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Page last updated at 23:17 GMT, Monday, 21 September 2009 00:17 UK

Security tight for Chinese parade

By Michael Bristow
BBC News, Beijing

Women soldiers at parade rehearsal - 19 Sept 2009
Military units have been rehearsing their parade steps

Beijing residents have been banned from flying pigeons, kites and even balloons in the run up to celebrations to mark 60 years of communist rule.

People who live in homes that face the celebration parade route are being told to keep their windows and balcony doors closed on 1 October.

Armed police backed up by a million volunteers are taking part in a mass security operation similar to the one employed during last year's Beijing Olympics.

Senior Chinese leader Zhou Yongkang said this was a "people's war" that would ensure the celebrations on National Day go off without a hitch.

Pigeon fanciers

China considers the anniversary celebrations one of the highlights of the year - a chance to trumpet the achievements of the last 60 years.

The focus of the celebrations will be a military parade through Tiananmen Square and central Beijing. President Hu Jintao will also make a keynote speech.

As with last year's Olympic Games, the government wants to ensure nothing disrupts or distracts from the carefully planned celebrations.

A parade float at a rehearsal - 18 Sept 2009
Do not stand on the balcony to watch the ceremony
Notice to residents on parade route

Mr Zhou raised the temperature by urging security personnel to "fully prepare themselves for the most complicated situation," according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.

The city's pigeon fanciers, whose flocks can often be seen flying over the capital, are one of the first casualties of this campaign. They have been told to lock up their coops.

Beijing's legion of avid kite fliers - who stand on almost any open space - have been told to stay at home until 8 October.

City residents are also being encouraged to report other "suspicious flying objects", according to a report from Xinhua.

Some residents living next to Chang'an Avenue, which runs through central Beijing from east to west, have been given specific instructions for the big day.

A billboard in Beijing advertising the 60th anniversary celebrations
Mao Zedong declared the People's Republic of China 60 years ago

The National Day parade will pass along the road.

"Please do not open any window or balcony door facing Chang'an Avenue. Please also do not stand on the balcony to watch the ceremony," reads a statement given to residents who live in the Qijiayuan diplomatic compound.

Compound residents have been told not to invite friends or "other persons" to their homes on the day.

China's security forces will be on duty to ensure these rules are kept.

Polished belt buckles

At the forefront of this operation are the volunteers, often elderly residents stationed on roadsides - easily identified by their red armbands.

They are being backed up by highly trained professional forces, some of them from the People's Liberation Army.

Special weapons police in Beijing - 18 Sept 2009
Special weapons police have been posted at strategic locations in Beijing

A few weeks ago at a barracks on the outskirts of the capital, the army gave journalists a look at some of the troops who will be on duty during the celebrations.

With polished belt buckles and ramrod-straight backs, the soldiers said they would be proud to be part of the event, which will mark 60 years since Mao Zedong proclaimed the founding of the People's Republic of China.

Soldier Bao Chuanrui, from Anhui province, has been in the army for more than seven years and was hoping to be chosen to take part.

"We were part of a team that reinforced security during the Beijing Olympics. Some of our soldiers are doing a similar job for the 60th anniversary," said the 26-year-old.

Security forces are already inspecting vehicles coming into the city at nearly 200 road intersections, and checking bags on the city's subways.

Police patrol Beijing - 20 Sept 2009
Extra police have been patrolling the streets of the Chinese capital

It causes delays, but many residents have resigned themselves to these difficulties.

"We ought to support the 60th anniversary celebrations and overcome the inconveniences," said a woman surnamed Gao, as she hurried home early on a parade practice day last week.

During the National Day celebrations, China will highlight the country's stability, harmony and unity - and its leaders are determined to ensure nothing happens to contradict that message.



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