Xi Jinping, the president of China, has kicked off the official celebrations marking the Chinese Communist Party’s centenary with a ceremony honouring 29 people for “outstanding contributions to the party”.
Recipients of the newly established July 1 medal on Tuesday included several soldiers and officials from the restive provinces of Tibet and Xinjiang, where the United Nations has said about one million, mostly Muslim, Uighurs have been held in detention camps that China calls vocational skills training centres.
Al Jazeera’s Katrina Yu, reporting from Beijing, said the provincial officials were honoured for “what the Communist Party describes as battling separatism and encouraging loyalty to the party”.
The event at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People marks the beginning of the “official pomp and ceremony” for the CCP centenary, said Yu.
Speaking at the medal ceremony, Xi said the recipients of the July 1 medal were “ordinary heroes that fulfil their duties and make quiet contributions”, the Xinhua news agency reported. He also said the CCP had written a “splendid chapter in the history of the Chinese nation’s development and that of humanity’s progress over the past century”.
The CCP was founded in the city of Shanghai in July 1921, at a time when the vast country was racked by war and poverty. The Communist Party eventually toppled the nationalist government of Chiang Kai-shek in 1949 and is one of the few communist parties to have maintained power into the 21st century.
It had 91.9 million members in 2019, or 6.6 percent of China’s population.
Al Jazeera’s Yu said the CCP was planning a “huge extravaganza” on July 1.
“Much of it is shrouded in secrecy in the typical Communist Party style, but we do know that during the day there will be some sort of event taking place in the Tiananmen Square, where President Xi Jinping is expected to give a speech,” she said. “And later in the day, there’ll be a big celebration involving performances, music and fireworks in the so-called Bird’s Nest Olympics Stadium here on the outskirts of the city.”
The CCP also held an art performance, titled “The Great Journey” on Monday night at the Bird’s Nest stadium, according to Xinhua, depicting how the Chinese people “under the leadership of the CPC have carried out revolution, construction and reform over the past 100 years”.
“It extolled the fact that under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core since the 18th CPC National Congress, socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era, and China is embarking on a new journey of fully building a modern socialist country,” the news agency said.
Xi and other party leaders joined about 20,000 people watching the performance.