Changing China

Giant on the move

China’s 60th anniversary : Live

September 30, 2009

4:30 pm : China celebrated its wealth and rising might with a show of goose-stepping troops, floats and nuclear-capable missiles, 60 years after Mao Zedong proclaimed its embrace of communism.

The two hour-parade of picture-perfect soldiers, tanks and missiles, floats and 100,000 well-drilled civilians was a proud moment for many Chinese citizens, as reporters Ben Blanchard and Lucy Hornby write.

The weather was perfect too, with the Chinese air force deploying a "magic-like" range of chemicals and technology to clear Beijing's smoggy air.

Here's another image from the grand parade:

2:40 pm
: Here’s a video of the parade shot by photographer David Grey.

2:00 pm : On a street corner at the end of China’s 60th anniversary parade route a crowd of ordinary but excited Beijingers gathered to wave flags and snap pictures of the floats as they trundled off to a temporary parking lot, reporter Emma Graham-Harrison writes

They were lucky — stringent security meant probably only a
few thousand people, in a city of well over 10 million, got a
live glimpse of the government’s celebration of its own success.

The leadership’s apparent conviction that ordinary Chinese
people could not be trusted to join in the celebration led to a
strange atmosphere downtown, with empty, echoing streets
occasionally filled with the rumble of an airforce flyover.

By the time the parade reached areas that – although partly
sealed off — still held some ordinary citizens, the thousands of
dancing, marching escorts that accompanied each display through Tiananmen Square had already peeled off.

Those on the floats looked off duty; many had sat down or were chatting among themselves.

But the small crowd still waved, shouted and snapped at the lavish representations of everything from the Olympics to agricultural advancements as if they were at the heart of the celebrations.

The fervour of those who could get close stood in sharp relief to the cordons of armed and aggressive cops — and to the mistrust of a leadership that claims to serve the people but appears somewhat afraid of them.

But it also suggested that the biggest security danger in throwing open the parade might have been not the terrorism Beijing claimed to fear, but a simple excess of enthusiasm among an increasingly patriotic population.

1:30 p.m.: Security for China’s 60th anniversary parade was tight, with access to many areas blocked by multiple cordons, which meant that Reuters journalists  had to sleep in the office to ensure that they would be able to cover the parade.

Reuters’ Graham-Harrison writes about her night in the office ahead of the parade :

For a moment on waking up I savoured the one unquestionable benefit of sleeping in the office — my commute was cut to about 30 seconds. I could be up at 7.59 and still at my desk by 8.00.

It became obvious a couple of weeks before Communist China’s 60th anniversary parade that covering it was going to be complicated.

The government is putting on the spectacle for 1.3 billion  people, and apparently considers the several million people who actually live in the capital more of an annoying security problem
than guests at the party.

Our office is on the parade route and so the surrounding  streets would be shut down and all buildings emptied from nearly 24 hours before the parade to 24 hours after it, we were told.

The only way we could access stable, uncensored connections to the outside world was by staying at our desks the whole time. We persuaded building management to let the bureau chief, chief correspondent, a Chinese colleague and me to stay overnight  — but we wouldn’t be allowed out, they warned.

So preparing for work on the 30th felt more like getting  ready for a camping trip. I lumbered into the office with a backpack stuffed with sleeping bag, toiletries, pajamas, books (we expected a quiet evening) and mountains of food.

I find it hard to work properly when I’m hungry so — much to  the amusement of my colleagues — I had brought stew, Chinese pancakes, a loaf of rye bread, cheese, tomatoes, apples, oranges,
cereal, soya milk, tuna (with can opener), baked beans, and a jar of tomato sauce.

My more modest colleague just opted for instant noodles.

As for spending the night in the office, it was dull but less of an ordeal than I expected. I curled up on sofa cushions from the pictures department and slept quite well.

(Reuters pictures by Nir Elias, David Gray, Tyrone Siu, Jason Lee)

12:00 : The military parade is followed by floats with huge portraits celebrating four generations of top communist leaders  – Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin, and one which looked like Hu Jintao.

There are also floats depicting environmental protection featuring trees, shrubs and giant model leaves – lots of people waving flags that are a very unnatural looking green. Another float celebrated China’s success in swimming and diving at the Beijing Olympics, with what looked like medal winners.

As reporters Ben Blanchard and Lucy Hornby point out in this report Hu wants the day of extraordinary spectacle and security to make the case that the formula of one-party rule and rapid growth remains the right one for hauling the world’s third-biggest economy into prosperity, ruling 1.3 billion people and elevating China into a superpower.

11:10 a.m: Security arrangements for China’s 60th anniversary parade to make sure the televised show went without a hitch left many ordinary Beijing residents and citizens feeling left out.

As Lucy Hornby reports, five miles is a long way away, and so the small crowd that gathered by the China World Hotel to try and catch a glimpse of the National Day military parade on Tiananmen Square might be described as unduly optimistic.

But then again, the security for this parade could also be described as unduly restrictive. Even five miles away was too close, it seemed, as police with bullhorns ordered the grumbling crowd even further back, beyond the third ring road, and then even further and further east.

“Well I figured I could at least see the airplanes in person. We’ve got the TV set to record at home,” said a middle-aged man who had come with his family from the nearby province of Hebei.

The police and security guards were reasonably sympathetic with the crowd, most of whom looked like migrant workers from outside the city.

“”I understand you, I understand that you want to see the parade. Believe me, I’d like to see the parade too!” one yelled, as he shooed a few stragglers further from the police cordon.

But it was hard to understand what would be the problem with patriotic citizens actually seeing the parade, which viewed from a TV did indeed turn out to be very impressive.

“Now, if its such a great thing for China, why are they trying to stop everyone from having a look?” said Chris Hill, an Australian businessman whose efforts to see the parade were proving to be utterly unsuccessful.


10:50 am :Tyra Dempster, a TV producer standing just in front of Mao’s portrait in Tinananmen Square, says the whole place reverberated with the cannons as the parade began.  It felt as if all the masonry might come tumbling down. It is still very noisy, with all the marching and shouting. The troops are female soldiers marching past in what look like quite short skirts, which doesn’t seem like practical military kit.


10:15 a.m:10:15 a.m: TV shows Hu driving along the Avenue of Eternal Peace, in what looks like a Chinese-made red flag limo, inspecting immaculate ranks of soldiers, male and female, from the army, navy and air force.

At intervals he shouts “Hello comrades! hardworking comrades!”. The troops are so well trained their heads turn in exact unison to follow his car. They reply “Serve the people!” or “Hello commande

Reuters pictures by Nir Elias,David Gray,Tyrone Siu, Jason Lee)
10 a.m:Hu Jintao has appeared on top of Tiananmen gate,  wearing a dark modern take on a Mao suit. The rest of the top  leadership appear to be in business suits and ties.

9:45 a.m: Hundreds of people are stranded at Beijing train station because several bus and metro services have been suspended and there aren’t enough cabs. Many were complaning bitterly, some saying they will never come to Beijing again, Kitty Bu from the television department said.

And in Hong Kong pro-democracy demonstrators gathered at the venue of the national day celebrations, carrying a mock coffin, symbolising those who died in the 1989 crackdown in Tiananmen Square.

9:30 a.m: Ben Blanchard reports the weather is perfect for the national day parade after days of overcast gloom. Looks like clouding seeding worked ? Far from Tiananmen Square in the fashionable  Drum Dowar area there is little security evident, he says. The narrow streets are lined with large red Chinese flags. It’sd all very quiet – perhaps people are still in bed.

Downtown Beijing has been awash with black-clad security troops sporting reflector sun-glasses, automatic guns and hulking black hum-vees and anti-riot vehicles, guarding the city for the 60th anniversary celebrations of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Correspondent Chris Buckley says many of them look quite pleased with their expensive bling, even if their leather loafers can look a tad prissy and the

What’s the inspiration for this all-black chic? Some will blame the Bat Man film franchise. There are also plenty of menacing new buildings around Beijing that look like they were pinched straight from Gotham. The Reuters bureau is housed in one.

But the real inspiration may be “Black Cat Police Sergeant” (Hei mao jingzhang), a clunky but enduring Chinese cartoon series about a cat-cop who, when he is not vanquishing evil-doing animals, stands around looking very cool — if you’re a six-year old.

No Chinese childhood is complete without a dose of this cartoon, and locals can see Black Cat’s influence in the latest police fashions.

There is also the more recent Japanese import, Ultraman. a team of sleak, leaping superheroes who have entertained Chinese kids for many years, and apparently also inspired the couturiers at the Ministry of Public Security.

8:30 a.m. Police and journalists were up in the wee hours of Thursday, getting ready for China’s National Day parade. “That led to some friendly, pre-dawn comraderie with the hearty policemen manning the barricades at 5:30 am, while we all waited for some floats to roll by — the only glimpse either they or we will catch of this perfectly orchestrated parade,” correspondent Lucy Hornby reports.

There may be about 200,000 marchers, but the spectators are all being kept several city blocks away from the main parade route.

Even one cop, a stocky, cheerful 48-year-old with a strong Beijing accent, thought that was a bit excessive.
“Nowadays they have everything under tight control. They can’t let a lot of people near it, there would be too much potential for trouble. But when I was little we used to run right up and stand on the sidewalks as the parades went by. That was fun. Now everything’s much more strict.”

The People’s Republic of China will mark the 60th anniversary of its founding on Thursday with a military parade showcasing its growing political and economic clout.

Reuters correspondents, photographers and television crew will be blogging live the anniversary, tracking key events in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square and elewhere in the country, through the day.

Ahead of the celebrations, correspondent Emma Graham-Harrison takes a look at China at 60 and Benjamin Kang Lim and Lucy Hornby report on the country’s plans to cut back its army and boost the air force and navy, a strategic move that could stoke regional tensions.


“3. China is the only Govt at UNSC without the mass support of Chinese people. “How do you know it?I have lived in China for 18 years, and I have been living in Canada for 8 years. This is the first time I know this. Though many Chinese people complain about the government just as many people do in other countries, the majority population of the 1.3 billion Chinese citizens and Chinese immigrants living in other countries support this govt because this system works for such a huge country. Don’t believe what you see from those biased TV.

Posted by Starfish | Report as abusive

NO, We don’t hate Chinese people. We sympathize with them!Don’t tell me you have a shiny new car or a sparkling new highway! You need freedom, liberty, justice and dignity for you, for your family, for your countrymen and for future generations.Can you change you govt if you don’t like? You are stuck with the communists!Chinese people need to fight non-violently and liberate themselves! We can advise you but we are not going to fight for you!There is nothing wrong in asking your govt for your rights, which you deserve and citizens of all other countries take granted and enjoy!You will feel inferior as long as you have the oppressive communists ruling you! Get rid of them! Be equal to your brothers and sisters across the oceans and around you!Your vote has more power than the bullets or tanks of communists! People in democratic countries realize this!

Posted by Donna | Report as abusive

please go to china and have a look before making any nonsence comments

Posted by adams | Report as abusive

I’m one of the 99% of the happy Chinese that are ruled by the oppressive communists. We are too feable and unwilling to sponsor an uprise as you wish. Please invade China and set us free, like you did in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is another way to get rid of your debts. But take care, China’s intercontinental long-range nuclear missiles are no Sadam’s toys. But to shed others’ blood for the cause of the so-called freedom and democracy of your own is surely a bargain for U.S., after the reign of the King of England is over.

Posted by nodda | Report as abusive

All China supporters.Go ask chinese police for democracy, and have whole family arrested, before making silly comments about goodness of China.Go post internet site in China asking for freedom of speech and get forever house arrest, before making comments about goodness of china.Go do it. Are you scared to? Or are you paid by government to be making comments about good China?

Posted by Hmmm | Report as abusive

NO, We don’t hate Chinese people. We sympathize with them!We hate the immoral communist Govt:1. Which sells nuclear weapons to Pakistan, Libya, N. Korea, Iran and so on …2. Which occupies Tibet and kills innocent Tibetian monks and unique their culture3. Which occupies Xinjiang and kills innocent Uigers and unique their culture4. Which tries to denies it’s people democracy, freedom, religion, free-speech, Youtube, Google, free press, phone ringtones,

Posted by Donn | Report as abusive

No offense. But those ‘domocratic’ killers did quite a bad, dirty and selfish job to the former communist countries and resource countries, which has made world infamous the hypocrisy and double-standards of the western-style ‘democracy’ and ‘morality’.I’m lucky and proud to be Chinese, especially in this century.If you are unable to finance yourself a field trip to China due to submortgage crisis, or if your were unable to watch the overseas Chinese students’ actions during the worldwide torch relays before Olypic Games 2008 and during the 60th anniversary of China from the ‘free’ and ‘neutralized’ western media, please at least study the history of Tibet and learn what the serf system was.Seems someone has fogotten the L.A. Uprising, too.

Posted by cando | Report as abusive

May 29, 2009 | The United Nations has released a new report on accountability for human rights abuses by the United States, focusing mostly on transgressions during the Bush administration’s so-called war on terror. In a word, accountability in the U.S. has been “deplorable.”

Posted by takethis | Report as abusive

All chinese happy while most of western people who do not like to see china’s strong strength feel unhappy..hahahahha…..

Posted by xia | Report as abusive

Pro-China supporters:I make you a challange again. Go to chinese policeman and ask for democracy. Create website in china asking for democracy. See what happen to you and your family.Don’t waste time saying to me “Go to China” or “West breaches human rights”. You are avoiding questions and you know this.Does truth hurt so much for you? Or are you paid by government to post?Iraq, Afganistan. Invasions to remove dictators. American soldiers do not kidnap or make carbomb to kill thousands of civilians. Terrorists do this.In China, you are arrested for asking democracy. That is truth. Not bias western media. Not American lies. It is truth of China. And you know it is truth.Chinese government has enslaved people of China. You may love china. But you are still slave of government. Slave who loves his chains, no different to Kuomintang or British chains.No democratic dictatorship in China. No democracy. People have no control Party. Only Party controls Party.If you think it is lies, then ask Police and government for democracy. And you will see truth then.

Posted by Hmmm | Report as abusive

Well, so the anti-China brigade comes out in full force again. What else is new?! Frankly, their antics are tiring and their rhetoric stale. Of course it is infuriating but should we honestly argue with nut cases?! Waste of energy and time. I wonder though who are these people who clearly write from the same script and are well orchestrated. Why else troll these China related sites and all have misleading IDs. Well, there are lots of people out there who want to see China fail, who rejoice when disaster strikes China, and who refuse to allow the Chinese people to celebrate, so I hope the Chinese people know this and remain vigilant.As for this Reuters coverage, again, this is the same old story: The western media will spin everything into the negative, find fault in everything, hype up anything negative, and bury anything positive. In short, they only report bad things about China and stay mum about the good things. So they give a distorted picture of China to their readers which is pretty much their intention. Great job in promoting understanding. Why they bother to send correspondents to China is a mystery as based on their CHina-is-Bad template, they could have stayed home and just spin their stories from there.

Posted by chaos | Report as abusive

Yes, you people probably have more freedom than us, you can question your government about anything and anytime?If you government listen to you and change it into something you like, I wonder what kind of government it will be?

Posted by lisa | Report as abusive

After all these years, China has changed a lot. If you come to China, you will know the real China. so don’t say anything unfriendly before coming to China. China is the greatest country. Chinese government is peace loving. Chinese people are friendly and open minded. go to China and you will find a totally different China from the biased reports by the western media.

Posted by cathy | Report as abusive

Peace and harmony by Police!House arrest and harass journalists, ban internet and cell phone, pretend like everything peaceful!Communists are more insecure and panicky everyday! -pacific/8291648.stm

Posted by Rob | Report as abusive

China has come very far over the course of 60 years. Remembered the humiliation of the Opium Wars and the Sick Man of the East label? Also those signs displaying “No Chinese or Dogs” allowed?I am an overseas China and am extremely proud of China’s achievements. Despite that I do have my worries. With Great Powers come Great Responsibilities, I hope that China will make use of its now extremely substantial military and economic muscles to make the world a much better place to live in.


After all these years, China has changed a lot. If you come to China, you will know the real China. so don’t say anything unfriendly before coming to China. China is the greatest country. Chinese government is peace loving. Chinese people are friendly and open minded. go to China and you will find a totally different China from the biased reports by the western media.I LOVE CHINA,I LOVE ALL FRIENDLY FOREIGNERS!!!NOT THE western media WHICH WRITES biased reports !!!

Posted by zhaoyunkai | Report as abusive

I am a chinese, but study in england, i want to say there are some problems in china, but not all things you see from TV is ture. Believe your eyes but not others.Before i came to england, i think that english will look down upon chinese, however, they are very friendly to me.please see others advantage!do you like other people say some bad words to you when you have 60th birthday?

Posted by xiaomu | Report as abusive

Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see