China plans "biggest ever" military parade

The military parade during celebrations for this year's 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China will be an "unprecedented" display of troops and weaponry, state media said on Wednesday, dpa reported.

The ruling Communist Party's Central Military Commission instructed all units of the People's Liberation Army to prepare for an "unprecedented dress parade" on October 1, the official Xinhua news agency said.

The parade will be "the highest level of its kind" and will showcase the army's "first-class organization, weapons systems, training results and spiritual outlook," the agency quoted the military commission as saying in a notice.

It will "involve more arms and weapons than all previous parades," the notice said.

It said all forces will join the parade, including the Second Artillery, which controls most of China's strategic missiles, some armed with nuclear warheads.

The first such parade for 10 years will showcase new weapons of the navy, the air force and the Second Artillery, the agency said.

It is designed to "promote national pride and self-confidence amid economic hard times."

"As the international financial crisis is still spreading and there are still some critical problems in the domestic economy as well as many uncertainties in international society, holding such a parade will significantly increase the people's national pride and self-confidence," the notice said.

Last month, the defence ministry said the parade would be a "warm but frugal and cost-effective" show of China's most sophisticated weapon systems, the agency reported.

Acclaimed film-maker Zhang Yimou, who directed last year's Olympic opening and closing ceremonies, will also organize a celebration on October 1, the China Daily newspaper said.

Large military parades along the Avenue of Eternal Peace (Chang'an Dajie), which crosses central Beijing and passes along the northern edge of Tiananmen Square, were held regularly until the early 1980s.

The most recent parades took place in 1984 and 1999, for the 35th and 50th anniversaries of the People's Republic, with 11 earlier parades since 1949, state media said earlier.

Many analysts believe the party cancelled plans for a 40th anniversary parade because of unrest following a military crackdown on democracy protests in Tiananmen Square in June 1989.

During the 1999 parade, party leaders sat on the Tiananmen Gate above a huge portrait of former leader Mao Zedong to watch the passing of thousands of soldiers and military hardware including nuclear-capable mobile missile launchers.

The party introduced a week-long National Day holiday in 1999 to mark the October 1 anniversary.

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