Women militias march by Tiananmen Square
Peter Sharp, Asia correspondent
China has celebrated 60 years of Communist leadership by staging the biggest military parade ever seen in Beijing.
Some 5,000 troops, 500 military vehicles and a fly-past by 150 fighter jets and bombers sent a reminder to the world of the hardware at the disposal of this new economic superpower.
Much of central Beijing was shut down and unprecedented levels of security were deployed, with paramilitary police among 10,000 personnel on the capital’s streets.
The parade passed down the Avenue of Eternal Peace towards the Communist leadership in Tiananmen Square.
Ordinary people were banned from the square – they were told to stay at home and watch the ceremonies on TV.
President Hu Jintao abandoned his usual suit and appeared dressed in a dark Mao tunic.
Speaking from atop Tiananmen Gate, from where Mao proclaimed the birth of modern China in 1949, Mr Hu said it was a day to cherish.
“We have triumphed over all sorts of difficulties and setbacks and risks to gain the great achievements evident to the world,” he said.
“Today, a socialist China geared toward modernisation; the world and the future towers majestically in the East.”
Later, riding in an open-topped black limousine, he reviewed the troops and tanks.
The parade was a source of pride to some Beijing residents.
“I think all 1.3 billion people are happy about this because of our standard of living,” said 53-year-old Xu Deqing, walking in an alley a few blocks off the parade route.
“When you compare with 30 years ago… back then people’s stomachs were empty. Now we have really made it to a higher level.”
One elderly woman, Mrs Gao, said she was in the square 40 years ago.
“Chairman Mao arrived in the back of a truck. There was no colour, everything was grey. Today it’s is unbelievable,” she said.
“We can show the world how powerful we are.”
The celebrations focussed on social harmony and integration among China’s ethnic minorities.
However, there was no reference to the bloody unrest in Tibet in 2008 or in the muslim Uigher province of Xinjiang last summer, in which hundreds died.
Away from the meticulously-planned processions, protests broke out over corruption, social injustice and poverty.