China’s President Xi Jinping attempted to rally his ruling Communist party on Friday by praising the Red Army’s epic Long March which ended 80 years ago.
The March is a foundational story for the party, which faces challenges including entrenched corruption and slowing economic growth.
According to Communist Party lore tens of thousands of marchers including Mao Zedong travelled some 12,500 kilometres (7,750 miles) through remote and hazardous terrain during their civil war against rival Nationalist forces.
In an hour-long address broadcast live on state television, Xi praised the March as "an epic of mankind's unremitting efforts to pursue truth and brightness".
“On the new Long March, we must maintain our ideals and faith...and consciously stay faithful to the shared ideals of communism and socialism with Chinese characteristics,” he said at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People.
The anniversary has been marked with a drumbeat of newspaper articles plus dozens of TV dramas, documentaries and special exhibitions.
But some historians have said the true length of the March was shorter than the official version, and survivors have spoken of rapes, executions and forced grain requisition by the Communist troops. — AFP