Sleeping giant is very wide awake

BEIJING - After weeks of its expectant streets being resplendent in red flags everywhere, Beijing has finally delivered a spectacle rich in political meaning for the developing world and for old power structures.

BEIJING - After weeks of its expectant streets being resplendent in red flags everywhere, Beijing has finally delivered a spectacle rich in political meaning for the developing world and for old power structures.

China celebrated the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic with a street parade of military stock packaged to showcase its place as a new technology seedbed and an inspiration to developing countries.

In effect, China celebrated two sets of 30 years each. The first is Mao Ze Dong's communist takeover that ushered in the People's Republic of China in 1949.

The second celebration, born out of the weapons on display, the new cities and rapid catching up with the best technological advances in the West, celebrated Deng Xiaoping's vision of allowing what authorities here call "a market economy in a socialist country".

Judging by the enthusiasm in the streets it is doubtful if ordinary people were bothered by whether their new-found place in the world was as a result of the "market economy" or "socialism".

While the foreign, mostly western Europe and North American media that is here has homed in on its hobby horse, highlighting what they see as the Communist state's emphasis on security issues, there could be no denying that China has demonstrated that it is the new power to be reckoned with.

Foreign media agents reported that the police have for weeks been checking traffic entering the capital.

Residents along the parade route were ordered not to open their windows during the event and even the city's airport will shut for the parade.

According to them, beggars and the homeless have been cleared out and knife sales temporarily banned in some stores after two stabbings near Tiananmen Square, while even the flying of pigeons and kites had been ruled out.

The government's decision to ship in foreign media to witness the extravaganza was met with usual cynicism, especially because it focused on the state's achievements and said little about the country's challenges.

But the defence capabilities on display and the thousands of young and old citizens who took part in the celebrations and the ordinary people who lined the streets suggested that locals possibly understood their country differently from what the West thought.

But whatever anyone thinks, after yesterday China's message is clear. Its time has come.

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