Asserting an Ancient, Emergent Superpower: 2009 Beijing Military Parade, Public Memory, and National Identity

Jie Gong


On October 1, 2009, the People’s Republic of China orchestrated a grand military parade celebrating the 60th anniversary of the founding of the republic. Amid China’s ascendancy in the world, this national ceremony provides a rhetorical prototype to examine its communicative phenomena and sociopolitical circumstances. Deploying public memory as the conceptual framework to investigate this spectacle, I argue that the Chinese government mobilized a publicity campaign to project its national identity as an ancient, emergent superpower. To this end, the Chinese government exploited historico-cultural resources to consummate its communist leadership as historically continuous, politically orthodox, and ideologically legitimate. The parade’s problematic historical representation and memorial invocation, though attaining political and ideological credentials, reveal discursive dynamics and dilemmas in the increasingly contested, globalizing sphere of Chinese politics and communication.

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