Tiananmen closed for big rehearsal

World | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 9 Sep 2019

The center of Beijing was under lockdown early yesterday for a nighttime rehearsal of a parade by the Chinese military on October 1 to mark communist China's 70th anniversary.

The Avenue of Eternal Peace leading to Tiananmen Square was closed to traffic for about a dozen kilometers, That allowed troops to parade around Tiananmen Square, the symbolic heart of power and where in 1949 Mao Zedong proclaimed the founding of the People's Republic of China.

About 90,000 people were "involved in the rehearsal and related supporting services," Xinhua News Agency reported.

Areas around the Avenue of Eternal Peace were gradually closed to traffic from late Saturday afternoon, causing traffic jams. Security forces also blocked access to residences with views of the avenue, ordering several foreign media outlets in the area to leave their offices for the weekend.

Other rehearsals are expected each weekend leading up to October 1, leaving residents facing the same restrictions.

Beijing traditionally marks the republic's anniversary with a giant military parade every 10 years.

The army said at the end of August that the coming parade would be larger than those in 1999 and 2009 and even bigger than one in 2015 which commemorated the end of World War II 70 years earlier.

On that occasion, 12,000 soldiers marched - far fewer than the number of people involved in yesterday's rehearsal.

The parade is expected to showcase some of most advanced weaponry in an effort to drum up patriotic fervor.

But General Cai Zhijun, a member of the general staff, said last month that the size of the military parade was not a sign of aggression, with the army "committed to safeguarding world peace and regional stability."

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