Rome (AsiaNews) - On 1 October 2009 the People's Republic of China marks 60 years since its founding. In the culture of the Far East, turning 60 is of special significance: the six decades encompass a complete cycle of the lunar calendar and are considered the moment when a man reaches full maturity. They are also a time to reflect on goals achieved and express a wish for new challenges ahead.
We hope that the 60 years of mainland China will also have this spirit, but from what we are seeing, the celebration risks being used solely to exalt the greatness of Beijing, hiding its problems. In a similar vein to last years Olympics, the celebrations scheduled for October 1st aim to show the world the maturity China has reached under the leadership of Chinese Communist Party (CCP), its splendid economic performance, which has made it a superpower, its influence now stretching across Asia and the world.
There are only a few days to October 1st, but from what we know, the Party’s publicity machine is working full steam to make the event a memorable one. But for who? The celebrations seem to focus mainly on the exhibition of the Party’s military force, with little regard for the people. The ceremony in Tiananmen Square provides for a speech by President Hu Jintao and a mammoth military parade that will demonstrate how advanced the weapons and missile technologies in the country are, given that the vast nation is a major exporter of weapons abroad, to countries like Sudan and Myanmar .
For the rest, the population of Beijing will not have even the chance to patriotically admire the full parade. Just as for the Olympics last year, Beijingers are being "invited" to stay at home. People living in the streets near Tiananmen Square have received guidelines of how to behave during the ceremony: "Do not open windows or balconies overlooking the Changan Dajie [the avenue that crosses the square]," do "not come out onto balconies to watch ceremony", "do not invite friends or other persons" on that day.
To show its power, the CCP always cancels out the population, for fear that something will damage the clear and perfect image it wants to give to the world. Even in the weeks before the event, security was increased throughout the country. For the capital, the 7 provinces and regions around Beijing set up security filters to control the entry and exit points from the city, preventing all demonstrations. Beijing residents have been banned from flying kites, balloons or releasing domesticated pigeons in the sky. An army of more than 800 thousand people have been recruited to spy on neighbourhoods and work closely with police to report any irregularities or crime. To avoid all possible risk of fire - and Molotov cocktails – gas stations are forbidden to serve petrol in plastic containers or bottles. Until after October 1st it is forbidden even to sell knives, even the kitchen knives, after 2 men - in two separate incidents - stabbed passers-by.
The paranoia of security - heightened by the threats of inter-ethnic strife after the riots in Xinjiang - dominates every aspect of celebrations. That is why the CCP has ruled out other parades in the rest of China, instead concentrating all of its forces in the capital.
The paranoia about security is a symptom of a deeper malady: the Party is not loved by its people and if there are still 76 million Chinese (co-opted) members, this is for one reason alone: to draw on membership of this political and economic elite for maximum benefits. In Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou is easy to meet young rampant entrepreneurs that will candidly confess their contempt for the leadership and the Party, but who are enrolled “for money.”
The reason that people join the Party lies in the fact that members are given a package of benefits which are denied the rest of the population: a steady job, pension, ease of travel, a modern apartment and above all legal and social protection if by chance they have trouble with the law. By now the Chinese Communist Party, from social vanguard, has become the oppressor; its members are an oligarchy who uses the economy to maintain political dominance and in turn increase their own economic benefits.
How all this happened is part of a historical analysis that nobody in China dares to undertake with scientific honesty. Those who have dared have found themselves under house arrest or forced out of the institutions.
The latest to be subjected to this treatment is Xiao Jiansheng, 54, from Hunan. For 20 years he has carried out research on Chinese history and culture, producing a volume of 450 pages titled Revisiting the history of China. Although two years ago the Academy of Social Sciences had given the go ahead for its publication, the authorities subsequently halted it. He turned to Hong Kong but the authorities also warned him against publishing in Hong Kong. The reason? The book criticizes the concept of absolute power present in traditional China, which the leadership has taken on as its own, celebrating the supremacy of the Chinese Communist Party. The volume of Xiao is seen as an anti-patriotic attack on the celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic. (End of first part).