As the United States government shutdown went into effect, China was, coincidentally, celebrating unity and its past and current leaders with a country-wide holiday.
The National Day of the People’s Republic of China, celebrated on Oct. 1 since 1949, is traditionally marked by carnivals, fireworks, parades and plenty of freshly-touched up portraits of Chairman Mao. The holiday kicks off one of China’s two “Golden Weeks,” government-mandated vacations that send tens of millions of Chinese home to their families for days of traffic-causing, shopping-sparking merriment.
To celebrate National Day, the Communist Party’s top leaders and military personnel gathered in Tiananmen Square today for a somewhat rainy flag-raising ceremony and to adorn monuments with flowers. “The nation has the confidence, conditions and ability to realize its main economic targets this year,” premier Li Keqiang said during a speech last night in Beijing.
China’s deep divisions remain in evidence amidst the celebrations. This is the 64th National Day, which means that the censors of China’s Great Firewall lifted their block of 64—a number often used to connote the Tiananmen Square deaths of June 4, 1989. Bloggers “jumped at the rare chance” to mention the number and offer online condolences to the victims, the South China Morning Post reported. In Hong Kong, there were anti-China and pro-democracy protests.
Visiting national monuments and places of tourist hotspots is a popular Golden Week activity, as witnessed in this picture from last year:
US national parks are closed right now due to the government shutdown.