Thursday, September 03, 2015

Ponderous parade

I don't know quite what to think about the big military parade in Beijing celebrating the end of the Chinese People's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War (the war's official name in China) seventy years ago, the PRC's fourteenth such parade and the first to mark this anniversary. I watched it live on my computer, while a friend in Shanghai watched it on TV. In real time one was struck by what a People's Daily tweet (source of my first three pictures) quipped was an Eye feast for those with OCD, synchronized phalanxes who've rehearsed for weeks and were calibrated by satellite! I don't know for military parades; I gather this was a Stalinist kind but western observers see something less anti-fascist. What struck me, besides the incongruity of such a big show of military might as earnest of one's commitment to memory and peace (a gesture most other countries invited to join declined to participate in), was how constrained it was. Between set pieces there was silence. No cheering, waving crowds - in fact Beijingers who lived and worked along the parade route had been told not to watch from windows or balconies, but to watch it on TV! Later my friend showed me a post someone had sent around, expressing pride in the spectacular parade of troops, weaponry, aircraft; the only pity, it observed, was that the international contingent didn't include participants from India. Here are some of the photos from that post...

Update, 6 Sep: There were moving moments in Beijing, too, of course. especially the many open-topped vehicles full of war veterans at the very start of the parade, and the release of balloons at the end, in the same cheerful primary colors as the official audience's caps (picture from here). But it's striking that all the pictures from the parade I can find, on Chinese as well as western sites, focus on the machines and machine-like marchers: I can't find a single picture of the veterans!

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