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September 15, 2009

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Countdown to National Day parade

AS preparation advances for a military parade to celebrate the 60th National Day of the People's Republic of China, top brass reflect on the lessons drawn from the nation's last such parade 10 years ago.

"Those who joined were all hand picked from the whole People's Liberation Army," recalled Li Xinliang, general commander of the 1999 parade.

"They had to be competent militarily and qualified politically; they had taken part in major campaigns and won numerous awards; and they were well-equipped," said Li, who was former commander of Beijing Military Area Command.

Celebrations on October 1 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the PRC will see China's 14th military parade since 1949.

From 1949 to 1959, National Day military parades were an annual event. They were later suspended for 24 years until 1984.

The last massive parade was in 1999 when the PRC marked its 50th birthday.

The decision for a military review on the 50th National Day in 1999 was made at the beginning of 1998, which allowed enough time for thorough preparations, Li said.

"First, the Central Military Commission set up a leading team for the parade, headed by Fu Quanyou, then chief of the general staff of the PLA," Li said.

The lineup of the 50th anniversary parade surpassed all previous shows of strength, with 42 ground phalanxes and 10 flying phalanxes composed of more than 11,000 soldiers and 409 units of heavy equipment.

Of the 42 types of large equipment, more than 95 percent had never been seen on parade before, Li said. Most of the equipment was developed and made by China.

The parade saw the debut of China's third-generation tanks, new strategic nuclear missiles and supersonic fighter bombers.

Troops for the 50th anniversary parade were drawn from all units such as marine corps, special armed police corps and army aviation units.


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