President Hu Jintao addresses the celebrations for the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, on the Tian'anmen Rostrum in central Beijing, capital of China, Oct. 1, 2009. (Xinhua/Fan Rujun)
by Xinhua Writer Chang Ai-ling, Zhao Ying and Yuan Ye
BEIJING, Oct. 1 (Xinhua) -- China staged a grand celebration in Tian'anmen Square at the heart of Beijing Thursday, showcasing the strength and vitality of Chinese-style socialism over the past 60 years.
President Hu Jintao and other Chinese leaders viewed the two-hour pageant, which involved nearly 200,000 servicemen and women and civilians, from atop the Tian'anmen Rostrum, where Chairman Mao Zedong proclaimed the birth of the People's Republic of China (PRC) in 1949.
A total of 60-gun salutes accompanied by the national anthem played by a 1,300-member military band and a solemn national flag-raising ceremony ushered in the beginning of the festivities.
Wearing a Mao suit, Hu stood in an open-top black Red Flag limousine to review the military formations, which assembled along Chang'an Avenue, part of which has been widened and reinforced for the weight of heavy military equipment to be displayed in the National Day parade.
"We must unswervingly follow the road of socialism with Chinese characteristics...and the reform and opening-up policy," Hu said in a speech atop the Tian'anmen Rostrum after reviewing the troops.
"The development and progress of New China over the past 60 years fully proved that only socialism can save China and only reform and opening up can ensure the development of China, socialism and Marxism," Hu said.
Hu said that all the Chinese people were "full of confidence" in the bright prospects of the great rejuvenation of the nation.
Hu's speech was followed by a spectacular military march-past, which involved China's elite troops and most sophisticated weaponry.
A TRANSFORMED ARMY
Wearing green, white and blue ceremonial or camouflage uniforms, more than 3,000 Chinese servicemen and women, goose-stepped past the Tian'anmen Square, drawing applause from spectators.
A number of officers and soldiers in the parade are from troops that participated in the War of Resistance against Japanese Invasion in the 1930s and 1940s, and the War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid Korea in the 1950s.
A total of 52 types of new weapon systems, all Chinese made, including new generation tanks, missiles and warplanes, were displayed. Ninety percent of the weapons were paraded for the first time.
Among the most eye-catching weapons paraded were five types of missiles of the Second Artillery Force (SAF), China's core strategic deterrent, including the "trump card" nuclear-capable intercontinental missiles.
The gigantic weapons in camouflage colors rolled by on long-bed trucks, triggering cheers from spectators.
The SAF's land-based cruise missiles also made their debut at the once-in-a-decade military parade. The conventional cruise missile is able to perform long-range low altitude precision strikes. Also on rare public display were the SAF's three types of conventional missiles.
During the cold war, China's survival was threatened by nuclear bombs from the world's super powers.
To protect the country from nuclear threats, break nuclear monopoly and maintain national security, China began to develop strategic nuclear and missile weapons in the 1950s. The SAF was established in 1966.
Over the past 40 years, the SAF has grown into a lean and effective strategic force with both nuclear and conventional missiles, capable of both land-based strategic nuclear counterattacks and precision strikes with conventional missiles.
Following the ground formations, 151 warplanes ranging from China's most advanced J-10 and J-11 fighter jets to airborne early warning and control aircraft, bombers and aerial tankers, flew over Tian'anmen Square.
Compared with the National Day military parade 10 years ago, Thursday's parade involved fewer personnel and more equipment, fewer Army troops and more troops from the Navy, Air force and the PLA Second Artillery Force.
Lieutenant General Fang Fenghui, general director of the parade, said the formation of the phalanxes showed the ongoing transformation of the PLA from a labor-intensive to a technology-intensive force and its ability to carry out diverse military missions.
Fang said the military parade would "showcase the PLA's firm determination to safeguard national security and interests and maintain world peace."
Before the funding of New China, China had suffered from repeated invasions by foreign powers.
In August 1900, the Eight-Power Allied Forces sent by Britain, the United States, Germany, France, Tsarist Russia, Japan, Italy and Austria lined up Tian'anmen Square for a military review after they forced their way into Beijing and looted the 3,000-year-old city.
"That was one of the darkest moments in China's history, a huge humiliation. But I think that will never happen again. That's why we need a strong army and strong national defense," 23-year-old postgraduate Tang Liang, majoring in rocket design in Beihang University in Beijing, said after watching the parade on the Internet.
Nearly 80,000 children holding colorful plastic wreath and flowers spelled out slogans as backdrops for the grand celebration, turning the vast Tian'anmen Square into a sea of color.
After the giant military review, 100,000 civilians filed past the Tian'anmen Square in a colorful parade of 60 floats depicting the history of the People's Republic of China, the largest socialist country in the world.
In the midst of the parade moved four giant portraits showing four generations of Chinese leaders, including the PRC's founder Mao Zedong, chief architect of China's economic reform Deng Xiaoping, former President Jiang Zemin and incumbent Hu Jintao.
It was Mao who began to lead the nation to explore Chinese-style socialism.
Their portraits were accompanied by different slogans, including "Chinese people have henceforth stood up" from Mao, "pushing forward reform and opening-up" from Deng, "adhering to the important thoughts of Three Represents" from Jiang and "implementing scientific outlook on development" from Hu.
Scientific development, the current catchphrase in China, emphasizes caring about the well-being of people, promoting comprehensive, coordinated and sustainable development and balancing different aspects of social life.
The doctrine was inscribed in the Constitution of the Communist Party of China (CPC) at the Party's 17th National Congress in 2007.
Following the founding of the People's Republic of China on Oct. 1, 1949, there were doubts whether the Communist Party of China could govern and feed the poor continent-sized country with a population of 500 million.
The country was put to severe tests. The War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid Korea (1950-1953), three years of natural disasters (1959-1961), coupled with the aftermath of the Great Leap Forward plus the 10-year turmoil of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) have been among the major obstacles overcome.