A military parade marking the 70th anniversary of China’s foundation started at 10 a.m. on last Tuesday at Tiananmen Square in central Beijing. Foreign journalists including this reporter gathered at the Media Center in western Beijing after undergoing the first security inspection at around 4:30 a.m., or about five and a half hours before the parade began. The reporters arrived at Chenmen near Tiananmen Square around 6 a.m. after traveling through a road that was completely empty due to traffic restrictions in the dark. Passing a second security check was mandatory before moving to the forefront of the Square, the site of the military parade.
Reporters from China’s state-run media outlets including the People’s Daily and Xinhua News Agency gathered at the Media Center at 11 p.m. on the previous day. Those reporters arrived at the Tiananmen Square area around 1:30 a.m. on Tuesday. Soldiers who participated in the parade had already gathered at Changan Road, which is linked to Tiananmen Square. They spent awake all night on the street but looked excited.
Chinese citizens this reporter encountered onsite before the parade’s opening also looked exuberant. More than 30,000 spectators, who had been selected from different regions across China and given a chance to witness the historic parade in person, already arrived at the site early in the morning. It was the Chinese people’s dream to watch in person a “strong military of their fatherland” at Tiananmen Square.
Patriotism, in which “unity of the people” is considered to be of utmost importance, is thriving across China. “Me and My Fatherland,” a patriotic movie that was released at cinemas during the National Day holiday (October 1 – 7) across China, has become a box office hit. Nationalism dubbed “great reconstruction of the Chinese people” is buttressing patriotism in the movie. Patriotism per se should not be criticized. However, critics even within China have raised concerns that China is concurrently realizing the heavy responsibility weighing on the country as a superpower.
“If nationalism is mistreated, it can transform into chauvinism. Notably, if a country has history of being invaded and colonized or is in dispute over sovereignty, nationalism could end up doing harm on others (in an unimaginable way),” Professor Wang Yizhou at Beijing University said in an interview. “Good diplomacy should always be built on the basis of good public administration and good society.” He promoted “society of virtue,” whose conditions he says include a society where people are more open and devoid of a sense of belligerence.
Wan-Jun Yun firstname.lastname@example.org