By now, everyone knows the 60th anniversary celebrations in China are going to be epic. Especially in Beijing, where no expense is going unspared in preparations for the big National Day parade and there will be more security precautions than during the Olympics. To say security is going to be tight is like calling the Three Gorges Dam a paddling pool. Beijing will be on lockdown and security in every Chinese city will be heightened. Hundreds of thousands of security guards and community volunteers will provide security in Beijing while roads to the capital will be checked, planes will be grounded during the parade itself, and travelers to Beijing will have to register as will all inbound buses. Residents living near Tiananmen will require special passes to travel through their neighborhoods and into their houses, can’t go out onto their balconies and can’t have friends over the day of the parade or the day before. The workers that did the ornate flower arrangements in the city center were all vetted beforehand. All ships bearing dangerous cargo will have to wait until October 10th to traverse the Three Gorges Dam. The homeless have been relocated and Tiananmen is being swept for bugs at night. Real bugs. Cockroaches and rats are being exterminated nightly. While this will no doubt be a joyous time – because you China, love time off work, or both – there are some things you will want to avoid doing during the Golden Week and some things you’ll want to prepare in advance to ensure a happy, harmonious week.
Those sensibly planning to stay indoors for the week can find the celebration’s timetable, and how to watch it online here. If you want to celebrate the Golden Week more actively, we’ve got a list of holiday activities across China here.
Silence is Golden, Golden Week Silence is Even More So
Do not mention the three Ts and the one FG. Don’t mention HR (doesn’t stand for human resources here). Don’t comment on Hu Jintao’s weight gain or how enormous his hair has become (they need all that gel to keep it in place while 150 planes zoom overhead. Don’t mention the Jackal (the DL, not the assassin from the Bourne movies). Traveling to T (the one where the DL used to live) will be off limits to foreigners. Foreigners who have already attained travel permits will still be allowed to go but will only be allowed to stay in state approved hotels and must be accompanied by tour guides.
Name, Rank Serial Number
Carry your passport. You’re supposed to do it all the time anyways but most expats don’t for fear of losing it. Carrying a copy isn’t going to be good enough if you’re stopped for a routine check (or because you’re carrying around a supersoaker or a flag for any country other than China) – leave the copy at home and carry the real deal. If you’re living here, do the same for your residency permit. If you’re in a hotel carry some record of that. The more documents the better. However, you don’t want to get the whole bunch lost or lifted – carry them in a money belt. If you want to keep them in your pocket, put them in a front pocket, never a back pocket. Make sure you have up-to-date photocopies of all documents and leave those in a secure place.
Is That a Banana in Your Pocket?
This should be obvious: this is not a good time to buy a bunch of fake guns for your young friends, or carry around your paintball gear or even your usual sword or numchuks. If pigeons are being grounded because “minibombs” might be strapped to their legs, you can imagine what will happen if you’re caught carrying around a fake grenade keychain.
Thanks to recent syringe attacks in Urumqi and Beijing, syringes are decidedly objets non grata. If you are a diabetic or traveling doctor, make sure you have some sort of explanation for why you’re armed with what is currently China’s least favorite medical implement.
Same thing if you’re a chef. In the aftermath of two stabbings in Beijing, knives are no longer on sale in department stores here. If you’re carrying around knife roll make sure you’ve got your tall white hat on.
There’s never a good time to be carrying around devices that look like bombs on public transportation but this has to be one of the worst. Anything containing a bunch of multi-colored wires and/or timers should be left at home until October 9th.
Stay Away From the Windows
A trio of Japanese journalists have already gotten in trouble for disobeying orders and filming from their balcony. Residents living in buildings that look out on the festivities have been ordered to keep their windows closed and stay off the balconies. This advice should also be paired with the previous one – hanging out your window Lee Harvey Oswald-style with a telescope, binoculars or anything that even resembles a rifle is going to be unpopular.
Stock Up on Food, Water, Electricity
Many stores will be closed for at least the first few days of the holiday as an estimated 64 million (a small fraction of the 200 million that head home during Spring Festival) travel home. Seeing as the tap water isn’t drinkable, make sure you’re good for bottled water. If you don’t like boiled water, stock up on extra bottles and make sure you have munchies as many stores and restaurants will be shuttered.
Make sure your electricity and gas are paid up. Although you can’t add money to your electric card in Beijing until it sinks below 90 credits, if the red numbers are showing on your electric meter you’ll want to add money; same with gas. With the huge homeward migration, national holiday days off work, and everyone glued to their TV sets watching the parade, paying your utilities is going to be nearly impossible. Phone cards are also worth buying if you’re running low.
Rain Dances: Don’t Do Them
China is going head to head with Mother Nature to ensure nothing rains on their parade. The Air Force has prepared 18 weather altering planes, 48 fog clearing vehicles and a bevy of soldiers at a Shanxi air base to run them all. You don’t want to get caught in the crossfire.
Birds, Kites, Cockroaches
Authorities are worried that merely grounding planes will not be enough to prevent airborne attacks. Pet pigeons and kites are forbidden to fly in Beijing during celebrations. A New York Times article revealed the amazing amount of security going into the preparations – apparently even the 60,000 pigeons that will be released officially as part of the ceremony being scrutinized: “’I don’t know what kind of stuff you have in New York,’ Mr. Dong said. “But people could strap all sorts of minibombs to pigeon legs.’”
Go Nowhere Fast
Beijing subway lines will be shut without warning; the Line 1 will definitely be shut the day of the parade as it’s used to transport parade participants. In other cities, influxes of travelers may slow things down, as will the increased security checks on public transport and main roads.
Chinese soldiers have gone through heavy duty preparations for the celebration – learning to hold their bladders for three hours, stand motionless without swaying and training to not blink for 40 seconds at a time. You should do the same: you’re not going to want to miss a single second of the 66 minute parade or the 33 minute fireworks celebration. After all, the 60th anniversary of a nation only comes once, and it’s a long five years to the 65th.
Holiday Events and Online TV Guide for National Day Parade
Practice for National Day Parade - Female Square-In Pictures
Unique hairstyles to mark the National Day
Beijing police start National Day night patrols
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As an American, I actually find Columbus Day a whole lot more ridiculous than Independence Day. Seeing as Columbus probably never made it to the US and left death and destruction in his wake. However, a lot of Chinese people need to learn to calm down about criticism -- perceived or otherwise. A country as powerful as China can afford to CHILL OUT and stop worrying about what people say about them. It only makes it worse.
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