BEIJING -- China's People's Liberation Army is planning to hold a military parade on Aug. 1 to mark the 90th anniversary of the nation's armed forces, according to sources familiar with the matter.
The parade will be conducted in northern China as a large-scale exercise involving the ground and air forces using live ammunition.
The event appears to be intended to consolidate President Xi Jinping's power base among military personnel ahead of the Communist Party's five-yearly congress this fall.
China usually holds a military parade to mark a key occasion every 10 years. The planned parade will come only two years after the previous one in 2015 to celebrate the 70th anniversary of China's victory against Japanese aggression and anti-fascist war. Unlike the 2015 parade, in which tanks rolled down Beijing's main street, the upcoming one will take place in the countryside.
It will likely be held at the Zhurihe training base, the largest training ground in Asia, in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, a person familiar with the matter said. The exercise is expected to include Chengdu J-20 fighter jets.
The event is believed to be intended to show the results of the operational reforms Xi has been implementing. In Beijing, a related ceremony is expected to take place at the Great Hall of the People on or around Aug. 1.
Xi is apparently thinking about former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, who carried out a large-scale military exercise in northern China three months after he became head of the Central Military Commission in 1981. Deng used both the ground and air forces together in the drill for the first time and reformed the armed forces.
By conducting a similar exercise this year, Xi seems to want to make clear that he is on a par with Deng as a military commander.
Military parades, if held in Beijing, require heavy traffic restrictions, and some people living along the route are asked to leave their homes temporarily for safety and security concerns. The upcoming parade will take place at a training base rather than in Beijing, partly because of complaints from Beijing residents who are unhappy at the inconvenience, a Communist Party official said.