Beijing braces for lockdown ahead of Chinese military parade

  • Sutirtho Patranobis, Hindustan Times, Beijing
  • Updated: Sep 03, 2015 21:44 IST
Chinese troops practice marching ahead of a September 3 military parade at a camp on the outskirts of Beijing. China is ramping up publicity for its World War II military parade featuring 12,000 soldiers and 500 pieces of military equipment. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Beijing, a city of around 21 million people, is grinding towards a lockdown in the run-up to the mega military parade on Thursday that will see 30 heads of states looking on as 12,000 Chinese soldiers march to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of Japanese occupation and World War II.

At least 200 fighter jets will be roaring above and thousands of military equipment including nuclear missiles on military trucks and 500 military vehicles will roll down the iconic Tiananmen Square in the heart of Beijing as part of the parade–as part of Beijing’s show of military strength, according to some experts, aimed at Japan with which it continues to have hostile relations.

Ten countries including Pakistan have sent military contingents–adding up to 1000 troops–to take part in the parade.

State newspapers, television and websites have been filled with stories, photos and documentaries about Japanese atrocities during its eight-year occupation between 1937 and 1945. Graphic details have been put out about war crimes said to have been committed Japanese soldiers.

A Reuters report said Japanese citizens in China were apprehensive about anti-Japanese sentiment spilling over into the street like it did in 2012 when tension between the two countries was running over disputed islands in East China Sea. One Japanese resident of Shanghai was quoted as saying that she is not likely to venture out on Thursday.

For millions of Beijing residents that is probably the only option as well on September 3, declared a national holiday.

In the next two days, transportation systems including the subway system in Beijing will be shut down or restricted, important thoroughfares will be out of bounds, shops and offices along the Chang’an Avenue–Beijing’s signature road that leads to the Tiananmen Square–have been shut down and on Thursday, Beijing’s airports will be shut down for about four hours.

Posters and banners about the celebrations have been out in cities across China; in Beijing they can be seen everywhere. The national anthem is being played out in localities through loudspeakers. Elderly volunteers wearing red armbands have fanned out in neighbourhoods to keep watch for any suspicious activity.

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