On October 1, China stopped to watch in awe as its country celebrated 60 years of communism with the spectacular National Day Parade.
While 100,000 marchers, aircraft fly-overs, giant floats, fireworks and nuclear missiles are bound to make any parade a hit, Crikey has done some digging and found how much effort really goes into such an event.
Event planners, PR firms, government spinners and corporate communicators take note: here’s the Chinese government’s top 10 tips on how to pull together a major media event free of any negative coverage:
1. Cancel or reschedule all flights to and from airport: From 9:30am on the day of the parade, the Beijing Capital Airport was closed for three hours, affecting thousands of potential passengers on almost 200 flights.
2. Issue security passes to all residents in the immediate and surrounding areas: Back in August, some 10,000 residents living near Tiananmen Square were issued with the security passes needed to enter and leave their local area during the lead-up to, and duration of, the festivities.
3. Imprison all residents along parade route: Those living on the parade route who declined official requests to move out of their homes during the anniversary parade were issued with the following notice:
No visitors from 4pm Sep 30, to 12pm Oct 1. Windows shut and no going out on balconies from 7am to noon on parade day.
4. Manually modify the weather to ensure clear skies: In the days leading up to the event, the air force of China’s People’s Liberation Army sprayed “environmentally friendly” rain-inducing chemicals on the dark clouds looming over Beijing. The result:
Clear blue (grey) skies.
5. Attack foreign media with a computer virus: According to Reuters, a virus infected email from “an economics editor named Pam Bouron” requesting help organising interviews in Beijing, was sent to various news organisations in the lead-up to the event. “There is definitely a pattern of virus attacks in the run-up to important dates on the Chinese political calendar,” says Nicholas Bequelin, of Human Rights Watch in Hong Kong.
6. Ban the flying of pigeons: Because grounding planes wasn’t enough, China also banned the flying of pigeons, kites and balloons during the parade.
7. Relocate, detain and re-educate petitioners: In the weeks leading up to the celebrations, plain clothes police reportedly began relocating petitioners in Beijing back to their home towns. According to one petitioner, the police “will take you away and beat you up, and send you to re-education classes. Yesterday there were 2000 petitioners at the Bureau of Letters and Visits, and they were all sent away.” Watch the report here.
8. Build a “security moat”: Before the event, several municipalities, provinces and an autonomous region around Beijing joined to form a “security moat” aimed at keeping the city safe during the anniversary festivities. The “moat” includes security check-points on all roads leading into the nation’s capital.
9. Eradicate all mosquitoes, rats, flies and cockroaches: In an effort to eliminate pests, four “night-time extermination sweeps” were conducted around Tiananmen Square and banners were hung asking locals to “Eradicate the four pests, stress hygiene. Cleanly, cleanly welcome National Day!”
According to disease prevention and control official Zeng Xiaofan, “Rats could eat electric cables and mosquitoes could bite and annoy people gathering in the [Tiananmen] square on October 1 to celebrate the 60th anniversary.”
10. Tell your countrymen (and women) not to attend: According to a spokesperson at the parade press office, the general public were not permitted to attend the event. Instead, citizens were advised to watch the parade at home on television. Even those living on the parade route were advised to watch their televisions rather than look out the window.
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