With the Communist Party’s centenary just days away, much of what is expected to be the biggest political celebration in China’s modern history remains shrouded in secrecy. Early this year, President Xi Jinping promised “grand celebrations” for the event but the country’s top brass has already said there will be no military parade. According to officials, Xi will deliver a speech on July 1, two days after he awards “July 1 medals” to members of the ruling party deemed to have made prominent contributions. While other details of the day’s events are largely unknown, closures in the capital offer clues. Tiananmen Square has been sealed off since Wednesday and will reopen on July 2. When a rehearsal took place in early June, sections of the Changan Avenue, the main thoroughfare in the heart of Beijing, were sealed off. Videos of rehearsals featuring fireworks and helicopters flying over Tiananmen Square have been circulating online, suggesting what can be expected on the day. Roads have also been cordoned off in the north of Beijing near the National Stadium, also known as the “Bird’s Nest”, where various shows will be staged over a number of evenings. In Shanghai, the banks of the Huangpu River will be the backdrop for a light show that will be staged for a week from Wednesday. As the Communist Party turns 100, Xi Jinping has a problem: who will take over? Tight controls will also apply to those attending the events. While China has largely succeeded in containing coronavirus outbreaks, it has strict disease control measures for in-person political events. Since 2020, all reporters and diplomats attending the country’s annual legislative gatherings have had to be tested for Covid-19. For the centenary celebration this year, disease control measures have been taken to another level. All attendees will have to be fully vaccinated with a Chinese vaccine and have tested negative for the disease within two days of the event. Diplomats can also attend if they have had a foreign vaccine, but they will have to travel out of the country to receive those jabs and go through quarantine imposed on international travellers. Gu Su, a political scientist at Nanjing University in eastern China, said the anniversary might not yield any major announcements. “The centenary is the most important year for any commemoration so the party’s centenary will be very big,” Gu said. “But we might not see any major policy announcement during the centenary. That part might be left to next year’s party congress. “A lot is still undecided and China is facing lots of domestic and international challenges.” The Chinese leadership is expected to meet in autumn next year for its five-yearly party congress, when Xi is likely to seek a third term as party secretary, the first Chinese leader to do so in decades. The congress is also a time to usher in a new line-up of the party’s major organs, including the seven-member Politburo Standing Committee and the 25-member Politburo. At the last party congress in 2017, Xi took three hours to read out his report to the conclave, setting the tone for the party’s strategy for the next five years. Xi is also expected to personally hand out medals to around two dozen party members who exemplify policy priorities. Among the 29 people on a list of honourees released in May are a fighter from the civil war, a member of a maritime militia who built on reefs in the South China Sea, a soldier who died in the border clash with India last June and a late veteran of the Korean war. The candidates also include figures from ethnic minority groups, including a Uygur village chief who was praised for fighting separatism and a woman Tibetan cadre credited for “leading the people to follow the party”. Around the country, members of the party have been going to key revolutionary sites, historic monuments and museums to retake the oaths they made when they joined the party. Xi led the way on June 18, renewing his pledge with dozens of senior officials to a new museum on party history in Beijing.