China to celebrate its National Day, 56 years of communist rule

China prepared Friday to celebrate 56 anniversary of communist rule with pageants, banquets and tightened security.

Police bomb squads were out in force in Beijing, and human rights groups said authorities have been expelling people with grievances from the capital to prevent disruptions, a common move during politically sensitive periods.

Premier Wen Jiabao was to give a speech later Friday, amid efforts by the central government to narrow China's rich-poor gap and stamp out corruption.

Saturday kicks off a weeklong holiday in honor of the founding of communist China on Oct. 1, 1949.

Immediately following the break, Communist Party leaders will meet for their annual plenum Oct. 8-11 to approve an economic plan for the next five years.

The economy is booming, but increasing numbers of poor farmers are protesting widespread graft, industrial pollution, and seizures of land for development.

China's leaders have become increasingly candid about their fears that rising public anger over corruption could undermine acceptance of communist rule.

Scholars have warned that widening income disparities between the cities and countryside could threaten social stability. Rising unemployment poses a similar threat.

Reforms launched in the late 1970s have fueled decades of fast economic development that have transformed Chinese society. But while city residents are buying their first cars and taking their first overseas vacations, farmers in the vast countryside still labor as they have for centuries, reports the AP.

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