This is a copy of the South China Morning Post on October 1st, 2009, sixty years after the founding of the People’s Republic of China. The mood is generally (and vastly) positive. It’s the sixtieth anniversary — a very important anniversary in Chinese culture — since Mao declared the founding of the PRC in Beijing, announcing the end of decades of political instability (perhaps breaking for more socio-economic instability in the next two decades…).
In the special insert published by the SCMP, you could notice full-page ads by local Hong Kong companies, many of which are property firms with many main projects now in Mainland China. I did not have time to read the entire newspaper, but there was an opinion editorial by former Hong Kong governor Chris Patten, criticizing the legacy of Mao Zedong.
On my way to where I was staying, on Hong Kong Island, I passed the Harbour area at Admiralty (Kum Chong) and Wan Chai, and saw fireworks reflecting on the windows of skyscrapers. When I arrived at my relatives’ home, they were watching the coverage of the big show in the capital Beijing. The setups were attractive and reminiscent of those shown during the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony (I guess they figured it might be nice to use that technique of luminous human wave). No big surprise: Zhang Yimou, the film director behind the Beijing opening, is also behind National Day celebration.
For the duration of the show, we were trying to guess what Chinese leaders were shown at the camera. Yes, there was a huge amount of face-giving, or rather TV-time face-giving, to China’s present and past leaders. So, we saw a lot of Hu Jintao, who looked like he was sweating badly, Jiang Zemin, who we saw closing his eyes a couple of times (he ain’t a spring lamb no more), and former Premiers Zhu Rongji (now greyish) and probably Li Peng (serving during 1989). Awkward moment: these same leaders in full-clad suits dancing along the show’s ending song.