China’s capital was wrapped in tight security and thick fog yesterday as police blocked off Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and other popular tourist landmarks ahead of a massive parade marking 60 years of communist rule.
Many tourist spots, hotels, restaurants and shops in central Beijing had already been closed ahead of today’s celebrations, which are expected to rival last year’s Olympic opening ceremony.
The Forbidden City and the Great Hall of the People were shut along with many businesses located on Changan Street, the major boulevard that runs east-west through the city, including the Raffles and Beijing hotels, supermarkets, Starbucks coffee shops, tiny mom-and-pop noodle stalls and tourist boutiques.
Armed pairs of helmeted SWAT police stood guard beside armored vehicles at many intersections along Changan, while underground, subway riders passed through metal detectors and had their bags scanned.
State media said most of the subway stations in the Tiananmen area were to be closed late yesterday or early today.
A heavy fog lay over the city — threatening to diminish the planned fighter jet flyovers and fireworks display. The official Xinhua news agency quoted the Beijing Meteorological Station as saying 18 planes were on standby to clear the air with cloud-seeding, which is believed to induce rain showers, if it was deemed necessary.
Similar actions were undertaken last year during the Olympic Games, when Beijing fired off 1,100 silver iodide rockets to disperse rain on the eve of the opening ceremony. Chinese officials said the rockets succeeded in holding off a rain belt that threatened to reach the capital and drench the ceremony.
International scientists say there has never been proof that such methods produce results.
Rehearsals in the past few weeks have included jets and helicopters flying in formation over the city, releasing streams of red, blue and yellow smoke as they pass by.
Primarily a chance to showcase the country’s might with a massive military parade, the celebrations are to include a “civilian parade” with about 100,000 people taking part and 60 floats. Tens of thousands of doves, 5,000 balloon-toting children and a chorus of thousands are to be part of the show, Xinhua said.
The scale of the event reflects strong nationalist feelings among many Chinese, who feel proud of the country’s achievements since the People’s Republic was founded in 1949 — a transformation from an impoverished, war-wracked country to an economic and diplomatic power.
Beijing resident Cui Jin, 65, said she felt the elaborate display of military power was an appropriate way to mark the anniversary.
“If we do not have a strong defense army or a very capable People’s Army, how can we have peace and security?” she said.
Few other details have been given on the schedule for the celebrations, but a keynote address from President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) is expected, followed by the two parades. Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou (張藝謀), who directed the opening and closing ceremonies for the Beijing Olympics, will oversee the evening fireworks display.
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
WARNINGS OVER COMPLACENCY: The curves of new infections in numerous countries is climbing, while others see the the first new infections in months Spikes in COVID-19 infections in Asia have dispelled any notion that the region might be over the worst, with Australia and India yesterday reporting record daily infections, Vietnam fretting over a new surge and North Korea urging vigilance. Asian nations had largely prided themselves on rapidly containing initial outbreaks after the coronavirus emerged in central China late last year, but flare-ups this month have shown the danger of complacency. “We’ve got to be careful not to slip into some idea that there’s some golden immunity that Australia has in relation to this virus,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters. Australia recorded its
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
The Australian government yesterday said that it plans to give Google and Facebook three months to negotiate with media businesses fair pay for news content. In releasing a draft of a mandatory code of conduct, Canberra aims to succeed where other nations have failed in making tech firms pay for news siphoned from commercial media companies. Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that Google and Facebook would be the first platforms targeted by the proposed legislation, but others could follow. “It’s about a fair go for Australian news media businesses, it’s about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection and a sustainable