The 1st of October is China's National day. It marks the founding of the People's Republic of China and this year is the PRC's 70th birthday. Every 10 years, a huge military parade takes place in along Chang'an Avenue and passes through Tiananmen square (where Mao Zedong proclaimed the founding of the PRC in 1949). But this year, it will be a record-breaking celebration which, according to the BBC has generated both admiration and scorn. The parade (which showcases the most advanced weaponry of the Chinese army) will have 15.000 soldiers marching alongside 580 pieces of military equipment while 160 aircrafts will fly overhead.
City in lockdown - the impact on everyday life
Organising a celebration of this caliber is no piece of cake - and the preparations have had a major impact on the lives of Beijingers. Businesses in certain areas have been forced to shut down as long as 5 weeks ahead of the celebrations, for 4 weekends in a row, rehearsals have been taking place, causing traffic chaos and restrictions. Parks as far as 20 km from Tiananmen square have been closed down, snipers have been in position for weeks and tourists staying in central Beijing have been asked not to leave their hotels for up to 24 hours while rehearsals were taking place (let alone on the day itself). Here are some good tips and travel notes by China Highlights for the tourists who have booked a trip to Beijing this week (and wish they hadn't).
No flight zone - even for pigeons
In order to ensure flight safety for the military planes on the day of the parade, a ban on recreational aerial activities is in place. This includes the release of balloons and lanterns, flying kites and drones, pet birds like pigeons. Furthermore, all flights to and from Beijing scheduled until noon today have been cancelled.
Parade day! So we can all watch, right?
You would think that such an important event is for every citizen to enjoy, right? well not exactly. It is still not clear whether people like myself who live in high-rise buildings will be allowed to be close to the windows - or to watch from the streets. As for the crowd watching from Tiananmen Square, it has been hand-picked by the Communist Party.
Happy birthday People's Republic of China! The preparations for today have taken their toll on Beijingers - but what we get to witness is also something really cool! 国庆节快乐 - Happy National Day!
Now enjoy some pictures. The color red, flags and celebration banners are everywhere.