In a forceful speech from the spot where Mao Zedong declared the founding of the People's Republic of China, President Xi Jinping emphasized the country's historic achievements and contemporary strength.
Xi's address was big on broad nationalist strokes, playing into the longterm Communist Party narrative of lifting China from the "century of humiliation" it suffered under the Qing Dynasty, amid invasion by colonial powers including the United Kingdom and Japan.
The founding of the PRC, Xi said marked the end of the "humiliation and misery the country had suffered."
While he emphasized "peace and cooperation," Xi also hinted at two key issues that could spark future conflict: Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Hong Kong has been torn apart by violent protests for three months, and protests are expected to continue today, marring the celebrations in Beijing. Fears of a military crackdown in the semi-autonomous Chinese city have so far proven unfounded, but there is fear that following the National Day celebrations -- the most important date on China's calendar all year -- the government may feel it has a wider hand to intervene.
In his speech, Xi promised to "unite the whole country." The major outstanding issue in this regard is the self-ruled, democratic island of Taiwan, officially the Republic of China.
Separate since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949, Taiwan has been under increasing pressure -- both diplomatic and military -- from China under Xi. As the island moves further away from China culturally and politically, with growing support for full independence, Beijing has increasingly threatened to take it by force if necessary.
Taiwan was once a Japanese colony, and both the island and Hong Kong fit into the century of humiliation narrative -- to truly achieve "national rejuvenation," China will have to unify both with the People's Republic.