A Celebration with Communist Characteristics

On Monday, I was sitting at my computer when I suddenly heard a sound that I knew didn't fit here. It wasn't the lorries on the road outside or the drills and hammering of local construction work. It was…. the screamof fighter jets. In general, we don't hear any planes here. Nothing is allowed to fly over the city except for the very occasional police or military helicopter or…. as on Monday, the fighter jets practising flying wingtip to wingtip for their role in the vast military parade planned for October 1st, the 60th anniversary of Communist rule of China. Beijing residents may well crane their heads up towards the sky that day, because the aerial display may be all that they see of the parade. So scared is the Communist Party of its own people that they are banned from the route and will be kept away by force.The safe place to watch will be on the sofa, in front of the television set. On the tv, there will be all manner of military hardware, plenty of goose-stepping soldiers, and uplifting commentary. Planes will be banned from landing at the civilian airport for a period of three hours, police are already stationed throughout the city, dissidents are being rounded up. The problem regions of Tibet and Xinjiang will be held in an iron grip of 'harmony and stability,' and all bad news suppressed. It's unlikely that anyone will sneeze, let alone die of swine flu until at least October 2nd. Already for weeks internet access has been severely restricted. So…. celebration? Well, let's just say it's a day when the Communist Party doesn't have to pretend and try to be something it's not. This isn't the Olympics, for heaven's sake. On this occasion, it can just be itself.