China marks Army Day with mil­i­tary dis­play

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

ZHURIHE: Dozens of sol­diers stormed out of 18 he­li­copters land­ing on a sandy patch in the heart of the vast In­ner Mon­go­lian prairie.

They joined thou­sands of other cam­ou­flaged sol­diers in a mas­sive mil­i­tary dis­play as tanks and mis­sile launch­ers rum­bled past. Fighter jets streaked across the clear blue sky, shoot­ing flares.

Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping re­viewed the armed forces yes­ter­day morn­ing as part of cel­e­bra­tions mark­ing the 90th an­niver­sary of the foun­da­tion of the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army (PLA), which falls on Au­gust 1.

More than 12 000 ser­vice per­son­nel from the army, navy, air force, armed po­lice, as well as a newly formed rocket force and strate­gic sup­port troops, took part in the pa­rade at Zhurihe mil­i­tary train­ing base.

China needs to build strong armed forces more than at any other time in his­tory as the Chi­nese na­tion is closer than ever to the goal of great re­ju­ve­na­tion, Xi said af­ter over­see­ing the pa­rade.

“The PLA has the con­fi­dence and ca­pa­bil­ity to de­feat all in­vad­ing en­e­mies and safe­guard China’s na­tional sovereignty, se­cu­rity and de­vel­op­ment in­ter­ests,” said Xi, who is also gen­eral sec­re­tary of the Com­mu­nist Party of China (CPC) Cen­tral Com­mit­tee and chair­man of the Cen­tral Mil­i­tary Com­mis­sion.

Xi, who was en­dorsed as the core of the CPC Cen­tral Com­mit­tee in 2016, called on the PLA to stay loyal to the party, boost com­bat ca­pa­bil­ity and con­tinue to serve the peo­ple.

Ob­servers said the pa­rade had more of a com­bat feel as sol­diers ap­peared as if they were gripped by the heat of bat­tle.

“Here, the sol­diers have the stares that kill,” said Wang Ruicheng, deputy head of the gen­eral of­fice of the pa­rade head­quar­ters.

Late lead­ers Mao Ze­dong and Deng Xiaop­ing also in­spected troops in the field at key mo­ments in his­tory.

But this was the first time Xi had over­seen such a large pa­rade at a mil­i­tary base, and the first time China has com­mem­o­rated Army Day with a mil­i­tary pa­rade since the found­ing of the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China in 1949.

Yes­ter­day’s commemoration be­gan with a flag-rais­ing cer­e­mony around 9am.

Xi was greeted by Han Weiguo, com­man­der-in-chief of the pa­rade and com­man­der of the Cen­tral The­atre Com­mand.

“Com­rade chair­man, the troops are ready. Please re­view,” Han said. “Pro­ceed!” Xi replied. Cam­ou­flage-clad Xi mounted an open-top jeep that drove along an airstrip.

“Salute to you, com­rades,” Xi called out to the sol­diers.

“Hail to you, chair­man,” they replied.

Xi al­ter­nated the greet­ing with “Com­rades, thanks for your hard work.”

The sol­diers replied in uni­son: “Serve the peo­ple. Fol­low the party. Fight to win. Forge ex­em­plary con­duct.”

Forty-one at­tack he­li­copters flew in for­ma­tions spell­ing Chi­nese char­ac­ters “Ba Yi” – or Au­gust 1 – and the num­ber 90.

To­day, the PLA com­mands about 2 mil­lion ser­vice per­son­nel, one of the world’s largest mil­i­tary forces.

In his tele­vised ad­dress, Xi said his­tory had proved that the PLA was a heroic force that had fol­lowed the party’s com­mand, serv­ing the coun­try with loy­alty, and fight­ing for the re­ju­ve­na­tion of the Chi­nese na­tion.

He urged the PLA to fo­cus on war pre­pared­ness to forge an elite and pow­er­ful force that is al­ways “ready for the fight, ca­pa­ble of com­bat and sure to win.

“The world is not all at peace, and peace must be safe­guarded,” Xi said.

PIC­TURE: XIN­HUA

Chi­nese Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army (PLA) troops per­form a flag-rais­ing cer­e­mony yes­ter­day for a mil­i­tary pa­rade to com­mem­o­rate the 90th an­niver­sary of the found­ing of the PLA on Au­gust 1 at Zhurihe train­ing base in north China’s In­ner Mon­go­lia Au­ton­o­mous Re­gion.

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