Giant on the move
China’s 60th anniversary : Live
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.
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.
“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.
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.