HISTORIC MOMENT: Hu Jintao, Chinese President and Chairman of the Central Military Commission, inspects soldiers of the Chinese People's Liberation Army about to take part in a military parade in central Beijing on October 1 (WANG JIANMIN)
A grand military parade marked the commencement of celebrations for the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China (PRC) in Beijing on October 1, following an inspection of the country's armed forces by the top Chinese state and military leader, Hu Jintao.
"Greetings, comrades!" Chinese President and Chairman of the Central Military Commission Hu said as he saluted troops along Chang'an Avenue while riding in a black open-roof limousine.
"Greetings, leader!" the soldiers in their brand new uniforms replied loudly. The soldiers and militia, together with ranks of camouflaged tanks and missiles, stood along the newly widened boulevard. The whole procession stretched some 3 km.
"Comrades, you are working hard!" Hu said, receiving enthusiastic replies of, "We serve the people!" from the awaiting columns of soldiers and military personnel. The solemn remarks triggered excitement from an audience of about 200,000 present at the city-center Tiananmen Square, as well as hundreds of millions of TV audiences.
The world's largest urban square was transformed into a sea of colors as 60 big red lanterns waved between 56 National Unity Poles, representing China's 56 ethnic groups, at the east and the west ends of the square. Tens of thousands of China roses in full blossom formed the characters "Guo Qing," or National Day.
Hu's inspection of the troops preluded a full-dress National Day military parade, the 14th since the PRC was founded in 1949.
Fourteen phalanxes consisted of units from the Army, Navy, Air Force and the Second Artillery Force of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA), in addition to the People's Armed Police Force, the PLA reserve forces and Beijing's militia troops.
A total of 30 mobile formations proudly displayed more than 50 types of new weapon systems manufactured independently by China, including the newest model of intercontinental ballistic missiles. Land-based cruise missiles also made a debut at the military parade.
Other cutting-edge weaponry included China's new generation of tanks, sophisticated radar, unmanned aerial vehicles and satellite communication devices. Ninety percent of the weapons were displayed for the first time.
More than 150 jet fighters, bombers, helicopters, airborne early warning and control aircraft, and other aircraft in 12 echelons graced the skies over Tiananmen Square to conclude the military portion of the festivities.