Millions of Chineses, officials, students and workers are feverishly fine-tuning parades and firework displays on a scale that will dwarf the Beijing Olympics.
Special “parade villages” have been set up at military airfields outside the capital to drill the tens of thousands of marching soldiers, with officers on hand to measure the height of their goose-steps.
Evolution of China's revolution Dozens of tanks will roll into Beijing, and more than 50 new types of weapons, and jet fighters made in China, will be on show.
President Hu Jintao will arrive in a newly-commissioned super-stretch limousine, 19 ft-long, to watch over 180,000 people will parade down the capital’s main avenue into Tiananmen Square.
The event on Thursday marks six decades since Chairman Mao solemnly announced the founding of the People’s Republic in front of 300,000 cheering supporters.
Loyal cadres say this means that the Chinese Communist Party has now been in continuous power for longer than any other current government in the world.
The Party’s origins lie in Shanghai, and over the past month, groups of the Party faithful have been ushered into a modest red-beamed dining room to see where the revolution was hatched.
In July 1921, 13 delegates from the fledgling Party, together with two representatives from the Comintern in Moscow, held their first congress in a two-storey brick villa on the corner of Xingyu road and Huangpi road.
Attendees, including a young Mao Zedong, slept in the dormitories of the Bowen’s girl school across the road, and were eventually forced to flee by police. They finished the congress in a pleasure boat on a nearby lake.
“I have been waiting a long time to see this,” said Xu Kaiping, 42, a member of the policy research centre of Lijiang city government on the other side of China. “The fact the Party now has 74 million members, and has flourished, shows that it represents the interests of the people.”
Inside, a museum has been created to educate visitors about the rise of the Communists, and the country’s history of colonial oppression.
The very first plaque blames the British “invaders”, who are displayed on a map as a tiger ravaging the sotuh-east coast. The German colonisers, meanwhile, are illustrated by an image of an intestinal tract, squeezing the Chinese countryside.
“They have made the history a bit more objective,” said Long Xuming, 64, the chairman of a photographers’ association in Chengdu. “It had to improve because people are learning a bit more about history and aren’t satisfied with just their patriotic education”.
Today, the villa has been surrounded on all sides by evidence of the capitalism that the original delegates denounced.
Across the road is a high-rise office block named “One Corporate Avenue”.
To the south is one of Shanghai’s prized residential compounds “Richgate”, while behind the villa sits the Davidoff Cigar Lounge and Lawry’s American Prime Rib restaurant.
Modern China’s seamless merging of capitalism and communism is even more evident a few minutes’ stroll down the road, in McDonald’s. As part of a special promotion for the 60th anniversary, the hamburger chain is offering a free Coca-Cola glass to “toast China” if customers opt to super-size their meals.
A range of postcard-sized meal vouchers, designed as collector’s items, show images of the Bird’s Nest stadium and China’s space programme, alongside slogans proclaiming “Powerful China” and “China is on the move”.
“We’ve sold out of the Bird’s Nest vouchers,” said one employee. “And the glasses have been very popular. We are giving away more than one a minute,” he added.
Not all his customers opted for the deal, however. Mrs Xue, 91, said a super-sized meal was “simply too big” and insisted that there was no point in discussing China’s Communist history. “The past is the past,” she said simply.
Other multinational corporations have also seized on the Communist Party’s big day to promote themselves to proud Chinese. Pepsi has unleashed television adverts showing thousands of youths using Pepsi cans as microphones and singing, “You are always in my heart, China bless you.”
The company invited the public to send messages about China’s greatness to a website and has received more than four million submissions in the first week. “We are always looking for new ways to form deeper bonds with our consumers,” said Harry Hui, Pepsi’s chief marketing officer in China.
Elsewhere officials have gone to extraordinary lengths to make sure that the National Day celebrations roll out smoothly. In Chongqing, the world’s largest city, residents have been informed that no one will be permitted to file for divorce on the day.
In Xian, the site of the terracotta warriors and the First Emperor’s tomb, more than 70,000 volunteers, including many schoolchildren, have donned red armbands to marshall the peace.
Most Chinese, however, intend to spend National Day watching the parade on television, rather than out in the streets. “We have organised a reading day, to go through important Communist books,” said Fu Linchun, a 25-year-old who joined the Party in his second year at university. “However, if I can get away, I want to watch it all on television.”
1:50 230mm L
Anti-aircraft missile mounted on armour vehicle
1:24 270mm L
Oerlikon 35 mm twin cannon
1:20 380mm L
Antiaircraft artillery mounted on armour vehicle
1:30 220mm L
1:24 285mm L
1:43 315mm L
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JF-17 Battleplane with HOLDER stand
1:45 320 mm L
J-10 Fighter Plane
with rotating display stand
1:24 610mm L
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