China celebrates 70 years of Communist rule
China is hosting lavish events to mark 70 years since the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
On 1 October 1949, Mao Zedong – or Chairman Mao – announced the formation of the PRC, after communist forces won a bloody civil war.
Modern China has since developed at an extraordinary pace, but it is also one of the world’s most restrictive states.
But the celebrations were overshadowed as thousands took to Hong Kong streets, with some violent clashes breaking out.
Police fired tear gas and made arrests as people blocked roads, as they protested against what they say is increasing control by Beijing over the territory’s society and politics.
President Xi Jinping said “no force” could shake China as he oversaw a huge military parade in Tiananmen Square.
“No force can ever stop the Chinese people and nation from marching forward,” said the Chinese leader in a brief opening address.
According to the Ministry of National Defence, around 15,000 military personnel, 580 pieces of military equipment and 160 aircraft made an appearance at the parade.
The nation’s newest military technology was on full display – military tanks, helicopters, and even the DF-41 -China’s new intercontinental ballistic missile – was spotted.
An echelon of planes in a “70” formation held a fly past.
The military parade is now followed by what officials are calling a “happy and lively show” involving about 100,000 civilian performers on floats, from farmers and teachers to doctors and students.
Later in the evening, a gala performance will be held in the square.
The events are open to officials, select members and invited foreign dignitaries only, but will be watched by hundreds of millions of people around the country.
Security has been high in central Beijing for weeks – there are strict controls on flying kites or drones around the parade area. Even racing pigeons have been banned.
Media censorship – always stringent in China – has been tightened even further, with broadcasters given a setlist of programmes to play and internet censors removing any online criticism of the Communist Party or its leaders