ad info




TIME Asia
TIME Asia Home
Current Issue
Magazine Archive
Asia Buzz
Travel Watch
Web Features
  Entertainment
  Photo Essays

Subscribe to TIME
Customer Services
About Us
Write to TIME Asia

TIME.com
TIME Canada
TIME Europe
TIME Pacific
TIME Digital
Asiaweek
Latest CNN News

Young China
Olympics 2000
On The Road

 ASIAWEEK.COM
 CNN.COM
  east asia
  southeast asia
  south asia
  central asia
  australasia
 BUSINESS
 SPORTS
 SHOWBIZ
 ASIA WEATHER
 ASIA TRAVEL


Other News
From TIME Asia

Culture on Demand: Black is Beautiful
The American Express black card is the ultimate status symbol

Asia Buzz: Should the Net Be Free?
Web heads want it all -- for nothing

JAPAN: Failed Revolution
Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori clings to power as dissidents in his party finally decide not to back a no-confidence motion

Cover: Endgame?
After Florida's controversial ballot recount, Bush holds a 537-vote lead in the state, which could give him the election

TIME Digest
FORTUNE.com
FORTUNE China
MONEY.com

TIME Asia Services
Subscribe
Subscribe to TIME! Get up to 3 MONTHS FREE!

Bookmark TIME
TIME Media Kit
Recent awards

Visions of China CNN TIME Asiaweek Fortune

SEPTEMBER 27, 1999 VOL. 154 NO. 12


Dong Xiwen: Grand Ceremony of the Founding of the Nation
As thousands gathered in Tiananmen Square, Mao proclaimed: "The central government of the People's Republic of China is Established."
GATE OF HEAVENLY PEACE: The People's Republic Is Born, Oct. 1, 1949
A Nation Celebrates Its New Beginning
By MA FENG

In my wildest dreams, I never imagined that I would be on hand to witness the founding ceremony of the People's Republic of China. I had arrived in Beijing from Shanxi province in April 1949, two months after the city had been "liberated," to attend the first national youth conference. After the meeting I stayed on to work with the Chinese Writers' Association.

    ALSO IN TIME
VISIONS OF CHINA
China's Amazing Half Century
Navigate through the People's Republic of China and discover the 50 places where history was made

China's Wild Ride
The early years of Mao's new republic were exhilarating and disastrous. Deng Xiaoping brought the country back from the brink

Essay: Happy Birthday to Me!
A Beijing writer recalls what he was doing when the People's Republic celebrated some earlier birthdays

  VISIONS OF CHINA
50 years of the People's Republic
presented by CNN, TIME, Asiaweek and Fortune

Asiaweek
Quest for Dignity
The success of the Communist revolution climaxed a century-long drive by the Chinese to reclaim their historical greatness

When we learned that National Day celebrations would take place at Tiananmen Square on Oct. 1, we had a week to prepare. We got up every morning to write slogans and make paper flowers, lanterns and five-star red flags, copied from samples our superiors handed out. The atmosphere was genuinely enthusiastic. A day before the event, I received an invitation from the All China Youth Federation to attend the celebrations. It was for one person only and not transferable. I was to attend the celebrations on the reviewing stand at Tiananmen Square! Imagine, here I was, a 27-year-old bumpkin from a poor rural background just transferred to Beijing, and I had been invited to attend this historic celebration! Many of my colleagues envied me. I was so excited I couldn't sleep the entire night.

After lunch on the big day, Oct. 1, I went with two comrades by car to Tiananmen Square. The main streets had been cordoned off, and with our special pass we traveled along a designated route that passed through Jinyu Lane and Donghuamen Street. The city was awash with red flags, which hung from every door of every shop and building.

We finally entered the rear gate of the Forbidden City, parked the car and took our places on the viewing stands to the west of the rostrum. Giant red lanterns hung on both sides of the rostrum, with the golden national emblem hanging in the center. We looked up to see the VIPs in attendance. Suddenly people started clapping. It turned out that Mao Zedong was arriving. His appearance created quite a stir on the whole square as cheers and applause broke out.

Lin Boqu, Secretary-General of the central government, opened the ceremony. Then the loud and clear voice of Chairman Mao came over the loudspeaker: "The central government of the People's Republic of China is established!" The flag was raised as the national anthem played and soldiers set off an earth-shaking gun salute.

I was moved almost to tears when I heard Mao's speech. I hadn't expected the communist victory to come so soon or that I would be on hand to witness the moment.

We had just defeated the Japanese and seized power from the Kuomintang. The only thing we could think of then was rebuilding the cities and rural areas that had been badly damaged in the war. We had been fighting for more than 10 years. I had joined the army when I was 16 to fight the Japanese. A year later I joined the Communist Party. At that time we just hoped to defeat the Japanese as quickly as possible, to have enough bullets to accomplish the task and to have enough to eat each day. We thought less about our personal interests, as we realized we could achieve nothing if we could not defeat the invaders.

And so, during the ceremony, I was deeply moved when I saw captured weapons pass by in the military parade. It was easy for me to remember the bitter old days of not having enough food to eat, of fighting the Japanese and of the endless marching and combat.

The ceremony lasted for more than three hours. As I went home, the streets were packed with people beating drums and gongs, letting off firecrackers and lighting lanterns. The entire city of Beijing had come alive on that day.

Ma Feng is a well-known writer from northern Shanxi province and a member of the Chinese Writers' Association

ALSO SEE:
ZHONGNANHAI: The Inner Sanctum
BEIJING BOTANICAL GARDENS: Humbled Emperor
PEKING UNIVERSITY: Creating Chaos
DEMOCRACY WALL: An Open Challenge
BEIJING FILM ACADEMY: Making Marvelous Movies
WORKERS STADIUM: Birth of Rock 'n' Roll
TIANANMEN SQUARE: Hope and Repression
CHINA ART GALLERY: An Avante-Garde Explosion
HAIDIAN DISTRICT: A Silicon Valley of China's Own


This edition's table of contents
TIME Asia home

CNN's Visions of China home

AsiaNow


 Search


Back to the top   © 1999 Time Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.