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October 1, 2008 in The China Beat


Copyright October 1, 2008. Used by permission.


Few Westerners will take note that this week it is time to celebrate Chinese revolutions. October 1 will be the 59th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China (celebrated as National Day). Ten days later, on October 10, Taiwan celebrates its National Day (also known as Double Ten Day, and on its 97th go-round). On the mainland, Double Tens is used as an opportunity to commemorate the uprising that overthrew the Qing Dynasty, though not the Republic that followed it. Of course, which one you celebrate depends on location and political leaning, but either way early October is clearly a time for revolutions.

Even so, these aren’t the Chinese revolutions that matter in the West. Never mind that the Wuchang Uprising of 1911 is China’s Boston Tea Party, nor that 1949 marked the beginning of the greatest increases in rural stability in modern Chinese history (not to overlook the violence of the Mao Era, but in the spirit of early October, we’ll focus on triumphal history for the moment). The Chinese revolution that Westerners want to talk about is a failed one—the 1989 student uprising.