World50 minutes ago (Jun 29, 2021 02:40AM ET)© Reuters. A giant screen broadcasts live footage of Chinese President Xi Jinping presenting the July 1 Medal to outstanding Party member Wang Shumao at a ceremony in the Great Hall of the People, ahead of the 100th founding anniversary of the Communist Party of Chi
By Yew Lun Tian
BEIJING (Reuters) -Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday urged Chinese Communist Party members to remain loyal and continue to serve the people as he awarded a new medal of honour to 29 members as part of the ruling party’s 100th anniversary celebrations this week.
The medal award ceremony took place in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People with much fanfare and was broadcast live on national television, as the party prepares to mark its 100th birthday on Thursday.
The “July 1 medal”, announced in 2017 and given out for the first time on Tuesday, is part of Xi’s efforts to shore up the image of one of the world’s most powerful political parties.
He urged all members to “firmly keep the loyalty and love for the party and the people close to one’s heart, turn that into action, dedicate everything, even your precious life, to the party and the people”.
Honoured for “outstanding contributions” to the party, the medal recipients included soldiers, community workers and professionals in the arts and science.
The Chinese Communist Party had 91.9 million members in 2019, or 6.6% of China’s population, and has ruled the country since 1949.
As part of the anniversary-week celebrations, the party also staged a gala performance on Monday night in the National Stadium, or “Bird’s Nest” as it is commonly called.
Party leaders and foreign diplomats watched the extravaganza of song, dance and theatre which credited the party with guiding China’s rise into a great power over the past century.
Darker parts in the party’s history, including a famine in the late 1950s, the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s and the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, were omitted from the show.
The show culminated with the audience singing the song “Without the Communist Party, There Would Be No New China,” and five minutes of fireworks.
Many Chinese cheered the celebration by posting online well-wishes for the country and party on social media.
Some comments were less cheery.