”
  • Marking centenary, China heralds Communist Party’s influence / AP
    “Party officials on Monday heaped praise on President Xi Jinping, who has established himself as China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong, and has eliminated any limits on his term in office.”