Saturday, March 07, 2009

Big Plans in China for Revolution's 60th Anniversary

Barbara Demick writes in The Los Angeles Times:

The Chinese Communist Party loves its anniversaries, so it comes as no surprise that the bosses in Beijing are planning a blowout to commemorate the 60th year since the nation's founding.

President Hu Jintao has commissioned an extra-stretch limousine, 19 feet long, for the October festivities. A year before the occasion, the Beijing municipality put out advertisements for women between the ages of 17 and 25 (height between 5'3" and 5'7") to perform in the parade; rehearsals began in December.

"This is the tradition in Communist culture. They use these grand occasions to justify their existence," said Li Datong, former editor of the youth supplement of the China Youth Daily, and now a pro-democracy activist.

But critics of the Communist Party love anniversaries too, and 2009 is fraught with sensitive ones: Tuesday is the 50th anniversary of an uprising in Tibet that led to the flight of the Dalai Lama to India. On June 4, the 20th anniversary of the bloody crackdown on student demonstrations at Tiananmen Square. And on July 22, the 10th-year anniversary since the banning of the spiritual group called Falun Gong.

At the same time, the Oct. 1 anniversary festivities, which are supposed to re-create some of the glitz of the 2008 Summer Olympics, carry the same risks as the Games -- in that anything in China that occasions large crowds also triggers protests. Just as happened last year in the run-up to the Olympics, extra troops and armed police are being deployed in probably trouble spots.

More here.

Note: And we can fully expect these issues to spill over into cyber space... -ferg

Image source: Susan Spano / Los Angeles Times


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