¡Viva la Revolución!

Happy 60th Birthday, China!

October 1st marks China's National Day - celebrating the end of the Chinese Civil War. In short, "following the Chinese Civil War (國共内戰) and the victory of Mao Zedong's (毛澤東) Communist forces over the Kuomintang (KMT,國民黨, hanyu pinyin: Guomindang, GMD) forces of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek (蔣中正, hanyu pinyin: Jiang Jieshi), who fled to Taiwan, Mao declared the founding of the People's Republic of China on October 1, 1949."

This explains why the celebrations in Beijing weren't your typical affair. I imagine when you hear the word "parade," you think of a home-town event with police cars, fire trucks, a few floats assembled by local students, some sequin-adorned nubiles sitting in fancy cars, and a smattering of uncharismatic folks you've never heard of who perhaps got a seat because of political or business connections. Some of these people might be throwing candy at the spectators sitting along the sidewalk, and thank goodness only the most nimble children scrape it up, because their would-be competitors are already too fat to get there first. You might see some people on horseback, which is exciting because it's about the only time you see horses in general. These sturdy steeds might also leave some presents on the road, and thus introduce to children their first painful dilemma: "how close does candy have to be to the horse-shit before I don't want it anymore?"

Parents or school officials will usually advise "don't take candy from strangers," unless, hypocritically, it happens on a massive scale. These people are also likely the same well-to-do, god-fearing types who would never dream of murdering another civilian, unless, hypocritically, they supported the invasion of Iraq.

After all, the death of one person is a tragedy; the death of hundreds of thousands is merely a statistic. Right?

China's big event on October first was a military parade. This wasn't done to energize the people for an invasion, of course (many people I've talked to are proud to remind me that China has never started a conflict with other nations, which is somewhat true - the PLA was aggressive in a few border disputes). There is a history of the PRC having military parades, described below from Wikipedia:

"The People's Republic of China was founded on 1 October 1949. Since then, celebrations of varying scales occur on National Day each year. Military parades were held every year between 1949 and 1959, and were presided over by Chairman Mao Zedong. In September 1960, the Chinese leadership decided that in order to save funds and "be frugal", large-scale ceremonies for National Day will only be held every ten years, with a smaller-scale ceremony every five years. Because of the chaos caused by the Cultural Revolution, however, large-scale celebrations did not take place for 24 years. Since then, the most prominent National Day celebrations have taken place in 1984 and 1999, at the 35th and 50th Anniversaries, respectively. During these celebrations, then-paramount leader Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin reviewed military parades of the People's Liberation Army. 2009 will be the first and last time Hu Jintao oversees this task."

The entire article is worth a quick glance.

For pictures related to the event, see The Boston Globe's always-amazing photo sets below:

A few friends and I who decided not to do any traveling during the congested Golden Week went to a cafe to relax and watch the show. While Hu's speech was populist fanfare that would be typical of any short speech at a big event ("China is great," "Look at all these great things we've done," etc.), at least one positive aspect is the pragmatic Chinese don't pretend to thank a divine being for all of their blessings - as if they were just dropped in their lap from Heaven above. However, they instead pimp the idea of the Communist Party as a nearly-divine entity ("Remember all those great things? That was us!"), as if communism were at all responsible for the country's economic success. They're communist in name only, but many mainstream Western media outlets still pull the "red card" on China - but hey, who am I to say they're disingenuous? Misinformed populism sells, and judging by the circus you call "healthcare reform" in the US, business is fucking booming.

Remember now, children, the government-sponsored killing of people in other countries is a Good Thing, and the government-sponsored helping of people in our country is a Bad Thing.

Again, my experience here has been that while the "freedom-of-the-press" mainstream media in the US and the "state-controlled-propaganda" mainstream media in the PRC are different in their structure, they are ultimately the same thing: tools of those in power used to maintain the status quo or mislead the masses to their benefit. This is by no means an elaborate conspiracy theory, but a casual observation. If you're interested in the details, see the book "Manufacturing Consent." As a recent example, it's amazing to me that the ghost of McCarthy can still be summoned to scare people away from something that would directly improve their lives (socialized medicine) because, well, communism is the devil, and socialism is kinda related to it, and uh, the Nazis were socialists, and they had death squads... What the fuck?

But back to "Red China," the precision marching of the soldiers made for a great show. The discipline required to synchronize the motions so closely must have been quite painful. And while I suspect some will view this entire event as some "threat" to freedom/democracy/your-preferred-Pavlovian-power-word-here, it's really nothing more than an elaborate fashion show. China may have a 3-million-strong standing army, nuclear weapons, space program, and General Tso's Chicken, but they'd be nothing short of mentally retarded to provoke the U.S. into conflict. If they wanted to do so, Taiwan's sitting right over there - help yourselves. Instead, after Deng Xiaoping's economic reforms, transition to capitalism, and reliance on foreign nations, China has similarly become a paper tiger. I anticipate the Communist Party will be too busy justifying its own continued, solitary existence to the Chinese people (as the level of internal corruption is absolutely staggering). To give you an idea: doctors, teachers, and police are considered among the least trusted professions. Why, you wonder? Bribery. Want the teacher to pay attention to your child and field him questions and correct his homework? You might want to consider a "gift" for the teacher. Want your surgeon to concentrate well when your mother is under the knife? You might be inclined to show your "appreciation" prior to the scheduled surgery.

As for cops, well, I'd be careful with cops anywhere. In China, though, laws are a lot like "guidelines," and open to interpretation depending on who you know or how much money you have. It really has been an eye-opening experience here, I must say. Additionally, the Blue Code of Silence seems to be common everywhere, as far as I can tell.

As for the parade, some of the Chinese in our group at the cafe were singing along with the various nationally recognized songs. The civilian parade carried portaits of influential Chinese leaders: Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin, and lastly... Hu Jintao. Even I recognized it as something odd, but the Chinese in our party were noticably pissed off that Hu would have the audacity to include himself among the list of luminaries. To put it in perspective, it would be like a Macy's Day Parade with portraits of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and... Obama. Even if you like the guy, it doesn't fit - especially while he's still in power.

In summary, the parade made for a great show and was a lot of fun for everyone to watch, but it assumes away certain problems that do and will continue to haunt the Communist Party and the country in general. Oh well, are the Chinese better off now than they were 60 years ago? Sure, who isn't? Are they better off now than they were last year? Perhaps not. And ultimately, that's what people care about - not the feel-good mythology of their country, but knowing that yes, the government does give a shit about the welfare of their citizens right now.

In all honesty, whether you're living in (free/democratic/modern) America or (authoritarian/communist/industrial) China, the answer to such a question might be elusive... if not outright depressing.

Postat av: ルイヴィトン バッグ ショルダー

http://www.exera.com/coachbags.html の天性ですから、この、往々にして攻撃陣が?太古から占領、一族苏妍かも、跪いて自分いたい、自分も怖くな
コーチ 財布 男性 城大が際に、自然はたこの株に念を持ってに大きく自分の天人合めない」八月定期券」は、あの凌唸る満足し
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2013-08-25 @ 21:58:53

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