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October 7, 2009 in The China Beat


Copyright October 7, 2009. Used by permission.


Now that the celebration is over and China has celebrated its 60th anniversary, we thought we would point out some of the National Day media coverage that caught our eye:

1. China Digital Times directed us to The Guardian, which posted this wonderful time-lapse video of the parade in Beijing; watch the day’s highlights in under four minutes!

2. Yale University’s Kang Zhengguo wrote this piece for the New York Times op-ed page, in which he reflects on his own National Day experiences over the span of five decades. While Kang marched as a Young Pioneer in the 1959 National Day-10th anniversary parade, during the following decade he would come to view National Day from quite a different perspective:

It was on the eve of another National Day, in 1968, that the security police suddenly arrested me and put me in a detention center without any explanation. During interrogation, I found out that my “crime” was related to a letter I had written a year before to the Moscow University Library, requesting a copy of “Dr. Zhivago,” which was banned in China as counterrevolutionary. The police had intercepted the letter and had been monitoring me for quite some time.

I was sentenced to three years of re-education in a labor camp, where I spent two National Days behind bars. On those days, prisoners were granted a reprieve from working in the fields. National Day was a holiday for the guards, who simply locked us inside while they went home. We were able to enjoy a day without supervision. More important, every prisoner would get a few morsels of pork in his meal, which normally featured half-rotten vegetables, thin corn gruel and steamed corn buns.

So while the whole country was involved in the Oct. 1 celebration, we huddled together inside our cells, chatting and playing cards, a rare break from the daily grind of hard labor. The parade, the fireworks and the slogan shouting seemed as remote as a half-forgotten dream.