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China's communists celebrate 60 years in power

Monsters and
September 22, 2009

FEATURE: China's communists celebrate 60 years in power By Bill Smith, dpa Eds: Part of a five-story package on the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China; epa photos 00000401861702, 00000401861692, 00000401864492 =

Beijing (dpa) - About 200,000 performers are to put on a spectacular show amid unprecedented security in Beijing's Tiananmen Square next week with a similar number of troops marching across the square.

Thousands of members of China's political and business elite are to watch parades of tanks, planes and missiles plus 60 carnival floats representing every Chinese region and key concepts in the nation's development since 1949 in commemoration of the founding of the People' Republic of China on October 1 that year.

Communist Party leader and state President Hu Jintao plans to deliver a landmark speech from Tiananmen Gate, where Mao Zedong proclaimed the founding of the People's Republic of China the same day 60 years earlier.

A day of festivities was scheduled to end with a massive fireworks display directed by award-winning filmmaker Zhang Yimou, who also is staging an anniversary performance of the opera Turandot in Beijing's iconic Bird's Nest Olympic stadium.

Yet there will be no crowds lining the route of the parade to Tiananmen Square along Beijing's Chang'an Avenue.

Security cordons are to ensure that no one without an invitation can get within a block of Chang'an Avenue while police have instructed people living nearby not to open their windows to see the National Day parade.

Even pigeons and kites are banned from the skies to ensure that they do not interfere with the parade, which includes a fly-by by China's first group of female fighter pilots.

The government has encouraged most of Beijing's 15 million people to stay at home and watch live broadcasts of the celebrations from state-run China Central Television or join one of the many peripheral events held at parks in the city, such as the display of 600 national flags at the Olympic Green.

The city has mobilized 800,000 security volunteers to assist hundreds of thousands of security guards, uniformed and plainclothes police, paramilitary units and anti-terrorist forces.

Dissidents, rights activists and others labelled security threats have no choice but to stay indoors on October 1 because most of them are likely to be under house arrest or taken out of Beijing for compulsory 'holidays' in the company of state security police.

'The state security police called me in for a chat,' well-known dissident Qi Zhiyong told the German Press Agency dpa.

Qi said the officers asked him, 'Do want to leave Beijing voluntarily or do you want us police to take you out of Beijing?'

His 11-year-old daughter had registered to take part in the 60th anniversary parade with the rest of her school classmates but was later precluded because of his political background, said Qi, whose left leg was amputated after he was shot during the military clearance of democracy protestors from Tiananmen Square in June 1989.

'We never expected that now,' Qi said of his daughter. 'Shortly before the celebration day, she was removed from the name list. She was really disappointed.'

'She said there were two more students whose parents belong to the Falun Gong [banned spiritual movement] who were also not allowed to participate,' said Qi, who has spent years campaigning for an official investigation of the 1989 crackdown.

As usual, the Communist Party is to give its message that democracy is on the agenda for gradual reform stretching into the distant future.

One of the last of the 60 carnival floats, seen during the final rehearsal for the parade, is in the shape of a giant ship called 'The Future.'

Prominently displayed at the front of the ship are four pairs of Chinese characters meaning that the party sees China's future as 'civilized,' 'harmonious,' 'prosperous and strong' and 'democratic.'

Other floats showcased China's achievements in such fields as science, industry, agriculture, education and in using its controversial 'one-child' family planning policy to limit its population to 1.3 billion.

The government also paid a reported 30 million yuan (4.4 million dollars) to hire an all-star cast for the National Day epic 'The great cause of founding China.' The stars in the 132-minute film include Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Zhang Ziyi and Andy Lau.

State media are highlighting the five official 'main themes' for the anniversary events, including patriotism, national unity and the importance of leadership by the Communist Party.

In his speech, Hu was expected to stress social stability and his 'scientific outlook on development' while paying homage to previous leaders Mao, Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin.

Most ordinary Chinese people, if they bother to listen to the speech, will hear slogans that are already familiar.

During the last major celebration in 1999 for the 50th anniversary of a 'new China,' many people did venture outside in the evening to watch, mostly in silence, the huge fireworks display far away in Tiananmen Square.

'I can tell you that not many people in China are really happy about the October 1 celebration,' Qi said.

'There's nothing to be happy about,' Qi said.

'I went to the petitioners' village several days ago,' he said, referring to a rundown area of Beijing where petitioners from across China stay while trying to get legal cases heard.

'Wow! It was empty,' Qi said. 'Those people, they are suppressed. Their property was taken away or their homes, their land. And these people represent 60 per cent of the Chinese population.'

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