Police in Beijing to Clear Tiananmen Square For Centenary Run-Through

The rehearsals point to a centenary performance unseen in the city since the 70th anniversary of the People's Republic.
Police in Beijing to Clear Tiananmen Square For Centenary Run-Through Police officers keep watch in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, June 4, 2021, the 32nd anniversary of the deadly 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protests.

The ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) on Thursday issued plans for mass rehearsals of its July 1 centenary parade, cordoning off large swathes of downtown Beijing over the coming weekend.

The rehearsal will take place throughout June 12 and 13, taking up all of the area within a 500-meter radius of Tiananmen Square, the Beijing municipal police department said in a press release printed in full by the Beijing Daily newspaper.

"Vehicles and pedestrians are prohibited from the area, with the exception of vehicles and personnel with special permits for the exercise," the notice said. "No parking will be allowed."

Beijing Metro exits that fall within the area will also be shut off, it said.

Beijing dissident Zha Jianguo said most of the CCP's political focus in recent years has been on the centenary celebrations.

"There will be a mass staged event on Tiananmen Square of a kind not seen since the 70th anniversary celebrations of the founding of the People's Republic of China," Zha said.

"This has already begun with the drive to study CCP history last year," he said. "There has been mobilization of all organizations and media at all levels, on an unprecedented scale."

He said the CCP under general secretary Xi Jinping will be keen to make a display of unity in the face of worsening relations with the United States and its allies over Beijing's human rights record and an ongoing trade war.

"[The centenary] is important for consolidating the leadership of the party in a new Cold War era," Zha said.

Rounding people up

Beijing dissident Ji Feng said celebrations will also be held in other locations important to the history of the CCP, including Zunyi, Jinggangshan and Yan'an.

"The CCP veterans will all turn out on Tiananmen Gate," Ji said, referring to the podium overlooking Tiananmen Square above the portrait of late supreme leader Mao Zedong.

"There'll probably be a bunch of primary school students wearing red Youth League scarves and performing," he said. "They'll probably broadcast the whole thing live."

Police in Beijing have already begun detaining migrant workers and petitioners from temporary accommodation in the city's suburbs, local residents told RFA.

"The operation started on May 20, with a lot of people arrested," a resident of the southern district of Fengtai said.

"Police are going house to house looking for petitioners from other areas of China, at the request of the local police departments."

"They are also checking rental agencies and workplaces, and telling people that they have to go home, and that they can come back to Beijing after July 1 [when the centenary is over]," the resident said.

The preparations come after the CCP canceled a conference of prominent Maoist ideologists slated for May 16, the anniversary of the start of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), suggesting that CCP leader Xi Jinping is unwilling to allow the faction to increase its power base in a possible challenge to his "core" leadership.

While many commentators have noted an apparent shift towards political practises and ideological tropes that echo the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) under late supreme leader Mao Zedong in recent years, it appears that Xi is unwilling to allow actual Maoists free rein under his rule.

Authorities in the eastern province of Shandong are detaining Maoist activists ahead of the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) centenary celebrations on July 1, Taiwanese media reported.

Police in Shandong's Jining city are running a nationwide operation targeting leftwingers in a bid to "maintain stability" ahead of the politically sensitive anniversary in a largely secret operation that began on May 12.

Reported by Qiao Long for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


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