This week, the People’s Republic of China celebrates its 60th birthday with lavish parties sweeping the country—another sweet occasion for the PRC to flex its financial and military muscles. To mark this historic milestone, the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) is putting in display its biggest military parade ever. This includes, according to The Associated Press, hundreds of thousands of marchers, batteries of goose-stepping soldiers and weaponry from drone missiles to amphibious assault vehicles.
The party will definitely be grandiose, designed to strengthen the CCP’s role in ruling China for the foreseeable future. To make sure that all unwanted intruders are kept at bay, Tiananmen Square has been cordoned off in preparation for Thursday’s celebration. Beijing residents were asked to watch the show via their television screen. Military convoys and floats moved through the city before dawn and took up positions east of Tiananmen ahead of the parade. CCTV (Chinese Central Television) has been promoting this event for weeks.
Despite this dazzling display of military and financial might under the banner of the Chinese “communists,” few among the nouveaux riches in China still believe in an ideal socialism bent on deracinating inequality in an ever-growing materialistic society. Notwithstanding the glorification of Chairman Mao, the founder of PRC on October 1st 1949, the Chinese leadership has long become “communists/capitalists/non-Marxists” whose road they have chosen since 1977 has definitely reached the point of no return.
At the driver seat of China’s industrial revolution sits a full-scale baroque capitalism in its most brutal form, closing hundreds of State industries to make way for international investors, sending millions to the unemployment line. China hopes to join the G-8 club sooner than we might think, and it has good reasons to believe it has been put on a fast track to that end. The United States owes trillions of dollars to China, and if the latter pulls the plug, it could be very bad news for the US economy now trying to recover from a devastating recession. The United States is facing a new Chinese invasion: the nouveaux riches with their pockets filled with cash overwhelming the real estate foreclosure market—another sign of China’s new wealth.
A festivity to remember
At the opening bell, President Hu Jintao will review chanting troops, a flyover by domestically made fighter jets — including the first batch of women pilots — and tens of thousands of students flipping cards to make pictures. That’s not all, sixty floats celebrating last year’s Beijing Olympics, China’s manned space program and other symbols of progress will follow the military convoy along the parade route through Tiananmen Square. According to many observers, this gut wrenching display is designed to send a blunt message to former China’s colonizers: The Great Chinese nation is back. The Chinese leadership is also hoping to usher a new wave of patriotism stirred around the CCP leadership under the gleeful eye of Chairman Mao. In a nationally televised speech on the eve of anniversary, Premier Wen Jiabao seemed to have incarnated the embodiment of China’s nationalism now at its zenith. “China’s international standing has risen in an unprecedented way. We feel extremely proud of the increasing strength and prosperity of our motherland,” he said.
The parade is said to be sponsored by state media as China’s largest-ever display of weaponry, reminiscent of the Soviet Union, and it comes with the mass synchronized performances usually associated with North Korea. According to CCTV, alongside the 80,000 card-flippers making 41 pictures, another 100,000 civilians are to accompany the floats, many of them with kitschy displays of computers and signs of industry glorifying the country’s new financial power. Marching with the armaments will be about 5,000 goose-stepping soldiers who have rehearsed for months for the historic event. This will be a shock-and-owe event, displaying new unmanned aerial drones, amphibious fighting vehicles and the new DH-10 land-based anti-ship cruise missiles.
Minxin Pei, a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College in California questions China’s long standing policy of denouncing those who call China’s rise a threat. “I wonder what Chinese leaders are thinking? For more than 15 years they have been denouncing those who call China’s rise a threat. Now they put on this display of military hardware, with goose-stepping soldiers to match. Aren’t they confirming the China Threat?” he said. China may not be threatening anyone, but the leaders of Taiwan, renegade province of China, will certainly take notice.
Note: Ben Lee Wash, a friend of us who lives in Hong Kong, contributed to this report.
Also see China flexes its muscles on eve of Olympic Games