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UPDATED: September-23-2009
The National Day Parade in 1984: Take Great Strides Along the Road to Socialism with Chinese Characteristics

The convening of the Third Plenary Session of the 11th CPC Central Committee in 1978 marked China's entrance into a new period of reform and opening-up, and a drive for socialist modernization. With all of the army's work being corrected and the modernization drive being promoted, the National Day military parade recommenced after a 24-year interruption. On March 10, 1981, Deng Xiaopeng, the then-Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission suggested restarting the National Day military parade. On March 18, the Headquarters of the General Staff, in accordance with instructions from the Central Military Commission, issued an order to recommence the military parade. In September, the army held a large-scale military exercise in northern China. Following the exercise, a grand military parade was held. Deng Xiaoping, who had been appointed as Chairman of the Central Military Commission, reviewed the army and called on them to build up a powerful, modernized and regularized revolutionary army. In December, the CPC Central Committee decided to hold a military parade on the 35th National Day in 1984. In the middle of November, 1983, the Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee convened a special meeting to discuss and plan the celebrations and preparations for the military parade on the 35th National Day. On December 12, the capital leading group for the military parade on the 35th National Day was set up, with Yang Dezhi, Chief of General Staff of the PLA, as the head. Deng Xiaoping paid particular attention to this military parade. He listened to reports relating to the preparations for this military parade on numerous occasions and personally approved the goal of realizing a "world-class" military parade proposed by Beijing Military Area Command. The previous slogans of leaders reviewing the army were "Long Live the Communist Party of China" and "Long live the People's Republic of China." According to Deng Xiaoping's instructions, the parade slogans were changed to "Salute comrades" and "Thanks for your hard work." Soldier and officer responded "Hail to the Chief" and "Serve the people." The changes of parade slogans reflected the change in the concept of running the army. Under the unified leadership of the Central Military Commission, all the preparation work for the National Day military parade proceeded smoothly.

At 10 am on October 1, 1984, the then-Chairman of the Central Military Commission Deng Xiaoping, accompanied by the parade director Qin Jiwei, reviewed the army in a vehicle. When the march-past began, a guard of honor composed of commanders and soldiers from the army, navy and air force marched at the front. They carried the army flag and took the lead entering Tiananmen Square. They were followed by a military academy division comprising representatives of cadets from military colleges, naval colleges, air force colleges, artillery colleges, armor colleges and Shijiazhuang Army School. These cadets wore new-style uniforms and marched using goose-steps. Following were the infantry, marine, airborne troops of the air force, female medical corps, People's Armed Police and militia divisions. Following the divisions on foot, motorized and mechanized divisions passed one by one, including divisions of antitank missile, artillery, rocket minelayer, infantry fighting vehicle, armored personnel carrier, tank, self-propelled gun, surface-to-air missile and strategic missile.

When the air force anti-aircraft missile division crossed Tiananmen Square, the airborne first echelon, led by H-6 aircrafts, flew toward Tiananmen Square with eight J-5 aircrafts lining up on both sides. The first echelon was followed by the second echelon comprising 18 H-6 aircrafts. While the airborne first and second echelons were being reviewed, nine large tractors from the strategic missile division carrying strategic missiles designed and manufactured independently by China appeared. These missiles were open to the public for the first time and attracted particular attention. Then, the 32 Qiang-5 aircrafts of the airborne third echelon, divided into four squadrons, flew low over the Tiananmen area. Following that, the 35 J-7 aircrafts of the fourth echelon divided into five squadrons and flew over the Tiananmen area. At 10:56 am, the march-past ended. The entire military parade took 56 minutes.

A total of 46 divisions (echelons) participated in this military parade, including 42 ground divisions and four airborne echelons. Each division on foot had 14 rows, each with 25 people, totaling 352 people (including team leaders). This was four rows and 110 people more than that at the military parade on the 10th National Day. The strategic missile division had a total of 14 vehicles including two command vehicles and those traveled in four rows, each with three vehicles. Except the strategic missile division, all other vehicle divisions had 18 vehicles, including two command vehicles with four rows, and in each row four vehicles. The largest airplane group in the airborne echelons was a nine-aircraft formation, four aircrafts more than that on the 10th National Day. A total of 10,370 officers and soldiers attended this parade. The 28 types of weapons and equipment reviewed were all developed by China, including 117 combat aircrafts of various kinds, 189 missiles, 205 tanks and armored vehicles, 126 cannons, 18 rocket minelayers, 6,429 light weapons and 2,216 vehicles. 19 types were new equipment meeting modern standards and some were even of advanced international level, which fully reflected the new achievements accomplished in the modernization drive of China's national defense system.

In addition, it was the first time for the strategic missile force, the armed police force and female soldiers to be reviewed in a National Day military parade.

The military parade on the 35th National Day was unprecedented in grandeur and prompted strong reactions both at home and abroad. On October 5, Deng Xiaoping issued orders of commendation to the reviewed army and pointed out that the army displayed national prestige and military spirits with their new look and strict discipline. He also said that the military parade deeply reflected the tremendous achievements made by the PLA in the drive to build a revolutionary, modernized and regularized army. It fully revealed that the army's weapons and equipment had been raised to a new level and vividly showed the political consciousness and military capability of the people's army as well as their indomitable heroic spirits. Hundreds of millions of people had witnessed the powerful lineup of the PLA and China's strengthened national defense, which significantly invigorated the national spirits, inspired patriotism and spurred confidence in realizing the four modernizations.

(Source: CCTV June 17, 2009)

Pan Duo
Yuan Longping
Chen Guangbiao
Chen Zhangliang
Zheng Xiaoying
Song Dafang
Jiang Qingliang
Liu Jinyan
Hu Fei
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