This year commemorates not only the 50th anniversary of the Tibetan revolt. June brings the 20th anniversary of the crackdown on the 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square, protests that remain the most visible challenge to Communist rule. April is the 10th anniversary of major protests by the Falun Gong religious sect, which led to thousands of arrests and, in July of that year, a government ban on the group.
May heralds the 90th anniversary of the May 4 movement, a 1919 student-led protest against imperial rule that is both a touchstone of Chinese nationalism and historic proof that people can challenge their rulers.
Finally, Oct. 1 is the 60th anniversary of the creation of the People’s Republic of China. The government plans a major celebration and will be on the lookout for anyone who seeks to spoil it.
The government is often alert for spoilers, of course, as it was for months during the security clampdown surrounding the Beijing Olympics last summer. But this year’s concerns seem especially stark. In January, an authoritative state magazine, Outlook, issued an unusually blunt warning of the likelihood of unrest, saying that “we are entering a peak period for mass incidents.”