China turns 60 years old on October 1.
National Day will see China the nation celebrate the founding of the People’s Republic of China. It’s a week-long holiday, the last of the year, with parades, gala television specials, and flags-a-waving.
Guóqìngjié (guo: country, qing: celebration, jie: day) or National Day turns Chinese cities and towns into a sea of red and yellow flags. Like the Spring Festival holiday (Chinese New Year) many people use the time off to travel home. My town will likely see 10 of the 12 million residents fly, bus, and train their way back to Hunan, Guangxi, Hubei, and Sichuan provinces. Like North America, businesses will offer sales ‘o plenty. Department and electronics store will offer deals like their western counterparts.
China fought a 23 year civil war, much of it while trying to repel Japanese invaders during the second world war. The Kuomintang (KMT) and Communists forces battled across the nation in a conflict that left millions dead. After the Japanese surrender, the People’s Liberation Army was able to turn the tide against the nationalists, and push the remaining KMT forces into south China.
Mao Zedong proclaimed the People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949 in Beijing. The KMT forces retreated to Taiwan, continuing the Republic of China and claiming the entire nation, in exile. There was no clear-cut resolution; no armistice has ever been signed in the conflict. Tensions have (and still do) flare over the issue. One KMT division, based in Burma (Myanmar) continued with a guerrilla campaign that lasted into the 1960s. (The Division eventually settled in northern Thailand. There is a Thai village, full of Chinese houses. The residents speak Yunanese, a Chinese dialect.)
China’s National Day, Guóqìngjié, celebrates the re-birth of a nation.
Happy 60th Birthday China. Guóqìngjié kuai le.