China military holds anniversary parade
PLA to uphold combat effectiveness: Xi
The military parade commemorating the 90th anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) showcased China’s growing military strength and high- lighted the achievements of the country’s military reform, Chinese experts said.
China on Sunday held the military parade at the Zhurihe military training base in North China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. More than 12,000 service personnel
from the army, navy, air force, armed police as well as the newly formed rocket force and strategic support troops took part in the parade.
It was the first time for Chinese President Xi Jinping to observe such a large-scale parade staged in the field. The parade also marks the first time that China commemorated Army Day, which falls on August 1, with a military parade since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949.
Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, said on Sunday the CPC and the Chinese people all take pride in the PLA, and ordered the country’s military to uphold its combat effectiveness and modernize the national defense and armed forces.
Xi also stressed that the PLA has the confidence and capability to defeat all invading enemies and protecting China’s national sovereignty, security and interests.
“Xi’s speech sent a clear signal that China has the capability of defending the country’s territorial integrity and safeguarding its safety and stability. It warned countries not to hold any fantasy of [invasion],” Li Daguang, a professor at the National Defense University of the PLA, told the Global Times.
Shift to practical tests
Different from previous parades, the parade in Zhurihe did not feature military bands or chorus, but instead played recorded music. Soldiers wore battle fatigues instead of dress uniforms. Moreover, more than 600 pieces of military hardware were displayed with nearly half of the weapons being new or modified versions that had hardly been shown in public before.
Experts noted that this parade was a test of the result of military reforms and demonstrated the military’s strong combat ability.
“The parade showed that after the military reform, China’s military is committed to becoming a powerful force that is always ready to fight, capable of combat and confident to win,” said Xu Yan, a professor at the National Defense University of the PLA, adding that the parade also delivered an important message that the parade may be carried out more regularly.
Yang Yucai, another professor from the PLA National Defense University, added that the military parade in Zhurihe showed that China is shifting its focus from ceremonial demonstrations to practical tests.
“China’s military has been undergoing huge changes in terms of equipment and training through years of reform. The same applies to the military parade,” said Yang, warning that along with the rise of China, the military is facing heavier burden in safeguarding its rights, and that the country needs a powerful force to deter external threats.
The PLA parade troops were composed of a formation of flag guards, a helicopter echelon of celebration marks, and nine combat groups including land operations, information operations, special operations, air and missile defense, naval operations, air operations, comprehensive support, counter-terrorism, stability maintenance and strategic strikes.
China’s latest J-20 stealth fighters made their parade debut. The J-20 is China’s indigenous fourth-generation medium and long-range fighter jet. It made its maiden flight in 2011 and was first displayed in public at the 11th Airshow China in Zhuhai, Guangdong Province, in November 2016.
Besides the J-20, J-16 fighters and Y-20 heavy transport aircraft were also among the new aircraft making parade debuts.
Other cutting-edge weapons like 8x8 all-terrain vehicles, radar-andcommunication jamming drones and solid-fuel intercontinental missiles were among about 600 pieces of military hardware on display.
But the highlight of the parade was the host of conventional and nuclear missiles from the PLA’s newly established Rocket Force.
They include the Dongfeng-26 ballistic missile, which can be fired at short notice and fitted with a nuclear warhead, the Dongfeng-21D landbased anti-ship ballistic missile described by some as the “carrier killer,” and the Dongfeng-16G conventional missile designed for precision strikes against key enemy targets.
“Many pieces of military equipment displayed in this parade are suitable for combat in complex terrain. For example, the infantry fighting vehicles, air-defense missiles and self-propelled guns are suitable for operation in mountainous areas. Some of them have already been deployed in the Tibetan Plateau,” Song Zhongping, a military expert who served in the PLA Rocket Force, told the Global Times on Sunday. Xinhua contributed to this story