China kicked off an enormous military parade in Beijing on Tuesday to commemorate 70 years of Communist Party rule and celebrate the country’s emergence as a global power.
The parade — which included 100,000 performers, 15,000 goose-stepping soldiers and an array of heavy-duty weaponry — began in Tiananmen Square and was among the largest in modern Chinese history.
“The Chinese nation advanced along the grand road toward achieving its great rejuvenation,” the country’s top leader, Xi Jinping, told a crowd that included dignitaries, party members and foreign journalists before the parade started. He spoke from the Gate of Heavenly Peace, where Mao Zedong founded the People’s Republic of China on Oct. 1, 1949.
Mr. Xi, who wore a Mao-style suit, referred to Mao in his speech but did not mention his own predecessors as Chinese leaders — even as two previous presidents, Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin, stood nearby.
After his speech, Mr. Xi stood in the open sunroof of a Chinese-made Red Flag limousine as he reviewed People’s Liberation Army troops that had gathered in Tiananmen Square under heavy smog. A fleet of military helicopters flapped into the sky to outline the number “70.”
“Greetings, Comrades,” Mr. Xi called out. “Comrades, you are working hard!”
“Greetings, Chairman” the troops responded in unison. “Serve the people!”
For Mr. Xi, the parade is an opportunity to bask in the party’s achievements at a time when his country faces economic headwinds from a trade war with the United States and international condemnation of his government’s mass detentions of Muslims in China’s western region of Xinjiang.
Another challenge for the Communist Party is the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong that has surged into open defiance of Beijing’s rule, and which threatened on Tuesday to overshadow Mr. Xi’s carefully choreographed pageantry.