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Xi calls for ‘staunch’ belief in communism to ensure national rejuvenation as China marks 80th anniversary of Long March

Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for renewed faith in orthodox Marxism and a revived revolutionary spirit, saying they were crucial for national rejuvenation.

Xi, as general secretary of the ruling Communist Party, also called for unity within the leadership just days ahead of a crucial meeting of party leaders.

Xi’s remarks came during a speech at the Great Hall of the People on Friday morning marking the 80th anniversary of the end of the Long March.

“[We] must be staunch believers and loyal practitioners of communism in our new long march,” Xi said. “Unity is a powerful force that overcomes all difficulties,” he said ahead the party’s sixth plenum that begins in Beijing on Monday.

Analysts said Xi used the occasion to reinforce his credentials as the son of a revolutionary ahead of the crucial meeting.

Xi’s father was Xi Zhongxun, a crucial figure of the first generation of the Chinese leadership led by Mao Zedong.

“Xi’s enthusiasm to embrace revolutionary myths is an effort to consolidate his power and promote his position as an orthodox successor to inherit the party’s course,” said David Tsui, an Oxford-educated party historian.

The Long March: what it was and why it matters to China’s Xi Jinping

Tsui said Xi wanted to rally party leaders around him ahead of next year’s crucial power reshuffle.

The four-day meeting starting on Monday will set the agenda for next year’s 19th party congress, which will see five of the seven members of the innermost Politburo Standing Committee – all except Xi and Premier Li Keqiang – step down after reaching the compulsory retirement age of 68.

Another six members of the 25-member Politburo will step down for the same reason.

In July, the Politburo announced the sixth plenum would focus on “party building”, centred on the internal political conduct of leading party institutions and cadres, especially the several hundred members of the Central Committee, the Politburo and Politburo Standing Committee.

Loyalty, survival and the new ‘Long March’ … Xi Jinping’s speech on 80th anniversary of Red Army’s epic military retreat

In his speech, Xi warned of the need to avoid both economic and political crises if China’s new long march was to achieve its goal of national rejuvenation, which has been constant theme in Xi’s policy agenda.

“We must work to prevent the systemic risk [in the economy] and avoid the risks of [political] upheavals,” he said.

Only through combining the fundamental principles of Marxism-Leninism with the real conditions of China’s revolution could the party “solve the major problems of its revolution independently, and lead the revolutionary cause to victory”.

Xi appealed to the Red Army’s spirit of the Long March to “strive fearlessly to realise the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation”.

Xi invokes spirit of ‘new Long March’ to reach Communist Party goals

“The Long March spirit is characterised by working hard, fearing no sacrifice, a firm belief in communism and the ultimate victory of China’s revolution,” he said.

Between October 1934 and October 1936, some 80,000 Red Army soldiers, facing annihilation, broke through encircling Nationalist forces and embarked on a gruelling escape.

The past week has seen a series of high-profile commemorations in China with several TV dramas, documentaries, exhibitions and a daily drumbeat of newspaper editorials extolling communist heroism.

Xi has put his imprimatur on such occasions, visiting museums in the northern region of Ningxia and Beijing recently.