How nationalism in today’s China is far from monolithic – Chang Che
71 years ago, at 3pm on October 1 1949, Mao Zedong stood at a podium above Tiananmen square to found the People’s Republic of China. Soldiers in pine-green tunics marched across the square in triumphant celebration of victory in the Chinese civil war, four years after Japanese occupation ended. Now the anniversary is commemorated with a military parade, nighttime firework displays, and an extended national holiday called “Golden week.” Yet October 1, National Day, is not fully analogous to a day of independence. It commemorates not a nation’s birth, but a nation under new management — that of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
After seven decades, the Party has undergone a marked transformation. Once a fledgling faction with revolutionary ambitions, it is now a ruling party that detests radicalism and claims exclusive representation over the interests of the Chinese people. National Day is an occasion for patriotic festivities, yet hides within it a hidden premise: by presenting an anniversary for the Party as one for the country, it implies the nation and the Party are one and the same.