Chinese dictator Xi Jinping delivered a New Year’s Day address on Tuesday in which he celebrated “significant breakthroughs” in technological development, economic growth, military power, and improved quality of life for China’s poor.
Xi’s speech was, unsurprisingly, devoid of reflection, doubt, or bad news. He had nothing to say about the concentration camps of Xinjiang province, the oppression of Chinese Christians, Beijing’s aggressive behavior towards Taiwan, or territorial disputes in the South China Sea. He did mention Hong Kong but mostly to wish it could be more like its obedient sister city Macau:
Several days ago, I attended the celebrations marking the 20th anniversary of Macao’s return to the motherland and felt heartened for the prosperity and stability in Macao. The successful practice of Macao indicates that the principle of “One Country, Two Systems” is fully applicable, achievable, and popular. In recent months, our hearts have been concerned about the situation in Hong Kong.
Without a harmonious and stable environment, how can people live in peace and enjoy their work! I sincerely wish Hong Kong well and our Hong Kong compatriots well. Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability is the wish of Hong Kong compatriots and the expectation of people of our motherland.
The most skin-crawling moment of Xi’s speech came during his applause for this year’s commemoration of the 70th anniversary of Communist China’s founding:
The most memorable moment of 2019 was the celebrations for the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. We cheered for the glorious achievements the People’s Republic has made over the past 70 years, and were overwhelmed by the sheer force of patriotism. The formations during the military parade were powerful, and the mass pageant thrilling. Tienanmen Square was turned into a sea of happiness.
Of course, China’s thought police have worked hard to ensure no one remembers the days when Tienanmen Square was turned into a sea of something else.
Most of Xi’s speech touted China’s advancements and exhorted his audience to continue the “Long March of our era,” Xi’s effort to link his policies to revolutionary times.
He praised the Belt and Road Initiative and China’s other international programs, boasting that “the number of countries that have diplomatic ties with China now stands at 180” and “we have friends in every corner of the world.”
Xi said “everything is flourishing across our motherland,” from development in China’s tech and industrial hubs to “the commercial application of 5G technology.” He praised the Chinese Communist Party for its dedication to “reform and opening up,” which he said has “continuously generated vigor for development.”
Bloomberg News interpreted the speech as Xi sliding into home plate after getting past a few politically sensitive dates, such as the 30th anniversary of the Tienanmen Square massacre, and enduring an economic slowdown exacerbated by the trade war with the United States.
The fact that Xi mentioned Hong Kong at all suggested to Bloomberg’s analysts that it’s a bigger problem than he would like to admit. The fact that he did not mention tensions with the United States at all suggested he believes the trade war is wrapping up.