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Horizons: China - Sichuan 2009

It was sixty years ago today, Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play...

markOctober 1st represented not only the birth of a new month but also the 60th anniversary of the PRC. I suppose most people worldwide would have been given a glimpse of that morning’s parade and, whilst not necessarily newsworthy, it was an immense spectacle. Interestingly the Chinese channels have recently shown footage of previous parades and the similarities between this and the last one is such that they could have been twinned.

I suspect that international viewers would have been treated to ten or twenty seconds of the military parade, a bit like a widescreen, 3D, IMAX version of the Trooping of the Colour in Britain, and three or four seconds of the civilian parade, a technical Mardi Gras without the samba beat! The whole thing lasted for some two and a half hours and was a sight to behold, to have amassed that much military hardware and troops in one place is a feat that no other nation could achieve, particularly when you then consider the demands on food, water and accommodation that this represented when the civilians were thrown in as well.

markI’m led to believe that some apartments were demolished to make room for the additional width of this year’s parade, although I have been unable to confirm this information. Certainly there were some strict rules for nearby residents, visitors were banned for nearly 24 hours and people were not allowed on their balconies, or to have open windows, between 07.00 and 12.00hrs on the day, and the practice sessions paralysed the streets of Beijing for a considerable time before the event.

On the day the whole thing looked pretty much as if it were executed perfectly; in the two hours that I observed I didn’t see one step as much as a millisecond out of time or anything occur that was not intended. This was of course the intention, to create an image of a single country marching in step to a single beat; the objective was achieved.

What was surprising is that the leadership took the decision to go with the old-style military parade; I suspect there was some wrangling over this at the top. However, the People’s Army is twenty-two years older than China and was the force that created the current state so perhaps they deserve the star billing; it certainly provided a reminder that there are significant differences between China and the “western world”. The goose-stepping was a more questionable inclusion.

To conclude this section; a question: Since when did the military start using white-walled tyres?