China allowed the world a peek at the nation’s military might by lifting the Bamboo Curtain on a massive parade of armed forces in Beijing.
Viewed as a sabre-rattling event for neighbours in the region, the army and air force showed off new hardware for the first time in public.
China flexed military muscles by marching 12,000 soldiers, driving ranks of tanks, missiles and other military hardware through the capital.
Commentators saw the parade as a warning to neighbours laying claim to disputed territories, especially Japan – as the event marked the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan in the Second World War
The People’s Liberation Army seemingly held nothing in reserve for onlookers.
The keynote display was the new DF-21D missile, which was described as capable of sinking an aircraft carrier.
But plenty of other technology was on show as well.
New intercontinental ballistic missiles able to deliver nuclear warheads formed up with row after row of armoured vehicles and tanks as modern jet fighters soared overhead.
China’s president Xi Jinping pledged to scale back the army by 300,000 men – but did not set a timescale.
The People’s Liberation Army is the largest in the world, numbering more than 2.3 million men.
“Peace, justice and the people will win,” said the president in a brief speech.
The military display was the largest and most open to public eyes in many years and is thought to convey that China is the power that will prevail in any local border squabbles.
War of words
Even if all the armed forces in the Asia Pacific region were to combine, they would fall short on the numbers and equipment China could command on the battlefield.
The Chinese government denied the parade was delivering a message to any specific neighbours.
Few foreign leaders attended – notable among those present was Russian premiere Vladimir Putin, South Korea’s Park Guen-Hye and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.
The South Korean presence was particularly interesting as a war of words hots up between the nation and their aggressive neighbours in North Korea, which has long been considered an ally of Pyongyang.
China is thought to be increasing weary of the antics of dictatorial leader Kim Jong-un.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair was also a guest in Beijing.