May Day in Peking this year was one of the liveliest ever, although there was no traditional parade.
May Day in Peking this year was one of the liveliest ever, although there was no traditional parade. Normally Peking's Tien An Min Square is crowded with thousands of parading Chinese on May Day morning, but on Saturday the big display was in the grounds of the old summer palace. A mass of people turned on what one visiting correspondent described as a vast song and dance act - a huge display saluting Chairman Mao's thoughts and Chinese victories in various fields.
Among the spectators were members of the visiting Australian ping-pong team. The team is led by Doctor John Jackson of Adelaide. The other members are Ann MacMahon (the only girl in the party), Paul Pinkewich (clean cut with short hair), coach Noel Shorter (balding with fair hair) and Stephan Knapp (long hair and beard).
The big May Day event was in the evening when a huge rally in Tien An Min Square was climaxed with a brilliant fireworks display. Chairman Mao and other Chinese leaders watched from the Gate of Heavenly Peace (out of camera range).
For the Australian team it hasn't been all ping-pong. Its been more like the grand tour. In Peking, they were taken to see the old Imperial Palace in the forbidden city. The palace was closed to visitors during the Cultural Revolution and fell into a state of neglect. Now renovations are planned for these 250 acres of Chinese history - most recently recalled during the Boxer Rebellion when Westerners sacked the palace.
The Great Wall of China, which guards Peking's back doorstep, is another famous attraction that was partly closed during the last decade - particularly during the Soviet Border Crisis - and is now a showplace for visitors. About three miles of the great landmark has been repaired for the benefit of tourists. The remainder is crumbling, but is still remarkably preserved. The wall was built to keep out China's ancient enemies and other foreign hordes. Now it is being used to attract foreigners. Outdoor cafeterias and rest rooms have already been built near the wall apparently with potential tourism in mind.
Another aging landmark shown to the Australians was the Chinghau University, the oldest in China. They were greeted on arrival by members of the University Revolutionary Committee made up of faculty, students and staff. Following the Cultural Revolution, the University's students are required to do various types of manual labour such as in the engineering workshop shown on film. The University also has its won computer which can play +The East is Red.+
Later the Australians met the Chinese Premier, Mr Chou En-Lai. Members of the Chinese Table Tennis Team and other sporting officials were also present. Mr Chou told the Australians +Through your visit the exchanges between the people of the two countries will increase.+ He asked them to take back to Australia the Chinese people's friendship.
Today (Monday) the Australians finished their 11-day tour of China. After a train trip from Canton, they crossed the border bridge into Hongkong where they were greeted by an army of newsmen.