Chinese President Xi leads Martyr’s Day ceremony amid patriotism drive

Chinese leader Xi Jinping paid respects at a solemn commemoration on Thursday for those who died in the struggle to establish Communist Party rule, as he leads a national drive to reinforce patriotism and single-party authority, reported AP. Xi and the six other members of the party’s all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee led aged veterans and government and military leaders in paying their respects at the Monument to the People’s Heroes in the center of Tiananmen Square while a military band played.

The Martyr’s Day ceremony underscores the stress Xi places on Communist traditions after establishing himself as China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong, who founded the People’s Republic in 1949 after sweeping to power in a bloody civil war. This year’s ceremony follows commemorations of the centenary of the founding of the party in 1921. Tiananmen Square and surrounding roads were closed off for Thursday’s ceremony, which began with a trumpet fanfare, the singing of China’s national anthem and a minute of silence. Steps and the upper level of the monument, an obelisk standing 10 stories partially carved with images from the struggle to establish Communist rule, were covered in red carpet. The ceremony also featured a choir of children wearing the white shirts and red scarves of the party’s Young Pioneers youth organization singing their anthem, ”We are the heirs of communism.” Martyr’s Day is commemorated on the eve of China’s National Day, which begins a 10-day holiday.