BEIJING – Chinese President Xi Jinping warned Thursday that anyone who tries to bully China “will face broken heads and bloodshed,” in a defiant speech hailing the country's rise that elicited loud cheers from a carefully chosen crowd at a celebration of the centenary of the founding of the ruling Communist Party.
In unusually forceful language, Xi appeared to be hitting back at the U.S. and others that have criticized the rising power's trade and technology polices, military expansion and human rights record. In an hour-long speech, he also said the nation must stick to its one-party rule, emphasizing the communists' role in lifting China to global prominence.
The rally – which featured a military flyover and people waving Chinese flags and singing patriotic songs – in some ways recalled the mass events held by Mao Zedong, communist China's founding leader. Xi even wore a gray buttoned-up suit like the ones favored by Mao and spoke from the same balcony atop Tiananmen Gate where the revolutionary leader declared the start of communist rule in 1949. More than 70,000 people attended Thursday, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.
Important Tigray bridge destroyed
A bridge that's crucial to delivering desperately needed food to much of Ethiopia's embattled Tigray region has been destroyed, aid groups said Thursday, as Tigray fighters were said to be approaching other combatants occupying large areas nearby.
The destruction of the bridge over the Tekeze River “means aid efforts will be even more severely hampered than before,“ the International Rescue Committee said in a statement. Tigray has the world's worst hunger crisis in a decade, with the United States saying up to 900,000 people face famine conditions in a situation it calls “entirely man-made.” It was not immediately clear who destroyed the bridge on a main supply route linking western Tigray and the rest of Tigray.
Pope welcomes Lebanese Christians
Pope Francis insisted Thursday that Lebanon must remain a “land of tolerance and pluralism” as he welcomed the country's Christian patriarchs to the Vatican to pray for an end to the economic and political crisis that has thrown the country into chaos and threatened its Christian community.
Francis presided over an evening prayer service in St. Peter's Basilica with the leaders of Lebanon's Christian churches, which featured prayers and hymns in Arabic, Syriac, Armenian and Chaldean. Members of the Lebanese community in Rome and the diplomatic corps filled the pews.
The Mediterranean nation of 6 million, including an estimated 1 million refugees, has the largest percentage of Christians in the Middle East and is the only Arab country with a Christian head of state.
Arctic opening shocks scientists
Part of the Arctic is nicknamed the “Last Ice Area,” because floating sea ice there is usually so thick that it's likely to withstand global warming for decades. So, scientists were shocked last summer when there was suddenly enough open water for a ship to pass through.
The opening, documented by scientists aboard a German icebreaker, popped up in late July and August in the Wandel Sea north of Greenland. Mostly it was due to a freak weather event, but thinning sea ice from decades of climate change was a significant factor, according to a study Thursday in the journal Communications Earth and Environment.
“It's called the Last Ice Area for a reason. We thought it was kind of stable,” said co-author Mike Steele, a University of Washington oceanographer. “It's just pretty shocking. ... In 2020, this area melted out like crazy.”