Despite a damaging year of trade tensions with the US and ongoing pro-democracy unrest in Hong Kong, China is preparing for a massive military parade on October 1 to mark 70 years of Communist rule in the country.
As the celebrations inch closer in Beijing, parts of the city have come to a standstill during the parade rehearsals. In addition, security in the region has been beefed up, access to foreign websites further impeded, and an air of anticipation and caution has settled over the city, reported Al Jazeera.
Moreover, public access to the festivities has been banned, with the exception of the civilians who are involved in the parade.
October 1 marks the founding of the People’s Republic of China by Mao Zedong after the Communists won the civil war in 1949 and defeated the nationalists.
However, Hong Kong on Tuesday said that it had planned to tone down Chinese National Day celebrations to avoid potentially chaotic disruptions by anti-government protesters in the city.
As a result, the guests attending the cocktail reception at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai have also been told that they will stay indoors to watch the live broadcast of flag-raising ceremony at the Golden Bauhinia Square waterfront.
Last week, the government also announced that the annual National Day fireworks would be cancelled due to the ongoing civil unrest.
Millions of supporters of the pro-democracy movement have taken to Hong Kong’s streets for the past three months in the biggest challenge to China’s rule since the city’s handover from Britain in 1997.
With very few having demands fulfilled, violent clashes across the semi-autonomous region have become more intense and frequent in recent weeks.
The protests were ignited by a now-aborted plan to allow extraditions to mainland China.