Photo/IllutrationA large screen in Beijing shows Chinese President Xi Jinping at a ceremony on Oct. 1 marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. (The Asahi Shimbun)

Oct. 1 marked the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

Clad in a black Mao suit, Chinese President Xi Jinping addressed the nation from Tiananmen Tower, where Mao Tse-tung (1893-1976) formally proclaimed the birth of the nation in 1949.

Xi declared, “No force can stop the Chinese people and the Chinese nation forging ahead.”

Of the ceremonial events that took place, the most notable was the military parade of the grandest scale in history. China’s latest intercontinental ballistic missiles and other weaponry were introduced to the entire world.

We believe the parade was meant to showcase China’s steady progress toward “the great revival of the Chinese nation,” which Xi hopes will be realized by the time China celebrates its 100th birthday in the middle of this century.

But it is precisely this sort of thinking and conduct that reveals China’s hazardousness. Do the Chinese really believe they can win the respect of the international community by flexing the country’s military muscle?

This was the third military parade in Xi’s presidency of six years. His predecessors, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao, each staged only one military parade--the former at the 50th anniversary and the latter at the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

Xi’s seeming obsession stands out.

China’s bloating military capabilities are aggravating the regional security environment. In the South China Sea, Beijing has arbitrarily reclaimed rocky outcrops in disputed waters for arms deployment.

And Beijing has no intention of ever denying the possibility of unification with Taiwan by force. Chinese aircraft carriers, military aircraft and submarines are growing active, including in the East China Sea.

Given this reality, it is naturally impossible for surrounding nations to accept Xi’s stated “peaceful development” at face value. The so-called Belt and Road Initiative smacks of China’s hegemonic ambition.

Modern China suffered from invasions by major European powers and Japan. But that was precisely why China severely denounced the self-serving ways of those major powers.

On the occasion of the 70th anniversary, we strongly urge Beijing to take a good, hard look at itself as a sometimes overbearing world power.

Having survived the tragic histories of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, China grew its economy through reforms. Today, many Chinese citizens are enjoying prosperity.

However, there has been no progress in democratization since the Tiananmen Square massacre. The public’s participation in politics is severely limited, and human rights violations are rampant. The persecution of ethnic minorities continues in Xinjiang and Tibet.

In Hong Kong, violence erupted when young people held demonstrations on Oct. 1 to protest Beijing's rule.

The Chinese Communist Party must modify its style of governance of quashing dissent, and embark on political reforms to give greater freedom to the people. And Beijing certainly should be taking the lead in many global-scale issues, such as climate change, nuclear disarmament and poverty.

Will China continue generating friction by acting like an antediluvian dictatorship or seek true peaceful coexistence with the international community?

The answer holds the key to China’s sustained development.

--The Asahi Shimbun, Oct. 2