BEIJING -- China showcased more than 500 weapons -- including an unprecedented seven types of missiles -- in its military parade commemorating the 70th anniversary of its victory in World War II in Beijing on Thursday.
Among the military hardware on display were intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the U.S. mainland. According to the Chinese government, 84% of the weapons in the parade had never before been seen by the public.
Broadcast at home and abroad, the parade gave viewers a glimpse of China's modern military capabilities and underscored President Xi Jinping's hold on the People's Liberation Army.
Xi, who also serves as chairman of the Central Military Commission, reviewed 12,000 soldiers as they marched in 50 columns. In a tradition observed in past military parades, Xi, dressed in a Mao suit, called out to the troops as he rode by in motorcade: "Comrades, thank you for your service." The soldiers called back: "We serve the people."
China showcased more than 40 different types of military weapons and equipment, all of which, it says, were built domestically. Military watchers were particularly interested in what kind of equipment the Second Artillery Force, part of the PLA's strategic missile force, would unveil.
The SAF showcased, among other missiles, the Dongfeng (East Wind) 31A and the Dongfeng 5B. With ranges of more than 10,000km, both are capable of reaching the U.S. mainland. The Dongfeng 26 was also seen. It has a range of 4,000 km and can reach anywhere in the South China Sea.
In addition, 200 fighter jets representing more than 20 different models were also showcased in the parade. These included the Shenyang J-15, which is carried aboard the Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning.
Sophisticated armed helicopters flew in formation in the shape of "70."
The Chinese government put the capital on high alert against terrorist attacks during the event, closing all main parks and sightseeing spots. Beijing's main avenue, Chang An Jie, was blocked off for the several kilometers leading up to Tiananmen Square, the parade venue. Nearby shops and restaurants were also forced to close for the ceremony and parade.