An upcoming military parade celebrating the 70th anniversary of China’s victory over Japan in World War II, scheduled for Sept. 3 in Beijing, will feature over 10,000 troops marching in goosestep down Beijing’s central causeways. Tanks, artillery, and ballistic missile launchers will join them, under a blue sky patrolled by jet fighters and made free of smog thanks to draconian civil measures implemented this August specially for the event.
Forces from Russia, Cuba, Mexico, and a few other countries will also attend.
Authorities in the Chinese capital and surrounding provinces have spared little effort preparing for the event. But the measures taken to ensure clear skies and maximum security have drawn criticism for the heavy-handed constraints they place on local residents and business.
Auto traffic, flight bookings, retail, and industrial production have all been curtailed.
Commenting on the excessive regulations, one netizen said it was as though “the Japanese devils had come to town” rather than a celebration.
Controlling for Blue Skies
While Victory Day on Sept. 3 is already a national holiday, Sept. 4 and 5 have also been declared holidays this year, with work resuming on Sept. 6, a Saturday, state-run Xinhua reported.
Dozens of main streets that run through core of Beijing around Tiananmen Square are being closed down for the exclusive use of the parade, as reported by state-run China News Service. At the same time, authorities in six provinces surrounding Beijing are clamping down on traffic and industry to create smog-free skies. The exercise has been termed Military March Blue by regime mouthpieces.
A report by Henan Province’s state-run Yingxiang Net reported that starting Aug. 20, authorities in Beijing and the provinces of Hebei, Tianjin, Shanxi, Shandong, Inner Mongolia, and Henan, would limit the use of motor vehicles to certain days depending on one’s license plate number.
Beijing officials mandated that the provinces, which contain hundreds of millions of people, reduce their carbon emissions by 40 percent starting Aug. 28, Yingxiang Net reported. Aside from traffic controls, manufacturing, and processing industries have been cut sharply. In Hebei Province, with over 70 million people, local authorities have banned outdoor cooking from Aug. 28 to Sept. 4.
In Henan Province, Yingxiang Net reported 180,000 substandard cars have been prohibited from the streets altogether for the better part of August.
Provincial authorities in Shandong have ordered that air pollution be cut by 30 percent, according to a Aug. 5 report by state-run Dazhong Net. Between Aug. 28 and Sept. 4, a total of 2,831 of various companies in Shandong will cease operations.
Expatriate Chinese commentator Chang Ping wrote that the suspension of nearly 9,000 northern Chinese companies is like “adding hail to snow” for an already struggling economy.
Similar measures were implemented last November during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Beijing, bringing about a “rarely-seen blue sky, the so-called APEC Blue,” state-run People’s Daily Net reported. The regulations reportedly cost businesses and workers billions of dollars.
The Internet is also receiving more scrutiny. On Aug. 25, a user called “Beidaijin” explained in a blog post that due to increased efforts by Chinese cybersecurity agents, access to VPNs and other censorship-circumvention techniques would be curtailed during the Victory Day celebration period.
Ostensibly to ensure security during the event, regime authorities have instituted a “real-name” registration system for parcel delivery in western China’s Xinjiang region, which is home to China’s Uyghur Muslim minority ethnic group. According to Radio Free Asia, a postal worker in the regional capital of Urumqi confirmed the policy and revealed that parts of Tibet have suspended postal service altogether.
Chang Ping wrote that the “real-name” registration system, required of Chinese citizens who wish to use the Internet or purchase ordinary items such as kitchen knives and cold medicine, was now extended even to restaurant meals, ostensibly to increase security during the parade rehearsals.
“The local police station required diners to show their identification cards, register their ID numbers, full names, and mobile telephone numbers before placing an order,” he wrote. “The idea of a real-name registration for ordering a meal is a joke no more.”