60th Anniversary of the People’s Republic of China

60th Anniversary

The buzz around campus and much of Beijing in anticipation of the 60th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China began well over a month before its actual commemoration on October 1st, 2009.  Gradually, more signs, billboards, and posters boasting the 60th anniversary logo started popping up all over the city.  As is China’s tendency when it comes to nationalistic affairs, an enormous sum of money was spent both in spearheading an ad campaign celebrating the history, identity, and enduring diversity of China after 60 years of the founding of Red China.

An exhibit with individual portraits of China's diverse population for the 60th

An exhibit in the subway with individual portraits of China's diverse population for the 60th

The government kept the actual ceremonies planned for the day under wraps although I had heard around campus that every major school in Beijing had a part in the procession in Tiananmen Square; Beida’s entire sophomore class was supposedly preparing a special performance.  Escalating the anticipation across the country was the 7 day national holiday to coincide with the anniversary, during which 560 million people were expected to travel according to China’s transport authorities.  Virtually everyone in Beida’s international program was planning on traveling and, needless to say, we had to reserve accordingly weeks in advance to have a hope of getting a bus/train/plane/boat anywhere.

Tienanmen Square was on lock-down in preparation for a celebration even larger than the Olympics Opening Ceremony in terms of people and we were told that foreigners would not be allowed for security purposes. During the week of the celebration, entire blocks surrounding Tiananmen were evacuated as security stations were set up and final preparations were made.  In order to even attend the ceremony, you had to be an official of significant standing.  The general public who would attempt to go watch, millions of people, were advised not to attempt to travel to Tiananmen the day of because the sheer amount of people would make it nearly impossible to get to.  Among the rumored spectacles of the celebration was the supposed unveiling of a new generation of missiles for China as well as a 1,300 person military band, 56 regiments with 8,000 soldiers, 500 tanks, and 151 warplanes, all showcasing the latest technology in China’s arsenal.

The most impressive preparation was unnoticeable during the actual ceremony unless you lived in Beijing and heard what was taking place the day before the anniversary.  Using cloud-seeding aircraft and ground vehicles, special missiles carrying liquid nitrogen (dry ice) were launched into clouds in the largest cloud-seeding operation ever performed.  The night before, popping sounds resonated through the skies from the last minute tests and trials of the fireworks display and the massive cloud-seeding initiative.  The aim was to encourage it to rain and subsequently dissipate the clouds so that the day of the parade would be sunny, and virtually cloudless with blue skies; it worked.

In the preceding days the activity throughout the city was prevalent, I could often hear bands practicing, and on the streets communist youth troupes walked in formation singing songs.  Sporting matching red sashes, they are more or less the American equivalent of girl/boy scouts in that they are a voluntary social (only more political) organization aimed at the youth to promote comradery and a sense of unity above oneself (something I think is much more inherent in Chinese culture).  I saw a troupe of about 30 girls walking down the street singing, suddenly stopping in unison.  One girl stepped forward and handed something to a observing couple, and then they all shouted “zaijian” (goodbye), and continued singing and marching along.

For some unbelievable pictures of this larger-than-life celebration, check out: http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2009/10/china_celebrates_60_years.html

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One Comment on “60th Anniversary of the People’s Republic of China”

  1. Rob Howie Says:

    Insightful comments John…the photos of the celebration accessed through the link in your blog are spectacular. Looking at them inspires many thoughts…the uniformity, the diversity, the collective, the individual,the discipline, the pride, the waking up of the sleeping giant, the Chinese ‘middle way’…


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