Chinese President Xi Jinping addresses a gathering to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the victory of the Long March at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, Oct. 21, 2016. (Xinhua/Ju Peng)
BEIJING, Oct. 21 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping hailed the Long March as an "epic, human miracle," and called for efforts to realize the "two centenary goals" and the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation in "a new Long March."
Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), made the remarks at a gathering on Friday to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the victory of the Long March.
Li Keqiang, Zhang Dejiang, Yu Zhengsheng, Liu Yunshan, Wang Qishan and Zhang Gaoli, all members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, also attended the event.
During his speech, Xi led a moment of silence to remember those who lost their lives in the Long March and the revolutionary wars.
Around 3,000 people, including Red Army veterans, servicemen, senior Party and government officials, representatives of non-communist parties and those with no party affiliation and the public, were present at the gathering.
From October 1934 to October 1936, the Chinese Workers' and Peasants' Red Army soldiers left their bases and marched through raging rivers, frigid mountains and arid grassland to break the siege of the Kuomintang (Nationalist Party) forces and continue to fight the Japanese aggressors. Some of them marched as far as 12,500 kilometers.
With their strong will, Red Army officers and soldiers were pushed to the extremes of their physical limits, this dramatic episode in world military history is no less than a "glorious human miracle", Xi said.
"I will never forget the Long March, the route was littered with the bodies of our fallen comrades. But we soldiered on and finished the march as we all believed in, and were motivated by, the revolutionary ideal and the CPC's leadership," said Li Kaiyou, 102, a Red Army veteran.
Xi also called the Long March a "stately monument" in the history of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
The Long March was a remarkable turning point for the CPC and China's revolutionary cause, it sowed the seeds of confidence that the struggle for national independence and the liberation of the people were achievable, Xi said.
Describing the Long March as a "great expedition to seek ideal and faith, test truth, and break new ground," Xi said its victory signifies the strength of the Chinese Communists' ideals, faith, orientation and path.
Following the Long March, the CPC realized that the fundamental principles of Marxism-Leninism must be combined with the real conditions of China's revolution, enabling the Party to solve major problems in the revolution independently, and lead the revolutionary cause to victory, Xi said.
He summarized "the Long March spirit" as seeking truth from the facts, strict self-discipline, acknowledgement of the overall interests of the people, solidarity, and involving people from all walks of life.
NEW LONG MARCH
The president called for carrying forth the spirit of the Long March to move forward on "a new long march."
The Long March is an ongoing process, Xi said.
"No matter which stage our undertaking has developed to and how great the achievements we've made, we should carry forth the Long March spirit and advance in 'a new long march,'" he added.
Each generation has its own "long march," and they should proceed in their own way, according to Xi.
"Today, our 'long march' is to realize the 'two centenary goals' and the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation," Xi added.
The country has set two goals of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects by the time the CPC celebrates its centenary in 2021 and turning the nation into a modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced and harmonious in time for the People's Republic of China to mark its centennial in 2049.
While addressing the gathering, Premier Li Keqiang said that the spirit of the Long March should be interwoven into all work. "By doing so, the Party, the state and the military will be more successful in their work," Li said.
Yu Xiaochuan, a researcher who has participated in China's manned space missions, said the spirit of the Long March was undeniably present in the country's manned space program.
"The program requires dedication. Our work is underpinned by placing the nation's interests in the center stage, and we must explore unceasingly, regardless of difficulties," said Yu.
In his speech, Xi also highlighted the significance of development, reform and innovation.
Stressing the decisive role of development in socialism with Chinese characteristics, Xi said the country would focus on economic construction, guiding the nation through the "new normal" with bespoke measures, while tackling any difficulties and cultivating advantages.
"Reform will decide the fate of modern China," Xi said.
CONFIDENCE IN PATH
To carry forth the Long March spirit and advance in "a new long march," people must solidify their confidence in the path, theory, system and culture of socialism with Chinese characteristics, Xi said.
"While we stress confidence in the path, theory, system and culture of socialism with Chinese characteristics, we should by no means rest on our laurels and stop making progress," Xi said. "We must constantly discover, invent, create and march forward, so as to keep socialism with Chinese characteristics permanently invigorated."
Xi emphasized that all improvements and progress should head toward a designated direction, rather than a change in direction, or even "abandoning the very foundation where our Party, the country and the people are rooted."
During the Long March, the Red Army not only transcended the barriers of "thousands of mountains and waters," but also climbed over the barriers of the mind, Xi said, referring to overcoming the dogmatic belief that Marxism is immutable.
The most important message from the Long March is that China must combine the fundamental principles of Marxism with the real conditions of China, and march along the path of revolution, construction and reform as suitable to China's conditions.
The president urged building a solid national defense and strong armed forces that are commensurate with the country's international status, national security and development interests.
"To build a strong country requires efforts to build a strong army, and only with a strong army can the country's security be guaranteed," Xi said.
He called for efforts to foster a new generation of Chinese servicemen who are "soldiers with soul, high caliber, gut and virtue," and to build rock-solid troops with "iron-like belief, conviction, discipline and commitment."
"The Long March is the glory of the people's army, and the honorable people's army must always carry forward the great spirit and fine tradition of the Red Army in the Long March," Xi said.
He called on the armed forces to adhere to the CPC's absolute leadership, maintain their nature and uphold their principles as the people's army, and be the heir to the Red Army.
Moreover, he urged the military to uphold political integrity, promote reform and rule of law, and strengthen combat readiness.
The entire military should remain vigilant and be aware of its responsibilities, Xi said, noting that the modernization of national defense and armed forces must advance in a bid to safeguard the country's national sovereignty, security and development interests.
In his speech, Xi also stressed strengthening the leadership of the Party and strictly governing the Party in order to make today's "long march" a success.
All Party members must uphold and safeguard the leadership of the Party and consciously endorse the stand of the Party and the people. "They should be loyal to the Party, share the Party's concerns and shoulder responsibilities with the Party," Xi said.
He called on Party members to do their utmost to fulfil the responsibilities and tasks arranged by the Party.
Meanwhile, efforts should be made to strengthen and regulate political life within the Party, according to Xi.
He pledged unswerving efforts to promote clean governance, fight corruption, and strengthen the Party's ability to purify, improve and innovate itself.
In addition, Xi said the Party must adhere to the principle of doing everything for, and relying on, the people to strive for a better life.
"Only by believing in the people, relying firmly on the people and listening to the people's initiative and creativity can we unite the nation's will like a fortress," he said.
Going through thick and thin with the people was the fundamental guarantee for the CPC and the Red Army to achieve victory in the Long March, Xi said, adding it is also the guarantee for the Party to overcome difficulties and risks.
The Party should unite and lead the people and make constant efforts to improve their livelihood, Xi said, adding that the fruits of reform and development should benefit all.
Zhu Xiangqun, a village official in Hunan Province, pledged to "continue to follow the Party's instructions, rely on and lead villagers to achieve victory in the "new long march of poverty alleviation."