“Tongzhou… Shit. I’m still only in Tongzhou.”
September 3rd 2015 is an important date for China. It commemorates 70 years since they single-handedly won the Second World War by punching Japan in the ball-sack. If you missed that little slice of history then that puts you on par with pretty much everyone outside of China, but in fairness to the Chinese government it’s no worse than Spielberg’s D Day, where Americans storm the beaches of Normandy with absolutely no assistance from other Allied nations, or that movie about how awful the Asian Tsunami of 2004 was for a family of white people.
Celebrations are taking place in the form of a parade. Thousands of soldiers will march through the streets of Beijing as military aircraft take part in a majestically choreographed display of nationalist dick-swinging, Putin-style.*
Where in Beijing is the best place to watch this patriotic event? Well, if you hoped to watch it in, say, the streets of Beijing (where, let’s be absolutely clear, the event is taking place), you are shit out of luck, friend. You can’t. The streets of Beijing are closed. There’s a parade on.
Apparently, the best view you will have of it is at home in your living room, waving a red and gold flag in front of the state-sponsored television.
The Beijinger magazine is already calling it ‘the anti-fun parade’, which sounds like a pretty accurate description to me: having recently seen so many helicopter gunships swoop through domestic airspace that I feared either an international diplomatic clusterfuck or an illegal Chinese knock-off of Apocalypse Now.
The military is looked on with reverence here. ‘Military chic’ is always in fashion, and anyone from a plastic-gun toting kid to a wooden-cane toting codger can be seen wearing a red star on their green t-shirt or a big blue security force jacket (which is why one should always be suspicious if one is stopped by a ‘security official’ or a ‘soldier’) The people of China tend to shower their military folk with respect and accolades, which comes as something of a shock to me because the people of the UK usually just shower squaddies with rocks and ‘c’ words.
So, from which vantage point will I be be viewing this yawn-inducing spectacle of nationalist shite? The same one as always: the barred windows of a Tongzhou teaching centre classroom, trying to explain to some kid in a camouflage t-shirt that ‘crocodile’ does not count as a ‘qu’ word…
*(anyone who enjoys riding shirtless on horses while wrestling polar bears that much has issues. Stubby, needle-dicked, latent homosexuality issues).