China Gives Away 600K+ Televisions for Its National Parade & Why It Isn’t Such a Big Deal!

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China National Day Parade
Military police on patrol in Beijing during the 2008 Olympics.

China National Day Parade – Gives Away 600K+ Free Televisions

Every year on October 1 China celebrates its National Day. The Chinese are hugely patriotic in my experience and this holiday is one that is celebrated by pretty much everyone in the country. It also represents one of China’s “Golden Weeks“, where most people get time off to travel. I’ve been told it is the second biggest “holiday” outside of Chinese New Year.

I had the pleasure/horror of being in Macau a few years ago on National Day. I knew the holiday was coming, but could not avoid it and I ended up regretting that reality. The city was completely overrun with visitors from the Mainland. That would normally be fine, except there were seemingly millions of them! Pathways were so full we could not walk. We were stuck going with the flow of the sea of people. 

China National Day Parade
Macau on National Day in 2016.

Anyway, National Day is a huge deal in China and this year is a special anniversary for the government and the Chinese Communist Party. The People’s Republic of China was founded on October 1, 1949 meaning it will be 70 years old this year. To celebrate this huge occasion there was a massive parade lead by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Apparently many poor Chinese households do not own televisions and wouldn’t have been able to see this parade, so the government gave away 620,000 television sets to poor households. According to Xinhua, “The recipients include households in old revolutionary bases and poor areas in 24 provincial-level regions. Each will receive a 32-inch LCD color TV of a domestic brand.”

Additionally, these households will not have to pay any subscription or access fees to get the parade. “All localities shall make unified arrangements to cover the subscriber fees and other related expenses, as none of the recipients should be charged for services.” A generous gesture indeed.

China National Day Parade
Forbidden City 2009.

No Politics Here

So why are we covering this? The Chinese government, Hong Kong protests and trade relations are talked about a lot these days, so I thought it would be an interesting topic. On one hand I think such an extravagant effort to provide television sets from a state owned electronics company is interesting, but then again I’m not sure it is.

A lot is said about the Chinese government and their ability to move mountains, I am not sure this is an example. My first visit to China was in 2008 and it was clear how much had been put into the Olympics that year. We rode the first high speed rail line in the country and Shenzhen had just installed their first subway line.

In the decade since, the Shenzhen Metro has grown to 8 lines and from about 20 stations to over 200. The country’s high speed rail network has become so vast that you can hop on high speed rail between most major cities. I took great advantage of this in 2017 and the system is amazing. Building that stuff was moving mountains. 

So back to the televisions. China is celebrating 70 years of Communist rule and has decided that they are going to have a big parade. The only problem is they want everyone to see it. So they buy up 600K+ televisions and give them to the people. Something that wouldn’t happen in the West? Perhaps, although we spent $1 billion on worthless junky television converter boxes. How is that really different?

China National Day Parade
Shanghai’s Maglev train.

Bottom Line

In the end more poor people in China now have exposure to flat screen televisions. Will this make their lives better? Is the government’s motivation a good one? I don’t know the answer to either, but more and more I find myself fascinated by China, its people and its culture. Most of the time I don’t understand China, but I’ll keep trying.

HT: QZ.com

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