When the Chinese party, they ‘Party hearty!’

By Daily Maverick Legacy 2 October 2009

The 60th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China had a display of military strength, floats representing everything from a giant fish to Mount Everest and a female militia unit with submachine guns and wearing red miniskirts and white jackboots. We kid you not. The last such parade in 1999 was of interest mainly to foreign military analysts and China analysts. This time, the world’s media reported on the significance of every detail, and China’s state-run TV video streamed the show. Describing the party, China-watcher Geremie R. Barmé, of the Australian National University said, “On one level, they are naturally aware of the international audience, but in the end this is a parade and show for Chinese leaders and the people of China. It has always been such.” The military power play included 52 weapons systems, 151 warplane flyovers, 12 intercontinental-range missiles, and a new missile, the Dongfeng 21-C, that could counter American aircraft carriers. Analysts said, however, there was little that isn’t already known to foreign military experts. The People’s Armed Police, a paramilitary force, swanked their specially outfitted armoured personnel carriers, a signal of their growing stature inside China. Heads-up Xinjiang and Tibet.