Yue-Sai took part in formal festivities for China's 60th National Day on October 1 along with dignitaries and celebrities from all over the world.
This was the third National Day (35th, 50th, and 60th) for Yue-Sai, but only the second she experienced in person. In 1984, Yue-Sai was the live television anchor for the 35th National Day parade in a joint CCTV-PBS broadcast. She was not on the scene but in a studio in the U.S, watching the parade along with the American audience, a particularly challenging assignment given to her only four days before October 1 when PBS learned that the live feed from China would include no narration! As host of a show on Asia, Looking East, Yue-Sai was asked to narrate the parade. With only a list of the parade floats, marching groups and military contingents to go by, Yue-Sai gathered background material on all aspects of China, including military history. The broadcast was so successful that Yue-Sai ended up with a request from the Chinese government to produce a TV show to introduce the world to the Chinese, resulting in a 104-part series and Yue-Sais instant popularity.
Yue-Sai wrote a blog entry about her impressions of the 60th anniversary celebration:
The first night on the 29th, we were invited to the Great Hall of the People to enjoy a 2.5 hour historical song and dance piece. It was dazzling and a very expensive production. Besides this, they also produced a movie to highlight the history of China from the Mao era to today, acted by some of the biggest Chinese stars of today, Jackie Chan, Zhang Ziyi, etc.
The evening of the 30th, we were invited to a State Banquet again in the Great Hall of the People. All the Chinese leaders were there, including ministers, [representatives of] the embassies in Beijing and some invited heads of states. I must say that the atmosphere was special. Everyone was very happy to be there, and all had high expectations for the parade the next morning.
On October 1, we were asked to get up at 5:30 AM to dress and to have breakfast. Our bus left the hotel at 6:45 AM. Even though the parade was to start at 10, we had to be there 1.5 hours before. There were no private cars allowed anywhere in Beijing. [The city] was under strict curfew for two days. We had to go with our buses or else we were going nowhere. That morning, our bus parked on the other side of the Forbidden City. We had to walk from one side to the other side to arrive at Tiananmen Square where we had assigned seats. The good thing is that at that time of the morning, the Forbidden City looked so magnificent. The unfortunate thing is that the sun came out and sitting on the review stand for four hours was really very, very painful. A few people passed out. It was at least 33 degrees centigrade. To ensure that the rain would not fall on their parade, the Chinese military sent over 1100 rockets the night before INTO the rain clouds, so it rained. By the morning of October 1, the sky was bright and sun was shining. By 10, there were more than 100,000 people in the Square!
At 10 AM on the dot, the ceremony started. There was the flag raising, the singing of the national anthem, the review of the military by Hu Jintao, and then his speech. The speeches I have heard in the last few decades are almost the same, with only slight differences. While they are confident of their bright future, they also mention their role in the world. They know now that they belong to the world and that they can play a big part in doing good and bring peace to the world. There was the military parade, and it was impressive. The most beautiful for me however, was the marching. The members of the parade spent six months practicing the steps. I wager you have never seen anything like it. So precise! The lady soldiers were very special this year. I do not recall ever seeing them wearing shorts and skirts SO short before. They were downright chic in red and white boots. The last part was the floats from all the provinces. They were joyous.
If you think that the Beijing Olympics were impressive, this event was even MORE so!