These days in Beijing, grandmas and grandpas perched on the pavements on green stools provided by the government, are watching your every step.
“We’re old but we proudly contribute when the community needs us,’’ Teng Shu Ting, 72, the leader of a group of security volunteers wearing red armbands, told the Hindustan Times. “We’ll look for anything unsafe.’’
China’s capital is under a lockdown more secure than that of the Olympics last year. On the Republic’s 60th anniversary on October 1, the world’s biggest army will rollout 108 upgraded missiles including nuclear missiles, tanks, radars, satellites and 52 new weapons on the Avenue of Eternal Peace leading to Tiananmen Square.
A top Communist Party official has called the security campaign a ‘people’s war’. A million volunteers — collegians and senior citizens — in orange T-shirts or plainclothes will be the eyes and ears of the police.
They will join armed commandoes on streets already equipped with surveillance cameras, in readiness for October 1 when even pet pigeons will be ordered caged. Residents on the parade route will not be allowed to open windows or stand on balconies.
An old and unwell cardiac patient was on duty when HT visited Teng’s street-watch where wine and cigarette stores were decked with red flags. The frail retirees are useful guards who know their neighbourhoods since the streets were alleys with traditional courtyard houses.
Shen Lan Fen, 63, wears her string of pearls on pavement duty. “I can’t describe how different Beijing was 10 years ago,’’ she gushed, referring to the last parade in 1999 when they had also guarded the streets.
“China’s 60 years were characterised by a strong sense of insecurity and victimhood,’’ says political scientist Wang Zhengxu. Today, the grannies exude confidence. Kang Shu Qing, 63, raised her fist and grinned: The nation is strong!’’