01 October 2009

Six Decades of Blood, Sweat and Tears 六十年的血淚

My brothers and I visited Beijing a few months ago. The capital city, draped in fall foliage, was magnificent, graceful and brimming with pride. Beneath the veneer of quiet confidence, however, were signs of a city frantically preparing itself for an extravaganza. Every 1 October, the Communist Party goes all out to put on a show to celebrate the anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic. Central to the festivities is a massive military parade, followed by an evening of lavish fireworks and staged performances.

Modern China is now a superpower 

As our taxi sailed past Tiananmen Square, face-lifted for the occasion with giant LCD screens and slogan banners, we spotted convoys of military vehicles docked by the roadside after a day of grueling rehearsals. In a few days, rocket launchers and tanks would rumble down Chang An Avenue (長安街), a scene that most of us associate only with North Korea, Iran and the former Soviet Union...


Read the rest of this article in No City for Slow Men, published by Blacksmith Books, available at major bookstores in in Hong Kong and at Blacksmith Books.


  1. rita veronica leungOctober 1, 2009 at 6:02 AM

    great article, wat a dog day will be today!!!!!! may mao never rip!!

  2. Just finished reading your article (got lots of your prose to catch up on) and the poignancy, the reality, brought tears into my eyes before I choked them back.

    So very very real - despite all the apparent economic advancements, is the brainwashing and curtailing of human liberty every going to stop?

    And yet perhaps we should be proud that we, each of us, as part of a nation, has been stsrong enough to withstand all the atrocities and is still striving to thrive?!


  3. Just read your article! another awesome article!!


  4. rita veronica leungOctober 1, 2009 at 11:46 PM

    I see only aristocrat communists as politicians and corruption, they sent their offsprings to the big world and taken away all their money from bribery , never go back and serve their country while a large percentage of the population remained uneducated with no integrity or morals.
    Will u write an article of the results of 1968 french student rebellion and the student rebellion on 6th of july? i think it will be great! what a good comparision!!

  5. Thanks, Christine. I am glad the article was able to move you.

    Keep reading!


  6. Thanks, Rita, for your comments. Perhaps I will write about the French student movements on the next June 4 anniversary.


  7. Hi Jason,

    Loved the article. Beautifully written. I've read "Mao: The untold story", and it almost drove me to tears sometimes, the selfishness of the man.

    Sending grain to africa when his own people were dying of hunger? He was trying to be the big man of the international stage., and let 30 million of his own die.

    They do have to learn for the future. I've been to China a few times (and Hong Kong loads), but I'll always be wary until they take down Maos' portrait.

    He is nothing to celebrate.


    (oh I read 'Wild Swans' and 'Life and Death in Shanghai' and a few other books about the cultural revolution too! So I'm not just saying an opinion based on one book)

  8. First I want to comment that I am a very liberal Chinese American and also an anthro grad. student. I am not a Mao apologist for I know he made many mistakes BUT would Chiang Kai-shek's Kuomintang (KMT) done any better job? I don't see Tawain as some exemplar of democracy! Yes Mao was an "idealist" and there were many tragic and unnecessary deaths. One might even argue he was a beast, but he fought off the Japanese, warloads, and united China. He made Mandarin assessible to all. Yeah the Cultural Revolution was koo koo move but some of those elitist Chinese had to be purged! One has to ask is China a better place because of him overall.-hmmmm... a tentative ...Yes
    China is still very flawed but it is better because of Mao. I had the chance to meet some of those very elite Chinese families who fled Mao's China to go to the USA and they are quite icky. Do we really want the old guard of China still running the show?
    Is China a human rights basket case that makes America capital punishment record look good- yes. China is a corrupt space with officials taking brides right and left. The sweatshops of young migrant girls break my heart. The story of Mao is not black and white......
    it really depends on where on the grid you are in terms of judging him--

  9. Thanks, Alan, for the heartfelt comment. I often find novels or biographies based on the Cultural Revolution too depressing to read. They also scare me because of what they suggest about human nature.

  10. Thanks, Jenny, for the contrarian view. I don't know who was responsible for fighting off the Japanese -- many argue it was the KMT aided by the Americans. In any event, I would not compare the arrogance of "icky" elitist Chinese to the human toll Mao's policies and political sleight-of-hand had caused.

  11. I enjoyed reading every bit of your article once again. It's a bitter sweet feeling to see how far our mother country has come and how much more it has to go through to bring itself to the same level as other developed countries. Only by looking at our past can one measure how far they have pulled itself together. Its rich history whether be good or bad, is what makes this middle kingdom unique and for that I am proud to be Chinese.

  12. One plausible reason for the low response rate to this article, perhaps,is the lack of trust, if not deep-rooted fear, implanted since the cultural revolution against the PRC government.

    What if something I said before, could be used as 'evidence' for sentence in future ?

    Is there ever genuine freedom of speech in this pseudo-democratic ex-British colony ?

    And so I said it, is there any difference ? where's the impact ?

    HK is a super utilitarian society. In face of personal safety & interest, sadly enough, the morally brave souls are the pathetic, if not idiotic minority.

  13. a great reflection. forgetting our past, we will also be forgotten soon.

  14. Great article. Wonder when and how Red China will come to terms with her own history and realize there was nothing to celebrate about...


  15. Turn the clock back it? How the 60th anniversary of the founding of New China, the ceremony still assemble with a "Long Live Mao Zedong Thought" totem? For three decades, Mao Tse-tung in order to weave the lives of the people of the bloodiest in the history of a sweater, he should put himself to hell.