What if the People do not come?

Milita meets Mardi Gras...members of a civlian battalion take part in a marching for the National day parade on Tiananmen Square.

 

Milita meets Mardi Gras...members of a civlian battalion take part in a marching for the National day parade on Tiananmen Square. Photo: AFP

THE People's Republic of China is sparing no expense on its 60th anniversary extravaganza. But the people are not invited.

Several of Beijing's most famous hotels said yesterday their rooms were not open for public business over the three days of the birthday bash. The hotels are on Chang'An Avenue, the venue for a huge parade of infantry fighting vehicles, ballistic missiles, tanks and assorted modern war toys on October 1.

Tanks rumbled over the same road in the last National Day parade, in 1999, and during the Beijing massacres of 1989.

''I'm sorry sir, the Government has reserved all the rooms for VIP guests from September 29 to October 2,'' said a receptionist at the News Mansion.

A counterpart at the Grand Hyatt added, ''No business and tourists can book any more.''

A corporate spokeswoman at Beijing Raffles said the Government had booked ''almost'' all the rooms and the hotel had not been told whether or how much it would be paid.

China's most famous hotel, the Beijing, and others including the Jianguo Hotel and the China World said north-facing rooms were available but all rooms facing south towards Chang'An Avenue were booked out.

Locals or tourists contemplating a stroll down for a kerbside view on parade day should think again. The central business district was locked down for Sunday night's rehearsal as tanks, armoured personal carriers, missile carriers and military vehicles dressed up as mardi gras floats thundered down the road.

People were barred from anywhere near the parade zone without proof of local residence. And even those with a handy vantage point over Chang'An Avenue - including this Herald correspondent - are banned from receiving guests, standing on balconies or opening windows that face Chang'An Avenue during the celebration.

Business and tourist visas have been tightened for the period. Seven provinces and municipalities have joined forces to ''build a security 'moat' to keep [the] capital city safe,'' according to Xinhua news agency. The regional governments will ''regulate'' the flow of migrant workers, erect roadblocks into Beijing ''to fence off the potential threats'' and bar petitioners from lodging any complaints in the capital.

Even vermin have not been spared, with pest eradication blitzes in and around Tiananmen Square. ''Rats could eat electric cables and mosquitoes could bite and annoy people,'' explained Zeng Xiaofan, the official in charge of disease prevention and control for Beijing.

On Chinese Central Television, however, the National Day parade will be a picture of orderly festivities. Officials and hand-picked guests will line the street and square.