The 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China (Chinese: 庆祝中华人民共和国成立70周年) was observed with a series of ceremonial events including a grand military parade as its spotlight to celebrate National Day of the People’s Republic of China that took place on 1 October 2019 in Beijing. Communist Party General SecretaryPresident and Central Military Commission chairmanXi Jinping, who was the guest of honor, gave the holiday address to the nation and Chinese expatriates abroad before inspecting the formations along Chang’an Avenue. Premier Li Keqiang was the master of ceremonies and General Yi Xiaoguang was the chief commander of the parade. It was the largest military parade and mass pageant in Chinese history.

Background

Main articles: Chinese Civil War and Proclamation of the People’s Republic of China

The Communist Party of China had defeated the Kuomintang Party following the Chinese Civil War, which occurred intermittently between 1927 and 1949. In the aftermath of the civil war, the Kuomintang and its loyalists then retreated to the island of Taiwan, formerly a prefecture of the Qing Empire, which had been under Japanese colonial rule from 1895 to 1945.

The founding of the People’s Republic of China was formally proclaimed by Mao Zedong, the Chairman of the Communist Party of China, on 1 October 1949 at 3:00 pm in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, the new capital (Nanking had been the capital of the former Republic of China). The first public parade of the then new People’s Liberation Army took place there, following the chairman’s address of the formal foundation of the new republic. Before this, as the national anthem March of the Volunteers was played, the new national flag of the People’s Republic of China was officially unveiled to the newly founded nation and hoisted for the first time during the celebrations as a 21-gun salute fired in the distance.

In its early years, the People’s Republic of China was not internationally recognized as the Republic of China held its seat in the United Nations and the Security Council as the sole legitimate government of “China” by the United States and western nations. In 1971, the PRC was admitted to the United Nations and thus excluded the ROC from United Nations membership.

Since the establishment of the PRC, celebrations of varying scales occur on National Day each year. Military parades, presided over by chairman Mao Zedong, were held every year between 1949 and 1959, the first decade of the PRC. In September 1960, the Chinese leadership decided that to save funds and “be frugal”, large-scale ceremonies for National Day would only be held every ten years, with a smaller-scale ceremony every five years.(The tradition of the yearly parade, though, would be partially revived with parades held in 1969 and 1970.) Since China’s opening and reform, the most prominent National Day celebrations have taken place in 1984, 1999, and 2009 at the 35th, 50th and 60th anniversaries respectively.

The 70th national anniversary parade was the fifth major parade since Xi Jinping took power as the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (China’s paramount leader) in 2012, and occurred with the mass protests in Hong Kong that have been on-going since 9 June as backdrop.

Preparations

The official logo for the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China was officially unveiled by the State Council Information Office on 3 June 2019. Many celebrations throughout China and overseas Chinese communities have been planned for the year of 2019. In early September, rehearsals took place in central Beijing for the military parade. General Cai Zhijun of the Joint General Staff said in a press briefing that it will not be targeted “at any countries or districts” but rather would be “committed to safeguarding world peace and regional stability”. It is expected to be bigger than the parades commemorating the 50th and 60th anniversary of the PRC, as well as the 2015 China Victory Day Parade.

The capital has been covered with red flags, adorning apartment compounds and neighbourhoods; banners reading “Today’s China is the result of the work of Chinese people” have been draped across overpasses, and topiaries have been installed around the roads in Beijing. The authorities have given out 620,000 television sets allowing those not invited to still be able to watch the festivities.

Although a massive National Day fireworks display had been planned along the harbour in Hong Kong to celebate the 70th anniversary – as it has done every year since 1997, Hong Kong government cancelled them “for safety reasons” over the protests in the city that have lasted since March. A more low-key celebration has been planned in the territory.

Security

The city of Beijing has been in virtual lockdown in the run-up to the anniversary. Objects that could overfly the capital – for example kites, balloons, drones and even pigeons – have been banned. The use of walkie-talkies and other devices using radio waves, alcohol have also joined the list of things that are disallowed.

Weeks before the anniversary, motorists have been prohibited from refuelling their cars or motorcycles on their own. During rehearsals for a military parade to mark the day, residents close to Tiananmen Square have received instructions to stay away from windows and to keep their curtains drawn. Guests in hotels in the vicinity of Tiananmen Square were told that for several hours each day, they would not be able to leave or return to it for hours at a time. Shops and restaurants in the centre have closed or shortened their opening hours; some metro stations are closed temporarily.

Media

China Central Television (CCTV) is expected to mainly broadcast synchronously for domestic and foreign TV channels with CCTV-1 as the producing channel for the celebrations, while national, provincial and city broadcasters and TV stations, domestic internet video, portals, and live webcast sites may also broadcast the event simultaneously via the CCTV-1 feed. The China Media Group, holding firm of the CCTV network and the CGTN international channels, may also broadcast live overseas through websites such as YouTube not just in Mandarin Chinese but also in many languages. In addition, China National Radio and China Radio International serve as the offical radio stations of the festivities. On 4 September 2019, the CMG held a mobilization meeting to celebrate the 70th anniversary. More than 260 representatives from its member companies attended the event. As the focus of the celebration, the company’s radio and television units are bound to take publicity reporting of the celebrations seriously. The China TV News published on 19 September announced on the front page that the second issue (published on the 26th) will disclose the relevant live broadcast arrangements of the China Media Group to the event.

Various overseas media will also pay attention to the coverage of this event, and those who have met the conditions may broadcast it around the world. The “press center for the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China” is located in Beijing’s Media Center and was officially launched on 23 September.

A “special clean-up operation” targeting “harmful political information” and any Sina Weibo accounts or posts that “distort the history of the party and the country”. Furthermore, the regime has intensified the crackdown on virtual private networks that allow users to access websites blocked in the republic, to the extent that it even drew criticism from the editor-in-chief of the Global Times in a Sina Weibo post that has since been deleted.

Musical concert

To mark the special anniversary of national foundation, on Sunday, 29 September, the celebrations began with the CCTV-produced musical concert gala The Nation Moves Onward aired nationwide on CCTV-1 live from the Great Auditorium of the Beijing Great Hall of the People, in which President and General Secretary of the Communist Party Xi Jinping attended as guest of honor together with other party and national leaders, veterans of the PLA and other invited guests.

Wreath-laying ceremony at the Monument to the People’s Heroes

The 15th annual wreath laying ceremony in honor of the heroes and martyrs of the Chinese nation and people was held in earnest in 30 September, National Memorial Day, on the grounds of Tiananmen Square in which President and General Secretary of the Communist Party Xi Jinping attended as guest of honor, together with other party and national leaders, veterans of the PLA, distinguished citizens, the Young Pioneers and representatives of the civil service and the private sector, in which flowers and wreaths were laid in the Monument to the People’s Heroes. This was an idea introduced by former paramount leader Hu Jintao in 2004 to honor the millions of Chinese who perished in the many decades of national struggle of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Civil-military parade

KJ-2000 and J-10s started the flypast formation

The big highlight of the celebrations of the anniversary was the grand civil military parade held on 1 October in the grounds of Tiananmen Square to mark this special anniversary of the foundation of the PRC. With an estimated 15,000 marching in the ground column, 600 vehicles in the mobile column and around 180 in the flypast column, alongside a more than 110,000 strong civil column, it was the biggest ever civil-military parade to be held in the history of the PRC.

The traditional card stunt display, introduced in 1955, was officially abolished for this year following the success of the 2015 Victory Day parade, and thus on that day audience stands were in place in the grounds of the Square in its place, reflecting the crowds that were there 70 years ago during the foundation ceremony. This was the first parade to include three color guards representing the Flag of China, the flag of the CPC, and the flag of the PLA at incorporated in the guard of honour. President Xi recognized the colors prior to inspecting the troops in another National Day first.

Leaders in attendance

List of participating formations in the ground column

In order of appearance:

National Day evening gala

A 90-minute grand evening gala was slated to be held at the Tiananmen Square at 8:00 p.m. 60,000 people attended the evening gala, including a total of at least 6,940 performers at the grounds of the square.[16][17]

Reactions

Hong Kong

Main article: List of October 2019 Hong Kong protests § 1 October National Day protest

In response to the ceremonies, 20,000 people participated in the National Day protests in Hong Kong that were initially peaceful, with violent incidents occurring later during the day. Police used a live round for the first time to shoot a protester who was attacking police officers. The protester was taken to the emergency room of the Princess Margaret Hospital.

Republic of China (Taiwan)

The Republic of China (ROC/Taiwan) under the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration denounced the PRC as a threat to peace and trying to find excuses for its military expansion and rejects the “One country, two systems” model. ROC president Tsai Ing-wen told repoerters that “We are a country of democracy and freedom and will show support for anyone in the world who pursues democracy and freedom. Likewise, any ruler should carefully listen to the people’s pursuit of freedom and democracy and respect the people’s will.”

Reactions from the Kuomintang (KMT) opposition party called on the DPP to accept the 1992 Consensus while rejecting the Taiwan independence movement.

Abroad

  •  Canada – Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan was the guest of honour at a Vancouver soiree to celebrate the event, during tensions following the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou. Meanwhile, pro-Chinese government individuals impeded or attacked assemblies of people concerned about Hong Kong in Ottawa, Vancouver and Richmond, British Columbia. Journalist Terry Glavin saw an “existential struggle for the future of democracy in the world… being fought street by street, mall by mall and plaza by plaza, in the streets of Hong Kong.” Toronto Mayor John Tory boycotted the annual flag raising of China event at City Hall, despite previously attending every year.
  •  Pakistan – Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan congratulated China in a tweet.
  •  Russia – The Soviet Union was the first country to recognize the People’s Republic of China on 2 October 1949. The Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated the PRC on 70 years of diplomatic ties. Xi stated that the China-Russia relationship has achieved the highest level among major-country relations in terms of mutual trust, coordination and strategic value, and has made important contributions to maintaining world peace, stability and development.
  •  Serbia – In Serbia, a cinema hall has screened My People, My Country, which was praised by local Serb and Chinese audiences in Belgrade. At the end of the film, the large crowd of audience stood up to the namesake theme song, singing and waving Chinese national flags. Serbia’s relations with China have improved in recent years following the NATO bombing in 1999.
  •  Tajikistan – The Governemnt of the Republic of Tajikistan gifted a silver mine license to a Chinese company in honor of the 70th anniversary.
  •  United States – U.S. President Donald Trump congratulated the People’s Republic of China on its 70th anniversary in a tweet, which was criticized by many Democrats and Republicans alike.

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