Thursday, September 10, 2009

China's past 13 military parades to mark founding anniversaries

A grand military parade will be held in Beijing on Oct. 1 to celebrate the 60th founding anniversary of the People's Republic of China. It will be the 14th parade since 1949.

Two rounds of rehearsals have been held so far, the latest one on Sunday night.

Xinhua takes you back into history to see the last 13 parades, reflecting the development of China's national defense.

The country held military parades on Oct. 1, the National Day, every year from 1949 to 1959.

In September 1960, the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the State Council (Cabinet) decided to change the annual parade practice to one grand celebration and military parade once a decade.

A smaller-scale National Day celebration was also staged every five years.

Later, due to the chaotic era of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), no military parades were held for 24 years. It was not until 1984 when the country marked its 35th birthday that the practice was resumed.

The most recent massive parade was in 1999 when China marked its 50th birthday.

Observers say these 13 military parades showcased the advancement of the modernization of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), from a peasant troop to a modernized army with nuclear weaponry.

In terms of armament, the parade at the New China's founding ceremony in 1949 displayed "multinational" equipment as most of it had been captured from the enemy during wartime.

But in 1959, weaponry showcased in the parade was mostly homegrown.

In 1984, there were 28 categories of armament shown in the most advanced parade by then. All the armament were domestically made and the country's nuclear weapon was presented to the world for the first time.

At the latest military parade ten years ago, more than 90 percent of the equipment on display was newly made. It has been the most modern military parade in Chinese history.


The decision to hold a military parade at the founding ceremony of the New China was made in accordance with the resolution of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the top political advisory body.

A detailed plan was made for the parade which included procedures such as top leaders' reviewing the troops and soldiers' marching through Tian'anmen Square.

On Oct. 1, 1949, troops stood along the Chang'an Avenue, or the main Avenue of Eternal Peace, in front of the Tian'anmen Rostrum. They were reviewed by Zhu De, then the PLA's commander-in-chief.

Later that day, the troops, including military horses that have almost been abandoned today, marched from east to west along the avenue, passing the Tian'anmen Rostrum where senior Party and government officials, including late Chairman Mao Zedong, watched the marching.

The route has not changed to this today.

The troops taking part in the parade comprised of more than 16,400 soldiers of the land forces, navy and air force.

A total of 119 artillery, 152 tanks and armored vehicles, 222 other vehicles, 2,344 war-horses and 17 aircraft, were also present in the parade.

This equipment, mainly seized during wars before the founding of the PRC, were "multinationally built," including Japan's 75 mm Field Gun, 105 mm howitzer, Type 97 tank, 37mm anti-aircraft guns,75 mm anti-aircraft artillery, the United States' 105 mm howitzer, the EBRC armored vehicle, P-51 Fighter and Britain's Mosquito bomber.

The parade lasted for two and a half hours.


The parade that year was reviewed by then Central Military Commission (CMC) Chairman Deng Xiaoping.

Forty-two square arrays, formed by 10,370 soldiers, marched through Tian'anmen Square. A total of 117 aircraft flew over the square in four echelons.

There were also 189 missiles, 205 tanks and armored vehicles, 126 artillery pieces, 18 rocket-delivered mine layers, 6,429 small arms, and 2,216 vehicles.

On display were 28 categories of weaponry, all of which were domestically made, including 19 categories of new armament, highlighting China's capabilities in national defense.

This parade showed the country's latest-generation weaponry and received world attention.


Then CMC Chairmen Jiang Zemin, also General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee and Chinese President at that time, reviewed the troops taking part in the parade celebrating the country's 50th birthday.

On display were 17 square arrays of soldiers and 25 armored vehicle phalanxes that marched through the Tian'anmen Square. The number of flying phalanxes increased to ten from four in 1984.

The new structure of the parade showed the PLA's optimized formation.

Units such as army aviation, marine corps, special armed police corps and reserve duty, all established after the initiation of the reform and opening-up drive in 1979, were for the first time present in the parade.

A total of 40 of the 42 kinds of large armament were brought to the stage for the first time. Only two of them had been displayed in the 35th anniversary parade.

More than 90 percent of the equipment was newly-developed, the most advanced in the PLA history.

Compared to the 35th anniversary parade 15 years ago, the 1999 one boasted a large contingent of defense-related technology. Hi-tech armament had become major weapons, most of which were homegrown.


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