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China reveals fewer troops, more armaments in celebration parade

China presented fewer servicemen but showed more armaments to the world here Thursday morning in a grand military parade marking New China's 60th founding anniversary.

Fifty-six phalanxes marched past or flew over Tian'anmen Square at the heart of Beijing, symbolizing China's 56 ethnic groups marching in solidarity along the road of socialism with Chinese characteristics.

More than 8,000 soldiers of 32 ethnic groups participated in the formations, among which 14 marched through Chang'an Avenue on foot, 30 in wheeled transport and 12 air echelons.

Compared with the 1999 military parade that involved more than10,000 servicemen, the number of formations marching on foot this year dropped from 17 to 14, phalanxes in wheeled transport rose from 25 to 30, while air echelons increased from 10 to 12. Four services of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) -- Army, Navy, Air Force and the Second Artillery Corps (SAC), joined the grand parade together with armed police and reserve duty units in a show of the complete establishment of China's armed forces.

While reducing the number of parading servicemen, China uncovered more of its arms depot during the standing-in formation and the march-past event that lasted for about an hour. The military parade this year cut the number of on-foot formations by the Army but added those by other military services -- Navy, Air Force and the SAC.

Regiments formed by special force, servicewomen and mobile radars, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and airborne early warning and control (AEWC) aircraft made their debut in the parade this year.

Fifty-two types of new weapon systems manufactured by China on its own were on display in this year's march-past event. China-made armaments on display included new main battle tanks, amphibious assault tanks, tracked infantry fighting vehicles (IFV), self-propelled guns, self-propelled mortar-howitzers, multiple launch rocket systems, wheeled tank destroyers and anti-tank missile launch vehicles.

Among the highly watched Chinese armaments were the five phalanxes formed by 108 missiles, ranging from surface-to-surface conventional missiles to overland cruise missiles and intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The air echelons, consisting of 151 aircraft like AEWC aircraft, J-11 fighters, J-10 fighter jets, bombers, aerial tankers, fighter-bombers, helicopters and training planes, flew over the Tian'anmen Square during the parade, up from 132 aircraft in 1999.


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