As thousands of troops goose-stepped through Tiananmen Square, part of the celebration of 60 years of the People's Republic of China on 1 October, the media in other countries were not slow to point out all the evidence of continuing totalitarianism.
The Chinese state banned people on the parade route from opening windows or standing on balconies; those not invited were told to watch it all on TV.
The armed forces on show were arranged according to height, with everyone within a six centimetre range. Everyone marching had a mental health check-up to make sure they could withstand the pressure on the special day - with the result that at least 1300 soldiers received counselling.
Above all there was the proud exhibition of China's military hardware with, apparently, 52 weapon systems, including intercontinental missiles for the delivery of nuclear warheads, unmanned aircraft, tanks and a variety of other means of destruction, many of which the outside world had never seen before.
Yet no matter how much China's imperialist rivals deplore its repression and militarism there is still a lot of sneaking admiration. Haven't the living standards of many of the people improved? Wasn't 2008's Olympic Games in Beijing a great success? In a time of economic turmoil hasn't China been a rare success story?
Outside mainstream currents of thought, Trotskyists, Stalinists, Maoists and others, although in some cases unhappy about the direction China has taken during the last 30 years, have saluted China's escape from colonial domination, and in some instances still see it as ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics' or a ‘deformed workers state.'
From the point of view of the working class there is nothing to be celebrated in the ‘People's Republic.' For all those who sold their labour power for wages in 1949 there are millions more today, millions who have no more control of their lives than workers did 60 years ago. Workers are still exploited and have to follow where the work is. When manufacturing in the coastal regions declines they have to return to the jobless countryside. Unemployment is as real for the working class as millionaires are common in the ruling capitalist class. There are a tiny minority who gain from China's export success, millions who see nothing but subsistence wages for their efforts.
China remains a brutally repressive class society. Chinese imperialism is still a ruthless force on the world arena. Workers struggles cause the Chinese bourgeoisie to worry about future social unrest. Hopefully the working class in China, as part of the international working class, can develop its struggles so that the future anniversary celebrations of the Chinese state are cut to a minimum.