Thursday, 1 October 2009
Today marks the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China (PRC), a birthday which is culturally seen by the Chinese to be particularly significant. It is needless to say then that the celebrations will take place with military precision; something synonymous with the Chinese regime since the 2008 Olympics.
But the excessive security seen last summer could be stepped up even further for this years parade. Twitter and Facebook have been blocked and those living along the parade route were told that they could be shot if they stood on their balcony or even opened their window. Despite all this the parade, like the Olympics, should be nothing short of spectacular. With participants ranging from squadrons of jet pilots to students holding placards; this years parade will be the largest ever. China will also be showing off their new military hardware to which experts around the world will look forward to with baited breath.
All of this sounds very Satlin-esque and many commentators are likening the Chinese regime to the Soviet Union which collapsed in the early 1990s based on tell-tale signs of decline such as corruption, social discontent, autocracy and increasing militarisation. This may all be true to varying degrees but there has been no sign of major protest in China since the Tiananmen protests of 1989. Instead Communist China appears to have made great steps forward in its 60 years. Life expectancy has doubled with better healthcare available and China's ever growing university system now has 20.2 million students in higher education. Admittedly by global standards China is still a poor country with 207 million people living below the World Bank Poverty line but the central government is making efforts in this area.
Another way in which the PRC is different to the USSR is economically. Whilst the Soviets remained isolated in terms of the global economy, China has cemented its place at the centre of the financial world since joining the World Trade Organisation eight years ago and has recently proved itself by being the first country to pull through the global recession. Boasting foreign exchange reserves of $2 trillion, China would be the last country you would bet on having a financial meltdown.
China has achieved this bed of stability through its own flexible brand of Leninism known as the Beijing Consensus. Whilst Mao Zedong would perhaps have more than a few complaints if he came back to modern day China, he would no doubt be happy with the standing of his PRC on the world stage and the inevitable progress it will make in the future.