July 2nd, 2011
06:28 AM GMT
Beijing (CNN) – July 1 was the Communist Party's 90th birthday and China's top leaders celebrated in style. Over 6000 guests and prominent party members gathered at the massive Great Hall of the People for the grandiose affair. The stage was decorated with red flags and a jumbo version of the party's vintage hammer and sickle for President Hu Jintao's speech marking the milestone event.
At least, that's what was on local TV. Unfortunately, we weren't able to attend the ceremony because we, and most other international TV media, had our invitations revoked at the eleventh hour.
My team and I had registered for the event several days earlier. However, one day before the ceremony, the government press center told us we were no longer welcome. At first, the officer informed us of the restrictions for TV crews, saying we were not allowed to interview the delegates attending the ceremony, to move around, to talk over the phone, to do a stand-up, to bring a tripod or set-up camera equipment in any walk way.
As we were trying to decide how to best cover the ceremony with such heavy controls, the press center called us minutes later, saying we were not allowed to come at all apparently because of limited seating. We pushed to attend just as observers - but were turned down.
The Communist Party has a lot to celebrate about. Its decision to embrace economic reforms has lifted millions of people here out of poverty, transforming China's economy into the world's second largest. The party has 80 million members and enjoys widespread support.
We can only speculate as to why the authorities wouldn't want major international TV media reporting on what is supposed to be a momentous occasion. Despite the government's impressive economic achievements, it appears insecure, clamping down on any form of criticism or dissent in the wake of the Arab Spring.
The Communist Party deserves well-wishes on its birthday. I guess I'll just have to return the blender.
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