Another Great Leap Forward?
The first of October is the national holiday of the People's Republic of China, the anniversary of the proclamation of the republic in Beijing. This year's commemoration was special because it was the 60th anniversary, and it was marked by a military parade showcasing what the Chinese see as their military modernization. Themes included information warfare (as symbolized by ten short- and medium-range UAVs of three types and by several airborne early warning and control aircraft) and the creation of a smaller, more professional military (5,000 troops paraded instead of the 20,000 at the 50th anniversary celebration; the Chinese claim 2.3 million in uniform now after cuts ordered in 2005; peak strength was 6 million). The parade itself recalled the big Russian parades of the past (revived this year on V-E Day), at which observers strained to exploit a rare loophole in obsessive Soviet security. China is a much more open society, offering glimpses of equipment at regular arms shows (such as the Zhuhai air show); their strategy seems to be to show much more than is actually operational.