China Kicks Off National Day Festivities

As the 60th birthday party celebrations get underway in Beijing, the New York Times reports that all that is missing is a guiding ideology for the nation:

China’s ruling Communist Party is throwing itself a huge and meticulously choreographed anniversary party on Thursday, a celebration whose overarching theme echoes the words Mao spoke after forcing the Nationalists to surrender Beijing in 1949. “Ours will no longer be a nation subject to insult and humiliation,” Mao said. “We have stood up.”

From the displays of advanced weaponry to the celebration posters highlighting Shanghai’s forest of skyscrapers, the unmistakable message of this celebration is that Mao was right and that the Communist Party is carrying all China to prosperity and worldwide respect.

But prosperity is a condition, not a value. And on the eve of a great patriotic celebration, at least a few Communist leaders must be wondering whether lashing patriotism to eternal prosperity is not, at least a little, like riding a tiger.

“There is no ideology in China anymore,” Zhang Ming, a professor of political science at Renmin University in Beijing, said in an interview on Wednesday. “The government has no ideology. The people have no ideology. The reason the government is in power is because they can say: ‘I can make your lives better every day. I can give you stability. And I have the power.’ As long as they make people’s lives better, it’s O.K. But what happens on the day when they no longer can?”

Links to live broadcasts of the celebrations via CCTV are here. Reuters and the Wall Street Journal are live blogging the celebrations. For more, see:
– “China Kicks Off National Day with Military Parade” from the Wall Street Journal
– “China’s Gala Show of Strength” from the Washington Post
– “China’s 60th National Day celebration begins” from Xinhua
– “Q&A: Watch list of China’s National Day celebrations” from Xinhua
China Beat has put together a “super-size” round-up of readings on National Day. Read Tweets about the celebrations in Beijing.

From France 24:

See also Josie Liu’s post “Propaganda or Collective Memory? Citizens Invited to Help Build National Day Websites” which reports on the various patriotic websites set up by Chinese web portals for October 1:

One can sure call it propaganda, but propaganda of a very fine kind, propaganda with a revolution: invitation of contribution from citizens. In other words, these websites are not entirely just a venue of official messages, but a platform for common folks to share their life experiences and memories.

On these websites are state media reports, official documents, as well as memoirs, videos, and photos produced by common netizens. The content is so comprehensive that they record a tremendous amount of experiences of the nation in the past 60 years: from major historical events to individual memories, from red guards to someone’s childhood jelly shoes.

The moment China is celebrating is Mao Zedong’s famous speech atop the rostrum on Tiananmen Gate, in which he reportedly declared “中国人民站起来了!” (“The Chinese people have stood up!”). Yet the South China Morning Post looks at whether Mao actually spoke those words in his Tiananmen speech:

Meanwhile, in New York, various parties expressed outrage when the Empire State Building was lit in red and yellow lights in honor of China’s National Day.

While

September 30, 2009 7:55 PM
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Categories: Politics, Society