China has celebrated seven decades of rule by the Communist Party – but is the social and political ideology a success?
That probably depends on where you stand in Chinese society.
If you are a party member, communism has probably been good to you and your family.
But as the occasion was marked with a huge military parade in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, police were firing tear gas, live rounds and rubber bullets in a bid to quell riots and civil unrest in Hong Kong.
While around 15,000 military personnel, 580 pieces of military equipment and 160 aircraft made an appearance at the parade, the streets of Hong Kong were lit by petrol bombs.
Military might on the streets
Following the military might was a procession of an estimated 100,000 people celebrating carnival style.
And although President Xi Jinping pledged ‘no force’ could shake China, the protests in the former British colony are seemingly doing just that.
China could easily squash the unrest by imposing martial law and by force of numbers.
But so far, the protesters have won concessions over new laws to extradite some people facing criminal charges to China.
The country was reborn as the People’s republic of China by Mao Zedong in October 1949, after years of savage civil war.
To fans of communism, the growth of the country’s economy has been remarkable and dragged China from feudalism into the modern age as the world’s second largest economy behind the United States.
Hong Kong lights a fuse for freedom
To denigrators, China is a reclusive and restricted society where ordinary people have lost their freedom to state control.
The future for China and the Communists is unsure, despite President Xi’s pledge.
Empire’s are built to fall is one of the most painful lessons from history, and China has done so before.
In a world where technology is transcending borders, just how long a repressive regime can keep the lid on a population of more than a billion remains to be seen.
Hong Kong is a tinderbox that could threaten to spoil the party and is a problem that is unlikely to go away. The nation has doubled down on a previous civil threat, but the tension is still simmering below the inscrutable surface.