China's grand military parade: Some sidelights

September 04, 2015 18:38
A female officer from the military band fine-tunes her appearance in front of a mirror in the gents' quarters ahead of Thursday's military parade in Beijing. Photo:

To mark 70 years of the "victory of the Chinese people's war of resistance against Japanese aggression", Beijing held a grand military parade Thursday, showing off new weapons and also pledging to pursue a path of "peaceful development".

To convince the world that it is indeed serious about the commitment to peace, it was announced that the country will cut the size of its army, which currently has 2.3 million members, by 300,000.

The parade was of course flawless, with soldiers marching boldly and their heads held up high.

While the display was not surprising, given the carefully choreographed nature of the event, there were some things that caught our attention from the televised proceedings and also from behind-the-scenes photos.

Female officers were seen marching for the first time in such a large-scale Chinese parade, leaving onlookers gaping in admiration and awe.

Apart from comments about the officers' apparent bravery in pursuing unconventional careers, many people in the crowd at Tiananmen Square, as well as those watching the event on TV, couldn't help remarking how beautiful the women in uniform were.

Meanwhile, there was also bemused chatter as some pre-parade visuals showed a female officer from the military band fine-tuning her appearance in front of a mirror in the gents' quarters.

In a male-dominated world, it is no surprise that ladies' rooms were in short supply, some netizens remarked wryly.

Among other sidelights at the parade was that even the grandson of Mao Zedong was kept waiting for a while before being seated in an enclosure. 

TV footage caught Major General Mao Xinyu and his family sitting on a staircase before they were eventually provided some seats.

Meanwhile, their allotted seats can by no means be considered as VIP seats, as the family found itself placed in the third row from the last in a stand to the left of Tiananmen gate.

We can only guess if Major General Mao took it as a slight, given that he was seen lost in thoughts and waving the national flag upside-down.

Though the parade kicked off at nine o’clock sharp, journalists were required to arrive at the square as early as 5 am to pass security checks and get ready.

The umbrella, a multifunctional tool that can block UV light and rain as well as serve as a potent symbol for democracy activists, was nowhere in sight even though the parade was held under bright sunlight.

A Mingpao Daily picture captured some female journalists covering their heads with their garments. Some wondered if their souvenir packs should include facekinis instead of the colorful caps.

Last but not least, it has been noted that President Xi Jinping appeared to have saluted troops with the wrong hand four times when he passed the line of guards.

There was intense chatter about the issue on the Internet, with some netizens arguing that Xi's left-handed salute was a gesture symbolizing peace. To support their contention, they referred to a famous saying by ancient Chinese philosopher and poet that the left is to be revered.

However, the People's Daily quickly issued a Weibo post saying that it was the camera angle that made it look like Xi was saluting the troops when he was actually waving at them.

Now, it's up to you to decide whose version you want to believe.

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Major General Mao Xinyu and his family sat on a staircase before the parade. He later appeared lost in thoughts, waving the national flag upside-down. Photos:,
Female journalists had to use their garments and caps to shield themselves from the sun. Umbrellas were nowhere to be seen. Photo: Ming Pao Daily
Is President Xi Jinping waving or saluting? Opinions on this are divided. Photo: CCTV