Thu, October 01, 2009
China > Politics > 60th Anniversary of People's Republic of China

Floats depict China's earth-shaking changes in 60 years

2009-10-01 05:36:45 GMT2009-10-01 13:36:45 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

BEIJING, Oct. 1 (Xinhua) -- With a "super hybrid rice" sheaf, a spaceship on wheels and foreigners donning in traditional Chinese suits, civilians marched through Tian'anmen Square Thursday morning to celebrate the 60th founding anniversary of the People's Republic of China.

The square became a stage for the Chinese people to showcase their economic and social progress through 19 brightly decorated floats, with each escorted by a formation of paraders, as well as mass performance.

The world's biggest urban square emerged as a sea of colors as 60 big red lanterns waved between 56 National Unity poles at the east and the west ends of the square. Tens of thousands of China roses in full blossom formed the characters "Guo Qing", or National Day.

China has managed to achieve an annual 8.1 percent GDP growth in the past 60 years.

Today, while Western economies struggle out of contraction, China's 7.1 percent expansion in the first half of 2009 deserves the envy and admiration of the rest of the world.

However 60 years ago, the former U.S. Secretary of State Dean Acheson asserted the communist Chinese government was unable to feed the 546 million population since none of its predecessors had been able to do it.

The truth of China today proved Acheson was wrong.

At the nation's biggest-ever National Day pageant, a giant model of "hybrid rice" became an icon for the nation's 60 years of agricultural progress.

The high-yielding species was cultivated in the 1970s, which helped the 1.3 billion Chinese people feed themselves on their own.

Before 1949, backward technology and the reliance on hand-planting forced millions of people to the brink of starvation as China's per capita grain output was only 290 kilograms a year.

Food security remains the top priority for the government of the world's most populous country.

In the late 1970s, technological breakthroughs and the rural reform in particular helped unleash their enthusiasm of farmers to grow grain and boosted agricultural productivity.

Lifted by an array of policy incentives such as the abolition of the 2,000-year-old agriculture tax, China's annual grain output increased from 113.18 million tonnes in 1949 to 528.71 million tonnes last year.

It has also become the world' s top producer of poultry and aquatic products.

Significant changes have taken place in the vast rural society, as the government initiated a program in 2005 to "build a new socialist countryside", a slogan that could also be read on a pageant float, to address the widening urban-rural disparity.

In the past decade, the government massively beefed up rural spending to build roads, water conservation facilities, and power grids.

Farmers were also encouraged to diversify their ways of making money as 225 million had become migrant workers who landed non-agriculture jobs in their hometowns or in cities by the end of last year.

Social and cultural progress has brought rural residents easier access to Internet, affordable medical services and free compulsory education for their children, with pension insurance for all in the future.

Farmer's annual income has risen from 44 yuan in 1949 to 4,761yuan in 2008.

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