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Report 5 - October 1st, 1999

A rising sun in front of Tian'an Men.
The Chinese Government celebrated the 50th anniversary of the PRC with a grand parade in Beijing.

The show began at 10 am when President Jiang Zemin, in a green la Mao jacket, pronounced his short speech from the Door of the Heavenly Peace (Tian'an Men) - basically a tribute to his predecessors Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, with some emphasis on China's economical development.

The following half an hour was devoted to the Chinese Army, greeted by Jiang Zemin and Zhang Wannian, each standing quite hilariously half out of a black limousine car. Then, more soldiers than one could ever bear to see in their own life marched in front of Tian'an Men to pay respect to Jiang Zemin: from mariners in white to female soldiers in red, followed by tanks and missiles of the most different sizes. Why such a display of military strength? Better not to ask.
Finally, the real parade began: as colorful and kitsch as only the Chinese can be, but moving, in the end. First of all, a giant portrait of Mao Zedong; then, just behind, that Deng Xiaoping who completely rejected the former's policy, like they were companions on the same road. Following Deng, miniature oil wells and the trains and airplanes of New China. On an another carriage a giant peony (China's national flower) slowly opened up to show the ideal Chinese family: a couple with their little child. And then thousands of people and dancers in red, yellow or green, and hundreds of children with air baloons. Flying over them all, the newest airplanes of the Chinese Army.

In the center, President Jiang Zemin.
But what do the Chinese themselves think of this kind of patriotism? A 23-year-old girl we know almost cried watching the parade on TV, and hurried to call her mother to describe it to her with moved words. She also said she no longer wanted to study abroad: better it would have been not to abandon her country when it most deserved her help...
But there are also much different opinions. A middle-aged man who works here at Yunnan University went on for a while addressing his colleagues with a loud "Tongzhimen hao!" (Good morning, comrades!), like President Jiang Zemin had just yelled on TV. But even more irriverent was a man who sold us a couple of old propagandist journals of the Seventies. He commented the usual "Mao zhuxi wansui!" (literally: Ten thousand years to President Mao!) with the following words: "Ten thousand years... but in the end they all die before reaching the age of 100!". We leave you with this pearl of wisdom.

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