Not The South China Morning Post

Wally Wilde
Oct 2, 1999

Not having received an invitation to participate in the festivities, either in Peking or at the Hong Kong Stadium, your correspondent had to satisfy himself, like millions of other proletarians in China, with watching it all "live" on TV. And what a wonderful job Hong Kong’s TVB did, imposing its own logo in the top right-hand corner of the screen on what was obviously a feed from China’s State Television.
Anchorwoman Diana Lin had little to say for herself, except to remind us every ten minutes ? lest we forget ? that we were watching the 50th Anniversary Parade of the PRC (as if we could forget) and to inform us that "500 dozen" people were taking part in the Peking parade.

Willy Wanker Wo Lap Lam bumbled along with his usual second-rate and second-hand comments on China’s political scene ? the stuff of many a tiresome SCMP column. Need I say more?
[No. Ed.]

Lieutenant-Colonel (Retired) John Tustin, juggling several reference books, made feeble attempts to identify the passing military hardware. When a phalanx of large olive-green cylinders was driven by, he was momentarily lost for words, before blurting out "Your guess is as good as mine". Seconds later, he speculated that they might be "combat refuelling tanks". Actually, your correspondent’s guess was considerably better than his. This was China’s much-vaunted but never before publicly displayed Dong Feng DF-11 nuclear-capable missile. Toastin’ Tustin even managed to misidentify President Jiang Zemin as Deng Xiaoping, and to refer to the marching men in blue uniforms as "the Royal Air Force". I say, pass the port, old chap.

Lin pointed out that the Hong Kong float in the civilian part of the parade prominently displayed proud representations of the former colony’s most advanced infrastructure projects. She made specific reference to the Convention and Exhibition Centre and the Chek Lap Kok airport. Hmmm… shame she forgot to mention that these were both projects initiated by the British colonial administration.

And as for that "Live" logo up in the top left-hand corner of the screen, the lie was given to this about a half-hour before the end of the parade, when both screen and sound-track froze for a second or two, clearly disclosing that the whole spectacle was on a delayed feed, so that any untoward incident could be edited out before being broadcast. In fact, earlier, one camera had zoomed in on some kind of minor disturbance in the crowd of spectators, but the view was immediately switched elsewhere. "Seek truth from facts."

Strangely, there was also a Macau float. But isn’t Macau still a Portuguese colony? The symbolism was obscure, as it looked like a wilted lotus blossom atop an oil rig. What, no roulette wheel? No triad machine gunners?

Oh, what a fun way to spend a sunny holiday morning. I just can’t wait for the millennium celebrations.
The circus comes to Peking