BEIJING — China’s leaders marked the 60th anniversary of Communist Party rule on Thursday with a precision display of military bravado and a confident prediction by President Hu Jintao that “infinitely bright prospects” lie ahead for the world’s most populous nation.
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On Day for China Pride, Little Interest in Ideology (October 1, 2009) The dense blanket of smog that had covered China’s capital for days disappeared Thursday morning, leaving crystal skies and perfect autumn temperatures for the columns of armor and thousands of goose-steeping troops that paraded past Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City.
“Today, a socialist China geared to modernization, the world and the future has stood rock-firm in the east of the world,” Mr. Hu said in a brief speech. The Chinese people “cannot be prouder of the development and progress of our great motherland.”
The morning-long ceremony, a once-every-10-years ritual, mirrored every past National Day event down to Mr. Hu’s drive-by review of his troops while standing in the open sunroof of a Chinese-made limousine. Television images showed Mr. Hu, wearing a Mao-style high-collared jacket, waving stiffly and calling out “Greetings, comrades!” through four large microphones attached to the automobile roof. Following tradition, the troops replied in unison, “Serve the people!”
To foreigners who saw news reports or watched on the Internet — Chinese television streamed the parade video in English and other languages — the proceedings may have had a decidedly Cold War cast. But the events were not designed for outsiders, said Malcolm Cook, who directs the east Asian program at the Lowy Institute for International Policy, a foreign affairs research organization in Sydney, Australia.
“The message is for the domestic audience first of all, to show the strength of China, especially now that China is a great power,” he said. Modern Chinese history emphasizes the humiliations China suffers at the hands of foreign invaders, he added, and “military parades show that you have significant capabilities that work well.”
The military journal People’s Liberation Army News stated in February that the parade “is a comprehensive display of the party’s ability to rule.” China’s military answers not to the government, but to the Communist Party.
The display of armor included a number of pieces, including a cruise missile and an aerial refueling tanker, that are relatively new to the Chinese arsenal. But analysts said there was nothing that had not been known to foreign military observers.
One notable change from past parades was the new prominence given to the People’s Armed Police, who were bit players in the past but appeared on Thursday in armored personnel carriers. The police are the government’s main internal security force and played crucial roles in suppressing ethnic disturbances in Xinjiang region in July and in Tibet in March 2008.
The military review was followed by a procession of gaily decorated floats in an array of themes, from the charms of China’s provinces to gigantic portraits of Chinese leaders to the bullet trains that are beginning to connect China’s major cities.
Sharon LaFraniere contributed reporting.
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