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Talking Points: September 9 - 23, 2009

Talking Points this week looks at China's national day celebrations between 1949 and 1969 and lists China-related events across North America.
September 10, 2009

USC U.S.-China Institute Weekly Newsletter

Talking Points
September 9 - 23, 2009

October 1st is China’s national day and this year marks the 60th anniversary since the 1949 founding of the People’s Republic. In Chinese culture, 60 has long been seen as a special

Tang Guoqiang is Mao and Zhang Ziyi (center, back) is a women's representative in The Founding (China Film Group)

milestone and in earlier times a person’s 60th birthday was the first one celebrated by one’s family. So it is no surprise that this year’s national day is receiving particular attention.

Forty “tribute films” began screening on August 20. Jianguo daye (建国大业 or “The Founding) features many of China’s best known stars and will be released on September 17. Two thousand prints of the film have been produced – nearly one for every two commercial movie screens across the country. Many of those going to see these films will do so for free. Last week Beijing cinemas began passing out a free ticket for every purchased ticket.

Millions will watch these films and will also tune in for television coverage of China’s national day parade. Last month’s dress rehearsal involved some 200,000 people. This week and next, Talking Points looks back at previous national day celebrations.

 Mao Zedong, Tiananmen, 1949

On September 21, 1949, Chinese Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong addressed the first session of the People’s Republic’s provisional government saying, “Ours will no longer be a nation subject to insult and humiliation. We have stood up.” He went on to note that the PRC’s state system, the people's democratic dictatorship, would be used to protect the revolution against domestic and foreign enemies. Ten days later, Mao stood atop Tiananmen (the Gate of Heavenly Peace) and announced that he would also serve as state president and chair of the central military commission while Zhou Enlai would be premier and Zhu De would head the army. He concluded by saying that the new government would establish diplomatic relations with any country “willing to observe the principles of equality, mutual benefit, and mutual respect of territorial integrity and sovereignty.”

The 1949 military parade that would become the center of China’s largest national day celebrations lasted some three hours and featured more than 16,000 soldiers. The 1950 parade was even longer. By then fighting on the Korean peninsula had been going on for three months and China’s government was preparing to send forces to support North Korea. This effort formally began on October 8 and the ensuing struggle is known in China as the war to “resist U.S. (aggression) and aid (North) Korea” (抗美援朝). Military parades were an annual ritual through the rest of the decade.

Two enormous structures, the Great Hall of the People and the Museum of Chinese History,

Monument to the People's Heroes,
2009 photo by Swamibu (Creative Commons)

were built in time for the 1959 anniversary. Constructed in an astonishing ten months, they flank Tiananmen Square. And the massive Monument to the People’s Hero’s was erected in the center of the square. Weighing 10,000 tons and completed in 1958, the monument features relief sculptures of key moments in China’s official revolutionary history. These include the Opium War, the Taiping Rebellion, and the May 4th Movement. “Eternal glory to the people’s hero’s” in Mao’s calligraphy is inscribed on the north facing side of the monument, directly opposite China’s national flag and Mao’s portrait on Tiananmen.

Those 1959 celebrations occurred as the Great Leap Forward, Mao’s effort to launch a production revolution in China through mass mobilization and the creation of communes was collapsing. Peng Dehuai, the hero of the Korean War and the man who presided over the 1958 national day parade, confronted Mao at a June 1959 CCP conference. Peng argued that the Great Leap Forward was a disaster. He was soon removed as Defense Minister. Lin Biao took over as Defense Minister and officiated at the 1959 parade. “Long Live the Great Leap Forward” was prominent among the slogans shouted during the parade and celebrations, but in many places food was or would soon be in short supply. Official histories put the blame on bad weather and ruthless Soviet demands for grain shipments, but bad policies and practices exacerbated the problems and cost lives. Twenty to thirty million people starved to death or died of malnutrition-related diseases between 1959 and 1962.

In 1960, the government announced a policy of frugality and declared that national day would henceforth be marked with small celebrations every five years and major celebrations, including military parades, every ten years.

By the time of the 1969 20th anniversary celebrations, China was again in the midst of a tumultuous political movement. Mao’s Cultural Revolution was in full fervor. To dislodge those he considered “revisionist” enemies, he encouraged young people to bombard the headquarters, to challenge officials of the CCP he headed. Liu Shaoqi, a member of the CCP Politboro since 1931 and PRC president since 1959, was Mao’s top target. He was publicly humiliated and expelled from the CCP in 1968. He spent national day 1969 in prison and died of medical neglect a month later.

Chinese news coverage of the parade celebrated Mao’s good health and noted he smiled and waved at the marching soldiers and the assembled masses. Mao’s “close comrade in arms” and designated successor, Lin Biao, addressed the crowd. Lin was a chief promoter of the Mao personality cult that then consumed China. He had issued the collection of quotations known in the West as “The Little Red Book.” Homemade badges with Mao’s image had first surfaced in the late 1930s in the hills of central China and some factories turned out badges in the 1950s, but production exploded during the Cultural Revolution. On national day, perhaps half a million people, everyone except for Mao himself, wore Mao badges to the Tiananmen celebrations.

Next week, Talking Points will review more recent national day celebrations.


Today China has 750 million people (2.5 times the U.S. population) more than it had in had in 1949. Some 94% of the country’s 1.3 billion live in the eastern 45% of the nation’s territory. Every year, jobs must be found for tens of millions of young people. At the same time, the population is aging and in ten years China will need to provide for 220 million people over age 65. Barbara Pillsbury will address these and other population challenges at USC at 4 pm this afternoon. Next Tuesday, we’re pleased to feature presentations by several student representatives from USC summer programs in China (language study, architecture, social work, East Asian studies, education, and cinema). And on Thursday, Sept. 17 USC hosts two programs: Zhuang Ailing on social work service organizations in China and Ronald Cheng on U.S.-China law enforcement cooperation. Additional information about these public presentations is available below and in the calendar section of our website.

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The USC U.S.-China Institute
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09/10/2009: China's Population Challenges
USC University Club, Banquet Room, Los Angeles, CA 90089
Cost: Free
4:00PM - 6:00PM
Barbara Pillsbury examines population policy, family planning dynamics and the dilemma of the aging population in China.

09/15/2009: Student Voices: Summer Programs in China
Los Angeles, CA 90089
Cost: Free - lunch will be provided
Phone: 213-821-4382
Time: 12:00PM - 1:30PM
Six students recently returned from various USC Summer programs in China share their experiences.

09/17/2009: U.S.-China Law Enforcement Cooperation
USC University Club, Banquet Room
Los Angeles, CA 90089
Cost: Free
Time: 4:00PM - 5:30PM
USCI presents a talk with Assistant U.S. Attorney, Ronald Cheng.

09/17/2009: Social Work Service Organizations in China
Cost: Free
Time: 11:30AM - 12:50PM
The USC School of Social Work presents a talk by Dr. Ailing Zhuang on social work in China. 

09/21/2009: China-U.S. Relationship As I See It
USC University Club, Banquet Room, Los Angeles, CA 90089
Cost: Free
Time: 3:00PM - 5:00PM
USCI presents a talk with Tao Wenzhao, Deputy Director of the Institute of American Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, China. 

10/12/2009: 2009 US-China Legal Exchange
USC Davidson Conference Center, Vineyard Room
3415 South Figueroa Street Los Angeles, CA, Los Angeles, CA 90089
Cost: $50
Time: 8:30AM - 5:30PM
The U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) and the USC U.S. - China Institute will host a senior delegation from China on October 12, 2009 to discuss China's amendments to the Patent Law and draft Telecommunications Law.


09/10/2009: Short-term (Organ) Memory: 100 Years of Chinese and Comparative Media Controversy from Dissection to the Bodyworlds
UC Berkeley IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor
Cost: Free
Time: 4:00PM - 6:00PM
UC Berkeley's Center for Chinese Studies presents a talk with Larissa Heinrich.  

09/12/2009: Curator Lecture: Steeped in History: The Art of Tea
Lenart Auditorium, UCLA Fowler Museum, Los Angeles, CA
Time: 4:00PM - 5:00PM
The UCLA Asia Institute presents the Fowler OutSpoken Lecture Series in conjunction with the exhibition Steeped in History: The Art of Tea.  
09/16/2009: Narrativity and Rhetorical Excess in Gong Zizhen's Essay Zunyin (Honoring the Recluse)
UC Berkeley
3401 Dwinelle Hall , Berkeley, CA
Cost: Free
Time: 12:00PM - 1:00PM
UC Berkeley's Center for Chinese Studies presents a talk with Stephen Roddy as part of the brown-bag lunch lecture series.  

09/17/2009: Dynamics Across the Taiwan Strait, 1949-Present
UC Berkeley
Heyns Room, The Faculty Club , Berkeley, CA
Cost: Free
Time: 8:00AM - 5:45PM
UC Berkeley's Center for Chinese Studies presents a panel discussion on cross-strait relations. 
09/17/2009: Sixty Years of Cross-Strait Relations: From Conflict to Conciliation
UC Berkeley
Heyns Room, The Faculty Club , Berkeley, CA
Cost: Free
Time: 4:00PM - 5:30PM
UC Berkeley's Center for Chinese Studies presents a talk by Lien Chan on cross-strait relations.  
09/18/2009: The Dreamscape of Early Medieval China
UC Berkeley
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor, Berkeley, CA
Cost: Free
Time: 4:00PM - 6:00PM
UC Berkeley's Center for Chinese Studies presents a talk by Robert Company on the views on dreams in ancient China. 
09/22/2009: The People's Republic of China at 60: Will the Good Times Last?
The Pacific Basin Institute at Pomona College, Hahn 101
Address: 333 North College Way Claremont, CA 91711
Cost: Free
Phone: (909) 607-8065
Time: 4:15PM
The Pacific Basin Institute at Pomona College presents a talk with Minxin Pei. 

09/22/2009 - 09/23/2009: Opportunities in China for U.S. Clinical Diagnostic and Medical Device Firms
U.S. Commercial Service Office
3300 Irvine Avenue, Ste. 307, Newport Beach,, CA 92660
Cost: Free, requires reservation.
Time: 7:30AM - 12:00PM
A half day event designed to assist U.S. medical device and clinical diagnostic companies with market entry strategies for China.

09/23/2009: Viable Diplomacy and Taiwan-U.S.-China Relations
UC Berkeley
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor, Berkeley, CA
Cost: Free
Time: 12:00PM - 1:00PM
UC Berkeley presents a talk by Andrew Hsia on cross-strait relations.

09/23/2009: Religious Policies in the PRC: A Sociopolitical History
UC Berkeley
IIS Conference Room, 223 Moses Hall, Berkeley, CA
Cost: Free
Time: 4:00PM - 5:30PM
UC Berkeley presents a talk by Fenggang Yang on the historical and political backgrounds of the religious policies of the Chinese Communist Party since 1949. 

North America

09/11/2009: Zhejiang Butterfly Performance Troupe
Clowes Memorial Hall of Butler University
4602 Sunset Ave., Indianapolis, IN 46208
Time: 7:30PM
Experience the unique culture and beautiful artistry of China in this special performance by Zhejiang Butterfly.

09/15/2009: Business Briefing at USTDA Headquarters Chinese Civil Aviation Officials
The Westin Washington D.C. City Center
14th and M Street, NW, Washington D.C.
Time: 10:30AM - 4:30PM
A business briefing with senior Chinese civil aviation officials responsible for implementing environmental projects in the sustainable airport development sector.


08/23/2009 - 09/20/2009: Divergent Convergence: Speculations on China
Beijing Urban Planning Centre
20 Qianmen Dongdajie Chongwen District
Beijing China
A landmark exhibition in the heart of Beijing, exploring the future of architecture and urban design in China. 

09/17/2009 - 10/22/2009: China's Great Wall: The Forgotten Story
3A Gallery
Address: 101 South Park, San Francisco, CA 94107
Phone: 415.543.3347
The Forgotten Story is a series of historically-based photographs of the Great Wall of China. It is a collaboration between Jonathan Ball, a California based photographer, and David Spindler, one of the world's foremost experts on Great Wall history.

08/16/2009 - 11/29/2009: Steeped in History: The Art of Tea
Fowler Museum

Cost: Free
The Fowler Museum at UCLA presents an exhibition on the history of tea in Asia, Europe, and America through art. 

09/18/2009 - 01/09/2010: Imagining China: The View from Europe, 1550-1700
Folger Great Hall
201 East Capitol Street, SE, Washington, DC 20003
Cost: Free
Phone: (202) 544-7077
Celebrate the opening of the latest exhibition at Folger Shakespeare Library.

09/17/2009 - 01/17/2010: Calligraffiti: Writing in Contemporary Chinese and Latino Art
Pacific Asia Museum
46 North Los Robles Avenue, Pasadena, California 91101
Phone: (626) 449-2742
Calligraffiti: Writing in Contemporary Chinese and Latino Art addresses issues of power, culture, and universality. 

11/03/2008 - 11/03/2009: Ancient Arts of China: A 5000 Year Legacy
Bowers Museum
2002 North Main Street, Santa Ana, California 92706
Bowers Museum presents a collection that portrays the evolution of Chinese technology, art and culture. 

11/14/2008 - 11/14/2009: Chinese Art: A Seattle Perspective
Seatle Asian Art Museum
1400 East Prospect Street , Volunteer Park , Seattle, WA 98112–3303
The Seattle Asian Art Museum presents an opportunity to see a collection with representative works from each dynastic period. 

11/15/2008 - 11/15/2009: Masters of Adornment: The Miao People of China
Bowers Museum
2002 North Main Street, Santa Ana, California 92706
The Bowers Museum presents a collection of exquisite textiles and silver jewelry that highlights the beauty and wealth of the Miao peoples of southwest China. 

02/12/2009 - 02/12/2010: Art of Adornment: Tribal Beauty
Bowers Museum
2002 N. Main, Santa Ana, CA
Cost: $5
An exhibit featuring body adornments from indigenous peoples around the world


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