Police checks and patriotic flowers: Beijing leaves nothing to chance before the Party’s centenary
BEIJING, June 28 (Reuters) – Behind roadblocks and hundreds of police in the Chinese capital of Beijing on Friday, fireworks resembling the national flag bloomed over the city in a secret and closely choreographed rehearsal for the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party.
Beijing has closed traffic, decorated the streets with patriotic floral arrangements and national flags, and stepped up surveillance and security this week ahead of the centennial event on July 1.
The secret rehearsals represent the final stages of a year-long planning effort, designed to glorify the history of the Party and cement national loyalty to the Chinese socialist system.
“Without the Communist Party, there is no new China,” read new propaganda posters across the city.
Plans for the event have not been fully disclosed, although state media and government agencies have hinted at a large-scale theatrical event in Tiananmen Square. A performance is scheduled for Monday at the Bird’s Nest Stadium, built for the 2008 Olympics.
The anniversary was preceded by a crackdown on potential dissident activity, including a series of arrests this year under a law banning the defamation of national heroes, and an online site for citizens to report ” historical nihilists ”, a phrase referring to those who share versions of the Party’s history.
The tightening of security and the ensuing disruption is not unusual before major political events in the capital, but the marching band has taken on increased significance amid new political challenges for the Party at home and abroad.
“It comes down to legitimacy… what you are seeing at these events is an extended performance for the benefit of the national public to essentially legitimize an unelected government, which is why, in short, these things are so important,” Graeme said. Smith, member of the Department of Pacific Affairs at Australian National University, specializing in Chinese politics.
NO ROOM FOR ERROR
On June 23, residents of Beijing’s old-fashioned hutongs woke up to alleyways adorned with a coordinated display of Chinese national flags, visible at almost every door.
Starting in May, teams in orange work uniforms became commonplace throughout the city, enhancing the scenery by the roadside and creating elaborate flower arrangements made up of 2.3 million seedlings and potted plants. , according to state media.
At the same time, security organs have stepped up surveillance and other restrictions.
Police went door-to-door in Beijing’s central Dongcheng neighborhood last week to check house records and confirm the number of people living at each address, residents of the neighborhood told Reuters.
A Dongcheng police official told Reuters the visits were “normal inspections.”
According to two people who received the calls and a doctor who said their patients had been contacted.
The Beijing city government did not respond to a request for comment.
Four traders from China’s leading e-commerce site Taobao.com told Reuters they were banned from shipping items, including gas cylinders and other flammable goods, to residents of Beijing from of June. Taobao owner Alibaba did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“It’s like throwing a huge birthday party and not wanting your embarrassing neighbors to spoil it,” Smith said, adding that the propaganda around the “sensitive days” of the Beijing calendar can also serve as a warning to dissidents. potentials.
Across China, local state-run institutions including hospitals, schools and military units will hold special anniversary events, including political education sessions and party history exhibits. .
“The whole army will transform the political enthusiasm radiated by the celebrations into concrete actions to advance the cause of strengthening the country and the army in the new era,” Ren Guoqiang, spokesperson, said on June 23. word of the Ministry of National Defense.
Censorship of China’s already tightly controlled cyberspace has intensified.
Two people working in the censorship unit of Tianjin-based social media company Bytedance Ltd and a Beijing-based censor for Chinese search engine Baidu.com said they had received new guidance in recent months on removing comments. negatives on the anniversary. Neither company immediately responded to requests for comment.
“There is no room for error,” said a Bytedance staff member, who declined to be named because he is not authorized to speak to foreign media.
On Friday, the patriotic fervor displayed on the streets of Beijing was largely reflected online. Despite strict censorship, however, a small number of internet users have complained about road closures and costly events that are closed to the public.
“My family has lived in Beijing for several generations, I got used to it,” said a commentator on social media site Weibo.com, expressing concerns about the pollution caused by mass fireworks. “This city has sacrificed too much for politics.”
Reporting by Cate Cadell. Editing by Gerry Doyle
Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.