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China flaunts military muscle in 70th anniversary parade

With tens of rounds of gun salutes, pageantry for 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China’s birthday began on Tuesday at Tiananmen Square–the heart of Beijing. A massive parade by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) exhibited China’s military might and warfare capabilities, a big surprise to the world at a time when China was supposed to have remained silent containing its defensive military position.

Thousands of military personnel in their impeccable lineups trooped down along the Beijing’s heart under the gaze of their military supremo and President Xi Jinping and two former presidents including other sitting powerful honchos in the communist China. The march was followed by long formations of around 600 advanced military weapons including DF-17 hypersonic missile and Dong Feng-41 missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. The army’s Air Force also displayed a full-fledged aerobatic aerial show to mark the National Day. Chinese President Xi Jinping in a speech made ahead of the National Day parade warned that “no force can ever shake the status of China, or stop the Chinese nation from marching forward”.

Xi reiterated China’s resilience to move forward with its grand economic plans and “a continuous struggle to help people of all countries to push for jointly building a community with a shared future for humanity”.

Soon after the PLA’s parade ended, a long 100,000 civilian parade began marching alongside patriotic floats carrying insignia, symbols of China’s pride and mammoth portraits of Communist leaders. Toward the end of the parade, thousands of pigeons were freed into the sky, followed by thousands of colorful biodegradable balloons.

The parade, China’s most important political event for the year, displayed remarkable achievements of China over the past seven decades since the founding of the People’s Republic of China. In October 1st 1949, Communist leader Mao Zedong declared the founding of the new China, embarking upon an era of economic development and a leap forward under the leadership of the Communist Party of China. The proclamation was greeted with a great euphoria among Chinese. It was an era of suffering as the Chinese nation was grappling with external aggression, poverty and consequences of 28 years of war. Seventy years on, China has not only become the world’s second largest economy with a rapidly rising living standards but also the developer of the most advanced hypersonic-glide missiles.

Since the opening up of China to the world in 1978, roughly 800 million Chinese have been lifted out of poverty thanks to vigorous and innovative economic policies coupled with the strong leadership of the CPC. China’s development has gone beyond its borders with the introduction of the Belt and Road Initiative in 2013. The mega project envisages connecting China to the rest of the world through land and maritime routes for promoting trade and transit, as well as for promoting the common global interests. It is China’s mantra to contribute to the world’s peace and sustainable development.

The parade on the ground and in the air was China’s chance to display its military muscle to the West against the backdrop of unprovoked accusations against China of having high military ambitions. This was a sobering reminder of how resiliently China can pursue its visions without reliance to the west bloc and a wake-up call for the United States to relinquish its pressure on China.

By Seddiq Hussainy The writer is a journalist working for Afghanistan Times in Afghanistan and is currently participating in the China Asia Pacific Press Center 2019 program in Beijing.

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