China's grander parade

0 CommentsPrint E-mail China Daily, October 2, 2009
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Yesterday was the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China. A grand parade was held in the capital city of Beijing, led by the People's Liberation Army and the People's Armed Police Force, showcasing some of this country's latest achievements in defense modernization.

This is the usual way nations mark their important days in the modern world. Chinese citizens, who are told by their older generations of the atrocities of the foreign concessions and invasions in the early 20th century, take due pride from their government's much heightened capability to protect citizens' lives and interests.

Over the past century, there has been no lack of schemes to break China apart. A multi-ethnic nation that occupies an extensive land area, though it had remained in this world for a long time, has been taken as a strange and unacceptable phenomenon by its detractors who, several times, seemed to have nearly created a fait accompli or quite a threat for the Chinese central government.

Various pretexts, from lofty slogans to invented figures, have been employed to court international sympathy while covering up reckless killings, rape, seizures of private property, and crude attempts to fan inter-ethnic and inter-group violence and hatred.

In taking each challenge, however, the Chinese people felt all the more the necessity for building a strong national defense, backed by sufficient technologies to keep up their country's integration and environment for peaceful existence. In the reform era, it is precisely because of China's growing defense capability - and, not the contrary - that the nation has been able to concentrate on its economic development and on sharing its opportunities with its global partners, instead of getting distracted by the recurring nuisance caused by secessionist and separatist groups.

Having said this, however, it must be pointed out that China's present greatness, along with the quality of its weapon systems, is made possible only by the openness of its society and by its people's creativeness. In a way, the celebration activities in various cities, to last through this week, are also parades - of people's entrepreneurial enthusiasm and their innovative pursuits.

Compared with the China of 100 years ago, 60 years ago, and even 30 years ago, any serious person must acknowledge that there have been more profound changes in the society level.

In most parts of the country, village-level elections have been going on for 20 years or even longer, yielding good and bad experience in grassroots level self-government.

On the Internet, serious debates are going on peacefully on, for instance, whether China should increase its investment in US treasury bills, or whether there are things (and most seem to have concurred there are) that the economic reform has missed out on, despite its overall success.

And, in bookstores, large and small, the bestsellers are often led by historical reviews of past dynastic failures and tips for personal investment and even launching one's own business start-ups.

The Chinese landscape is in itself a parade - of the new cities that are being built, new ports and new airports to connect to everywhere in the world, and right now, being visited by an unprecedented number of tourists. The Chinese will make, as it is reported, 200 million holiday trips for the National Day week. If each trip costs an average 2,000 yuan ($294) - a reasonable budget, considering all the overseas tours - all of them would generate a total revenue of 400 billion yuan for all the service providers, and that is larger than China's GDP for the whole year of 1978.

Indeed, the Chinese everyday life is a parade on a grander scale: that of the things that people are talking but their ancestors did not even dare to ask about 100 years ago; of the things that people are taking as a matter of course but their grandparents took as a luxury 60 years ago; and, of the things that people are doing but their parents did not know how to even attempt 30 years ago.

Soon enough, by 2020, as pledged by President Hu Jintao to the United Nations last week, China will prove itself as the world's largest and most rapidly growing developing economy to have significantly cut its carbon emissions.

But, all these are not just meant to showcase one's success. It is not just a parade. It is the Chinese people's march to their own future.

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