#Open journalism No news is bad news

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support The Journal
Dublin: 7°C Friday 15 January 2021

In pics: Huge parade at Tiananmen Square but Beijing residents barred from watching

The spectacle involved more than 12,000 troops, 500 pieces of military hardware and 200 aircraft of various types.

Image: AP/Press Association Images

IT WAS THE best of shows, it was the worst of shows: as 12,000 troops and hundreds of tanks and missiles rolled through Tiananmen Square in front of invited guests and foreign leaders, Beijing residents were barred from watching.

Barricades were set up hundreds of metres from the parade marking 70 years since Japan’s World War II defeat, and squads of police and blue-shirted volunteers blocked access to the deserted streets.

China Parade Source: AP/Press Association Images

Residents whose homes overlooked the route itself were ordered not to go onto their balconies or even open their windows.

Crowds of around a hundred citizens gathered at intersections to try to catch a glimpse of the hardware as it rolled by in the distance, but were disappointed.

China Parade Source: Mark Schiefelbein

“Of course I’m proud, I’m Chinese,” translator Zhao Yufeng told AFP. “But I think more people would feel more involved if we could see the soldiers and tanks.”

Instead most watched the live broadcast on mobile phones, as the city took on an atmosphere of years past, with residents sitting out on the streets chatting or playing cards.

China Parade A military band performs prior to the start of a parade commemorating the 70th anniversary of Japan's surrender during World War II Source: AP/Press Association Images

A man in his 20s surnamed Guo said he understood the need for security, but was sceptical of the authorities’ handling of the event.

“We’ve been brainwashed from such a young age to hate Japanese, we call them ghosts, so it’s easy for the leadership to justify a massive show of force today,” he said.

China Parade Source: AP/Press Association Images

But as President Xi Jinping began speaking, Guo cut the live broadcast and pocketed his smartphone. “He’s not going to say anything interesting,” he said.

China Parade Source: Ng Han Guan

For some, the parade restrictions were an expensive imposition.

Wang Xingyu and his wife have a noodle shop close to the parade route and sleep in a room behind the kitchen. They only go home to visit their families in the mountainous northern province of Shaanxi once a year.

They are open seven days a week, but their hard work has been interrupted by the commemorations, which saw them forced to close for two days.

China Parade Source: AP/Press Association Images

“We’re losing money and no one cares about us,” Wang said, visibly flustered. “Maybe if we could open, people would come, eat and they could watch theparade on our television.

“Instead, everyone is just standing around here with nothing to do,” he added. “And we can’t even see anything!”

Read: Millions of Chinese people will soon hear about how great Ireland is>

About the author:


Read next: