Beijing is battening down the hatches and cranking up the propaganda ahead of a massive military parade this week to mark the end of World War Two, shooing cars from streets and shutting factories for the Communist Party's biggest event of the year.
Some 12,000 soldiers will march through Beijing's central Tiananmen Square on Thursday, mostly Chinese but with Russian and a few other foreign contingents, accompanied by tanks and armoured vehicles, as fighter jets scream overhead
President Xi Jinping will be joined on the podium by leaders including Russian President Vladimir Putin, Sudan President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
Almost all top Western leaders are staying away, alarmed by the apparent jingoism and worried by the message a Chinese show of force will send a world worried by China's military ambitions.
The city is taking extraordinary measures to ensure nothing goes awry, including restricting car use and closing factories hundreds of kilometers (miles) from Beijing to ensure the city's notorious smog is banished to make way for "parade blue", as some have dubbed the clear skies in the run-up to the event.
To ensure security, model aircraft have been banned from sale, people who live along the parade route warned not to even look out their windows on the day and the city's two main airports will be closed on Thursday morning.
It's also all happening at a time of uncertainty for China over its economic growth, turmoil in its stock markets and the death of at least 145 people at a chemical warehouse blast this month in the nearby city of Tianjin.
"It's like treading on thin ice," a source with ties to the leadership said when asked to sum up the nation's mood ahead of the parade, speaking on condition of anonymity.