Shortly before the 60th anniversary of communist China’s founding on October 1st, police in the south-western city of Chongqing opened an unusual exhibition. On display, to invited guests only, were 65 luxury cars formerly owned by the bosses of the city’s crime gangs as well as an assortment of jewellery, guns and drugs. Chongqing, the wartime capital of China, had been a hub of organised crime in pre-communist days. Now the gangs are back, with roots in the party that almost wiped them out six decades ago.
In Beijing the huge military parade on October 1st, China’s first in ten years, was intended to show off a modern, powerful face. The country’s leaders had reason to flaunt their stuff this year. Not only has China made enormous economic and technological strides since 1999, but it has also weathered the global financial crisis with remarkable resilience. Officials had worried that widespread lay-offs in export businesses could lead to social unrest. But, apart from bloody rioting in the far-western region of Xinjiang in July, fuelled mainly by ethnic rivalry, the past few months have seen no obvious increase in the number or scale of protests.