China’s National Day holiday gets under way with huge basket of flowers in Tiananmen Square

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PUBLISHED : Sunday, 01 October, 2017, 4:58pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 01 October, 2017, 4:58pm

After five months in production and at least 70 design tweaks, the annual floral celebration of China’s National Day holiday has gone on display in Tiananmen Square in Beijing.

Measuring 17 metres in height and 50 metres in diameter at its base, the massive basket is overflowing with artificial fruit and flowers. Standing on a carpet of red and yellow blooms, it is a garish centrepiece for the events held to mark the founding – on October 1, 1949 – of the People’s Republic of China.

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Lan Hailang, the chief designer of this year’s floral arrangements, which run along Chang’an Avenue to the square, was quoted by Beijing News as saying that the final design came after dozens of rejections and revisions.

“From the beginning till the end, we submitted at least 70 to 80 proposals,” he said. “The whole process was like building a pyramid.”

Lan, who has worked on the National Day flower displays for about 20 years, said that close to 100 experts had been involved in this year’s design. Construction of the piece began in April and it was ready to go on show in early September, he said.

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As well as considering which flowers would look best in the main display, Lan and his team had to consider which would best be able to weather the local climate.

“They need to stay in bloom for a long period ... and be able to resist the wind,” he said.

Below the flowers and fruit spilling from the top of the display, the body of the basket is adorned with the words “Blessings to the Motherland” on one side and “Joyfully Welcome the 19th Party Congress” – a reference to the upcoming twice-a-decade gathering of the ruling party’s elite, which gets under way on October 18 – on the other.

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Besides the main display, Lan said he was also tasked with creating a further 14 floral designs to run along Chang’an Avenue.

“How to embody the country’s achievements and the improvements to people’s lives [within the displays] was a puzzle.”

Despite the size of the challenge, Lan and his team successfully completed the task. Their displays along the avenue provide not only a colourful backdrop to the area’s skyscrapers, but also carry propaganda messages to promote some of the government’s recent economic achievements such as the “Belt and Road Initiative” and the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei joint development plan.