Happy Chinese National Day! 国庆节快乐！
Today it’s finally here, October 1st, the economic wonder of China is turning 64! This means, today, exactly 64 years ago, Mao Zedong founded the People’s Republic of China with a ceremony held on Tiananmen Square. If you want to skip the history lesson ahead continue reading at “What do see and do on October 1st in China?”
I don’t want to give you a huge history lesson but it is useful to know the following background:
Before 1949, the country was called Republic of China which was founded on January 1st, 1912. This period was characterized by civil war, Sino-Japanese war as well as World War II. After the Japanese occupation, the Chinese Civil War took place when the Kuomintang (KMT) – which was founded by Song Jiaoren and Sun Yat-sen – and forces of the Communist Party of China (CPC) were fighting against each other. In the end, the KMT and therefore the entire Republic of China moved to Taiwan and claimed sovereignity and the CPC built the PRC on October 1st, 1949.
On Chinese National Day, especially Mao Zedong is celebrated being the man who brought China forward.
Under Mao, the Chinese population almost doubled from around 550 million to over 900 million. However, Mao’s Great Leap Forward, a large-scale economic and social reform project, resulted in an estimated 45 million deaths between 1958 and 1961, mostly from starvation. In 1966, Mao and his allies launched the Cultural Revolution, sparking a period of political recrimination and social upheaval which lasted until Mao’s death in 1976.
Besides Mao’s dichotomous achievements, homage to Deng Xiaoping should not be forgotten on Chinese National Day. It was much rather him who, after Mao‘s death, led his country towards a market economy and opened up the country more and more. He also created special economic centers such as Shenzhen.
Nevertheless who the Chinese are honoring during Chinese National Day – or maybe they don’t even care – to me, the most fascinating thing about China is the fact that within only 35 years, the country moved around 400 million people out of poverty and since Deng Xiaoping’s opening to the world in 1978, the Chinese economy has grown more than a hundredfold. Mega cities and world centers popped out of nowhere and more new cities are built every year.
Now The Fun Part: What do see and do on October 1st in China?
- Military Review & Parade at Tiananmen Square
If you happen to be in Beijing on that day, lucky you! You will have the pleasure to be able to see the military review and parade at Tiananmen Square!
- If you’re not in Beijing:
In every city there will be some firework display and activities such as flag-raising, dance and song shows or painting and calligraphy exhibitions. If you love shopping, National Day is the ideal time because many shopping malls offer big discounts during the holiday.
Good To Know For Traveling
Currently, Chinese people are granted 3 days off for National Day, 2 days in Macau and only 1 day in Hong Kong. Ususally, the days off are connected with the weekends so that people can enjoy a long 7-day holiday from October 1st to 7th. This period is known as the “Golden Week” and is the longest holiday in China besides the Spring Festival.
Due to its length, the National Day is a popular travel period. Should you want to travel during “Golden Week”, be warned of a sea of people at popular attractions, difficulties to get train or flight tickets which also may cost more than usual and hotel rooms are fully booked very fast.