Tactical missile carriers drive across Tiananmen Square during the 1999 National Day military parade, Beijing, October, 1, 1999. [chinamil.com]
The scale was large and the scene was magnificent; all troops participating in the parade were elite troops. Such scale and array were unprecedented in New China's history, and were also rarely seen in the world. Over 11,000 officers and soldiers and a giant array formed by over 400 fighting vehicles stretched as long as two kilometers. The "iron army", one division from Jinan Military Area Command, drove new-style wheeled infantry fighting vehicles. This army's predecessor was the famous “Yeting independent regiment” of the Northern Expeditionary Army, which was the first armed force led by the CPC. The "combat hero battalion" was equipped with a new type of self-propelled anti-craft guns; the battalion's predecessor was the famous "first company of the Red Army", the guard company of the second regiment of the first division under the first army of the Red Army. Mao Zedong carried out experiments to “establish branches of the CPC at the level of companies” in this famous company during the Sanwan Reorganization, and the CPC accumulated experience in building a new type of PLA under the leadership of the CPC. The unit driving advanced antitank missile vehicles from Nanjing Military Area Command was a Red Army troop created during the Huangma Uprising. The "Red Army Regiment" driving caterpillar infantry fighting vehicles was a troop created during the Pingjiang Uprising. There were also other hero groups including "the regiment being awarded great merit citation in the Huai-Hai Campaign", "the company being awarded top-grade merit citation in the Battle of Triangle Hill", "Huang Jiguang squad", "Dong Cunrui squad", "Wang Jie squad" and "Wang Hai Unit"; as well as merit troops like those with Zhang Side and Qiu Shaoyun as soldiers, "the hero battalion" which shot down US-made U-2 high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft, and a bomber aviation division of the PLA air force which successfully completed the experiment of dropping an atomic bomb for the first time.
The grand trans-century military parade created multiple new records:
It had the most army branches of the 13 National Day military parades in the history of New China
The 25-soldier rows of the reviewed divisions set a world record
The armed forces line-up, comprising over 100 fighting vehicles from tank, infantry fighting vehicle and armored vehicle divisions, was the largest of all the military parades in the history of New China.
With its four missile divisions formed by the conventional surface-to-surface missiles, medium-range surface-to-surface nuclear missiles and long-range surface-to-surface nuclear missiles from the strategic missile troops, this parade had more Second Artillery Force missiles than any other National Day military parade in the history of New China.
At this parade, the 25 vehicle divisions comprised over 400 Army, Navy, Air force, and Second Artillery Force vehicles. Both the number of divisions and the number of vehicles set new records in the history of the New China National Day military parades.
Outlook on the National Day military parade in a new stage and a new century: concentrated display of the achievements of the military reforms with Chinese characteristics
In a new stage and a new century, facing the overall situation of national security and development strategies, Chairman of the Central Military Commission Hu Jintao explicitly requires overall planning for economic and national defense construction and the unification of building a prosperous nation and strengthening the army in the process of constructing an all-round well-off society. He emphasized the implementation of military strategic principles in the new era, and the acceleration of military reforms with Chinese characteristics. He also put emphasis on good preparation for military struggles and enhancement of the army's ability to cope with multiple security threats and complete diversified military tasks, so as to firmly safeguard the state sovereignty, security and territorial integrity as well as contribute to the preservation of world peace. Efforts should be made to strengthen the army through science and technology and, in accordance with the strategic goal of building an informationized army and winning information wars, speed up the combined development of mechanization and informatization. Efforts should also be made to actively carry out military training based on informatization, accelerate the training of a large number of high-quality military personnel of a new type and practically change the generation mode of fighting capacity. The people's army has, with a focus on the historic mission in a new stage and in a new century, thoroughly practiced the theory of Scientific Outlook on Development and steadily promoted military reforms with Chinese characteristics and preparations for military conflict. The drive for modernization of national defense has accomplished historic achievements. With the theme of presenting national prestige and military spirits, invigorating the national spirit and inspiring patriotism, the National Day military parade on the 60th anniversary of the founding of New China will fully display the tremendous achievements of military reforms with Chinese characteristics, reflect the army’s military strength to safeguard world peace and regional stability and show the good spirit of the PLA. The Central Military Commission clearly required the PLA to display the aspiring face by showing first-class organization and leadership, weapons and equipment, as well as training achievement and good spirit.