- The Chinese president leads a ceremony honouring the former leader at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on Tuesday
- Xi tells event to mark Mao’s 130th birthday that ‘complete reunification of our motherland is a righteous cause’
“The complete reunification of our motherland is an overall trend, a righteous cause, and the common aspiration of the people. Our motherland must be reunified, and it will surely be reunified,” Xi said in his speech delivered at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
“[We] firmly oppose anyone using any means to separate Taiwan from China.”
Hailing Mao’s political thoughts as a “spiritual treasure”, Xi said his teaching would “guide our actions in the long term”.
He also called for efforts to make the Communist Party even stronger so it could continue to lead China’s modernisation.
“[We must work] to enable our party to adhere to its original mission … maintain vitality and vigour, and ensure that our party never degenerates, never changes its colour, and never loses its flavour,” he said.
Xi’s tribute to Mao came as China faces intensifying competition with the United States and a sluggish economic recovery at home.
The strategic rivalry between Beijing and Washington has been high on the party’s agenda in recent years, although the meeting in November between Xi and US President Joe Biden in San Francisco has injected some positive momentum into the relationship in the short run.
Beijing has described the front runner, William Lai Ching-te of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, and his running mate Hsiao Bi-khim as supporters of independence.
The 130th anniversary of Mao’s birth is the second time Xi has led the once-a-decade ceremony.
The anniversary has always been a major event for Chinese leaders, presenting an opportunity to reflect on Mao’s legacy, call for solidarity and address the challenges of the day.
Xi used most of his speech to elaborate on “Chinese-style modernisation”, a term widely used by state media under Xi to describe China’s path since the communists came to power in 1949.
A series of state-backed events to commemorate Mao were held across the country on Tuesday.
Party mouthpiece People’s Daily posted video clips showcasing historical moments from Mao’s lifetime while state broadcaster CCTV posted some of his poems on the social media platform Weibo.
Beijing also issued two collections dedicated to Mao, including newly revised and supplemented editions of some of his works. Xinhua said the volumes had originally been intended for “internal circulation” but had been issued for “research purposes”.
It also included a new combined edition of chronicles recording his ideological theories and his life.
On Monday, party officials and representatives from different walks of life gathered in Jinggangshan, a city known as the “cradle of the communist revolution” deep in the mountains of Jiangxi province, to offer “heartfelt tributes” to Mao, People’s Daily reported.
In Mao’s hometown, Shaoshan in Hunan province, a new exhibition opened on Sunday that featured video clips, documentaries and photos of Mao, many of which had been made public for the first time, state-backed China News