October 1, 1949. Chairman Mao oversaw China’s official birthday from his dais in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. His speech sought to set the tone for transforming a country ravaged by the Second World War and civil war to find its footing and rise to world prominence. The parade that day demonstrated little military might. Only 17 planes participated in the flyby.
On Tuesday, October 1, 2019, Tiananmen Square witnessed one of its largest military parades ever. It was a celebration of 70 years of Communist Party and the benefits it has brought to China. Tanks, missile launchers and 15,000 marching soldiers rumbled through Beijing, as China displayed its national power, wealth, and status.
China’s communist party has brought many benefits to the country over these seven decades. The standard of living has improved immensely. Cutting-edge technology has positively impacted the lives of China’s population. Immense, beautiful cities have risen on the ground that only a few years ago grew crops. The country has become a political and financial powerhouse that rivals that status of the United States.
Of course, this progress comes at a price. Mao’s manufactured famine that killed tens of millions and the social upheaval of his Cultural Revolution are examples. The country’s irresponsible one-child policy will be remembered in history as a tragic example of social engineering. China remains a tightly supervised society. Religious freedom, though guaranteed in its constitution, is restricted. China’s technological advances have often come from reverse engineering the accomplishments of other nations.
Nonetheless, China has much to celebrate in its first seven decades of existence. Now China — and the world — awaits where the next seven decades will take it.