By KEN MORITSUGU
BEIJING — Chinese President Xi Jinping warned Thursday that anyone who tries to bully China “will face broken heads and bloodshed,” in a defiant speech hailing the country’s rise that elicited loud cheers from a carefully chosen crowd at a celebration of the centenary of the founding of the ruling Communist Party.
In unusually forceful language, Xi appeared to be hitting back at the US and others that have criticized the rising power’s trade and technology polices, military expansion and human rights record. In an hour-long speech, he also said the nation must stick to its one-party rule, emphasizing the communists’ role in lifting China to global prominence.
The rally — which featured a military flyover and people waving Chinese flags and singing patriotic songs — in some ways recalled the mass events held by Mao Zedong, communist China’s founding leader. Xi even wore a gray buttoned-up suit like the ones favored by Mao and spoke from the same balcony atop Tiananmen Gate where the revolutionary leader declared the start of communist rule in 1949. More than 70,000 people attended Thursday, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.
Xi, who heads the party and is thought to be considering a third term starting next year, received the biggest applause when he said the party had restored China’s dignity after decades of subjugation to Western powers and Japan in the 19th and 20th centuries, and turned it into the world’s second largest economy in recent decades.
“The Chinese people will absolutely not allow any foreign force to bully, oppress or enslave us and anyone who attempts to do so will face broken heads and bloodshed in front of the iron Great Wall of the 1.4 billion Chinese people,” said Xi, who has eliminated limits on his time in office, prompting speculation that he could rule for life, as Mao did.
The strong language appeared aimed at revving up and playing to a domestic audience. The strongest elements of it — the references to bashing heads and bloodshed — were left out of state media’s English translation of the quote.